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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Stonekettle Station Redesign

As I mentioned in previous posts, recent events have caused me to take a long hard look at what I do here. 

Circumstances and thieving bastards have forced me to take some long overdue steps to protect my intellectual property. Additionally, as has been noted by my family and many readers, it’s long past time that I get serious about transitioning to professional writing as a full time occupation.  And, again as noted by a number of readers, the design of Stonekettle Station was starting to look more than a bit outdated.

As such, I’ve been making some changes over the last month. One of those changes is a redesign of Stonekettle Station itself. If you haven’t noticed already, the appearance of the blog has been significantly overhauled (If you don’t notice a new look, try clearing your cache and refreshing your browser). Most of the obvious changes are cosmetic, I wanted to update Stonekettle Station to more reflect contemporary blog design and to better protect myself.

Since a number of folks asked, the background picture is Pioneer Peak in Palmer, Alaska – that is, it’s my backyard.  And yes, I took the picture. For those of you who don’t know, I’m a photographer in addition to being a writer and artist. Some of my photography will start appearing for sale via a link on this site in the near future.

Not all the changes to Stonekettle Station are cosmetic. I've changed how things work under the hood, streamlining the underlying structure of the website which should speed up load times and make things work better for both you and me. You’ll also note that I’ve updated the information appearing on the right sidebar, including my bio which now includes the occupation “freelance writer” because I’m now getting paid for some of my work.  Speaking of which, as I move towards becoming a full-time professional writer with a kid in college, it has become necessary for me to monetize the blog. Many of you asked if you could help keep me in cheese sandwiches (writers run on cheese sandwiches, coffee, and strong whiskey. That's a fact and you can look it up on the internet). The answer to that question is: yes, hell yes, and thank you. There is now a "donate" button displayed prominently on the right side of the main page. You may, if you think the content here is worth anything, give me money directly through PayPal or via whatever form of electronic tender you desire including credit/debit cards. You may give as much or as little as you like. You can even set up a reoccurring donation on a monthly or yearly basis. It’s entirely up to you.   

Additionally, within the next several days, Google ads will begin appearing on the blog. I will attempt to limit them and make them as unobtrusive as possible. But ads are how websites make real money, especially if they pull in the volume of traffic Stonekettle Station now does. And I'm not in a position where I can ignore that opportunity. If you're running an ad-blocker, you won't see them but I won't make anything from your visit either. And that's okay, I'm not asking you to turn off your ad-blocking plug-in. But you might consider a small donation if you don't want to be bothered with the ads when they begin to appear.  Note: this holds true for all blogs like Stonekettle Station and other small independent news sites. If you enjoy what you get there, you might consider turning off your ad-blocker or making a donation to help keep these places running. But again, that’s entirely up to you.

Let me be clear, I am not asking you to donate. I'm not asking you to suffer the ads. You are welcome to continue enjoying (or hating) Stonekettle Station for free.  But if you do choose to donate or allow ads then you will have a huge warm fuzzy feeling of awesome goodness, and I will personally put in a good word for you with the deity of your choice  –or–  I will raise a glass of good Irish whiskey in your honor, whichever tickles your fancy.

Expect continued changes and refinements over the next few weeks. Hopefully this will make your visit here better. Feel free to offer suggestions, I’ll probably ignore them, but hey, doesn’t hurt to try.

And thanks. Thanks for everything, thanks for coming by, thanks for reading, thanks for your interest, thanks for your kind words and constructive feedback. I sincerely appreciate it.

//Jim Wright, Stonekettle Station

62 comments:

  1. I just dropped you the equivalent of $5 a month for the next year. When I get reliable employment, I'll consider coming back to become a monthly donor. Your voice in my chorus is worth at least that much; I always come away from your work feeling smarter.

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  2. Looks great! Would love to be able to comment using my FB account.

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    1. That would be OK as long as it isn't "Facebook only". I love Charles Pierce's blog over at Esquire.com,. but comments are restricted to FB. Dunno if FB pays Esquire for that, or it was chosen specifically for the exclusivity, or if it doesn't require moderation (just guessing there), but the effect is the same. One of my favorite blogs, and I can't comment there.
      One salutory effect, if I'm being honest, is that the wingnut troll count might drop a bit. Not entirely, because I hear from friends and family that FB is awash in wingnuts, but a lot of the really stoopid ones will be left out in a snowdrift.
      With me...

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  3. If a donation helps you buy a bottle of Jamesons, I'll consider that a worthwhile cause.

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  4. Happy to support your efforts to edutain (perhaps you're just venting at times, but I'm always entertained and often educated as a side effect). I'm hoping this commenting box gets easier to use on my iPad (I mostly follow from the road).

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  5. I dropped as much as I could spare. We federal retirees live on a tight margin. It will keep you in cheese sandwiches for a bit, though. Love the new look. :)

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  6. The revamped Stonekettle Station looks great! I made a donation, but don't tell my husband. He thinks I shouldn't donate to lost causes like groups who want to stop elephant poaching or people who try to make America a better place by using logical reasoning.

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  7. Jim, I pay the NYT $35/month for considerably less entertainment. Glad to donate, please keep warming the hearts of those of us who prefer thinking and logic in our discourse - however sisyphean the task may be!

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  8. Shit! Now your getting all mushy! Can I pay to STOP that?

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  9. Stonekettle Statin

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  10. Hey you should never work for free. I will deal with the ads.. your work is brilliant and worthy of pay. Sell your work to major publication's. That's what a writer does!

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  11. Bravo! It's about time the publishing world paid for your amazing talent. Good on ya!

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  12. I'll take the whiskey, please.

    BB

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  13. It all sounds good to me. One suggestion: If possible, don't allow autoplay video ads as part of whatever advertising deal you have. It's not just that they're annoying ipso facto; it's not even that they can cause problems for people who click into Stonekettle Station at work and suddenly have some obnoxious non-work-related soundtrack blaring from their computer. They can actually bog down one's computer's ability to function. I had to Adblock one blog I would otherwise be happy to keep in click-remuneration because whenever I clicked into it my computer would slow down, lurch, and even freeze up. Adblock on: no more problems.

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  14. Done. I'll top it off from time to time.

    I'm happy to accept a good word with whatever deity/s there may be, but don't pretend to know which one/s to prefer. So put it out there, and see who listens, I guess? Thanks.

    And thanks once more for all the great words you give us on this site. I'm happy to cope with an ad here and there, if it helps you keep writing and posting for us without having to worry quite so much about how much time all this is taking, and where the money to afford that time is going to come from.

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  15. As far as putting up a paywall goes, Andrew Sullivan (at The Dish) seems to have gotten it just about as right as that (admittedly imperfect) solution can be: Most posts have a division somewhere after anywhere from one to several paragraphs, after which you click a "READ ON" button to see the rest of the post. After clicking a certain number of "READ ON" buttons, the buttons stop working--for, I think, the rest of the day(?)--unless you are a subscriber. Oh yeah...and the big attraction: no ads at all, for anyone.

    Obviously, this approach would have to be tweaked a bit to work for Stonekettle Station due to the relative infrequency of your posts here compared to Andrew's posts (several per day) at The Dish. But I think the basic concept is sound, and fair: you can read all of everything for a while, and then after that only the first part (enough to give a taste) of everything. Then you can either subscribe for a year, go away and come back tomorrow, or be content with the shortened, unfinished posts.

    Obviously, as a regular reader here I would be one of those who'd want to pop for an annual subscription, but anyone who was new to the site--someone who, for instance, followed a link here, perhaps one of many links I myself have posted over the past several months--would be able to peruse plenty of content, enough to make a well-informed decision on whether or not to subscribe.

    Oh well, that's just my 2¢... The way you've got it set up now, I guess I'll just donate some money and get myself an ad-blocker (something I should have gotten around to by now, anyway).

    I wonder if there's some way of setting things up so that a member could pay for some kind of "premium access" which would automatically block the ads?

    Mike in Chicago

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    1. Please don't set up a paywall like Mike in Chicago suggests. Not all of us have incomes which allow us to subscribe. $35/month is my electric bill. I cannot afford much more. I will gladly put up with ads, and will donate directly when I can manage.
      Chandra in MO

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  16. Oh yeah...in exchange for the donation, in lieu of any word to any deity, my preference would be a raised glass of Tullamore Dew.

    Mike in Chicago, again

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  17. I love your columns, they make me angry, cry, laugh, all of the above. I wish I could donate, but until husband gets a job, it's not going to be possible. So, second best is the ads. Tell me, just by having them there do you make money when we come here, or do we need to click on them. Because I will if it's what it takes. Doesn't mean I'll buy something from them, because I won't. But I'll click on them if I have to. Just let me know, k?

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  18. It is about time. Donating AND I'll take the adverts. Hope you're planning on drinking quite a bit of whiskey in the near future.

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  19. What? No potato[e] salad?

    All seriousness aside, is it just me or does anyone else not like that when you select the "Comments" link it goes to the bottom of the comments and not - you know - the top? Not bad for 20 or so, but that only lasts about 6 minutes before there is a list of about 37 pages to feed back through....

    As for the donation? I go to the bookstore and buy a book, not just sit there and read it then walk out. I feel no different here - I am happy to reimburse for some DAMN FINE writing. I consider it a purchase of some excellent artwork. It feels like stealing otherwise. My only question is - what will you do with your new-found millions?

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    1. Take over the world, maybe?

      Alternatively, he might take the opportunity to compete for the Lunar X Prize. A team of aerospace engineering undergrads called Lunar Lion are competing with ~$26 million in grants and donations. Still, the thought of a Stonekettle Station space probe on the Moon does sound like fun...

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    2. "Take over the world, maybe?"

      SHHHH!!


      bd

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  20. Well done! Huge improvement.

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  21. The new design is very cool, clean and, yes, elegant. A great look and very modern with a beautiful background picture to prevent any antiseptic look. I will donate something right now, but I am still hoping you end up penning a whole book. I'd love to lend a hard copy to some of my hard right friends to read. They might even see a few things in another light when the words are as hard a**ed as yours and do not tow a particular political line, but come from real experience.

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  22. Ha! "Satan's Designated Driver"! Reminds me of that Tom Waits lyric: "Don't you know there ain't no Devil, there's just God when he's drunk".

    Bruce

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    1. One of the best lines ever in popular music. Well, it's popular at my house...

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  23. I donated because I use ad blocker - and am glad to see you take this step, Jim. I'm a new-ish reader but a dedicated one. We don't always see things in the same light but I truly appreciate your perspective and learn from your words.

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  24. As a disabled vet, my funds are a bit low by this time of the month, however I will be donating on the first when the eagle shits.

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  25. I love your writing. I signed up for 5 dollars a month.

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  26. I dropped in enough to buy a good bottle of whiskey -- dunno how far it goes toward college, but I'm not here to audit your finances. Just want to keep singing (or screaming) along with the crowd. If this change helps you find time to work on the book, produce more fine art, and especially spend time with the cats, all the better.

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  27. Fantastic! Have you considered publishing your previous entries in an e-book or paperback?

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  28. Sent you a few bucks, Like the Tea chuckers say I want my America back, The one that did not turn to the Dark side first, the one that rebuilt Europe after WWII, The one that launched the peace corps, The one whose military built bridges and fed people overseas, the one that viewed the world with wonder not fear, the one where greed was still a deadly sin, the one where a bunch of yahoos did not yell at defenseless women and children and think themselves proud Americans afterwards. Thanks for the words. mike from Central CA (sent as anonymous because I can not figure how to post otherwise).

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    1. Mike from Central CA, my sentiments exactly. Brought tears to my eyes just thinking of the day when we DO get that America back. Thank you :)
      Carolyn from NYC.

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    2. Ever think of starting your own blog? I think you may have some followers yourself....

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  29. A very amusing (to me at least) side effect of this setup is that those people who come to your site just to blast you and drop ignorant comments into the comment thread will now earn you a bit of money each time they do, from ad views.

    I'll be donating at some unspecified time in the future as both my wife and I love Stonekettle Station.

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  30. Off to blow the cobwebs off my paypal acct, and hunt for the password. It's the least we who enjoy and appreciate your hard work can do. Although I've been waiting and waiting to purchase some wood art, I'll definitely check out the photos too.

    Congrats, Mr. W and thanks.

    (For some reason I read "Expect continued changes and refinements" as "changes and refreshments". Oh well.)

    bd

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  31. Nice redesign, but there does seem to be one thing missing. Shopkat needs a label of her very own. My cats told me to mention this, of course.

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  32. Honoured to help keep Stonekettle Station...and its creator...in the black. Namaste Jim!

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  33. Dropped enough to buy Shopkat a few treats, maybe she'll share with Stupid. Or a cheese sandwich and a beer. Or some small percentage of the cost of a three-figure college textbook for your son. Your choice.

    Thanks!

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  34. Thumbs up on the redesign, and I too hope to be able to comment via FB. Your back yard? Thumbs up on that too.

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  35. If Sarah Fucking Palin can make millions (by letting someone else) write "her" books, you should, in fairness, be making some order of magnitude more, if you count wit and content as currency. For that matter, you already do. Ooh-rah, Mr. Wright.

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  36. Jim, I would pay handsomely to listen to you read your essays aloud on a podcast.

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  37. I set my adblock to not work on your site. Will send money after the first. I really enjoy your writing. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cry. That's what good writers do Thank you.

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  38. Love it, the first ad I see on your site is Verengo Solar, which I'm in contract with to put solar on my roof (in Permit process).

    I enjoy your writing, would buy your book(s) if and when you publish.

    Hope to continue

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  39. I really like the blog's new look and have paypal-ed my contribution. And though it's not enough for a bottle of (good) whisky, I hope you'll accept it in the spirit it's given.

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  40. The new background is beautiful. I love it.

    Just told AdBlock not to work here. It's the least I can do. I enjoy your writing and it's helped me stay sane about a situation more than once.

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  41. You can set Ad Blocker Plus to be 'disabled' on particular site, in case anyone didn't know that. I did for stonekettle. Anyway, Jim, I thought you were robbing yourself by not using AsSense--everyone should be compensated for their work. Hats off to the bull.

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  42. Here's something amusing: the ad that's popped up on my screen now says: "Written a Book? Free guide to publishing: learn how to publish your book now!"

    BB

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    1. I figure that's a secondary amusement -- watching to see what ads pop up. The first one I saw was for some type of concealed carry something. I think it was a specific handgun, but I'm not about to click on THAT one! Current one is "New Writers Wanted". Holding out to see if #3 is "the charm".

      Jim -- must we click for you to benefit or is just coming here and seeing them enough to help?

      Delete
  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. If that's what you get from what I write, you're an even bigger idiot than you appear.

      But then again, I don't really think you're an actual idiot, Abbey, just the standard issue bitter little troll. And your entertainment value has now run its course, you've become tedious. How about taking your bile elsewhere? Thanks.

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  44. Welcome back Jim.

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  45. Ad blocker disabled here. Once I have two pennies to rub together, you can damn well bet I'm a'gonna donate. Enjoy your articles and also enjoy the comments, the trolls are somewhat amusing, at least until you bring the hammer down on them, which is also amusing.
    Rock on, Mr. Wright, rock on.

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  46. New, but now daily reader here. I just returned from my first visit to Alaska. Two words:

    Afuckingmazing

    Oh. I guess that's one word.

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  47. Jim, I'd be glad to look at ads and donate towards cheese sandwiches. But maybe only American cheese sandwiches. Because if certain Court decisions have taught me anything, it's that now I get to tell you how you should spend my money. You buy Gouda or Brie or Swiss cheese and you're trampling my freedom of religion. I believe in Cheesus after all.

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  48. One relatively minor complaint: the orange-on-black scheme renders about the last third of your tag-cloud unreadable on my iPad (and probably other tablets as well.) I like the colors (Go Beavs!), but that factor is probably costing you some hits.

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  49. My all time favorite post was the one about too much help at Home Depot. When I need to laugh, I pull that out and read it again.

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  50. Isn't it time to update your profile picture? Time for a new selfie, maybe with the resident attack cat.

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  51. Congratulations on your new status, I hope everything goes well because I've been enjoying reading your work.

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Comments on this blog are moderated. Each will be reviewed before being allowed to post. This may take a while. I don't allow personal attacks, trolling, or obnoxious stupidity. If you post anonymously and hide behind an IP blocker, I'm a lot more likely to consider you a troll. Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.