Knowledge Base: Following Posts

When you publish an article on Ratburger.org (on the main page, not in a group), you will automatically be set to “follow” that post.  This means that when people like your article or comment on it, you’ll receive notifications which, when clicked, will take you to the post or comment.

When you comment on a post, you will also automatically be subscribed to notifications when people like your comment or make additional comments on the post.

Once you have been subscribed to notifications on a post by either of these mechanisms there is, at present, no means to unsubscribe.  However, most Ratburger posts scroll off the attention span of members within around a day, so it’s unlikely your notifications will be cluttered with likes and comments on posts  dating back to the Silurian period.

A new feature allows you to follow activity on a post without making a comment visible to other members.  If you wish to be notified of new comments on a post but don’t have anything to say at the moment, simply post a comment consisting entirely of the text:

follow
or c4c

(The latter, adopted from other sites, is an abbreviation of “comment for comment”.)  Upper and lower case is ignored, as is leading white space and trailing white space and sentence ending characters.

Such a comment will cause you to follow the post and receive notifications for subsequent comments, but will not appear in the comments when others view the post, nor in the “Recent Comments” in the sidebar.  When you view the post yourself, you’ll see your own follow comment; this allows you to delete it should you wish to cease following the post.  Other users will not see your follow post.  Note that if you’ve followed a post this way and made a subsequent comment, deleting the follow post will not unfollow you, as the latter comment will still mark you as a follower of the post.


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6 Months in

Here are the stats from 4 months in.

636 Posts

7,312 Comments

87 Users

20,564 Likes (Posts — 3850, Comments–15,059, Groups for the rest)

Here is where we are now.

1014 Posts

13,139 Comments

110 Users

41,394 Likes (Posts — 6812, Comments–31,876, Groups for the rest)

149 is the current build number. (Thank you John Walker.)

Except for new users we have almost doubled posts, comments, and likes. The more we engage in the site the more other people will want to engage. When a new person or an old member writes their first post that encourages others to write.

Please sign up for the Thought of the Day. This helps in two ways. It evens out the posting. If everyone just posts on the same day, posts get lost in that days posts. Two, it sets a deadline for your post. Without a deadline, people always put off posting. Remeber, these can be light hearted posts, quotes, a picture, a joke, a trivia question, or something more serious. Like I wrote before, when you engage in the site more people will want to engage.

We have a marketing budget of $0. We spent everything on Ratburger One. 😉 We depend on word of month marketing. That means us. If you know of someone who would like to join let that person know. Send a link to something that is written and ask them what they think. As I have stated before the first rule (only rule) is to have fun. This is a place to be enjoyed not to be endured. If we aren’t having fun, we have failed.

“Hey, it’s free.”

Thanks.

(For those who are new, here are our principles.)

PRINCIPLES OF AGREEMENT

  1. This site is for entertainment. Posts need to add not subtract from the site. Fun is important.
  2. No attacking the person. Attacking words are okay. People get to openly disagree and have vigorous debates over ideas not personalities.
  3. Keep it clean. This site should be family and children friendly. (The web has plenty of places to express non-family thoughts.) This does not mean that we don’t handle in John Walker’s words “gnarly subjects” but we do it without the coarseness of most of the Internet.
  4. Keep it legit. Respect copyright toward images and text. Give attribution when needed.
  5. This is a conservative site. If you can’t respect those principles please find a site more conducive to your ideas.
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Government-inspired Dehumanization

I am incensed and may be hard put to find the right words to describe the precipitating event. A friend and colleague phoned me yesterday to tell me he was suicidally depressed and had admitted himself to a psych hospital. He asked me to come and visit him. I told him I would come in the early evening. For me, such a promise become an irrevocable duty, especially when my friend is likely already feeling lonely and abandoned as he is recently divorced (acrimoniously).

I arrived at the lobby of the hospital to find 3 armed guards milling about, inside a security area which looked just like the ones at an airport. A young woman in front of me eventually had a conversation with one of them, which I could not hear. She handed over all her personal belongings, including her phone, at a window and went in. I then told the guard the name of the person I was there to visit. He asked for the unit number. I did not know it. He said, then, I can’t come in and suggested I call a family member of my friend. I told him that to my knowledge, none lived nearby and I have no contact with them. He said I should call my friend. Of course, his cell phone had been confiscated and the one patient phone on the unit in which he is imprisoned is constantly busy!

I then asked that he contact the administrator on call. He refused. I told him my friend was admitted suicidal and asked me to please come visit him. He said “I don’t blame you for being upset.” I could barely contain myself and only said, I used to work at this institution as a physician and he could be sure I would be raising hell over this event. When such a condition arises in a hospital, the usual thing is to call the administrator on call. In reality, they exist to prevent lawsuits. I went outside.

The reason for armed guards and turning a hospital into a prison is the fact that, about 5 years ago, an insane and/or evil individual shot and killed several people in the lobby. This completely inhumane situation represents the typical US institutional response to unrealistic demands for perfect safety, coupled with the absurd demands of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

This law, typical of federal law nowadays, burdens or prevents most all normal, caring human behavior as to sick people and makes it difficult to transfer medical information when patients actually wish to do so. All the while, while purporting to protect privacy, the federal government simply exempts itself from the law’s strictures whenever it likes. In effect, no one’s confidential medical information is protected from government snooping. Of all the institutions which might use my confidential medical information to harm me, none has the overarching power of the state – from which I have little or no protection!

I found myself outside the hospital, furious and worried that my friend would be desperate when I didn’t show up as promised. I used my phone to look up a health system help line. After the requisite hold, someone answered and said – naturally – her office could not help with that. I brought the governor to bear on my anger and told her I am a physician, retired from the medical center which runs the psych hospital, that my suicidal friend was also a physician retired from there, and that he asked me to please visit him. She eventually connected me to a clerk (not a guard) sitting at the desk in the same lobby I had just left. She said she would call the unit and ask the patient to call me with the unit number. I extracted a promise she would do so immediately.

After waiting 15 minutes, I called my friend’s therapist, who also treats me (and who had recommended that my friend call me). He is the one who gave me the phone number on the patient unit, enabling me to reach my friend earlier and promise to visit. I needed that phone number because when my friend called my cell phone earlier that day to tell me of his admission, the call went to voicemail; since I get so many robo-calls, I only answer those I know. My friend had not left me a call back number.

The therapist answered, said he was at a meeting, but took the call when I immediately vomited the problem on him. In the middle of that call, call waiting went off. My friend was calling and gave me the unit number (Today I sent an email apology to the therapist for having interrupted him and for having rung off abruptly). I then left my phone and other belongings in my car (so I didn’t have to hand them over)(they took my keys as well), and went in through numerous locked doors to a hospital unit whose decor was inspired by the tower of London.

The visit to my friend went well and did us both some good. It turned out that the young woman who had been allowed in at the beginning of the ordeal was my friend’s daughter, whom I didn’t recognize as I had not seen her in 15 years. Long story shortened, with my wife’s assent, I invited him to come stay with us for some time after he is discharged. He has had a hellish past few years with two major residence moves, two job losses, a nasty divorce (including a huge financial hit), and the serious mental illness of one of his other daughters.

I love this man as a brother. I have always had an affinity for him. In recounting this in our conversation last evening, I said my affinity likely comes from the fact that I see much of myself in the mirror of my friend. As one who also lives with dysthymia, depression and anhedonia, there, but for the grace of God… I don’t really know why it is, but, so far at least, even at my darkest, I don’t think about self-harm. For whatever reason, I have a very strong survival instinct and want to stay alive – even if I am suffering, I somehow continue to put one foot in from of the other – to witness as much of the future unfold as I can.

Although I cannot affect the future, I feel an intense stake in how it turns out for humanity. Notwithstanding my delusional earlier beliefs that “progress” had exempted us from possible extinction, even at the existential level, much is in doubt. If our existence as a species continues, what it means to be human – given advances in genetics and computer engineering – may well change dramatically and possibly not for the better.

To fend off the darkness, I also try to be useful to others as I am able. I do it regularly in my work as an anesthesiologist. That is what keeps me going and why I can’t retire. I explained to my friend that if he stays with us, it would not be a burden; it would be a privilege. His allowing us to be of service by staying with us, my wife and I will experience as a gift received. It will allow us to feel good about ourselves by doing an act which is neither complicated, stressful or difficult – quite unlike the effort it took to merely visit him while he is so well “protected” by the state and the institution of “caring” in which he finds himself.

This execrable episode is emblematic of what is wrong with bureaucratic, technocratic and metastatic government and highlights the fascistic relationships which devolve with large non-governmental institutions. The combination disempowers individuals from moral action and even simple kindness. It infantilizes them, makes them wholly dependent; coerces them to submit to minute, unknowable, often-absurd rules. In short, it dehumanizes us all, thereby setting the stage for any of the horrors which have recurred throughout recorded history, as to which most assuredly believe, “it can’t happen here.”

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Experimental Feature: Visual Editing of Comments

I have just enabled local modifications to permit visual (“rich text”) editing of comments on posts.  Since 2018-02-15 users have been able to edit their own comments on posts.  However, editing was always with the “Quicktags” editor, in which the user edits the HTML code of the comment, not the visual presentation used by default when composing a comment (using the “TinyMCE” editor).

The change makes the TinyMCE visual editor available, and the default, when editing comments.  The Quicktags editor remains available for those who prefer it, or when editing the comment at the HTML level is the only way to accomplish what you’re trying to do (for example, custom styles, fonts, colours, etc.).  The “Add Media” button is available when in Visual mode, making it easy to add new images while editing comments.  Shortcodes, such as those for spoilers, mathematics, and drop capitals, may be used in either Visual or Text mode editing.

This is actually, in terms of lines of code, a relatively minor change, but developing it required extensive research into how WordPress handles editing comments, culminating in a marathon session described in the Updates group post for 2018-05-03.  But given the towering and tottering stack of hacks which is WordPress, the consequences of even the smallest change can be profound, so since putting the new code into production today, 2018-05-04 at 19:30 UTC, I have been watching the HTTP error_log closely for any errors.  If you notice any strange behaviour when editing comments in either Visual or Text mode, please report them in comments to this post or in the Bug Reports group.

If you want to experiment with the new comment editing code or try to break it with torture tests, please use the Sand Box post, which exists for that purpose.

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New: Frequently Asked Questions

Ratburger now has a “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) page, which you can find from a link in the “Meta” section of the right sidebar (on mobile platforms, this section may be at the bottom of the page you’re viewing).

This document is intended to answer questions relating to the origin of the site, the name, its hosting and software platform, administrators and how to contact them, and other such matters.  It is not a guide to using the site: see posts in the Knowledge Base for that information.

The Frequently Asked Questions document is, in WordPress terminology, a “Page”, not a post.  It does not appear in the list of posts and does not accept comments.  Feel free to comment and suggest items to be included in the FAQ in comments on this post.


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Knowledge Base: Avatars, Profiles, Posts, and Comments

A series of changes recently made to the site are intended to improve navigation around the site and make it easier to keep track of your own activity and that of other members.  For complete implementation details, see the posts on the Updates group, which is usually updated around 22:00 UTC on any day in which the site’s software or configuration has been changed.

Avatars are the small round images which identify users.  Users can upload their own avatars or use avatars posted on the Gravatar site under the same E-mail address they used when registering their Ratburger membership.  Avatars appear on main page posts and comments, and on group posts and comments, along with the user’s name, which identifies people who haven’t uploaded an avatar image.  For likes on posts and comments, only avatars are shown, but you can “mouse over” or “hover” above the avatar to see the user’s name as a pop-up title.  On almost every place you see an avatar on the site, you can click it to display the user’s Profile page.

Profile pages are a one-stop shop for information about users.  A user’s profile shows you:

  • Display name (“John Walker”)
  • Avatar
  • Account name (“@johnwalker”)
  • Time of last activity
  • Description or biography, if any
  • “Party card number” (Order in joining the site)
  • Date joined

Below this information is a menu which allows you to view additional information about the user, including:

  • Activity in groups in which the user participates
  • Profile of the user
  • Friends of the user
  • Groups of which the user is a member
  • Posts made by the user since joining the site
  • Comments made by the user since joining the site

In addition, when viewing your own profile, additional information is available such as Notifications and Messages, plus the ability to edit most of the profile fields.  When viewing your own posts and comments, there are links that let you edit them.

(A note on “Party card numbers”: some users will have party card numbers which are greater than the number of members shown in the “At a Glance” section of the Dashboard.  This is because these numbers [formally, within the WordPress software, user IDs] are assigned when an account is created and never reused.  If an account fails to complete registration, is closed,  or is banned due to spamming or other misbehaviour, it will have a party card number which corresponds to no active account.  Like many other parties, Ratburger has “unpersons”.)


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Knowledge Base: Viewing Your Comments

Starting with Build 104 (see the Updates group to see details of changes in each build of the site), you can now view all of the comments you’ve made on the site since you joined, across all posts.

You can access your “My Comments” page from either the main menu (across the top on desktop, or as a drop-down on mobile) or the drop-down from your avatar at the top right, in both cases as a “Comments” item under the “Activity” menu. It shows you the comments you’ve made on all posts since you joined the site from the most recent to the oldest. Comments are shown 25 per page, with navigation links at the bottom to move from page to page.  Each comment contains links which let you view the comment in the context of the post on which it was made or edit the comment. Images, video and other embeds, and shortcodes such as spoilers and mathematics should work within comments on these pages.  The number of likes on each comment is shown.

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Four Months In

636 Posts

7,312 Comments

87 Users

20,564 Likes (Posts — 3850, Comments–15,059, Groups for the rest)

Here is the link to Two Months In. 

I am happy with these stats. This is about 5 posts a day which means people have new things to read.  I really appreciate the LIKES that are made. (Thank you for even being gracious to Larry Koler.)

I know some of you would like me to publish the member list but unless members want to be known I respect their privacy. Of course one can see the new members when they  comment or like something.

As I have stated before the Rules of Ratburger™ are “To have fun. (We can only afford one rule.)”

We have principles. (Who knew?)

PRINCIPLES OF AGREEMENT

  1. This site is for entertainment. Posts need to add not subtract from the site. Fun is important.
  2. No attacking the person. Attacking words are okay. People get to openly disagree and have vigorous debates over ideas not personalities.
  3. Keep it clean. This site should be family and children friendly. (The web has plenty of places to express non-family thoughts.) This does not mean that we don’t handle in John Walker’s words “gnarly subjects” but we do it without the coarseness of most of the Internet.
  4. Keep it legit. Respect copyright toward images and text. Give attribution when needed.
  5. This is a Conservative site. If you can’t respect those principles please find a site more conducive to your ideas.

I know a lot of you and you know how to make a site great. As we grow I am sure we will draw more people to Ratburg, the home of the Ratburger.

As always thanks goes to the great work that John Walker has put in the interface. At one time we had no notifications, no easy way to put pictures in comments, no comment numbers, no spoiler function, no way to put math equations in, and no easy way to edit a comment. We also had to cook on a wood stove in the freezing snow. ( I made that last one up. We had no stove.)

I appreciate the passion and the principles you bring to your writing. The desire is to work hard to encourage debate not to shut it down. We have an “Extra Hot” category for controversial topics. These posts will get heated at times. That is okay. Keep it on the arguments not the argumenters. (Is that a word? It is now. )

 

 

 

 

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Larry Koler

I remember joking almost every day with Larry in another place. It was ironically called the “Hate Thread”.  It was a great place to relax and not talk about politics. It was also a good place to have a battle of wits. I forget how long he was there but we learned there was a dynamic of meeting every day and chewing the fat. It made the other person not so alien.

I am not saying anything new but trying to say the things Larry Koler wrote about in a thread a few years ago. The gist was when people have fun with one another they can show a little more kindness when they get in a spirited debate. They still think the other person is a jerk but not a total jerk.

My hope for Ratburger.org is that we learn and have fun. That we have  serious endearing posts and the posts from Pencilvania. Oops, I meant to say the casual non-political posts.

By the way, it really helps the site when you write. Even though the interface that John Walker has made is beautiful people actually come here not for that but to read your thoughts. You don’t write and they won’t come.

 

 

 


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Banned to the Bone!

I’ve been banned from Ratburger! Okay, only technically, but still. What evil sorcery must this be for me to post from a ban? Cached credentials, login cookie, what-have-you.
I’ve been trying to log in from one of the funkier system combination ever seen online, and the system here blocked my IP from logging in. But I’m *still* logged in on *this* browser.
Somewhere between hacking and despair lies a great joke:
Hello, cruel world.


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