OTB Reader Survey

I’ve had several regular readers complain/mention recently that there have been a lot of longer-than-usual posts here, making it harder to navigate the site. I’m experimenting a bit today with putting most of the material in such posts, especially the ones that are outside the politics and national security topics that are the major focus of the site, in the extended entry.

Is this preferable or is having to click “Continued…” to read the posts more aggravating than simply scrolling past the ones you’re not interested in?

Update (1445): The early results, at least, are overwhelmingly against hiding long posts simply for the sake of length. I’ve restored the posts to their original length.

My basic practice has been to use the extended entry for one of two purposes: Surprise/effect as in caption contest results or to hide entensive background information. I haven’t used the former much since Rodney is running the contests. I’ve used the latter quite a bit. See, for example, the Al Lucas and Mitch Albom posts from today. In the first case, I’ve “hidden” some long background pieces and in the second the entry was incredibly long because I cut-and-pasted several entire columns for the sake of historical context.

Please feel free to continue the discussion below. I’m always looking for ways to tweak the site to make it more reader friendly.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Alex Knapp says:

    Clicking “continued” is aggravating. And I rarely scroll by articles anyway. Keep the long stuff going!

  2. I have never been a big fan of the “continued” bit and don’t find scrolling a probelm at all.

    The only time I find the “continued” button to be useful is when there some kind of “surprise” that is hidden for effect.

    I find hiding content just for length to be annoying more than anything.

  3. I find the expand comments thing to be a great thing. If you have enough of the article at the top, I can do a quick read and see if I even want to invest the time in a full read. Social Security? My eyes glaze over, move on. Lebanese protest babes? Interested. You get the idea.

  4. That is, “continue reading” I meant. Hmm, gotta find a way to add that feature . . .

  5. Jim Henley says:

    I follow OTB via RSS, so it’s immaterial to me personally. But when I experimented with “Continued . . . ” a little over a year ago, my readers on balance disapproved of the change.

  6. Just Me says:

    I don’t mind either way, although I like for there to be enough of the piece for me to get an idea what it is about and what is going on, also I don’t like it on every single post either. Some posts are just so long that giving a good idea of what it is about in conjunction with the continued is sometimes a good option.

  7. Sgt Fluffy says:

    Keep the long posts

  8. McGehee says:

    When I click in, I scroll down until I find the thread I’m looking for (usually one I’ve read and commented on) and then I use the entry-to-entry navigation at the top to read the subsequent posts.

    Clicking “continue” won’t bother me. I might like entry titles in the links up yonder, but if I haven’t complained about it before, it must not bother me much anyway.

  9. Todd Pearson says:

    Continued is better. There is a good reason why newspapers don’t put entire articles on the front page.

  10. Mark J says:

    On my site, I use JavaScript to show the rest of the entry without having to leave the front page (e.g. “show the rest here…”). I find this to be a good compromise.

  11. James Joyner says:

    Mark: Mine does that.

  12. Tom says:

    I like the jump page. If I am browsing I can get the gist of the post. If I am digging, well one click and it is all there.

    Tom

  13. slickdpdx says:

    I agree with Todd Pearson.

OTB READER SURVEY

I’ve been fiddling around with the look and feel of the site for the past few weeks and think I’m about ready to stop. Of course, I’ve also made the switch to Moveable Type. Both with some considerable help from Kathy of On the Third Hand.

If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to note them in the Comments below. Some things I’m especially interested in feedback on:

* The fonts–Is the blog readable? It looks great on a new 19″ flat-screen monitor at 1280×1084 and pretty good on the smaller one at the office. Can you read it? Is the font too small/large/funny looking?

* Are the various lines, borders, colors, etc. useful in helping guide you through the content, differentiating quoted material from my own commentary, and all that? Or is it too much?

* Are the headlines for each post easier to read centered or left aligned?

* Some of my posts are long compared to those on other sites. Would it be better for me to utilize the Extended Entry feature and just provide a link for reading more? Or is it easier the way I have it now?

* Are the links on the sidebars useful? Could they be ordered differently? Does having the Recent Entries list help you, or is it just something to scroll past to get to the good stuff?

* Are there Moveable Type features that you really like on other sites that I am not taking advantage of here?

Feel free to mention other issues as well. Thanks!

FILED UNDER: OTB History
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jack Stephens says:

    Okay,
    OTB doesn’t fit on my monitor screen, which is bigger than average (17″). This isn’t normally a problem for me. I am used to having the links and blogroll to the left, and the posts on the right.
    The font is excellent, and the site is very readable. There’s no need to surround quotes with the dotted lines, which I personally find a bit distracting.

    Thanks for asking

  2. ray says:

    The fonts are fine. I am very happy with the size. What’s the point of having almost microscopic print on a website? The Weekly Standard, for instance, is damn near unreadable due to its having micro-print. What are they doing, saving space???

    I prefer the headlines adjusted to the left but really it’s no big deal.

    The colors are just right.

    Your posts are just brief thoughts in comparison to Den Beste. hehe. Seriously, I find that I’ll read a post as long as it holds my interest no matter what the length.

    A possible addition: a booklist. Some books you find useful, accurate, well written, etc in areas of your expertise. I’m always looking for good recommendations.

    Yeah, thanks for asking…

  3. phillip says:

    Never, ever ask for opinions! If they like the comment they’ll come (look at Drudge!!!) However, being that you did ask, Left-align the headlines!!!

  4. MommaBear says:

    Minor personal quibble, only: would prefer Arial over Times New Roman. Like the font size, though, as MB is no longer a teen-ager :-). MB works with a smaller than full-screen browser display, but as long as the text-boxes in the center fit, she can scroll L-R to access the other columns.

  5. Hanah says:

    I love it, but there does seem to be some kind of scaling problem going on with the width. It looks fine on my 15″ laptop monitor, but it’s too wide for my 17″ monitor at work. Go figure.

  6. James Joyner says:

    Interesting. The overall table size is 910 pixels, with the center column set at 550 pixels. So, theoretically at least, anyone running with 1000+ resolution should fit the entire table on their monitor (assuming they’re running full screen) and even those with 800×600 should be able to get all of the center column in.

    The fonts are indeed scalable rather than fixed to enable re-sizing using the View settings on browsers. The default font is actually Palatino–which is the default on the MT template and I liked it–then Georgia, Verdana, and Arial.

    I have shifted the headlines back to the left and changed the blockquote to a solid border rather than the dotted one.

  7. John Ballard says:

    Thoughtful of you to ask.

    I am a newcomer to your site, but it is bookmarked now. I like your photos, by the way, although they still are space and time takers for many readers.

    The cosmetic stuff doesn’t interest me much, but the content is more important. That observation ties directly with the length of posts. We live in an ocean of soundbites and aphorisms. I love the cutsies myself, but I also know that as a result most people don’t pay attention to what they read long enough to ingest new thoughts. Instead, they are waiting for the next memorable turn of a phrase. I’m sorry, but prose ideas do no fit well into a poetic medium; take as many words as you like to develop your ideas. If what you write lacks rhyme, alliteration or clever layering of symbolic meaning, so be it. For this reader such writing is easier to grasp and I appreciate what you have done.