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Frequently Asked Questions

General

Q: Why aren't there more formatting options in the text editor?

A:

I've deliberately restricted the options available to those that I feel are truly necessary to format an essay (I'm seriously considering removing the underline option). I want the articles on the site to have a uniform and dignified feel. As much as possible I want to hew closely to what a quality magazine like the New Yorker or the Atlantic would look like.

Given a wider range of options, too many people create something closer to Homer Simpson's webpage than to fine type-setting. In my opinion, people are overly enamored with fonts and colors and other formatting goo gaws. No offense to people.

If you'd like to make your essays look fancier, I'd recommend using left and right quotes (e.g. “quotation”) for your quotations and em dashes—like this—to set apart your parenthetic statements. That's what the cool people (a.k.a. the bliterati) do. Both are available in the custom characters panel.

Q: Why does your site look like crap?

A:

It could be a matter of taste, but it could also be because your web browser sucks. bliterati should look as intended in Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, and possibly Internet Explorer 9+. If the site looks genuinely horrible it's probably because you're using an older version of Internet Explorer. I'm just one person, and optimizing the appearance of bliterati across legacy versions of IE would require a substantial chunk of my all-too-limited time. So, I apologize, but it may be a while before I get around to making the appearance of this site consistent for your current browser. Expecting a website to look good on IE 6 is sort of like if somebody designed a car and you asked, “very nice, but can it be comfortably driven by a chicken?”

The good news however is that Chrome, Firefox, and Opera are free and only take a minute or two to install. Or I suppose you could update your version of IE if you really want to.

Q: Why bliterati?

A:

         —from a comment I wrote when suggesting the name

  1. It rolls off the tongue. I think good domain names should be enjoyable to say. Bliterati. A domain name should be something that you can say in conversation without feeling foolish, or having to repeat yourself a lot, or making special efforts to enunciate. I can picture someone saying, "have you been to bliterati?"
  2. It's neutral. For instance, I think essaycommune.com isn't bad, but people have significant prior associations with both essays and communes not all of which may induce warm and fuzzy feelings. It is a totally apt expression of what the site is about, but it leaves room for vague feelings of discomfort and avoidance. Bliterati, by being totally made up, is a blank slate that is unlikely to skew anyone's first impression.
  3. It hints at what the site is about without being too literal or constraining.  Literati, so something about shi shi, literate people who make you uncomfortable because they're cooler than you. But with a B, so it's the web literati, in the sense that bloggers are web loggers. Which is funny, because it's like a cross between snooty hi-brow commentators and people who know nothing about writing who sit around in their pajamas jotting down every half-baked idea that comes to mind. So the bliterati are like bloggers only cooler, and more literate. But you don't have to feel too uncomfortable around them, because the B means that they're probably still in their pajamas.

Q: What is a users circle?

A:

Users circles allow you to share your documents with a group of other bliterati users of your choice prior to publishing them to the general public. Since essays on bliterati are meant to be an attempt at a lasting and meaningful investigation of a topic, it makes sense to run your writing and ideas by a group of your peers before you publish.  Circle members can:

  • View and comment on your drafts.
  • Make revisions of your drafts and published essays.

Other powers will probably be added. Circle membership is asymmetrical. That means that if you invite someone to join your circle and they accept then they can see your drafts but you cannot see theirs unless they invite you in return. 

You can kick people from your circle or leave circles that you have joined at any time.

Q: What's the deal with modpoints?

A:

Moderation points are opportunities to vote on comments. The site randomly assigns modpoints as new comments are created. Your odds of getting new modpoints increase as your own comments and essays get voted up. The idea is that people who write the best comments are likely to give the best feedback regarding the quality of other people's comments. 

Comments max out at a rating of 5. You may have noticed that comments with low ratings display minimized, while comments with high ratings display maximized. The current default threshold for full display is 3 or higher. You can change the threshold setting by editing your personal info at your user page.

I intend to gradually improve the sophistication of the moderation system. As your reputation increases you will be able to gain additional power to moderate other user's writing and to directly influence their reputation.