New help page for commenting and login issues

Earlier this year, after getting hacked, we made some major changes. It all had to be done, but of course there are some new headaches. We’ve published a new help page explaining the changes, why you do not have to have a Facebook or Twitter account, and why some comments are held for moderation (one normal reason, one buggy reason). Obviously we are working as fast as a volunteer-powered organization possibly can to fix the bugs, and we thank you for your patience. Meanwhile, if you’ve been frustrated trying to comment, this page should offer some relief.

Help with logging in & commenting

Good news update: the “vanishing submit button” problem has (probably) been solved at last, eliminating one of the major reasons we originally published the help page.

The Editors

Posted in: Announcements

Leave a Comment (45) ↓

45 thoughts on “New help page for commenting and login issues

  1. DavidRLogan says:

    I suspect the bugs and headaches are a multilevel conspiracy involving the editors, Dr. Harriet Hall, and the CEO of GlaxoSmithKline who posts under the nom de guerre “Angora Rabbit”…

    Thanks for keeping the site awesome! It’s been a real joy to read and learn over the past year.

  2. Sabio Lantz says:

    Best wishes on the fixes — great site.

  3. anoop says:

    Can someone please minimize all that white space? There is too much white spacing between paragraphs, between headings and sometimes there is too less. It just a bit distracting to read and looks a bit unprofessional. And this is something that is not too hard to change either.

    1. Hi, Anoop. That’s a really subjective, aesthetic judgement. While I am collecting all kinds of feedback on the design, we probably won’t be killing off much whitespace. I’m rather fond of it myself. And there’s a strong association in design history between white space and classy, professional branding. (If anything, it’s tight spacing and clutter that are strongly perceived as “unprofessional.”)

      Regardless, there’s nothing easy about redesign. Not that hard to tinker with a stylesheet, sure, but every design decision generates unintended consequences and the need for more design decisions … :-)

      1. thomas p says:

        The white space is actually quite appropriate when dealing with dense material such as this, And, I agree, it is classy.

      2. rork says:

        Classy, professional – nothing about efficient. What beginner and expert want in interfaces is always different, the latter type often in horror at what the former want.

        “design history between white space and classy, professional branding” – as a writer of image analysis interfaces I howled at that. Beauty is in utility, unless it doesn’t really matter.

        1. Agreed, “classy and professional” shouldn’t trump efficiency and user-experience … and they rarely do (and almost can’t by definition, as you said: “beauty is in utility”). There’s nothing about a generally spacious layout that is inherently at odds with usability or readability. Indeed, it usually enhances it, while clutter typically detracts.

          But of course you can have too much of a good thing, and someone pointed out in another context that there may be specific places in the new SBM design where there really is rather a lot of whitespace. Maybe some of it does need to be trimmed. I’m hardly married to the design: it was just a good-looking WordPress theme (Sterling) that we decided to go with, for now. By any measure it’s an upgrade. For a while our priority will be to deal with exasperating bugs, not layout tweaks or (god forbid) a whole new theme with a whole new batch of pros and cons.

      3. anoop says:

        Thanks for the reply Paul.

        The problem here is in some areas there is too little spacing and some there is too much. Appearances are all relative.The heading and the caption is a bit too crunched up while there is a lot of space in the blue bar which says “article” and right below it. I know it is a not a big deal . But just something to keep in mind when you think of some redesign. Maybe have a designer take a look at it next time and maybe get some feedback.

        1. I’m with Anoop on this–having read each entry and evaluated it–and admitting that I know absolutely nothing about graphic design. I simply instinctively agree with his (Anoop) take on the white space–it’s excessive. This in no way detracts from the overall good look of the new layout, to say nothing of how much I know we all appreciate the hard work of Mr. Ingraham who works tirelessly on our behalf. Thank you!

          1. Comment approved! In more ways than one. :-) Thanks.

            As I read this feedback, I’m starting to strongly suspect that the appearance of the design may be alarmingly variable. That’s always the case to some extent, but perhaps more so here. Methinks it’s time for some careful checks in several browsers and screen sizes …

  4. Alia says:

    Well, it seems I’m just one of those unlucky commenters, whose comments _always_ go into moderation before being posted. Even though I keep the same login and email address.

    1. There are a few of you, and we just don’t know what causes it. We are making an extra special effort to get comments approved ASAP until the problem is resolved.

      But your comment here went straight through, no approval required. :-)

  5. Jetpack sometimes opens a new tab momentarily, pop-up ad style. A tad annoying because it steals focus, albeit briefly. Would be nice if it did its thing in the background. Anyone else have this happening?

    1. Hmm, peculiar. I haven’t seen or heard of that yet. If someone else has seen it, please let us know.

    2. windriven says:

      Yup. Irritating.

      1. And I had to approve that comment… *sigh*

      2. Opera browser here, which do you use ? Am wondering if it’s a phantom of the Opera…

        1. windriven says:

          I’ve used Firefox, Explorer, Chrome and Safari. Each offers different challenges with SBM. But I believe it is with Chrome that I have this. In mine it manifests as strobing and it is really distracting. OS is Win7 Pro 64 bit.

          The browser that works best for me is Safari on my iPad. Funny that it works better on a toy than on high end workstations.

          1. That answers that.

            I too like Safari, for the Reader feature !

  6. vadaisy says:

    I like the new design. It’s sleek, and more professional looking. I would appreciate it is there were more contrast in the color of the typeface when people imbed a link within their comment.

    1. vadaisy says:

      Also, a way to edit posts would be most appreciated.

  7. windriven says:

    Any chance of adding a Google (g-mail?) login. I’m one of the internet Luddites not interested in FB or in thoughts that are expressed in the form of electronic bumper stickers, but nearly everyone has a g-mail dump for contacts likely to result in spam. I’m wondering (hoping?) that a login other than WordPress will get me out of moderation purgatory.

    1. Unknown. That would be entirely up to the folks at WordPress, and how they choose to develop Jetpack. However, for what it’s worth, I suspect the source of the credentials is not related to the moderation purgatory issue.

      1. windriven says:

        ” I suspect the source of the credentials is not related to the moderation purgatory issue.”

        Ahh … is it my mustache then? ;-)

        1. mcrislip says:

          You have a ‘stash!!!!!!!

          1. windriven says:

            The mustache helps hide my smirk.

            Being a late bloomer, I didn’t have it in grade school. The ‘stash, I mean. I already had the smirk. The nuns being nuns didn’t much like smirks, mustaches, or much of anything else so they made me kneel on rice. Raw rice. Something had to give so I kept the smirk and dumped Catholicism. Later, I grew a mustache to hide the smirk in case I ever ran into another nun.

            So far I’ve been lucky.

  8. davdoodles says:


  9. cloudskimmer says:

    Using my Mac desktop, the font is really tiny and hard to read. CMD+ doesn’t make the font any bigger, it just spreads it across more width. Perhaps this is why anoop complained about too much white space; I’m looking at a HUGE amount of white space with teeny-tiny type that is barely readable, so using Safari doesn’t work well. Firefox is fine–the type can be enlarged–and it’s okay with the ipad as well.
    If we can use even a fake name and email, what is to prevent anyone from using someone else’s username?
    I went to the website to learn more about It seems directed to setting up blogs and web pages; nothing seemed to relate to signing in to make comments on other websites. Why do you recommend it and what privacy protections are there which aren’t available through twitter and facebook?

    1. The no-zoom bug is a nasty Safari-only problem largely out of our control. I use Safari myself but the default font size seems reasonable to me, so I rarely try to zoom (although I absolutely think website users should be able to zoom, and of course many people with limited vision need to be able to).

      Anyone can claim to be anyone at all in an ad hoc comment here … just as they can in a thousand other ways any time, any place on the internet. It’s a problem, but it’s not a problem that’s unique to SBM or WordPress blogs. Anonymous commenting has existed since the dawn of blogging, and it’s not going away.

      Yes, is about setting up blogs, but it’s also the largest such organization in the world, and they do a lot of related stuff. This is spelled out in the help page: is “a website devoted to WordPress blogs and related services. Before Jetpack, people who commented on blogs needed a login for every single individual blog. Now you can use a single login for scads of WordPress blogs, including”

      Twitter and Facebook accounts are public things by nature, so simply having the account in some sense means you are “out there” (although you can create Twitter and Facebook accounts and leave them empty and effectively anonymous — they exist, but aren’t being used). By contrast, a is relatively obscure and can be used solely for this purpose, with basically no other presence online if you don’t want.

  10. Carl says:

    We get all of this praise for white space, and yet when we go down to the box we gave to type in it is this stupid little box-within-a-box.

  11. Sastra says:


  12. ThisGuy says:

    Might be a bad place and time to say this, but since the issue of studies disproving various quack therapies is so often mentioned, could you make a special set of pages for each quack therapy and a compiled repository of links to the studies and reviews that disprove them?

    Every so often the need to quickly and easily link them arises, and if I could simply come here, click on a dropdown, pick the therapy, and be directed to a page with links to the studies were possible, it would help enormously.

    Thank you.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      At the top of the page is a “categories” drop-down. Just above that is a “References” tab. Both will chunk according to modality. There’s also a “Search” box which works pretty well, particularly if you’ve got the author name for specific studies. A google search for “sciencebasedmedicine acupuncture web weaver” would also work, as would google’s advanced search option “site or domain”.

      Of course, a search at Quackwatch is always a good option, or scienceblogs (notably Respectful Insolence).

      1. Wow, one of your delicious pieces of writing made it onto SGU this week. I’m impressed.

        1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

          Geeeee!!!! It’s like Ke$ha shouted out my name in the middle of a concert!!!

          I just said that to make windriven die a little inside.

          Well, windriven, and my wife. Hi sweetums!! You have the softest earlobes!

  13. windriven says:

    “I just said that to make windriven die a little inside.”

    No, I would die a little inside if Ke$ha shouted out MY name in the middle of a concert.

    1. Chris says:

      Who or what is a Ke$ha?

      1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

        Imagine you took the musical talent of Chris de Burgh, the lyrical abilities of the Beastie Boys, the fashion sense of a homeless person and the scent of garbage, shook them up in that milkshake machine from Twins then fertilized the egg of a female Donald Trump clone and gave it a record contract and an autotune machine. Spray it down with cheap champagne, dip it in glitter and you’ve got Ke$ha. It’s terrible, shame-inducing trash-pop.

        Good for you for not knowing :)

  14. Okay, I’m sorry, but I hate the new commenting format. Well, actually, I love the new commenting format, because it keeps me from wasting too much time reading comments or writing them….but IF I wanted to read comments or comment much, I would hate it.

    It looks lovely, but how are you supposed to find recent comments?

    Is it possible to link to the individual comments from the recent comments page? When I check out the recent comments page, I see recent comments, but when I click the link (time and date) it takes me to the top of the article. Then I have to scan all the comments to find one comment, since comments are now nested.

    Certainly, I COULD take a more mindful approach…sort of, just enjoy the comments I come across “in the now”. But the less enlightened part of me would like more control.

    If it’s not too much trouble (which I’m sure it is)
    cheers, mtr

    1. It’s not a perfect solution, but I’ll use my browser’s search feature on a date, say, August 19 to find recent comments. On last week’s post about homeopathic first aid kits it was helpful in finding comments I hadn’t yet read without having to scan through over 200 of them. Works for me, but then I’m no roaring mouse. By the way, nice ears.

  15. Thanks! Searching by date is great idea devoutcatalyst – Sadly, I tried it and I seem to get only article links. My Safari Browser (on Mac) is using Google – what are you using?

  16. I don’t use a search engine, instead the page search that’s built into the browser — the browser never leaves the SBM site. In the Windows world that is ctrl + F in Safari for sure !

  17. Oh cool, I never knew that search box existed. (That’s what happens when you don’t work in an office for 10 years and can’t prey on the knowledge of the more technologically adept) On a mac, it’s command + F. Unfortunately I’m still not getting much in the way of results. But I think I may be able to fool around with it for awhile and figure it out.

    1. It is useful for checking comments across many days, where seeing only the posts of a particular day helps narrow the field. In Safari for Windows I can hit ‘enter’ repeatedly to rifle through all of a day’s comments in order to find the ones that are new. Safari recycles to the top of the page so you can keep hitting enter and go round and round if you think you missed one.

  18. anoopbal says:

    Hey Paul,

    might be a good idea to take a survey. With points for design, usability and such. Let’s make it scientific lol. Listening to one or comment probably say nothing.

    And I have to say: it is ten times better than what we had. So you are doing an awesome job! Just some minor quibbles. :)

Comments are closed.