Makeover Monday Followup

We had a lot of good feedback, here and at Facebook, on our Makeover Monday experiment.

The site’s back to its familiar face, but we’re going to try to work out the logistics in the next week so that we can bring this back on an ongoing basis. It seems like people are into the idea, as long as we don’t change things too much.

Thanks again to everybody for the input and to graphic designer Roland Onodi for contributing the idea and being the ‘test pilot’.

Makeover Monday At Synthtopia

We’re trying something new at Synthtopia this week – Makeover Monday.

Reader + graphic designer Roland Onodi contacted us via Facebook last week and said “I love your site, but….” and followed up with a new header image for the site and a couple of related graphics.

We asked readers for ideas and input on this and there seems to be consensus on the idea that it would be cool to allow readers to submit artwork for the site to be featured on Mondays. We still need to figure out the details of how to do this while maintaining quality and avoiding confusion, so weigh in on the original post with your ideas.

Onodi lives in Budapest, Hungary.

Should Synthtopia Update Its Masthead, Or Have A ‘Makeover Monday’?

Over the years, we’ve had a couple of designers contact us to say “I love your site……but here’s a new masthead.”

We figure that’s the nice way of saying that the current masthead looks like it was state of the art for the 80’s.

The first proposed masthead, above, was created by reader Roland Onodi. The second, below, was created by reader Brook Boley.

These give us three ideas:

  1. We could spend some time on a site redesign/update;
  2. We could add a ‘makeover Monday’ feature, where we would feature a banner that highlights the work of readers like Onodi and Boley; or
  3. We could rotate the masthead and try to do variations on a theme, like MTV used to do with its logo.

What do you think? Should we explore one of these options? Or is the masthead irrelevant to you – you come here for the synth news?

Is The Mob Censoring Ideas At Synthtopia?

Is ‘the mob’ censoring discussion in the comments at Synthtopia?

Reader Someone Dudeus (we suspect that might be a nom de guerre) contacted us to complain about ‘mob rule’ censoring comments on our site:

You run a forum where the mob can censor ideas.

I agree – if comments in the forum is obnoxious or otherwise containing no content but innuendos and personal attacks and foul language – you remove the post.

But to have people “like” them and remove “disliked” posts is something completely different.

Not letting the guy thinking outside the box having a fair chance.

Other smuck sites can do that but U should not.

Here’s a little background on how comments are handled at Synthtopia:

  • We use an automated system, Akismet, to filter out comments that are clearly spam. It does this very effectively.
  • We delete comments if they are clearly spam or if they cross the line into things like hate speech or personal attacks. We only need to do this a few times/month, because most readers respect having the opportunity to have an intelligent discussion about synth news.
  • Finally, we let readers give comments the thumbs up or thumbs down. Comments that get primarily negative feedback eventually get ‘hidden’, by default. If this happens, the comment doesn’t get censored or deleted, but it doesn’t waste other readers’ time, either. We know that some people are going to try and manipulate and abuse the system, but we’ve set the thresholds high. As a result, it’s actually pretty rare for comments to get buried and, most of the time, it’s for good reason.

This system isn’t perfect, but it’s as good as any we’ve seen, and it allows for posts to regularly get dozens and even hundreds of comments, while keeping the discussion relatively free of spam and other garbage.

If you’ve got feedback or suggestions on the way we handle commenting, please let us know. Thanks!

Site Update For Commenting Problems

no comment or commenting problems fixedWe’ve updated the site to address a problem that was affecting some users when they tried to comment.

While it’s not that uncommon for Synthtopia posts to get dozens (and sometimes even hundreds) of comments, commenting on the site wasn’t working for some readers. This was frustrating for the affected readers and unacceptable to us.

We’ve spent some time testing the site with a variety of operating systems and web browsers to address this. We tested it successfully with recent versions of all these browser & operating system/device combinations:

  • Windows & Firefox
  • Windows & IE
  • WIndows & Safari
  • Windows & Chrome
  • Mac & Safari
  • Mac & Firefox
  • Mac & Chrome
  • Mac & Rockmelt
  • iPad & Safari
  • iPhone Safari

If you still have any problem, let us know via our feedback form, which is at the top of every page of the site, and tell us what browser and operating system you’re using.


Windows IE 9 Layout Looks Funky, Commenting Broken On Mac Firefox

Broken Computer Screen

A couple of users have sent feedback that the site layout looks funky in Windows IE 9 and that commenting isn’t working correctly in at least some versions of Firefox on the Mac.

I’ll try to get this addressed as soon as possible. I’ll need to duplicate the issue and try to get it resolved.

If you’re a CSS/browser guru and have tips on addressing these issues, let me know via the Feedback form. Of course, if you’re a CSS/browser guru and you use Firefox on the Mac, that might sort of be a Catch-22…….

Thanks for the feedback – please keep it coming!

OnSwipe iPad Interface “Is So Bad!” – You Talked & We Listened

Synthtopia ipad interfaceFor the last couple of days, we’ve been testing out Onswipe – a custom set of page templates that are supposed to be an ‘insanely easy way to make your site look great on tablet web browsers.’

Synthtopia iPad users aren’t buying the Onswipe hype.

Here’s a taste of the feedback we got in just one day on the ‘insanely easy’ Onswipe interface:

  • “Not really liking the new mobile site,” commented Rich Wildman. “It is very buggy, with stories sometimes not appearing, graphics not appearing and so forth. Please provide an option to use the regular site – especially for iPad user.”
  • Reader Robin Parry said “It doesn’t work on iPad, it’s r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w , it looks awful – bad Sunday supplement! Again WHY?”
  • Tim Webb said “Your CMS seems to have switched on something for making a newspaper/magazine style interface for iPad viewers. It is bad. It is so bad! Please consider turning that off!”
  • “Website update on iPad borked!” adds Grant.

Rich, Robin, Tim, Grant & everybody else that commented – we appreciate you letting us know right away on this. The Onswipe experiment was a failure. You just want the regular site to work well on the iPad!

Try it again on your iPad and let us know what you think.

And, as always, keep the feedback coming. We’ll do what we can.

PS: We made body links easer to read, too!

Facebook Synth Legion Now 10,000+ Strong!

Facebook Synthbook Army

The Synthtopia Facebook Synth Legion is now 10,000+ strong!

That’s insane!

I am humbled by the size and dedication of the Synthtopia audience and I thank you for your support.

We must be doing something right….but if you’ve got suggestions for how you’d like to see us work better with Facebook, or any other suggestions for that matter, let us know.

We do listen to your feedback. We fixed the ugly type spacing, right?

Link: Synthtopia on Facebook