Of Schemes and Memes Blog

Latest update on NN blogs

Apologies that it has been a few weeks since the last official update. There are now various things to report.

We’ve re-read through every single topic and comment on the feedback on the new blogging platform forum and tagged all issues that have been fixed as “resolved” as well as posting new content. Please check if these comments/tags agree with your experiences and leave any feedback as appropriate. We’ll also continue to post comments here as we resolve issues.

Outstanding or ongoing technical issues

From the feedback forum and the private bloggers discussion forum that all bloggers are invited to, the issues that we still have logged as outstanding – either to be resolved or be discussed – are as follows:

Email notification of blog comments– we’re aware that some users are still not receiving emails when someone leaves a comment on their blog. We have identified why this problem is occuring and it is now being resolved by IT.

Slow loading of homepage This is a problem that was only affecting a subset of users and we’ve done some preliminary work to speed this up. We are continuing to monitor the performance and identify additional things that we can optimise so if you’re still experiencing problems with this please leave feedback here

Specifying image size in comments It’s currently not possible to specify the size of images in comments. You can resize an image elsewhere and link to it, but not resize it within MT.

Redirection to last comment in a thread from the “latest comments” section at the bottom of the NN blogs homepage (requested feature)

Investigating individual cases of the orange “create post” button not appearing when logged in to a blog

Template issues

The following are suggestions that have been made that require us to do some design work to change our basic blog templates:

Improve navigation back to Nature Network from individual blogs This could include adding a NN logo to the top left of the page that links back to your network snapshot

Improve layout of blogger info box, recent comments and recent activity from NN on individual blog pages

Add a favicon to the NN blogs tab

Activate categories/tags for blogs This is something that we could spend a whole blog post outlining and gathering feedback on, so if this is something that interests you, please let us know and we can open the discussion up more fully.

Improve the bullet point feature currently too pale

Improve visibiity of links currently too pale

Other news

i) Recent improvements now live

We carry out ongoing improvements to Nature Network on a daily basis which are then introduced to the live site in stages once they have been thoroughly tested. Recent fixes have included improving the ability to tag topics on groups and forums, improving how we ban spam accounts, and including the hub blogs on the blogs homepage.

ii) Improvements in progress

Our MT4 consultant has been working hard to line up another round of improvements to the site which now need to go through our testing processes before we put them live. While many of these sound techical, rather than being brand new features, the overall effect will be that you should see a faster, smoother experience on the site. The current work has included:

– Removing the need for you to republish your whole blog when changing your custom header or blogroll. Instead, it will automatically update when you publish your next post.

– Giving you the ability to track visitor stats to your blog. There will be two options for this. We hope to install a plugin that will allow everyone to see their own stats. This is proving technically slow to implement so in case this is further delayed, the other options will be to give you each a code that you can embed in your blog, allowing you access to Google Analytics. In either case, we’ll provide full instuctions and support on how to do this.

-Resolving the issues that changing a blog post’s title before it is published results in a broken URL and also, deleting spam comments does not change the total number of comments that are listed as having been made on a post on the NN site.

-We’ll be introducing more aggressive caching of blog templates and using background publishing which translates into faster publishing of your blog’s homepage and new entries while rebuilding the rest of your archive in the background.

-We’ll be expanding the number of servers that are involved in publishing the blogs which will allow us to be more flexible in scaling their publishing i.e. we can employ more servers if there is a lot of publishing happening so that speed is not compromised.

-We’ll also be able to edit all the default settings for all the blog templates as a standard rather than having to go through each blog individually and change them (phew!). This will also give us the option of creating different “themes” for blogs within NN i.e. multiple different templates on the site.

-Once we’ve deployed the things described above and are satisfied that we have a stable platform, we’ll be upgrading to the latest version of MT4 and migrating all the NPG staff blogs (Spoonful of Medicine, Sceptical Chymist etc) onto this version too.

iii) Workshops

We will be running workshops to invite feedback on our future plans for blogs, at the beginning of November. This is also your chance to let us know exactly what additional features you want to see us develop, so if you’d like to be involved and haven’t already expressed your interest, please email Lou (l.woodley@nature.com). This offer extends to any reader of Nature Network – you don’t have to be a blogger to take part.

iv) nature.com blogs

All Nature Network blogs are now listed on nature.com blogs which means all Nature Network bloggers who login (with your usual login and password) there can vote on which other blogs to include in the catalogue.

Our curated catalogue over over 800 selected science blogs is used by various tools that we have on the site – such as identifying the most blogged about stories and research papers that are being written about or pulling out popular key words. If you’d like to submit your external blog to this catalogue, you can do so here

As always, if you have any questions or feedback about any of this, please leave a comment or email Lou directly.


  1. Report this comment

    Maxine Clarke said:

     That sounds as if some people have been working very hard – behind-the-scenes work can be very time consuming. The progress sounds good. I just thought I’d add here in case it was not spotted, that if people do not like a double space at the end of paragraphs, then hold down the shift key at the same time as pressing Enter (or return).

    Looking forward to the various planned developments. I find NN generally faster now, but the site sometimes takes a while to appear in the browser via a search. I have not managed to nail down any consistency about this, so I’ll keep an eye on it.

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