By on June 16, 2009

Now is the time to clear out the cobwebs, dust off the servers, tidy up the code, and polish the site. The frenzy of breaking (bad) news, sales and takeovers, and flamewars has somewhat subsided and we take this time now to vet some ideas we’ve been kicking around.

First, are you, our loyal readers, satisfied with the number and time of postings? More specifically, do you prefer the way we do it now with a bunch of postings made early in the morning, a few an hour until around noon PST, and then a posting or three in the afternoon; or, would you prefer we schedule the posts to publish every hour throughout the day? Does the current method give you enough time to read the article and participate in the comments?

Second, we’re going to try and get some more cars reviewed. Whether we go undercover to our local, friendly dealers or beg and plead with the manufacturers, we want to test as many of the new models as possible. How about more capsule reviews such as a 1930 Ford Model A where 0-60 is measured with an hourglass?

Third, are there any car-related products that you think are a must-review? Books? Car care? Gadgets? We like free stuff.

Finally, the weekends can be kind of quiet . . . What say you to an open thread where anything goes save egregious behavior (the kind of stuff that gets you banned)?

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46 Comments on “TTAC Housekeeping: Belated Spring Cleaning Edition...”


  • avatar
    Ingvar

    “More specifically, do you prefer the way we do it now with a bunch of postings made early in the morning, a few an hour until around noon PST, and then a posting or three in the afternoon.”

    AS an overseas reader, the time of the postings is irrelevant to me, but what I really like, is that the postings are not regular on the hour. As you described, an early bunch of postings, a few in between, and than something to wrap it up later on. It’s a really good dramaturgy, and something that actually adds to the experience of being on this site. It wouldn’t be as exciting or interesting without it.

    The only thing is the number of postings, if the postings for a particular day exceeds the amount that can fit on the first page, postings from early in the day will fall down to the page for “previous article”, thus, not get as much interest. Perhaps put a limit on one days postings, so that all postings for one day fits on the first page? This has been more or less so, but perhaps you could be stricter?

    The only thing I miss, and I miss it really bad, is to be able to browse the different commentators and their comments, not to mention that I want to be able to browse and list all of my own comments and postings. It’s really hard to keep track on what has been said and done.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    ingvar> I use the RSS feed to fix precisely that probem.

  • avatar
    Jeff Puthuff

    Ingvar, I hear you on the posts dropping off the front page and Robstar has a good tip: use an RSS reader (like Google Reader) and the unread posts will be presented in bold and you can open each post in a different tab. It’s what I do.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  • avatar
    maniceightball

    Post timing is just fine, I think.

    What say you to an open thread where anything goes save for egregious behavior (the kind of stuff that gets you banned)?
    I just can’t see how this would benefit the site or community in any meaningful way. Are there throngs of commenters just aching to vent? If so, aren’t there better venues for that? One of TTAC’s best points is the comment moderation, and I personally judge a site partially on its comments. So, please please don’t do this…

    Second, we’re going to try and get some more cars reviewed.
    This is good news to me, and I’m sure others feel the same. Capsule reviews are cool and all, but I personally prefer the newer cars so that it’s much more useful and relevant, especially with respect to current news (e.g. if GMCs are selling poorly, it’s valuable to link it to reviews and see exactly what aspects of the vehicles in question are hurting its sales). The other issue with reviews of much older cars is that you’re left with this strange nostalgic vision, which while potentially entertaining, lacks utility.

    In any case, this site is still head and shoulders above anything else out there. There are always nits to pick, but overall, I’d say it’s going alright.

  • avatar
    LouisJamesNYC

    “Second, we’re going to try and get some more cars reviewed”
    Yes please! That should be your #1 concern!! Forget the comparos and shoot-outs until you’ve reviewed more individual cars. Gee, will the domestic beat the 3-series??? Come on, save that for the auto mags.

    “How about more capsule reviews”
    No thanks. Really what’s the point? “Capule reviews” sounds like an oxymoron to me. Unless you are reviewing spacecraft. Or pain relievers.

  • avatar
    Jeff Puthuff

    maniceightball, re the open thread, I was thinking more along the lines of car topics that we didn’t cover during the week, not a free-for-all pissing contest. We can only cover so much and I’m sure there are things we miss that are of interest to our readers.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    “What say you to an open thread where anything goes save for egregious behavior (the kind of stuff that gets you banned)?”

    I would say that this was a bad idea also. Post when something happens, otherwise, don’t. Posting for the sake of posting is never good. Meaningless chatting for the sake of community bonding is fun, but not a mean in itself. It’s one of those things that happens on top or besides everything else. Thus, encourage interesting off-topic discussions that actually has some bearing, and do that when it happens. If a side-line developes within a thread, split it and make it its own posting. And if nothing interesting happens, you could always send out Jack Baruth, Daniel J Stern or Bertel Schmitt. Those guys are always controversial enough to stir up some interest.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    How about more capsule reviews such as a 1930 Ford Model A where 0-60 is measured with an hourglass?

    I’m in favor, but I will have you know that through 2nd gear, a Model A would out-accelerate anything on the road at that time. If I still owned mine, I would write the capsule review for you myself.

    More new car reviews would be great. I may be a contrarian here, but I like the reviews of ordinary iron that most people drive. A mixture of new and used cars, the popular and the less popular but interesting.

    But my favorite posts are the curbside classics and the interesting historical bits, like the ones Bertel has been doing on Sundays.

    Keep up the great work.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Since Bertel Schmitt became a regular, it seems like there are more often very early morning articles, often from him. I like that.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    By the way, “Hammer Time” and “The Autobiography of BS” are running neck and neck as my favorites.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    I love the capsule reviews. The more reviews the better.

  • avatar
    cnpota

    As far as the car reviews, KEEP THEM COMING! The reviews in addition to the user comments make for a wealth of information; from someone who isn’t well versed in the automotive world (yet, anyway), the posts are pure gold.

  • avatar
    Jeff Puthuff

    jp, one of my favorite vids on YouTube is a Model A on a dyno. No disrespect intended, just a bit of weak (very weak) humor.

    I like the capsule reviews, too, especially of cars forty years and older, from before my birth. I’ve seen a lot of them in car museums but I want to know what they’re like to drive.

    KixStart, Bertel is fifteen hours ahead of Pacific time, so, yes, very early posts for us. His posts are a good way to start off the day, no?

    Thanks, all, please keep commenting. I’m off to dinner.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    I like the current method of posting, but big news can be posted immediately. I have noticed recently that sometimes Autoblog will break a story a day or two before it hits TTAC. Are you tipping the hat to them to let them have exclusivity for a while, or just waiting to see if it actually becomes news or not?

    More car reviews would be great, and post the back catalogs of any reviews done that never made it to the front page while you are at it.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Yeah I’m content with business as usual.Dumping the left vs right comments is working well also.

  • avatar
    lutonmoore

    I mostly like the site the way it runs now. If something falls below the “previous articles” bar, I’ll go after it. More car reviews would be cool. Maybe do that as a side section or something? Overall, I like TTAC a lot and please keep up the good work!

  • avatar
    ajla

    Third, are there any car-related products that you think are a must-review? Books? Car care? Gadgets? We like free stuff.

    I’d like to see Ken Elias try the “washer mod” on his G8 GT’s exhaust system. That wouldn’t cost much more than a few bucks.

    What say you to an open thread where anything goes save egregious behavior (the kind of stuff that gets you banned)?

    Do you mean something similar to Deadspin.com’s “Deadspin Up All Night” post that they do everynight?

  • avatar
    fiasco

    Some additional reviews would be good, but you’ve got something that works pretty well as is. I’ve let my Car and Driver and Auto(bi)Week subscriptions lapse, this site is doing it better.

  • avatar
    MMH

    Digging:
    - Autobiography of BS
    - Hammer Time
    - Piston Slap
    - Most of the stuff by Mike S

    Not Digging:
    - Pretty much anything by Baruth

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    I love the capsule reviews sometimes more than the new reviews. It’s nice to learn about the automotive history that happened long before I was born, or started driving.

    You know what might be interesting is a little AMC history lesson or some other by gone make.

  • avatar
    matt.treiber

    I love the site but what I’d love to see more of are the capture reviews. It started with DOTS on Jalopnik — I realized that there is this fantastic history to cars that I haven’t fully enveloped myself in. I also love baseball and its history but unlike baseball we can still drive an 80+ year old car. We can still live the history!

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    Please post news as it breaks, rest post as usual. I also enjoy autobiography of BS, capsule reviews, piston slap, curbside classics, product reviews (enjoyed reading about Turtle Wax). And car reviews in general, but only if it done by you. Since if I read some review in a paper or a mag, I often wonder if it’s a real review or a fiction novel.
    Would also like to see long term reviews on vehicles you (scribblers) drive every day (if you’ve made any upgrades to it) and your weekend toys.
    Thanks for a great site!

  • avatar
    johnnyreno700

    The site runs just fine, sez me. I like the capsule reviews, too; Anything, really, to distract from all the ZOMBIE WATCHES and bad-news-from-Washington-ness. I like cars. Car companies, too, and the whole thing is fascinating and all, but really, I like cars.

    I miss the podcasts.

    Also, there was a vidcast up for about an hour today, but it vanished before I could get to it. Is it still up, somewhere?

  • avatar
    AuricTech

    First off, I voted to keep the posting schedule as it is (i.e., unscheduled). However, I would at least consider scheduling certain posts to increase the weekend posting (see below).

    Second, concerning the proposal for weekend open threads, I don’t think this is a good idea, for reasons that other posters have already made clear. That being said, I’d like to see some brainstorming, either here or on a dedicated post, on how to increase the frequency of weekend posts. My initial thought is to save a few posts that are not time-sensitive for weekend posting. Not too many such posts should be saved, though; the trick would be in finding the balance.

    Finally, I must concur with those who have applauded the crackdown on gratuitous political comments. In my experience, rational political discussion is only possible when all participants hold fairly similar views. As the political views in a discussion diverge, the heat-to-light ratio shifts towards more heat and less enlightenment.

  • avatar
    MBella

    I think the posts are fine. Yes the weekends do get quite, but I don’t think an anything goes thread will be really beneficial. Maybe you can come up with some sort of volunteer based columns just for the weekend.

    The capsule reviews are awesome. It’s great to see reviews of cars from before, and having them compared to those of today.

    I really like the articles from contributors like Bertel Schmitt, who give insights into the world of car companies we otherwise could not get.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Still the best auto site on the web…

    In favor of:

    More current reviews
    More Euro/Asian/Australian auto reviews. Sometimes it nice to see what we can’t have in the States!
    More Take Two and Take Three reviews. Unlike the auto rags, having multiple reviews on a site really helps in figuring out what is the best out there.
    More older car reviews including the once in a while “real world beater” review. Sometimes we need a good laugh!
    If possible – increase the 800 word limit to maybe 1000 words. Sometimes the reviews and especially comparisons tend to get very rushed at the end.

    Not in favor of:

    A weekend “venting session.” One thing that makes this a great site is there’s ZERO trolling and flaming others. I’ve flat out stopped going to other sites since their comments have become nothing but troll bait and dozens of pages of personal attacks. It isn’t worth my (and really anyone’s) time to sift through that garbage.
    Articles that bait trolling and flaming. The JB series of speeding was proof positive. I read all of them and when I was done, I was wondering what exactly I just read. It seemed to exist just to pi** people off and that really isn’t needed here. However his car reviews belong here.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Paul Niedermeyer’s Curbside Classics is my favorite. The eminent demise of the d 2point something and life as we knew it is getting tedious. I dont read the car reviews unless the cars featured are cars (heaps) I would buy.
    It was neat seeing RF on tv. I am only on site during the evenings, so whenever you put new stuff up is fine.

  • avatar
    psu_13

    I’ve tried to use the topic-specific RSS feeds to cut down on the stream of content sometimes. But this is made difficult by the fact that the feed for reviews feeds you the whole site instead. Is this by design?

  • avatar
    Bearadise

    Like many of the others, timing of the posts isn’t an issue to me. Being a road warrior and not in an office, I don’t get to check in until late at night usually anyhow.

    Would be nice if the political content was toned down. It’s hard not to get into left-right discussions when every other post starts with a picture of some Washington scofflaw (and aren’t they all these days?).

    This is a great site and I’ve learned a thing or two just hanging around. Thanks for the good work!

  • avatar
    topgun

    i’ve been a loyal reader of TTAC since a friend recommended it to me over a year ago. I’m fine with the time of the postings and I agree that TTAC should try to do more car reviews in its own inimitable style. I appreciate the no nonsense political analysis, however this is first and foremost a car site!!

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    I too miss the podcasts, but am hopeful with the introduction of the video chat. You know what would be awesome but tedious? A call-in show where the B&B can call in to talk with you guys about the news of the day.

    And whatever you do, RF, please do everything in your power to keep Bertel on board. That man is great.

  • avatar
    MikeInCanada

    A TTAC version for the IPhone/Any Smart Phone is now becoming a necessity as the company is really cracking down on my work time surfing.

    Ebay or TTAC - don’t make me choose!

    Breaking news items are great. If this were to mess up the daily rhythm of posting articles then how about just an article title and a link.

  • avatar
    Dangerous Dave

    I read the site at night, so the timing of the articles is unimportant to me, however, I would like an easy way of locating the articles that have dropped off the first page. A link at the bottom of the page that would take me to the previous series of articles from the last few days would be great. There are times when I’m not able to get on the computer for a day or two and this would be a great way to “catch up”. As for the weekends, bring back the “Question of the Day” as an easy way of generating some comments and reading material. To me the comments of the B & B are what makes this site stand out from all the others.

  • avatar
    T2

    Does the current method give you enough time to read the article and participate in the comments ?

    No, there’s not enough time. A three paragraph rebuttal on a technical subject that must be written to avoid possible ambiguity can take easily 3 or 4 hours to compose. In the meantime the topic in the Latest News section drops gradually to the horizon and is usually gone within 12 hours. Few will care to go dumpster diving later. Perhaps the Latest News list could be extended. Double would be nice.

    On posting here are my New Rules. Well, rules that I would like to see.

    The first four posts for any topic must must contain at least four sentences.
    Anything less must be considered graffiti and denotes this poster purely as an exhibitionist.

    Penalty : let the post stand for one hour so the artist can admire and perhaps modify and then…
    Delete post and scramble posters password.

    Any post that contains more than one typo.
    ‘cos I am not here to witness the ramblings from mental defectives who have not the courtesy to scan their own stuff.
    Delete post and scramble posters password.

    Any post that reveals an ESL person. That is, any post that has adjectives following nouns with the verb turning out to be the last word in the sentence. Look, if I wanted to decode jumbled text messages I would go play the WIZZWORDS in the Sunday paper. If English is a Second Language to you please remember this is a site where it is not.
    For failing to communicate you, of course, get the Cool Hand Luke award….
    Delete post and scramble posters password.

    Any post that uses subjective criteria like Fugly for small efficient cars or hybrids.
    Delete post and scramble posters password.

    Any post that suggests diesel engines are good for small efficient cars or hybrids.
    Delete post and scramble posters password.

    Any post that compares the Prius to the new Insight.
    Delete post and scramble posters password.

    Any post that suggests Toyota doesn’t make money on the Prius.
    Delete post and scramble posters password.

    Any post that suggests GM would never have made money reviving the EV1.
    Delete post and scramble posters password.

    Any post that requires an owner to justify the purchase of their Prius while the reasoning on the payback of the spoiler mounted on the back of the poster’s pickup may never be a topic for discussion.
    Delete post and scramble posters password.

    Any post that suggests the Chevy Volt will sell in droves.
    Delete post and scramble posters password.

    Any post that even responds to a Jack Baruth topic on speeding. Er sorry Jack but…
    Delete post and scramble posters password.

    Any post that mentions a twin turbo V6 and the words “fuel efficient” in the same sentence.
    Delete post and scramble posters password.

    Perhaps others could raise proposals in a similar vein that would improve TTAC’s site.
    If you need inspiration I suggest a reading of Autoblogreen will provide a plethora of ideas.

    I have a little book
    Yes its all down in his book.
    of posters that will not be missed.
    With apologies to G & S

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    I know this isn’t exactly related, but please bring back podcasts. Weekly podcasts, monthly podcasts, something.

    If you can’t get JB or JL on the line, talk to EN, or BS, or SL, or one of the B&B. Anybody.

  • avatar

    To fit more stories on the first page, we should make the lead, lede, intro, nut graph, or whatever you call it, shorter and enter a jump as quickly as possible.

  • avatar
    Jeff Puthuff

    To fit more stories on the first page

    we can adjust the WordPress setting from its current 10 to 15 or 20 posts at a time. Will have to ask for permission to see if the servers can handle it.

    Vidcasts are in the works as soon as vid and audio quality is sorted.

    Site functionality: RSS feed by category, threaded comments, ability to search for comments by username, etc. are suggestions that have been or will be made to the new overlords running the site. We’re still running WP 2.6 and have a custom theme that has been band-aided too many times. A new site is in the works, but we’ve no idea when it will go online.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    TTAC is starting to turn into a car business site a bit too much, the articles about actual cars are outweighed by industry articles, death watches, and political news. I think more than half of the posts should be on a car review or aspect of a vehicle without bailouts, bankruptcy, or other negatives.

  • avatar
    superbadd75

    T2: You may want to have a look at your post and fix or delete some of the suggestions. Otherwise you may be in danger of having your post deleted and password scrambled.

    TTAC is pretty good the way it is, IMO. Timing is great, with the exception of one (reasonably new) feature. The Curbside Classic “guess that car preview” never seems to be up long before the answer is revealed and the CC feature is posted. I would love to see some product reviews, and maybe some “special guests”, or interviews if possible. Either way, there’s really nothing of note here that I find needs much work. Great job fellas.

  • avatar
    dhanson865

    I still miss “by the numbers” and hate when there is 10 separate articles scrolling new stuff off the main page to say:

    Article 1, Graphic: Toyota down/up by x%

    Article 2, Graphic: Chrysler down by x%

    Article 3, Graphic: Ford down/up by x%

    Article 4, Graphic: Honda down/up by x%

    Article 5, Graphic: GM down by x%

    Article 6, Graphic: Sales in Lithuania less than sales in Romania.

    (OK these are usually Europe as a whole or China or something more relevant but I’m taking my dig here)

    I consider this news. I consider it interesting. I don’t want to have to dig through a bunch of different articles to find the sales numbers and I don’t want the headline/graphic of a bunch of sales numbers displacing other articles.

    Consolidate. Edit if you have to as new numbers come out. Let the last edit date bump an article up to the front page again, Find a way to use more than one pic per article and add pics as the sales numbers come in. But do something to reduce the clutter of it all.

  • avatar
    VictoryCabal

    Love the reviews, Hammertime, B&B, What’s Wrong, comparos etc. Not so wild about the daily Zombie watches and what not.

    And if it was up to me, I’d have less reviews of supercars and such and more reviews of cars people might actually buy. Sure, talking about the new Maybach is mildly interesting, but I’ll probably never even see one in real life, let alone drive one. Moar real cars.

  • avatar
    pbr

    All I want from TTAC is a comment filter. Certain topics would be more enjoyable without having to wade through all the same old opinions.

  • avatar
    50merc

    The pugnacity of some commentary has been mentioned several times. So maybe TTAC’s situation is sort of like former Georgia Governor Lester Maddox’s opinion that there was nothing wrong with Georgia’s prisons that couldn’t be fixed by a better class of prisoners.

    Funny you should ask “How about more capsule reviews such as a 1930 Ford Model A where 0-60 is measured with an hourglass?” I’ve been thinking of doing a little piece on my ’31 town sedan. Lawzy, the crazy kids today, they’ve only driven modern vehicles. They don’t know a Model A’s performance, economy, safety, ride, braking, handling, and many luxury features (ventilation through the floorboards!) is just beyond comparison. But I’m hurt you said 0-60 is measured with an hourglass. That’s not true. A calendar is necessary.

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    I’ve been coming around here for about three years now, thanks to Buickman. Other than the left versus right political bashing that sometimes gets carried away, I feel that some of the best writing, by some of the best writers around, has appeared here in the last year.

    One of these days I might get my nerve up and offer to try my hand at writing a review. One of these days…

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    50merc :

    … but I’m hurt you said 0-60 is measured with an hourglass. That’s not true. A calendar is necessary.

    Haha, that made me snort a laugh; thanks!

  • avatar
    T2

    Hi superbadd75,
    Yes you got me. I found typos in my own stuff too LOL after I pressed the SUBMIT button !!
    You know I would delete my earlier post but this old Windows ’98 I am using crashes when I hit the edit function. I seem to remember other posters quoting similar experiences regarding system stability with their older systems as well.

    My list of posters who would not be missed is considerably longer but I have only so much time.
    It’s just that the site would be so much more enjoyable if clueless posters in regard to technical issues could be chased out. Otherwise my stay on TTAC will seem rather pointless and for that matter maybe I’ve already overstayed my welcome. But it’s been a nice ride all the same. Thanks.
    T2


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