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And so it begins…

…the long-awaited migration to WordPress, promised ever since NatGeo took over:

Notice: will be migrating to a new publishing platform starting on the evening of Monday, May 21 at 7 PM Eastern Standard Time. Please do not add any comments or posts between then and Tuesday afternoon. We will update this page when maintenance is complete and normal blog activity can resume.

More recently, we were informed:

Please plan to make any posts on the Moveable Type platform before 7 pm ET; otherwise they are unlikely to be moved to the WordPress platform during tonight’s “catch-up” migration. The catch-up will find and copy any newly created posts and comments (not changes like typo corrections to existing posts, or updates to drafts already imported) made to the blogs after April 18 and add them to the new site. When you view your blog in the early afternoon of May 22, it should have all posts and comments that were live on the MT site as of 7 pm ET on Monday, May 21.

Fortunately, after we complained about the original plan, which would have lost about a month’s worth of comments and required us bloggers to manually migrate the last month or so worth of posts over to the new platform or lose them, it looks as though it will be less than a day during which your comments might or might not make it over to the new blog. Not ideal, but better than what had been originally planned. Be that as it may, it’s going to be weird to have things be so silent for around 18 hours, but it’ll be a nice little break. If I get an itchy blogging finger, I might just post something over at, which is basically the site I thought about moving to a year ago but ended up putting in mothballs.

Naaah. Probably not. Even my massive ego doesn’t labor under the delusion that you can’t survive without a heapin’ helpin’ of the Insolence, both Respectful and Not-So-Respectful, that I churn out on a daily (well, week daily basis, anyway) on just one day.

Anyway, patience, dear readers. Things should be better after the migration, although, alas, ScienceBlogs blogs will all look more “uniform.” I suppose that’s the price to pay. In the meantime, I see little point in posting anything until after the “all clear” is given. During that window, things might look a little strange in that posts that were here might well temporarily disappear, only to reappear later. Finally, things will only look somewhat different after the migration occurs, and there will be new features. Now maybe one of these days we can persuade the powers that be that this blog collective could use a major redesign.

Anyway, if you want to comment on anything and be assured that your trenchant brilliance will make it over to the new platform for sure and not disappear forever into the ether, be sure to comment it before 7 PM EDT! I’ll post something when the migration is over. Because I’m a paranoid type, however, I probably won’t post any lengthy bits of Orac-ian logorrhea deconstructing the latest pseudoscience or extolling the latest cool science until Wednesday morning. I want to kick the tires a bit and make sure everything’s working right before doing that.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

58 replies on “And so it begins…”

Apropos of, not this column, but rather with regard to a general matter:

Given ORAC’s inclination of scorn toward “woo” which (can we assume) would include teleportation, telepathy and the like . . . what does ORAC think of the paralyzed person(s) being able to move robot device(s)?

I trust that the move will be complete upon my return from Europe in two weeks. I will be in *super secret meetings* with our *Big Pharma* overlords.

Rest assured, Orac and minions, Lord Draconis and I will negotiate intently with even more filthy lucre to follow…

Given ORAC’s inclination of scorn toward “woo” which (can we assume) would include teleportation, telepathy and the like . . . what does ORAC think of the paralyzed person(s) being able to move robot device(s)?

Speaking for myself, it doesn’t even have the whiff of spookiness of Libet.

Wow, certainly looks a lot…. different.

Looks nice, but it will probably take a bit of time for me to get used to the look and the interface.

Can you convince your benevolent overlords to increase the height of the “Recent Comments” frame? The 5 most recent is insufficient IMHO.

I’m going to go with “Sweet Jesus, this is almost unreadable.” Seriously, comment text is in *gray*? Gassy faux leading? It’s actually better with the style sheet turned off.

Agreeing with M O’B at 3 (?): the 5 most recent comments is definitely not going to be enough if Thingdong comes back in a logorrheic state.

Also, having numbering of comments again would be much appreciated.

The lack of a comment preview should be an absolute delight, as well.

“Also, having numbering of comments again would be much appreciated.”

Turning off the style sheet actually solves this.

A long long time ago
in a galaxy far away
Naboo was under an attack
And I thought me and Qui-Gon Jinn
Could talk the federation into
Maybe cutting them a little slack

Oops – that’s The Saga Begins.

And the new limit of, apparently, no more than posts an hour is for the birds.

I just get back from work, and what do I see? This.

I also see that all my posts that are less than a month old seem to have no comments.

seem to have no comments

Don’t fear, I get very few comments on my blog as well.

GRAY for comments? Yerk. And the latest 5 comments I see in Chrome are:

Chris Winter on the May 10 Burzynski post, on May 10 (it’s the only comment)
Autism on the April 17 CEASE post, on April 29 (the last of a lot of posts, WHERE are the numbers?)
LQ on the December 12, 2011 Byrzynski post, on April 28 (don’t know if the dating’s accurate; did the post get a lot more comments in April?)
Lilady on the April 10 ToddW Zombie Fundraising post, on April 28
Narad on the April 18 Bioethics falls for the “tell both sides” trope post, on April 28

Looks rather spiffy.
Well, Narad, lack of preview means that we’ll just have to be more conscientous editors of our own products. Fortunately, we’re adaptive creatures and can manage.

On to the next…

Methinks the migration isn’t done yet. For one thing, when I log onto the back end I don’t have administrative access; none of the posts or comments show up, just my profile. As for problems, Perhaps after the migration is truly complete and I can actually do more than just comment on my own blog (again, I can’t post right now), I’ll put up a couple of housekeeping posts about changes you will see and an open thread for comments/complaints/suggestions about the new template. I can tell you that I won’t be requiring that commenters have a WordPress account. I will, however, be taking advantage of the ability of WordPress to automatically close out comment threads and set them all to shut down after 90 days. No more necromancers!

Since I’m already bitching, I will note that the CSS specifies Arial and Helvetica, in that order. This is a sign of wholesale typographic incompetence, budding Web designers. (I recommend Mark Simonson’s “The Scourge of Arial”). Doing it the other way around merely represents thoughtlessness.

And really, what characterizes Helvetica? To quote Robert Bringhurst from The Elements of Typographic Style (discussing letterspacing), “nothing more than wishful thinking bonds the letters to each other.” It is devoid of contrast. It hearkens in design to “cultural souvenirs of some of the bleakest days of the Industrial Revolution” (Bringhurst again). And this is what one would choose for a modern collection of science blogs?

Most recent comment links are unworkable on my moble.

I’m done. Bye, all

Narad and Denice,

Although the lack of comment preview might, in combination with a gray Helvetica font, be nearly fatal, where else are we gonna respond–AoA?

How do you turn off the style sheet?

Well, anyone know of an iOS web browser that will allow turning off style sheets?

Also, it just told me “you’re posting comments too fast! Slow down!” It’s been 52 minutes since my last comment. This doesn’t seem well-tuned.

And no autolink to commenters’ webpages/blogs? OOOhhh I hate that, too.

And I am “commenting too quickly”. WordPress admonishes me to “slow down”. Giving it 35 minutes.

And HELP Narad, how do you “turn off the style sheet”?

“How do you turn off the style sheet?”

In my Firefox, which is rather old, it’s View -> Page Style -> No Style.

OK, our overlord tells us that the migration isn’t finished.

Evidently you can’t link to individual comments, either. BAD.

But not as #FAIL as threaded comments.

And what’s with the “report abuse” button? What happens when a comment is reported for abuse? Does the comment automatically go away?

I predict some real problems from our usual suspects (Th1Th2 for example) if it’s not disabled.

And I intensely dislike the lack of preview, too. Yes I proofread but I also use HTML in the comments and without the preview I sometimes (well, often, really) bugger up the formatting. I seem to be fond of opening with bold and closing with italic, for example.

@ brian:

I have no problem with the lack of preview…actually, I almost like it. And the grey is alright.
I suspect that the new set-up won’t impose any hinderances to the trolls, JAQers and contrarians.
-btw- what’s a style sheet?

OK, let’s see which tags work:

-btw- what’s a style sheet?

SGML, of which HTML is an instantiation, isn’t really meant to specify typography, but structure and content. Eventually, this started to get on people’s nerves on the Web, and HTML began to incorporate purely typographic markup. Hence, the “blink” tag. Hence, frames. Eventually, the mess was remedied by the adoption of CSS, which allows control over presentation (which originally was purely up to the browser) to be separated from content.

Will all the previous comments in past posts migrate over or will they be lost?

Stay tuned. The promise was that all comments and posts on the old platform up until 7 PM May 21 would migrate over, and I am going to hold the NatGeo and Seed overlords to their promise. I’m particularly perturbed because Abraham Cherrix showed up, and I had wanted to do a post about his comments. Now I don’t have them and can’t do the post.

I think I will probably have to wait another day before doing any substantive posts. Clearly, the new environment is not ready for prime time yet. I will, however, try to do a housekeeping post.

@ Orac:

I enjoyed conversing with Abraham- I tried to get him to speak about his beliefs without pushing too much: he’s a very young person who has gone through difficult times. OK- he advocates health freedom and would speak publicly on the topic, believes alt med has data ( un-published) available on request from practitioners, doesn’t have much faith in standard treatments and isn’t a Christian.
I wished he stuck around a little longer; he seemed willing to discuss his ideas. Maybe he’ll return.

Location and no URL? And still no reply threads or likes. Tell the NatGeoians to look at The Village Voice blog and DISQUS to see how it’s done.

Can I post again after only a few minutes? Can I get all italic too? Lack of preview is gonna piss Old Dragonpants off something fierce . . .

Except the Village Voice doesn’t allow any URLs in the body of the message. You have to change .com to .kom or something similar, so readers can’t just click through. They have to copy paste the URL and then change the .kom back to .com. It’s a major nuisance.

Tell the NatGeoians to look at The Village Voice blog and DISQUS to see how it’s done.

Eh, Disqus is a JavaScript monstrosity that appears to scale poorly, judging by the N = 1 large-scale trial (TVBTN) I’ve seen of its being adopted (and fairly promptly disposed of). You want threading? I’m down with just rolling it all back to Cliff Adams’s strn.

Orac, I just tried to use the “Go To” drop down to navigate to a different blog. It doesn’t appear to be working. Would you notify the Admins that it’s broken?

Ugh, not a fan of the changes from what I can see at the moment. I do not like the few lines given for each post, I liked being able to read a few paragraphs first to see if I wanted to read the entire post. Also, I like to be able to see how many comments had been made on a post before clicking on it as this quickly let me see how much change had been made on any post since I last looked at it. Finally, is there no longer going to be a way to leave a link to your blog or website when posting?

I am glad they did not go the threaded comment route, but there are quite a few things that need improvement. Sadly I cannot even contact them to ask questions as the “Contact Us” link no longer works.

Hopefully things will be working better tomorrow morning.

OK, so now somebody has made a really dumb change to <head><title>. Hint: it’s best for it to not to be in full caps and too wide to fully display without dual monitors.

I don’t mean to be a jackass, really, but the wide-open spam gate is cracking me up.

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I tried to comment but it got messed up.

On my mobile, the most recent comments are not at the top anymore. I don’t want to scroll, scroll, scroll just to find out if there has been a new comment or not.

I’m looking at this with an iPad, which may make a difference.

The number of recent comments is five. Above someone mentioned that it was twenty; it is not for me.

The blogroll has completely disappeared.

I wish we could see the number of comments on each post. I don’t mind the brief sections of each post on the home page since I will, of course, read every word that Orac writes.

The front page looks ok, the gray comment color is not ideal. Form over function again.

I share the same dislike of the gray comment color and the want of comment numbers.

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Another thing I have noticed which irritated me on SBM is that every time a blog is linked to from a subsequent blog or another site, it gets posted as a comment on that blog.

As someone who tries to follow the action and check out the comments, I find this irritating.

Also, the 5/28 01:28 am commenter seems to be into California chic.

Well the spam bots can resemble free form poetry, that is only appreciated with enough wine. I think I’ll go and catch up on a week of newspapers. They actually have cogent sentences.

Well the spam bots can resemble free form poetry, that is only appreciated with enough wine.

What’s worse is that the incompetent spammers who fail to correctly add the payloads to the botnet have arrived. I really have no words left to describe what it takes to leave a stationary target in the open like this for so long.


I really have no words left to describe what it takes to leave a stationary target in the open like this for so long.

Especially for an entity like National Geographic. I assume they are taking responsibility for this blog since the familiar “Sb” has been replaced by the even more familiar yellow border.

I grew up with the National Geographic. Not just the magazine (several that are kept in our house), but the beautifully illustrated books. I hate to see that it has become a target of spammers.

Yes, the spam problem really has become intolerable here. I’m getting very tired of waking up every morning and having to delete 50-100 fresh spams. The problem is worst at night, too. It’s like the spammers know that the blog will be unmonitored overnight. If only I were like my namesake, I wouldn’t need six to eight hours of downtime and could monitor the blog overnight too! I’m seriously thinking of turning on comment moderation for all at night, so that at least I don’t wake up to dozens of new spams. Alternatively, I could require registration (much like at my other blog) if you want to comment. I’ve never done that before, and I hate to do it, but this is not a sustainable situation. I can’t be waking up to piles of new comment spam every day. It wastes my time, destroys discussion, and irritates my readers. However, if NGS doesn’t step up to the plate, my only choice will be to do something like that. (That, or leave, and I’m not irritated to leave just yet.)

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