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Upcoming disruption

I have just bitten the bullet and ordered a somewhat beefier server to run this blog. Some time in the next two weeks we'll be moving everything across and testing; I'll warn you all before it goes live. (Comments will be switched off for up to 24 hours before, during, and after the move.)

One reason for the move is that the blog's taking twice as many visits as it was two years ago, when I first rented this Atom-based micro-server. A second reason is that I want to upgrade Movable Type to a newer version that supports properly threaded discussions. (At last!)



hooray for threaded discussions!

also, care to share what you are buying and how much it's costing and so on? Nerds want their hardware-pr0n!


Threaded discussions are good - I haven't been commenting as it's been hard to read the discussion.


I do wonder how well any threading works with a discussion containing several hundred posts, with some internal conversations going on for dozens of entries. Still, it can't be any worse, can it?

And that's something - Charlie, will existing threads be identified and carried over in properly threaded form, or is it only new posts that will have this?


IME threading models start to break down at about 10 levels if you use a simple "indented reply" model with all messages open, and somewhere in the mid-20s if you use a model that separates the fact that I'd replied to you from the text (like Outlook Express handles/handled newsgroup messaging if you know the program).


I am a happy customer of these folks. You're unlikely to be so, unless you're based in the UK.


NB: whether we actually implement threading or not is not yet decided. But I'd like to have the capability ...


I prefer imageboard-style-discussions, which are linear like plain comments, only containing links to posts & citations. Threads give too much of a forum feel.


If flat comment threads are good enough for metafilter.... ;)


Perhaps you should host a forum? your blog posts could have simple comments and people could type till their out of breath about the posts in the forum?


Metafilter is good in spite of flat comments. Even there, it's far too easy to derail an entire post by an early threadshitter.

Threaded discussions can get messy, sure, but not nearly as mindbending as trying to jump into a long flat-comment discussion 50+ comments in. One reason I've stuck with Livejournal for so long is that for all their faults, they've done threaded comments pretty damn well.


I do the bulk of my commenting on The Daily Beast, because it has threaded comments and is much easier to follow than flat comments.

It only allows two (three? does the root count?) levels of threading - which leads to flat comments after that, a real problem in a few articles getting 4 or 500 comments.

I think ten levels would be too many, but two is too few. Four or five levels would be good for TDB, but perhaps fewer would do here.

Charlie, I would encourage you to switch to threading!


No server porn / tech spec details? Disappointing!


You might want to plan on moving from MT to a different blogging platform: . I think the dev path for MT is now officially dead.


I wasn't intending to ask for, or recommend, anything by way of a threading structure. I was just giving a personal opinion on how well threading models do or don't work. The decision is obviously up to you, particularly since you fund the site out of your own money.


I read that announcement as indicating that Six Apart are being taken over by a video ad firm, that the focus of TypePad is drifting somewhat towards the commercial side (all that guff about "monetize your audience" is classic Web2.0horrea). I really don't like the look of VideoEgg -- it's basically a marketing company aiming to get eyeballs-on-advertisements -- so I expect TypePad to turn into an ad-encrusted monstrosity in short order, which goes some way towards justifying my decision not to migrate this blog in that direction.

There is, however, no news whatsoever about Movable Type as yet. If the product is profitable I'd be surprised to see them shit-can it; if not ... it's written in Perl, an open source fork isn't inconceivable. (Maintaining it would be a bit of a headache, though: the code is unbelievably ugly -- they rolled their own object framework before Moose showed up and it's both ill-documented and crufty. Or was, last time I looked at it.)

In the meantime, MT is still a viable platform for this blog for the next year or three. I don't have to migrate, unless support drops off to zero and it comes under increasing attack.

I have a savage and unreasoning prejudice against PHP -- for some years, just about every remote root exploit on Linux seemed to be down to a flaw in PHP -- which is why I haven't seriously considered wordpress. That may change if MT turns into abandonware, given that there's a clean and well-supported migration path from MT to WP.


It would be more helpful if you came up with some actual suggestions of possibilities. Wordpress is not an option for the simple reason that I, who will have to do the work, cannot get my head around it at all and have never successfully got it to do anything, ever.


I think this is the point where -- as a person who has now spent more than 5 whole minutes hacking with/at it -- I am required by geek law to suggest rolling your own with Django.

It has ponies!


I do not get paid for time spent "rolling my own" with Django. (And I've been forced to use a Django site for guest blogging. Once. Shudder.)


Annoyingly, no threaded web forums seem yet to be anywhere near as good as trn was 15 years ago, with its ability to combine "read posts that are new to me", "follow discussion tree", and "ignore thread."

It needs a fair amount of client-side state to do it efficiently, and certainly wouldn't be trivial to implement it AJAX, but I'm surprised no one's even tried.


The beauty of NNTP is that is specifies a data format that contains threading info, and a protocol for accessing the data, read and write, and leaves the problem of how to display threading to the user's choice of software.

OK, there's other issues with NNTP, but all this Web2.0 stuff sometimes seems to be an effort to reinvent the wheel. 15 years ago, I was reading complex newsgroup threads on a 368 machine with a Megabyte of RAM. And using a dial-up modem.


OK, there's other issues with NNTP, but all this Web2.0 stuff sometimes seems to be an effort to reinvent the wheel. 15 years ago, I was reading complex newsgroup threads on a 368 machine with a Megabyte of RAM. And using a dial-up modem.

oh hell yeah! Reinventing the wheel and making all the mistakes again as well as inventing some new mistakes. Sometimes, it makes you want to curl up and cry. All this wasted potential sigh

All the problems that usenet has nowadays aren't inherent in NNTP, NNTP is a great protocol, but somehow it apparently wasn't sexy enough any more.

Although it's still going very strong (more so than a few years ago) in piracy circles. (when you download from binary newsgroups, your actions are less illegal than when you download a torrent due to the underlying principles .. as a torrent downloader you implicitly also upload data to other people, thereby becoming a dealer as well as a consumer, whereas with binary newsgroups you are a pure consumer). Also I suspect it's nicer for ISPs. Kindof like proxying/a CDN for pirated content .. might reduce load a bit.


Sorry, wasn't trying to be a jerk, I just know that many friends who use MT are considering their options.

As for WP, it took me a long time to figure out how to customize it, which I do mostly through the theme I use. I don't ever expect to understand how "the WordPress loop" works, but I don't think I'll ever have to. I'm a HTML/CSS guy, and I've managed to get WP to look the way I want it to, but I'm not asking it to behave in non-standard ways.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on September 21, 2010 1:30 PM.

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