It’s a new year, which means I’m looking under ToolGuyd’s hood and fiddling with how things look, work, and run.
If you’re a returning or long-time reader, then you probably enjoy checking out the new previews, reviews, and other content. My goal is to give you as great of a reader experience as possible. If you’re perfectly happy with the site, that’s great, and I’m happy to know that my hard work over the years has paid off! But I always like to think that ToolGuyd could keep getting better and better.
Here are a couple of questions for you (if you feel like answering any of them), and notes on potential changes.
Mobile Users – Any Complaints?
A lot of readers and visitors are accessing ToolGuyd via smartphones and tablets. If this is how you usually visit the site, do you have any major complaints or requests?
I would at one point like to make the site responsive, but before I do that there are still minor touchscreen niggles that I hope to tackle first.
Please keep in mind that I usually cannot improve on anything if I don’t know there’s a problem, issue, or complaint.
What Would You Like to See in the Sidebar?
For the sake of future reference, here’s what’s in the sidebar now:
- Social media links
- 2 ad units
- Email newsletter subscribe box (you really should subscribe to the newsletter which I hope to finally get going this month)
- Recent comments
- Recent posts
- “New Tools” link
- “Buying Guide” section
- ToolGuyd ad/special promo image
- Knife, multi-tool, and LED flashlight review links
- ToolGuyd videos
- GearGuyd post links
The “Buying Guide” section is new, but I don’t think it’s popular enough to keep there. I’ll give it a couple of weeks before I make a decision, but don’t expect to see these links around for long.
I’m working on a couple of new ideas, but maybe there’s something you’d like to see in the sidebar that I haven’t thought of yet.
Featured Post Slideshow or Other New Front Page Feature?
Every few months, I get the itch to implement a “featured post” slider/slideshow for the top of the ToolGuyd front page. I look over a couple of coding options, and plugins, waste some time, make a face, and decide to keep things as-is.
Such a feature would allow you to flip through a couple of large images and links to hand-picked posts or stories.
I figure that if you’re on the main page, then you most likely want a quick rundown of recent content, and that a slider might be too much of a distraction.
Would you like to see a slider implemented into the front page, or is there any other functionality that you’d like me to consider working on or looking into?
What Don’t You Like?
I have reasons for every single design and layout decision I’ve made over the years, but I understand that not every styling choice will be popular.
The “sticky” top menu, for example, is a feature I thought would come in handy. Not one person has complained about it since I implemented it 2 or maybe 3 years ago. And so I assume everyone either likes it, or isn’t bothered by it. Again, I don’t know there’s a problem or complaint if nobody speaks up.
2015 Site-Wide Audit – Suggestions and Requests are Welcome!
I will be auditing and overhauling parts of ToolGuyd’s coding over the next couple of months, a little bit at a time.
I typically do this on my own, and so I appreciate ANY and ALL input you’re willing to provide. Is a particular heading color difficult to read? Don’t like the font sizes? Image sizes? The search functionality? Please let me know!
Well, I shouldn’t say I work on the look and layout completely on my own. I often make a small tweak and ask my wife for input as to which of X-number of variations she likes best. Sometimes I’ll enlist the help of friends, family, and contributors as well.
Certain parts of the site will be updated, and you might never notice it. Other times, I might ask for your opinions first.
I’ve been experimenting with how to present specs and information in better ways:
- A quick specs box, as in this Milwaukee M18 recip saw preview
A quick ratings box, as in Clayton’s Ego mower review
A highlight box, as in this recent Bosch deal post, which I made available in a bunch of colors
A related/see also/etc info interrupt, also as shown in the M18 recip saw preview post
Do you like or hate any of these features? I periodically update older posts, and can easily splice in some of these features if you think they’re helpful.
There are times when I know something isn’t working well. The “Mega List” news reel isn’t popular enough to remain a permanent feature, but it was a very helpful sandbox for me to learn a couple of coding and styling tricks things. The link in the top menu will be taken down during my next audit of the menu, but the coding and styling lessons might be used for new functionality and ideas.
Potential Changes to Comments
The site crawled to a halt a couple of times in January. I have been working with our host to figure out why, and it seems that the comments functionality is a major contributor to high server loads (mainly CPU) and slow loading times.
There is just soooooo much comment spam and spammers that they’re draining server resources and impacting visits by human readers and visitors.
I checked the server logs, and there are also many thousands of hits to the RSS file by bots and spammers. Again, this takes away from server resources, but I don’t think changing the RSS feed from a full view to a shortened “click to go to ToolGuyd to read the rest” view will help anything.
I am reluctant to make changes to the way the comments sections are handled now, but I might eventually have to consider one of the following options:
- Automatically closing comments to older posts. If I do this, I can set the time limit, which would have to be at least one month but not more than a year for this to be an effective measure.
Implementing Disqus or another third party commenting system where readers could login with various credentials they already have (such as Twitter/Facebook/Google). I might still be able to allow for anonymous comments.
I don’t like either of these options, and have been spending time looking for other ways to reduce the effect of spammers. I might be able to get some more CPU overhead with a server upgrade, but this isn’t a problem that will go away by throwing money at it. Eventually, the way the site handles reader comments might have to change.
Related Products Advertising Links?
Back in late-2014, two companies inquired about whether I would add new ads to the bottom of ToolGuyd posts.
One was ridiculous, and the example they showed me had links to ads about “skinny pills,” Botox, wrinkle tips, carbs, and other stuff that are completely unreasonable for ToolGuyd. Then they said they work with a wide range of advertisers across health and beauty, personal finance, travel, and other such categories. No, thank you. I asked them if they even looked at ToolGuyd before pitching a partnership.
Another is a shopping engine that would try to match product links to the context of a post. For example, if I post about cordless saws, the widget would in theory show a couple of alternative products. A rep for the company keeps calling and trying to convince me to give the widget a trial run.
I’m really on the fence about this second one. On one hand the widget would result in more revenue that the site could definitely use. I already thought about what the potential revenue would go towards – funding 1) promotional ToolGuyd swag (finally!), 2) more ToolGuyd-sponsored giveaways, 3) bigger reviews and features by external contributors, 4) other kinds of things that there currently isn’t much money for.
I should really say that the product ad widget would help fund these things sooner.
On the other hand, it would be one more thing for the site to load (although from their servers and not mine), and one more thing that’s in-your-face. I don’t know if I would like to see this functionality on some of my favorite websites to visit, and don’t know how much of a nuisance it might be for you guys. I also wouldn’t want the widget to feature a product or retailer that I don’t particularly like or could not recommend.
Please look at today’s Ryobi saw post. At the bottom of the post there is a “Share” section, a “Related Posts” section, and then some more stuff before the comments. The products widget would probably go somewhere between the Related Posts and Comments sections of a post.
The “Related Posts” section links to related posts on ToolGuyd. The product ad links would link to related products found at partnered retailers.
What are your thoughts on this?
I think that the product widget would be a good idea, but is it a good idea for ToolGuyd? I’ve been thinking this over for a couple of months, and so far decided that the third party product advertising widget would NOT be a good fit for ToolGuyd.
While I continue to think things over, maybe I could experiment with something of a similar spirit, but perhaps a hand-coded widget that only displayed products I recommend and could vouch for. This would take time to develop, but could feature specific recently-reviewed products that I enthusiastically recommend.
Thanks for the site and your ongoing efforts.
The comments issue is the only thing I was going to comment on (natch). I regularly see comments to posts from months or even years ago show up in the recent comments bar, as some new viewer wants to chime in on a product or topic, or an old viewer has a new experience to share. My question is, will archiving and closing old posts to comments so they can be served statically really reduce server load?
If the load is predominantly from bots trying to spam, i guess the question depends on whether or not the spambots are or would just hit the most recent posts instead of the older posts if the old posts are closed for comments. I suspect they would, so the gain would be marginal.
On a related note, i sometimes miss the features of a forum, such as a notification when someone responds to a comment I’ve made. It would be nice if the comments system followed more of a forum paradigm, but I wouldn’t want to have to follow a link to read or post comments. Would it help the situation if users had to login to post comments (a la forum), and would that change in mechanism be detrimental to the site?
I’ve done some tests, and closing comments for older posts does reduce spambot traffic, although it’s uncertain if that would be enough to ease server load.
Additionally, around 8,000 to 13,000 spam comments make it to the database every week, even marked as spam. They’re automatically deleted every 15 days on a rolling basis, but they 1) bloat the comment database, and 2) leave bits and pieces in their wake that can slow things down over time.
For example, the comment info database table, which stores name, email, and URL info, is currently 78MB in size, and the comment data table is 74 MB in size. I manually deleted the spam comments from the server through the backend (via code, since if I try to do it with the filter it crashes after ~1,000 deletes), which reduced the comment info table to 9.6MB and comment data table to 19MB.
This might help things out short term, but by this time tomorrow there will probably be another 2,000 or spam comments in the database clogging things up. I was advised against running a script to run my cleanup commands automatically.
I’ve been considering adding a forum for the longest time, but there are many hesitations there too. I tried a WordPress forum a while back and 1) few readers were interested, and 2) there was a lot of spam to deal with. If such a feature became popular, I couldn’t stretch myself to support it as a moderator or owner. Plus, it would have to be on a separate server to avoid taking away from ToolGuyd resources.
Maybe I’ll give it a try, but forums are notorious for being slow and difficult to build.
I did have a “subscribe to comments” function a while back, but it was very under-utilized. After maybe a year or two, very few people had used the functionality and those that had only subscribed to updates to very few posts. The plugin I used is now 2-years outdated, but I should be able to implement similar functionality quite easily. If there’s a lot of interest I might consider a 1-month test run.
I’ve been doing forum stuff for a long time. I currently run an NFL fan forum that gets four to six million page views a month.
I’m currently setting up a new forum for a client based on Vanilla Forums, but I’ve also considered Discourse and a couple other options.
In my experience, forums require a certain amount of gentle oversight and pruning lest they turn into a cesspool. It’s a completely different beast than moderating comments on a blog.
If you have any questions, I’d be happy to give you any answers I can. Feel free to contact me via the e-mail in my comment.
The only thing I’d really ask for is not to go to shortened RSS feeds. I read most of my blog content though Feedly, and excerpted RSS feeds fall to the bottom of my reading list pretty quickly.
It’s too bad there aren’t better automated tools for dealing with the consequences of spambots.
Regarding the idea of a forum: as I said and someone else mentioned, the kind of comments listing that requires a separate page load or loosely-coupled service are a nuisance and i’d not like to see things go that direction. What i was wondering is if there’s a way to use a forum as a handler for the comments and still embed them on the article pages. This way it would be easier to have running conversations associated with posts/tools and keep track of those conversations in a synergistic rather than disruptive way. Perhaps the requirement to login to post would in the end reduce the spam load and time required to handle it.
Unfortunately I’m not sure such seamless embedding is possible, but IMO that would probably be the best of both worlds: maintaining the straightforward and easily-accessible comment discussions while adding conversation tracking features.
Any potential ToolGuyd forum would stand apart.
Don’t change anything about your format.
Just remember the more updates the better.
A comment about Comments: ToolGuyd has the among the best comments of any website that I regularly visit. Often the comments are as informative as the posts. I also appreciate that the comments are usually positive and not hateful and vitriolic like elsewhere. BTW, I’m always amazed that Fred knows the model and part number for every tool that he’s ever used – haha. I also like that it is easy to comment without having to register or logon, but that also might add to the spam.
I love the website, and so I don’t have any ideas to make it better. I do agree that you should avoid the crappy ads. What you have is fine.
The only problem that I have noticed is that the pictures are often mixed up (a picture from an old post will show up on a new post) when I am on my iPhone.
Keep up the good work – even though this website costs me lots of money (just the year I added four m12 tools (and batteries) to go along with all Bosch 12 volt tools that were already more than I needed! — all because of what I read right here)
Thanks! fred often amazes me too, with his superb record-keeping (or memory), and breadth of knowledge and experience. He’s retired, but seems like he would have been great to work under.
The image mixup issue is tied to Apple iOS 8 and Safari – https://toolguyd.com/bug-notice-front-page-image-swaps-with-ipad-ios-8-and-safari/ .
There’s no apparent issue with any other browser or operating system. I haven’t found a solution yet, and am hoping that Apple eventually squashes the bug.
The image mixup issue is not new as you note. Some improvement may have occurred but the problem still exists on my iPad. If it’s helpful, I’d like to note that I have not seen this problem on any other website.
i never comment on Disqus sites………or any third party login, don’t like it, won’t do it. I specifically ghostery block it anyways. Go ahead and close comments after a few months, its not a forum group yet…..at least not officially right.
Curious what the widget would look like and how useful it would d be to the readers. Try it out. Do you get anything from the “where to buy” links inside a post? Or Amazon click though?
Overall I would like to see more posts, even short ones, doesn’t necessarily mean actual reviews, but quick previews and sneak peaks and press releases are enough to satisfy our tool info fix.
In addition to more posts, i’d still like to see more on tool storage, organization and finally a pic of all your L-boxxes.
Yes, a lot of “Buy” links are “affiliate referral” links, and ToolGuyd is partially supported with commissions tied to purchases through said links. I try not to overdo it and to only link if/when/where relevant. I generally link more to Amazon because I spend much more time (and money) with them. A list of most affiliate partners is shown at https://toolguyd.com/shop/ .
More posts is definitely a goal, but there’s a limit as to what I can handle myself. We have a couple of great external contributors onboard, and I’d like for there to be more, but talent recruitment is a long and difficult process.
As for L-Boxxes, I’m not sure if I remember it was you that requested it, but there have been a couple of requests for examples of how I organize and pad my boxes. There’s a problem with this – I still haven’t gotten around to actually doing it. My tools are free and loose in L-Boxxes, and they handle travelling and storage just fine and so the plan for me to showcase the boxes has been back-burnered for some time. The tools are organized nicely box-to-box, but my L-Boxx contents aren’t really anything special to look at.
I use Disqus for commenting on a few sites, and while it does work as advertised, it throws a large client-side load on readers and can often get cranky and slow at times. Disqus is also notorious for making constant tweaks to the user control panel/settings view as well as the aggregate comment summaries and replies. It’s a decent system when it works, but like a lot of third-party commenting systems, it has the darker side of tracking your web usage among various site that use the system. Disqus does have their own means to handle spammers, but given its wide use, it also attracts lots of them as well. Since they use a comment-as-guest feature without creating accounts, the spambots are able to post unmoderated spam wherever they want to. It’s up to the site admin to remove them, and the users of the site to flag them as such. At least with the plug-in you are using, first time spambots (and users) have to pass moderation before they see the light of day. Unfortunately, that falls to you.
Can I ask why you never comment on Disqus sites? Is it because the site owner hasn’t enabled guest commenting, you don’t want to give your email to a third party when you are commenting anonymously, or some other philosophical reason?
I don’t because I don’t want to encourage the growth of hegemonic commenting systems.
And I would point out that disqus in particular hurts page load times and requires a page refresh if the disqus object is off screen for some time between page load and first user interaction with the discqus object. This is very noticeable when you open 10 new posts in new tabs and have to reload each to see comments.
i dont like entering my email into a third party login….exactly. No reason other than i feel its more of a data collection/ aggregate tool rather than a useful feature for the commenter………all downside potential from my point of view.
And yes…….the load times are longer.
I’ve had some good experiences with it and some bad. Some sites with Disqus seem to load the comments pretty much instantly, so I’m wondering if it is a problem with some hosts/blogging platforms or the way it is set up.
I personally like the fact the Disqus comments show up in gReader, so I never have to leave RSS to go to websites.
I can understand not wanting to give your email to a third party, then again I have throw away addresses for that purpose.
Some of us don’t see ads at all and don’t even realize we are blocking them because we’ve never seen the page any other way. I will white list good sites that have ads that aren’t invasive. There exists technology to detect ad blockers and serve up local domain replacement images that say “hey, you’re blocking my revenues” (an example: okcupid, but their ads are invasive so still blocked). Not that I’ve clicked on an ad in 15 years of heavy interneting, so there’s that.
I generally don’t like “CLICK ME” ads either, and try to make advertisers and potential advertisers aware of this. I like ads that showcase new tools or increase brand awareness, and find this helpful on other sites as well. I also rarely click on ads. In my opinion, ads that look like they came straight from a magazine are best.
I haven’t really thought about ad-blockers, but generally feel that if a reader chooses to block ads, then it’s their right to do so. If it becomes a problem down the road, I’ll look into serving a local domain replacement image as you suggested. It wouldn’t mention the ad blocker, but might be a nice image with in-site link to an article to help close gaps or whitespace.
I look forward to a new content every day… as said, even if it’s a preview or an update. Oh hell, pick a worthy tool from your collection and highlight said tool. I have no complaints, visiting this site is a welcome and anticipated daily treat for me… and yes, your efforts cost me money 🙂
I think a forum could be good. A place for us to talk to each other more. Posts things we find our self. If someone has a question they could ask the forum rather then bug you every time.
I LOVE some of the commentors here. It’d be great to have them share more.
So yeah…a forum/message board would be great
In theory, yes, a forum would be great. I’ll look into options when I have a chance, but I have strong hesitations about a forum being too small or too big. Too small and it won’t be worth the time, effort, resource investment in getting things started. Too large and it will require time and effort I just cannot spare, not to mention server and financial support.
I think your site is already spot on, personally I think no changes are needed.
Thanks heaps for continuing to providing us with an informative and enjoyable site.
Thanks! I’m trying my best!
I tend to surf mostly with a tablet, an old original iPad. I come to ToolGuyd a lot, because it is one of the few sites I like that works (almost) flawlessly on it. On top of that, I think your reviews are a very good balance between being brief and easy to read, and being thorough and detailed. I also like the way that you aren’t afraid to add your opinions, because you clearly mention what is your opinion.
I would have no problem with a little widget that would allow a sponsor to feature (small, tasteful) ads for comparative products. For example, if you were featuring a new $20 hammer, the widget might show a few competitive hammers. In a way, this may help some visitors to the site, as they could compare features and price of the hammer in your article with others without having to do a search. If doing so would allow for more tool giveaways, I’m all for it.
Overall, I believe you are doing a really good job with the site, and can’t think of any real complaints on your end.
Keep up the good work.
PS I also really like it when you feature deals and price reductions. Even if they sell out, it gives us a feel for a good ‘sale’ price on something we may need someday, but can wait a while for a good deal on it.
I like your quick specs box; its neat and tidy and so long as the types of specs for similar tools are the same, its very useful. I also love the general lay out. It feels like a tool blog written by someone who actually uses the tools, not something like uncrate where they just find cool looking stuff or tools in action which looks like it’s still in 2005. As far as improvements go, you think you can pretend to like Makita more? I want to feel validated on my expensive purchases and being locked into their battery system. Also, I want more reviews, like 50 a day, so I can waste inordinate amounts of time on your site. Your typical number of 2-5 new posts a day just doesn’t fill up the 9 to 5 work day like I really need it to.
In all seriousness though I love your blog. I used to be a handyman and its nice to keep up to date about whats going on in the tool world. I also agree that the commenting system here is nice and easy, and promotes reader input. Thanks for everything you do here.
If it makes you feel better, I like some Makita tools. I even bought one for my father – their compact jigsaw https://toolguyd.com/makita-cheap-jigsaw/ .
Right now I cannot increase post count substantially and sustainably without decreasing post quality. Not even with our excellent contributors. Maybe eventually.
It frustrates me too, as my “reviews and topics I really want to post about or posted about” list keeps growing.
I like the quick info box, and the ratings box – maybe combine them when applicable.
I run a forum about model ship building, and require registration before posting. It took me about a day of removing porn posts to come to that decision LOL. I would have no problem registering for this site to comment, and if you would incorporate a 24 hour delay between registering and posting you would eliminate a lot of spam, and, in the long run, discourage the rest.
You could also remove the website part of the form we currently use – even though I fill in the box, it’s not like I wouldn’t post if it wasn’t there.
Great job on the site!
I’ll toss in my 2 cents here as well. My biggest complain about ads is how they are totally unrelated. Right now there is an ad for a jewelry store and some car thing. 2 things I’d never click on or need. Those types of ads are the reason I block ads. Now if it were an ad for Klein I might be more interested to click. Several times I’ve bought things you’ve suggested or reviewed and used your amazon link. Quicker ways for me to find old reviews or products so I can purchase via your link would be best. We all understand you need advertising to pay the bills, but I think your demographic is a hard one to advertise to.
I’d be ok with registering to comment.
Those ad slots default to Google Adsense when there are no active direct ads with sponsors or bands.
Google’s ad selection bugs me sometimes too. Sometimes they’re targeted and contextual, other times it’s based on browsing behavior or what a visitor was previously searching for (for those that enter through Google search).
Right now the Adsense ads I see are for a Fluke thermal camera, RAM truck leasing, and Eastwood deal items. Earlier I saw a Swarovski ad for who knows why.
At one point I tried to set things to show differently for returning readers vs. new visitors, but I could never get it to work properly.
Regarding finding old reviews, that’s something I have a couple of ideas for, but it’s hard to find a balance between just enough and too much.
If you look at how the site was in Sept 2012 (https://web.archive.org/web/20120909094814/https://toolguyd.com/), there were more links under each headline on the home page. Links to “tags,” and on the sidebar there were category, archive, and brands links. Those links took up space, but nobody used ’em.
On a positive note, I have a lot of ideas on how to make older parts of the site more accessible. On the downside, there are only so many hours in each day. Maybe eventually I’ll be able to hire a developer who can put vision to screen, but that time hasn’t come. Some of those ideas will come to fruition soon, and there might be announcements when they do.
I’ve slowly been pruning older posts, but that’s not an overnight endeavour either.
Lot of hats to wear. I’m happy to do it, as I believe my hands-on approach has made ToolGuyd better, but it also means that site updates take time.
If you need help in programming let me know, I normally volunteer to do free stuff for non-profit at least one organization every year. I haven’t made any commitment this year.
Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind!
I generally like to have my hands in everything, as the familiarity and experience I gain helps me tweak the site to suit. Some ideas on my to-do list are one-time enhancements, but most would require a bit of experimentation and honing over time. That’s why I haven’t farmed out any aspect of site development yet.
One compromise between a full-scale forum and not having one at all is to have an open post periodically that functions as sort of a mini-forum. Users would be allowed to post in the comment section and not have to worry about remaining on topic other than being at least somewhat tool related. I’ve seen this work well at other sites. I’ve also seen it turn into a bit of a freakshow, but at least sensitive users would know to avoid these open posts.
I am not a fan of third party comment systems. I’ve seen comment sections on site after site die after switching to a third party comment system. Transient users are not going to register just to ask one question or write a quick reply and a lot of good information never gets passed along as a result. Also, usually a core group ends up dominating each and every topic which alienates potential new users. That can happen on normal registered systems as well, but for whatever reason the third party systems almost guarantee it. Maybe because they make registration such a big deal.
I was surprised to hear how much spam activity you get, you do a great job of making sure it doesn’t get through.
(No, I am not arguing with myself above, that’s a different Mike.)
I’ve tried that before:
Granted, that was back in early and late 2012, so it might be time for another go. Guiding questions seem to help get things started.
Love the site!
I like the quick specs and ratings boxes, they quickly give me concise and handy info.
I am not sure what you mean by a highlight box on the bosch post, ( I dont see any additional colors.)
I totally thought the see also interrupt was one of those ads designed to trick you into thinking its a legit part of the site. (something about the formatting of it)
Third-party comment logins bother me as well. No problems I can see with closing comments to older posts.
I think think the widget idea has possibilities but most of the time those type of engines seem to suggest stuff that are either not related, not a better price point, or are to buy from a no name site that I dont trust. A widget that gives a realtime comparison of price on the product at several places (with affliate links for you ) could be interesting. While I love amazon and use it all time I often prefer to buy power tools at a place (Lowes/Home Depot/Sears/) where I can walk in and say “this is a dud give me a new one today”. Do these have affiliate links where I can order online and pick up local?
I quite like the sticky top menu (its been here since I started visiting I think).
Honestly I dont use the sidebar, I am either checking the front page or using the categories to browse for something I remember seeing or something specific I am look for info about.
Feature Post could be interesting, especially one with most helpful or interesting comments. Also a most popular of the week or something, sometimes I see a new post that doesn’t grab my initial intention but intrigues me when I see it later and it has a lot of comments on it.
Thanks for all your hard work! I enjoy your writing style, and find the community of commentors to be quite helpful and interesting.
Apologizes for any awkward formatting, its late but I know feedback is helpful.
By “highlight box,” I mean the shadowed “update” note in the middle of the post with the reddish border on the left.
Yes, Home Depot, Lowes, and Sears are all also affiliate partners. I add them in where fitting, but I don’t like putting them all in at the same time unless there’s a good reason for it, as it makes things look cluttered. I figure that if I link to one or two favored retailers and someone wants to shop at CPO (another affiliate), Menards, or a local supply house, they’ll grab the model number and fire up the retailer’s site in their browser. That’s also why I try mention model numbers is conspicuous and consistent spots.
Thank you also for the kind words!
First – love the site – THANK YOU it obviously takes a lot of hard work. This is truly one of my absolute favorite places on the web.
Really like the “quick specs box” – thumbs up! A related idea that could be great or horrible would be a feature that allowed one to quickly compare specs of various tools. In a way you already sort of do that for us by posting relevant links to similar write ups in your posts and reviews – so we are already benefitting from curated comparisons. Nonetheless I often find myself looking at some 12 V Bosch drill post and thinking – what were those torque ratings on the comparable Fuel model again? Maintaining a database of specs sounds like a huge pain and for sure looking only at specs can sometimes be a misleading and superficial way to evaluate tools but quick access to comparative data is something I think I would like.
If you change the comments section I would prefer that comment sections close over the Disqus/third party type solution – but that is just me.
I spent some time over the weekend brainstorming about a comparison engine. It’s possible, but would be difficult to do in the way you’re suggesting. Someone else suggested a Google Docs spreadsheet, and I’ve springboarded from that and into another idea. That will be the project for the later part of this week or next weekend.
I’d rather there not be a tie from the commenting system to social media – or if you have to, make it optional. I don’t facecrack, or tweet, or Gaggle.
I do like the idea of having some of your previous reviews of tool type (IE current cordless drills, current jig saws) as a database, spreadsheet etc. that’d be nice but I’d rather it not take away from the reviews and other work you guys do. presented as a google doc or some embedded database, however makes your life easy.
otherwise I’m new to this place and I like all of what I see so far – perhaps a more announced links or sidebar for the EDC and flash lights. took me a while to notice that.
and perhaps a separate section for reader questions. Otherwise keep up the great site. OH and I’m not the Nathan that posted earlier.
Love the website and contents. The present level of ads is perfect and it’s a pleasure to no see ad pop-ups….. thanks!
On content, I just wonder if there would be ToolGuyd value with an expanded scope to include machinist, metal working & fabrication type tools and equipment.
Keep up the great work!
My posting typo error brings to issue another request. Is it possible to add author editing functionality to posts for at least a short time?
It’s possible, but not easy and not without more compatibility and loading risks than I’m really fond of taking.
The easiest way is to require registration and for me to customize permissions for subscriber users, but I don’t want to force potential commenters to have to subscribe.
Between the options, I agree with your reasoning and decision!
I really like this website, don’t change too much. You’re doing a great job.
The sites actually a pretty good design. I would change the font in the two menu bars, what you’ve got there is a jarringly harsh font when contrasted to the font in your logo. I really don’t pay much attention to the “recent comments”, I would likely move the Knife/Lights/EDC Tools/etc stuff up. Keep the “recent comments”, just move it down.
One thing to be sure of if you do any sort of slideshow or the like is to make sure that the entire SLIDE can be seen without scrolling down AT ALL. You have done a great job of keeping the “top” of your page clean. I’ve been to too many sites where 1/2 of the screen is taken up with header/advertising crap, forcing the visitor to scroll down to see the “slide.” Also, if you do a slideshow, make sure it’s actually a slide show. Being forced to reload the entire page, which also resets back to the top of it, where 1/2 is taken up with crap, is beyond annoying. I’ve bailed out of plenty of sites when I encounter that.
One thing that would be nice to have would be text formatting capability in the comments without having to actually type out the HTML tags. A simple ctrl-b, rather than “<b>”.
aww, nuts, the spaces to convert the tag didn’t work… oh well, that’s a bold tag between the quotes.
Brackets have to be typed in as & lt; and > ; , otherwise it’s treated as html. The “code” html tag didn’t work as a wrapper either.
Oh, and it has occurred to me that a time limited ability to edit one’s comments, along with a preview, would be handy. I’m just sayin’….
Any slider would have left/right controls and maybe 4-5 different slides. But I have yet to find one that works easily, unobtrusively, and with the exact features I’m looking for. It’s a low-impact feature, so one that’s perpetually backburnered.
I also hesitate that if I do implement a slider I won’t remember to cherry-pick new posts to display as featured ones.
There’s no easy way that I know of to implement forum-like easy formatting. That would probably require a 3rd party commenting system that offers built-in formatting functionality. There’s at least one plugin that allows for previews, but more plugins = greater potential for conflict and more scripts to load with each pageview.
As for the logo – I might eventually change that font. I had a designer develop the logo a few years ago, and might look into a different design this year, and potentially a new text font as well. The font would look horrible in the menu, and cannot be used without having all visitors download the font package.
I thought the menu font and size is crisp and clear – is it not? The main navigation bar used to have all-caps letters, and I’m glad I moved away from that.
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your site! The comments are, in fact, often as informative as the post. I have no complaints what so ever. I don’t know enough about blogging and what it is that you do to offer any valid suggestions. I love your site and have learned much from it. Generally I’m very anti-advertising but I know that isn’t realistic if you need ads to help finance the site, do so. I trust you. Thank you for all your hard work and time.
Love the sight. Blows my budget occassionally to come here. Recently added several items to the want list based on your reviews and readers’ comments.
Your format is extremely easy to read. The tool bar at the top contains all the info I want. I consider your site more functional than “Tools inaction” if not better content as well.Just joshin’ about TIA , they do a fine job but their site is not up to Toolguyd standards in format. So far as I’m concerned no change needed here. Thanks for your high quality work.
Stuart, I really like your site and I like your current format. I definitely love the content and the commenters as well. It”s funny a few other post mention fred. I like fred comments so much that I start to develop a habit to look for them in your post :). I prefer site that follow the KISS principle and your website certainly a big advocate for it.
I am ambivalent on the quick specs box, and the quick ratings box. I don’t think it really add much value on it own. Beside, one of the reason I like your site so much is because of the in-depth content. It’s the little nugget here and there that make a big different and I think the quick spec/rating box negate that. Unless you are pitting multiple items against each other then having the spec/rating in a table format would be nice.
The highlight box is a nice touch when you need to call out something. The see also, interrupt is also nice as long as it’s not overly done like some other site that I have seen.
As far as comment system go, I like your current comment system. I am not a big fan of Disqus either but I do see the need for something else if your level of spam is becoming unmanageable. Whatever that you go with the idea is to whitelist authenticated user and build in some heuristic to block potential spam. I have some experience in that area, though not particular with blocking spam, but the same principle apply. So feel free to reach out to me over email for ideas on those.
Your posts and content are pretty well rounded as for variety. I would like to see more involved reviews when in video form, I realize you are very short on space for doing much more than you are currently doing. It would behoove you to hook up with someone local with some shop space for some real hands-on action, you might end up with an at least part time cameraman as part of the deal. I never see most of them, as third-party ad providers have proven time and time again they are ineffective at best, rarely if ever serving relevant ads, and their privacy-busting tracking and monitoring behavior is something I will never tolerate. I won’t even get into the potential malware, spam and harm ad networks pose to computer systems. You’ve gotten some fair direct revenue from me as well as other readers who use your Amazon affiliate links, so I have no guilt in depriving you from some compensation for your efforts. I don’t block first party ads posted on yours or other sites (unless they are annoying in some fashion, like blinking or moving. Many “contextual” ads work by scanning words in a post and turning them into double-underlined trigger links that pop up mini windows for a product based on certain words. In your case, several words like “drill” “hammer” “workbench” “hardware” and other words become links that pop up or fly out over the text when you pass your cursor over or near them. The problem with these things is they always seem to disrupt the flow of reading, with the highlighted words seeming completely unrelated to the actual me
meaning of the sentences. You can be telling us that using a certain tool for even a short length of time tires you out, and “tires” becomes an ad for tires. Inevitably this form of advertising absolutely ruins the primary content of the site, looks bad like an old wall peppered with posters and flyers. Don’t do that. As with third party ads, I block that mess, as many of those methods cause (purposely, in many cases) difficult-to-close windows that cover the primary content. It’s also pumped full of tracking beacons and other nasties.
Several of my favorite forums were sold to or taken over by an outfit called Internet Brands. Once in their filthy mitts, the sites were turned into messy conglomerations of disruptive ads, extreme uses of the contextual text ads, popups and popunders, janky scripts that would fail and crash browsers or prevent proper page loading, and even worse. I put my shields on maximum on such sites, and my firewall still blocks port scans and other crap the instant I go to the sites.
Your commenting system is one of the simplest ijn use, but it lacks the features of some third party solutions. Like what just happened to me, with an inadvertent scroll with my finger accidentally hitting the Post Comment button and leaving everyone with a half-finished post, not having the capability to edit my post is a big minus in my book. Even worse is not having some form of notification when someone replies to a comment I made. I have to remember where I might have left a comment then go back through individual posts looking for replies. I’ve missed quite a few, as I’m sure many others have as well. This disrupts what could be informative or interesting ongoing discussions. Alas, it seems only third party commenting systems have more robust features, but those systems often have outages or other difficulties that prevent comments from appearing, or sometimes lose comment threads entirely. They also suffer from the same downsides as third party ad networks as far as tracking, privacy and spam are concerned.
Social network integration is really something I can do without. If I want to share a post over social media, I can simply copy the URL and past it into a post there. Adding social media buttons to a site brings with it a whole host of tracking and privacy issues, especially with Facebook. Facebook has demonstrated complete disregard for users’ privacy, and actively track users of FB through each and every site that adopts social media buttons. Not many people are aware of this, and with countless websites adding social media linking tools to their sites, Facebook tracks your activity of every single website that uses those features and builds detailed, personally identifiable data that they sell to marketers as well as make easily available to law enforcement and other agencies. Like the ads and tracker, I heavily block these mechanisms on each PC as well as my primary firewall appliance. They are that bad.
To sum it up, keep up the good work you are al;ready doing, and I hope you can make some new modifications that make your life easier as well as provide everyone with richer content.
There are plugins that allow for limited-time comment editing by anonymous users, but there are 2 reasons why I haven’t tested them out yet. 1) More plugins = greater complexity and potential for conflicts, slower loading, and security holes, and 2) If there’s a 1 minute window, some will want 5 minute window. If there’s a 5 minute window, some will want a 10 minute window, and so forth.
As for subscribing to comments, that wasn’t a popularly used feature in the past, and it also led to some frustrations. Not many people used it, and when some people did they emailed replies – to me – instead of going back to leave new comments to the post. I’ll think about implementing a similar feature for a limited time test.
And about social media sharing – the “Share” section at the bottom of each post has simple links, not plugins or widgets. I used to have Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus “like” buttons in a floating box on the left side of the screen, but it was for a short time and I took them all down once I realized it gave Facebook the ability to track users activities. They’re there for whomever wants to use them, but they don’t do a darned thing (at least to my knowledge) if you don’t click the buttons.
The way that just the buttons track users even when they don’t touch the buttons comes from how they are loaded. If just the little FB graphic gets fetched from the FB servers, the deal is done, as the http request to get the graphic sends sends the page referrer info along with it, and along with the graphic that is returned also comes a cookie and with it the ability to read cookies left by FB from other sessions. The same goes for other social media links, ads, etc. Ad networks use beacons, which are invisible 1x1pixel graphics that get placed on web pages along with the actual graphical ad images and whatnot. These graphic files with unique names also have cookie payloads and referrer uplinks. A lot of third party ad networks will hook into Flash plugins as another way to leave tracking information that survives even cache clearing and private browsing modes, with no simple means to remove these mechanisms. These sorts of behaviors are ones I disagree with and will automatically put a stop to. I’ve been burned in the past by them. If it interacts with my own personal computer systems, I reserve the right to regulate how they can behave. 🙂
I have the means to do more involved videos, but with everything else, there’s a huge time constraint. More videos has been a goal for a while now, and I hope to finally make good on that goal for 2015.
As for inline contextual ads – I absolutely loathe these. I find them to be disruptive and annoying, and would never implement such ads on ToolGuyd. There are a few sites I purposely don’t visit anymore due to annoying popup contextual text ads.
I understand you have a lot more on your plate these days, and, who knows, you might already have a future cameraman or shop assistant. =D