Being Transparent

By Bay Posted Sunday Sep 18, 2022

Filed under: Epilogue 60 comments

Some of you have noticed the issues with the site. The weird-colored user backdrops (or in Peter’s case, complete transparency.), the sticky post that blocks people from seeing the new content, and even before Dad died; the lack of updates to WordPress. 

There are a lot of issues and reasons here, but I don’t feel confident making decisions on how it’s handled entirely on my own, or at least without talking about it first. So, let’s do that…

It should come as a shock to no one that digging around in the backend of the site is what you might imagine trying to find something in the workshop of an old genius inventor might be like; a mess only they understand. It’s a mixture of coding languages, backdoors, and organization systems only he knew how to traverse, and by the time he died, even he didn’t know it very well. I swear this site was like the labyrinth built by Daedalus in Greek mythology. The creator knew how to traverse it, but only using special tricks, and even he could get lost if he stepped wrong. 

I keep finding myself wanting to call him, ask him what he was doing, why is this set up in this way? How do I change XYZ? How do I change XYZ, but now without breaking it? It took me a week to figure out how he was adding headers to posts alone, let alone fixing many of the bigger issues that have sprung up. It’s hard, trying to fix things when the mind with all the information was there, and now it…just, isn’t. I can’t call him, I can’t ask, and hell, even he himself couldn’t actually update the site, even if he’d wanted to. 

He hated WordPress with a passion, he only used it because other web hosts literally didn’t have enough space to hold up his colossal content hoard. This was the only place he could go and still continue to grow his library, without spending an arm and a leg. His hatred of the medium is clear in how he used it. He was a stubborn guy, and if he was going to use it, by god he was going to bastardize it as best he could and force the stupid program to do what he wanted his way. He hated HTML, so he’s avoided using it in many places, using so much exterior code that the site can’t be updated because all of his old posts would break immediately. Old headers, footnotes, text; he used special code to make this site exactly how he wanted it, and now it has no forward compatibility.  

The last time he updated WordPress was a two-week ordeal, with him doing it, the man who actually wrote the code. Plugins don’t work, themes don’t work, I still don’t know why I’m purple, Mom is white, and Peter is entirely transparent. Whatever you’re picturing it looks like over here, make it ten times worse. 

This is why we haven’t gotten in touch with any of the lovely people who have offered to help with the site. For one thing, I suspect no one really knows what they are offering, and it feels unethical to go ‘Great! Thanks!’ and hand anyone this mess. But for another, I don’t really know what can be done at this point. It’s not that it isn’t doable, but that it’s such a deeply overwhelming task, I’d much rather talk about video games and avoid it for the foreseeable future. Which is, admittedly what he was doing. I feel ya, man.   

I’ve been agonizing over what to do. Maybe one of you with more knowledge than me and years of experience in both coding and archeology will be sitting there going ‘Oh, silly Bay, it’s so simple!’ but for one thing, don’t put it that way, who does that? That’s so condescending. And, for another, it’s probably not as simple as you’re imagining.

Don’t get the wrong idea, I am coming at this from some rudimentary coding experience, and my mom used to design WordPress sites for a living. This is not a group of hapless non-savvy people going ‘uhhhhh code no work’. Even Dad didn’t know how to make the site work going forward, he just continually knew how to bodge it together with little problems that arose, so never felt the need to do a full overhaul. 

So we have a big question coming up here. 

Does the community care if the site upgrades and looks different? How much?

The easiest solution to this problem is to put a fresh install, locking away his old content with archives. His old posts could remain untouched by the new code, but this place is going to have to change. The old content couldn’t be commented on anymore, which is a pretty disappointing downside, but we might be able to work around it with a forum or other place to talk about those old posts. The other downside is purely visual; the new stuff is going to look different. We could get it close with themes and plugins, but some things are going to change like it or not. And we need to ask ourselves if keeping everything the same is the goal.

Is the goal to try and get the new stuff to look as visually similar as possible? Or are we okay moving on, taking on a more modern look, or the design of the new generation of creators?   

It’s the time-old question of ‘keep everything the same, or move with the times’. Whole countries have experienced this growing pain, it’s just replaying here in this little biome. I suspect a little of both will happen. Most of the time the answer to things isn’t in absolutes. But, as one of the new creators, that decision doesn’t feel mine to make either way. It would feel biased to overhaul everything to fit my own ‘vibe'Not that I would do that anyway, there’s a balance here.. But it would feel stuck and claustrophobic to exclusively hold myself to keeping everything exactly the same, especially if that idea is self-inflicted, and not what the community actually wants.  

Whatever happens, it’s going to take a while. I’m the only member of my family not working full-time, and my personal coding skill is limited. I have help, but it’s at the mercy of a work schedule, so things are going to take a bit to settle.  I appreciate people’s patience while we try to wrestle with all this. I know the site is confusing and a bit of a mess right now. We’re trying, I swear.



[1] Not that I would do that anyway, there’s a balance here.

From The Archives:

60 thoughts on “Being Transparent

  1. CrushU says:

    I would say that it’s absolutely okay to change the visuals of the site up as much as you need. The important thing, imho, is ease of maintenance, as long as you can do everything with it that you want to do.

    I don’t think keeping the ability to comment on old posts is very important.
    I do think it would be ‘nice to have’ the old posts stay the way they are, but it’s not required. If they have to change, so be it.

    I think changing in general would be a nice thing; to very sharply delineate ‘old site’ from ‘Bay site’

  2. Gargamel Le Noir says:

    Yeah at this point archiving the old stuff and using a new fresh format seems like the rational decision. I can’t imagine that anyone here would object.

    1. Zaxares says:

      I concur. While it’d be nice to try and emulate the same “feel” of Twenty-Sided going forward, that’s a secondary concern compared to a) keeping the site going, and b) making the old content still accessible. Probably the best solution is to archive the old stuff (and perhaps find some workaround for people to comment on the old stuff, although I would be OK with also just locking down the old pages so they remain as-in forever, and people wanting to comment on old stuff can do so in a forum or wiki or something), and then build a new framework/platform for the newer content that’s easier and less time-consuming to manage and update.

  3. ColeusRattus says:

    I’d also go for a fresh, clean install, with an archive that’s set up in a way so it doesn’t break images, subtitles or annotations. I don’t think not being able to comment on old stuff is much of an issue!

    Also, thank you, Bae, Peter and Heather, for giving me a reason to still having twenty sided as my number one spot on my chrome main page!

  4. BlueHorus says:

    Change what you need to; I can imagine it being a nightmare to try and work out Shamus’ old systems. I’m here for the articles, not necessarily the structure of the website.

    It also looks like a lot of image files on the site aren’t displaying properly…I assume this is part of the problem? Some setting that broke?

  5. Pester says:

    For what it’s worth, the background colors are set in the site’s stylesheet: style.css
    Each article has a class name of the author, and some look a bit outdated.
    This one (with apologies) is
    .rachel { background-color: rgba(255, 224, 255, 0.85);}

    I don’t see a class for Peter (so, no color at all), but I also don’t see an article to see how it would be tagged.

    I probably only know this because I have some similar cranky “just get it done” workarounds as Shamus did.

  6. Syal says:

    I would assume comments on the old articles will almost all be spam anyway. Change what needs changing.

    This is why we haven’t gotten in touch with any of the lovely people who have offered to help with the site.

    As long as you have a backup so they can’t just delete the whole site, you don’t really have anything to lose by letting people take a look. Worst case, you end up where you started, but if one person understands one trick, the whole task becomes permanently simpler.

  7. Daimbert says:

    Being able to add new comments to the old posts isn’t an issue, but being able to READ the comments on the old posts would be, since there are some great conversations there.

    The keys, to me, are these:

    1) Being able to easily find and read Shamus’ old posts without breaking them.

    2) Being able to add new content easily and in a sensible, easy-to-find way without them being broken.

    3) Being able to keep the two somewhat linked so that people reading the old content can easily hop to the new content and vice versa.

    It sounds like the fresh install will achieve 1) and 2), and likely will provide a way for 3), so it sounds like the best option.

  8. Legendary Teeth says:

    If you do set up a new site and archive the old one, please ensure either the old rss link ontinues to work, or there is a final post on the old site pointing to the new one.

    I don’t care either way. I’m sure the latter is easier, but I’m also sure some people will get left behind if they have to make the jump

  9. Fizban says:

    Agreed with the others: a semi-split where new stuff is easy (but hopefully keeps what style can be kept) and the old stuff is mothballed so it stays the way it was is best.

    I don’t think there were many new comments on particularly old stuff- I think Shamus did mention there would be one on occasion, but not whole new conversations. A forum could have an entire sub-forum that was just a thread for every previous post for new comments, or for less overhead let it start empty and fill on demand but only allow one thread per old article, effectively turning those into new comment sections.

  10. Adam says:

    Sounds good to me. Somehow if feels appropriate to archive the old site alongside Shamus and have a new generation pick up a new version and a new style. My desktop PC runs Windows 7 skinned to look like Windows 95; it works for me, but it’s an abomination and I wouldn’t want to inflict it on my children!

    I assume this would end up something like the current WordPress monster sits on with its own software, database etc essentially set to read-only and placed at the bottom of a locked filing cabinet with a sign on the door saying “Here Be Dragons”.
    And then is pointing to a separate fresh and clean install, which is manageable and maintainable and understandable.

  11. Dave Rolsky says:

    I think a new format for just new posts or for all posts is fine. The most important thing is not breaking the old URLs so that any links in the wild continue to work (though redirects are fine).

  12. Philadelphus says:

    I feel like I’m being apologized to that my food’s taking a long time to come because an elephant walked through the wall and is rummaging around in the kitchen. Like, it’s cool, I get it, take your time. As someone who codes for a living, I can empathize with the difficulties involved in trying to untangle someone else’s code, even when they were deliberately trying to keep it clear. (Spent three days this week doing just that…) To second some comments above, feel free to make whatever changes you need/want to on the back end to make things easier on yourselves, and we’ll adjust to any unavoidable changes on the front end. I would say that, while there may be no great time to make such a change, it might at least not be a bad time to establish a revamped visual identity for the site going forward.

  13. Teddy says:

    As a longtime reader who’s been aware all of Shamus’s headaches with the site layout and everything, I’ll go ahead and say I don’t think it’d be unreasonable to scrap everything and start fresh. I don’t even need Shamus’s old posts to keep working, vis-a vis the images and footnotes and whatnot; as long as I can read the text and follow the content chains (part 1 to part 2 and so on), I’m happy.

    I didn’t really expect everything to remain intact even when Shamus was running the show, I figured some update in a couple years was gonna burn a lot of the old stuff anyway.

    Maybe a crazy idea, but have you considered publishing his old posts in an ebook? I’m sure it’d be a headache given a lot of the formatting issues, but a lot of his old content would make great chapters in a posthumous pseudo-memoir, and if you include all of his most-visited content there, it wouldn’t be as painful losing access to it here.

  14. Richard says:

    “His old posts could remain untouched by the new code, but this place is going to have to change.” Great if that’s the easiest solution, because it also sounds like an elegant one to me. And like others, I also feel that, while the look of the site is distinctive and charming, in the end the content itself is what’s key.

  15. Lino says:

    I love the current design. It’s part of what makes this site stand out among the myriad of samey WordPress websites, bathed in white space and mediocrity.

    The background that changes every day harkens back to a time when every site tried to stand out by being as unique as possible. And as an added benefit it highlights your dad’s eclectic taste.

    And commenting on old articles is also something I love to see – new readers discovering your dad’s work, or just old timers “putting a flower” on what drew them to this community in the first place…

    But then again, the website is yours now and you can do whatever you want with it.

  16. Steve C says:

    The old content couldn’t be commented on anymore, which is a pretty disappointing downside, but we might be able to work around it with a forum or other place to talk about those old posts.

    The workaround I would suggest for comments is to have old comments be part of the archive. Static and unable to be added to. Then have a separate section at the bottom that allows new comments using the brand new system. So that each old blog post consists of: 1)static original blog post, 2)static historical comments and 3)dynamic comment system for new comments. It can even be completely different software used between new and old posts– both blog and comments.

    Shamus had his spaghetti code set up so that he could make changes and still have a hope of those changes be backward compatible. I understood the desire, but I never understood why he wouldn’t accept that it was fine to leave the old stuff ‘as is’ going forward. He wanted the entire blog to be concurrent with itself. I never thought it was a good idea once it became such a hassle. Hard pinch off the old stuff, keep it, and have it publicly accessible at the old links. But go forward with something new that meets your needs. Software is a tool. A tool should do the task needed of it or it should be replaced. The codebase isn’t necessary to save the content.

    Hell, taking screenshots of everything and serving it as image files would be fine. That’s effectively how old books are scanned and turned into new documents that can be edited, formatted and changed. I’m not saying to do that. There’s much better options. I’m just saying that hobbling yourself to esoteric code, then approaching it from a code standpoint is not a winning strategy.

    Although now that I think of it, taking current snapshots of everything isn’t a bad idea. It would be sad if a future update or failed archiving attempt broke things in a way that you couldn’t see how a page looked in Aug 2022. If you have something that easily read and obvious to a human then there will always an option to rebuild it. If it’s code, then that option is guaranteed to be lost at some point. I’m sure in 10 years that an AI will be able to make a conversion from anything human legible to a new format. I don’t think the same if starting with code.

    1. MrGuy says:

      Speaking as someone who maintains a legacy blog, I’d recommend against putting any of the limited available effort into maintaining the ability to comment on legacy posts.

      Shamus’ audience is certainly different from mine, but I find a lot of comments on old posts (especially anything more than a few months old) are overwhelmingly bots/spam. Even with auto-moderation, there’s effort to confirm the posts are spam.

      And if there’s someone who’s legit a new reader to the Mass Effect retrospective, is there a big gain from letting them comment about Kai Leng? There’s no one else reading to have a dialogue with. At best, a voice crying in the wilderness. At worst, a new reader frustrated on why nobody’s responding to their awesome thoughts.

      I’d lock them and leave them be vs spend time right now on legacy post commenting.

  17. Tuck says:

    As someone with years of experience of coding and archaeology…good luck!

  18. Amanda says:

    I’m reminded of the infamous code comment

    Dear programmer: When I wrote this code, only God and I knew how it worked. Now, only God knows it!

    I think archiving the site in its current form and moving to a new backend makes perfect sense. The maintenence burden of keeping an old beast like that alive is rarely worth it.

  19. tmtvl says:

    Would the community care if the look of the site were to change? Well, yes because people always care when there is a change, but I can remember at least 2 of the major changes Shamus made to the site’s look and feel; so go ahead and do what you feel would be best.

  20. AndrzejSugier says:

    First off: your “Don’t say that’s, that’s condensanding” joke really cracked me up. It also sounded spookily like a joke Shamus would make. That’s nurture for ya’, I guess.

    As for the site – I think that in the long run, “encasing the old site in amber” so to speak is the only way forward. Even of you could maintain in as is for some time, AT SOME POINT it would become unmanageable and we would be at the same point only older and with less drive and time on our hands.

    I was one of the few weirdos who commented on the older stuff as I read it, but that was because Shamus often replied to those comments. If it was just an echochamber I wouldn’t bother and nothing of value would be lost.

  21. Olivier FAURE says:

    I don’t think giving the site a makeover would be unthinkable. This site certainly looks *very* different now than it did when I first read DM of The Rings. Just check the Internet Archive.

    That said, I think Shamus really struck gold with the current design, I really like the overall structure and color scheme, so I hope you end up with something relatively close.

    (Also: Heh, I get the joke. “Being transparent” as in “being clear about one’s motives”, but also Peter’s posts are transparent.)

  22. Bubble181 says:

    As most other commentators, I think the most important bits are:
    – Making updating/new posts practical for everyday use by you folks
    – Keeping the old content accessible and legible.

    Making a clean break and starting off with a more readable and accessible back end is probably a good idea; some of the special bits Shamus’ Frankenstein Code managed can hopefully be recreated with WP add-ons.

    After you have the new site/build working, though, I would suggest going back and doing some proper archiving on the old content; I recently had the pleasure of trying to get a website from around 2002 working again with all the content that was in there; HTML may not have changed much but it was still enough to make your head explode; every other line had some security issue or outdated reference or whatever. Leaving the old content as-is and just closing it off will more than likely mean half of it is no longer accessible in 10 years’ time. On the one hand , who in their right mind is going to want to read a game review from 2012 about a game from 2003 in 2032? On the other hand, who in their right mind would read a 700-page story tear-down of a 10 year old space RPG? Apparently us :-D So you never know.

  23. Alan says:

    It would be a shame to lose the “look”, but it would also be a shame to lose commenting (but there is something to be said for letting old conversions end). It would be an INCREDIBLE shame for the site to be compromised because updating it for a new security issue isn’t feasible.

    I think of the options, doing a static dump of the site might be the best option, then set up a new one for posts going forward. On the up side, I think a static dump should be a much easier problem, maybe even one that can be done entirely externally.

    I do want to say I’ve been enjoying your posts and I hope the family will continue posting so long as it’s what you want to do.

  24. MrGuy says:

    It sounds like there’s a lot of consensus that “new separate backend is fine, generally ok with the look and feel changing.”

    Assuming that is consensus, I’d like to propose a hopefully short list of things people would really like to keep if possible. My start below.

    Trying to keep this high-level and implementation agnostic (e.g. comment threading doesn’t have to mean how it works now, but some level of ability to reply to other commenters would be awesome). Also trying to separate the necessary from the merely desirable.

    Must haves:
    * Comments in some form
    * Main page in reverse chronological order
    * Works on desktop and mobile
    * Comment moderation of some form
    * Multiple author support
    * Direct links to posts

    Really important:
    * Comment threading
    * Post categories
    * In-line images in posts
    * Username/pseudonym of choice for commenters

    Nice if we can keep it:
    * Registrationless comments
    * In-line footnotes

  25. Kincajou says:

    I’m all for you giving the website your own feel!
    Go for it, I’ll stick around… Your writing is interesting

  26. Mephane says:

    To quote the great Sheev Palpatine: Dew it. Upgrade the thing.

  27. Ramsus says:

    I’d say do whatever works best for all of you. It’s not like this would be the first time the site has changed how it looks.
    Like others have commented, the ability to comment on the old posts is pretty low priority and is most likely to be used by bots more than actual people anyway.

  28. Sleeping Dragon says:

    I think I’ll echo most of the posts here. Honestly just do whatever is necessary going forward, functionality generally supersedes form for me, I’m here for the words (and some pictures I guess) and I want to have them readable. Yes, seeing the theme go or change will feel a little bit sad in the “the end of an era” thing but that’s what it is and it’s fine. At the end of the day the design of the site is not what keeps me coming here.

    As for archival content, how many new and actually relevant comments are the old posts even getting? I imagine every now and then someone discovered the site and went on an archive dive and maybe left a comment but realistically I think it’s fine to lock those posts particularly if they can be preserved, ideally with the existing comments and some search function for when we want to find what Shamus had to say about Little Lamplight.

  29. Whisky Tango Foxtrot says:

    If you can find a way to crawl through the old posts and comments and save them to whatever database the new site uses then that would be ideal, but if that’s not possible then having some kind of read-only archival subdomain would be an adequate substitute.

    I don’t think there’s any point in trying to continue to maintain an unworkable codebase for the sake of consistency, though. It’d be nice if some of the more unique aspects of this site’s design (such as the zoomed-in video game screenshots as post backgrounds) could carry over, but there’s no need to make everything exactly the same.

  30. RCN says:

    Trying to read the late Shamus’ mind to fix the site is complete folly, I think. Not even Shamus was sure what half his lines of code were for.

    If you find a way to upgrade the site to make it easier to maintain it, go for it. As long as you can keep the archives.

  31. P_johnston says:

    In terms of visuals… you do you. I personally don’t care what it looks like as long as I can read it.

    As for the old stuff as long as it’s archived that sounds like a fine idea. While I don’t doubt many people will end up rereading the old stuff occasionally, especially the big hitters, I do doubt anyone will still end up leaving comments. For me it would feel weird to leave a comment on an old post not knowing if it will get read the same day, a year from then, or never.

  32. Dreadjaws says:

    Honestly, the ability to keep commenting in old articles was kinda pointless even when Shamus was still around. He only really responded to those when they were the antagonistic sort (“How dare you not think Dark Souls is the best thing in the world?” and all that), but mostly they’d be ignored by him and the rest of the community. Of course I hope we don’t lose all the comments that already exist, but as long as the old articles are kept accessible I don’t think anyone is going to have an issue with how you decide to handle things in the future.

  33. Zagzag says:

    The site has changed plenty over the years, so it certainly seems fair that it continues to change as you update it for the future.

  34. Caska says:

    This is most likely my inexperience talking, but would it be possible to make the code open-source? That way, other genius inventors can view the code and make even better suggestions.

  35. Abnaxis says:

    I’m extremely wary of moving to any design described as “modern”. My understanding is slapping infinite scroll on everything like it’s Twitter is the new hotness, and hate that shit. Like, enough that I would probably just bounce off if you did it.

    1. Bay says:

      What I think I mean by that is actually planning it around readability. I have no idea what is ‘modern’ these days aesthetically, so I’d have no idea how to emulate it. My thoughts are trying to make it user-friendly (no infinite scroll, screw that noise). But, a weighted font, easily accessible categories, and intuitive navigation cross my mind as things that could be improved with ‘modern’ site widgets.

      1. evileeyore says:

        Step One: Understand you can’t please everyone.
        Step Two: Understand you can’t even really knew what the silent majority want, because a) they are silent and b) they don;t know till they see it (and hate it or love it).
        Step Three: Please yourself and your family. You’re the ones posting, you need to learn the one of the lessons that took your Father years to learn, but learn it faster: Write for yourself, make the site pleasing to those writing on it.

      2. Octal says:

        no infinite scroll

        You’re a person of good character and taste.

      3. Bubble181 says:

        There are many things to take into account, but if you’re going to start messing with fonts (I don’t mean “messing” in the negative), be careful and if possible try to supply multiple options. Going for a font that’s dyslexic-friendly is awesome and great, but there are people with other types of disability (such as some types of autism) that find many/most of the dyslexic-positive fonts to be nigh unreadable. I have yet to find one I can actually properly read, and there are sites where I just scrape the text and copy-paste in Notepad to avoid splitting headaches.
        Same goes for color schemes (red/green is the most common type of color blindness, but far from the only one), etc.
        What I’m saying is, try to avoid the typical pitfall of trying to be more inclusive to group A, thereby becoming less inclusive towards group B. There’ll always be compromises and choices, but sometimes a little thought and feedback from relevant groups can go a long way.

        1. Bay says:

          Oh geez, well that explains why I hate most dyslexic fonts, sigh, nothing is simple. I had no idea about that one. I know the pitfall well, and was geared up to try and avoid it, but jeez.

          I actually had a very frustrating conversation about that exact issue with a Wizards of the Coast writer at one point. I was complaining about the flowery language in the handbooks being exclusionary for many people with autism, and being disappointed about that. I was hoping for a rational conversation, but instead, she got locked up and defensive. ‘No! I have autistic friends that love the series!’, sigh, okay. I wasn’t saying the whole thing needed to be jettisoned, I was lamenting there wasn’t a plain-text version that gave things simply, for the group that has a hard time with it.

          I’ll do some research, if nothing else, there are exterior dyslexia-friendly font plugins I can simply make sure are compatible and accessible with the finished site, and go with a font that’s easier to read for everyone else. We’ll see, no harm in trying.

  36. Octal says:

    I don’t care very much about the visuals, myself. I actually rarely go to the main page; I use the rss to alert me to new posts, and click on them from there. So, for me, the rss continuing to work is a hundred times more important than literally anything you could do with the front page or the look of the site! (And the rss has been working fine, as far as I can see.)

    The easiest solution to this problem is to put a fresh install, locking away his old content with archives. His old posts could remain untouched by the new code, but this place is going to have to change.

    Sounds like a good solution, honestly. You’d hopefully get the best of both worlds: the older posts preserved, and not broken by new code–and a more maintainable website.

    Locking comments on the old posts is theoretically kind of a shame, but as others have mentioned, it’s not like there are really active conversations on posts from years ago, so I don’t think it’s much of a loss. And there’s the upside of not needing to do spam control on it all.

  37. RoJ says:

    I would like to put in a vote for the circle of us who are here for it, no matter what.
    Take your time.

  38. Mersadeon says:

    The easiest solution to this problem is to put a fresh install, locking away his old content with archives. His old posts could remain untouched by the new code, but this place is going to have to change. The old content couldn’t be commented on anymore, which is a pretty disappointing downside, but we might be able to work around it with a forum or other place to talk about those old posts.

    Honestly, I think this one is the ticket. As much as I imagine it hurts (or would’ve pained Shamus?) to no longer have comments even on old posts, it seems like the only way going forward to keep those posts intact at all without involving some sort of plea for help to a bigger community of coders who like a challenge and are up for a weird group-project – because I doubt anyone could do this alone if even the builder couldn’t.

    Is the goal to try and get the new stuff to look as visually similar as possible? Or are we okay moving on, taking on a more modern look, or the design of the new generation of creators?

    If you’re taking votes, I am fine with things changing. I like the idea of there still being some connection – people posting here that were influenced by Shamus personally seems like such a wonderful thing. But the old themes and visuals were for the old posts – I say you and whoever else will regularly make content here should customize the place to your liking.

    It’s like a house, I feel – sure, even if the basic structure stays the same, and even if you keep the old kitchen cupboard because you have fond memories of your grandparents using it a lot, most of the furniture will change between generations. And if the structure itself is no longer maintainable, well, take the cupboard, take the good furniture, take some keepsakes and move to a new house!

  39. Scerro says:

    Leave current version of site as it is, lock down comments so that spamming cannot happen.
    Create new site under new URL, have most recent blog post link to new site and/or pull in ONLY the most recent article

    Tips on the new site:
    This is a site to read. Make sure you can have 5-6 average size paragraphs on a 1080p monitor.

  40. Cannongerbil says:

    I’ll be honest, at this point I’m not entirely sure why you don’t just archive this site and put a link a new url, like, say, Young family thoughts or something where you post all the epilogue content, if it is that much of a pain to work with. Also, this blog was an insight into Shamus’ mind, and it sort of feels right that it should be left as a monument to it.

  41. Luka says:

    I am deeply humbled by the effort and thought you and the family are putting into the site and its community. As far as I am concerned, we are owed nothing. As long as the site is being run with sincerity and inspiration — and doing so feels cathartic and meaningful instead of obligatory — it will be a joy to engage with, no matter the aesthetic. The transparency of Twenty Sided has always been one of its best aspects and remains appreciated, now more than ever. Having not written here since Shamus’s passing, let me simply close by saying thank you for what you have contributed to the site so far, and I look forward to reading more from your perspective as long as you are willing to share it with us.

  42. William H says:

    You got to role with the changes.

  43. Crokus Younghand says:

    Will it be possible to pack up the website data and code in a zip file, and put it up for download through or a torrent? This way, anyone who wants to have a go at it can take their chances without bothering you, and you don’t need to feel guilty at their self-inflicted scars.

  44. General Karthos says:

    I think that as long as the archive is maintained, that would be great. I’m STILL sending people who haven’t heard of it to DM of the Rings all these years later, and to other favorite posts of mine (Computer Hardware is Toast, the first time Shamus asked for money, some of his online game logs, and some of his more critical rants against certain games.)

  45. rainbow121 says:

    No concerns from me about adjusting the look of things going forward, as long as there is some way to read old posts! Good luck, as a programmer I know how annoying working on old/difficult code can be

  46. skurples says:

    I notice that the site has already transitioned away from having new posts show up under the “Epilogue” heading to actually having them show up as new posts on the front page, pushing Shamus’ posts further down and away into the archives.

    I don’t imagine my opinion is a popular one, but since you ask, I feel as though it’s okay to offer it. I much preferred the idea of the site staying pretty much as Shamus had left it, with potential new content and posts being optional, opt-in, rather than the default. As such, the closest notion offered by others in the comments that mirrors my own is having the /twentysided endpoint exist as its creator left it, much to our shared chagrin, and then have something else live out of its own subfolder, growing like a new branch without growing leaves that end up casting shadows onto what went before.

    I appreciate your efforts to keep the site going by creating new content, without which, perhaps, web traffic to it will slow and eventually stop, and yet given any range of options, my topmost pick will always be to be able to visit the site and see it the last way Shamus saw it.

    Thank you for your attention.

  47. The Nick says:

    I thought I was going to lose out on content that made my day a little better.

    But seeing new content that was new but still very much exactly what I came here for is like a gift.

    Any changes that are done or have to be done to keep this going are fine with me, no matter how big the changes. I’ve been enjoying the Epiloguing and I’ll enjoy it even if the entire site changes. Whatever is easiest and provides the least friction in new posts is fine with me.

  48. Soldierhawk says:

    The only thing I’d really care about is making sure the old content isn’t lost–which, as you said, can be done via an archive. I don’t think anyone is going to be commenting on, or responding to comments, on three year old posts you know?

    I say as long as the old stuff is still accessible in some form or another, do whatever you have to do to make this work for you guys. I don’t think any of us are going to stress.

    1. Steve C says:

      The RSS feed shows people commenting on old posts now and then. For example this guy just responded to a 2016 post:

      1. SoldierHawk says:

        Sure–I suppose I was being a little overly sweeping. It’s not that no one, ever, will ever leave a comment on an old entry, but I feel like at that point you can’t necessarily expect engagement. If someone notices and does, cool, but if not…I mean, it was like 8 years ago. Y’know? You definitely don’t want to sacrifice ease of upkeep for the site for the few folks who do leave those comments.

  49. Aceus says:

    So long as the old content can be preserved (preferably, along with the comments, especially since those contain part of Shamus’s work and legacy as well), I am in favour of changing things. It sounds like a nightmare of a system to work through, and I’d like it for you and the others to have an easier, less stressful time in managing it. Even if that extends over to visuals. In a sense, it’s sort of like the dawn of a new era. There are arguments to be made for clearing the mess and innovating, as well as arguments for keeping the/some old as tribute in carrying on the torch. The compromises suggested sound promising, though part of me also shares the same sentiments as skurples.

    Do what you feel is necessary, and take whatever time you need.

  50. sga101 says:

    I’ve been visiting this site for years. It’s a great community with so many informed and civilised conversations. Content is fantastic too. It hit me hard when I read the news of Shamus’s passing, and I’m really glad to see the site is still going strong, whatever form it takes :)

  51. Sean Payne says:

    My concern from a web dev background would be if you didn’t upgrade the WP install, the entire site might one day be compromised by some script kiddy or bot looking for exploits that haven’t been patched in plugins. I’m sure Shamus probably had something in place to mitigate (possibly WordFence?), but it’s still a risk I’d be worried about.

    I’ve been a fond lurker of this site for a good long time and would like to see it continue. As such, I’ll echo the general sentiment that it would be better to keep the site going, even if it will mean a lot of necessary changes for manageability.

    Just a random thought too, if you’re planning to use a caching plugin to generate static copies of all the old content, I cross my fingers in the hope the bloody thing doesn’t crash trying to process the metric tonne of content on this site!

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