Some Upcoming Changes to Daily Nous


At Daily Nous we toil to provide you, dear readers, with an exceptional philosoblogospheric experience. There have been a number of changes to the site over the course of its existence, and a complete overhaul in October of last year. I bet none of you remembers the site looking like this:

old school daily nous on screen

(And here’s what it looked like just 21 months ago.)

Thanks in part to your suggestions, further changes are in the works, and I’m writing today to let you know about two of them.

The Comments

Comments at Daily Nous are moderated. Here is how that currently works:

  • you are familiar with the comments policy
  • you read a post (I hope)
  • you type up a comment
  • you fill out your name and email and if you care to, website
  • you click submit
  • then you wait
  • a notification appears on my phone (and computer) that you’ve commented
  • if I am not sleeping/driving/biking/running/teaching/isolated from the internet for work purposes/engaged with my kids/on a plane without wifi/at the movies/trying not to be one of those people who looks at his phone all the time/etc., then, I will read your comment and very likely approve it
  • you refresh the page to see if your comment appears
  • your comment appears
  • you see that there’s a typo in your comment

This system works alright, but there are some problems. On your end, there’s the wait. The comments don’t have the flow of a conversation, as they might on, say Facebook (where quite a bit of discussion of Daily Nous posts take place). You may also have a problem with me deciding whether your comment shows up. On my end, there’s the constant interruption. Don’t get me wrong—I’m glad that there is discussion and I aim for Daily Nous to be a lively public square for the profession. It is just that it is hard to get other work done when I am managing comments. Plus, I approve nearly all comments, so I have come to think that the interruptions are not worth my time.

So, I’m changing things up. Imminently—perhaps as early as this weekend, depending on surprise technical challenges—the commenting system will be different. Here are the key new elements:

  1. You will have to be logged in to comment at Daily Nous. You’ll have the option to log in via your social media accounts (as many other sites operate), or independently through the commenting software. The idea here is to increase accountability in commenting by encouraging commenters to use their real names, or at least consistent nicknames or handles. Please, no handles with “anonymous” and its variations in the name.
  2. There will be no more pre-moderation of comments by me. Instead, your comment will just appear on the site. As now, there will be the option for other readers to “like” your comment. There will also be the option for other readers to flag your comment as problematic. If a sufficient number of readers flag a comment as problematic, it will become invisible to other readers and sent to me for moderation. I’ll say more about this another time, but the flagging feature is not to be used to express mere dislike or disagreement, but rather for violations of the comments policy (the core of which will remain the same, but I will be elaborating on it at some point).
  3. Comments will be similar in functioning to a chat or Facebook thread. That is, comments should appear almost instantly on the page to you and other readers without needing to refresh the page. So comments can proceed as a conversation. Isn’t that cool?
  4. Additionally, there will be the option to comment on Daily Nous via your email. You can receive the posts and others’ comments via email, and then just comment on the posts or reply to their comments via email, with those comments showing up on the page at Daily Nous.

I am hopeful that the increased accountability, the use of consistent nicknames, and the more conversational flow will result in an improved discussion. It may be a little rough at the start, as technical glitches are fixed, options set, and people get used to it, so please, have patience. I think it will be worth it.

The Layout & Heap of Links

If you are reading Daily Nous on a computer or large tablet, it probably has three columns of stories and a right sidebar (on smaller screens or windows, it only has two columns, and on phones held in profile orientation, just one column). The layout will change slightly.

The planned revisions to the layout will create a left sidebar and reduce the number of columns on the full-size version of the main section to two.

The Heap of Links will move to the upper part of left sidebar, making them more visible upon opening the page.

I sometimes get questions about the Heap of Links so I thought it would be useful to answer them here:

What is the Heap of Links?
The Heap of Links is a carefully selected list of links to articles, posts, sites, podcasts, videos, and other things on the web that I think would be of interest to some Daily Nous readers. It allows me to draw attention to material elsewhere without pushing current discussions taking place in the main section too far down on the page. It is updated periodically, usually a few times each day.

Are the old items in the Heap of Links archived somewhere?
Yes they are, at this page (which for some reason yet to be determined is down at the moment; I’ll add that to the to-do list. UPDATE: seems fixed now). A link to that page is also in the header of the site.

Why do certain things end up in the Heap of Links rather than the main section?
Items may be posted in the Heap of Links rather than the main section for any number of reasons, but mainly one of these four: (a) there isn’t much about them to discuss, (b) there is something to discuss, but there’s a suitable discussion taking place at the link, (c) there is something to discuss, but I don’t want to host that discussion, (d) it is of interest to philosophers but not necessarily about philosophy, philosophers, or the profession.

Can I suggest material—including material about me—for the Heap of Links?
Yes! I encourage you all to make suggestions for the Heap of Links. If you find something interesting on the web that you think would be of interest to other philosophers, please email me the link.

Thanks again for your suggestions, and for your patience as the changes are implemented. I’ll post about them again once they’re in place.

Justin

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