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posted by martyb on Friday March 20 2020, @03:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the putting-our-heads-together-from-a-distance-seems-like-it-should-be-easy-but-it's-MMMMMMMMMMMMMM-not! dept.

[20200320_184315 UTC: Update: Made the dept. line longer to better demonstrate space [un]availability.--martyb]

[20200320_202305 UTC: Update: Added topics: "/dev/random", "Code", "Software", and "Answers" topics to better illustrate their use of space in a story. --martyb]

[20200321_175412 UTC: Update: superseded by: Skip to comment(s) -- Second Try --martyb]

First: Please accept my best wishes to everyone during SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 / Coronavirus pandemic. Please take all necessary precautions to keep yourself and those around you safe!

Second: I should not have been surprised, but I must confess my admiration at how the SoylentNews community came together in support of each other in response to SoylentNews Community -- How has SAR-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) / COVID-19 Affected You? As of my writing this, there are over 300 comments! community++ This is what I had hoped for when SoylentNews started over six years (Wow!) ago, and so validates my giving of my time to this site!

Third: (and the focus of this story) our virus roundup stories are... long. An AC posted a comment: thanks to eds:

Thanks editors for pulling together this summary. SN for the win!

One comment--it is kind of long to scroll down through, to get to the comments. Perhaps next time some of the longer stories could be put inside the spoiler tag?"

This was quickly acted on by a member of staff, but that was not universally embraced as a "Good Idea". Both Soylentils, to my eye, had good points. If I am visiting an active story again, I have already read the story (both the "Intro Copy" and the "Extended Copy"). Why should I have to scroll through a wall-of-text to get to the comments? The suggestion of using <spoiler>...</spoiler> to bracket the contents of each of the merged stories seemed like a reasonable suggestion. But, when you have a hammer... Right idea, but maybe not quite the right tool.

Aside: If I am reading a review of, say, a movie, then a spoiler is an appropriate way to hide plot details from those who have not yet seen the movie. That is not the situation here. Why hide details of a story about the pandemic? Hmm. A good first try, perhaps, but it looks like we need something different in this case.

Idea: what if there were, say, a button at the top of the story that I could click and be brought immediately to the comment section of a story? Hey! I can do that!

Acknowledgements: At this point, I hereby express my sincere thanks to AndyTheAbsurd for constructing some CSS which allowed the conditional display of a button, and to FatPhil for his testing efforts. Thanks guys!

Read on past the break for details on the implementation and a request for assistance before I attempt to roll it out to production.

So, I hacked up something that I hope addressed the initial concern: "kind of long to scroll down through". I'll be the first to admit the implementation is crude. We can go for pretty later. (The perfect is the enemy of good enough, right?) I think the ideal would be to have a separate nexus for virus-related stories. That way we would not feel compelled to gather a bunch of story submissions into a single story. We could process each submission independently and release each on its own. Unfortunately, there is much more to it than just adding an entry to the site DB.

It has been implemented on our development server: and I hereby solicit feedback from the community on how well it works. It was implemented with one addition to an in-memory copy of a single site template (dispStory;misc;default).

For the curious, see Original and Updated Versions of Template: "dispStory;misc;default" ("Skip to Comment(s)" button), but do be aware that rehash replaced tabs with spaces, so what you see is NOT an exact copy of the sources.

Now what? Feedback! This is your site. I am well aware there are Soylentils who have a much better grasp of HTML and CSS than I do, and am hereby soliciting supportive feedback.

Test scenarios:

  1. Does the "Skip to comment(s)" Button not appear on the main page?
  2. Does the "Skip to comment(s)" Button appear on the story page?
  3. Does it work?
  4. Is the appearance consistent across all of the available themes?
    1. Site Default
    2. BadA55
    3. Chillax
    4. Grayscale
    5. Black IcIcle
    6. Night Mode
    7. NV
    9. SoylentNews
    10. Vomit
    11. VT100
    12. VT220
  5. Is the layout consistent other homepage settings?
    [] Simple Design
    Simplifies the design of Dev.SN to strip away some of the excesses of the UI.
    [] Low Bandwidth
    Reduces the size of pages for people with slower network connections
    [] No Icons
    Disable topic icon images on stories.
  6. Which of the preceding homepage settings would be better served with just a simple anchor?

    <a href="@acomments">Skip to Comment(s)</a>

  7. Other, what did I miss?

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 21 2020, @12:46AM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 21 2020, @12:46AM (#973692)

    Since this is a meta thread, I'm curious about journal entries and why some of them don't show up in the "new journal entries" slashbox on the front page. A few weeks ago, I created a new account for the purpose of posting journal entries pseudonymously to get some advice from people here. I created my account and was able to successfully post the journal entry, but it never showed up in the box. Why is that? Is that an anti-spam measure that requires a certain amount of karma or accounts that are of a certain age? For what it's worth, I'll describe how I remember the content of the journal in the rest of this post. It wasn't spam.

    My initial questions were going to be about issues that I experience as a researcher in academia. I did a significant amount of work on some fluid dynamics simulations and summarized them in a document. The PI, my advisor, wrote a journal paper with my results, took lead authorship with me being the other author, and the paper was not good. I chose not to object to him being lead author, focusing my objections on the content. My concerns were mostly ignored and the paper was rightly rejected. Rather than accepting the reviewer criticism, my advisor is requesting I run additional simulations that won't actually address many of the reviewer comments.

    There's a bigger problem. My advisor wants me to use a different fluid dynamics simulation program than the one I'd been using. The work is funded on a grant, the proposal for which contains some preliminary results. The proposal indicates that the fluid dynamics simulator was run in a particular configuration to produce the results. However, the software cannot be run in that configuration without some very significant modifications to the code.

    Twice, once a few months ago, one within the past week, I've asked who ran the simulation for the proposal. I've been told it was done by a masters student who has since graduated. Apparently the student worked for an associate professor at a different university. My advisor has tried to discourage me from contacting the professor at the other university and has refused to tell me who the student was. I've asked for more details about how the code was modified and how the simulations were conducted, but haven't been given an answer. Instead, my advisor has questioned my competence for not having already made the modifications, despite directing me to work on other things over the past few months. Based on my tests with the original simulator, I had difficulty reproducing the results that were in the proposal.

    I believe the student probably made an error and didn't run the simulator correctly. But I believe it was a mistake, with no indication that there was intent for wrongdoing. I'm more concerned that I can't get enough information to reproduce the experiments, and that I'm being blamed for not being able to reproduce experiments that I don't believe were done correctly to begin with. This feels like an effort to cover up prior mistakes. In the journal, I was going to ask if this constitutes fabrication and how to proceed.

    Again, this isn't spam, so I'm very curious why it didn't show up as a recent journal entry. I think it matters whether or not it showed up in the recent journal entries slashbox because, if it didn't, I don't know that anyone would see my post. It kind of defeats the purpose of asking for advice if nobody sees my question.


  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 21 2020, @01:07AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 21 2020, @01:07AM (#973699)

    After reading the story again, I realize that my post was even more OT than I realized. Sorry. But it was helpful to vent about my situation, anyway. I'm glad I got that off my chest.

    As for the actual questions, it seems like the user can skip to the comments from the main page already. Clicking on the "X comments" link goes to the comments while the "Read more" button or "X words in story" links go to the text. I think the main page is fine as-is. On the story page, it seems like the top, where the author, department, and posting time are displayed, there could be a link to the #commentwrap anchor, which would jump to that part of the page.

    Slashdot used to have sections like science, YRO, radio, BSD (is dying), Apple, and several others. It seems like you might be able to temporarily create a section about the pandemic, or perhaps more generally for breaking news. Some of those stories could be posted to the main page while others would just appear on the section page. I think breaking news makes more sense just because the section could be reused when there are other major stories. Slashdot pretty much abandoned posting any other stories on 9/11, instead being just about the only site accessible that day, and posting about the breaking news. A breaking news section could be used in the future for stories like that.

    • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Saturday March 21 2020, @01:18AM

      by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Saturday March 21 2020, @01:18AM (#973701) Homepage

      Do it 4chan style and have the sticky stories always at the top of the list in the homepage. Maybe a cute pushpin or thumbtack icon before or after the story heading title.

      Actually I like the coronavirus roundups, having new discussions as news breaks is a lot better than having a 2000 comment sticky because I'm not trying to read a fucking novel just to find something to reply to.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 21 2020, @02:27AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 21 2020, @02:27AM (#973713)

    Why is that? Is that an anti-spam measure that requires a certain amount of karma

    Yes. IIRC, I believe you need a karma of 10+ for your journals to appear in the slashbox on the front page.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 21 2020, @03:15AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 21 2020, @03:15AM (#973728)

      Just looking at what the posts are that fail the karma requirement, and it quickly becomes clear why it is there.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 21 2020, @03:48AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 21 2020, @03:48AM (#973735)

    First, being lead author isn't that uncommon, especially if they are PI on a grant. Some insist on being first because they are the ones sticking their neck out for students. Others, like myself, put the students first if they did the most work or to give them a boost in the indexes (it counts in my PoP quota regardless). It is a decision that correlates with age on a "U" shaped curve.

    Second, document the crap out of everything. It will keep him from coming back at you later with various accusations about your non-compliance. Especially if you need to escalate things up your chain. Every time anyone says something in person that could affect you professionally, send an email with "based on our conversation today, it is my understanding that you [blah blah blah]. Let me know if I missed anything." and then save it, headers and all.

    Third, this isn't fabrication of results, yet. It doesn't sound like you have actual proof that the numbers were off purposefully (although the PI may be realizing they messed up). Instead, put in black and white in an email exactly what you need to make things work according to your decision-making model. Provide all the information they need up to the Execution/Take-Action step. If you don't get what you need back, push it once in response and then pursue it to the student's union or student research office for vague advice (in person, you don't want to document something they could rat to your PI). They should be able to give you some more specific advice without starting informal procedures. If you are real hesitant, you may want to contact them first. I would definitely avoid mentioning it in the department because they are more likely to take the PI's side or tell him (unless they really don't like him).