New Theme Warning

I am planning to change this blog’s theme in the next few days, since the current Twenty Ten theme is not friendly to long nested comment threads. I am hunting for various free WordPress themes and will make decisions soon; I’m looking for somewhat smaller fonts so that more text can fit per line, but also less indent between comments (compare comment threads here today with threads on Second Avenue Sagas or California HSR Blog). Keeping the reverse chronology is a must – I emphatically do not want a theme that makes people click on posts to be able to see them at all.

If people have opinions, I am listening.

Update 7/23: hey everyone, go read Queens Transit, both for the regional rail posts (which I don’t fully agree with, but think are thoughtful and interesting), and for the theme; it looks like just what I need.

Update 7/25: I narrowed it down to a few themes, and chose Blaskan.


  1. michael.r.james

    Good ideas.
    The only suggestion would be to try what The Guardian newspaper uses: a “Collapse/Expand” button for long nested threads; in default mode it shows only 3 comments to each primary-level post. Really necessary because they sometimes get up to 100 comments on the first post ie. the OP.
    The other feature I appreciate about the Guardian comments is you can refresh the comments independent of the article; for me at least this means much faster updating without reloading the whole page with its graphics, ads etc.

    • Alon Levy

      Are the ads here slowing things down materially? On Second Avenue Sagas sometimes they play videos, with music, and make everything load slowly. Does it also happen here with the WordPress ads? (The site’s not showing me the ads – it’s telling me “here your visitors will see ads” instead. When I try private browsing, the ads don’t even load, while the rest of the site, including comments, does.)

      • asdfsdf

        I don’t remember ever seeing any ads here. Are you receiving money for them? It’s possible that nobody has ever seen ads. It makes your site look very uncluttered.

      • michael.r.james

        No, obviously any newspaper has a lot more stuff on its pages. Your pages load quickly and it was inadvertent that I implied otherwise. But you know just something to keep in mind if you have the option (and some of your articles have lots of pics etc?).
        I don’t see ads but lots of blank space so I guess it is geographical and doesn’t display to us southern hemisphere dwellers because it would be meaningless.

    • Richard Mlynarik

      Oh dead God. “Infinite Scrolling” is listed as a feature. Please don’t go there unless there is some way to disable this travesty!

      • Alon Levy

        Okay, I’ve semi-disabled it. You need to hit “see older posts” to scroll; the page will still load pages infinitely, but it won’t be automatic, and you’ll at least see what page number you’re on. Fully disabling this in favor of loading each page separately requires premium membership, at least as far as I’ve seen after Googling for solutions.

  2. Patrick O'Hara

    If you’re just looking for a better commenting system, I’d highly recommend something like Disqus. Switching to it is easy, on the user end the interface is clean and easy, you can use a common login across all websites that use Disqus (or comment as a guest). On the administrative end, it’s easy to go through comments and moderate them.

    • Alon Levy

      I am not looking for a better commenting system; I am just looking for less indent.

      And no, I am not going to use Disgust. It eats comments if the login messes up somehow; that’s why I gave up commenting on The Atlantic Cities Citylab early.

      • Adirondacker12800

        Type it in Notepad or Wordpad or Word, fire up edlin if you are feeling masochistic, or
        Libre Office Writer or… Then paste it in.

          • Adirondacker12800

            It’s a choice between having a editor open or having the intterwebs eat your comments. Message body of an email works too. Four keystrokes to get it someplace else like a comment.

  3. Richard Mlynarik

    Alon, the new theme appears to go out of its way to make visited and unvisited links have the same appearance. Thanks, “web designers”, for taking information away from me!

    I tried to decode the CSS bullshit involved, but frustration overcame.

    I assume it’s an easy one-line modification somewhere to the “theme”. Perhaps you could submit a bug report?
    (Possibly around line 43 of blacksan/style.css. Turning off “

    a {
      color: #2e6eb0;
      text-decoration: underline;

    ” seems to do the trick, but I have no idea how to make that work from the site admin side.)

    I notice this mainly because the links in the “Recent Comments” widget all have a uniform appearance now, making it difficult to track what one had already read and what is old.

    Something ekse that would be useful if it’s easy to configure: increase the number of “Recent Comments” listed in the right-hand column. The shorter list now generally ends up being filled or dominated by the usual over-sharer, making it hard to keep track of anything interesting or informed that others might have said.

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