Taking a break, and coming back different


6:01 pm - August 13th 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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Hello readers,

News and opinion coverage on Liberal Conspiracy will be markedly slower over the next few weeks, at least until September starts. This is partly because I’m taking a break to focus on other projects and partly because there isn’t much interesting news around.

Secondly, and more importantly, the site will unveil a new front-page design with a markedly different focus.

More of our content will be focused on news, information and video than on opinion blogs. We will start publishing more general, cultural news and information than just politics.

There won’t be any celebrity news, I promise. But there will be more news from around the web, more videos and more short posts linking to interesting stories.

Some of you will complain about the change in focus, but from our stats it’s quite clear that more light-hearted content is way more popular than highly serious, deep policy content.

This isn’t to say we will do less of the latter. In fact, having more traffic to Libcon (which now regularly tops 100,000 absolute unique visitors a month) thanks to lighter content may encourage more visitors to read the serious, policy content.

Also, I’m interested in hearing from readers (in the comments below) on what you like or dislike about the front page and whether you check the front page regularly or not.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Liberal Conspiracy ,News

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Reader comments


I follow @libcon and click on the articles with interesting titles. Changes to the front page won’t affect how I engage.

I agree with janvier

3. Chaise Guevara

Well, I hope you don’t abandon opinion altogether, it’s what I find most interesting.

This is probably on the cards already, but if you’re rebooting, and *especially* if you’re going to have more content, you need to improve the site’s accessibility. Simply navigating from one page to the next can take several minutes on both of the computers I normally use to access LC.

Good luck with the changes.

I look forward to seeing it, Sunny. I enjoyed Pickled Politics and hope that you can bring back some of the non-party, cross-culture debate that it inspired. Post General Election 2010, LC debate has followed party lines. That might be an inevitable consequence of the results, but it doesn’t always deliver meaningful analysis.

5. Alisdair Cameron

Never use the frontpage as entry to LC. Come at specific articles/items via tweets or the RSS feed. If you’re doing a reboot though, maybe do something about loading times: clicking links within LC can lead to a a l-o-o-o-n-g load time.
Maybe a little less party allegiance, and more loyalty to principles. That would also mean less by way of argumentative gymnastics to justify what a particular party or one of its grandees has dimwittedly or hypocritically done.

If you are coming back with video on the site, watch out for the costs and restrictions imposed by the fatuous, restrictive and pointless ATVOD regulations. Another idiotic hang-over from Nu-Labour days that the present administration dont appear to be in a hurry to abolish.

@5. Alisdair Cameron: “Never use the frontpage as entry to LC. Come at specific articles/items via tweets or the RSS feed. If you’re doing a reboot though, maybe do something about loading times: clicking links within LC can lead to a a l-o-o-o-n-g load time.”

I don’t follow Alisdair’s first comment. I don’t subscribe to Twitter or RSS feeds, so I expect the LC front page to work like a newspaper. I expect to be able to eyeball it to identify points of immediate interest, followed by a slower examination of the second column to see how many of the usual suspects have popped up.

The slow loading problem is serious. From a UK ISP at home (fast connection), LC is l-o-o-o-n-g slow for anything other than the home page. From work (ridiculously fast connection), everything on LC is displayed immediately. I cannot ascribe this to time of day or blame it on site activity.

My own preference would be for massive restraint when it comes to publishing stuff about the forthcoming Presidential election in the US. There will be acres and acres of horseshit written about the election, on both sides of the Atlantic, and it’s very tempting for UK-based sites to join in with their own prognoses and other endless horse-race discussions. But the temptation should be strongly resisted, as this kind of commentary is almost always worthless. In my opinion.

Front page is good for having losts of links clearly available rather than having to scroll through as much as websites. That does come with it looking a bit more amateurish and clunky – maybe a small tweak up would improve, but basically v minor imo.

You will become more like The Sun then?

I am only interested in opinion, to be honest.
For news, I have newspapers and TV and radio already. I really don’t need another source. (Unless you have journalists who are closer to Damascus than Al Jazeera. If not, you probably have nothing to add to the story.)

I almost never visit the homepage, visiting mainly from links that you (Sunny) or Owen Jones tweet.

I’m definitely more interested in the opinion than the news, unless you find a niche that I’m not finding sated elsewhere. But I’m certainly willing to give you a fair crack at the whip on that one. And if your stats are telling you the lighter, non-opinion content is of more interest to your visitors than the deeper, opinion content, then you’d be foolish not to cater to that.

Good luck! :o)

Mostly visit via google reader these days to comment sarcastically, otherwise I generally lurk on google.

I also enjoy economic analysis and opinion pieces, however I am seeking treatment.

An aggregator or LibConesque blogs would be good too which promoted whatever recent posts had gone up on websites. I know when I started reading blogs stuff like that at The Third Estate helped me discover sites and made me visit their site.

Chaise: Simply navigating from one page to the next can take several minutes on both of the computers I normally use to access LC.

Do you mean the pages take slow to load or that you can’t find the links easily enough?

Charlieman: That might be an inevitable consequence of the results, but it doesn’t always deliver meaningful analysis.

This is partly a function of the content I get offered. But no other left side has as much Libdem or Green content on it I’d say.

Chris Brooke: But the temptation should be strongly resisted, as this kind of commentary is almost always worthless. In my opinion.

Yeah I’m not going to do that much US commentary. I agree there’s enough already. I might do the occasional stuff, when I need to get stuff off my chest.

Owen: I’m definitely more interested in the opinion than the news, unless you find a niche that I’m not finding sated elsewhere.

I meant stuff like that expose on Tories getting fake followers. Some complained it wasn’t serious enough – but that was our most popular story that week by far.

from our stats it’s quite clear that more light-hearted content is way more popular than highly serious, deep policy content.

If I want light-hearted, I can read r/funny or Cheezburger. I go to LibCon for political news and analysis, and if you attempt to nakedly pursue ratings, it might not end well.

This isn’t to say we will do less of the latter. In fact, having more traffic to Libcon (which now regularly tops 100,000 absolute unique visitors a month) thanks to lighter content may encourage more visitors to read the serious, policy content.

Indeed it might. Just: be careful.

This sites USP is the well written 500 word serious opinion blog post.

its a bad move to change it.

Access via RSS. Enjoy the opinion, don’t need another source of news (seconding #10). If you must do straight news, please make it a separate feed. If the same feed requires sifting out the news (and videos, which I would never find useful) from opinion, I’d be more likely to just unsubscribe from the feed.

18. Chaise Guevara

@ 14 Sunny

“Do you mean the pages take slow to load or that you can’t find the links easily enough?”

The pages are slow to load – links are fine (the layout of the site is generally excellent, in fact; the only suggestion I’d make there is to make it possible to scroll back through older articles chronologically without relying on the Search bar).

On both my computers (and one is a workstation with what I assume is very good broadband) it can take several minutes to load a page, assuming the page doesn’t crash out altogether. Seems to vary unpredictably. I don’t do tech but I’m guessing your bandwidth or somesuch can’t keep up with demand.

I guess LC does a number of queries to other domains, e.g. Google Analytics, Guardian Ads, Twitter, and the page waits for responses or timeouts before it renders. Sunny might want to do some queries asychronously so that the page continues to render in the meantime. Of course, if he already does this I will shut up. 🙂

Sunny,

Agree with many of the comments above: I visit LC for the opinion sections, so wouldn’t really be interested in news content or “lighter” material. I’d still visit if the balance changed, assuming the opinion sections were still worth interacting with, but if I felt the balance was skewed, or the new format had an adverse impact I’d probably visit less, or visit other sites more.

I also think the layout is pretty good, but agree content can be slow to load. I’d prefer that threads were better sorted by subject area, and also that the archived threads were easier to search, nor simply lumped together. Whenever I have tried to search through non current items (on various PC’s and Macs from differetn locations) the site invariably freezes and has to be re-loaded.

Good luck with the re-launch; do we have to refer to you as New Liberal Conspiracy now? 😉

21. Shatterface

I post on my iPhone so I’ll wait and see what difference the format makes.

Not massively interested in US politics as I can’t influence the outcome.

Not at all interested in what some bell-end writes on Twitter, so I’d like to see much less hysteria every bloody time someone posts something you don’t like there.

Less ad homs and cries of hypocrisy at everything your opponents say or do.

And bring back David Osler.

I’d also like to see genuinely serious stuff about popular culture rather than, say, posturing about imagined subtexts. I quite enjoyed discussing The Dark Knight Rises with Chaise despite the OP being the usual liberal agonising about whether its okay to like it or not.

How about something on books – fiction and non-fiction? Spufford’s Red Plenty ought to have been required reading on the Liberal Left but I don’t think it got a mention here. Its the kind of popular, thought-provoking work I’m sure readers would like to discuss with like-minded individuals.

I’d also like to see genuinely serious stuff about popular culture rather than, say, posturing about imagined subtexts. I quite enjoyed discussing The Dark Knight Rises with Chaise despite the OP being the usual liberal agonising about whether its okay to like it or not.

How about something on books – fiction and non-fiction? Spufford’s Red Plenty ought to have been required reading on the Liberal Left but I don’t think it got a mention here. Its the kind of popular, thought-provoking work I’m sure readers would like to discuss with like-minded individuals.

I’d recommend Lawyers, Guns and Money or Crooked Timber for things like that.

23. Chaise Guevara

@ 21 Shatterface

I enjoyed that conversation too, and tentatively support the idea of a sort of online lefty book-group… although I don’t think we’ll be able to get away without a lot of handwringing comments, most of them including the phrase “reinforces the conservative/racist/misogynist/right-wing stereotype”.

24. Shatterface

I’d recommend Lawyers, Guns and Money or Crooked Timber for things like that.

It was Crooked Timber’s outstanding coverage of Red Plenty that I was thinking about.

Hell, even Harry’s Place has a decent Arts section.

And some of the coverage of the Olympics published here has been good when it hasn’t been trying to find parallels with 1930s Berlin.

@19. ukliberty: “I guess LC does a number of queries to other domains, e.g. Google Analytics, Guardian Ads, Twitter, and the page waits for responses or timeouts before it renders.”

The top page http://liberalconspiracy.org/ is quick to deliver. There are six or so primary links from it, including a link to an ad company with 10 or so secondary links.

This thread has 20+ primary links. 13 or so of them have secondary links. It will vary whenever or wherever you examine it. Most of those secondary links are from Facebook, Twitter, Google et al to your uncle’s monkey. This thread took bloody ages to appear no my screen.

Most of those secondary links are from Facebook, Twitter, Google et al, as I said, but they are not links to content but to advertising networks. My guess is _that_ is the reason for perceived slow response. Content providers wish to deliver it quickly; advertisers don’t give a toss.

The advertising agencies (ie Google) will give the top page of LC a break and do not push adverts onto it. They just push adverts heavily on the links from the top page.

This is what happened when I looked at this thread in my browser. I won’t deliver it all because it is unnecessary. Emea, who the feck are they, determined that I needed to look at Flash nonsense.

In alphabetical order,
http://liberalconspiracy.org/2012/08/13/taking-a-break-and-coming-back-different/

http://ad-emea.doubleclick.net/adi/N6639.133705.GUARDIAN.CO.UK/B5921027.5;sz=300×250;click0=http://oas.guardian.co.uk/5c/liberalconspiracy.org/oas.html/L21/559685096/x23/Guardian/2132-1_Run_of_Select_MPU_UK/Blurb_MPU_DA8424027.html/554c425467553930764b774144566a74?;ord=559685096?

http://ad-emea.doubleclick.net/adi/N6639.133705.GUARDIAN.CO.UK/B5921027.5;sz=300×250;click0=http://oas.guardian.co.uk/5c/liberalconspiracy.org/oas.html/L21/559685096/x23/Guardian/2132-1_Run_of_Select_MPU_UK/Blurb_MPU_DA8424027.html/554c425467553930764b774144566a74?;ord=559685096?
http://s0.2mdn.net/3228436/blurb_300x250_Easy.swf

At present, I don’t like the fact that when I want to read a story there is neither a specific button nor a headline/picture that changes in some way when I hover or click. This is particularly important as pages can be slow to load so I don’t know whether I’ve clicked in the right place.

However, I do find the homepage (and other pages) compatible with my assistive technology. I’d prefer it if news items were all to the left and stuff like who’s commenting on what was to the right so that when I’ve got things enlarged I don’t miss stories, but that’s a matter of personal preference as to what I want to read and laziness about scrolling over to the right to see what’s there.

Sunny,

Could you organize a ‘Fantasy Cabinet’ + ‘Fantasy Shadow Cabinet’ League?
No joke it would be entertaining and would kill two birds with one stone.

@26. David: “At present, I don’t like the fact that when I want to read a story there is neither a specific button nor a headline/picture that changes in some way when I hover or click.”

There is no “press link” feedback on LC — at least for the browsers that I have used. If you press the link, feedback may take a while to arrive — when the page arrives. Open in new tab or new window when practical.

If you hover over a link in a conventional web browser, you get a popup of the link description if it exists. That works for the headlines but not for much else.

In a conventional browser, the link is displayed in the status bar at the bottom of the window when hovering over a link. Can you get your browser to read out or display the status bar? I appreciate that if you are following comments, the link itself is not informative.

On the technical side, there are frequently issues with submitting comments – often I have to copy and paste to ensure I don’t lose things as it is very hit and miss whether something appears or not.

On the editorial side I’d like to see two things; (1) more investigative type work – the series Unity and others did on immigration a few years back was excellent, and (2) a recognition that devolution has happened and with the tories in power there is increasing policy divergence. At the moment the blog is very london focused – it took you about 6 months to realise that a referendum on independence was even happening in Scotland. It may not attract the hits to your website, but looking at practical examples of alternatives in Scotland and Wales – both successes and failures – will help with understanding that there are alternatives to the reactionary tory agenda on social policy. Hopefully it may also stimulate an understanding that the constitutional journey labour started in the late 90s has only just begun, and has a great deal of unfinished business, not least amongst labour supporters themselves.

it took you about 6 months to realise that a referendum on independence was even happening in Scotland.

Heh, no – it was just that no one offered us any posts on it.

I’ll keep in mind the complaints about clicking links too. Good points.

Sunny,

One of the most infuriating aspects of this site is a complete failure to react to news as it happens and a reluctance to pick up popular concerns. There are countless examples of this, far too many to list, but a couple of examples come to mind.

Edwina Currie’s mouth was given free range on radio five some time ago, with inevitable results. Currie’s gaffs used to be a spectator sport in my day, so it came as no surprise to find that she managed to reduce a ‘middle Englander’ to tears. You know, the key voters who we mustn’t upset, lest they turn against us. Yet here he had someone who had a comfortable lifestyle up to the credit crunch and was now struggling was Currie demanding to know if this woman had a pet dog.

Exactly the type of open goal that exposes the ‘we on your side’ myth of the Tories. Nothing from the Left, of course, because ‘something had happened’ regarding Palestine, gay rights or gender equality (it might even have been dolls had been moved from one section of a toy shop).

I wonder how many middle class people are going through a down turn find the Tories’ sneering ‘slightly off putting? Two posh boys who don’t understand the real world. Perhaps looking for a bit of comfort? Maybe an alternative to the slash and burn policies of the Tory Party? Not on your Nellie, because ‘we’ have not solved the West Bank yet.

Just recently, it has been announced that millions of workers have been forced to take up part time work because full time work is drying up. Millions Sunny, millions of otherwise happy people who were quite happy to support huge public sector cuts, yet are perhaps suffering the consequences of an over inflated labour market. Well they needn’t look here while the Left are wringing the last bit of moisture out of ‘gay rights’ and ‘faith groups’ or the Assange debacle plays out.

Every week some political wonk rocks up on this site and spells out ‘five’, ‘eight’ or how many ways the Left/Labour/Greens or whoever can gain creditably/electoral success or whatever. Behind the inevitable ‘faith groups’, ‘diversity’ and be better organised’ there is normally a ‘engage with the public’ suggestion. Yet here we are, the Tories have dismissed millions of working people as bone idle scroungers, and the Left’s response? Nothing so far, but I bet there is a chart being drawn up showing that Muslims feel now more positive about Syria because ‘Mo’ Farrah winning a couple of Gold medals as we speak.

(Yes, Sunny pointless and ambiguous opinion polls regarding how Muslims feel about gays add little to a debate)

It appears when someone says ‘engage with the public’ they actually mean drone on and on about what we would like to public to feel was important.

Millions of people are unsure of their jobs and livelihood. This is where the Left need to focus on, Christ Johnston on a zip wire? Fuck me the man is getting free publicity from the Left and is playing rather nicely into his ‘bumbling, nice but dumb’ persona. Boris used that image to wipe the floor with Labour a couple months ago, but for some reason, the Left seem not to notice ‘Boris the idiot’ is the USP of London Tories.

In short? Find out what the general public are roughly concerned about, engage in debates from the Left’s perspective.

I go through google reader and I never have a problem with the speed of page loads, as long as I’m using google chrome. I wonder if some of the problems mentioned above might be browser related?

I actually don’t think I’ve ever seen the front page of liberal conspiracy. Also I have to echo Shatterface’s point about David Osler – my fave contributor by a mile!

I was hoping you’d abandon liberalism. It really isn’t a force for meaningful change. By failing to recognise the primacy of class over all other oppressions liberals just end up arguing in circles and failing to take political action.

34. Planeshift

“By failing to recognise the primacy of class over all other oppressions liberals just end up arguing in circles and failing to take political action.

The number of succesful political actions undertaken by those who “recognise the primacy of class ” is what precisely?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Taking a break, and coming back different http://t.co/uGTFDAYv

  2. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Taking a break, and coming back different http://t.co/lruPFiqU

  3. Jason Brickley

    Taking a break, and coming back different http://t.co/TTXYubyL

  4. sunny hundal

    Liberal Conspiracy is coming back with a slightly different focus. Until then, a short break http://t.co/IiLeYeHn

  5. Mark Silver

    Liberal Conspiracy is coming back with a slightly different focus. Until then, a short break http://t.co/IiLeYeHn

  6. Paul Nezandonyi

    RT @sunny_hundal: Liberal Conspiracy is coming back with a slightly different focus. Until then, a short break http://t.co/JuWrGkJk

  7. Owen Blacker

    Liberal Conspiracy is coming back with a slightly different focus. Until then, a short break http://t.co/IiLeYeHn

  8. Chaminda Jayanetti

    @lisaansell3 S'all good, Sunny's going HuffPo http://t.co/5kpNHE9E Must need to up the ad rates now his paid-tweets wheeze has been busted

  9. Ben Mitchell

    Taking a break, and coming back different | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/wDUsABXs via @libcon

  10. Lauren G

    holy lol, they're turning Libcon into Huffpo http://t.co/mI8Pz8uR





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