Site Comments, October 2020 Edition

This is the first edition of “Site Comments”, a parallel to the “Random Comments” threads, and meant to relieve the density of commenting in those. While the Random Comments threads will continue to welcome comics-related (and semi-comics-related) topics, as well as life-in-general, this Site Comments thread is the place for suggestions / complaints / questions / musings on how this site is organized and operates. So if you have thoughts about, say, the placement of Recent Comments versus Recent Posts lists, this would be the place for that.

(That is not to say this is the only form of feedback available. Among other routes, you can write to Editors at But it is explicitly intended to funnel off site commentary from the Random Comments threads.)

This will also be a place for site managers to post questions and requests for ideas, along with operational notices like warnings of theme experimentation coming up etc., besides alerts in separate sticky posts.

At the same time as inaugurating this kind of thread, it is time for yet another rollover of the venerable Random Comments thread. The one about to close, with 650 comments, is “Random Comments, 2020 Edition” , and the one getting started contemporaneous with this Site Comments is “Random Comments, Late 2020 Edition”

Also: A list of the site’s most recent comments can be found in the left sidebar (under “folder” icon 2nd tab). A database of all the comments, compiled by larK, is here, and can also be found linked in the left sidebar menu.

And the site’s former FAQ is here, representing the unique voice and outlook of CIDU Bill. An update for current addresses and notes is now available here, and can also be found linked in the left sidebar menu.


  1. @ Mitch4 – There is an echo coming from the Moderation chamber. In addition, I’ve had a pair of comments sent directly to “trash”. Could you please take a look?

  2. I’ve had a pair of comments sent directly to “trash”. Could you please take a look?

    Well, not Trash but Spam*. There are 3 and I’ll release them. They are your long lists with many many links,

    *Note to those following the tech-insider stuff: Spam detection is in large part handled by the Akismet plugin, and their tests and criteria are indeed hidden from us. That is different from “WordPress has mysterious internal tests for placing comments in Pending [moderation]” which is just false.
    In any case, “too many links” is a very public and well-known test. We discussed this and upped the number recently, but that was for Moderation, not spam detection which we do not control, indeed.

  3. @Shrug – Worse than ever. I give up.

    Sorry you were having trouble.

    A solution has been posted, but I fear has been lost in the avalanche of links posts. So here is a repeat:

    @Shrug, try \\_(?)_/ and it should come out as \_(?)_/

    That is, it uses doubling the initial backslash. Close to some other things you were trying!

  4. Thanks. I am a Bear of Very Little Brain when it comes to HTML or anything other than flat WYSIWYG.


  5. @ Mitch4 – The distinction between the spam and moderation filters may be clear to you as Editor, but if a submitted comment does not appear, it is difficult for a normal reader to be sure whether the “perfectly logical” moderation filter, or the”patently capricious” spam filter was the cause. Bill did not distinguish between the two, which must be the cause of the apparent conflation.
    P.S. The “echo from the moderation chamber” was a reference to the nearly identical reply I submitted to Shrug, advising him to try a doubled backslash at the beginning of his emoji sequence. That comment was originally (in moderation) on the previous page (#250), but now appears to have been vaporized.

  6. I see that Bill posted the Arlo and Janis Veterans Day sequence. Will we be able to keep it around, to re-post next year?

  7. Speaking of the Arlo one, I posted something there today. I didn’t get a moderation message, but it hasn’t shown up either.

  8. Brian: Just approved it. I found in the past that WordPress was for some reason erratic about telling me whether my comment was sent to moderation, or just vaporized.

  9. I have had off and on troubles with it. Usually I get the last 100 new posts, because sometimes the default 30 isn’t enough. However, that will on occasion fail (bad gateway) but I will have success with a smaller request.

  10. Sorry to all about the bad gateway — it’s been one of those incredibly hard issues to debug, but I think we finally found the issue (had to do with an unupdated parameter after we moved the server to a different location and different ip block…) It’s been driving ME crazy!

    Let me know if the problem persists now.

  11. Thanks for looking at it. I will report any further trouble (assuming it’s okay to use this thread for that).

  12. We missed noting a sort of milestone/benchmark. There are now 3,002 published posts here. (Missed noting the 3000.)

    Next one on the way might be 60,000 comments. We’re at 58,302. The 50,000th was noted by Bill on 2020/06/06 and was made by Dysfunctional.

  13. Although it is no longer “YesVember“, there might be something to be said for preserving Bill’s “tradition” of letting the site’s subheader remain long after it had worn out its welcome.

  14. I’ve given the matter some thought, and been fair enough to wait and see how the new dividing lines would look in practice. The length is acceptable, and while they could be thinner, my primary objection is the purple color, which still clashes with everything else on the page.

  15. “. . . which still clashes with everything else on the page.”

    Which may be the point; you really don’t want the line(s) to blend in, thus negating its/their usefulness.

  16. Where is the FAQ for this site?
    It’s back! You can find it linked in the left sidebar menu.
    What is in this version, and how was it written?
    It is for the most part simply an updating of CIDU Bill’s own update. The actual writing was mostly done by Winter Wallaby.
    Can we still find and read Bill’s version?
    Sure! It is mentioned and linked, as an item in the current version.
    Is it now in the traditional Question & Answer format for FAQs?
    Nah! That’s so 1995! And awkward of execution!
    Can we ask other questions for possible future inclusion, or in general suggestions for the editors to consider?
    Sure! Comment right here for public discussion, or email if you need privacy for something.

  17. And could there be a phrase more awkward of execution than “awkward of execution”? 🙂

  18. Continuing from elsewhere a discussion of gravatars/identicons.

    I was going to say “there’s no good way to test this” but then I checked in a WordPress.ORG free distribution installation, and the options and description are the same. So the code could tell us something. Of course it may be done at Gravatar rather than locally in WordPress. Anyhow this pictured bit comes from a file wp/wp-admin/options-discussion.php .

    <tr class="avatar-settings<?php echo $show_avatars_class; ?>">
    <th scope="row"><?php _e( 'Default Avatar' ); ?></th>
    <td class="defaultavatarpicker"><fieldset><legend class="screen-reader-text"><span><?php _e( 'Default Avatar' ); ?></span></legend>
    <?php _e( 'For users without a custom avatar of their own, you can either display a generic logo or a generated one based on their email address.' ); ?><br />
    $avatar_defaults = array(
    'mystery' => __( 'Mystery Person' ),
    'blank' => __( 'Blank' ),
    'gravatar_default' => __( 'Gravatar Logo' ),
    'identicon' => __( 'Identicon (Generated)' ),
    'wavatar' => __( 'Wavatar (Generated)' ),
    'monsterid' => __( 'MonsterID (Generated)' ),
    'retro' => __( 'Retro (Generated)' ),
    * Filters the default avatars.
    * Avatars are stored in key/value pairs, where the key is option value,
    * and the name is the displayed avatar name.
    * @since 2.6.0
    * @param string[] $avatar_defaults Associative array of default avatars.
    $avatar_defaults = apply_filters( 'avatar_defaults', $avatar_defaults );
    $default = get_option( 'avatar_default', 'mystery' );
    $avatar_list = '';
    // Force avatars on to display these choices.
    add_filter( 'pre_option_show_avatars', '__return_true', 100 );
    foreach ( $avatar_defaults as $default_key => $default_name ) {
    $selected = ( $default == $default_key ) ? 'checked="checked" ' : '';
    $avatar_list .= "nt<label><input type='radio' name='avatar_default' id='avatar_{$default_key}' value='" . esc_attr( $default_key ) . "' {$selected}/> ";
    $avatar_list .= get_avatar( $user_email, 32, $default_key, '', array( 'force_default' => true ) );
    $avatar_list .= ' ' . $default_name . '</label>';
    $avatar_list .= '<br />';
    remove_filter( 'pre_option_show_avatars', '__return_true', 100 );
    * Filters the HTML output of the default avatar list.
    * @since 2.6.0
    * @param string $avatar_list HTML markup of the avatar list.
    echo apply_filters( 'default_avatar_select', $avatar_list );
    <?php do_settings_fields( 'discussion', 'avatars' ); ?>

  19. This part does reference user email, but not obvious (to me) how it is used. I think you could well be right (larK) that is index into pre-existing list.

    $avatar_list .= get_avatar( $user_email, 32, $default_key, '', array( 'force_default' => true ) );

  20. Golly that’s peculiar! Some of that embedded text for html and php code above was “de-represented” as it were, with notation for some simple symbols given instead as the html entities that print as those symbols. For comparison, check this out:

  21. I’m sure that only a vanishingly small percentage of CIDU users will be able to read and understand those code snippets, so I was about to suggest a much simpler solution for avoiding an “undesirable” randomly generated Gravatar. Unfortunately, it appears that Gravatar and Woidpress have been merged, so you may have to register with the latter first, before you can get the former. Such a pity, it used to be easier than that.

  22. “I notice that Dana K got a picture of a coronavirus particle.”

    Thanks, Mark in Boston, but I can confirm I have not caught anything from my identity icon! 😏

  23. Those who have followed up on Mitch4’s invitation to read the CIDU FAQ may have noticed that Winter Wallaby’s latest version has omitted the “Arlo” category entirely. It’s a bit radical, but I think this was a wise decision. We can discuss (later) whether and/or when they might be reinstated, but one cardinal feature of “Arlo” comics was that Bill always deported them to a separate (external) location, so that anyone here with a sensitive nature would not be offended. It’s difficult enough to resurrect and maintain just a single posthumous website: I don’t think now is the time to juggle two of them, nor would I be in favor of admitting “Arlo” material into the main CIDU site. Given the extraordinarily high level of decorum among CIDU readers, I’m sure that we are all mature enough to do without a few adult-oriented comics for a while; after all, we’ve already gotten used to doing without a whole lot of other things these days.
    P.S. Nevertheless, I really wish that we didn’t need to get used to doing without CIDU Bill.

  24. deety: We can definitely have Arlo & Janis comics. The sort of material that Bill put on the separate Arlo page is a different matter.

    I think we can probably have “Arlo Award” material (as Bill put that on the main page). Not as sure about the stuff Bill put on a separate page. I only took both out from the FAQ temporarily until we could have an editorial discussion about them. Removing them from the FAQ wasn’t intended to be any “radical” permanent decision about editorial policy.

  25. Apologies for being so slow to notice, but the multicolored dividing lines that have been used in the last two posts are really cool, and should be made the new default (assuming, of course, that they are easy to set up). The colors that have appeared so far are fine, but if you have the option to select them, you could alternate red & green for Christmas posts, black and orange for Halloween; green, white (and perhaps orange) for St. Patrick‘s day, etc.

  26. Call for theme comics! Beethoven!

    Hey, “classical” music fans!

    We might have a bonus themed posting for Beethoven’s big birthday. Please send comics (of any category, LOL, OY, etc) or other material of interest, to the usual submissions address, and mention [Beethoven] in the Subject.

    (For that matter, Arlo’s cat, or other Ludwigs, if there is more than the name to make a connection.)

    I know Beethoven isn’t a core topic for CIDU, but we do mark various public occasions and this is going to be a widely-celebrated event due to the round number of the anniversary (250).


  27. What’s not to like?

    (Visible Likes on the regular web interface)

    (But did you know they are there in the WP Reader interface no matter our settings?)

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