Quick Notes on the Community Server Blog Upgrade

These are simply my thoughts after playing with the new site for a couple of hours.  I'm having some ups and downs with the new engine so far. I'm sure I'll come to love it and there are probably some good workarounds to several of the issues I'm having.  I'm posting this here so that other bloggers could potentially help out or find this information helpful.

  • Wow, new skins to play with! ... and they seem even more customizable!
  • Recent Posts feature broken 🙁 They fixed the feature bugs that let me put recent posts on the side by stripping anything but really basic HTML in the blog text entry fields.  I must find a new way to make this work. I had a lot of clicks from one post to another after I had enabled this before. 
  • Blog Search! Cool, no more hacked in msn or google search.
  • Category RSS Feed Links Changed 🙁  If you were subscribed to any of my individual category feeds you aren't any more.  The category feeds have been updated from the category/####/rss style to the main rss.aspx with a category argument ala rss.aspx/categorized=####.  I found out about this since I was consuming feedburner versions of other MSDN blogger feeds that had broken because of this.  So if you are using feedburner on your catagories... you'll need to update feedburner with the new links.
  • The feedback moderation UI is MUCH better!
  • Logging in as your blog name could be bad.  Now, if I'm logged into my blog and I go to leave comments it doesn't let me say who I am. So I can't leave comments as "Josh" unless I log out. "jledgard" isn't bad, but there are other people with less name-like blog names this will hurt worse for.
  • Richer Feedback Moderation options! Here is how I'm configured now: You can leave comments on all my older posts! No more 30 day limit to conversations!  Moderation is turned off for users who are signed in. Anonymous comments will still be moderated by default. I would still like to have my feature suggestion of a comment free-for-all for X days and moderation by default after that time. Seems like, by default, our blogs have been set up so that no anonymous comments have been enabled. If you would like your favorite blogger to change this I suggest you send them mail saying you don't want to have to log in to leave them comments. 
  • No "in-blog login". 🙁  Seems I have to go to the blogs.msdn.com home page to log in then navigate to my blog to hit the admin UI.  Extra steps that seem unnecessary.
  • Friendly post URLS! Looks as though I can name posts for friendly URLs like blogs.msdn.com/jledgard/mypostonfoo.aspx. This should come in handy for some things. 
  • Strange "https" issues: Looks like there are some bugs when logging in/out that cause you to get stuck on https versions of the site where links to posts don't work. The site claims to be logging errors on these so I assume it will get tracked down.
  • Delayed Blogging! Looks like I can write 5 entries today and tell them to publish themselves at some point in the future by setting a date/time.  Now I can send posts... <doc brown from bttf>into the future!</dbfbttf>
  • Insecure Content Warnings? When I log in and refresh my blog I get the "this page is trying to load insecure content" (or similar) warnings.  Now I have to click OK to that a lot. 
  • Rate My Posts!  You can now rate blog posts!  I've already put in for a "highest rated" set of RSS feeds for the whole site and my own blog.  That would really help the human aggregation of the main feed.  IMO.
  • Per post comment moderation: I can turn on or off comment moderation on the "per post" level. Don't know if I'll use it, but I can see the value.
  • Only one trackback per post!  I noticed I was sending out a new trackback link every time I would update the content of a post. Fine if I linked to my own content, but frustrating when I linked to others and I couldn't remove my links.
  • Post Previews! No more posting for real to verify the look of a post.

Thats it for now.  Thanks to Betsy and Telligent for all the hard work! Time to start tweaking my skins again.

Update 4/3 - After playing around a bit more

  • Track Comments Via E-mail! As Scott points out you can now subscribe to our blogs Via e-mail if you want, but more importantly, you can now "Track This Post" if you are logged into the blog system.  This will let you get notified whenever someone posts a comment to the post you are tracking.  I know I'll make use of this to track conversations on other interesting blogs I may have participated in. No more manually remembering where you posted and to go back for the next week waiting for replies to read.  Each post also has an RSS feed for comments, but it would be nice to show the RSS button as an option for people who don't want to sign in or use e-mail to read blog comments. 
  • URL Correction: Thanks for the correction. I had never noticed the friendly URL option in .Text.  I guess it goes back to the UI being much improved since I noticed now.
  • Slight Moderation Hiccups: Apparently new posts don't inherit from the blog wide moderation settings. This means that I have to enable the correct moderation options on each post from what I can tell.
  • Michael has a great post that explains some of the "3 inch differences" as well. He points out the blog keyword tagging feature is gone. I was using this to explain common MS used terms that everyone always had questions about like "PM" or "MSDN" or "SDET".  It would be great to get this feature back.  Michael had an even better use that I did by creating "tag like" links to MSDN topics on framework references.  
  • Comment Posting UI: When I post a comment I no longer see the other comments in the thread... this is frustrating and I have to open a new window to gain context as I'm responding.  When I click comment it also reloads the page without moving IE down to the comment field. This caught me off-guard. I wonder if this is just my skin?
  • Post rating might be more effective if anon users were allowed to rate the content... or we just come up with a ranking technique that takes click-throughs, comments, trackbacks, etc into account. 
  • The admin UI used to have a quick link back to the home page of the blog you were editing. This was a nice shortcut to have.
  • Quick Edits! The edit button is now below the post for blog admins.  This makes it MUCH easier to edit old posts. Previously you had to work a lot harder to find posts in the admin UI.
  • "Logged in As" - It would be great to show a "Logged in as" in the title bar like the Community Server: Forums has. I'm pretty sure that Gret and I are going to end up accidentally impersonating the other from our home machines at this point.
  • Spammer Redirects! Looks like spammers won't get the rank boost from links they leave since a redirect service has been added to the comments. URLs will all look like they are pointing to the http://blogs.msdn.com/utility/redirect.aspx page.  Unfortunately they can still leave URLs in the comment fields.

Comments (27)
  1. ScottW says:

    I will probably stop doing this at some point, but I love the feedback. 🙂

    1. A couple new skins and lots of clean up on the older ones. Two new features:

    – Much easier to create new skins

    – You can now select a "color" sheet and use the custom CSS feature. They render a true hierarchy, which should lead make things easier.

    2. Community Server has an aggressive XSS feature(s). By default only pre-select elements are allowed to be used in posts, news, etc. Since this is a "closed" community, I will work with Betsy and folks to figure the optimal settings. See: http://docs.communityserver.org/default.aspx/CS.MarkUpConfiguration

    3. Category RSS Feed Links Changed – Errr…my bad. Categories in .Text were the only place we did the /something instead of true Urls or querystrings.

    4. We had a weird setup here where blogname usually equaled username.

    5. You comment day suggestion is still on list, just did not make the V1.0 (or likely 1.1 🙁 ) cut.

    6. In-Blog login is on the way.

    7. Friendly Urls – was always a feature in .Text 🙂

    8. https:// I think we need to give you an option of continuing your session not using SSL. If we just redirected, you would see another warning, which seemed equally bad. Imagines/CSS/etc that are not using relative links will cause the extra SSL warnings.

    9. Post Previews – This is a good way of seeing if any of your markup will not pass the rules outlined above.



    10. One of my favorite features you left off is email. You can now subscribe to a blog or post and recieve emails when new content is posted.

  2. Joku says:

    (uh, somehow my comment went to a post from 2003?)

    Did you notice what happened to Archives? Previously you got nice short summaries of the posts, now you get MB’s of full posts when clicking the archive (provided the blogger was very verbal). I’d really love if that could be fixed asap all over the blogs.msdn as the summaries or just plain titles were more easy to look at.

    Of course if there was RSS feed that would push all the articles in archives to your RSS reader that would also solve it, albeit at some bandwidth cost to MS.

    Also if you click the post subject (so you can read comments), the link disappears from the subject and makes extra steps necessary to find where you can get the perm.link to the post your commenting on.

  3. Joku says:

    The upgrade also messed up my RSS reader a bit.

    I have my reader archive (no auto-deleting of old posts) the posts, and after the change to CS, some values changed in the feeds.

    For example:

    xml "author"

    Raymond Chen

    is now


    The timestamps also changed, not sure how exactly yet though. But it means I now have thousands of duplicate posts in my archive.. Ugh!

  4. MSDNArchive says:

    Hopefully scott is "tracking this post", but I just noticed the "moderation of anon users only" setting isn’t working if you were able to post without my being notified.

    Scott is there some other setting that is overriding this? Also, I’m no longer getting comment mail with new posts. Did I miss something?

  5. ScottW says:

    Yes, I am watching it. 🙂

    Not sure on the moderation issue, but I will look into it.

    As for notification; since we fully support multiple bloggers per blog we had to choose between auto emailing all owners or emailing none. We went with none, since you could easily subscribe to your own blog and recieve notifications.

    If you login, goto: http://blogs.msdn.com/jledgard/emailsubscriptions.aspx and select "Send me emails for new posts, articles and comments". This feature will not email you your own posts, so you should only see comments.



  6. ScottW says:


    There were a couple of bug fixes relating to dates/etc. To help make this less of an issue in the future, we made one major change to RSS. Instead of using the Url as the Guid for the post we moved to a true Guid.

    Hopefully this makes this much less of an issue in the future. However, since we [Telligent] are hoping to build on CS for quite a while, we felt it was a necessary change for our 1.0 release.


  7. michkap says:

    Hi Josh, a few notes:

    "Friendly post URLS!" existed in .TEXT, too. Maybe the text for them is just more friendly, too. 🙂

    You will find that "Strange "https" issues" and "Insecure Content Warnings?" are the same issue. If you remove the gratuitous "s" the warnings go away when you go to your blog.

  8. Kevin Harder says:

    It looks like blogs.msdn.com was upgraded from .Text to Community Server this weekend. Congratulations…

  9. MSDNArchive says:

    Scott: How can we add new registered users as admins on the blogs? It would be great to add a Josh Ledgard user so that my posts have the correct author tag and I can use that name in comments.

  10. You may have noticed that http://blogs.msdn.com/ looks really different now. We were just upgraded from…

  11. robcaron says:

    Looks like the category feed change broke RSS feed inclusion in spots on MSDN dev centers.

  12. MSDNArchive says:

    I added a few more things I noticed in an update.

  13. TAG says:

    No way to use my nickname "AT" 🙁

  14. I’ve had a good look around the new place and it has a lot of nifty features,

    such as blog search and…

  15. MSDNArchive says:

    Hey Josh,

    Would be great if you could publish your css hacks for this new skin,


  16. Joku says:

    Scott I just had a, what I think is, great idea.

    Suppose you are going to have a nice holiday and there will be no Internet connectivity for your PDA/Whatever. And you of course would love to read all blog entries Josh ever made 😉

    Now if your PDA had RSS reader, you could download all Josh’s archived posts to your PDA by a special compressed archive feed that really contains all posts over the years, with perhaps some counter that only allows 5 archive downloads over all blogs.msdn.com blogs per day per IP. (To reduce bw costs Lol)

    Actually I had this idea year ago but I see its not here yet so I’ll push it again 😉

  17. Mat Hall says:

    I suppose partly it’s ’cause I’m getting old and don’t like change, but from a usability point of view the comments thing is totally sub-optimal; clicking on the link to view comments takes you to an anchor fractionally below the "add a comment" link — this is just irritating…

    Also if (like this one) the original post is long and has a lot of comments it’s hard to scroll up quickly to find the "add comment" bit; I much preferred the old setup with the comment box at the end of the existing comments — I’m now going to have to get into the habit of opening the "add coment" page in a new window so I can still read what I’m responding to. (And it’s still just a piddly little textbox for comments, and no preview button!)

    I’m sure that behind the scenes it’s all much nicer, but the UI for the great unwashed needs a lot of work… (Yeah, yeah, everyone’s a critic. :D)

  18. Joku says:

    Scott> Oops. The global setting for anonymous comments was turned off.

    Scott> I changed it to true, so now it is up to you the blog owner to enable anonymous comments on your own blog (which I believe is on by default).

    Answer to your last assumption: I just looked around, I can make comments on couple blogs I often visit, but it seems most of the blogs have the Anon Comments off, for example the Net Show blog. I doubt Robert Hess has turned it off along with the ‘thousand’ others. But I did not really check thousand blogs so could be I am wrong too and the random ones I visited had it turned off by the blogger.

  19. Joku says:

    Sorry for the flood, but does it seem like there are couple "Anonymous" Trackbacks on this blog, originating from MS bloggers? What’s going on in here.. Bug or they have not properly done something?

  20. KevinHarder says:

    I upgraded my individual blog from .Text to Community Server a few weeks ago, and have been experiencing many of the same joys and pains that you (Josh) and other have written about with msdn blogs. I do love the new features like post preview and search and integrated admin…

    Here’s a few comments on things Josh or Joku have mentioned.

    Admin UI Quick Link:

    I miss the quick link too. What I’ve resorted to is when you click on the Blogs tab in the admin UI and it displays your blog name, and clicking on that name will take you your blog page. Or if you are in the Blog > Posts screen you can click the View LinkButton to take you that specific post in your blog.

    Comment Posting UI

    I preferred the way that .Text displayed the comments and the comment form as well. Dave Burke posted about how to change the comment display to make it .Text-ish here: http://dbvt.com/blog/archive/2005/03/28/1551.aspx

    I have done that on my CS blog and it works nicely, but it involves a source code change so I’m not sure how hard that would be for you on msdn blogs.

    "Anonymous" trackbacks & comment users:

    Anonymous seems to be the default for comment user names, but this is also an easy fix to the source code that Dave suggested (http://dbvt.com/blog/archive/2005/03/28/1555.aspx) and I have also implemented. I much prefer to see the trackback blog name or comment submitted name than anonymous.

  21. As Josh Ledgard and Brian Johnson have noted, the upgrade of blogs.msdn.com to Community Server 1.0 changed…

  22. Malaga says:

    Thank you very much for the info I was looking for, and Greetings from Malaga-Spain Antonio

  23. As Josh Ledgard and Brian Johnson have noted, the upgrade of blogs.msdn.com to Community Server 1.0 changed

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