How much freedom can you handle?

Image by wmfawmfa/Flickr Creative Commons

I‘m setting you free today.

After a month of moderated comments, I’m removing the shackles. Can you handle it?

But before I get into the details, here are a few really important announcements that, in a roundabout way, have something to do with freedom, too.

Freedom from bad lists. My 2013 buyer’s guide, which I’m calling Elliott’s List, is in gathering serious momentum. It’s going to be a major part of next year’s site, so please cast your votes now and participate. This week’s list is on the best travel Twitter personalities.

A new lineup. I’m shaking up the regular features for 2013. I’m rebooting my videos and turning them into a regular podcast, instead of randomly attaching them to posts. At least one column, the Tuesday feature I’ve called, “That’s Ridiculous!” is wrapping up at the end of December, but there will be even more changes. Big changes. I’m going to ask for your feedback on this important issue soon.

A total redesign. I’ve designed this site using Thesis since 2009. But the newest version of Thesis is so deeply flawed that I’ve made the difficult decision to abandon it in favor of another content-management system that works within WordPress. That means this site will get a radically new look. By the way, if you have any suggestions on systems, please let me know.

OK, so here’s what happened with the comments and why we’ve decided to take this step — and when I say we I mean my team of moderators and I.

In September, the comments on this blog were becoming so unruly that they had Emily Post spinning in her grave. Seriously. There was name-calling, baiting, ad hominem attacks and all the unpleasantness you’d expect from a FlyerTalk discussion (if that can be called a discussion).

A brave group of readers volunteered to act as moderators. We read every comment before approving it. And we feel that now, after a month of vetting the discussion, real change has taken place. The comments are more civil and on-topic.

We don’t want to hold back the discussion any longer. Even with the most attentive team, there’s a delay in posting comments. So as of right now, that ends. Instead, the moderators will patrol the discussion, stepping in only when necessary.

By the way, you’ll recognize a moderator by the green “M” next to their name. Think of them as cops on the beat. Please be nice to them. If you disregard their suggestions, your comment could be deleted or worse, your account could be one of those flagged to have all comments moderated.

Thank you for your support of the consumer advocacy on this site. You are making the world a better place.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • stephen_nyc

    Right now, my first suggestion for any site redesign is to get rid of the toolbar that sits at the bottom of the page blocking text. Like other options, it should be an opt-in function, so keep it closed when I come to the site. If I want to see, I should be able to click a button on the site that opens it up. Mind you, your site is not the only one that uses this type of text-blocking, but I don’t even see any sort of ‘close’/’hide’ button.
    My second choice would be to have the posted-date of a story displayed. As write this, on this page, under your ‘related stories’ link, I see a story pertaining to TSA reforms for 2011.

    Third, under that same related stories title, I see things that appear to be ads, as they have company names listed under the caption. To me, related stories should not be ads, but content written by you. You should know that as I typed this paragraph, the text became hidden under the toolbar and I had to scroll so that the text box was higher up the page.

  • Nikki

    I love your videos, when I’m able to watch them. Most of the time I can’t unless I’m wearing a headset, and even then I have to turn it up full blast (disturbing others around me). Any chance that hearing-impaired (and deaf) folks like me can hope for captioned videos in the future? :D

  • NJgirl13

    Am I the only one who the new design has been wrecking havoc with both the normal and mobile site? I’m about to take it off my RSS feed because it looks so bad when I click on the article

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Perhaps the new content management system will take care of the random pop-ups from “Lower My Bills” and that sort of “content” that still plagues this site.
    Thanks for the trust!

  • emanon256

    My new client makes us use IE 7 and I always get those pop ups too now. I never did when I was on 8 and 9. They also make me use an old version of FireFox and I get them there as well. But not on the latest version I run on my own computer.

  • technomage1

    I think the moderators stepping in only when necessary is a good method of moving forward in a positive way. Hopefully those who misbehaved in the past have learned their lesson and will continue to be civil as they in the last month.

  • Christopher Elliott

    I’m going to fix that. Hang in there!

  • Christopher Elliott

    I haven’t gotten any of those recently, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. I’m planning to do a clean install, to ferret out any problems from the last site.

  • Christopher Elliott

    I hope so, too. We’ll see.

  • BillCCC

    I will be reading no matter what happens.

  • backprop

    This is a great post. Congratulations on making fine contribution to the world of web sites. The best.


  • Raven_Altosk

    Yeah, I find it funny that I get scam pop-ups from a consumer advocate’s site. I can’t disable the popups for DISQUS doesn’t work right. So.

  • y_p_w

    In many ways having something atrocious posted can alert those to who to ignore. That of course requires that someone see the offending comments before they’re removed.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    True enough. I’m also guessing it is no coincidence that “freedom” came right on the heels of a racist post being approved by the moderators and remaining up for hours before the offending portion was finally edited out. A system that doesn’t work is no better than no system.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I get them with both IE 9 and Chrome on Windows XP and Windows 7. Tested it today on the 3 computers I regularly use. Happens when I vote, when I click on a comment, such as in the “What’s everyone talking about?” column, or when I see a story and click on the “Comments” link to the story, as well as when I click on the story headline. Only happens about once a day per computer per browser. In other words, if I first use IE 9 and then close it down and start up Chrome, I get 1 pop up per browser. Have tried clearing cookies many times. Depending on the computer, I use either McAfee or Norton AV. Nasty little bit of programming going on here.

  • NJgirl

    Thanks, I’m happy since it pops up my time the newest article and usually try to read on my way out the door but the new format drives me/my phone crazy….I thought it was just me for a while…