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October 07, 2004

Housekeeping: Extended Posts?

As most of you have probably noticed, I have started using the "extended post" feature in the blogging software to continue longer posts on a jump page. One commenter complained: "It's a pain to have to scan down the page while opening umpteen windows, then read and close them one by one...Using it for the occasional really long post is one thing, but you seem to have started using it for almost all posts" That seems reasonable. I'd like to make viewing this site as easy as possible for those who visit every day, but I'm a pollster and I'm not comfortable making decisions on a sample size of one. So...

At risk of breaking every rule I preach on this site, I'd like to ask you to take a quick, informal, unscientific poll* with just one question:

Which of the following would you prefer I use as a rule for the "extended posts"?:
a) Use it to break posts longer than 2-3 paragraphs (~200 words)
b) Use it to break posts longer than 4-5 paragraphs (~500 words)
c) Use it to break posts longer than 7-8 paragraphs (~800-1000 words)
d) Don't ever use it - it's a pain and I don't mind all the scrolling to find older items

Post your answer as a comment below or by email to me directly. If you don't like the answer categories, feel free to answer any way you like. I'll report back with the results. By the way, if you'd prefer not to share your email address, feel free to make up a phony one when entering your comment. "Poll@this" seems to be a popular choice.

*Yes, I know...this sample will be entirely self-selected and not representative of anything except those daily readers who feel strongly enough about the issue to respond. For the moment, however, that's the universe I care about most.

Related Entries - MP Housekeeping

Posted by Mark Blumenthal on October 7, 2004 at 09:37 AM in MP Housekeeping | Permalink


I would choose B, anything longer than 4-5 paragraphs. But really, a blog entry should be succinct. You should rarely have posts much longer than that anyway.

Posted by: doktorwise | Oct 7, 2004 9:57:54 AM

Doktorwise never read Stephen Den Beste, I'm guessing. I use a text browser, so I prefer not to click through for extended entries. Patterico apparently has his set up with the extended entry feature, but it serves the page complete if a text browser requests it.
(That's Patterico.com, I think.)

Posted by: Chris | Oct 7, 2004 11:04:49 AM

My vote is to use jumps for posts that exceed 1,000 words.

Posted by: davidk | Oct 7, 2004 11:15:15 AM

Option B,
with the additional request that your XML feed contain the whole entry.

Posted by: allen claxton | Oct 7, 2004 11:52:13 AM

The problem is more that the new site design leaves far too narrow a column on the left for your posts - half the page is taken up by the column headed "FAQ" and then ANOTHER column with ads. If you went back to the post occupying 2/3 or 3/4 of the width, then the quesiton of jumps would be somewhat moot.

If you won't adjust, then I'd go with b).

Posted by: fatbear | Oct 7, 2004 12:28:02 PM

Let me give another vote for B (or the shorter end of C) -- and also give a second to the "new design is too narrow" -- although it's less, to my mind the two other columns as the fact that if I widen my window, I just get wider gray bars at the edges and not wider text. Yeah, I know that's getting common these days with blog templates.

Anyway, thanks for asking and thanks for the time and thoughts you're putting into your site.

Posted by: Nate | Oct 7, 2004 1:04:17 PM

I vote for option D. I like to digest the entire post and comments in once visual scoop.

Thanks for asking. My prayers are with your little daughter.

Posted by: Kris | Oct 7, 2004 2:27:25 PM

I choose (c). I'd like *some* limit on what I have to scroll over, but it can be a fairly generous one.

Posted by: Elliot | Oct 7, 2004 3:21:04 PM

I vote for 'D'. :)

Posted by: aphrael | Oct 7, 2004 4:10:31 PM


Posted by: fatinspanish | Oct 7, 2004 4:12:43 PM

Option A. I like seeing lots of posts on one page, and if I want more I can click and get more details.

Posted by: Cableguy | Oct 7, 2004 5:47:48 PM


Posted by: NWB | Oct 7, 2004 6:07:22 PM

Two additional comments:

1. I agree the right columns leave the left too little horizontal space. A wider text column would be nice.

2. A comment on the "poll" metaphor here: in an election where everyone agrees on the spectrum (such as choosing a number, like the number of words before a jump), the best way to choose the winner is to selection the median choice, not the choice with the most votes. Eg, three B votes, two Cs, and two Ds means C should win, not B.

Posted by: NWB | Oct 7, 2004 6:12:55 PM

I'd go with C, I guess.

Since this is a special focus blog--at least so far--I'm not sure it matters. I'm going to read every post, as they're posted, until the election. The extended post feature only really helps me when I want to skip a post.

Posted by: Thomas | Oct 7, 2004 7:49:20 PM


Posted by: detached observer | Oct 7, 2004 7:53:46 PM

d) Don't ever use it - it's a pain and I don't mind all the scrolling to find older items

Posted by: George MacDonald | Oct 7, 2004 8:13:18 PM

I go for C - use it rarely, over 1000 words is a fair stage at which to do it.

Posted by: David Farrar | Oct 7, 2004 8:20:58 PM

Let me second Allen Claxton's request: Whatever you do, please keep the XML feed set for the full post.

Posted by: Mithras | Oct 7, 2004 9:36:14 PM

Depends on how often you post. If you post 1-2 times a day then keep them full length. If more then go with B.

Posted by: arc | Oct 7, 2004 9:55:11 PM

1) C or D.
2) xml feed should have full post.
3) I agree to go back to two columns. For short blogs, three columns work. For long blogs, you need wider margins to make reading easier.
4) the first poster in this thread said that blogs should be succinct. Not true. Depends on the blog. The purpose of this blog is not brevity, but clarity. And sometimes clarity in explaining polling will take a long blog. They're well-written now so don't change what you're doing. Depth is good, even in this mile-a-minute culture.
5) I'd round out the blog with a selected articles by Mystery Pollster. Articles, newspaper pieces, etc, that Mark feels complement the purpose of this site - just post a link with a short blog. The long discussions are great. But, posting third-party articles with short context would also be useful if it a) allows you to add material you're not presently discussing b) adds it in a way that you don't feel you have to write a little paper on.
6) I'd also like to see this blog add current polls by third-parties that Mark has vetted and feels are credible.

Guess I answered outside of the question a bit.


Posted by: Rory | Oct 8, 2004 12:48:40 AM

I agree with the first poster. Keep posts as succinct as possible, but for longer posts (option b), split them up.

Posted by: Erick | Oct 8, 2004 12:06:36 PM

Its easier to scroll down than follow the jumps.

Posted by: Bob | Oct 8, 2004 3:09:36 PM

D. I can't stand the jumps--it's why I don't read kos. Scrolling up and down is much easier than dealing with all those open windows.

Posted by: Fran | Oct 8, 2004 8:30:09 PM

D. Not a big fan of the jumps. A great example of an "A" site is Wonkette, and a great example of a "D" site is -- well, was -- Den Beste.

So I guess the question you have to ask yourself is, who am I more like, Wonkette or Den Beste? I think Den Beste, but it's your blog.

I also agree about the 3 columns making posts more difficult to read. Another option, though, if you find a majority of your readers are on 1024X768 or higher resolution, is to just make the white box that everything goes in bigger.

Posted by: Joshua Conner | Oct 9, 2004 1:30:10 AM

C or D.

Posted by: John Tabin | Oct 9, 2004 10:56:13 AM

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