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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Knowledge Base: Specifying Dates and Times

There are many different cultural conventions for specifying date and time.  Some of these are ambiguous.  For example, if somebody writes 4/5/18, a reader in the United States may read that as April 5th, 2018, while their colleague in the United Kingdom would interpret it as May 4th, 2018.   Their grandfathers may have read the year as 1918.

Enough.

There is an international standard (ISO 8601) for writing dates and time, and that’s what we use at Ratburger.org.  Now, when I say that it’s what “we” use, I mean only what the site employs when displaying dates and times.  In your own writings, you’re free to use anything you wish: visit my Calendar Converter and go wild—French Republican Calendar?  Mayan Calendar?  No problem!

But, if you want people to understand what you’ve written, it makes sense to adhere to adopted standards, and they’re simple and make a lot of sense.  To specify a date, write:

YYYY-MM-DD

where leading zeroes are used where necessary and the date is in Universal Time (UTC).  For example, to specify the date of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, you’d write:

1969-07-20

If you need to specify a time, for example for the Moon landing, use Universal time, as follows, according to ISO 8601:

1969-07-20T20:18:04Z

where the “T” denotes the time and “Z” indicates it’s in the “Zulu” (don’t ask) time zone or, UTC.

You’re welcome to use whatever convention you wish for date and time here, but the site will use ISO 8601 and UTC with adamantine persistence.  Why use ISO 8601?  It’s an international standard, and dates written that way are sufficiently unique they can’t be confused for other conventions.  They are independent of time zones and quaint notions such as summer and winter time.  A given date and time has the same meaning for anybody, everywhere on Earth.  If placed in a computer database and sorted lexically (by character order), they are automatically sorted in chronological order.  If you’d written “1969-7-20T20:18:4Z”, for example, it wouldn’t be sorted in order with other dates which had tens digits in the month and seconds fields.

If you really want something free of social construction, you’re free to use Julian Day numbers.

— John Walker, 2018-04-07T23:51:46Z  JD 2458216.494282407

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On Registering to Ratburger.org

Some people have not been getting their registration e-mails. If you are one of these please send me a line at 10cents@ratburger.org. The problems are usually one of the following.

1. The e-mail gets put into a Spam folder.
2. The e-mail is filtered from the service.
3. Older services like Yahoo, AOL, and Hotmail have trouble receiving for some reason.

Lovin’ the Color Coding in the Drop Down Menu

What an absolute pleasure to use! It tells me quickly the difference between a like, a comment, a group update, and mark all as read.

I have found that I can’t see the bubble and drop down on phones but I can get it on a tablet if I turn the screen to landscape (sideways).

Are you lovin’ it too?


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TOTD 2018-2-17: Phone Navigation

For those of you who have scrolled miles to get where you want I will share my meager knowledge.

To get to the top of the page quickly on your iPhone/iPad. Touch the [Time] at the top middle of the screen and presto you are there.

To get to the bottom my best way is to follow these steps.

This gets me to the “Leave a Reply” box.

Anyone have better ways?

 


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Knowledge Base: Apostrophe

"Its" and "It's"There are few things which make your post or comment appear unprofessional so much as misuse of the humble apostrophe. This is in large part because it’s so easy to get it right. Here are five rules for use of the apostrophe:

  1. If you mean “it is,” or “it has,” write “it’s.” Otherwise, write “its.”
  2. Contractions (can’t, I’ll, you’re) always use an apostrophe, replacing the omitted letters.
  3. Possessive nouns always use an apostrophe.
  4. Possessive pronouns (hers, yours, ours, etc.) never use an apostrophe.
  5. One never forms a plural by adding an apostrophe.

For a deeper exploration of this, including rare exceptions, see my 2008 document, “The Use of the Apostrophe in the English Language.”


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Knowledge Base: Cross-Posting and Copyright

Ratburger.org asserts no copyright (including compilation copyright) over anything published here. Authors retain copyright over anything they publish here, and are free to publish their work anywhere else without any restrictions whatsoever. (If another venue requires that the work not have been published elsewhere, that’s between the author and that publication’s editors.)

Material whose copyright is not owned by the person who posts it should not be published on Ratburger.org, except for quotations and excerpts for critical purposes under the doctrine of fair use.  Such material should be identified as to its source including, if on-line, a link to the original document.

This is intended to actively promote cross-posting.  In particular, people who wish to submit material to sites which pay for content are encouraged to post drafts here for comment among the user community before subjecting them to scrutiny by editors and a larger audience.


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Knowledge Base: Quoting Posts and Comments

[Bumped to the top because you can now quote posts as well as comments.]

A new feature is now available on Ratburger.org.  While reading a post or comment on a post (but not within a group), if you’d like to respond, there’s a new [Quote] item within the post or comment header.  Just click it (it isn’t obviously a link, due to the style of headers, but it changes to the fat fingered fist and link colour when you mouse-over it) and by default the entire post or comment will be copied as quoted text into the reply box.  If you only wish to copy a brief passage (as you usually should), highlight it first before clicking [Quote]: only it will be quoted.

Quoting post or comment text will usually preserve formatting and structure within the comment, but given the tower of hackery and kludges which is WordPress, there will always be edge cases it doesn’t handle correctly.  But, for the most part, it does what is intended, and it’s a lot less fiddly than copying and pasting the text yourself, setting it as a quote, and making a link back or the original post or comment comment.  The name of the author is quoted and linked back to the text you quoted.

This works only for main posts.  It doesn’t work in groups, which have nothing in common with the WordPress core functionality and are, from a programmer’s standpoint, Satan’s spawn.

Give it a try.  As far as I can determine, after massive modifications of the original open source code, it more or less works, but if problems and quibbles outweigh the perceived benefit, I reserve the right to consign it to the poubelle.


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Knowledge Base: RSS Feeds

Ratburger.org, like most WordPress-based sites, offers RSS feeds which provide notification when new posts and comments are published.  You will find links to these feeds in the “Meta” section of the sidebar at the right of the desktop site or the bottom of the home page on mobile devices under “Entries RSS” and “Comments RSS”.

These feeds are XML files in the RSS 1.0 standard format which list the most recent 25 entries and comments on the site.  You can subscribe to these feeds with any compatible feed reader (sometimes called an “aggregator”), of which a multitude exist.  You just supply the URL of the feed to the reader program, and it will show the recent entries.  You can usually tell the reader to poll the feed, for example, every ten minutes, to inform you of new posts and comments.

For example, here is the Entries RSS feed as displayed by the QuiteRSS program, which is free and available for Linux/Unix, Windows, and MacOS.

Entries RSS feed as displayed by QuiteRSS

QuiteRSS has an embedded Web browser, so you can see the entries and comments right in the reader.  Other RSS feed readers may just provide links to the items.

Following RSS feeds allows you to follow activity on the site without the need to keep refreshing the site or cluttering up your E-mail in box with lots of notification messages.

You can also follow new posts (but not comments), by following Ratburger_org on Twitter, which is also linked in the “Meta” section.


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