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Thanksgiving (End of Year) Site News

It's been days since our last open thread, and my next thread will be next one. It's right around the corner. This one got so long and specific, I am limiting comments to the topic under discussion. For those of you who view Talkeft site as a little community of sane people trying to accomodate themselves to life in an insane world, the news will be expecially pertinent to you.

Ok, here goes. I think I'm about ready to switch TalkLeft to Wordpress. Readers may remember I started the project in 2013, intending for it to be a "premium access" version of TalkLeft. I abandoned that idea pretty quickly, deciding to keep it free instead, and I have been tinkering with the design and other tweeks ever since. Depite WP's thousands of designs and plugins,
most of which I've read or tested out, the truth is, Wordpress is deliberatly made with some features off limits. An uber-coder could change it, but not a mere mortal like me, with only html training and not even css) under my belt. But take a look, I've tweeked it a lot.
And after trying out hundreds of new themes.
I confident that the one I have, which is the same as this one, only bigger and with bigger text, is all the change I need. [More...]

I know there are features many of you are used to (like updated comments that show the new ones since your last visit, rating comments and a toolbar for links and quotes and other formatting in the comment box) and I've managed to find plugins (some pretty outdated, but they work) and add them.

Other than cost, the main reason I want to move is while the site does show in proportion on mobile devices, the text is too small and I'm having to constantly use my fingers on my iPad or phone to make it bigger. The Wordpress site shows fine on mobile devices.

Another reason is that the formatting quirks on this site are so convoluted, depending on whether one uses the "auto text" or html mode, it virtually eliminates the possibility of any guest posts or additional posters. The last person I explained it to was BTD and that was six or eight years ago. I simply would not have the time to explain them all even if I could still articulate them.

And the third reason is that I lost another four posts this week down the rabbit hole after I spent hours working on each one. One was on the death of Charles Manson, one was on Trump and Russia, one was on El Chapo and the cartels, and one was on the latest crop of celebrity sexual harassers. This happens when I accidentally close a window before publishing the post, and when I switch between Chrome to Firefox without remembering to open a new window. This happens more frequently lately, as one or the other hangs on various news sites that are filled with ads and videos. When I switch while writing a post, and don't open a new window first, I lose the window I was writing in, which means, the draft is gone forever. No cache or temporary file can bring it back (and believe me, sometimes I've spent hours trying.)

In Wordpress, I can save drafts with no problem and see the post exactly as it will appear published. There's no rabbit hole because drafts automatically save every few minutes. While I could save drafts in Scoop, I never do, because of the formatting quirks I mentioned earlier. If I save a draft, or use the preview button before publishing, the post saves in one run-on paragraph with no formatting, which means I have to go back in and insert all the "br"s and "p"s and "blockquotes" and other formatting manually. SoIi rarely do it.

Losing a post I worked that hard on can discourage me from blogging for days. In fact today, knowing there had been no posts here for four or five days, I considered posting just a news item with a title and a link, and no commentary, like a Tweet. But I didn't, it seemed like the lazy way out.

Now the drawbacks: The biggest drawback is that in three years, not only have I have been unable to get anyone to convert this site, which uses a now defunct platform called Scoop (that Daily Kos and other community-based political sites used to use a decade ago) to Wordpress, I haven't even been able to get an estimate for converting it. And if I did, I doubt I'd be able to afford it.

To me, an easier solution is to flatten this site, make it accessible for posterity at TalkLeft.net, and start fresh with the Wordpress site, changing the domain from premium.talkleft.com to just talkleft. com. I would also move the Duke and Zimmerman forums, which I flattened years ago, to TalkLeft.net to continue to save them for posterity.

I know that having one site is preferable to having an old TalkLeft and a new TalkLeft, but if I haven't been able to get that done in three years, I think it's pretty obvious it's never going to happen, and two sites is better than no site.

I don't have a specific time table in mind, which means I might do it at the drop of a hat. All I need is to get up the nerve.

I envision it would work like this: First, I would stop posting here and close comments, and start posting only at the Wordpress site. After a short time to make sure that's really what I want to do, and unless there's a mass protest by readers based on something more than "I hate change", I would ask Colin, our webmaster, to flatten this site and change the domain to Talkleft.net, preserving both posts and comments, and change the domain for the Wordpress site from premium.talkleft.com to talkleft.com.

So if you haven't already registered at the Wordpress site, please do so, using the same username you use here, if convenient. I can't switch or replicate users. (This site has had more than 23,000 registered users since 2002.)

Also please know I have set the comments function at the Wordpress site to require a user's first comment be approved before it shows. Along with better spam control and the ability to block comments from certain countries and email domains, the result has been zero spam comments getting through in three years. So don't be impatient if it takes a few hours or a day for your first comment to show up. After that, your comments will automatically appear.

As to the "unread" comments since your last visit, they are there on the right (just not in red with a number) but you have to be logged in to see them. If you are not logged in, you will just see "recent comments", read or unread.

Of course, the Wordpress version will be free, and at least for the foreseeable future, if not forever, free of ads. I haven't used Affiliate ads or links in years, and will disclose it if that changes. (When I review various products, especially favorably, I think it's important for readers to know I'm not getting any money for it.) If donations become non-existent or close to non-existent, I will probably shut the site down rather than include ads. I hate ads almost as much as I hate auto-playing video.

Here's my Thanksgiving tie-in: If you are thankful that this site continues to exist, that it remains one of the few politically oriented sites where comments are civilly expressed, free of ridicule, name-calling and profanity, an limited in number, or you just like to lurk and read, but appreciate the huge amount of time and effort I put into it (and the considerable amount I expend maintaining it), I hope you will consider expressing your thanks or appreciation with a donation this Thanksgiving. It would mean a lot to me, especially as I prepare to embark on this pretty drastic change (for real this time!)

Last week I signed up for a Wordpress Denver meet for devlopers. I was hoping to meet someone who could explain why Scoop is so difficult to transfer over to Wordress. I could only get on the waitlist, and my position never advanced, so I missed it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I truly appreciate everyone one of you who have read a post, taken the time to comment or send me an email, send me suggestions and complaints about the site, and anything else.

Collectively,this year, we do have one thing to be happy for. Donald Trump now has three years, instead of four, left on his term of occupying a desk in the oval office. Unless he manages to have us all blown up, or instigates WW III, we may make it to where he has two, one and then no years left. It will take a generation to repair the U.S. reputation in the world, and we may never regain the standing we had before he seeped in, but at least we'll have a lot of fun mocking him and his equally incompetent heirs and heiresses. And if there's indictments, we'll even have something to cheer about. Even without them, we can still dream of a Richard Nixon moment, where he resigns and waves like Tricky Dickey as he makes his last foray across the White House lawn, with Melania in five in heels, sinking in the grass, as they enter a helicopter for the last time, taking them back to whatever Trump Resort hasn't gone under.

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