Category Archives: Admin

Putting word counts into beeminder

As I promised in my post about subsuming myself into the hive mind, I’m now using beeminder to try and keep myself blogging. I’ve set up a goal here.

I’ve ended up using word count as the metric rather than number of blog posts because:

  1. It will prevent me from weaselling out with ridiculous tiny blog posts like this one.
  2. It was easy to do

I’ve currently set it up at what right now seems like a rather measly 400 words per week (a typical blog post for me seems to be anywhere between 400 and 1500 words), but given that the whole point of this is to provide a lower bound while I’m under pressure not to blog this seems reasonable. I have however retroratcheted it right before writing this to get rid of the 70 days of buffer the last couple weeks of blogging gave me.

If you’re interested, I’ve open sourced the code I’m using to automate this. It’s pretty trivial, but it may save you the hour or so it took me to figure out how to write this (still well within the xkcd time allotment, but only if I really believe I’m going to keep this up for 5 years).

This entry was posted in Admin, life on by .

Blog editorial guidelines

I mentioned on Twitter the other day that one of my reasons for being embarrassed by my old post on perfect voting was that it violated my modern editorial guidelines for this blog. Jay asked me if I’d written these up anywhere. I haven’t, because they’re mostly informal, but it seemed like a good idea.

I started writing a bit about tone and theme. This got onto a massive digression about the purpose of this blog, the nature of blogging and various theories of mind. One of the theme rules is “Stick to a coherent single thread of argument rather than bringing in everything relevant you can think of” (this is mostly because if I don’t do this the post will end up languishing in the drafts folder for eternity), so this post is only about specific concrete things I do. Much of the tone stuff simply boils down to “Conversational tone with an eye towards persuasion. Lecture if you must, but if you do try to keep it short and entertaining”

  • Be absolutely scrupulous about citations. If something isn’t by me or I’m quoting someone, say that this is what I’m doing. I will occasionally quote without asking permission, but if I do this then I will attribute only if the quoted thing is publicly visible (e.g. something someone said off twitter), else it will be anonymized. Citations of public things should be links to where they were. Citations of offline conversations I tend to make a judgement call for the initial version on making it either anonymous or by first name then ask about their citation preferences for the thing in question (I often do this after initial publication). I haven’t totally sorted out the etiquette here, but the basic goal is cite people as they wish to be cited. Never fail to cite people.
  • Where I am talking about a subject on which I lack sufficient knowledge to be confident about what I’m saying, I should make this clear. This isn’t a requirement for full disclosure of credentials/privilege/etc everywhere ever, it’s simply that I tend to write in a very similar tone whether I’m speculating or actually confident about what I’m saying and I don’t want people to confuse these.
  • The pronoun for a person of unspecified or non-binary gender is they. If a specific person strongly insists on a pronoun that isn’t they, use it, but if they’re OK with they but have a mild preference for a more exotic choice (ze/it/he/she, etc) stick to they. The phrase he/she, him or her, etc. are entirely verboten. Try not to make assumptions about peoples’ preferred gender and default to they if I am unsure (I don’t always do this last one brilliantly). Note: I am not an expert on trans etiquette. I believe this to be correct behaviour. If it is not, I welcome corrections and will take them on board (the one exception is that I suspect people will dislike that I default to they even when people mildly prefer another. I do this for reasons. Those reasons will be readily overcome by strong preferences but not weak ones).
  • Avoid ableist terms. Wacky and outrageous things are not crazy. Ideas which on a moment’s reflection prove to be bad are not retarded. Things that are confused about their nature are not schizophrenic. Failure to be good at details is not having ADD. I do this variably well. I’m not very good at remembering not to use “crazy”
  • Profanity is… not exactly to be avoided, but to be thought about carefully before use. Most profanity has unfortunate connotations, and the few remaining ones I find acceptable I tend to overuse. It’s a lazy rhetorical crutch and it puts some people off if I swear too much, so I try not to on here. I don’t do a very good job on this one. Also note that some posts are explicitly rants designed to blow off steam. All profanity filters are off for these ones.
  • I have a historic tendency towards using ludicrous over the top descriptions/threats of violence to illustrate points (e.g. “people who do that deserve to be set on fire”). Don’t do that, any time ever. I think I’ve successfully censored this trend on here. I sometimes forget myself and do it on twitter. I mean to stop doing that. I think it has its place as a source of humour/blowing off steam (my humour can get pretty dark when I’m in company where I think it’s appropriate), but that place is emphatically not in public on a medium where people routinely use actual threats of violence as a way of responding to voices they don’t like.

I think there are other rules I try to stick to, but these are the only ones I can think of consciously checking for and needing to edit to follow. I generally think they’re pretty good ideas, so I’d encourage you to follow them as well. Conversely, if there’s anything I should be doing that I’ve missed I’d encourage you to tell me.

This entry was posted in Admin on by .

A curated feed of stuff I found interesting

A friend of mine rants about what a bad curation system RSS readers are. This is, in fairness, totally true. I regard this more as a symptom of the fact that RSS feeds are not really curation tools – they’re really just a convenient sippy cup for the information firehose. You can take that sippy cup from me when you pry it from my cold dead fingers, but lets not pretend it’s something it’s not.

Individual feeds of course may be more or less curated – some poor sucker has drunk the firehose and… filtered out the best water? I dunno. That analogy rather got away from me in an unpleasant direction. Sorry.

But the point is that a lot of people are doing curation – e.g. a lot of blogs I read do weekly link round ups.

I’ve been wondering about doing something like this myself. I read a lot of stuff on the internet. Most of it is crap, or at least uninspiring. It feels like I should be a good citizen and signal-boost the worthwhile stuff.

It occurred to me the other day: I’m already doing this! I basically have pinboard set up as a giant dumping ground for stuff I’ve found interesting on the internet (the most active sources of it right now are feedbin stars and tweets and me directly adding things to it). There’s even an RSS feed for it you can subscribe to. It’s a little noisy due to the tweet import, e.g. it tends to have links to all my posts here and whatever cute animal picture I happen to have tweeted or retweeted recently, but it’s mostly a pretty good representation of things I’ve found interesting on the internet. This might be to your taste, or it might not.

This entry was posted in Admin on by .

Comment moderation

Just as a note, I’ve turned comment moderation on. All comments will be held in a queue. Sorry about that.

The reason for this is that for some reason Akismet is utterly failing to do an adequate job of spam detection recently, and I’ve been getting an ever larger amount of it, so I’ve decided that rather than have my blog be a haven for spammers I’d rather just do slightly more work and whitelist comments.

I will likely approve your comment very rapidly – The only comments that will not make it through moderation are spam and anything I consider truly beyond the pale (which has never happened to me so far. Please don’t take that as a challenge).

This entry was posted in Admin on by .

Now with added Flattr

I’ve been using The Old Reader as my replacement Google Reader. It’s not perfect, but I’m hopeful the bits that annoy me will improve (I think they’re about 80% scaling issues). As such I wanted to pay for it. They did a post recently saying that right now the way to do that was Flattr. I’d encountered the idea before but not really paid attention, but oh well. So I’ve signed up and am now Flattring the old reader. So to speak.

While there, I also hooked it up to my Github account, because it was easy and I figured I might as well. Then it occurred to me that this means that I in principle am also receiving money for my github projects (this doesn’t seem to actually be the case – the small number of people who have starred something I wrote don’t appear to have Flattr accounts. Oh well), and that if I was going to do that I might as well add a Flattr connection to my other primary repository of content online: Here.

So, yeah, that’s why you now see a Flattr link on each post and page on this site. I don’t really expect people to give me money, and I’m certainly not counting on it, but if you enjoyed something I wrote and want to say thanks, please do!

This entry was posted in Admin on by .