Commentary Track navigatability

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Commentary Track navigatability

Postby tyciol » August 27th, 2013, 2:33 am

Would anyone know if there is some kind of feature I am missing which links, if we are reading comics via the commentary track rerun, to their original version?

Reason being I am kind of curious about finding out the original date something was published.

I tried searching the title but that doesn't always work. For example if I search "flavor" it gives both the 2002 and 2012 versions of the page.

But if I search "cold" I only get the 2013 version of the page. Not sure why, unless maybe some of the strips got retitled.

I'm also wondering if anyone knows an easy way to figure out the chapter/page one is reading? for example has the date it was re-published but because I didn't locate it via the archives, I don't know what chapter it is, or which page.

Would there be some kind of simple way for the site to have features like this? Like for it to link from the originals to the CT versions, from the CT versions to the originals, and in both cases, in addition to listing the date on the upper left and the title on the upper right, perhaps also listing the Volume/Chapter/Page data on the upper middle?

This would probably be a lot of work if done manually but in case there was a simlpe automated way...

As an alternative to that, I was thinking if maybe we had a list of every page's title in one place (I could just copy all the data from each chapter which contains the titles below the thumbnails) then at least we could manually search titles there since the search function doesn't appear to be returning everything.
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Re: Commentary Track navigatability

Postby Imp-Chan » August 27th, 2013, 8:50 am

This... is a complicated and I fear disappointing train of thought. I've no objection to it happening, of course, but here are the main issues standing in our way:

1) Not every page has been titled yet. The original archives weren't on WordPress until fairly late in the comic's run, and pages prior to that transition have not all been titled yet. It's on the to-do list to at least go back and put in the titles that we already have from the Commentary Track (seriously, I just created a to-do list last night and it is definitely already on there), but it's way down in terms of priorities. There are constantly more titles to put in, too, because Poe is pretty much coming up with them as the Commentary Track updates. We don't have the time or the manpower to do that. I had been doing it, but it got away from me quite rapidly, and I can't plan to do it any more if we ever want to see these damn comics in print.

2) The Commentary Track pages and the original pages do not perfectly correspond with each other. Since the Commentary Track uses the revised pages (in the revised order), sometimes original pages correspond to two or even more of the revised pages. This is a royal pain in the ass to keep track of, and is part of the reason we decided to just run the Commentary Track in the revised order, as though it were the comic reborn (which is exactly what it is, of course). That's not to say the corresponding pages can't be tracked down by a sufficiently dedicated group of individuals with the right habits *cough* The Heretic Monks *cough* but there's no very good way to get that information into the site's back end where it can be useful. At least not automatically.

3) The Commentary Track pages and the original pages don't even appear in the same order. So, in order to do the above archive diving and locate the corresponding pages, one would need to be really intimately familiar with both the story structures, or really patient and lucky. People of either description are in short supply.

So I'm afraid there's really no way to do that kind of linking pages together automatically, and we can't even automatically generate the correct link for the posts that already exist. With sufficiently patient minions who are good at mindless repetitive tasks, it could still be done manually, though. I can see a couple of ways to do that...

1) We could add a field to the comics in Comic Press where the URL of the corresponding page could be manually entered (for 1500 entries and counting), at which point the site design could use that field to create a timey wimey comics button of some sort to take you back and forth as part of the comics navigation. Luckily there's a site design update in the works, so we could tell the designer to plan to include such a button. Though how you create a timey wimey icon I have no idea.

2) As the hypothetical minion updates all the titles for the original pages, those pages will already automatically create new forum threads. With an active moderator, those threads could then be merged with their identically titled Commentary Track counterparts, thus securing the links to both versions of the page right at the start of the thread.* That will only work out that way if the new threads for the old pages remain empty until merged, and the new threads for the new pages get merged into the threads for the old pages instead of the other way around. Yes, that confuses me, too... which is one of the reasons why even though I started out doing that, it again became impossible for me to keep up. I am mindless repetitive task challenged, though, and someone else may find it easier to do.

Additionally, there are some site overhaul considerations that are still up in the air. Eventually the Errant Story site is going to house a lot more than just Errant Story (such as the Errant Tales, and Errant Legend and Errant Myth), and we're already starting to see some of the problems with those actually kinda separate archives just with trying to house the original comics and the Commentary Track. It can't all go on the main page all the time, and if you look at the dropdown on the left you can already see how uselessly cluttered it is. Something is going to have to give, and I'm not yet sure what that will be. I'm open to suggestions, though!


* And for an example of how to do that wrong, I went ahead and demonstrated for today's comic. Which promptly vanished to the end of the list until I went in and added a comment.
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Re: Commentary Track navigatability

Postby Graybeard » September 22nd, 2013, 9:20 am

When I get some time (read: when I get over the *&^%$ cold/allergies and when the glorious weather caves in to the point where I don't mind being inside at the computer), this is a feasible wiki project. A simple start, which I may be able to do in my current antihistamine-induced haze, might be to modify the existing Chapter Timelines page so that it also includes start and end dates for the corresponding commentary-track pages. I've done a couple of these, to show how it will work; comments would be appreciated. This is actually fairly straightforward, and minimizes the complications resulting from Impy's point about the imperfect correspondence of old and new pages, although the problem still exists to some extent.

Modifying the various chapter cheat pages (e.g. this one) to include the commentary-track pages would give a more comprehensive mapping, but that will be a lot of work. Again, I have modified the sample cheat page to give an idea of how it might work (and to give a sense of how much effort will be involved in completing it), but I'm not in love with the format. Any chance any of you folks would be willing to pitch in on it? It's been a long time since anyone but myself has edited the HKV (and I really haven't done that much myself, for that matter).
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