Half a year in… it seems like the diary’s been going a long time, but we’ve only just begun! Thanks to everyone who’s contributed annotations to the site — I’m sure I speak for many people when I say the diary has come alive thanks to the information and discussion posted over the past few months. Here are some statistics for you about the diary so far…
Yesterday I altered the way the fonts on the site are defined, and wondered if anyone would notice. Todd did, so I thought I’d mention it here in case anyone else wonders why something’s different. Most people shouldn’t notice much difference, a few should notice some improvement, especially on small text and with browsers set to display text smaller than usual. I’ve tested it on most browsers on Windows and Mac OS X, but let me know if you have any problems.
Unfortunately, some people don’t know when to shut up. I’ve decided to ban “Hhomeboy” from posting on this site. I’m reluctant to do so, especially as he obviously has a great deal of knowledge to contribute. He has refused to restrict his relentless pomposity and snarkiness masquerading as advice. I’ve lost count of the number of people who’ve asked me to ban him before now and so I hope this doesn’t seem overly vindictive or authoritarian. He’ll no doubt take this as more “evidence” of my inability to take criticism, something that I hope will be news to all those whose welcome comments have benefited the site.
I’d just like to remind people to be careful with their annotations. Recently there have been more errors appearing, more lengthy posts, and more annotations that should be in the Background Info section.
You may have noticed a couple of small changes. First, any footnotes from the 1893 edition of the diary have moved from the right-hand column to below the relevant diary entry. Since adding the Background Info links to the right column the footnotes have been a little obscured and several people have missed them when they appear. The new position keeps the reading of each diary entry in a straight vertical line down to the reader annotations.
A thought occurred to me recently… I was wondering if anyone was itching to write more about aspects of Pepys or the time he lived in. If so, maybe it would be worth creating a new section of the site for such articles. Every so often a new essay/article could be posted up and readers could, as ever, post comments. Any topic related to the diary or the times would be welcome (individual people, politics, language, fashion, etc.) and they could of course be rather longer than diary annotations. It might be a daft idea, or there might not be enough people interested in writing things — let me know what you think.
You may have noticed the annotation format has changed, with the person’s name and the time now at the top. I hope this makes things easier for you.
Also, I’ve written something that marks which annotations are new since your last visit. It’s not foolproof, and because it relies on cookies(?) it’ll get confused if you use more than one computer or web browser to view the site. But I hope it’ll help make clear what you’ve yet to read. The Recent Annotations page is marked similarly.
So it seems some people don’t want a discussion forum at all, and some think it might be a good idea. Given there appears to be little immediate demand, it seems a good idea to take a step back and look at what annotations should be. Having done that we can decide if our guidelines leave out other kinds of commentary that deserve an alternate home.
As previously mentioned, I’m currently looking at adding some kind of discussion forum. This would mean we can restrict diary entry annotations to more specific information, references and explanation, and move longer discussions elsewhere. This way those who are only interested in reading the diary and having obscure words and themes explained don’t have to wade through long conversations, and those who wish to discuss further can do so.
It’s a leap year in 1659/60 which means we have two diary entries today, the 28th and 29th of February.
Update, 12.21 am GMT, 1st March: Anyone who looked at these entries before this time will probably have missed the 28th entry. Or something. Things got a little confused by me publishing two entries on the same day. Should all be fine now. I moved a couple of annotations to the 28th entry where they belonged.
I have just deleted several annotations from the 25 February 1659/60 entry, sparked by a lengthy posting by Hhomeboy of an obituary of the historian Christopher Hill. Not only was it far too long but it was also irrelevant to the events of the day. This prompted much discussion of the worth of such a post.
All my fault; the perils of inputting new diary entries in the small hours! Sometimes this is going to happen and I’m not always online to notice. Thanks for all the concerned emails. You can be sure that if anything was to intentionally, as opposed to accidentally, change regarding this site it would be announced here.
And many, many thanks to all those who have sent money to Movable Type or Project Gutenberg, or bought me gifts! It’s all most surprising and brings a smile to my grumpy face!
A while ago a few people asked how they could support this site. To be honest, there’s no need — it only costs me time and this is what I enjoy spending my time on. However, if you do feel the desire to make some kind of contribution, I recently put up a page that details how you can do so, hopefully by donating to parties other than myself! But really, don’t feel you have to.
(I hesitated in pointing this page out to be honest, but a couple of people have just noticed the new link to it and suggested I did so.)
Several people have suggested something I’ve been thinking about for a while: general pages for background information in addition to the People and Places pages. Given the amount of general information that is posted to diary entries that will be of use again in the future it seems an extremely sensible idea. It should help people who are new to the site find out common information without it having to be repeated too often (although we should accept this will happen nevertheless!).
There are two questions however: What pages should there be? And what should be the policy on annotating the pages? To address these in order…
David Quidnunc has suggested we should discuss a general policy on plot spoilers in annotations. Sometimes it seems necessary to divulge something that happens in the “future” to explain a point, but given that most of us don’t know what’s coming up for Pepys this might spoil any suspense. He says:
Up to now we’ve been reading entries for January that I entered some time ago, and it’s now time for me to enter the next batch. So I’d like to know how people feel about the amount of links to People and Places pages. At the moment I create a new page if the 1893 edition has footnotes for an item, if a reader requests a page, or if it seems obvious to me that it might be useful.
Would you like more of them? While I could make every person and place into a link I don’t think this would necessarily be a good idea. We don’t know anything about some of the people and there may be little if anything to say about some of the places. If a lot of these pages have little content I can imagine one might get frustrated with clicking links that often end up with nothing at the end of them.
So, is the current amount of links about right? If you want more, any thoughts on how to judge when a new person or place deserves a page? Thanks for your thoughts.
Please excuse a technical note… I made a few tweaks to the site today to try and handle a few glitches that had been pointed out to me. The basic font size had been measured in pixels, something I’d never done on a site before. I now remember why I hadn’t done this: Internet Explorer on Windows doesn’t allow the user to resize a page’s text if its size has been set in pixels. So it’s now set in ems. This may make the default text size look larger or smaller for you — if it’s completely unreadable let me know your browser and operating system.
I’ve also tidied things up a bit for those using versions of Netscape 4.x. It’s not pretty, but at least it’s readable! One problem though… I’ve managed to make the form for adding Annotations appear, but it still doesn’t work. The div below the textarea is mostly being displayed behind the textarea, rather than below it. This hides some text and on the Preview page the buttons don’t work. If you know CSS and can work out how to shift the text following the textarea down, do let me know! I was using Netscape 4.7 on Windows XP.
I created new pages for Hawly (an employee of George Downing along with Pepys) and Will’s (Pepys’ favourite drinking house). These seemed to be cropping up a lot so it made sense to stop any confusion and give them separate pages. If you have other nominations for their own pages, let me know.