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Changes?

I would like to make some changes to Political Irony, and I really need some feedback and suggestions.

When I started PI in early 2008, I only expected to run it until that election, but I had so much fun and learned so much that I kept doing it for a few years. Then there was the 2012 election, so I decided to keep running it until then. Thankfully, that turned out well. So now I’m deciding what to do.

I don’t have as much time to do this as I once did. I’m working full time again, and some of you know about the medical problems I’ve had (don’t worry, I’m fine, but it is ongoing). Because of that, I’ve cut back a bit — I used to try to have at least three posts a day, but now I’m happy if I just have one or two.

And just maintaining the site has become a lot of work. I recently rebuilt the site (again), and it is still running slow and has problems. If I’m going to keep running it, I need to either do a lot of work to get it running well, or find a new platform.

One possibility is to just stop doing it. But I hate to do that. I don’t think there is any other forum like this on the web (with rational, supportive, somewhat non-partisan discussions) and I love the discussions we have. If there was some other site where we could have these discussions, I’d be happy to move to that.

Another possibility is to move PI to some other platform. For example, I already have facebook, twitter, and google groups accounts for PI. I could just post links to interesting stories. But neither facebook nor (especially) twitter support the kinds of (often in-depth) discussions we have had in here. And I’m not sure if a discussion list would work either. I created the google group because people wanted to be able to post things there and discuss them, but that never happened. Maybe somebody knows of a different platform that would work.

Or I could go totally gonzo and try some strange new platform. How about my friend Ward (‘wiki’) Cunningham’s new federated wiki? I’ve also looked at node.js-based blogging platforms, but they are not really ready yet. Any other crazy ideas?

Currently, PI uses a popular blogging platform (WordPress), but that really only supports time-limited discussions (I post something, and people discuss it for a few days), not discussions that evolve over time. I’d like to post a story about some topic (say, copyrights), and add further posts in the future that show up on the front page but still retain the context of the original article (and original discussion, which could continue). But I haven’t seen anything like this.

A wiki is the opposite, it supports posts that evolve over time, but doesn’t really support discussions (with opposing viewpoints) well. There are threaded discussion lists (like Google Groups), but as I said I’m not sure that would work for PI either.

I’ve tried to get other people to submit articles, but haven’t received many of those. My friend Iron Filing took over for a month when I was traveling in late 2011, but seemed to be overwhelmed by the amount of work it took (it does take a lot more work than it seems!).

Anyway, I’m looking for ideas, suggestions, criticism, offers to help, offers to take over, sympathy, pity, whatever. :-)

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43 Comments

  1. Cyn wrote:

    whatever you decide to do please post it here. i hope you will continue to have something like this online indefinitely. sorry i don’t have any specific suggestion but i am interested in what other’s come up w/.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink
  2. Mario Savio wrote:

    Much sympathy for your struggle to keep the site going. I’m very thankful that you’ve put the time in to keep the site going.

    Right now I’d have to say that I’m happy with the site. You identified some problems with the platform, but I don’t think these are problems at all. There are quite a few websites out there whose purpose is to have active, lively discussion. Those are great but PI has its own niche. You were right when you said there’s not another website out there like PI. I don’t come to PI for forum discussion. I like seeing the irony.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink
  3. oregonbird wrote:

    I’d miss this site, as it is pithy, in line with my interests and clean — I like the look of it! That said, I tend to see your work along the same lines as Bruce Bartlett’s, minus the television appearances, and I note that he seems to enjoy starting conversations on facebook — conversations that go on for days. I think you could find a lot of like-minded participants for your threads on facebook You might consider taking on facebook as a second home; I’m certain you would gather more readers there!

    But I would miss coming here, as a blog is simply a more elegant way to present a determined point of view. It has a sense of gravitas, of permanence and dedication, which other forms of on-line discussion fail to provide.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Permalink
  4. Richard wrote:

    The problems you’ve had with embedded spam and such are solvable in a few ways:

    1. Move the site to hosted wordpress. http://www.wordpress.com

    2. Get some technical help in rebuilding the current theme to keep spam out.

    I’ve had a self-hosted wordpress blog since before wordpress was wordpress (it was called B2 when Matt forked it into wordpress) and I’ve enjoyed watching it evolve. It’s not perfect but it’s a decent system. Like you, I’m finding that it’s a lot of work to do site maintenance and so I’ve been experimenting with hosted wordpress for a few months now and I like it. I’ve not paid for any of the premium stuff, just got a free site and have been posting to both it and to my self-hosted site.

    You can point your domain to a wordpress hosted site and you can choose from many themes.

    It’s worth a try: see if you can get political irony.wordpress.com. Even if you don’t use it, you can sit on it and then if you do use it and want to point your current domain to it, you can do that later.

    As far as the wiki-like organizational piece, I think this too might be handled with a custom theme. Not sure I’d recommend turning the site into a wiki: a site like this needs one master mind editor (you) but you might build a way for others who follow the site to easily recommend things for you to blog or comment on.

    I hope you’ll keep at it, I enjoy both your taste in content and your commentary.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Permalink
  5. wildwood wrote:

    No! I finally found a place with like-minded, (usually :)), people and I don’t like change. I’m computer illiterate so just getting here every day is the extent of my abilities or I would be happy to provide suggestions. I hope you find an answer that will keep this going. Thanks for the work you.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 7:19 pm | Permalink
  6. Reed Elliott wrote:

    Ungrateful bastards indeed! I’m sorry for having taken the true excellence of your site for granted for so long. You are a “staple” in my daily menu and you do a brilliant job. For what it’s worth, I’m an old coot and stuff like facebook and twitter (and all the other options you mention) don’t do a thing for me. If you could keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’d be making me happy. Can others such as myself (with no specific skills) help in any way?

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Permalink
  7. Alison wrote:

    I really enjoy what you post, and I’d be sorry to see you stop. As others have said, I don’t have specific ideas (just please don’t make this an FB-only thing).

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink
  8. Becky wrote:

    I’ve never commented before but I have been coming here daily for at least 2 years, maybe more. I would miss you terribly if you chose to stop. I wish I could offer up some skills other than searching for content.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Permalink
  9. Hassan wrote:

    I have seen wiki apps that allow comments. Can that work? The main page of wiki may have dynamic widget telling people about recent comments and page updates, and then users can click to go there and continue discussion

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Permalink
  10. David Freeman wrote:

    What if two or three folks each agreed to take 1 day per week each? I know you’ve asked for submissions with little success but a weekly forum might be more attractive to some. I once had a weekly newspaper column that I was quite proud of. If I had to do that every day the quality would have dropped dramatically. I don’t know how you’ve done it!

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 10:48 pm | Permalink
  11. rk wrote:

    Maybe you are expecting too much from yourself. Cut back a bit. I’d love to see the site continue as-is, but will work with whatever you want.

    I don’t care for Facebook, Google, and Twitter. The issues you pointed out are accurate, but you also have to deal with data collection and the perpetual possibility that they will change how things work at any time.

    Consider taking on several assistants, each of whom may post a message a day?

    The DML (Dinosaur Mailing List) has been going for about 15-20 years and has similar requirements. You might consider talking to Mickey (the last DML administrator I remember) and see what it is he’s using and what issues it has.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 10:55 pm | Permalink
  12. This corner of the web is a favorite of mine as well. I volunteer to assist with putting together any of the features or writing [I also used to maintain a WordPress blog]. If you would like my help just email. Best wishes with the health issues.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 11:51 pm | Permalink
  13. Jason wrote:

    Thank you for all the work that you put into this site! I’m really appreciative of what you do here. Is there a way that we can kick down a few bones to show our appreciation?

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 3:10 am | Permalink
  14. just me wrote:

    NOOOOOOO…….!!

    Do what you have to do but PLEASE don’t leave us!
    I have very few “favorites” on my header, but your is at the top of any computer I use.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 6:06 am | Permalink
  15. I’m still here.

    I’ve not seen many of the people who used to post: life happens, and people move on.

    I would hate for this sight to go down, but if it happens, it happens. I’ll still see some of the content on reddit, but I would miss your commentary.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 6:28 am | Permalink
  16. Hieronymus wrote:

    I’ll follow you wherever you go Iron Knee, even if that means I have to finally surrender to Facebook.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 6:34 am | Permalink
  17. John G wrote:

    Hope you stick around. I check your site daily and find pretty much everything you post to be useful and entertaining. Thanks for the effort.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 6:51 am | Permalink
  18. Michael wrote:

    I’m with David. I have enjoyed having conversations (and sometimes just lurking) here, and I would be sad to see it go. However, I feel like a moocher by getting the fruits of your labor for free. It’d be good if some of us started giving back by contributing to the posts, too.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 8:34 am | Permalink
  19. il-08 wrote:

    No ideas, anything I can do to help, let me know (I’ll take Tuesdays?).

    I find it particularly ironic that after the last comment the website says.

    “Ingrateful Bastards”

    was that on purpose IK?

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink
  20. Fatmike wrote:

    Just a comment in support of what you’be done over the last 4+ years. I couldn’t say how I found out about the site, but it’s become a site I check daily for the compilation of irony and hypocracy in society. I would request that the site not be moved to a Facebook or twitter account, as I do not use either of those outlets…

    Thanks for your dedication!

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink
  21. Libby wrote:

    I can really appreciate the time and effort it takes to keep up this site, but want you to know that it is a favorite bookmark and checked at least daily. It would be lost to me if only on facebook or twitter or google. It is MUCH enjoyed, appreciated, and shared with others. Thank you!

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink
  22. Don wrote:

    Thought Dancer, there are still a few of us left from days gone by. I love this site, although I post much less often. It’s a must read every morning.

    I don’t see how fb would function as a replacement host site – the difficulties of posting a longish response are enough of an issue. Tweet? I don’t Tweet and would find it very difficult to compress thought into such a limited number of characters. I’m not techy enough to offer positive suggestions, I’m afraid.

    IK, we’ve talked of your interests and desires and I think I pretty much understand your concerns and desires. I’d hate to see PI go the way of the dodo, but would understand if that was the outcome of this discussion.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink
  23. Busy College Student wrote:

    This is actually the first comment I’ve ever made, but I just want to say that I appreciate your site so much. I am often so overwhelmed with a busy life, and many days PI is the only site I check. I check your site even more often than Facebook (I know, gasp!). I don’t come here for the discussion though so much, just to read your postings. Rarely do I view the comments. Sorry, I’m not really offering up anything new, except to say that the commenting aspect isn’t that important to me. I’d hate for the site to stop though.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink
  24. Terri wrote:

    I never post comments but I sure do appreciate the chance to read the content you post every day!

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Permalink
  25. Iron Filing wrote:

    Dear IK,

    Just wanted to be clear, I’m willing to come back as Iron Filing if it’s a limited but regular gig – something like one post every Doonesday or the entire thing every Escherday. I just know that if it’s not regularly scheduled, then I just won’t get to it.

    On the other hand, there is something special about Iron Knee posts. I think filling in while you were gone was a good thing but I’m not sure that having me and/or anyone else trying to fluff out the week is the best way to go. One of the other 6 blogs I check every single day is liberalvaluesblog.com. He doesn’t even post every day and half his posts are stupid (IMHO) TV Sci-Fi reviews yet I check every day because his take on things resonates with me. Maybe pure Iron Knee every other day or even a big once a week issue would be better than some hybrid of Iron Knee and other voices.

    Best wishes,
    Iron Filing

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink
  26. tiki god wrote:

    you can certainly do what you’re looking to do with wordpress, just take a little bit of coding, what it sounds like you’re looking to have is a set list of categories and/or tags that you apply to each post and have those posts show up in a structured area on the site. you could still have the latest posts shown on the front page, just have a little bit of extra coding on there to have more of a sticky discussion format.

    feel free to shoot me an email if I can be of any other assistance.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Permalink
  27. Patricia wrote:

    Like so many other commenters, I check this site every day and would miss it. The comment section is always thought provoking. I am not an Internet guru (wouldn’t even qualify as an apprentice!) But I do write. Several times I have benn astounded with some of the ironies of every day living in our “Brave New World.” :) At 67 years of age, I’m still working, but could contribute content on occasion (with the caveat that someone else decides whether to publish or not! :) Email me if this is in any way helpful. Pat

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Permalink
  28. Patricia wrote:

    Good example of editing, don’t you think? :)

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Permalink
  29. Iron Knee wrote:

    By the way, the issue is NOT money. Thank you to the people who have offered financial assistance, but the issue is time and energy.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink
  30. PapaJ wrote:

    I have no tech skill at all, but if searching, reading and sending links would help I am here. Just don’t go away I need this daily.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 7:35 pm | Permalink
  31. PatriotSGT wrote:

    IK – thanks for your dedication, patience and adherence to the ideal of free speech and thoughtful dialogue. I don’t always agree with everyone, but I do like my beliefs challenged because I am always evolving. PI gives me an outlet to voice my thoughts and opinions and reflect on the feedback.
    I go through cycles of busy and not so busy, but like many of your readers would volunteer to contribute occasionally just to keep the dialogue going. I think in this day and age it’s important to discuss and work through the issues of our time.

    Thanks :)

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Permalink
  32. A Longtime Reader wrote:

    First off, thank you for all your work here. This is one of the few places I’ve found on the internet where people are willing to have a productive dialogue on the ironies of our government and society. This has been a site that I have checked almost daily for 3+ years now and while I would miss it, I would rather keep it as is with less frequent posts than to have it be changed. I’m probably on the younger end of your readership, but I feel like your experience and knowledge on a range of issues would be hard to replace with another admin. Nonetheless, I really appreciate everything you’ve posted here and wish you the best of luck moving forward with it.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Permalink
  33. Don in Waco wrote:

    All I have to offer is encouragement and an occasional snark from the probable birthplace of hypocrisy, Texas. If we didn’t invent it we certainly improved it. Sorry to hear about the medical issues. I like the current format but that’s just because its easy on my end. Whatever you can do to preserve the content and hold on to the commentariat will be appreciated by me. I’m somewhat late to the party but don’t see why you feel pressure to post 3x daily when even 3x a week is fine. Feel free to tweak things and experiment. Make it easy on yourself and keep it fun.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Permalink
  34. Diogenes wrote:

    Although I have rarely (if ever?) commented, this blog is one of the greatest things i’ve ever stumbled upon online. It’s literally (one of) my homepage(s). If you need content searchers i’ll chip it whatever i can, i have experience on wordpress but am not extraordinarily computer talented. I think it’s definitely worth a group effort to keep this thing going because it’s one of the most refreshing reads around.

    Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink
  35. Iron Knee wrote:

    So, has anyone ever moved a personal WordPress site to a commercial WordPress hosting site (like WordPress.com, or others)? If I could move the whole blog to another host, that would be best. Otherwise all of the old stories would be lost.

    Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink
  36. Rachel Biel wrote:

    I can empathize with the time and energy question… I can tell you how I use it, if that helps…. It’s a part of my morning ritual. I get your posts by email and rarely visit the site itself, so I don’t see the comments or engage in the community aspect of it. I would definitely not follow on to another social media site as I run an org and also have limited time and energy. I like the insights and get a chuckle now and then and when it’s something that I think is really important, I post it on my Facebook page.

    I would enjoy it as much if it were once a week, highlighting the top bullet points instead of a daily digest.

    Someone suggested WordPress and I just moved my sites over to WordPress earlier this year and am now working on a Buddypress site. That might be an option for you as you can create topical groups and others could contribute info to help with the research end of your news. I’ve found it technically challenging to set up, but part of it is because I chose a fancy template. You can see it here: http://www.tafaforum.com. Totally in the works yet, but it will give you an idea of how the groups can be set up.

    Get one of your techy followers to set something up for you and then import the past content into it. I see that you have a thanks to wordpress in your footer, so maybe you are already on it. I use the .org version (paid) as the .com one isn’t as flexible.

    I would definitely miss this is if you discontinued it, but life is tough to balance and you have to do what is right for you…. Thanks so much for all that has been done in the past! I’ve enjoyed it and have recommended it to many of my friends.

    Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink
  37. Renee wrote:

    Love the site. If you do move, please provide a link to the new site. Good luck!

    Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Permalink
  38. Dan wrote:

    Please keep this going however you have to. It is the one place I can go for sanity. 95% of what I share on Facebook comes from you, I would almost be lost without you, and have to spend hours looking for those things you bring. I’m not a tech guy (heck, I’m having my step-son set up my website) But whatever you decide we love you and will gladly live with it. (unless you stop, then we shall weep silently, put on a brave face and get on with our lives)
    You rock. Keep the faith.

    Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink
  39. Tony wrote:

    I would second that having someone else host it would allow you to concentrate your time and energy on the real content of the site, not on applying updates or fixing it after it’s been hacked. This is one of my daily reads, and one of the sites I most often link to in instant messages. If WordPress doesn’t work out, Tumblr might be an alternative. I’m not sure how you’d import all your old posts though.

    Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink
  40. ebdoug wrote:

    You are well loved Wm. I think “piece of sanity” says it best. You start my morning in the east coast. I, too, am sorry for your health problems. Eva

    Friday, January 18, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink
  41. In terms of technical issues, I recommend moving the site to wordpress.com. You can import all of your posts & comments (that’s built into wordpress) and still use your domain name if you pay for the premium account which is only $99/year.

    Friday, January 18, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink
  42. Iron Knee wrote:

    Eva, you’ve blown my cover!

    Friday, January 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink
  43. tiki god wrote:

    I’ve moved servers with wordpress several times, never to the official “pro” wordpress servers though, I run several of my own and they’re doing fairly well on the hardware I’m using.

    Easy enough if you know what you’re doing :)

    Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 10:32 pm | Permalink