By on August 19, 2013

GPP

Slightly over a month ago, we had a spot of regime change here at The Truth About Cars. At the time, we unveiled a five-point program to improve the site and improve the reader experience. I’d like to take a moment to review these five points and give you a chance to provide further feedback on our progress so far.

Our points of improvement were:

Point One: TTAC Homecoming. To the best of our knowledge and ability, we have unbanned and restored every commenter who was removed from the conversation during the previous administration. I’m pleased to note that no commenters have required banning since then. If you’re aware of an account that has not been restored, or if you have an account that has not been restored, please let us know. Furthermore, some previously banned commenters have noticed that their comments are being held in the spam queue. We’re checking said queue frequently but if we miss you, let us know. I’d also like to thank the B&B for being civil and decent during the past month. Please try to keep that up.

Point Two: Accountability and Civility. I think we’ve done a good job of staying work-safe; if I’m wrong, let me know. We’ve had numerous pieces from contributors on both sides of the political fence and will continue to do so. Some commenters were upset at the flippant attitude I assumed towards the United States Government on the recent “Super Blue” piece, so I’ll take that criticism to heart. At the same time, this isn’t the Huffington Post or Fox News and we’re going to primarily judge political figures based on how they treat the motorist. I want to hear your opinion any time we lean too far to one side.

Point Three: Refocus on the B&B. We now allow commenters to criticize the authors, self included, and you’ve certainly taken advantage of that freedom, which is fine. We haven’t had a public shaming or banning of any commenter (or even a silent banning). This is one that’s tough to do over the long haul, for everyone. People get passionate about the issues that are important to them. Sometimes passion takes over. Just remember: we’re all in this together.

Point Four: Opening The Conversation. TTAC readers are contributing in record numbers. We’re looking forward to even more of that. Keep writing, keep sending it. We’re still catching up on the submissions we have, but don’t let that stop you. We want you to continue to participate, and as our budget frees up we will be able to pay for unique or interesting stories, particularly from inside the industry.

Point Five: The Truth A few readers (thanks, Mom!) said they didn’t want a complete ban on fiction, so we created “Sunday Stories” for that stuff. It’s clearly labeled so you can avoid it if you don’t like it. We’re renting more cars, getting more different voices on reviews. I’m pleased to announce that we’re about to go toe-to-toe with a major manufacturer on an issue of journalistic freedom, unless said manufacturer gets their act together in the next 48 hours, and I’m looking forward to it. Time to crack some heads and tell the truth.

So that’s how I think we’ve done so far. How about you? What else do you want to see changed, improved, or replaced? We’re listening. It’s important. One final thing: It had never occurred to me that I would wind up being the inmate in charge of this asylum. In general, you’ve been supportive and decent and great about the whole thing. Thanks for that. And for those of you who hate my guts: the pro tem after “E-I-C” is there for a reason. As always, thanks for reading!

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130 Comments on “Housekeeping: How Are We Doing?...”


  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’m well pleased , I like the Fiction too .

    Keep up the good works ! .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Travis

    Yay for keeping the fiction.

    The content does have a marked change, and even though I tire of some of it very quickly (and I’ve said so), it’s still quality work. Was really happy to see the BigTruck piece this morning. I think a lot of his responses to stuff on here are completely absurd, but he’s a competent writer and very entertaining.

    I look forward to seeing just which manufacturer it is that you’re talking about. Surely it isn’t one that recently got a very unfavorable review of their product?

  • avatar
    gmichaelj

    I’m happy to see there haven’t been any more silly QOTD, like best car for a murderer, or whatever it was. Overall, I see QOTD as “we don’t have any important Truths to discuss, so lets talk about something trivial”

    Better articles, like this one on fluid colors required some research and is appreciated, eventhough it is unlikely to get many comments: thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/keep-color-choices-fluid/

    - I think you should consider linking to outside articles by TTAC authors (like yours Jack in R&T, or was it MT). Anyway, it may not be an opinion piece in the NYT or WSJ, but it still shows TTAC’s “reach”

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I think this is because Doug is on a road trip.

      I thought the QOTDs were fun. The automotive details series had some cool stuff in it. Certainly light reading, but not everything can be significant industry news or passionate editorial.

  • avatar
    kars

    it’s all good as Gwyneth once said – my only suggestion would be to allow readers to reply directly to someone else’s comment rather than be slotted in further down the queue – this would keep comments about a particular subject between 2 or maybe more people together in one place

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      We know the comment system isn’t very good. We’re working on replacements, I promise.

      • 0 avatar
        fincar1

        I don’t have a problem with the comments section the way it is. Please don’t go with disqus….

        • 0 avatar
          zamoti

          An important technical decision in choosing a commenting system ties into the NSFW content. As many of us work at places where web content is filtered, some comment systems (Disqus being one) is categorized by most web filtering software as “social media” and lumped in with Facebook, Twitter, etc. As such, using such a system means that the comments do not source from the primary domain, but are hosted by Disqus. With this arrangement, it’s common to go to sites where you can read the content, but not view or add comments. Wired.com, Alternet.org and many others suffer this symptom. I strongly recommend that whatever change is being made to the comment system, that it continues to be hosted by TTAC and not by a 3rd party. As most employers filter off social media, the newfound surge in comments and submissions would certainly suffer; I know that if not for the comments, I would spend all of 10 minutes reading the articles.
          Please keep the web categorization of the comment system in mind when considering the changes.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          I wish it was easier to reply to a specific post, but overall I like the content format. Besides, there are easy workarounds for this (starting replies with @ $username).

          From a technical standpoint, once you are four levels deep in a reply, the text no longer wraps correctly – it gets cut off by the right sidebar. You don’t lose so much that you can’t figure out what the commenter is saying, but it is annoying.

          I exchanged emails with tech support a while back, complete with screenshots, but the problem persists. Word Press version/plugin problem as Pch101 suggests?

      • 0 avatar
        mart_o_rama

        I enjoy the renewed vitality of the B&B, and often find myself spendig 10-15mins reading 100s of comments after an article. I do this on no other website…

        In order to improve my time management score, i would like to suggest one thing to consider if choosing another comment system: the ability to rank/star/highlight/flag/tag comments. On a number of websites I find this system helps quickly emphasize the more worthwhile posts. Although it can result in a dominant point of view from the majority of readers’ opinions, i believe the B&B would make it well balanced.

        Keep up the good work!!

      • 0 avatar
        Beerboy12

        I have not issue with the comment system. It would be nice to be able to close up a thread though, some commenters get very distracted and off topic.
        But, not a huge deal really.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The problems that I’m experiencing with the comments are probably due to the WordPress plugin that you use for filtering, not with the format, per se.

        Those third-party systems such as Disqus and Livefyre are awful. Rather than use those, I would suggest that you either tweak or replace whatever particular WordPress plugin that you’re currently using for the filtering. (While you’re at it, you may want to upgrade the version of WordPress that you’re using.)

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Hmm. I like the TTAC comment process the best of any of the car blogs – by far. I don’t want to have to log in on Facebook/AOL/Google, etc., for example. Don’t change it.

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalledMillennial

        I too like the comment system as-is. I find it simple to use, and I appreciate that it gives everyone an equal voice and doesn’t value/weigh one comment above another.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          I’m another in support of the current comment system, so many are switching over to terrible commenting systems, TTAC is without a doubt as close to perfect as I’ve seen in quite a while.

          • 0 avatar
            NMGOM

            Jack,

            I do like the simplicity and direct access provided by the TTAC comment system,— without having to log into anything else.
            The one thing I suggest (if this is even possible) is to allow little (low kbyte) attachments to be included as a “.jpg” or “.pdf.” This would allow a photo or plot of data to be included, as desired.

            —————

          • 0 avatar
            jimbob457

            I will second the idea for uploading small pictures and charts. I have a simple graph that perfectly illustrates why gasoline and diesel fuel pump prices are poised for a significant decline over the next year. Can’t show it directly, at least, with existing software.

    • 0 avatar
      scottcom36

      I suggest (somewhat in jest) that you look at whatever Jalopnik is doing with their comments, then do the exact opposite. Seriously, TTAC’s comment system is just fine.

  • avatar
    old5.0

    You’re doing fine Jack. As far as some reader’s consternation with your government-induced flippancy… well, life’s tough. Buy a helmet. I’m sure the day that you say something to offend me is rapidly approaching. I’m equally sure that, on that day, I’ll survive with both my ego and my feelings intact.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Personally, I’d like to see more Government punch-baggery. But that’s just me. Keeping everyone happy must be a tough job.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I honestly don’t think TTAC would have nearly as much appeal without the heavily opinionated, unrestrained, and sometimes hyperbolic editorial bombs Jack drops from time to time, regardless as to whether one agrees with his sentiments expressed, or not.

      As an example of this, many Porsche owners probably recoiled at Jack’s ‘Watery Big Bang/Faux Douchery’ Op/Ed, but why would any passionate person want to exclusively read only those opinions that they agreed with? What a boring, sedate & confirmation-bias seeking hell of an existence that would indicate.

      Of course, that particular diatribe against idiocy in design & the trend towards not only conspicuous, but brainless consumption of trashy, hollow products spoke to my soul…

      …but I have frequently disagreed with many of the conclusions expressed in Jack’s other diatribes, including the central one in his ‘Letter to Lincoln’ (regarding halo products), so I don’t think I’m a person who only wants to read that which I agree with.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Count me as one of those pleased at the increased commenting, and the (so far) civil exchanges. You can’t get around discussions of government in the comments, like it or not, government action is a major feature of the topic of cars.

    Right now the commentariat is in a sweet spot of having representatives from nearly all sides of the political persuasions without any one voice predominating. Isn’t it amazing how civil people can be when they don’t feel they have the upper hand!

    The bottom line, to me, is that TTAC is much improved and a more interesting place to visit. The thing for “TTAC Staff” to remember is that this is the internet, the commenter profile can change quickly over a short period of time, the ‘what have you done for me lately’ attitude is always out there, and like doing a high wire act without a net, it can all come crashing down at any moment. Enjoy the rush.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Marvin: I’ve been communicating with the ship
    Ford:What did it say?
    Marvin: It hates me

    Personally I think TTAC is doing well. This site will always turn political and people are always far too quick to drop “Nazi” and “Hitler” but what are you going to do?

    We generally have a lively debate and I enjoy it.

    I wouldn’t mind a “TTAC After Dark” section that doesn’t appear on the main page for anything NSFW that you’d like to post. Perhaps most over the top “tuner” and “hot rod” pictures trying to convince some model to look like she actually gives a crap about the car.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Guys are doing great – you saved TTAC

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      +100x Over

      Reading or interacting with “old TTAC” felt as if one were in a North Korean city.

      New TTAC tastes like Sweet Freedom, and I’ve seen extraordinarily few personal or ad hominem attacks by anyone, regardless of the subject matter.

      As a personal post script, I’ve called out several writers for what I believed were omissions or inaccuracies in their reviews and/or other articles, and even though I lean towards Vic Vinegar in terms of my personality at times (i.e. I can be prickishly blunt), I genuinely avoid crossing the line into ad hominem bitching at the author, and I feel that allowing constructive criticism (even when it’s blunt & raw) of writers is the true litmus test of a modern web site that purports to revel in the Truth About Anything.

      The pay off of this friction between readers and writers is that such criticism (as long as the ad hominem line is respected) leads to better fact checking, deeper analysis before putting pen to paper, A FAR MORE STREAMING & REVEALING STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS AMONGST WRITERS AND COMMENTATORS ALIKE, and more more “truthiness” (h/t Steven Colbert), and ironically, regardless as to who is actually factually correct or not (since the truthiness results from the sum parts of the critical process).

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Just keep doing what you’re doing. I’ve had no concerns since The Great Shakeup.

  • avatar

    I think you have done very well so far. One thing I miss: The flow of industry news seems to have slowed a bit (which is okay, but it’s a change), and I feel like the sharp-edged perspective on those industry developments that has long been a hallmark of TTAC has been dulled somewhat. Perhaps it’ll rebound as newer contributors grow into their roles, but Bertel at his best — like Ed and Farago before him — was superb at the “don’t just report it, take a view” approach. It need not be (and really shouldn’t be) grounded in a sharp political or nationalistic perspective, but… offer an opinion, argue it well, give those in the B&B who are concerned about the *business* of cars something to tussle with.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    I ask myself how I would do in Jack’s job, and my honest answer is “not nearly as well”. It’s really an impossible position to be in, to humor the nuts, keep a sober head, not be to quick to feel insulted, and to make sure you take serious people seriously. Not easy at all. Derek has a nature that may be better suited to this kind of thing, being that Jack likes to pull the cat’s tail from time to time. Still, this new regime is miles ahead of the Bertel one that preceded it.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    One thing I have noticed recently is the comment counts are much higher in articles both during the week and especially on the weekends which is definitely a good sign. I would say this is a combination of the successful “homecoming” and the mix of new content offered from new(er) contributors.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I dig it. Keep up the good work.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Great work so far. I’m really enjoying TTAC like I did in the beginning.

    I’m happy the rails were re-aligned, so no more derailments – or should I have kept an automotive metaphor?

  • avatar
    Juniper

    Big improvement, Good Job, keep at it.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    You’re doing a fine job.
    The B&B are slowly calming down too.
    Things are getting better.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Can you guys add Fiat to the list of automakers under Review By Make at the bottom of your site? I like the site. The openness gives it more of a forum vibe than a blog vibe.

  • avatar
    SoCalledMillennial

    I think the site is doing GREAT. I would only suggest that some authors spend a little more time editing (both for grammar and spelling errors, as well as streamlining content). While I’ve brought this up in the past (and received some backlash), this seems like a good opportunity to offer my opinion.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    Some of your “writers” get a bit fashionista which begs the question about TTAC. I don’t mind a little subjectivity but informed analysis is always superior.

    I’m an early riser (4:30 am, PCT) and your daily posts appear to hit 8 am PCT? I wonder if your losing an east coast market? Also, the weekend is worse than light for new material and yet that’s a period of extreme Internet traffic, again…missing an audience?

    I gave up on Jalopnik a while back. TTAC and Autoblog mostly now for vehicles. Also Autopia, PM, etc for new/future stuff. Bike Forum for two wheels.

  • avatar
    aristurtle

    I had left sometime in the middle of the Bertel administration and didn’t find out about your editorial coup until about a week ago, but since then I’ve been reading this site every day, so you must be on the right track.

    Politics is fine when it shows up tastefully and topically, as I think it did in that brake fluid article; as long as you can avoid the trolling that Bert liked you should be fine.

    I noticed some complaints about the comments system — please, please do not move to Disqus.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Two Thumbs Up! What’s missing isn’t missed; what’s added is welcome. On with the show!

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Your doing a great job, politics is impossible to avoid, since politics inject itself in the automotive world.

    What I would like to see the website updated, the makes below include defunct brands which would make more sense being grouped together since stories come sparingly. Would also like to see the archives arranged in a different method so that you can see more per page.

    Finally I would love to see some new car reviews!!!
    New GM trucks
    Impala
    SS
    Cruze diesel
    Anything new and exciting, the last new car review I remember was the Buick Encore.

    But all in all, I enjoy the site very much.

  • avatar
    Tinn-Can

    I like the fact that the article with the words “Japanese” and “bondage” didn’t get me fired from work and had pictures actually related to cars…

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    You still skew to the right which is fine. You make it clear and you avoid the completely obnoxious articles trying to attack the UAW/CAW. The brake fluid article is one people on the right seemed to love but it smacks of something that didn’t need a post only because it’s a trivial issue trying to be tied to a bigger political ideology. But outside of that, nothing but positive views from me.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      Xeranar, that’s my thinking exactly. Start with a modest point on a modest subject, and in the next moment, we’re debating whether this doesn’t portend the end of the world as we know it. It’s a disingenuous way to gain attention, and besides, it’s lazy. Yet as you happily note to the contrary, most of what’s being done is all to the good.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        I could have done the brake fluid thing better; I’m taking it as a lesson learned.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          It was OK. To people on the far left, everything looks to be right leaning.

        • 0 avatar
          vaujot

          I am by far not the most vocal critic of Bertel Schmitt but I don’t think he ever would have said something like this. So kudos to you.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          To be completely fair to Jack, I really do enjoy a great deal of your articles. I find your articles to be the funniest outside of murilee and faiy interesting to read. You really do try and avoid the axe grinding to a fair extent and while our life outlooks are very different as our identitiea and career paths I see your angle but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Please keep up the great articles, Jack.

        • 0 avatar
          Jeff Waingrow

          Just how often will you find a person with enough modesty and ego strength to make a comment like that? Cheers for you, Jack. You’re a mensch.

        • 0 avatar
          Mullholland

          Jack, Perhaps I misunderstood or tried to read too much into the infamous Brake Fluid piece but I thought I detected a fairly whopping dose of irony designed to poke fun at what could be seen as yet another massive government conspiracy. While a bit overwrought, I thought it was a fun read.

          • 0 avatar
            Mullholland

            Oh and be very careful with any mods to the comments. If one knows how to use the current system, it does a good job at organizing the content and keeping comments on the same topic grouped appropriately. It’s easy to follow and add new comments a specific thread.

          • 0 avatar
            Russycle

            I was going to reply to Mullholland’s second comment, but the commenting system won’t let me, because it only nests replies to 4 layers. Which is kind of annoying, but not as annoying as websites which let replies nest to infinity.

            I’d call the comments not broken and leave it at that, if I were king.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    As long as Doug DeMuro and Alex Dyke’s great work continues to be featured here, I’ll be very happy. In general, TTAC has become more engaging, the discussions more lively, and the rate and pace of interesting articles has increased. I look forward to reading this site every day and appreciate the spark of vitality that has come in the past month.

  • avatar
    carguy

    You’re doing good. The experimentation with new types of content and new contributors is encouraging. Not all of it will work but you’ll be able to gauge from the page views and comments what isn’t working.

    As far as requests is concerned, it would be nice if there was voting on comments. Sometimes I don’t have time to read them all and it would be good to see what the B&B have voted to be most insightful or entertaining.

    • 0 avatar

      As an author, I would appreciate this as well. I look at responses to see how I’m doing and I get disheartened when put my heart into something only to have it get a dozen responses. Occasionally I am tempted to go over to the dark side and start a fight just so I can get a few comments going…

      Don’t make me go there.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I’m opposed to the “voting” or “liking” of comments. I would really hate to see this place turn into some kind of karma seeking circle jerk.

      It’s a total cop out. If someone likes or dislikes a post, I would much prefer they write a response with reasons to support their opinion. It adds so much more to the discussion.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        Colorfully put. I agree.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        I concur, up or down voting would turn into a mess as both popularity and strong opinions would drive some up and others down. I’m inclined to perhaps a collapsible nesting style where original comments show first and a click to see replies. I feel late posters can get buried in long threads.

        • 0 avatar

          I don’t think comments should rise or fall depending upon the rating system, but I think it might be nice to have a “thanks” or a “thumbs up” button, etc. For that matter, I think that even a hit counter might be sufficient.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Wow, the revolution was just over a month ago? Seems like longer, which means things seem to have settled down nicely.

    I have no complaints and continue to enjoy the work you guys put out, as a nice balance to Jalopnik and Autoblog.

    Oh yeah, I suppose this is as appropriate place as any to ask: how’s that new logo I sent ya’ll?

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I rarely do this, so it’s an exception (and I also know it has fans here), but I CAN NOT STOMACH Jalopnik, as it reads exactly like a TMZ episode would feel if TMZ “did cars.”

      Jalopnik reads like neon bright, Photoshop enhanced, empty calories, written by 22 year olds for 18 year olds & dredged of the Fast & Furious type crowd.

      Their recent self-coverage of their manufacturer sponsored excursion to Pebble Beach in a flotilla of Tony Swan approved whips was so bad that I couldn’t finish it…pure awfulness.

      • 0 avatar
        philadlj

        Like TTAC, it’s not for everyone, but I have room in my web-surfing life for both, plus Autoblog for relatively straightforward and late-breaking auto news (though I never scroll down to the abysmal comments).

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        When it started, Jalopnik was more like TTAC is now. But sadly, success breeds barnacles.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        And TTAC skews heavily to the over 35 crowd and sits with the C/D & R/T crowd. It’s a matter of position and identity. I do actually agree that Jalopnik feels like the pop culture aggregate sites done for cars and thus why I read TTAC but each has their place. I would probably read jalopnik more if they took a more minimalist style like TTAC.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          This is a very good point, and I want to reiterate that I don’t like to, and rarely do, call out other websites for what I perceive as their flaws…

          …live and let live and all that…

          Jalopnik has been getting under my skin in incrementally higher degrees as of late, though, with their front page, unavoidable .gifs and such.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    TTAC has been saved.

    Excellent job, gentlemen.

  • avatar
    mored

    First off, you care enough to ask, that speaks volumes. I also get the feeling that our input really matters – that you are not just giving the topic lip service. I really appreciate the fact that politics are usually left out of things now. If I want politics, I can turn on the news and be depressed. I come here to escape and feed my obsession with cars. I really value and appreciate the way various subjects about cars are treated in an objective fashion. If the article is subjective, it is usually mentioned right off the top and then I can decide if I want to continue reading. I have also noticed as others have mentioned that the number of comments seems to be way up. That to me says that readers are back. If anything, I would like to see more reviews and articles about used cars. The information that I get from Sajeev and the B & B is immense. Keep up the good work, I sure couldn’t do it!

  • avatar
    play3rtwo

    Please just keep Sajeev happy.. and i’ll keep visiting.. His piston slap articles are the real reason I visit every day.

    • 0 avatar
      no-point turn

      My wife just bought an Audi “Allroad” and she *loves* it. So I can appreciate a gearhead on a high wire:
      You’re running a great place to hash it out gearhead and a lousy place to troll or be trolled. Content Up, contentiousness Down FTW.

  • avatar
    vaujot

    I think you’re doing well.
    Since this is the housekeeping thread, I have a bug on the main page. It ends right with the new brake fluid post, where I only see a picture but no article or comments. All of the main page content below is cut off, as well as the column on the right with links to comments and advertising. I was only able to find this post via the link on the right for most recent comments after clicking on another article. I am on Internet Explorer 9, version 9.0.18, if that helps.

    • 0 avatar
      vaujot

      Not sure if anyone’s reading this but: after checking the site from home, I can tell you that the bug doesn’t exist when using Internet Explorer 10 but continues to be there on this machine.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Same here at work..Explorer 9 truncates at the same place and dumps all sidebar content.

        At home, no problem with updated Firefox.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Browsers need to be updated regularly to keep up with the website upgrades. Sometimes it’s just flash or java on your machine that needs to be updated. That’s straightforward at home, but reporting that your favorite non-work-related websites aren’t loading well at work isn’t likely to get your IT guys to work on it (unless they like the same sites).

  • avatar
    Syke

    Don’t worry about pissing “the Best and the Brightest” off, for two reasons:

    1. If you can write for a month without getting somebody’s panties in a knot, you haven’t said anything.

    2. As to, “The Best and the Brightest” . . . . . . we aren’t.

  • avatar
    David Walton

    More Avooidable Contact, please.

  • avatar
    Lemmiwinks

    Loving everything about it. This place was leaving a bad taste in my mouth for quite some time. Jack, you stay right where you are… those who don’t seek power are often the best ones to handle it.

    Four more years! Four more years!

  • avatar
    Speed3

    I think things have improved for the better. Keep it up. Push yourselves to be better, write better, etc.

    Also, I think it would be a great time for a website update. Maybe you can show Cadillac how to refresh a logo! ;-)

  • avatar
    Acd

    I’m not looking forward to the day when a new editor takes over for you Jack. In the meantime keep it lively, piss a few people off every now and then but stay true to the guiding principles you laid out. I miss some of the industry news and insight that Herr Departed Editor provided but I’m sure someone will step in to help fill that role too. Keep up the good work.

  • avatar
    scottcom36

    TTAC is doing great!
    One thing, as to accountability, what’s this TTAC Staff business in the bylines?

    • 0 avatar

      Jack and Derek have explained a couple of times that the two of them are ultimately responsible for the site’s content. You brought up accountability. I’m pretty sure that this post and Jack and Derek’s comments herein demonstrate that the site is accountable to our readers.

      I’m not privy to all of the inner workings of this site but it seems to me that the TTAC Staff news blog posts are exactly that, news, without opinion or comment, and they seem to be posted to keep readers informed and to spark their own comments, not to be a soapbox for TTAC writers. Again, as Jack and Derek have explained, the TTAC Staff posts are written by more than one contributor. As it’s been explained to me it’s a genuine group effort. I write for the site, and I don’t even know who has contributed particular TTAC Staff posts.

      As others have noted, comments in general are up, on editorials and news blog posts, so the format seems to be working. You yourself say that TTAC is doing great. Thanks for your encouragement, your comments and your continued readership.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        For what it’s worth, we’re also trying to do more collaborative things and put more hands in the pot on stuff. There’s much more cross-editing going on. So not everything can be fairly said to be from one person.

        Any time there’s a problem with a “TTAC Staff” article, I am the person responsible and you are encouraged to take it up with me or Derek.

        • 0 avatar
          scottcom36

          Thanks for the replies. I hung on through the Bertel days because of several writers I enjoy (including the two of you), but I’m now enjoying my time here much more.

  • avatar
    mikey

    My time here dates back to Farago’s earliest days. I watched the gradual decline of TTAC. Young Ed N. tried his best, but couldn’t stop the downhill slide. Enough has been said about B.S. so I won’t go there. It sure looked to me, like TTAC was circling the drain.

    Without a doubt, Jack and Derek saved TTAC.

    These days, due to time restraints, I read more, and comment less. What I’m seeing now at TTAC seems much more fair, and balanced.

    Keep it up guys…. Oh! and BTW, the comment section works good. Its not broke,so lets not fix it.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Keep kissing Steven Lang’s butt until he comes back. Keep Ronnie around for his factual righting. It can be sublime. Derek has flourished since Bertel left. In my mind, that shows Bertel hated most of us and tried his best to downgrade poor Derek. I haven’t found my stride with the new guys. May Murilee have nothing but warm sunny days for junkyard exploring. May Sajeev get some drafting tools from a defunct French car company like Delahaye (sic). Jack, anyone that owns custom made Allen-Edmonds shoes is a Magnificent Bastard in my book. Your writing is just icing on the cake; or ice in a drink; depends on your tastes.

    • 0 avatar

      El Scotto,

      Thank you for the kind words, but Bertel’s patient mentorship is what has allowed me to flourish.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I knew you weren’t afraid of constructive criticism, even that skewing towards snarkily dispensed criticism when it didn’t have to be, when you didn’t throw hissy fits & take personal umbrage when I and others challenged some of your presuppositions & a few of your cliche conclusions in the past.

        The “game changer” Ford Fusion essay, which was one of your first, and provoked textbook baptism by fire from the B&B, was proof alone that you don’t have a glass jaw.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Not a long time reader. Did Bertel get all cranky and into Japanese bondage after he left Charlottesville, VA?

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Best part is the “Welcome Mat” is always out to everyone and it’s not just lip service you genuinely feel it here. The comments section could use some tweaking, but as is, goes with the welcome mat in that it’s very fair to all who comment.

    Please be careful not to pander to the lowest denominator just to get clicks. Sometimes it’s obvious and kind of awkward because it’s so beneath the writers here… We can get a good flame going on our own without any poking the bear by the staff

    Please keep up the good work, it’s appreciated

  • avatar
    Zekele Ibo

    I’m a regular reader but mostly a lurker, I’m very happy overall with the changes. Under the previous management there was always the risk of cringing in embarrassment when clicking a link, despite plenty of good articles. This doesn’t happen now, the quality is consistent and consistently good.

    I will read anything signed Jack Baruth, even if I (sometimes vehemently!) disagree with some of his positions! The recent article about the texting-and-driving studies was an example of this, the discussion was excellent and ad-hominem attacks were minimal (and it goaded this lurker into participating, which I assume is the aim). As for the blue brake-fluid one, I didn’t see much of a problem, the use of hyperbole was obvious and perfectly acceptable. Keep up the good work!

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    Keep up the good work. I’d love to see more stuff from Murilee. I have a heart for the vintage project cars and I can’t really relate with the “Took the Porsche to the dealer again” guy. Not trying to knock him, he has his place and the writing is great, just not my style.

    If you need somebody to fill in the blanks, I have a small fleet of cars, a college degree in car stuff (the real title is too boring and formal) and work as a professional (or so they say) heavy truck/diesel technician. I even make enough money I’d do it all for free, or even out of my own pocket. God knows you probably don;t pay anyways.

    I once had a college English professor say that I should do journalism. But the kids at the university paper were a bunch of idiots, and he did a lot of drugs when he was younger (a few years before he came to teach). So it never happened.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    I think you guys are doing great.

    Participation is up and more contributors are posting comments “telling it like it is” without fear of being axed, shunned or banned.

    I’m not much for fiction because there is such a rich demographic of commentors on ttac with an enormously wide range of experiences who can regale us with factual, real-life experiences pertinent to the topic and thread at hand.

    While I’m not opposed to fiction, I truly enjoy reading about other peoples’ individual experiences that further illuminate an article or topic.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    For perfection, the trolls comments could be moved to the bottom of the comments list… That way we can still giggle at them without the ugly “banning”.
    Keep up the great work :-)

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Except that I really haven’t seen that much troll-baiting going on!! Very calm and civil discussion! (Spirited discussion is fine, if everyone walks away with respect for the others. I’ve seen this with few, if any exceptions!)

      Both of you keep it up! This site’s a great ride once again!

  • avatar
    DJTragicMike

    dupe

  • avatar
    DJTragicMike

    I think the site is much improved… Thanks for jumping in, Jack.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Bertel was brilliant but at heart a sniggering adolescent. I’d still gladly put up with that for his unique access to Asian developments.

    New management is earnest.

  • avatar
    bills79jeep

    I’m just glad to be back. I haven’t visited in over a month – since the ‘incident.’ I decided to check in this morning to see if Bertel was the only one left, and was pleasantly surprised to find TTAC alive and well. You’ve got at least one daily visitor back.

  • avatar
    mdensch

    I can’t tell you how glad I am to see these changes. I scratched TTAC from my bookmarks menu months ago because I couldn’t stomach the previous editorial stances, policies and arrogant attitude. I am also glad that the best writer TTAC ever had is now at the helm. Looking forward to having TTAC be a part of my day again.

  • avatar
    old fart

    Seems pretty peaceful now and while the fiction was a little harder for me to adjust to , I’m glad your limiting it to a certain time . Never stop with the nitty gritty of the industry , I like to hear them called out on their failures and praised only if they are actually doing good. I would always leave myself signed in but it stills slows down the the page loading , if that could be fixed I would be grateful, but will still try and read every day (signed out) no matter what. One other little nit picky thing, could you add a button to just see replies to my
    comments ?

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    Authors seem to be responding to comments more, which is great for feeling connected and feeling like the post wasn’t just a page click ploy.

  • avatar
    wmba

    I suppose it is churlish to criticize free content, but you have asked.

    I find TTAC’s “edge” to have almost completely disappeared. There is no “point-of-view” anymore, no overall theme. Such themes are usually due to a founder who either has an axe to grind, or invents an issue and presents it as his/her axe to grind while professing it as their true opinion. I mean, who knows what motivation Farago had when he started this site. In any case, his fervor drew me in back in 2005 and kept me here, whatever, or in spite of, his motives.

    The shake up that gave us Ed Niedermeyer as EIC led me to puzzle over an interesting conundrum. On the one hand, he presided over a very good industry reportage of industry developments in what I considered an even-handed manner, while leaning towards a more and more right-wing outlook in his editorials that surprised me.

    It was always a tenet and even an observation of my upbringing that young people tend to be more leftist in outlook than the older folk, who get scared that someone will come along and take away what they have earned to distribute it more equally to the downtrodden masses. Ed was already in this latter mode at age 23, so the fact that he left TTAC to support some Republican or another for election was not too surprising. But disappointing in that he apparently did not understand the jottings of Pch101 regarding the GM bankruptcy and chose to repeat mistruths in his editorial on this site earlier this year, by which time said Pch101 had been handily banned by the next EIC Bertel Schmitt in February.

    I’ve been around a long time. Brought up in the UK until age 12, then transplanted to Canada by my parents. That was 1959 and I was already a car nut. In 1969 I was lucky enough to obtain a postgraduate scholarship back in the UK for 5 years. It gives one a perspective that few are privileged to have. In particular, having been subjected to the US point of view while growing up in Canada due to the latter’s enfeebled press, a more balanced view of the way the world works was presented to me.

    With regard to cars, compare CAR magazine of 1970 to Car&Driver, and CAR was miles ahead. C/D eventually employed LJK Setright, recognizing superb and original thought when it read it. The pickup drivers of Texas and general American readers with abridged verbal skills viewed Setright’s writings with suspicion, assuming that anyone using big words was taking the mickey out of them. Perhaps he was, but being dumb and brainwashed and happy to be that way, they deserved it.

    To return to TTAC, when Schmitt took over, industry reportage got even better, particularly with regard to China and Japan automotive news. There are articles he wrote for TTAC quite unmatched by anyone else on the Internet or in print.

    He also tackled in his own strange way the equally strange way Americans tend to view the world, regardless of their political stripe. Patriotic to the core, I find Americans view on the world to be quite unhelpful. They seem to feel everyone wants to be like them regardless of protestations to the contrary. What self-evident truths are to Americans are far from self-evident to others. In other words, they value being left alone to develop their own societies.

    Schmitt in his own way tried to educate US readers of this blog about certain truths, which was bound to fail. US import duties on cars 2.5%, Japan zero. Howls of outrage from readers unable to process such thoughts, because, well, just because the only important view is the American one, right or wrong, generally the latter from my perspective. Xenophobia reigns supreme.

    In any case, hounded from all sides, Schmitt’s Germanic upbringing and dictatorial style led to his downfall, not because he was necessarily wrong, but because the majority of his readers wanted the right to hold incorrect views; i.e. to be American and never to hear or mull over criticism of their treasured rights.

    So you, I presume, Mr Baruth, engineered the removal of Schmitt and “returned” TTAC to its readers by persuading the site’s capitalist owners that in doing so they might rake in a little more dough. A list of what TTAC would concentrate on was presented (and almost immediately dumped). As I said at the time, I expected TTAC’s content to become more parochial and insular, and to my satisfaction so it has proved from my perspective. I now skip over many stories much as I skipped over many of Schmitt’s last few entries as he slowly circled the drain, but for different reasons of course. His protestations were becoming a bit too much, current entries lack passion and read more like rewrites of standard stories with little interpretation and background insider views. Pablum. No wonder the comments are “quiet” though multitudinous, the slipper and pipes brigade can settle down to almost no controversy bar rampant poor editing, missing words and a docile take on tested cars, which C/D handily trumps let alone Consumer Reports.

    Reading someone or other’s take on rented cars is of little interest to me, although I do find Baruth’s takes entertaining – I fear that like me, however, he has not met a car he really dislikes because every four-wheeled chariot has some set of redeeming virtues. Walton’s take on Porsches I find wholly uninteresting, and Dykes’ car reviews are bland and seem designed to garner further cars for review and test.

    Certainly the spirit of Farago is missing, but that’s not a new thing. TTAC has become just a general blog about this and automotive that for a non-discerning readership. Hard hitting articles on such things as brake fluid are, I suppose specialist rants.

    It’s probably impossible to remain cutting-edge for ever, so I suppose I should wish you well in your endeavors. Go forth and profit.

    Meanwhile, I see Schmitt and Niedermeyer are starting their own new site today. That’ll probably be fun to read and make my blood boil in righteous indignation as I vehemently disagree on some point or interpretation! I’ve already congratulated them on starting the site up dailykanban.com.

  • avatar
    The Heisenberg Cartel

    Like the above commenter said, the “edge” (anger) has disappeared, but personally, I don’t care. The quality has gone WAY up, the “TTAC Staff” news is a good addition, and the new authors (especially Bark M) are very enjoyable to read. I wouldn’t do it any differently.

    Suggestions for the future: Lincoln Death Watch!

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    late to the party here…much better now!! I’d still like a section for reader rides or such, and posting photos would be awesome

  • avatar
    Morea

    Planless and mindless
    Scraps from anywhere
    Bunch of used parts
    From garbage pails everywhere
    Frankenstein became a monster
    Just like you
    Your scars only show
    When someone talks to you

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    I don’t miss Bertel as editor — I like how things are somehow both more chaotic but more civil right now, and I feel like everyone’s voices seem more distinctive than before, whether that’s intentional or a side-effect I can’t say.

    However, I _do_ miss Bertel’s more factually-oriented and insider-type articles and would like to find this void filled as I doubt he would care to return or be welcomed back as a contributor.


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Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India