Whereas in previous years we have taken a break at the end of the year, this time we have kept a thread going at the request of some users of The Political Sword. They have enjoyed the conversation with each other, and have missed it whenever the site was down, as it was recently as we upgraded to the latest version of our blog engine. We are about to resume usual activity tomorrow.
Lyn will be back with her daily links. She will post a large batch in relation to the flood levy. Thereafter she will, as before, upload daily links she has selected from her vast collection of websites that she peruses continually. We have missed her and look forward to enjoying her links once more.
Tomorrow a piece will be posted titled: The media needs to pull up its socks in 2011. It aims squarely at our MSM, which if anything is worse than last year. It is planned to post around two pieces a week. This is about as much as we can manage given the nature of our articles, for which considerable preparation is needed. Hillbilly Feral Skeleton will be a co-contributor; hopefully Acerbic Conehead will be able to contribute further items and Bushfire Bill will likely resume. Others who may be interested in contributing pieces should contact me.
While most who comment here do so agreeably, just a few choose to make derogatory personal remarks about other commentors. This sometimes evokes a retaliatory response and the abuse can quickly escalate. Such remarks are out of bounds and will be deleted. While it may be acceptable to heap scorn on our subjects: politicians and journalists, and make pejorative remarks about them, it is not so for bloggers to treat other bloggers in that way. Dissent is acceptable, but we will not allow this site to degenerate into a slagging match, which characterises many commercial media sites. Courtesy is catching.
One of the attributes of this site is the richness of the links that adorn its pages. Apart from Lyn’s links, many who post here include links to the material being quoted. If material from another blog site or a media outlet is being quoted, it should be made clear that the material is a quote by including it between quotation marks and preferably using italics for emphasis. To do so highlight the text and use the ‘i’ or the ‘quote’ facility above the comments box to apply the code. With this blog engine square brackets are used in tags rather than the usual angle brackets. Also please acknowledge the source, the author and the date, and include any available link to the material being quoted. This is a simple courtesy.
2011 promises to be an absorbing and turbulent year politically. Much of the MSM, particularly News Limited outlets, seems determined to attack the Government and its leadership, and smooth the path to The Lodge for the Leader of the Opposition by taking an uncritical approach to his pronouncements. It is gratifying to see just a few journalists bucking this trend and forensically analysing his behaviour, utterances and policies. The political blogosphere seems to be the only mechanism we have for countering the misinformation and the bias we see day after day in the MSM. We have a duty to attack media disingenuousness, incorrect statements, unfairness and vitriol. No one else will.
I wish you a happy and fruitful year of blogging. For our part we will attempt to maintain the standard set for original pieces since the inception of TPS in September 2008, and invite you to continue to make your contributions through the ‘comments’ section. Indeed it is your contributions that have enriched TPS so much. As you will see when you look in the ‘Archive’ (top menu), the number of comments jumped noticeably during 2010. Now comments continue long past the end of the discussion of the particular piece, extending to contemporary events. As a result site traffic had escalated markedly.
Enjoy TPS all year.
What follows is a modification of what I posted a couple of days ago in ‘Comments’. I include it here for reference to enable you to derive the most from TPS.
The new-look TPS
The following is an explanation of the changes that have taken place within The Political Sword with the upgrade to the latest version of BlogEngine.NET. It is repeated here in case you have missed it.
First I should mention that because it is a free off-the-shelf product, flexibility is limited because one is restricted to one of a number of ‘themes’ for the site, most of which are unsuitable for a blog site on politics. I trust you will approve of the header, which was designed to give the message that this site is mainly about federal politics, politicians and commentators, which we put to the sword.
The top menu
The default position is ‘Home’. Under ‘Archive’ all the posts since TPS began are listed, with the most recent at the top, under the four categories in use: ‘Rudd/Gillard Government’, ‘Coalition’, ‘Media’ and ‘National events’. The same item may be listed under several or all categories. ‘Archive’ replaces what was called ‘Sword Watch’, so if you are looking for an article, it will be in date order, with the most recent first, under the appropriate category. As most, but not all pieces are under the category ‘Rudd/Gillard Government’, look there first. If you can’t find what you want in Archive, try the search facility.
‘Contact’ enables you to send me an email.
By the way, please ignore the ‘Sign in’ option at the top right of the header. That is only for site administrators.
The left panel
You will note that what was previously in the right panel is on the left. The ‘Page List’ has been restricted to Lyn’s Links, with LYN'S DAILY LINKS at the top and previous months below, in alphabetical rather than date order. At the top of the LYN’S DAILY LINKS page you will see a link to Australian Blog Sites, which lists all political blog sites. This replaces a similar listing on the previous version of TPS. You will also see a link to Political News Watch, which has links to Breakfast Politics and Wotnews Politics Channel where you can find reference to political material in the MSM.
Below that is the ‘Search’ facility, which I urge to use when looking for past posts. Using keywords you can search previous pieces and include a search of comments if you wish.
Then comes the ‘Calendar’ with the dates of posting linked to the posts.
Following this is the ‘Archive’ of posts in chronological month order beginning with the earliest month, all linked to the named month. The number in brackets indicates the number of posts that month. Within a given month the last post for that month is listed first.
Below that there are the five most ‘Recent Posts’, and the five most ‘Recent Comments’ on the current post, all linked.
The primary post
Occupying much of the width of the page, it has the time and date of posting of the piece and the author under the title, and above that, links to one or two previous posts. The text is wrapped around close to the right margin. If it’s too small, enlarge by holding ‘Control’ or ‘Command’ while pressing +.
In contrast to the previous version where the ‘comments’ link was at the top, to read and make comments, go to the ‘Actions’ panel at the end of the piece and click ‘Comments’. The number of comments to date follows ‘Comments’, in brackets. The comments box is as before but the symbols for bold, italics, underline and quote are separated for easier use. To use them, highlight the text to be emphasized, click the appropriate symbol and the code will be applied. reCaptcha is also in use in this version to reduce spam.
Some have commented that the width of the comments text is less than before. This is due mainly to the text wrapping round short of the right margin, and partly because of the largish font. We are investigating to see if the code for these features can be changed to allow a greater amount of text across the comments section. If you prefer a wider display of text, check the appearance of the text when you click ‘Comments RSS’. On my iMac the text is spread across the screen; but on my Dell laptop it is not so and is rather clunky. We are checking to see if that can be modified. Of course you can only read comments on ‘Comments RSS’, not make them.
In the ‘Actions’ panel you can also email the address of the piece, and access Yahoo’s ‘delicious’, which facilitates archiving of pieces in categories. You have to join to use it. ‘Permalink’ is also there; it enables you to bookmark the URL of any piece.
As requested, we have added Twitter, the button being at the top of the left panel. You can join Twitter, which is free, and follow me. Twitter enables you to direct messages to your computer, tablet or phone. Once you have joined, you can access Twitter to see the latest tweets I have made from The Political Sword. The name I use on Twitter is Adastra5.
If you haven’t already, I urge you to join Twitter and become a follower of my tweets. I intend to use it to highlight new posts, standout comments, useful links and information about TPS. It will be especially useful if the site is having technical difficulties, as it will be a way of notifying you of this.
Your feedback will give me a guide about how useful it is. It seems to be used widely in political and media circles; time will tell how well it plays out for us.
You can rate a piece by clicking on the stars above the ‘Actions’ panel. It you click the fifth star (right) your rating will be recorded as 5; if you click the first, as 1.
Your feedback by way of comments is always useful. Thank you for the complimentary remarks you have already made about the header and the general appearance of the new site. Specific remarks, such as about column width, have prompted us to check if any improvement can be effected within the limitations imposed by this freebie.
We are still having some technical problems. One relates to the ‘Comments’ facility, which on two occasions has become non-functional overnight, although the rest of the site continued to function normally. We are working on a fix for this problem, one that resets ‘Comments’ overnight, but until we have found the solution, you may find sometimes that comments are not accessible and making comments impossible. Please bear with us; until we find a permanent solution, we will fix it as soon as we discover it, which is usually in the morning.
Please let me know if there is any way we might improve the appearance, functionality and usefulness to you of The Political Sword.