Site Updates, CTH 2.0 Priorities, and User Experience Feedback Requests


Posted originally on The Conservative tree house on December 4, 2020 by Sundance

As we work through bugs associated with CTH 2.0 launch, consider this a thread to provide information, report user issues, ideas and concerns. Please read the information provided below as it might answer many questions in advance.

Again, my sincere apologies for any site disruption and/or user issues you may have encountered or might be continuing to encounter as we level the ship.

The majority of major site issues have been reconciled over the past 36 hrs.  CTH 2.0 is flying even and stable.

The DNS issues are resolved, and all inbound links to TheConservativeTreehouse.Com should now be landing on the correct and most recent homepage.   There was an issue with dual cache conflict between our new server host and a mid-way cache service intended to assist with the overall site demand.  That was causing older pages to propagate upon user entry. That problem has been resolved.

Given the short time-window we were operating with; and considering the objective of Big Tech Automattic to disrupt an ongoing conversation adverse to their interests; we succeeded in keeping the CTH community voice in the fight.  Trust me, this was no small effort to achieve and is cause for much appreciation and celebration in the big picture.

The rebel alliance is alive, well and we have made new ‘rag tag’ misfit friends.  Your support was/is critical in achieving that objective.  We are humbled and thankful.

Now that we have an essentially fully-functioning architecture in place, we are able to start a slow and methodical process to enhance the features most important to our community.

Each feature must be installed, applied and evaluated for downstream issues. It is a painstaking process and takes a little time to ensure we don’t attach a feature that creates an imbalance or impact upon the essential functions of the site.

CTH is modeled on an eleven year-old platform theme.  It is reliable, but it is also clunky, heavy and not as streamline as modern tech can provide.  As described, CTH is a heavy data-tank on a highway with the ability to collapse the road.  We need to modernize and get faster while retaining the depth and purposeful mission priority.

To the details:

♦ 50% of site traffic comes from desktop/laptop computer use, and 50% comes from mobile devices (phones, pads etc).  This is one of the issues with our older theme still in place, and a team is working on it right now.   When CTH first launched mobile platforms were in their infancy, in the modern era mobile devices are now the norm.

We need to change our theme platform to be responsive to the type of device you are using making it easier to navigate the site from phones and iPad type devices.  The engineers are working on a proposal, and a test site is experimenting.   The good news is our site content is not complex and the modernization should not be too difficult.  In essence, CTH presents itself differently, more user friendly, depending on the type of device you are using.

♦ One of our priorities right now is establishing an email notification system where you can subscribe to automatic notifications of new posts etc.  As with almost all systems of this type (there are many) it involves the use of a third party email transmission process. Y’all are aware that privacy is a CTH priority, so we are being very careful about vetting the service and setting up this notification system to protect CTH users.

CTH does not compile user information, does not engage in the manufacture of processes that assemble lists of users or any user data. We are working to ensure we do not end up creating an external list of subscribers that would be vulnerable to exploitation.  Your privacy in all matters related to CTH engagement is my priority.

♦ Next, we are working on a return of the “like comments” feature in some manner or form. The issue with a like feature is a direct all-time link between the user engagement and the host server.  In essence, to have a “like feature” there is a continual feed every millisecond attached to the server.  That is ok, but as with all things in tech world can create a draw -own of site performance given the scale of our assembly.

Don’t worry about “likes” being off-the-table, they are not.  This function is actually important to me, and we will restore them because that engagement is actually a precursor to something else, something unique, that I want to see on the site.  A sidebar on the page drawing attention to the top ten highest-rated comments in a real time feed.  You click on the user name, or perhaps the avatar, and it takes you to the comment.

♦ Another new feature I want to execute is a “most liked articles” widget.  Similar to most liked comments, this would be a real-time propagated graphic showing the articles that users are most following or reading on other sites.   Instead of me aggregating the information and/or directing attention to interesting external articles, this awesome community of smart commentators can do that themselves.

In essence, you share links to important external articles or content in the comments, and the top five articles (as clicked/read by commentators) automatically shows up in this sidebar feature: “Hot Topics and Articles.”   [This is a little challenging, but the technology exists to accomplish it.]

♦ The team is also working on restoring a system that will allow embed pictures, tweets and videos to populate in the comments section.  This is a process/system called “OEmbed Comments”.  We needed to reconcile the scale of server use/demand by the commenting system before we could contemplate this feature.

Now that we have a dual library system in place for the 7.5 million comments, we can start the process of evaluating server capacity for OEmbed functions.  It is not a matter of “if” this will happen, it is simply a matter of when those functions return.

When you write a comment it creates a metadata file. Each comment is a unique url.  Your unique id is part of that metadata, your gravatar or avatar is part of that metadata, the content of your comment (what you write) is part of that metadata and any article links, citations, pictures, gifs, or tweets -each carrying a unique url- is part of that metadata.

The average number of lines of unique metadata in one comment is six to ten lines of code, regardless of the length of your comment.  Your comment creates a mini data-file with its own unique id (the url).  The library of pre-existing comments was 7.2 million.  Multiply that by the lines of metadata and you get well over 40 million lines of code in the pre-existing comment file alone. (more)

Again, it is important to remember much of this server capacity exploration is in uncharted territory on a non-social-media platform.  Fortunately, we have the ability to scale-up; our server hosts are just trying to figure out the actual scale we need.

Thanks again for bearing with us as we work through some technical issues, search for optimal solutions, and fiercely retain the original values and mission priority of the Treehouse.  The Truth Has No Agenda

Myself and the incredibly hardworking site admins consider ourselves stewards to this community. YOU are what matters.  Your ability to analyze, discuss and provide your comments on the subject matter is what makes CTH home. We will NEVER remove a commenting function from our website.

In fact, it is the crowd-sourcing work we have done as a community that has been the most thrilling and brilliant part of our work together. I will never lose that focus.  The key to Treehouse 2.0 is recognizing we have built something within a system that wants to see us removed.  By being proactive we have avoided some serious challenges and that makes us better stewards for our conversation.

Remember, YOU are the important part.

Without you CTH doesn’t really have a purpose.  Individually we could stand outside shouting at trees with no impact; but together, sitting on the figurative cyber-porch, the conversation is rich with unique skill-sets, subject matter experts and life-long experiences that make discussion so much more valuable. Myself and the CTH admin team cherish the value you represent.

♦ Taking all of the above into consideration, if you are still experiencing issues with the site in general or specific terms, feel free to drop your feedback in the comments and we will review to see of we can intercept and/or correct any issues.

Love to all,

~ Sundance

Try to avoid a fight.  Never be the first one to start a fight.  However, when it does come down to the fighting, you need to fight like the third monkey on the ramp to Noah’s ark…

…and brother, it’s raining !

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