tl;dr: I relaunch my personal blog in a renamed and streamlined version.
It’s been almost four months since I last posted something on my blog. I’m sure at least one or two of my few long-time readers have been wondering if I was ever going to post again. Fear not, the hiatus is officially over!
Most of that time was taken by my generally goofing off (not having any real motivation to write). However a good part of it I spent reworking the blog. Today is the official relaunch.
What’s changed? First is the name. I’ve always felt it was somewhat lame to use my own name as the name for my blog, but I couldn’t think of a good alternative. “Civility and truth” was part of the tagline for my old blog, and I finally decided to promote it to be the actual name of the blog itself. See the “about this blog” page for the story behind the new name.
With the name change comes a change to the URL: The blog is now officially accessible at https://civilityandtruth.com (note the “https” at the front). If you are using a news reader service (e.g., Feedly or NewsBlur) then you should add the Civility and Truth news feed using the URL https://civilityandtruth.com/feed.xml (an Atom format feed, in case you’re curious).
If you have previously linked to my old blog at frankhecker.com, never fear: Sometime in the next month or so I will reconfigure my old blog so that all links to old blog posts get automatically redirected to the corresponding posts at Civility and Truth. At that time I’ll convert the frankhecker.com site to be a simple landing page linking to my various blogs and social media presences.
One major change is in the appearance of the site and the technology behind it. I’ll spare you all the technical details (see the “about this blog” page for that), but the result is that the site should load faster and look nicer on smartphones and tablets, you should never see an advertisement or other intrusive third-party content, and (as much as I can arrange) your browsing activity on the blog will not be tracked and monetized by third parties.1
A final and potentially controversial change is that I decided to not provide a way to post comments directly to the blog. I thought long and hard about this: I personally like commenting on blogs, but I got very few comments on my own blog, and many of those were spam that I had to delete. Providing my own commenting system on a self-hosted blog would be far from trivial in terms of dealing with spam and other security issues, and I’d rather not use a third-party service like Disqus whose revenue model depends at least in part on user tracking.
For now I’ve decided to direct people to post comments on Facebook or Twitter (where I will post notices of new blog posts) or to email them directly to me. If I get particularly interesting and worthwhile comments through these channels I may update blog posts to summarize and quote from such comments. If you’d really really rather be able to comment directly then please let me know and I will consider adding Disqus commenting with an opt-out for user tracking.
What hasn’t changed? I will continue to focus on issues relevant to Howard County and Maryland, with an emphasis on in-depth analysis and minimal snarkiness and partisanship.2 I’ll continue to supplement Howard-centric posts with more general commentary on public affairs, combined with whatever else strikes my fancy.
I’ve learned through bitter experience that I am not a daily blogger, or even necessarily a weekly one. My goal going forward is to post a new item at least once every two weeks, typically on Saturday morning for your weekend reading pleasure. Thanks to all of you who’ve read my blog over the past few years; I hope you enjoy this new incarnation of it!
There are three exceptions to the “no tracking” policy. Two of them (using Google fonts and the MathJax code for mathematical notation) are relatively minor, though I will look into ways to self-host this material. The third (embedded video and audio) is unavoidable due to the nature of embedding third-party content, but is confined to only a few posts. ↩
One advantage of the new blog format is that it will be much easier for me to include data-based analyses with graphs and charts. ↩