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Spot the difference

Welcome to the new-look blog. The old one was looking a bit of a dog's dinner so I thought it was time to do something about it.

I tried changing the design template on the old blog but with all those images to accommodate it looked even worse. There was only one solution - create a brand new, stripped down, clutter-free site.

And here it is. It's not finished so expect a few tweaks here and there.

In order to keep the old site live - for archive purposes - I have given this one a slightly different URL, replacing It's not ideal because it means there are now two sites instead of one but if you need to look for something on the old site just click on the Archive button on the top menu bar.

Apart from that the content, including the house rules, will be much as before. I don't have many rules:

  • My pet hates include long, rambling comments that repeat ad nauseum what we've already discussed on this blog (and elsewhere) for months if not years. I like to restrict comments to 300 words, which I think is generous, but it's not a hard and fast rule. If you've got something to say and do it well, I'll overlook it. On the other hand, comments in excess of a thousand words are, frankly, taking liberties. That's not a comment, that's a speech. If it's any good I'll publish it as a guest blog, or I suggest you offer it to someone else.
  • Another pet hate is a comment that has nothing to do with the original post or the preceding comments. This is a blog not a message board. It's rude and more often than not it kills the thread.
What else? Oh, yes:
  • I can take criticism but I won't be stalked or bullied via my own blog. It's only happened once or twice in four years, including quite recently, but it wasn't very pleasant. And while I welcome comments from all sides of a debate, I won't tolerate personally abusive comments aimed at people who, for example, choose to smoke. I like a good argument (preaching to the converted was never my thing), but this is a smoker-friendly site and I won't tolerate intolerance.

My favourite comments are those that are short, informative and entertaining. If you remember that I'm sure we'll become (or remain) good friends.

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Reader Comments (17)

Nice new blog. Rules noted!

Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 10:14 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

Any chance we can have the Facebook URL again, please?

"I won't tolerate personally abusive comments aimed at people who, for example, choose to smoke."

Personally speaking I have no problems with die, die, die, of cancer brigade, it just shows how vacuous anti smokers are, and how intolerant. I have been inaccurately smeared twice now as an extreme right winger by the ASH and the left, so we must be doing something right.

Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 10:55 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Nice new blog Simon. I take note of your rules, but can I make a suggestion? You, quite understandably, hate comments which have nothing to do with the original post. I notice that this happens on the Guardian website - and the whole discussion can go off on a tangent. Anyway, my suggestion is a suggestion box about topics that we could discuss and perhaps Forest would be interested in following up. For example, as many councils are now cutting staff enormously - I'd be interested in hearing how many are keeping smoking ban enforcement teams while curtting, say, Meals on Wheels etc.

So if there was a click through for suggestions for comments, I think it could generate further ideas and debate.

This is by no way detracts from this blog. Its my favourite by a mile. Simon's thoughts and insights are always interesting and the comments are always well thought through and stimulating.

Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 11:20 | Unregistered CommenterMark Butcher

We're experiencing gremlins with the background colour - on PCs, at any rate. Hope to have it sorted shortly.

Mark, I'll give your idea some thought. My immediate reaction is that this is a personal blog not a discussion board or forum and the original idea was to cover a wide range of issues, not allow it to be dominated by one subject. Fat chance!

We are currently designing a new Forest website for launch in March and we might incorporate your idea there instead.

Dave, I will add a link to our Facebook group later today. Note that if you click on the 'Share Article' button (next to 'Comments') relevant posts can easily be added to Facebook.

Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 12:16 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

A nice piece of Spring-cleaning ! Which reminds me..................................

Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 12:36 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

I forgot to mention that another pet hate is rows of dots after comments .... excessive use of CAPITAL LETTERS, and other weird behaviour. The list is endless.

Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 12:40 | Unregistered CommenterSimon


Looking forward to the revamped Forest site. Can I make a suggestion?

The rolling news window, currently centre page, is a great resource but it is very hard to catch the links in time to follow them up, as they scroll past too quickly. There seems to be a stop button, top right, but it doesn't appear to work (I use Internet Explorer).

Is there any chance you could add an option to make it a scrollable list of stories?

Thanks and best regards,

Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 19:58 | Unregistered CommenterTonyW

Thanks, Tony. Yes, we'll have a look at it. Our current newsfeed is quite an expensive option so can't guarantee that it will be retained but we are looking at alternatives.

Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 20:20 | Unregistered CommenterSimon Clark

Weird indeed. Ach, will you not put the latest comment at the top instead of the bottom of the thread, already? Do you not care about the RSI I'm getting in my iPhone scrolling finger? I might sue.

Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 22:05 | Unregistered CommenterRose W

Now then, Rose W!

I prefer to start at the top and work down!

Some sites have the option. Perhaps something for Simon to think about in the future.

Can I just ty the italics? italics more italics

Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 22:32 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Good, that works ok - no need for capitals now.

Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 22:34 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Oh, that didn't work properly - I didn't italicise the word 'now'. Will have to read up on it. Drat!

Like the site very much.

Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 22:36 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

I agree with Junican - I prefer having the older posts at the top and working down. Sorry Rose!

Friday, January 21, 2011 at 7:14 | Unregistered CommenterMark Butcher

Seriously? But that means every time you come to the board, you have to read through all the posts you've already read, just to see if anyone has added a comment. Unless you memorise the number of comments for each thread each time you leave - and that's a bit anally retentive, even for me.

Friday, January 21, 2011 at 8:06 | Unregistered CommenterRose W

To get to the bottom of the list I find that Control End works. . I'm assuming, however, that people will be aware of that?

Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 11:13 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

Thanks, Norman, I'd forgotten that short-cut on the PC. You don't know one for the iPhone, do you? You can jump to the top by touching the little bar right at the top of the phone, but I've never been able to find anything that works to jump to the bottom of the screen.

PS Apologies Simon if I'm being irrelevant and killing the thread!

Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 13:33 | Unregistered CommenterRose W

Sorry, Rose W. but I haven't got an iPhone.

Sunday, January 23, 2011 at 17:28 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

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