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Open Thread: The Murder of Meredith Kercher/READ THE EDIT

[Edit, 12/17/07: Back to the old system for now. Go here to take a look at the comments you’ve made during the interim: http://truecrimeweblog.disqus.com/.]

For this inaugural open thread using the new commenting system, I’d like to suggest readers discuss the “Foxy Knoxy” murder — the alleged murder of Briton Meredith Kercher by Rudy Hermann Guede, Amanda Knox, and Raffaele Sollecito. Click here for the previous entry or simply go here for the comments.

Please keep referring to this blog entry for updates on how to use the new commenting system.

NOTES ON THE NEW COMMENTING SYSTEM

1. You can ignore the points. Unless people vote you deep into the negatives, your comment will not be buried. Don’t be a troll, and it will be visible. Points are awarded by other commentators, which can include me. And you know what? I like the point system for one reason — it’s a good way to let a-holes know they’re being a-holes without actually engaging them (which is often exactly what they want).

2. Frankly, I think the threading thing is self-evident. If you click through to Disqus, you can select the “flat” view, if you like — then the comments will look more like what you’re used to.

3. THE COMMENTS ARE NOW PAGINATED. AT 25 COMMENTS, THEY GO OVER TO A NEW PAGE. LOOK FOR PAGE NUMBERS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE COMMENTS SECTION.

4. YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE A DISQUS PROFILE. You may remain anonymous. However, you should know I take a close look at anonymous commentators and won’t hesitate to delete them or mark them as spam if they get really obnoxious. If this gets really bad, I will not hesitate to change the settings so that all commentators must be registered.

5. You can sort comments by oldest, newest, hottest, and something else. I just use old or new and ignore the other settings.

6. The box where you enter your comment is now at the bottom of the entry rather than the bottom of the comments. This may be a little confusing, but you enter your comment then check the usual location, if you’re sorting by “oldest.”

7. Once you’ve left a comment, be sure to refresh the page to see what you and others have written.

8. If you do choose to use the points — only vote another person up one time. If you wish to vote one person up multiple times, you’ll probably have to make multiple profiles, which most people will not do. An attempt to vote a person up twice will actually reduce the point you just gave them.

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In a way, I truly appreciate it when readers feel proprietary about my blog. More than some other weblogs I’ve read, that seems to be the case here. People refer to “their” forum, or whatever.

But as I have had to say too many times — this isn’t a message board. On message boards, you may have admins and moderators, but essentially, the readers run the show, add the content, and the admins and mods are there to keep order. On a blog, the blogger, the person who writes the posts, runs the show. That’s me.

I actually installed this commenting system to make comments slightly more like a certain type of message board. Even though I have insisted (and do insist) that people remember this is a different format from a message board, I still went ahead and tweaked things to make the comments feel more like that type of forum, because it seemed to be something the readers might like.

It always happens, though — some people have absolutely freaked about the change. There was a time when I would have apologized for that. This is not that time. I like this change. It’s more in keeping with the way much of the rest of the Web looks now. I found the new format self explanatory and easy to use, and I’m not a skilled webmaster — I’m a writer, first and foremost, and a researcher. My wife, who is a skilled webmaster, can tell you — frequently, me farting around with my blog may end in disaster. This time, the blog has turned out precisely as I wanted it to (ok, not precisely, but I’m referring only to some issues with fonts and colors).

I do read other weblogs, about other subjects, and I’ve rarely seen another blog where the creator and author has had to explain changes the way I’ve had to do. Either they’re ignoring complaints or their readers roll with it. Frankly, I suspect the latter.

I constantly make it clear that I am deeply grateful to the readers of my crime blogs, past and present. I am. And when I make changes, they are usually for aesthetic reasons or usability issues. The comments were changes for usability, and fortunately, a few readers do agree with me. I’m not making any other changes here anytime soon, so hopefully people will grow more accustomed to the new format.