Introducing FrankNSpace!

Frank N Scientist by Valerie Lusk

A few days ago I mentioned we were going to institute a new registered user profile system here at Biofortified. We want our regular readers and discussion participants to be able to share more about themselves on their profiles, and for visitors to be able to see the people behind the words a little more clearly. Finally, while words can cross and get tense at times, we feel that it will foster more civil discussions if you can find out more about the person behind the comments you are responding to.
Coding, testing, and implementation of this new system is now complete. Behold, I give you FrankNSpace!*
Let me tell you what you can do with this. All registered users will appear on the Community page, which you can find in the page navigation above. Browse around, click on a profile and see who they are. On the left will be their personal details, as much or as little as they have decided to enter. On the right, you can see their most recent comments, posts (if any), and also their most recent forum posts. Some of these features were built into the plugins we are using, but others I coded de novo. I’m particularly proud of the Latest Forum Posts section that I wrote – as far as I know no one else has done this to build on the Forum Server plugin features! </preen>
Click on your own profile and you will notice a little edit link at the very top, which takes you to your profile page in the dashboard. You can also get there by logging in as per the usual fashion. After you see all the options of things you can fill out, pick your jaw up off the floor – and start filling some of it out! Here’s what you can do:

  • WordPress has a space for one website in your profile. You can now add up to four.
  • You can enter your Location so people know what part of the world you are in.
  • Link to your MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, plus a custom link you can name for other sites you may use, such as LinkedIn or Digg.
  • A Public Email field is also available if you want it to display on your profile. It can be a different email address from the one you used to register. And it scrambles the address to stop spam bots.
  • A field where you can make a bullet list of Links to sites you recommend or visit frequently.
  • An Extended Biography where you can go into a lot more detail about yourself with links, formatting, pictures – all kinds of fun.
  • Three Extra Fields with titles and content that you can use for whatever you want. These will appear on the bottom of the left, center, and right columns respectively. These are yours to play with! Take a look at mine for an example of what you can do with these.

Profile Pictures

As if having an extended profile with so many possibilities wasn’t enough, you also get to upload pictures. Simply click on Your Gallery on the left sidebar when you log into your profile options page. The pictures can be of yourself, your garden, whatever you please. (Within reason: obscene images will be removed and accounts weeded out ruthlessly.) If you don’t use gravatar to assign avatar images to your email address, you can upload a picture here and select it as your avatar. Then, every comment and post you write will be decorated with this image. I hope you will consider putting up a picture!

Favorite Posts

You may have noticed a section in the middle of the profile that says “Favorite Posts.” This I am especially pleased about having. When you read a post that you really like, find the little soybean at the bottom of the post, and you can click to add this post to your favorites. It will appear in a list on your profile! To remove a favorite, visit the post and click the button to remove it. (Readers that have not registered for the blog can still select favorites, which will remember them based on the cookies stored in your computer. However, this will not currently display anywhere. We may add a “my favorites” page in the future where you can see and edit your favorites directly.)
If people start using this feature and like it, we may add a widget to the sidebar that shows the “Most Favored” posts.

Enhanced Conversation

Want to know who the person is who wrote that comment that you think is so awesome/awful? Now every comment left by registered users will lead to that user’s profile page when you click on their name, with a cute plant indicating that they are registered. Guest comments will lead to the website their authors enter when commenting, and will not have said plant. Now it is even easier to follow conversations between people or start up some new ones.

Reasons why you should Register

A lot of people have registered here at Biofortified, and lately this number has been climbing. If you read and/or comment regularly on this blog, it would be a good idea to sign up for a user account. How so? Let me count the ways.

  1. Registered users get to have awesome profiles with pictures, links, favorites and more.
  2. You can keep track of your favorite posts on Biofortified without filling folders in your browser toolbar.
  3. You can post in the Forum and start your own discussions.
  4. Your comments with links will not be held up in the moderation queue and will post immediately.
  5. Your comments may be taken more seriously. If you have taken the time to register, tell people about yourself, etc, you will be seen as a member of the community and not just someone leaving a passing comment. And this will be your badge for everyone to see:
  6. You will be helping us build a community of people who care about the issues we discuss on this blog and can help provide feedback to improve it on into the future.
  7. (From 6) You will feel more compelled to leave better comments. And more often!
  8. (From 5, 6 & 7) People will respond to your comments with better comments themselves. Everyone wins!
  9. And if these reasons were not enough: Fabulous Prizes!

During the month of October, we will be holding several contests for readers to participate in, starting with an award for the best comment, nominated by readers, and open to all registered users. Later on in the month we will have another, and finally, a Halloween-themed contest that will make good use of our new user profile pages and your new ability to upload pictures. Stay tuned for more details about these contests, register if you haven’t yet, and start thinking of some good things to say and maybe you can be the first to get your hands on some exclusive Biofortified Blog Schwag!
*No it is not really going to be called FrankNSpace, but the capabilities of this blog are starting to look more like a social media site, and it was better than “FrankNbook.”

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Written by Karl Haro von Mogel

Karl Haro von Mogel serves as BFI’s Director of Science and Media and as Co-Executive Editor of the Biofortified Blog. He has a PhD in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from UW-Madison with a minor in Life Sciences Communication. He is a Postdoctoral Scholar at UC Riverside and works on Citrus genetics.

8 comments

  1. Omg, Karl, this is really awesome. I so look forward to learning more about the people I’m getting into conversations with! It can be really difficult to feel a human connection with people online, especially when their avatar is just blank, so I know that having some profile info, even just a little, would help a lot! It would also be useful for knowing the approximate background level of each person. I hate to explain what a gene is to someone who already knows, or to not explain it to someone who doesn’t know, you know? 🙂
    This might be too complicated, but do you know if there’s anyway for us to leave comments on each other’s profiles? For example, I’d like to tell GregH that I also like pluots a lot! and since the site search also searches comments that could be a new place for people to start conversations if they don’t want to use the forums (as long as we stay on topic!).
    I’ll get to work on my profile and I’ll change the author by-line so the name doesn’t look weird next to the bio. Can you make it so the author picture links to their profile?

  2. As of now the avatars also link to profiles! *bows* I should list this as a job skill when I go on the market.
    As for comments on user profile pages – yikes I don’t even know how that would work! The user pages are generated by the plugin to sit on the Community page… so unlike posts or pages there would be nothing except the parent page to comment on. I suppose one could design a plugin that allows you to comment on the Community page, and it filters the comments depending on what user’s page you were on/are on when you comment/read comments. But that could be a colossal house of cards – if one thing breaks it all goes down. Maybe someday when Biofortified has money out the wazoo we can make a real facebook like system. 🙂 Frank, how’s your yield this year? Let’s see how people use this one before our eyes get too big!

  3. I personally applaud this development.
    It will enable ad hominem attacks to the point where persons of conscience will go away.
    Sort of like ‘non-GMO’ labeling. You put irrelevant information on a food label, and you’ll get an irrelevant response.
    Imagine someone who comments here who also works for Monsanto. I can promise you that scorn and ridicule will be heaped upon that person no matter what they say.
    Pseudonymy is the best way forward, since the anti-GMOers have made money and affiliation the ‘litmus test’ for anything whatsoever.
    And, with Greenpeace saying, “We know where you live”, and Earth First! (a splinter group of Greenpeace) engaging in arson, not identifying yourself is the best way to *not* seeing your laboratory (or perhaps your home) going up in flames.
    Ad hominems can be terrifically severe.

  4. On the contrary, in online discussions that I read, pseudonymous commenters are dismissed quite readily as “industry shills”. Indeed, people often use pseudonyms to attack others without fear of retribution. (We have had one sockpuppet recently)
    And I don’t agree that people identifying themselves as working for a biotech company will be unequivocally dismissed. For example, Ewan has been very open about the fact that he works for Monsanto, and has not gotten such scorn. We also have readers from the Organic community, who I would very much like to see also filling out profiles.
    The cases of arson and vandalism (other than plants) were more frequent in the US in the past, around the year 2000. So I highly doubt that comments made on a blog discussing genetic engineering will make such things likely to happen to the authors of those comments. Also, it is not necessary for someone to put their real name in their profile, so you could make a profile telling people about yourself while still remaining pseudonymous.
    One of our goals is to lower the level of overly harsh discourse, and we feel that putting a human (or herbaceous) face to things will help in that regard. Of course, participation is voluntary, as is winning our fabulous prizes.

  5. I try to be as open about my Monsanto connection as I can (I often forget) – I’ve been mauled pretty severely by SC over at Pharyngula for it, but on the whole people are either just ridiculous about it – I’ve been accused of being “that guy in the sports car impatient to get around the poor farmers beat up pickup” (amusing at the time as I was driving a 90’s Ford ranger with dodgy ac and heating) but generally nothing much – Monsanto employees are encouraged to engage online on the proviso that they identify their employer and spit out the usual “these be my views, not Monsanto’s, Arr!”
    Bizarrely the only demonstrations etc I’ve seen near monsanto HQ are those crazy fundangelicals with their “god hates fags” placards – why they were outside Monsanto world HQ is beyond me – perhaps homosexuality is now linked to roundup useage or something?
    (PS I’ll fill out the profile eventually)

  6. I’ve tried to upload photos to my profile, but it always comes up with the error:
    Image 2 error: Image has not enough pixels.
    Any ideas? I’ve tried 3 different pictures. They’re fairly small in file size but they certainly have enough pixels to show the picture.

  7. The gallery had a minimum number of pixels for uploads sets to 0.2 Megapixels, so I set it to 0.04 – the size of a 200 x 200 picture. Give it another try! Hopefully these pics aren’t too small.

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