More changes in store for the Register and other sites

nick
Mar 23, 2010

More than two months ago now, I asked what people would change about this website and touched off a brouhaha about the comments on the stories on this site. We have not only now turned on registration, but we've also revamped many of our policies to increase transparency and improve the efficacy in our moderation of the comments.

But while comments dominated that discussion there were some very good other thoughts offered by RHammons, a poster whose suggestions have been helpful in the past.

I'd like to take the opportunity to recount his/her comments and respond:

"- The entirety of all daily newspaper articles on the website, not just snippets (I know, I know, this will likely never happen)"

The fact remains that gathering and reporting the news is expensive, so you're unlikely to see all our stories online free in the forseeable future. However, I would like to introduce a system that would make all stories available to subscribers -- or on a micropayment basis -- on the regular website without having to go to the e-paper to view them (though that would continue to be an option).

"- An easier way to browse archives, beyond just a really poor search engine."

Well, the search engine could be better. And there's an open source project called Solr that could really improve that. Search is hard. Google isn't great at it and their success is based on the fact that everyone who came before was really, really not great. And our search, if you can find the 'advanced search' is actually better than you think. But I hear you.

"- Maybe some social networking features, the ability to save an article on a user's delicious, or stumble upon account, or the ability to even digg articles? Maybe the ability to select a custom sandusky register style sheet (holiday themed, OS themed, leisure, local sports team, etc.), or even, in the most basic form, the ability to customize the overall site type size for accessibility sake."

Since this was posted, we've integrated the ShareThis service on Funcoast.com, allowing you to post Funcoast stories to pretty much any social network, as well as email or event text message articles. This will roll out on all our sites in the next few months.

The custom style sheet thing is a fun idea. The platform we use for Funcoast and Fandy is capable of dynamic re-theming, but we haven't used it except for our own purposes. I'd be willing to try it though... Of course, there's some other technical hurdles we'd have to overcome. I'll have to work on that one.

"- Local Event calendar that's easy to use and sort through."

Also since you posted this, we've revamped the calendar on Funcoast as well, hopefully making it much more effective and friendly. I'd like to bring a similar calendar here, but one that's much wider in scope. What do people think of the Funcoast calendar?

These were good and helpful ideas, and I plan to implement them as best I can in the next few months, I hope. In any case, I just want to respond to one other commenter, you'll know who you are:

My use of the dash is -- in a word -- flawless. ;)

Comments

iamrevolutionary

I would like to be able to "click" on my screen name and that would access my user profile, articles commented on, user message, etc...It is available on Mansfield News Journal and associated sites. It is very helpful, and makes the online experience more personal.

nick

@iamrevolutionary I would really like to see a similar feature myself. Actually, the fact that the comment registration on our current platform does not offer that and some other, similar functionality was the primary reason I, personally, was reluctant to turn on the comment registration at this time. (Obviously, at a certain point the problems of the comments sections were greater than the problems of the registration system.) We have something similar right now on Funcoast and Fandy, which are both operating on a more advanced, but more experimental platform. As we continue upgrading this system, what you're referencing will certainly be a priority...

RHammons

Thanks for reviewing and responding so thoroughly to my input Nick. I appreciate/respect the level of interaction you're having with us readers in these blogs, and the technical improvements as they continue to roll out as well. Keep up the good work!