Minor Enhancements August 2023

Our site is built entirely on free software. Sometimes an update to one of the free ‘plugins’ that we use can introduce bugs. We have had two of these in the last couple of weeks, both now resolved – display of editing time for comments and the functioning of the Login menu item.

In response to a User Enhancement request, we have a new help page Commenter Tips which explains how you can embellish your text in your comments and how to add hyperlinks.

Although there have been no other significant changes to visible functionality, there have been a number of security-related updates behind the scenes. Our site now gets over 20,000 visits and 54,000 page views a week and the popularity attracted the unwanted attention of bots using brute force attacks to try to login. I’m pleased to say our defences are such that we now only get a handful of failed logins a day, almost all from users who failed to remember their passwords correctly.

Of the enhancement suggestions you have made, we’ve been actively looking at :

  • Potentially replacing the existing comment editor, but have not come up with a free one that works correctly on our site.
  • Adding Likes/dislikes for posts and comments. We are currently trying out one called Remoji on our test site. I am unconvinced it would be an improvement, but if you want to give it a go, add some comments to this post on the test site. Note that your login here wont work on our test site, but you can register for it as you did for the live site.

Update: Thanks to all for the feedback on the Remoji plugin. I’m relieved to hear that the majority who have commented have said they don’t want it…. as I don’t either, so it wont be implemented on the live site. It just leaves me to remind you you can add emojis in your comments as described in our Commenter Tips .

43 comments on “Minor Enhancements August 2023”

  1. If you can get it sorted, I’m a big advocate for having a “Like” / “Smiley” etc. Sometimes just want to show support or acknowledge a reply without having to post another.

    Very appreciative of everything you’ve developed here John 👍 It looks good and does what we need.

  2. All looks fine, no problems with it. But I don’t understand the references to logins and failed logins and passwords. I never have any of this — just go straight in.

    On looking a bit closer, I see that there is a Log in option up at the top right, and I have sometimes done that, but don’t usually bother. Perhaps the on-off nature of my avatar has something to do with that.

    1. The site creates a cookie when you login that allows you to stay logged in for 3 months until you have to login again.

      1. I have to go to the menu and log in every time despite having clicked the remember me box each time. Any idea how to ‘reregister’ the cookie so it persists? This only happens on this site and I don’t use incognito.

        1. Try deleting cookies and clearing cache for this site. Check your browser’s help/documentation for how to do this.

  3. Echoing LP’s thanks for all the work you put into this site. The number of views per week is staggering given that the number of actual comments on the main puzzles is I would say well under 1000 a week. Lots of people reading the blogs for answers I suspect without wanting to comment. Will add thoughts to the post on the test site.


  4. I would prefer a simple ‘like / dislike’ option with cumulative totals for each, but if emojis are to be used then could they please be limited to two, e.g. thumb up for approval and thumb down for disapproval?

    The trouble with the version in the test bed is that it offers a palette of up to 81 emoji options so potentially we could have strings of different anonymous icons scattered across the screen rendering the whole exercise pointless. If people want to nuance their reaction to what someone has said they can do so by posting their own comment in reply.

    I don’t want to see TfTT become reliant on graphics in the same way as some other crossword sites, so I hope it will continue to flourish as a largely text based community.

    1. Yes, on reflection I agree. So ‘Thumb-up’ but no ‘Thumb-down’. Posters who want to take issue with something are free to comment using Reply and explain their point of view.

      1. I agree. As someone who visits the site most days to find an explanation of how a clue works or to understand what has tripped up the regular contributors, I would not find a ‘thumb-down’ useful unless there was an explanation with it.

        May I also extend my profound appreciation to all the bloggers and contributors who make my morning crossword workout all the more enjoyable.

  5. I find this site really useful and my thanks go to all who are involved with the setting up and to all the bloggers.
    I visit nearly every day but rarely comment. I enjoy reading the comments of those who do.
    I have no preference on the likes/dislikes question and cannot see me ever using it.
    My one improvement would be to move the “reply” button into the middle of the page. I hold my ipad in my right hand and use my left thumb to scroll down the screen. Frequently I hit the button by mistake and this opens up the reply dialogue page. Minor problem but annoying.

    1. I thoroughly agree with Alan’s first three sentences – and if there was a simple ‘like’ facility I could have used it here, instead of typing all this 🙂

  6. Just to say thank you, John, for all the trouble you take. The blog is great fun and most helpful.
    I am guilty of using an emoji now and then, as they are available on my iPad, but I don’t think you need to add them to the site. It doesn’t take long to type eg ‘Good show, old chap.’ A ‘Like’ button wd be overkill, imo, and disturb the spirit of of the place.

    1. The Like option was only raised because we had it at Live Journal and it was lost when we moved here in May last year. It was never a problem to civilised discourse in all the years LJ hosted TfTT.

  7. Another offering big tributes to John for all the work he does.
    No real opinion on the ‘like’ option, but ‘dislike’ is a bad thing on a polite site like this, rather than trolling sites like twitter or facebook. (*Can I please apologise now for any nasty or negative comments I’ve made in the past… Sorry*)
    As an old fart text works for me, especially on an intelligent site about words. Emojis unnecessary – even though I add them occasionally.

  8. I sometimes miss the ability to “thumbs up” an excellent comment, but I think that when comments get scores it starts to influence the way comments get written, usually for the worse. My preference is not to add reactions. If we must, a simple “thumbs up” or “recommended” seems like enough. I also think the UI shouldn’t list the recommenders.

    P.S. It would have been very easy to host this blog on Facebook or the like, and I very much appreciate the work that has gone into making it independent. Thank you John and the other administrators.

  9. I am a very long-standing (since PB days) daily user who rarely comments but can only admire the skills of elite solvers with their astonishing times. I rarely complete a 15×15 puzzle in less than 45 minutes and usually give up if not finished at an hour plus 15. Then to this site for explanations and the entertaining comments.
    Please no more than thumbs or thumbs down emojis. I do not support likes and dislikes buttons.
    Barry J

  10. As others have said, we are very fortunate to have such a great team and all of you behind the site have my deepest appreciation and thanks for the work you put in. 👏👏👏

  11. I agree about not having a “Dislike/Thumbs down” button.
    Sometimes I want to just 😄! But see no problem with posting a comment with that as the sole comment.

  12. I look at this site after every (mostly failed) attempt at the 15×15 to see what I have been missing and try to improve my completion rate. I think it’s an excellent site as it is and don’t see how it would be improved by emojis or popularity contests based on likes/dislikes. Anyone particularly keen on emojis can obviously add them at present 😄

  13. Most of the people who would give me thumbs-downs have left the blog or died or both. Nevertheless, I’m not a fan of emojis, if my vote is worth anything.

  14. No to emojis and not a fan of like/dislike buttons either. We don’t want to encourage popularity contests. Never knew we had the things on LJ, which means (among other things, like my inattentiveness) that they were probably hardly ever used.

    I echo Vinyl’s comments above.

  15. Thank you for the web site. I am one of the many , many non commenting visitors. I read it most days just to sort out the parsing and missed answers. It’s a wonderful training resource for those of us new to cryptic crosswords.
    I also read many of the comments . If I have a problem with an answer it’s good to see if others struggle or groan at the same clues . In my view adding emojis would not improve the website.

  16. Thank you John for this great gift to humanity and civilised discourse. I’m another in favour of likes but no dislikes. The Times has the option ‘Recommend’ in all its comments – but no opposite. You can then choose to rank comments by most recent or most popular, which is a nice feature. That would work well here I think. No need to offer emojis since most people can insert them if they have the 🔥 desire to!

  17. I’m relieved to hear that the majority who have commented have said they don’t want it…. as I don’t either, so it wont be implemented on the live site.

    Since we are, and will remain, without emojis, may I just briefly say “👍” …

  18. I just want to say, like many others, how much I appreciate the work put in, principally by Johninterred, to make this site possible, and successful.

    Just in awe

  19. I’m always very grateful I found this site and appreciate all the hard work done for our benefit. I would like to add my opinion that likes, dislikes, emojis etc aren’t necessary as I feel our words suffice.

  20. Absolutely astonished to read those numbers John – how fantastic (apart from the bots obvs 😅) I quite like an emoji and found the ones on LJ useful but don’t feel it’s necessary to add any now. As others have said, we can just pop one into the comment box as a short cut if we want to.
    I’d like to add my huge thanks for everything you do – you’ve been tremendously helpful when I’ve had a few problems and I really appreciate not having all those grim ads we used to be bombarded with!
    It is also very nice to hear today from people who don’t usually comment 😊

  21. Some of those numbers must be people like me who do the puzzle via The Australian and so don’t see the blog until a month later and there is no point in commenting. Indeed somebody once mentioned how pathetic it was to get comments several weeks later. Of course our comments could still be useful or interesting to each other. I briefly thought we might get this going when Jillaroo started commenting, but for some reason I can’t fathom, her comment is usually dated late the evening before the day I get the puzzle. And then a few months ago, the Australian missed one online Sunday puzzle, which was only a week behind the UK, and left it missing all week, then picked up the following week, so the online Sunday puzzle in Australia is now a week behind the printed puzzle, and we can’t join in commenting on that either.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I guess you are right, but we do have a lot of subscribers who never comment and a lot of people who haven’t registered, but visit the blog regularly without commenting. By the way, you can still join in on the commenting on blogs even if you are some time behind the publication (and blogging) date of the crosswords in the UK. The blogger and commenters (unless they choose not to) all get email notifications of comments or replies to comments on blog posts. So I got a notification of your comment… and you should get notification of my reply.

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