Gas station without pumps

2010 October 30

Below the break in blogs

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 19:04
Tags: , , ,

Lots of bloggers talk about things being “below the break” which appears to be a reference to the fold in newspapers, which puts the headlines and beginnings of stories on the first page, visible on top of a pile of papers or in a vending machine, but the continuation of the story on the lower half of the page, hidden from the casual viewer (generally requiring purchase to see).

This concept makes no sense on a blog, as each viewer may have a different size screen and see different amounts of the beginning material of the blog.  Those who read through an RSS feed may see a completely different view than those who read the blog directly.

A similar problem is seen in many web page designs, which seem to assume that all readers have the same screen size, the same fonts, and the same browser.  I prefer a lot of the older, simpler web pages, which left most of the formatting to the browser, rather than trying to micromanage the appearance. My eyes are not as good as they once were, and I sometimes like to increase the font size by a couple of points for readability, or force black on white for legibility. Many web pages have such complicated fragile formatting that they break if you attempt to make them readable in these ways.

As you may have noticed, the blog format I’m using is “Rubric” by Hadley Wickham, which is a flexible-width format, so that readers can view the blog at whatever screen size they choose, and can (if their eyes are old like mine) increase the font size for comfort without messing up the blog.

Although I like Rubric well enough, it was about the only choice that offered with both flexible width and a custom header picture. I might have preferred a larger header picture, but all the wide-header formats wordpress offered were fixed-width.  (I understand that they have added one or two flexible-width themes in the past couple of months, but none were as clean and text-centered as Rubric, so did not tempt me.)

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  1. In blogs, “below the break” or even “below the fold” can refer to content that is not syndicated, and is therefore not available directly in an RSS reader. I’ve always assumed that including non-syndicated content in the blog and mentioning that non-syndicated content in the syndicated feed is meant to encourage direct site visits from RSS readers, possibly with an eye to advertising impressions, which would be a fairly direct analog of the newspaper vending machine model.

    I also use a larger than average minimum font size in my browser, and I just grumble about how broken the web is. I do tend to assume that any site that is illegible with a large font size probably doesn’t have content worth reading anyway, and honestly have rarely found exceptions to that rule.

    Comment by Michael K Johnson — 2010 October 31 @ 18:40 | Reply

    • Since I put the whole post in the RSS feed, it didn’t occur to me that “below the break” meant “not in the RSS feed”. I think I’ve seen it in the middle of posts that I read with Google Reader, though, so not everyone is using it to mean “not in the RSS feed”.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2010 October 31 @ 21:01 | Reply

  2. I’ve generally seen that usage where the blogger has consciously put further information below a cut tag. It hadn’t occurred to me that it was ever used to refer to the next screen on a browser — I suppose that where I’ve seen it without a cut tag, I must have just assumed that the cut tag had not been processed correctly in my browser and I was therefore seeing the whole thing.

    Comment by Helen — 2010 November 1 @ 09:24 | Reply

    • What is the “cut” tag? I don’t think that there is one in standard HTML, though LiveJournal has a non-standard tag “lj-cut”, that seems to do what Helen mentions.

      WordPress does have such a thing also, which they call the “more” tag:

      which is an HTML comment interpreted by the wordpress web server.

      They also have a nextpage tag (again as an HTML comment):

      The places where I’ve seen “below the break” did not have any visual evidence that either of these tags had been used, but it is nice to know that there is a context in which the expression is meaningful.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2010 November 1 @ 10:34 | Reply

      • I go to a fair number of blogs where the main page will show all of most of the posts, but some of the posts (generally the much longer ones) have parts where you have to click over to the article, or click on something on the main page, in order to read the whole thing.

        Which means that when you get a link to the article, it will mention “after the break”, which makes no sense to you, because you’ve already got the whole thing.

        Comment by Greg — 2010 November 1 @ 18:22 | Reply

        • That’s probably what is happening then, as I almost never go to the main page of a blog, but come to individual articles through Google Reader.

          Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2010 November 1 @ 22:02 | Reply

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