Slugger: the ‘we can rebuild him’ brief (1)

A few weeks back I mentioned that we were looking to overhaul Slugger. It gave rise to some very useful suggestions on what might be useful to you. We’re almost in a position to finalise the design brief, but I wanted to share them with you first. Feel free to add or criticise. Details on the reputation management system and other bits and pieces to follow…The new Slugger Design – issues:

Move over from Expression Engine to WordPress:

Features: (it goes without saying that ‘fix things that don’t work properly’ on the current site should be part of the spec.
– The new site should have all of the key functionality of the old one.
– It should have a main linear set of posts – in date & time order. These posts should now be ‘taggable’ acording to geographic relevance (NI, RoI, Scot, Wales, England, UK – and it should be extensible to allow for expansion) to allow for the development of regional / national homepages. There should also be a Culture, Arts and Books tag as well. The advice to the contributors should be that this can encompass everything that isn’t really ‘politics’ (along with anything that is politics, but also has an arts / culture / books crossover).
– The site carries advertising – the design should involve a negotiation with existing advertisers on what design integration works best for them so that it doesn’t look as messy
– It should also have a prominent place on the homepage for a regular ‘featured post’ – some of Slugger’s main contributors often write something fairly weighty, and we’d like to give it a longer ‘currency’
– It needs a prominent search facility and an easy-to-navigate set of tags and categories (accessing Slugger’s back-issues is a nightmare at the moment)
– Any retrospective auto-indexing would be very welcome – ‘associated posts’ is often a very good way of consolidating an issue from the mass of content on the site
– Contributors to have their own page under a ‘contributors’ tab (optional photo, Editable Amazon reading list, etc)
– Daily / weekly / monthly indexes (calendar) to navigate posts
– It should also have a prominent place on the homepage for a commissioned essay (like the ‘featured post’)
– We’d like a ‘Slugger TV’ box prominently on the homepage, along with an option to have a podcast section for audio
– We’d like some incoming RSS panels for Google Reader (or other collaborative tagging purposes) so that we can have more ‘best of the blogs’ that is collaboratively managed
– A ‘highest rated posts’ and a ‘most visited’ part of the sidebar (or perhaps a separate page?
– Because the page has a high volume of content, we’d like to decide which elements of the site load first if possible? This is particularly important for mobile users (how about http://m.sluggerotoole.com ?
– Comments should allow for more HTML than they do currently

Please note, the more complex the design, the greater the cost (and less likely we can meet demands). But let us have your thoughts…

  • Mack

    Mick

    You might want to edit that post re-
    (Mick – leave this bit out of the stuff you put on the site!!!!)

  • Mick Fealty

    Thanks Mack… Sssshhh… Don’t tell anyone!! 😉

  • dear o dear

    can u cut the advertising? it makes the page hard to load and introduces spyware into our systems that most of us are trying to biock out.

  • dear o dear

    too late mick we saw it re business section so what?

  • Mick Fealty

    dear o dear,

    I certainly would, but then I would be stuffed re paying hosting costs… Until revenue streams from related off line activities kick in, it’s the only thing that helps Slugger pay its own bills…

    It wasn’t particularly controversial…

  • joeCanuck

    The only ad that ever bothered me was the one with sound two Christmas’ ago.

  • sw

    links that work?

  • Gael gan Náire

    I think that Slugger should present a limited public service (posts only) and a more indepth service (comments) to those willing to pay a subscription.

    I think Slugger could become more useful as a ‘research portal’ and as serious media if the trolls were beaten back a bit.

  • Mack

    GGN

    I think that Slugger should present a limited public service (posts only) and a more indepth service (comments) to those willing to pay a subscription.

    To paraphrase George H. W. Bush

    “Read my lips, No New Users”.

  • Ulsters my homeland, not Ireland

    you might want to think BIG and state the notes are on Ulster

  • Mack

    UmhnI

    You’d only get upset when Donegal is mentioned.

  • kensei

    Mick

    It should have a main linear set of posts – in date & time order. These posts should now be ‘taggable’ acording to geographic relevance (NI, RoI, Scot, Wales, England, UK – and it should be extensible to allow for expansion) to allow for the development of regional / national homepages. There should also be a Culture, Arts and Books tag as well. The advice to the contributors should be that this can encompass everything that isn’t really ‘politics’ (along with anything that is politics, but also has an arts / culture / books crossover).

    Why are you limiting the tags? You could leave it to the individual author to tag as he wishes and simply have a page that links all the tags. Or perhaps limit it, but the control of adding more tags as demanded by the bloggers.

    Because the page has a high volume of content, we’d like to decide which elements of the site load first if possible? This is particularly important for mobile users (how about http://m.sluggerotoole.com ?

    http://m.sluggerotoole.com is a good idea but it should be lightweight and cutdown. Not in a “load first” kinmd of way but “drops and simplifies a lot of stuff” kind of way. If you are getting a binding contract, specifiy a few major phones it must display correctly on — say iPhone, N90, mid range Nokia, mid range Sony Ericisson.

    On RSS feed we are applaling. No summary. I suspect this is our fault, though.

    – We’d like some incoming RSS panels for Google Reader (or other collaborative tagging purposes) so that we can have more ‘best of the blogs’ that is collaboratively managed

    You might want to double up here for an MSM panel.

  • Mick Fealty

    sw,

    Bad links can be human error, or systemic. Which do you mean, or both?

  • Ulsters my homeland, not Oreland

    “[i]UmhnI

    You’d only get upset when Donegal is mentioned.

    Posted by Mack2[/i]

    No Mack, I get upset when I look at percentages. When I see the stupid amount of money spent on public inquiries, most of which are all pro-Catholic, I think on the percentage of people who voted terrorists into government.

    I see that approx 50% of Roman Catholic voted republican terrorists into government, while less than 3% of Protestants voted for loyalist terrorists.

    and I understand that 50% of the Roman Catholic community has to be bargained with. Sad, but true!

  • Every good news sheet should have a cartoonist!

  • Kensei,

    I think you can do both of the things you’re asking for. WordPress is really good in that it offers both ‘categories’ and ‘tags’

    I’d suggest that posters could define the tags whenever they like, but the ‘categories’ be used to determine the position on the site. So, for instance, if you wrote one of your bigger posts about … say …. Scotland – and that it was mainly a book review (and because it was a bigger than average post, you’d like it specially featured) then you’d tick ‘arts & books’, ‘Scotland’ and ‘featured’ or something like that.

    It would still be searchable on the tags that you defined but the categories would give the site structure.

    That’s how I’d do it, anyway….

  • veritas

    maybe the ability to “edit” posts and please Mick, somehow get rid of all those who feel the need to use alter-egos.

    Maybe some form of proper registration, valid e-mail address etc,

    Lastly, any chance of more “Southern” and “international” threads.

  • The Raven

    I’d be very happy if the search facility works well. Bring it all on – change can only be a good thing.

  • IRIA

    A needed improvement: not allowing UMH to comment.

  • When I see the stupid amount of money spent on public inquiries, most of which are all pro-Catholic, I think on the percentage of people who voted terrorists into government.

    Ah, yes. All those crypto-papists at the public inquiries pushing their transubstantiation agenda really do get up my nose.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    Betting page – where you can specify an amount to be bet by one person against another – this may then require a subscriptions facility as bet winnings would go to Slugger

  • frustrated democrat

    Is it possible to jump from thread to thread without going to the home page. eg could the list of current posts be on all pages

  • Eddie

    LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF WORDS ALLOWED IN ANY SINGLE COMMENT.

    I just scroll right past the long ones, not because I have an attention deficit, but because certain people lack any ability of precis in their convoluted soliloquoys.

    You want names?

  • pfhl

    it would be great to be able to edit past posts if you may have had a typo.

  • Paul McMahon

    Recent comments sidebar on all comments pages.

    Archive search simplified

    Agree with Veritas, more international threads, [at the moment, IMHO, international threads tend to be USA centric].

    Comedy / humor thread catagory ?

  • > … there should also be a Culture, Arts and Books tag as well.

    Don’t forget about the Space tag!

    An ability to add a tab or area for big topical events like an election or major political controversy.

    It’s a wordy group blog. That’s a huge strength. So the addition of TV and other media needs not to turn it from the Times into the News of the World!

    On the other hand, a picture or two in the odd blog post would brighten it up a bit!

    Strongly support the idea of a mobile-friendly portal as my poor old (very old) Blackberry scrolls until the skin falls off my thumb before getting past the left hand column links and starts the main post! Auto-sensing would be most ideal – since people then don’t need to know how to get to the mobile version.

    All the best … may the four be with you.

  • NCM

    What about calibrate the ads so every time there’s a post about the Provos you don’t try to sell me an Individual Retirement Account (i.e. IRA)? Oh, and you want to sell me a Louisville *Slugger* baseball bat too. I’m not making this up. And whenever there’s a post about Ian Paisley, there are ads trying to sell me a blowup sheep doll. Ok, I made the last one up.

  • Mick,

    How about adding pre-publication editing for the blog entries, rather than all the pointless, distracting, and lame asides from [Ed.].

    It is a technique to be used sparingly, but some bloggers (including you, I regret to say) seem to think that the joke remains funny even after its thousandth use. It takes away from the blog, and makes it look more like a student rag mag.

  • runciter

    I suggest you take an incremental approach to upgrading the site, rather than doing everything in one go. This would reduce the risk of making any major difficult-to-reverse mistakes.

    Some features may suggest other complementary changes, and a progressive approach would allow these to be built into the design as you move forward.

    Identify the key features you want, implement them, integrate any feedback into your development plan, rinse and repeat.

    Perhaps you could use the Uservoice website to identify and rate desired features?

    http://uservoice.com/

    I agree strongly that tags should not be restricted.

    Finally, any comment rating system is open to abuse, and an abused rating system would be worse than none at all (especially on a political site like Slugger).

  • kensei

    Featrue request….. http://xkcd.com/481/

  • Mick Fealty

    Horse,

    That would be an editorial matter. I like ’em, so they stay.

    Ken,

    Great! Can you get work on that straight away?

  • I like ‘em, so they stay.

    And you thereby lose a great wad of credibility amongst readers who have already graduated from school/university. I’m amazed that you are chosing the rag mag direction rather than serious web-journalism. Private Eye rather than the Guardian? As a conributor to the latter, I would have expected better of you at least!

  • “you thereby lose a great wad of credibility amongst readers who have already graduated from school/university.”

    Well, for such a distinguished journalist, Horse, you comment like a shrill troll.

    The thing I love about this blog is the informality. If you think it would have been as successful as it is with a Reithian voice, I suspect you’d not have run it as well as it has been.

  • In this souped up new Slugger can the extra / be removed from the end of my blog address therefor rendering its link operable?

  • Turgon

    I have said this on a previous thread about changing slugger but I will repeat it.

    I would be very anxious about any attempt to restrict the ability of people to comment. People who are involved in Slugger do so on several levels. we know that many people read only. others comment and read and others blog, comment and read. It is important to facilitate people moving from one category to another (and back again) as they choose. That creates a healthy environment where the web site can develop.

    I know that for many months I was unaware that I could comment on a slugger thread. Anything which reduces people’s ability to comment or indeed their privacy in so doing is will in my view be to the long term detriment of the site.