This isn’t exactly an admin update for regular readers, but I just wanted to alert you to various new features on the site that I’ve implemented over the last few weeks and that you may have missed. Probably the most useful for those who like to interact with a website is the enabling of a recent comments plugin in the sidebar (to the left of this post). This simply displays the most recent comments made on any of the 800+ posts in the Sciencebase blog (excluding my own comments made in response to others and spam comments, which are automatically binned by the Akismet plugin). So, now if you make a comment you get your name up in lights on the site, albeit temporarily, until the next commenter pushes you down a notch and so on.
Also new on the site are two sections you can access from the blue menu bar below the logo above. Hot Science and Science Extra. The former provides a list of the most popular posts in each of the Sciencebase categories, whether science, chemistry, bio, bird flu, health, sex, or spectroscopy etc. While the latter, Science Extra, acts as a blog within a blog, giving me the chance to do a pseudo del.icio.us on the site and provide links and annotations on interesting news happenings on an almost daily basis.
Back in the sidebar, you may have spotted another new section “Pick of the Posts”, this provides a selection of links from the Sciencebase archives that will be fresh and new every time you visit, in fact a simple page refresh will offer you my next selection of blasts from the past. The Don’t Miss section is a short list of the most frequently visited posts in the blog from all categories. I’ve also updated the Archives page (accessible from the blue upper menu) so you can browse posts by date. If you want to find out what’s in the pipeline visit the Fresh Science link the sidebar Favorites section, the Fresh Science page provides a list of up coming posts on the Sciencebase site and tells you when they will appear. If there are none in the list, then I need to work harder, although how that would be physically possible, I don’t know.
If you find a post that you cannot keep to yourself, click the little green Share This icon at the bottom of the post. This brings up a table of all the most popular social bookmarking sites, such as Digg, del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, reddit etc and allows you with a couple of simple clicks to add the post in question to your bookmarks or post it to those sites. Alternatively, click the email this tab in that table and you can send a link to the post to your friends and colleagues. Feel free to comment all the while, but please keep it clean, and note that a behind-the-scenes change means I have disabled the “nofollow” plugins for links in posts. For anyone with an interest in SEO, or SEM as we are now supposed to call it, you will get some of the good pagerank juice for any links you embed in a comment. Oh, by the way, you can also subscribe to a comment thread and so be notified by email when someone posts a follow-up.
There are numerous other changes taking place behind the scenes, such as upgrades to the system, an improved interface for the contact form. You may also have spotted that the main post of the day is set to appear at 13h00 GMT and that includes our regular and increasingly popular Monday science video posting, you may already have missed Newton’s Laws Explained with Lego, the Potato powered mp3 player, and hacking a 9V battery. So, grab our newsfeed and don’t missing the next one – Levitation for real and no, we haven’t gone all new-age, it’s an amazing low temperature physics experiment.
If you subscribe to our science newsfeed in any of its incarnations you will receive the fulltext for Sciencebase so there will be almost no reason to visit, unless you want all the extras or to get the news as soon as it appears rather than waiting for your feed reader to catch up.
One final behind the scenes change that I wanted to tell you about is the adoption of a plugin that will only be apparent if you hit the site from a search engine. The plugin will tell you where you came from (in case you forgot within the space of a single click) and display the keywords you were searching for, below that it will list various posts from the Sciencebase blog archives that are closely related to your keywords and so may be of interest, and most importantly display the full-text for the most pertinent entry.