Making OlyBlog Better

OlyBlog is a place where people can express themselves and communicate. It's a place to share concerns and perspectives that are all too often underrepresented, or even misrepresented or completely unrepresented, in the mainstream media. I would like to think it's a safe place, where people can share openly and honestly without fear of being attacked for their ideas, opinions or beliefs.

So I hope OlyBlog sticks around. I hope that OlyBlog is accessible. I hope it's accessible to the widest array of voices possible. With that thought in mind, is it possible that improvements or changes could be made to make OlyBlog better? Maybe not - that is, maybe it's set up pretty hunky dory. Maybe it's set up pretty much just right as-is.

But, maybe it could be better. What are your thoughts? If you think there is room for improvement, then what would help to make it better? What if that Berd guy wasn't around!? Would quicker page-load times help? Is OlyBlog inclusive enough? Is it intimidating? Difficult to enter the discussion? Are there features you would like to see? Specific problems?

I am interested in hearing constructive criticism and suggestions about the blog from any and all users. Which is not to indicate I have any power in actually changing things around here. But maybe the man behind the curtain will listen if we act nice.

What are some of your thoughts about OlyBlog?



back to hyperlocal

<cranky rant>

I know a lot of folks chafe at this, but I get annoyed when I come over here and find something that I found 20 minutes before at BBC or Thinkprogress.

More people working at producing hyper local stuff and less time spent positng their favorite link. This isn't meant to be a straight up discussion forum, we're supposed to be doing hyperlocal jounalism here.

</cranky rant>

Also, a new design would be nice, something less bloggy maybe.

full disclosure

My biggest gripe is...

...the disconnect between the stated values of the blog and the actions of a couple of the people "in charge".

Rob Whitlock, I can't take this post of yours seriously because I disagreed with you once and you accosted me with PM's and demanded that I tell you my real name. That didn't make me feel safe at all. It made me stay away from posts you're involved in for fear of your reaction to disagreement.

Also, too much javascript can bog things down. I second emmettoconnell, a redesign would be nice.


I am sorry to hear that you haven't felt safe at times.

You say that you were accosted by me. Is that true? I still have those messages, so it would be possible to go back and take a look. I was posting under the user name of "Bert" then.

I find your claim, that I demanded you to reveal your name, to be unusual. I am not accustomed to making demands.

Are you sure that I didn't simply ask you what your name was? I wonder what it was about your participation that made me uncomfortable with your anonymity...

I would be interested in exploring the roots of this disagreement in more detail. Maybe you would want to meet up for tea sometime, and talk about it.

If I remember right - the disagreement occurred soon after you began posting here at OlyBlog, shortly after the City Council Public Hearing on the Isthmus Rezone.

Might be worth investigating in more detail, if you still have concerns about how I approached you in regard to my own concerns about your behavior on this blog.

Sorry to hear that you haven't felt safe at times. And I hope it works for you to stick around.


My only real gripe lately is that the site seems to be loading very slowly in Firefox, and sometimes freezing if I try to scroll down the page too quickly. While I like the widgets on both sides of the page, I think there might be a few too many at this point. I'd also like to see more women and maybe more diverse perspectives posting here, but it's a bit hypocritical for me to say that because I generally only post in the comments myself.

More diversity, less Laurian et al

From my perspective, this site is overrun by conservative blowhards (or maybe they're liberal blowhards -- frankly it's hard to tell the difference). There is far too much "harrumph harrumph" and far too little "hmmm" (the sound people make when actually giving thought to a point of view different from their own). Olympia is a fairly progressive, even radical little town but you'd never know it by reading Olyblog.

Olyblog may be a lot of

Olyblog may be a lot of things, but overrun by conservative blowhards is not one of them....I think it just may be blowhards in general

Geeze SMASH that hurts

Is this about the tagged park bench?

Are you kidding?

That was one instance... I'm talking about a well-developed trend. Sorry to name you personally but you do stand out as the worst perpetrator.

Yes, I'm kidding

I forget humor and irony are oft lost on the internets.

Wait a sec. Perpetrator of what? Idea and opinions you don't like? A moderate/left Democratic party position? I guess what looks conservative all depends on where you sit.

And really, with you, Berd, Downtowner, jlw, Gug, SandyM et al I don't think the progessive activist perspective is being short changed around here.

That's funny

Olympia is in serious trouble if I represent progressive activism. Still, I invite SMASH (if that IS your real name) to take another look at the political compass scores of your fellow Olyblog folks. Not a very right wing group. I read a study recently that found conservatives were three times as frightened as liberals when subjected to startling stimuli. So I have a brand new appreciation for our hypervigilant friends on the right. Let us welcome them with understanding and open arms.

Sorry Gug.

I forgot about your membership in Bohemian Grove.

I wish more contributors were as smart and well reasoned

as I but other than that I'm pretty happy with Olyblog and our Benevolent Overlord :)

Speed & Opinion vs. Fact

I'll admit to being a long-time lurker but given the opportunity to comment on what improvements I'd like to see (and having at least a bit of relevant knowledge) I'll try and play a little part.


The OlyBlog homepage slows my Firefox to a crawl -- not only is it a bit painful to scroll but it actually slows the behavior across Firefox (other tabs). Load time could be better as well. Some quick recommendations...

  • Flash - the home page currently has 6 different flash objects embeded not including things in the actual page content. Most (all?) of these make additional http requests and seem to create a fairly impressive resource drag for those of us not privileged to run Windows (seems Adobe only likes to tune the performance of Flash on Windows platforms -- hurmph!).

    Most of Flash objects seem to be simply serving up RSS feeds so it seems like they could be replaced with Drupal widgets/plug-ins that would allow them to be simple HTML and therefore much faster to load (and server-side cacheable via Drupal's built-in caching).

Opinion vs. Fact

I really enjoy the diversity of voices on OlyBlog but I'm frustrated with the seeming mixture of opinion versus substantiated fact. If a statement is made as fact I'd like to see it backed by my a first-party source a-la Wikipedia. If someone says something quote by name, if a public document states something link directly to it, if it's a suspicion/opinion/theory than say "I think," "I believe," "I wonder." While journalism isn't always the most glorious of professions I think there's a lot to be said for citing your sources or being open about your opinion.

I guess I'd just like to see the two discerned more clearly here so that we can all learn from both genuine information and other's opinions. Perhaps an article could be tagged as either "Article" or "Editorial" to make it clear the author's intent in this regard.

 Anyway, that's my $.02 -- I enjoy learning about what folks here are thinking but I'd also love to see OlyBlog offer more objective local reporting so that we can really get the stories that the Daily O isn't covering in a fair and balanced manner (excuse the Fox-News ref).

Thanks all, 

El T.

I would say using Facebook

I would say using Facebook Connect would be a good way to stop flaming. People are connected to their identity so they might feel less inclined to start arguments or say hurtful stuff. 神出鬼没

I disagree...

I don't have a facebook profile, and I don't really plan to get one - but I still manage to step on toes and 'say hurtful stuff' to people, despite using my birth name as my handle. Despite what some believe, I don't often enjoy it.

You can opt out. 神出鬼没

You can opt out. 神出鬼没

I think you misread my post...

I was saying that offense is often given (or taken) despite the total lack of anonymity in my case, regardless of whether Facebook is involved. I use my actual full name, as an Olyblogger, and still manage to offend. I don't think that online offensiveness is a matter merely of whether one feels anonymous online.

I understand. I don't think

I understand. I don't think you offend on purpose. I am talking about flaming, where people start arguments for fun or say vicious things because they think it is funny. Unlike a face to face conversation, there is no social embarrassment for doing such things. Also, Facebook Connect is good for connecting with other people and keeping updated on issues. I like the social organizing aspect. 神出鬼没

Bumping this thread

in light of recent conversations on Olyblog. Some funny stuff here too. Laurian outs me as a member of the Bohemian Grove, SMASH outs Berd as an meany (though that's been resolved I'm sure), and Drew vows to never, ever have a Facebook profile.

Good bump

On a semi-related subject: Are SMASH and FRESH the same person?


FRESH called Berd mean or whatever, not me. I hold Berd in high esteem as a magical creature of goodness and light -- my post was directed at those pesky "alternative establishment patriarchs."


Oops! My bad.

I was flummoxed by your ALL CAPS handles. Us patriarchs need little letters almost as much as we need little people.

Ok, I thought maybe I missed something important


magical creature of goodness and light

Ha! - Hey thank you! ...okay, we can be friends now.

Hyper local (?)

OK, I'll bite. Noting Emmett's call for adhering to the hyper local mission of Olyblog, I'm curious as to whether something like my earlier post today would qualify. I forwarded a post from the Progressive Dems of America asking people to call Congress members to take certain action on the health care bill.  It's not really "journalism" and it addresses a national, not strictly local, issue.  But it is something which affects all of us and which some of us in this community are actively working on.  Once the national bill passes, there will likely be a campaign for a state plan -- a fact which adds a local/regional rationale for that particular post.

And, although the piece offers a seriously underrepresented perspective, it's not my own text.  I will admit that the arguments in this post were ones which I personally have been wanting to make, but hesitated because similar arguments have drawn personal attacks on this blog -- accusations that I must not really care about poor people. I imagined that forwarding this piece from the PDA might provide more of a shield from such attacks than if I had written it myself.   (We'll see.)

But that question of "personal attacks" opens a whole new can of worms.

For now, my question is about the "hyper local" mission and posting forwarded material.


I think we all know that "localism" has a premium here, so some effort to give a thread a local slant would probably be very much appreciated by the readers of Olyblog. But I wouldn't let that prevent you from passing on concrete information that you genuinely thought was important and that you think readers would appreciate.  I don't think we need to be unfailingly rigid about it.

It would be swell, before any of us posted something, if we made a good faith assesment of the hyperlocal value of the thread before hitting the button.  I think most people try to do this for the most part.  If in doubt, well, then it becomes a judgement call such as you've made with the PDA peice. 

As for personal attacks, well, I don't think that's a new can of worms and it's worth talking about.  While we all know the "Play the ball not the player" rule, it does get broken.  It shouldn't happen.  As long as we agree that disagreeing with someone does not constitute abuse, I'm with you. 

A few other things would help improve Olyblog: (1) Just because I think something is interesting does not mean it's interesting to everyone else; (2) I don't have to post the same ideas over and over again; (3) Try to treat those commenting on my thread as though they are adding value; (4) Take responsibility for my errors; (5) Polemics are fine, but don't dress them up as journalism; (6) I can be nice (sorry when I haven't)



Thank you for this thoughtful reply, Guglielmo.

I very much like and appreciate suggestions 1-5 and, of course, number 6. ; )

And I will say more about personal attacks.

Of course I agree that disagreeing with someone does not constitute abuse, and I’ve tried to be clear on that. Anything that addresses the content of a person’s comments, or their specific behaviors, is fair game – even if it is a tad harsh.

It becomes a personal attack when we draw conclusions about the person’s essence or character or intent. It’s one thing to say that something a person specifically said or did “sucked.” It’s quite another to say that the person “sucks.” Or to claim to know another’s intent: “She doesn’t really care about x,y,x … her only concern is her ideological purity.”

For me it’s not so much about hurt feelings. Of course it never feels good to have your character publicly smeared or your motives misrepresented. But my main frustration with personal attacks is that they sabotage the discourse by distracting from the substance of the discussion. And they have the potential to silence not only those who are attacked, but to discourage others from venturing forth with their input, as well.

It’s quite another to say that the person “sucks.”

Good point!

Thank you.

It's a point I've made before, right here on Olyblog:

I agree.


I know the feeling