This will be a quick update on the new Kinja system for and by the most important superusers of the system. The key thing I've learned is to stop worrying. A majority of the features work and few of the quirks have adversely affected the way we operate. The sun still rises, the moon still waxes, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch is still delicious. Also, GIFs still work.
1. Reaction Is Surprisingly Positive
After going through the previous redesign and subsequent commenting revisions I was suspecting another quasi-mutiny. Didn't happen. Media likes it. Roughly 80% of users supportive, especially in the comments and Twitter. Facebook is more evenly split. Biggest issues are with the size of images and necessity to scroll so much, which is being resolved.
Weirdest response? New users who swore off Jalopnik coming back and realizing they never converted their account. Our % of new users, per Google Analytics, is up.
2. Editing Works Much Like It Always Did
As site-lead, you're owner of the site and can thus edit anything if you want. If you want someone else to edit, you can pass the ownership to them. I've stepped back a big from obsessively editing everything that goes on the site and we've been faster and more flexible. Here's how it breaks down right now, subject to changes in text annotation and revision.
- Most Regular Posts I trust my staff to get stories right. Typically, they run a headline/angle by me and camp and immediately publish to the site when the story is ready. I can edit after-the-fact or ask them to make changes, but no more scheduling out to the 30- or 20-minute mark.
- Big Feature Posts System isn't, currently, great for writing and editing super long pieces. No revisioning ability. Small pane. I use Google Docs now first, which is much better and more secure (see Manti piece, also a piece an Ed. Fellow is working on re: undocumented immigrant driving).
- Problematic pieces/new writers If there's anything or anyone I'm worried about, I juts have them save a draft and I edit it, just like I always did. This is roughly 20% of the posts right now.
3. Almost Everything Else Works, Too
As should be obvious by now, GIFs work. Here's a short list of things I was worried about not working because of the last redesign or the way the window pane looked.
- Written HTML Code: I write in basic HTML code and it's a habit I'm not keen to break as I'm faster this way. I know I'm not alone (looking at you Jessica). If you paste in as HTML, save as draft, and then open up the window it magically converts the HTML code!
- Facebook, Twitter, Google, Google News All Work Remember when we converted the sites and couldn't share to Facebook or be seen by Google? That sucked. No longer a problem. Posts don't automatically go to SocialFlow right now, but not everyone uses that feature anyways. We show up in Google News and Google search.
- HTML embedding works You can paste in Scribd, weird video players, et cetera, without having to support unsupported objects. Not everything, but most things fairly seamlessly.
- Twitter requires embeds For the moment, just pasting in a Twitter URL doesn't work, you have to grab the embed code. Looks normal then but an awesome feature not yet operational.
- Not much spam yet There's been some spam, but it's been easy to block and defeat. Less than expected. Results may vary as new sites are added.
- All bugs quickly fixed No issues with bugs being fixed. Very fast changes so far. No complaints.
4. We get new kinds of posts!
So far my favorite feature, besides republishing, is the ability to make posts we didn't have before or, if we had them, weren't very useful or elegant. Here's what we've done so far:
- The image, no headline, short text My favorite new post-type so far. Just an image and a bit of text. The permalink picks up the first few words. Perfect. Simple. Better than a blip. Annotatable. Got 130+ comments overnight. Total surprise.
- The headline, image, no text: For any interesting, relevant, sexy images. Like this.
- The headline, no image, link roundup The Tesla v. NYT story was big for us, but no harm in doing a link dump for people still interesting. Adds relevancy to coming to Jalopnik.
- The suddenly relevant old post: An explainer we did last June on Russian Dash Cams suddenly became relevant again. Not sure about uniques, but did 90K new page views in a couple of days. I just moved it up in time. Upcoming feature will allow us to re-hed or re-lede this.
- Image annotation quick post A beautiful image, a short post with a thoughtful tag.
- Image listicle We've had this before, bit still works well
5. Skybar/Recommended Page/Finding Stories?
I know this is an area of much concern and consternation. The editor/admin/author of a blog (whether a main Gawker site or someone's personal blog) has more juice in that space than the average user. If you want something to be "topped" it'll be topped if you heart-click it, or if multiple authors heart-click it. This makes the image the biggest (if it's 970 px wide) and moves it onto recommended.
Stories we want people to see, they see. It's not hard. The logic of it works fairly well. People on the recc page typically get what we want them to get.
The skybar? The logic is wonkier and without headlines less useful for distributing traffic without a headline.
6. Image Annotation
A good idea, executed well, with just a few quirks.
- Any image over 970 pixels at the top of a post can be annotated.
- Only annotations from the author, annotations approved by an author, or annotations from someone the blog "follows" will be seen.
- There's no longer a max number of annotations on an image.
- You can choose to have an image become unannotatable
7. You Can't Let The Russians In Here, They'll See The Big Board!
We've had over 60K unique visitors to our off topic forum Oppositelock.kinja.com. Usage is way up. The posts are often great. We frequently republish them to the front page of Jalopnik.
So far, they've rarely replaced something we'd normally cover. Instead, they supplement or cover areas similar to our main content that might have been missed or might have been impossible for us to duplicate.
Since we can't edit it, if the post doesn't look right we usually drop them a comment asking them to make whatever changes we'd like to see. We also published a quick guide.
Here's some stuff we've republished:
My Grandfather Ran from the Cops in this 1936 Ford Humpback
Frenchman Attempts Car Back Flip, Big Air Bag Is Beyond Cool
Porsche 981c - Aluminum und Steel
RideApart Review: Honda Gold Wing F6B
The Great Miata Hunt
Rally co-driving Behind the scenes Part 2
When Car Collecting Becomes Destructive