Probably tomorrow I am going to do an advanced 'primer' on all the features we have here because I know most people don't even read the FAQ - and that's okay, you shouldn't have to read a FAQ to read an article or leave a comment, but for more exotic stuff and experienced users/contributors, it wouldn't hurt to have a short document that highlights the big stuff that goes beyond the FAQ.

For now, I will just highlight the big (non bug-related) things we did this week.


Social media is big, of course, with sites like Facebook and Twitter having many millions of users, but yet another site for all of us to learn is a drain.    I've been told at various times by people more experienced than me (to help you calibrate, all those same people told me they never thought scientificblogging would work, so adjust accordingly) that we need to have Facebook integration, for example.    "What would it do?"  I would ask, "and how would it work?"  

They had no answer for that, so I signed up for an account to take a look and the one thing I thought that had some value were status updates and a 'wall to wall' message system.    And I signed up for Twitter and that had a very fast, short message system for comments on recent stuff.

Well, that we may like, I assume.    I know there are lots of times when I have a link for a recent article and I want to say something but I don't have enough for a whole blog, much less an article - the article I am linking to said it better than I would.    And there are other times when I may want to leave a comment for/about a writer here, like "I don't read Hank's writing and we only let him contribute here because he pays the bill for the servers" - basically, you can leave a comment for someone that is not specifically article related or let people know about something you found that doesn't merit a lot of detail.

Twitter example:

So starting yesterday (well, officially yesterday, you may have noticed it before then but there was no way to know you had any comments) we have implimented what we call "Corkboard."

Why?  Well, "Wall" or "Tweet" might get us a Cease&Desist letter, plus we now get to say things like "You've been Corked!"  which can either be fun or sort of creepy.

To do a Cork you either go to someone else's Profile or your own, type in the little box and hit Post.    URLs are done automatically and you can't do pics or italics.   There is no size limitation, like Twitter, because that would have meant integrating a "TinyURL" feature - basically more work, and URL changes are really only valuable for marketing people trying to get you to go to their site by masking the URL.   We are all members of one site here, no marketers allowed, so it's a non-issue.

How can you help?

As most of you know, we are not really a media company.  Unlike Discovery or Discover or Scienceblogs or Natureblogs, we don't have magazines backing us and an infrastructure of employees doing this stuff so we can't really be sure things work the way they should until we roll it out.   For Corks that are made on your Profile, your comment tracker should show it under the Home icon, what you also see for comments on an article you write:

For Corks your friends write, it will show up under the Friends comment icon, which are the two heads in the comment tracker.

No one outside your Friends list can see your Corks so non-Friends can't leave Corks for you either.   Like Chatting, which also has a mutual friend restriction, it keeps spammers and cranks from bothering you.    Non-friends who want to contact you can always email you through the Email icon on your profile:

So just let us know what problems you have with this new stuff.   Things you will probably see - a "phantom" comment number may come up on occasion.   Just let me know because in something complex like this, the beginning will have hiccups and we can fix it manually each time it happens and it will go away.

We need to know if these are not showing up at all.  If you never see anything in your comment tracker, we especially need to know that, since it's supposed to make your life a lot easier.

Up for this week

In the next few days we are going to add in Email notification when someone adds you to their Friend list and add back in email notification options when you get a comment on an article, email option if you want replies to comments and a few others things under Preferences.    We're also going to unveil our new, improved and not 400-names-long-on-a-sidebar Writer Index the week after that along with a Track button for people who want to be notified about comments on articles they didn't write, even if they're not replies or written by a friend.

In January we will tackle making your Profiles a lot prettier so they are more like an information page you can use for everyone you know.  

Of course, you can always write us with things you want too.   We get ideas and then go ahead and implement them but some are worth it and some aren't.