Sunday, April 22, 2007

About those links (and other stuff)

On April 8th, Dona, Jim and Ty changed the template at this site. They explained that in "Message from Jim, Dona and Ty," noting that -- during the delays -- they'd decided to post a video clip (Check out the video) and to do so they needed to switch templates. They switched and the "widget" wasn't available so the video couldn't be posted here. The switch also resulted in all links being lost, as they noted.

That Sunday, we managed to get ten links up (all community sites and Jess was largely responsible for that). We'd noted that it would be slow going. It turned out to be even slower than we'd thought. We're all busy. We'd asked for input and we got it. Some e-mails were questioning and some were hurt. At the start of last week (which many e-mailers missed), C.I. added over thirty links. Those that did notice still had a few issues.

We think that's a good thing. We think it's great that you have a resource you utilize and enjoy, one you will gladly advocate for. We're going to explain how this works briefly since it's becoming a huge topic in e-mails.

First off, there are still some sites we'll be putting back up. When? Who knows. C.I. spent about three hours last week to get what's up linked to. The new template adds a link and adds it at the top -- you then have to move it to where you want one click at a time (there is no option of dragging it where you want it to be).

We heard from one angry blogger for dropping him. Actually he e-mailed about a link-trade. We traded. He then dropped us. That was months ago (probably about thirteen months ago). We won't be linking to him again.

We'd noted that there were a few links like that in the original note by Jim, Dona and Ty. And that led some people to wonder if some sites were dropped specifically. Yes, they were. Suzette wondered if Danny Schechter News Dissector had been dropped and then, minutes later, e-mailed to note that she saw it was up but wondered why he was "below Mama Cass." We see it as "next to" and C.I. put Danny there and did so as a compliment.

When Ty, Dona and Jim switched templates (read the note), they also thought they were putting links back up (read the note). That didn't happen. (They missed a step that Jess figured out when he added some links that Sunday night.) None of the people currently linked to were being dropped. Suzette noted that we'd never reviewed In Debt We Trust (documentary by Danny Schechter) though we'd planned to. We had planned to. We enjoy the documentary and recommend it highly. That was last fall when Mike had time problems (and he wasn't the only one). We'd also hoped to review the bonus DVD of David Rovics' latest CD. We didn't get to that either. Or a number of books. That's how it goes.

In last week's "Mailbag," Jim noted that there was a division among those working on these editions: some feel we should pick up what we'd hoped to note in the fall but couldn't, others feel time has moved on and we should as well. We're writing this feature early on and other than an abortion piece, we have no idea what ideas will be fleshed out and then judged worth including in the online version. (We did e-mail Suzette the review of In Debt We Trust that ran in the print version the first week of December.) Due to the Court's decision, abortion will be included in some form online. We'll probably have a piece that is built upon several hours of research C.I. did Wednesday night. We wish that had gone up at The Common Ills Wednesday night but, as others of us added input, C.I. said, "This should really be a Third Estate piece."

The reality is that everything we work on makes it into the print version because it has to go out by a certain time. It might be the briefest of sketches. It might by only a first draft. It might be a really bad illustration. But it goes into that. We'll often pick up sketches from the print version and expand upon them here. But Ty's boyfriend delivers those on our old campus and we have a set time so that he's not waiting around and blowing his entire Sunday. One week, we had the print edition done and thought we had the online edition done as well. Then we read Ava and C.I.'s commentary ("TV: Boys' WB!") and realized there was a theme we could use for the entire edition so we scrapped everything we had and started over (around six a.m. EST, Elaine says).

Jim's guess is that most (if not all) of what we missed here (online) will not be picked up. "Time didn't stand still," he says. Those who believe that we need to go back and pick up things concede that it won't happen in most cases just because there's so little time to begin with.

CODEPINK is a site we note often here. It was also the topic of many e-mails, some that reminded us to put in a link, some that wondered if we were avoiding linking to it and some that stated we had dropped CODEPINK ("and are no better than The Nation now," as one wrote). We never dropped CODEPINK. We lost all links, including CODEPINK. We weren't offended by the e-mails (any of them) because we support CODEPINK as well and are glad that so many others do too. Twyla e-mailed late last week to note that we "finally" added CODEPINK but we weren't doing the button.

No, we don't have the button we used to. That button (or a CODEPINK button) can be found at every other community site. So are Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava opposed to the organization? (We're leaving out C.I. since The Common Ills does have the button.) No. C.I. spent a half-hour to an hour trying to get the button up here. It won't. We can get the visual to go up but it's not "clickable" -- meaning it displays but it won't, if you click on it, take you to CODEPINK. The template switch meant that we can't write our own code. This template does not provide you that option. So we doubt you'll see the button until Blogger/Blogspot makes improvements in this template.

It's funny because this site has had nonstop problems with templates. Our very first edition, we worked like crazy -- Ty, Dona, Jim, Jess, Ava and C.I. -- and we were so proud of our template. It was designed by a friend. We're looking at it as we're about to start posting our features and it looked amazing. Then we post our features and the template crashes.

C.I. (who always maintains to be computer illiterate -- despite being the one who usually, along with Wally, figures out how to do something new) was the one who said, "You can post features or work on the template." So we dropped the template and went with one of Blogger/Blogspots. Jess reminded Dona, Ty and Jim of that when they switched templates on the 8th and asked them, "What were you thinking?"

"We weren't," is Dona's answer. When Ty, Dona and Jim were adding links, they were adding from another screen where they had our site up (in the old template). When they thought the sites were now on our blogroll (in the new template), they closed the window. So we have no idea what was or wasn't on the list now. Point, if there's something you don't see up there, please write. We may be forgetting something. (There are five sites that still need to be added and they won't be added before midweek.)

A popular question was were we forgetting NOW? No. No, we weren't.

We're not linking to them. Some e-mails guessed it was because of the endorsement of Hillary Clinton. That is incorrect. NOW PAC can endorse whomever they want. (C.I. wants it noted that community member Martha complained about the endorsement to NOW and received a very nice reply from Kim Gandy -- no surprise that it was a nice reply -- where she explained how the choice was decided.) That includes, yes, that they can endorse a War Hawk (which they did).

We're not linking to NOW. If you go to community sites, you'll see no one has "pulled" their own link to NOW. So why won't link to them here?

We linked before due to a number of reasons including the strong calling out of the illegal war. Before Hillary got her endorsement, NOW decided to pull the button that had been on their website for years "PEACE IS A FEMINIST ISSUE" illustrated with a dove. With that gone, we have no desire to link to them. No one's going to pull their own link but should others in the community switch templates and have to redo their links, you'll see NOW won't be added.

We shared our disgust on that choice in a print feature that tied it into "The Dove" (a song recorded by both Joan Baez and Judy Collins -- "The dove has torn her wings . . .") and reproduced NOW's button with a tear in it.

We don't know that NOW is backing off from the issue of war (we doubt it considering that Kim Gandy is president) but that button said something. After last week, when C.I. spoke to a group of "professional women," it's all the more important that organizations speaking to women note the war. (For more on the Thursday group, read Kat's "You just never know.") Ava and C.I. made a point to include (and defend) NOW in "Don Imus." They remain strong advocates for the organization. The rest of us?

Put the dove back up and we'll put the link back up. Until then, don't look for it at our site. (Ava and C.I.'s features are written by the two of them and they include whatever they want in them. A piece written by all of us would have several calling for any link to NOW being stripped out due to the issue of the now-missing button.)

What is Illicit Darkness? It's a really good site. We didn't know it until the person running it contacted us about a link trade. Last week, C.I. had the morning off from speaking or any other obligation last week and used it to add a number of sites. We wish there had been a list prepared ahead of time, but there wasn't. Ty has noted Illicit Darkness many times and, more recently, noted that they were the only site with a link trade that didn't pull as soon as they got their link. C.I. remembered that and made a point to add the site last week.

Marshall wrote that he could understand the slowness with adding links were it not for the fact that music artists' sites have now gone up. We've linked to The Official Cass Elliot Webpage pretty much since time began. A few weeks back, Kat added some music links to her site. Jess noted then that they should be here as well. C.I. had no list and was working from memory and from what we'd stated we would be doing at some point. So Righteous Babe (Ani DiFranco's site and you can get Anais Mitchell's -- who we've noted here many times -- latest CD there as well -- she's now signed to Righteous Babe), Saddle Creek (Bright Eyes), Michael Franti & Spearhead,
and Holly Near. We'd like to also link to Rickie Lee Jones, among others, and if a gift of time ever shows up (wrapped or not), we'll grab it to do so.

We've noted music from the start here (inspired by Kat's wonderful writing even before we ever met her). We don't see those links as "extras," we see them as very much a part of the lives we are living.

The Green Party has always been linked to here. But the e-mails since the template switch have noted that and wondered why we didn't offer a Democratic Party link? Is anyone in the country unaware of the Democratic Party? C.I. links to Democratic Underground, to give a Democratic voice and to the Green Party. We just link to the Green Party here. Jess is a Green. Always has been, probably always will be. When The Green Party link went up at The Common Ills (before Jess knew C.I.), he was thrilled. When we started our site, it was obvious we needed to include the link. That should answer the question.

If it doesn't, turn on your chat & chews, pick up your daily paper (and sadly, pick up most of your independent print media as well). You'll have no trouble finding mentions of Democrats and the Democratic Party. You won't find Greens.

Whether we are Greens or not, we support the third party and think it's more than required, if we're a left site, that we note it. For instance, Jason West is running for re-election as mayor of New Paltz. Those who care about issues like equality should know his name. This Monday, Ralph Nader will be showing his support for West via a screening of the documentary An Unreasonable Man and by signing copies of his book The Seventeen Traditions. That's Monday, six-thirty p.m. at the Rosendale Theater. (Nader will also be participating in a question and answer session.) On The Wilder Side, which is one of the five sites we still need to link to, has more information on that appearance in this post.

It's also true that we offer Liberal Oasis as a link and that's very much a Democratic site. Though Bill Scher may or may not remember this, before this site started, Jim exchanged several e-mails with him. It'll always be linked for that reason and, were there some reason to call Scher out on something, Jim would probably argue for us to give Scher a pass. (And we'd respect that.)

A question on e-mails was also popular last week and we'll address that. When possible, those replying attempt to avoid noting times. (Like, when we start writing editions on Saturday, we attempt to write as though it is Sunday.) That's due to C.I.

C.I. credits Ron (Why Are We Back In Iraq?) with pointing out, early on (December 2004), the ISP issue. When that was pointed out, C.I. stopped e-mailing. There are five friends that e-mail. C.I. saves responses to the public account and then passes on that they can be sent out. That was originally for a cooling off period (which was always the case for C.I. who wishes Yahoo offered a "batch" option the way some e-mail systems do). Then it became an ISP issue.

When we started this site, we were five students studying journalism, planning to be journalists. "Ava" came about because there was already a community member who went by Ava's actual first name. But we should have all done that. One thing we did do was agree that others should send out e-mail responses. If we were going to tackle big media while planning to work there, we needed as little reasons for someone not to hire us as possible. Today?

Ty's turned his internship into a career (in the entertainment industry) and isn't looking back. Ava will follow in her father's footsteps or not but she won't be rushing back to NY for anything more than a visit in the near future. Jess is officially studying for law school now. Dona and Jim remain committed to journalism. To touch on the issue of whether this site could continue after November 2008 (right now, the plan is to go dark), it could. The core six (and Kat) will all be out here on the West Coast. But, back to the point, e-mails are generally written late at night and saved to the draft folder. They go out when we notify that it's okay to send them. (We use the same senders C.I. does plus Ty's boyfriend.)

To stay on e-mails, not everything gets a response and one angry e-mail last week suggested that if Ava and Jess worked the e-mails, that might not be the case. Unless Ty's been benched (at his own request or because we think he's got too much on his plate), Ava and Jess will continue to assist with e-mails at The Common Ills. Jess believes that started on a trip he and Ava made out here well before the big move when they saw C.I. working through e-mail after e-mail and made the offer. (This was after Martha and Shirley had already started helping out with the e-mails. Eli also now helps with the e-mails.) In terms of Jess, as he will freely admit, he rarely ever replied to an e-mail sent to this site, even when he was reading them. Ava did reply. Currently, Ty is primary with backup from Dona (Dona says she hits our e-mail account twice a week). Jim works the e-mails when he remembers to. He is better today at replying to all people as opposed to just getting into back and forths with right-wingers.

With Ava and Jess working the private accounts of The Common Ills (as well as the public account), they are much more in touch with the community than anyone. (Ty's much more in touch with our core readers of this site than anyone.) This means Ava and Jess can join C.I. in advocating for a feature here because they know the mood of the community.

Anything that makes it up here does so because it has a strong, loud advocate. Ideally, more than one. But currently we have 17 ideas for this writing edition. In some form, all will be addressed in the print edition. In terms of online, not everything will be addressed. It will depend on the piece itself (which doesn't have to be well written -- a strong point of view can get it posted here) There are times when a strong piece just goes into the print edition. We had a strong piece criticizing the minimum wage proposal (before the November elections) as too small and noting the problems with it. We didn't post it online. Despite our problems with the meager offer, we decided not to put it up here because there are some people who really could use something, anything, even the meager proposal Dems are offering.

Some questions came in asking why we didn't link to ___, a war resister. In the case of Agustin Aguayo, what would be the point? That site has been deleted. (You can check by using The Common Ills' permalinks where a link for it still exists.) In the case of Ricky Clousing, his site never worked via a link. C.I. didn't see the point of including either (both are on The Common Ills' permalinks) when (a) they didn't work and (b) there was limited time. (We all agree with that decision.) That's also why Jeremy Hinzman isn't linked to. Kevin Benderman's site is one of the five we have a to-add list for. But C.I. only had the morning free, not the whole day. (We thank C.I. for doing that. We didn't ask. Ty had mentioned, that morning at breakfast, the number of e-mails coming in asking whether we were going to add links or not. Due to that being an issue in a number of e-mails, C.I. spent a rare free morning working on our links. We say "Thank you.")

Hopefully, that addresses the issues of links. If you feel there is a site we had linked to (that we didn't mention above) and have forgotten about, by all means e-mail. We have no idea what all was linked to. With very few exceptions, everything we had up before we're more than willing to relink to. If you have a problem with the order of the current links, deal with it on your own. You have no idea how many clicks it took to get them arranged as they currently are.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }