The new reality blurred: now with comments and more Andy

Welcome to version 5.0, by my count, of reality blurred. I’ve been working on this new design on and off for about four months now, and non-stop for the past week, running into a major fun problem which delayed the launch by a couple days. Anyway, I recognized that redesigns can often be unsettling, but I hope you’re as excited about it as I am.

Perhaps the biggest change is the addition to comments, which I hear is some hip, new thing in the blog world. Seriously, I’ve consciously not had comments for the past nine years because comments on other sites are often useless or become a cesspool (pick any story on TMZ and read its comments, for one example). In addition, I’ve never quite understood why I should offer my opinions with my full, real name, and let people with fake names respond in my space. That’s not a conversation; that’s a joke.

Thankfully, technology has caught up, in part due to Facebook. Ever notice how much more civilized conversations tend to be on Facebook? There are definite exceptions, but I think it’s because people use their real identities; you’re responsible for what you write.

Here’s how commenting will work: To have a comment approved, you have to post under your actual full name. Logging in via Facebook is the easiest way to do that, and you probably already have a Facebook account. Alternately, you can log in via Twitter (as long as you’ve set your first and last names there) or create a free Disqus account (after creating a login, change your “display name” under Profile settings to your actual name). Beyond that, I’m not really into censoring comments unless they’re illegal or patently offensive (i.e. racist, homophobic, sexist, et cetera), completely off-topic, or spam. I probably won’t approve a comment that corrects my spelling (just send me an e.mail), but I absolutely will approve ones that challenge my opinion. Debate is awesome, as is humor and insight.

If you post several thoughtful, intelligent comments–or if I recognize you from previous e.mail messages, or I know you, or lots of people “like” your comments–you’ll get whitelisted, and your new comments will bypass moderation. My goal is to get to that point quickly, where we have a great group and I won’t have to do much moderating at all except for newcomers. This is an experiment; if no one comments, or it’s relatively uninteresting, I’ll pull the plug. But I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our exchanges over the years, whether that’s during the recent Idol live bog or just in e.mail, and I’m looking forward to hearing more from you and what you think about this crazy-ass genre.

As to the rest of the design, here’s why I did what I did. The redesign:

  • is simplified and hopefully more elegant and visually appealing, and makes more room for text, and since I’m a writer and digest reality TV in words, that works well.
  • has dropped the list of shows at the top and replaced it with a drop-down menu, which also links to the full list of every show I cover in-depth. Also, clicking on, say, Project Runway or Big Brother will show you the latest stories from any season, but you can easily filter stories by season.
  • collects the latest headlines, most-popular stories, and stories published on this day years ago in a single space (the top of the sidebar).
  • allows me to post shorter, quicker entries. Often I’ll come across an article I’d like to share with you, but don’t want or need to summarize and expound upon its contents. Now, I can post those easily with just brief comments, which actually is a lot like what I used to do in the early days. Those posts will have smaller headlines to differentiate them.
  • has more room for the most important part: me. Recent Twitter posts appear in the middle of the column on the front page, and the right-hand column now aggregates all of my writing on television and culture from around the web, in case you get bored and need to kill more time at work. There’s also a list of upcoming and past media appearances so you can mock me.

If something looks screwy, e.mail me with your browser and operating system, although if you’re not already using Firefox or a version of the piece of shit known as Internet Explorer that is 6 or below, things might not look perfect, but that’s because you’re using technology that’s more than three years old.

Otherwise, please let me know what you think via e.mail–or comment!

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.