Overflow Box Menu

Following my initial comments on MbD’s post “Also for TA: Drop down menu in navigation bar” (comment here) and as an example of an overflow box menu, I’ve created a test menu using our member feeds, sitting right below the “regular” member feeds menu I created yesterday.

This is to show how we could use such a box as a menu (e.g., for members’ “About Me” pages or Halloween Bingo / Festive Tasks master update posts), if we wanted to provide links to those member posts / pages directly from the sidebar (instead of sending site visitors to a separate index page), regardless how many member page links we need to accommodate — AND to the extent we can’t use a drop-down menu: please note MbD’s comments in her original post (bottom line: drop-down menus too far down the sidebar may run into spacing and visibility issues).

I’ve left the pre-formatted “underlined” design of the links forming the menu in place to show that this really is just a simple list of links, stuck inside a box that is smaller than (= not as high as) the height of the actual list (which in turn is what forces the “overflow” mechanism to activate).  Like all other sidebar features, this can be changed.  (Err, at least in theory.  If we can get WP to cooperate.)

The size (height / width) of the box is customizable at will.  On my own blog I typically use heights of 300px or 350px — those would have been too large to show the “overflow” functionality with a list as short as our current number of member feeds, but they might still be the right size(s) for a “Members’ About Me Pages” menu, if we wanted to use an overflow box to link to those.  And as it is only the height of the box itself that we need to worry about in terms of the space this item takes in the sidebar,  there is no limit to the number of lines (links to member pages / master posts) that such a menu can accommodate.

ETA (for MbD):

This is what the overflow menu looks like on my screen.

Maybe it’s dependent on what browsers we use and how they are configured?

Setup for Regular Blogging AND Reading Games / Group Reads

As I said in my comments earlier, I’ve tweaked the sidebar and categories / projects setup of the blog a bit so as to show how (I think) we might be able to make use of our new group community for regular blogging (à la BookLikes) AND reading games / group reads etc.  Here are the basic new features I added:

1. “Member Feeds” Menu
I’ve added a menu that brings together our individual member feeds, culled from our respective “regular” posts.

(For the time being, it’s located between the “General Site Links” and “Bingo Pages” menus — placing of this, as well as any and all other sidebar items is, of course, subject to discussion / comments / change.)

This menu draws on the member name categories; in that respect, it does the exact same thing as the WP-auto-generated “categories” menu further below.  BUT it ONLY draws on the member name categories, not on any additional categories (e.g., Halloween Bingo).  So this would be the place where we could find every site member’s individual posts, in one feed per member — exactly the way our individual blogs used to work on BookLikes.

Right now, with only a few of us, this menu doesn’t take a lot of space; on the “actual” site, with more members, we’d probably eventually have to either design this as an “overflow” menu in the style of the “Book Reviews / Blog Posts by Author” menu (and corresponding menus for movie and music blog posts / reviews) towards the bottom of the sidebar of my blog … or as a drop-down menu if we can figure out how to code it as such (* whistles innocently and looks at MbD *).

Please note that I’ve left the original (WP / auto-generated) “Categories” menu item in place (though moved a bit further down, between “Recent Comments” and “Archives”), but I’ve turned this item into a drop-down menu using the handy formatting option that WP provides for its auto-generated “Categories” menu.  I’ve done this because we now have two different types of post categories — one to select / cull member post feeds by name, one to select / cull by reading games or similar “special purposes” (e.g., Halloween Bingo, see below) — and the auto-generated “Categories” menu item as provided by WP doesn’t allow for that distinction; we have to make it ourselves (and can easily do so, as hopefully shown in my example).

Also, if members want to create individual “About Me” pages, they can of course do so, too:

(a) Either by using the “page” formatting option; in this instance I suggest creating a separate menu collecting those pages similar to the currently-existing “Bingo Pages” menu.  (Theoretically we could include those pages as separate, possibly nested items in the “Member Feeds” menu, but IMHO that would make it too convoluted.)  Note that every newly-created “About Me” page would have to be added to the menu manually by site admin, as pages are the only type of WP contents format that can’t be categorized or tagged and doesn’t show in any type of feed, so there is no way of summarily capturing all pages of a certain type / contents and then just linking to the place where they are all collected.

(b) Or by formatting members’ “About Me” sections as either a project or a post (for feed culling purposes across the site, it would have to be unanimously one of the two formats; using both would mean we’d necessarily only capture one of the two formats in the “About Me Sections” feed).  We could then cull all of these projects / posts in a separate feed that could be summarily linked from the sidebar menu, the same way our member feeds and the special purpose feeds are (e.g., Halloween Bingo, see below).

2. Halloween Bingo Test Menu
I’ve created a test menu (below the “Bingo Pages” menu) designed to bring together essentially all types of (in this instance) Halloween Bingo-related content.  (Obviously, we could do the same thing for any other type of “special interest” posting — Festive Tasks, group reads, etc.)  This menu consists of three basic types of contents (two of these, with sub-items):

(a) The Halloween Bingo admin posts formatted as projects. and checked off as “Project Type: Halloween Bingo” in the relevant box to the right of the project drafting field.

I’ve created a “Questions?” project post to show what this separate feed would look like; as MbD had already created another “project” and categorized it as “Halloween Bingo” we now actually have a genuine test feed there.

Immediately below this main menu item, as separately-listed sub-items, there are two examples of major admin pages, plus another — individual — link to the new “Questions?” project post, (1) to show how a project can be made visible individually (next to other menus items) as well as in the context of a feed, and (2) because arguably the “Questions?” post should be easily accessible from the sidebar menu in addition to its inclusion in the overall Halloween Bingo admin feed.  Again, note that pages are the only type of WP posting formats that don’t show up in any feed, so these *need* to be included in a sidebar menu if we want to make them visible and easily accessible to everybody.  (I therefore suggest not actually using the word “Feed” in the first line of the “actual” menu on our new permanent site, i.e. the line designing the overall admin section in that menu; I’ve just used it in the test menu to show that this particular menu item draws on the admin “project” posts feed.)

(b) The Halloween Bingo players feed.

These are the game participants’ regular posts, culled from the newly-created “Halloween Bingo” category.

Taking my two test posts — and this present post — as  examples, you will see that you’ll find these three posts both in my “regular” member thread (see “Member Feeds” menu, above) AND in the topical “Halloween Bingo” feed: all I had to do to achieve this was check both my member name and “Halloween Bingo” in the “Categories” box to the right side of the post drafting field.  No duplication of posts or anything else necessary; WP does the sorting for us.

So, if we use the “projects” format (in connection with a “Project Type” named accordingly, e.g., “Halloween Bingo”, “Festive Tasks”, etc.) for admin purposes and just add the relevant topical categories (again, Halloween Bingo, Festive Tasks, etc.) to WP’s “Categories” feature for regular posts, we can have separate feeds for both — PLUS a menu bringing both the admin feed and the players’ regular posts together in the sidebar.

(c) Individual Halloween Bingo pages / master update posts, regardless in which format.

Many of us like to create master update posts / pages for their individual game, and it is easy enough to include those, too, in the sidebar menu for accessibility.  For purposes of creating these types of posts, it doesn’t matter in what format they come (posts / pages / projects).  If they are designed as pages, however, we would have to know their title so as to be able to identify them when creating this menu entry.  (Again, we would have to do this manually if everybody uses the “page” format.)  If we could get players to use a general “Halloween Bingo Master Update Posts” tag, though (or a category — though in this instance, for site organization purposes I’d prefer a tag), we could, again, create a separate feed culling all of these posts into one place and, again, just basically link to that feed in the sidebar menu.

A note on visibility: WP allows sidebar items (menus, etc.) to be restricted in visibility.  Thus, for 10 of the 12 months of the year, the “Halloween Bingo” menu need not appear on the overall sidebar at all (ditto Festive Tasks, etc.) — we would restrict visibility to the associated contents and only restore the menu to “general” visibility while the game is actually being run.

Final note: I’ve taken the liberty of moving the search bar further up in the sidebar menu (below “General Site Links”); it seemed a bit buried, being stuck in the middle.  But as with the placing of all menu items, this is just me — I’ll happily bow to majority preferences if those should be otherwise!

Halloween Bingo: TA’s Test Post No. 2

This is another test post to demonstrate how a “Halloween Bingo” players feed can be generated. This post, like my first test post, is filed under two WP categories: My player / site member name (Themis-Athena) and the new “Halloween Bingo” category. To distinguish the posts in the players’ “regular” feed from the admin posts formatted as projects (and culled into a feed of their own), I am again not using a “featured image” at the top of this post, but, this time, my bingo card as it stands right now:

Halloween Bingo: TA’s Test Post No. 1

This is a test post to demonstrate how a “Halloween Bingo” players feed can be generated.  This post is filed under two WP categories: My player / site member name (Themis-Athena) and the new “Halloween Bingo” category.  To distinguish the posts in the players’ “regular” feed from the admin posts formatted as projects (and culled into a feed of their own), I am not using a “featured image” at the top of this post, but rather, I give you my lovely Charlie and this year’s bingo card (after the pre-game use of two spell cards):

“Posts” vs. “Pages” vs. “Projects”


This is in response to comments made / questions asked earlier (by MbD and / or Christine) re: the working of “project” pages.

Leaving aside special formats such as quotes and image galleries etc., WP basically allows for three types of posts (or post-like input): “posts”, “pages” and “projects”.  Those who are familiar with WP will know most or all of this — or at least most of what I’m saying about the first two of these — but briefly, to put things into context, especially for the WP newbies:

Posts are those contributions of yours that go into the blogroll / continuous feed (= the dashboard on BookLikes).  On WP, they come with both a “like” and a “comment” option; i.e., essentially they work the way things did on BL — we can have discussions right in the comments section of the post.  As comments are “nested” (i.e., replies and follow-up comments are indented further than the original comment, even if in this particular design theme not quite as clearly as on BL), several conversations on the same post can go on at the same time without comments overlapping and getting in each others’ way.

This is how probably somewhere around 90% (or at any rate, the vast majority) of the contents of the joint blog will be created.

Pages are contributions that do NOT go into the blogroll / continuous feed.  You have to specifically make them visible in some way or other, e.g., by including them in a sidebar or top bar menu which then links to the page in question (or by linking there from another page).

Also, pages do not have a comment function (though on WP you can “like” them).

Thus, pages are a great place for permanent admin announcements — e.g., the Bingo Rules on this blog are formatted as a page.  So is my main Literature index on my personal blog.

Projects are essentially a combination / cross section of posts and pages.  Like posts, they allow for both comments and “likes”.  However, like pages, they do not appear in the main blogroll / feed but have to be made visible in another way (e.g., as part of a menu).  The black admin sidebar category under which you find all of a given blog’s projects is called “Portfolio” (it sits right under “Pages”).  Also, projects do not share the blog posts’ tags and categories: that way, you can (inter alia) create one or more separate feeds for your projects to which you can also link (instead of just to a single project) from a menu.

I think on this blog, “projects” may be a good tool for every type of post that, on the one hand, we want site members to be able to access at all times without having to search the main blogroll / feed, and which on the other hand, we want people to be able to comment on.

E.g., I don’t know whether the Nose Graze plugin would allow us to create book lists — if it doesn’t, we could copy over the existing book lists for the various bingo squares into one project page per square / book list, to which others then could either add books directly (if they have the admin rights to do so) or make suggestions in the comments (the way we originally did this on BL, except that this time it wouldn’t fall to MbD alone to add the books; everybody with admin rights could pitch in).

Ditto the “Questions” section: We could create one basic “Questions” project page / post, include it in one of the overall bingo admin menus (sidbar or top bar), and questions could then be asked in the comments — with the answers to questions that don’t merely concern a single issue (e.g., “can book xyz be used for square abc?”) but a matter of policy (such as some of my questions in this year’s game as to the interplay of various spell cards) then — if we think it might come up again — copied into the main body of the “questions” project post as such.

On my personal blog, I am using “projects” mainly for the master update posts concerning my various reading projects; e.g., Halloween Bingo 2021.

BUT note that my top menu bar contains links — other than to my main blog post feed and my contact page — to my main index pages (literature, movies, music; all formatted as WP “pages”) AS WELL AS to the separate “(ongoing) projects” blogroll generated from all those of my projects in a portfolio category named (you guessed it) “ongoing”.  A separate additional menu showing all of my ongoing projects is contained in my sidebar (as are menus for my completed projects and a number of  other indexes) .   So, visitors to my blog have two different ways of finding the master update posts for all my ongoing projects in one place; either via the top bar menu and the dedicated “ongoing projects” blogroll linked there, or via the relevant sidebar menu.  I think we could do something similar for those bingo admin posts that do invite comments (and therefore can’t be formatted as WP “pages”), but which should nevertheless be accessible at all times without getting buried in the main blog post feed.

Essentially, the combination of separate “project” blogrolls and menus would allow us to create dedicated discussion sections or feeds that could have a similar function as the “discussion” subsections on Goodreads (“admin”, “the squares”, etc.) without interfering with the main blog feed and / or with the blog members’ individual feeds, such as auto-generated on the basis of their authorship category.

I hope this doesn’t all sound too complicated — it really isn’t; it’s probably just a matter of playing around with things … and there are probably also yet more ways of using “projects” that will occur to us once we start tinkering with the feature.