Welcome to ChicagoNow 2.0

Two years ago, we launched this experiment with a handful of blogs not knowing quite what to expect or what the response would be.

In that time, we’ve had nearly 100,000 posts from our bloggers read tens of millions of times and our readers have written a half million comments. As of today we’ve got hundreds of Chicagoans blogging about sports, fitness, food, sex, politics and tens of thousands of regular users.

So today we’re launching a new site that we believe will give us more room to grow and make it easier for you to enjoy your favorite blogs and (hopefully) find some new ones.

Basically, we’ve outgrown our first home. For the techies among you, our first home was hosted on Movable Type and built by developer extraordinaire Byrne Reese. Our new home is built on top of the best-in-class blog platform WordPress and was developed exclusively by our internal staff, namely Ryan Mark and Ryan Nagle (you can call them the Ryan’s).

Why WordPress? It’s becoming more and more of a web standard, and we felt we could offer our bloggers the best blogging tools the web has to offer while allowing us take advantage of all the great work going on every day in the WordPress development community.

Here are a few improvements that you’ll notice immediately:

• You can now log in using your Facebook account.
• ChicagoNow is now much more mobile friendly and far easier to read on an iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, etc.
• Comments can be published directly to Facebook.
• Our blog search will now suggest blogs to match your query.
• Blog categorization is vastly improved.
• New bloggers can have a blog up and running much more quickly than before (once you make your pitch to us)
• Blogs show related posts from bloggers writing on similar topics.
• The design is more attractive and less cluttered.

Throughout the summer we’re going to be adding more features for our readers, including the ability for you to “follow” your favorite blogs and also contribute your own blog posts.

One immediate difference you’ll notice is we’ve eliminated user profiles, and with them user pics. Not to worry, we’ll have those back soon and in the meantime you can add a user pic by logging in through Facebook or by going to gravatar.com and uploading an image that will sync up with the email address associated with your ChicagoNow account.

This is an exciting time here at ChicagoNow, for our staff and our bloggers. We hope it will be for you as well. In the meantime we hope you’ll sign up for an account (if you don’t already have one) read some new blogs, write some comments to the bloggers and start making your voice heard!

And please let us know what you think about the new site by sending us feedback at staff@chicagonow.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

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  • This log on works, but it appears that the ones on the posts don't. Clicking the Login button gets an "I don't understand" screen.

    This looks pretty good, but the individual blogs themselves look like they need a style sheet.

  • I now get it; the old bookmarks are only to the old stuff, even though it looks different, but one has to use the browse or find to find the new sites, which do not have /blog/ in the urls.

    However, it looks like Peter Bella's Middle Class Guy did not move over.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, the old bookmarks are in the process of being redirected over. That'll happen shortly.

    The great Peter Bella changed his blog name, he's now "500 Words" and can be found here: http://www.chicagonow.com/the-middle-class-guy

  • In reply to ChicagoNow Staff:

    But the latest thing there is May 18, 2011, which means that all his "fomenting" about the Blago trial is gone.

  • Ahhhh, spreading my legs in the new pad.

    Feels different and awkward. Like your ex-girlfriend introducing you to her new hot roommate. Sure, it'll be tricky at first, but sooner or later, you're going to have to make moves on the new roommate. You're going to have to show her what being a man is all about. Why? Because she's hot as hell and she's single and she was wants you, just like this sleek new site.

  • In reply to gwill:

    @gwill And that's good.... right?

  • In reply to ChicagoNow Staff:

    @ChicagoNow Staff

    Yes, that's good.

  • I liked the move to Wordpress, but I think the side bar is overcrowded. Reduce the with of the sidebar and I would be pretty satisfied too.

  • I'll throw in three, that other people and I have noted on other pages:

    1. Running the comments in reverse chronological order makes no sense. To make sense of the replies or flow of the thread, one has to read from bottom up.

    2. Sometimes, clicking the "Comment" button does not result in the post appearing. Then, if a commenter reposts, both show up. Or maybe the first one still doesn't.

    3. There still is not a preview frame, for at least the purpose of checking out link tags.

    2 and 3 are going to result in a lot of duplicate posts. Also, I see you transferred spam from the old system.

  • my kingdom for a "recent comments" code snippet for the sidebar to go along with all the FB and twitter stuff, a way to make it so that readers don't have to click and see the post to get the links to whatever i'm showing to them, and an option for unregistered comments (my readers love to comment but don't want to risk losing their jobs)

    alexander / district299

  • The sidebar is HUGE! We come here to read the blogs. It is one thing to advertize the other blogs and quite another to take up half the page. Please devote the majority of screen real estate to what the readers came to see.

  • From a commenters perspective, the blogs of ChicagoNow are the worst blogs on the internet. I challenge anyone to find an inferior WordPress blog. The prize is a $25 gift card at Best Buy (I will email the card code).

    Please keep in mind that:
    1.ChicagoNow blogs have no comment preview window.

    2.ChicagoNow blogs have no comment editing feature.

    3.ChicagoNow blogs have no comment formatting buttons.

    4.ChicagoNow blogs do have the ability to render html text formatting, but the feature is limited and supremely buggy. One mistake (an unclosed italic, for example) and the comment section breaks. Replies south of the mistake will no longer work. Clicking the reply button will instead launch a message box that displays the words "Checking Account" above an animated progress wheel that never stops spinning.

    5.ChicagoNow comments have no embedded urls and thus can't be referenced by hyperlink. For some reason, only replies have embedded urls, but they link to the mother comment, not the reply.

    6.ChicagoNow comments are nearly impossible to track beyond the 5 comments listed in the recent comment sidebar. Unlisted new comments are not marked new. To find them, you have to search the time-stamps. But the time-stamps are in a very unusual format that makes them impossible to search via the find function of a browser. You have to scroll down and search the time-stamps by eye. But the faint grey font used in the time-stamps makes that extremely difficult to do.

    7.ChicagoNow limits reply-chains to 6. Replies after that have no reply button, this despite the fact the the space to the right of the comment column is oddly infinite. See for yourself - open a comment box and hold a key down for a minute. The repeating character will extend past the comment window, across the screen and beyond, causing a horizontal scroll bar to appear at the bottom of your browser. I would do it to prove it, but I know this comment will go to moderation and I don't want to give anybody an excuse not to post it (not that they'll post it).

    8.ChicagoNow is HEAVY. I won't list all the external junk it loads. Download Ghostery and NoScript FireFox extensions and see for yourself. Few sites light-up Ghostery and NoScript like CN.

    9.ChicagoNow apparently sells its commenters to Google. I can't prove that, but I find it odd that commenting is impossible when Google.com is blocked.

    10.ChicagoNow displays improperly when comments grow past a hundred in number. I cannot verify that this is true with every browser/OS
    combo, but on a PC running XP or Linux and FireFox, the background
    image and comment column fractures and doubles when scrolling.

    There are other issues, but that's enough. You will not find a WordPress blog with more. Post a link if you think you have.

  • In reply to Crunch Buttsteak:

    This reply was posted in order to create a link to the above comment.

  • fb_avatar

    It's true. Can this be better? Your best bloggers are held back by the commentators ability to discuss the bloggers well thought out and well written topics. You beg for passion from your writers, and you receive it, but then you leave the commentators hanging in the wind with a vastly inferior interface.

    I've been reading DaBearsBlog for about 6 years, and it is so much harder to be a part of it's community ever since it's been on ChicagoNow.

  • I agree with the posts above discussing the absolute inadequacy of the comment section. Our favorite blogger on here commonly has posts that approach or surpass the 500+ mark in responses because he has fostered an active and tightly knit community around his posts.
    However, I think I speak for many, if not most, when I say that ChicagoNow's failure to address long-standing problems is driving us all batty. Those of us who have followed this blogger would follow him anywhere, and take our eyeballs with us.

  • You know, this site was also upgraded over eight months ago and I've seen zero improvement in its layout or functionality since then, despite the promises to address user profiles and pictures.
    How hard can that be?

  • In reply to MikeBrownhadaPosse:

    Or even to take advantage of the screen real estate? I mean, over half of the screen space is blank so it's not like it's even being used for ad space.

  • The links from my email to the blog are usually never right, and I'm frustrated to find I can't read the article I'm looking for. That has happened three times today, in fact. AND, I can't seem to search by article, only blog category. Doesn't help if I don't know who authored the article I want to read, or which category it's under.

  • I am looking forward to blogging with the six brown chick. Ladies you will work it out for our young sisters. I would like you ladies to collaborate with tyra Bank.

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