1. 17
    How Mara Works practices web christine.website
  1.  

  2. 21

    Further complaints will only increase the amount of furry art in future posts.

    Possibly unintended incentive: I will complain (in order to increase the amount of furry art in future posts).

    1. 11

      Whatever shall the artists I commission for stickers do with their piles of money?

    2. 14

      You won’t forget which blog you’re reading when it’s got character in addition to information. Mara reminds me of Why the Lucky Stiff’s foxes.

      1. 7

        I’m surprised so many people are saying this is off topic. Cadey rolled her own markdown preprocessor to make this work!

        1. 7

          I like Christine’s posts, but mentally I just skip past all those Mara paragraphs. It just seems like too much of a distration from the topic at hand. I think breaking up long posts is fine, but I think better ways are available to do that:

          • Pictures. toss a picture in between paragraphs here and there.

          • ::first-letter - dont use it on every paragraph, but maybe a few important ones. Aeon.co does a good job of this.

          • Pull quote. Take an important sentence of some paragraph, and make it into its own paragraph. Again Aeon.co does a good job of this.

          • Put a literal line striking your article into sections. Example article at Psyche.co.

          • Put a fancy marker between sections, example articles at Arp242.net and at LongReads.

          1. 7

            All those are valid, and they’re all less interesting and less memorable.

            1. 9

              Bingo. I personally hate pull quotes, unrelated pictures, needless <hr />‘s, section markers and big first letters. I decided to go for something I haven’t seen before, if only to see what it is like. So far this experiment has been successful, but I’m still in the “throw science at the wall and see what sticks” phase of experimentation.

              1. 5

                Agreed. I tend to skip / mildly dislike all of the above. Especially pull quotes, which add nothing and disrupt the flow of my reading.

            2. 7

              One of the most educational fursonas of the year. :)

              Why does Mara have ears if they’re a shark? Do they have a tail? Could they use that tail to manage additional ergodoxes? So many questions… -_-;;

              My only real thought is that the art is a bit large compared to the text that frequently accompanies it. I kinda wonder if you could do a trick with <summary> / <details> blocks to pop out the thoughts on hover or something. I’m sure you’ve already run through many variants on this idea.

              Also, it’s nice to see somebody else overloading a markdown parser’s link support to do more interesting things–I do something similar in postprocessing the HTML for a blog generator I work with.

              1. 1

                I was really hoping to see pictures of the hand soldered ergodoxi with steno layouts.

                1. 2

                  I’ll see what I can do.

                2. 1
                  • Mara has ears because how else can you give earrubs?
                  • Their tail isn’t opposable enough for typing normally, but could be used for another set of foot pedals.
                  • I’ve been playing with the sizes. I’ll probably shrink it a bit more if the text is insignificant, CSS is hard lol. I think I need to have the minimum size be calculated instead of the maximum size.
                  • Today I learned about summary/details. I’ll take a look at it!
                  1. 3

                    Summary/details is unbelievably nice and covers one of the last reasons I had for using JavaScript on my blog.

                3. 4

                  Chalk me up as someone who didn’t find the previous writing to be too dry. I think your writing is well executed without images in it, especially The Gears and the Gods, which I don’t think the theming for that would work with Mara. I actually like them quite a bit, but I also read the full length of Yegge articles when I have the time.

                  Still, the new dialogs are entertaining in their own way, and they are a helpful place for counter-points or expounding on something. I just hope we have some more apocalyptic and evocative writing again in the future (though I understand if you’re going in a different way).

                  1. 2

                    Oh I’m not going to use Mara all the time. My more philosophical posts (like The Gears and the Gods) wouldn’t really benefit from it in the first place. Mara is a tool, not a panacea for my writing style.

                  2. 3

                    Pretty neat. I like the idea that the service running the blog has a protocol for the component, such that it’s not a new element/tag. It does seem that it could cause confusion for an outsider since it hijacks the link syntax, but I also understand that it’s Christine’s personal blog software and probably not meant to be used outside of that.

                    As for things like <picture> - color me surprised. I didn’t know this was a thing. I should probably pay more attention to new features..

                    In regards to the character itself - I don’t really think it’s a big deal. I read the posts because they have interesting content and I like the style. Like kevinc mentioned, it reminds me slightly of _why or jvns (etc). I like that there is personality injected. For others - there’s always reader mode.

                    1. 2

                      From the title I was half expecting an explanation of shark cardiovascular systems or something. ;)

                      Maybe you could avoid the nested anchors problem by using an (empty?) anchor to mark a following sibling block quote node as being a character segment? Like

                      [](character://Mara/joyous)
                      >
                      > My art was drawn by [Selicre](https://selic.re/)
                      >
                      

                      Small bonus, this markdown looks a bit like how the output renders

                      1. 1

                        Don’t worry, my worldbuilding is still stuck as punnet squares and how gravity influences marine life. I’m probably not going to focus on how sharks can respirate on land and underwater for a long time. 😂

                        As for the markdown idea, I’ll take a look at that. I really ended up picking the link overloading method because it was easier to implement with the markdown parser I use.

                        1. 2

                          It looks like you iterate a DOM after your markdown parser is finished and then mutate nodes? Or does it give you the DOM nodes incrementally as it parses?

                          Former would be “jump to the next sibling, see if it’s a block quote, reformat if so or panic if not” and the latter would be… reminiscent of SAX hell. “Set a flag, then every time you encounter a node, if the flag is set, error if you’re on anything other than a block quote, otherwise transform the block quote to a conversation and clear the flag. When encountering a link, if it’s a conversation, set the flag. After parsing is done, throw an error if the flag is still set.” And by “flag” I mean an Option<ConversationDetails> being None or Some :)

                      2. 1

                        Reminds me of the Cool Bear from https://fasterthanli.me/ – it’s used there to bring a bit of color to great, bu quite long articles. They are insightful and full of detail, just like @cadey mentions for her texts.

                        1. 1

                          Thanks for the explanation of how you implemented this.

                          I was intrigued by this passage, regarding the inability of adding links within the Markdown pseudo-links:

                          However, I enabled putting raw HTML in my markdown which lets this work anyways! […]

                          I’m running the OG Markdown Perl script by Gruber as a filter on my blog, and AFAIK it’s always supported “shelling out” to raw HTML for when that’s needed. I guess the issue you’re working around is something like

                          [This is a <a href="https://www.w3schools.com/tags/att_a_href.asp">link</a> to a popular search engine](https://google.com)
                          

                          which is probably UB for Markdown.

                          1. 2

                            Yeah, understandably markdown doesn’t really like links inside link titles (because that doesn’t make sense!). I originally tried to use the HTML link support as a bit of a joke and it ended up working somehow! I was surprised, but I rolled with it.