Announcing Batter's Box v3.5

Monday, April 03 2006 @ 12:00 AM EDT

Contributed by: Pistol

Over the past few months, we've been working behind the scenes to improve the Batter's Box experience for everyone. Through a software upgrade and some intensive further development, Batter's Box v3.5 makes it both easier to make comments, and easier to see the important parts of the discussion attached to a story.

In addition to everything mentioned inside this story, we'd like to draw your attention to a couple of new features. First, the "Archives" link in the blue title bar above, something long-time readers missed when we first changed the software powering Batter's Box. This link displays the stories published on Batter's Box in a chronological format. Second, "Photo of the Day" will now be displayed as a thumbnail in the side bar in addition to its full-sized article.

Now, on to the biggest additions in Batter's Box v3.5. First, the new editor. Users who have long lamented the need to enter HTML by hand need worry no more: your prayers have been answered with our new WYSIWYG editor. Using this editor, you can easily create links to pages, make text italic or bold, quote text by indenting, and much more. We expect that there's going to be an adjustment period as everyone learns the ropes of the new editor, but we believe it is a huge step up from our previous state-of-the-art.

Second, and perhaps more important, is an invention that we believe will increase the quality of Batter's Box: Featured Comments.

Logged-in users have now seen it: "26 comments, 5 featured." What does it mean?

Well, in short, Featured Comments are the comments that everyone can see by default. In fact, if you don't log in, all you ever see are Featured Comments. The Batter's Box Roster wanted to give Bauxites the chance to read the important points of a discussion without having to read through each and every comment. If you come to the site once a day it can be daunting to try and read through 100 posts. By featuring comments Bauxites will be able to see the best and most relevant comments.

Of course, if you want to read through every comment, you can but only if you have a Batter's Box account. (If you don't you can create one very easily: just click on "New User" in the green User Functions box on the left.)

If you do have an account, you can, at any time and on any thread, view either All Comments, which is exactly as it sounds, or Featured Comments, only those comments which have been specially chosen to be visible by default. You can also change which mode you view comments in by default by logging in to your account, then clicking "Preferences" under "User Functions" in the green box on the left. We expect that many of our regular posters will want to change their default from "Featured Comments" to "All Comments."

Obviously, this implies that not all comments will be featured. That's OK! The comments you make won't always be featured. The comments we make won't always be featured - it's meant to provide Bauxites with a high-level overview of the most important points in a thread of discussion.

The Batter's Box Roster are the ones that decide whether a comment is featured or not. If you want your comment to be featured you have to make a post that makes the BB Roster want to feature it. A comment that is thoughtful, insightful, newsworthy or otherwise enhances the current discussion is likely to be featured.

By the way, featured comments are those that are displayed with a little baseball next to them. Comments are being featured all the time, so check back later if yours hasn't been chosen yet. And every comment posted before this upgrade is already featured, so no archived pages should change.

We expect there to be quite a few comments and questions about these new features. Please feel free to ask any questions in this thread; alternately, e-mail Joe Drew with any of your comments or concerns.