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Share Buttons

By Shamus
on Sunday Jul 5, 2015
Filed under:


Right now, at the bottom of every post, is a collection of your typical social media share buttons. Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. (Actually, I’m sort of turning them on and off at random to see how they behave and how much people use them, so the actual list you see below might be different.) So let’s talk about these.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about over the last few months is discoverability. How do new readers find my site? About a month ago I said this:

Readers come and go. There was a time when I refreshed Lileks.com obsessively. I’m a sucker for nostalgia and ruminations on the first half of the 20th century, and if you want to cruelly mock while also secretly appreciating the quaint, kitschy, corny styles of middle America then he’s the best in the business. I’d read everything the guy wrote, and when he didn’t post new content I’d go back and re-read some of my favoritesThis retrospective on the 70s is pretty cathartic, for my money. I think that was my introduction to his work, actually.. His blog was pretty influential on my own writing and is probably why I drop into autobiographical mode once in a while.

Then one day I just… stopped. I have no idea why. James Lileks didn’t lose his mojo, sell out, offend me, or or anything else that usually causes a rift between fan and artist. I just finally got enough of whatever I was looking for, and I stopped going. I know the same thing happens to people who read this site. They eventually get enough of my crap and move on. It happens.

So part of this job is entertaining the existing audience, and part of the job is replacing people who wander off. This was really easy in 2012 when I was spamming The Escapist with content three or four times a week. I was putting up a lot of media-richThe polite way of saying “has lots of pictures”. content and all those bylines led people back here. But those days are gone.

I’m not looking to become a superstar. In fact, I think I’ve pretty much carved out my niche. Long-form essays on games, plain-language discussions of programming, my collaborations with the Spoiler Warning crew, and the very occasional video content. I’m not going to be the next TotalBiscuit, Angry Joe, Boogie2988, or any of the other big names with millions of fans and followers. And that’s fine. I’m not equipped for that kind of gig anyway, and I think we have a good thing going hereJust doubling my audience might make it impossible for me to do the moderation thing. Yes, I could delegate things to volunteer mods, but right now I read every single comment, and I’d be really unhappy if that were no longer the case..

But like I said above, I do worry about replacing the people that leave. It’s a natural part of the circle of content. Social media buttons are the best way to accomplish this. They’re so effective that the alternatives (advertising, various methods of self-promotion) are barely worth mentioning. I say this from experience.

I had share buttons on the site a couple of years ago, but they were flaky and unreliable. Facebook was in the middle of one of their API overhauls, so there were a bunch of different versions of share button plugins for WordPressThe software that runs this site. and they were all broken in minor but irritating ways. Worse, I remember that a lot of plugins would only serve one social media site, so you needed a lot of plugins. A plugin for Facebook, another for Twitter, another for StumbleUpon, or whatever else was big at the time. The plugins fought with each other, it was difficult to properly format their outputInstead of a row of buttons, each button would appear on its own line, thus wasting tons of precious screen space., sometimes they would break for no reason, and it was basically a giant headache. I eventually gave up on them.

But a couple of weeks ago I installed Jetpack, which is a giant collection of tools and improvements for WordPress. You might have noticed that you can now post Youtube videos by simply putting the video URL on a line by itself in the comments like so…


…and it will automagically expand into the embedded player when your comment is posted. This – and a bunch of other little details that I’m still discovering – are the result of Jetpack. Included in this is a collection of share buttons that work out of the box. So I’m giving these a try.

Cookies and Privacy Concerns

Damn it, now I’m hungry.

Facebook really is a creep about privacy. They have a reputation for grabbing more data than they could possibly need or use, and they don’t seem to be particularly careful with it. This creepyness can apply to you, even if you don’t have a Facebook account.

How it works is this: The Facebook buttons you see around the web are often IFRAMES, sourced to Facebook.com. Which means it’s a tiny little page-within-a-page that obeys the rules of Facebook, not the rules of the site you’re visiting. So when you load the page, that little Facebook icon knows two things:

1) The URL of the page you’re viewing.
2) The fact that “you” visited this particular URL.

If you don’t have an account, it assigns you a generic unique identifier and leaves a cookie in your browser cache, along with the URL of the page you’re viewing. So now you have a cookie on your machine that says “User Rando12345 visited GokuSlashFiction.net on Sunday July 5, 2015”. This is true even if you have no account and don’t interact with the button in any way.

A cookie is a generic data file that is linked to a specific site. When you go to steampowered.com and enter your Steam name and password, that login info is stored in a cookie on YOUR machine. That cookie is locked to that specific domain, so GoG.com can’t ever, ever read the contents. Cookies are what is used to store your login info, the contents of your online shopping cart, and lots of other things that are really useful to you. Cookies aren’t evil, but they do pose some privacy concerns.

Then as you surf around the web, you’ll run into other pages with Facebook buttons, and your visit will again be stored in that same cookie. This is one of the reasons people encourage you to clear your cookies: They can indirectly store your browsing history, even if you’re super-careful and clear that history periodically. The downside of course is that if you clear your cookies, every website “forgets” your name and password.

I wouldn’t know personally, but I’ve been told that otherwise reputable pornography sites actually have Facebook like / share buttons on them these days. I can’t imagine a situation where a sane person would USE those buttons, but there you go.

The problem pops up next year, when your relatives finally harangue you into creating an account because they insist on planning all their events through Facebook. During account creation, Facebook finds the cookie identifying you as “User Rando12345”, and links that history to your new account. So now Facebook knows that “John Smith visited GokuSlashFiction.net on Sunday July 5, 2015”.

Getting Back to the Share Buttons

It’s not clear what information Facebook collects, how long they keep it, how they use it, how secure it is, or how well the company follows the various laws in all the myriad of jurisdictions where they operate.

So some people really, really hate Facebook buttons. I get that. And I think this hostility is justified. At the same time, Facebook is everywhere. The number of people who boycott Facebook-enabled sites must be vanishingly small, because you’d basically be boycotting most of the internet. Therefore I imagine everyone falls into two categories:

1) People who aren’t worried about Facebook.

2) People who have installed a plugin to block Facebook.

Which means I think that it’s basically harmless to have this button on the site. If you hate Facebook, then you’ve probably blocked the button and you won’t see it anyway. If you don’t, then you might appreciate having a handy way to share stuff without needing to cut & paste the URL, image, and description to build your own Facebook post. You can just click the button, type your words, and move on.

So now you know why I added the button, how it might impact you, and why some people don’t like it. My next task is to write something actually worth sharing.

Does anyone want to read ten thousand words on the Mass Effect trilogy?

EDIT: I’ve replaced the previous share buttons with new ones that theoretically don’t do any tracking. If it works as advertised, then Facebook won’t know you were here unless you press the share button. It also means the entire 1,500 word post you just read was a waste of your time, talking about a problem that is no longer relevant to the site. Oh well!

Thanks to Roger HÃ¥gensen and Zak McKracken for the advice and links.


[1] This retrospective on the 70s is pretty cathartic, for my money. I think that was my introduction to his work, actually.

[2] The polite way of saying “has lots of pictures”.

[3] Just doubling my audience might make it impossible for me to do the moderation thing. Yes, I could delegate things to volunteer mods, but right now I read every single comment, and I’d be really unhappy if that were no longer the case.

[4] The software that runs this site.

[5] Instead of a row of buttons, each button would appear on its own line, thus wasting tons of precious screen space.

Comments (120)

  1. Kalil says:

    One problem with your two categories:
    I have a ‘plugin to block facebook’ – specifically, an adblock filter that blocks social media stuff. However, it also blocks twitter streams, and I actually enjoy reading your twitter stream, so I have had it disabled on your page.

    Or in other words, it’d be nice if I could have my cake and eat it to.

    • Peter says:

      There’s two solutions to this. You could whitelist the twitter specific stuff, rather than the full page (assuming your adblock plugin allows you to selectively whitelist, which it really, really should), or you could use separate plugins to block specific stuff. Shamus linked to Facebook disconnect, which is grand; Facebook disconnect is also available for Firefox. There’s also Google disconnect and the like if you’re not too bothered about Facebook knowing your stuff, but would really like Google to be in the dark about you. If you use opera, or one of a handful of other browsers, most work with either the Firefox addon or the Chrome one.

      • Eric says:

        Or you can just block the sites in your HOSTS file, which is more reliable and gives you the benefit of direct control over the domains you are blocking. Most people who block social buttons don’t use social networks, so there’s really no reason not to.

        I used to be very tinfoil hat about this kind of stuff but gradually let off on restricting the amount of access these guys have to my personal info. Since their business models are all advertising, if you simply block ads they really can’t do anything with your info other than sell it – which is fine by me, if anyone really cared to know who I am they could already find that with a pretty small amount of work regardless. If giving up a bit of privacy brings me all these great “free” sites and services (especially Google, which uses that lack of privacy to actually provide useful features), then I’m fine with that.

        It’s not like every single service you interact with isn’t already recording your preferences, movements, purchases, etc. and selling the data to the highest bidder. And the “them” you actually have to worry about (the NSA, CIA, etc.) can get you regardless of whether you block Facebook if they really want to.

        P.S. most web sites can already track you simply using the information your browser already reports to them, like your system specs, screen resolution, webcam, mic, operating system and IP address. Add extensions into that, and chances are the guys who are *really* sophisticated about tracking you, already know who you are and where you visit even if you are blocking them with a suite of add-ons.

        • newplan says:

          And the “them” you actually have to worry about (the NSA, CIA, etc.) can get you regardless of whether you block Facebook if they really want to.

          Actually “they” get almost all their information directly from Facebook / google / etc. (Not from scraping your pages and posts – they have data lines into the data centers of those companies.)

          • Eric says:

            They also tap into your ISP and undersea cables and stuff too. :P And I’m sure if someone with enough money and/or power *really* wants to get you, it’s probably not that hard for them to make you “disappear” either.

        • Steve C says:

          Blocking in HOSTS file doesn’t really work anymore. There are many intermediaries like Akamai Technologies that host, redirect and capture information for large sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Akamai Technologies alone is responsible for serving between 15 and 30 percent of all web traffic and if you did manage to block every one of their domains it would break so many other sites you do you want to use. They aren’t the only company doing this either.

          You can block via HOSTS something like Facebook.com and Facebook will not load for you and you will appear to have succeeded. But endless variations of domains like akamai.net; akamaiedge.net; akamaized.net; akamaihd.net etc still collect information you were trying to prevent being sent to Facebook. So changing your HOSTS ends up inconveniencing you without accomplishing your objective.

      • Uristqwerty says:

        As an alternative to plugins that block specific sites, or types of site, I eventually encountered one that blocks all cross-domain requests except for those that have been whitelisted.

        Apart from many sites completely lacking images and stylesheets on first visit, I’ve found it to be a fairly nice solution to eliminating facebook buttons and other stuff I would rather not have tracking me.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      I recommend Disconnect for Firefox (also exists for other browsers afaik).
      This blocks everything from Facebook to Google analytics to other pesky things but allows you to whitelist websites and services (e.g. you can allow Twitter but block all else).

      Also, setting privacy.trackingprotection.enabled to True in about:config in Firefox should do something similar, including things Disconnect cannot do, though I’m not entirely sure what it contains.

    • Groboclown says:

      I use a combination of NoScript and Cookie Monster plugins for Firefox. They can be a little bit of a pain until you train them to be on for the sites you frequent and trust, and be off for those you don’t.

    • Nixitur says:

      You can actually do that with Adblock Plus.
      – click on the ABP icon
      – choose “Open blockable elements” or something like that (or just Ctrl+Shift+V)
      – search for things involving “timeline”
      – right click on them
      – click “deactivate filter for [whatever]”
      I’m not entirely sure about the menu names because my Firefox is in German, but you should be able to find it.

      That should make the timeline visible while still blocking the share buttons.
      In fact, you can even allow specific share buttons if you know what to look for. For example, I don’t mind a Twitter share button, but don’t really want a Facebook one, so that would work just fine.

  2. Da Mage says:

    I would read ten thousand words on Mass Effect, as long as it’s as fair as you treated Fallout 3. Though I I’ll admit I won’t be sharing it on my facebook.

    I fall into the “don’t care” category, cause quite frankly, I think google already knows everything about me, so having facebook also know doesn’t bother me much.

  3. Mephane says:

    Does anyone want to read ten thousand words on the Mass Effect trilogy?

    Absolutely! Bring it on. :)

    Regarding the buttons showing up neatly, well, this is what it looks like for me, with the Firefox 38.0.5:

    P.S.: The reason why some of us abstain from Facebook (I have set Firefox to block cookies from them) is not even necessarily that they connect data and site visits. I am fairly open about my online activity, using the same nickname and avatar everywhere, so someone could easily collate that stuff together. What I absolutely detest about Facebook* is that they insist to connect that to a real life person with their real life name. Afaik they explicitly forbid accounts with only nicknames, don’t they?

    It is my belief that no one but me should decide who, or which website, knows my real name, phone number, address, or whatever. This is why I have no issues with twitter (I just rarely have anything worthwhile to say, so I am mostly there in passive mode), they have no issues with nickname accounts etc.

    • ehlijen says:

      There are two sides to the real name issue.

      On the one hand, forcing everyone to use their real name online makes everyone vulnerable to stalking or persecution.

      On the other hand, if full anonymity is permitted, there is also no accountability and that is a problem. Cybercrime, cyberterror and cyberstalking do not need your real name to be bad things happening to you.

      I don’t know how to fix both at once, but they both are concerning issues to me.

      • Mephane says:

        People with malicious intent will find a way. They will fake a personality, even steal photos from other sites to present as their “real” face etc. So I don’t think that the requirement to provide your real identity, anywhere on the internet, prevents anything stalking, harassing etc. To the contrary, while these people may use fake identities to stalk their victims, the victims, trying to play by the rules, can be seen with their real name, photo etc.

        It’s making an asymmetric battle even worse than it already is.

        • Tizzy says:

          And facebook knows this. And I don’t believe for a second that curbing bully behavior is the main reason behind their real name policy. The data they collect is much more valuable when it can be attached to a real identity.

          Also, the way they have been enforcing that policy hamfistedly , not ever trying to listen to the users who have a good reason to want another name used, is really sad.

      • krellen says:

        There is absolutely no evidence that “real names” do anything to discourage asshole behaviour.

        • Thomas says:

          On Facebook they might.

          But in particular with Facebook it’s not even asshole behaviour they’re trying to prevent, it’s malicious behaviour. It’s an encouragement to make most people on your Facebook network people who are part of your physical social circle and that limits the effectiveness of some social engineering attacks. If someone adds me who I don’t already share 10+ friends with that raises flags.

          I think allowing online identities would change what facebook is a bit. People might start running multiple accounts or using it as their online social network. And those aren’t bad ideas at all, but there are other places on the internet to do them and they impact the thing Facebook does do.

        • Dev Null says:

          There is considerable evidence that everything tried so far to discourage assholery on the internet does not work. Case in point: the internet.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        But there already is a way to prevent (regular) users from committing cyber crime:Fixed ip addresses.Heck,these days when so many games and programs insist on having constant internet connection,you practically have a fixed ip for large periods of time.So having isps give tying every user to a single ip address would allow you to stay anonymous,yet discoverable in case you do something illegal.

        Though considering how isps operate in some places I will not name,maybe its not such a good idea giving them that much responsibility.

        • guy says:

          There are numerous strong technical reasons to not have fixed IP addresses.

          • ehlijen says:

            IPv6 will remove several, but likely not all of them.

            Either way, because internet communications are at their base level all anonymous patters of 0s and 1s, anything can be faked, even static IP addresses.

            The point, as with data security, is to make criminal activity difficult enough to remove temptation. Those who intend to commit crimes will, but those who will consider it can be scared off.

    • Peter says:

      That real name thing? It’s worse than you’d think.
      It has to be your real name, meaning that if you’re transgender, you’re SOL. Not just your current legal name either; if you change your legal name, you’re still not allowed to use it. If Tom became Sarah, S/he’s still only allowed to use Tom. Users can report other users for using a false name, Whether it’s their legal one or not. If you use a false name, you’re locked out of your account. Go by your second name rather than your first? Too bad. Change your name because you had a stalker? Too bad. Identify as a different gender and want to use the name you feel is yours? Tough titties, shit outta luck.

      • Mephane says:

        Thank you for the link, really insightful (and sad) story.

      • ehlijen says:

        Even using your real name isn’t protection against that policy. A friend of mine had his account deleted once because he was accused of using a fake name, even though he didn’t and had proof. There was nothing weird about what name he was using or legal issues as to which his name was. Someone accused him and FB deleted the account, no recourse.

    • Cuthalion says:

      I get the same problem with misaligned FB button. Also Firefox.

  4. Christopher says:

    I think the Mass Effect trilogy could be blog posts for a whole year and I would still read them. Positive and negative, it’s a series that’s easy to talk a lot about. I couldn’t take a year of Kai Leng-mocking though.

    • swenson says:

      I routinely forget Kai Leng exists. I’ll talk about how although I didn’t really like the ending of ME3 and how Cerberus’ motivations and resources didn’t make sense, I still had a great time throughout ME3, and nothing really bothered me all THAT much.

      Then I remember that Kai Leng exists and want to stab something.

      He seriously annoys me so much that my brain edits him out of my memories.

  5. I believe that, in the interests of security, you can in fact protect the 3rd class of user (the one who would care about their privacy if they knew it was being abused but don’t because they don’t know that share buttons are user-tracking agents) by just using a different implementation of share buttons.

    Something like what is discussed here.

  6. ehlijen says:

    I don’t read every article you write (some topics interest me more than others), Shamus, but I have yet to read one I didn’t like. So yes, bring on the 10k ME3 analysis. It was an interesting game in how it put so much potential into so unfulfilling a final package, and if you have more insights to share on it I am very interested. Or a humorous Let’s Play chronicle. Or a screengrab comic. Or a doodle of Kai Leng being slowly lowered into a vat of acid.

  7. Simplex says:

    I don’t know if you noticed any increase in traffic from Poland, but I linked your “Blistering stupidity of Fallout” posts (and Batman one too) on a niche gaming forum, so hopefully someone clicked those.

  8. Gilfareth says:

    Wow. I really appreciate you brought my attention to that plugin, Shamus, because I have been itching for something exactly like that for a while.

    It’s not that I want to avoid Facebook altogether; it’s useful for the people who refuse to communicate with any other net-based method, but I still have an ingrained paranoia of allowing my information and browsing habits to be catalogued by a company without my say-so or even ability to say no. So this is getting installed right this second.

    • Ivan says:

      “without my say-so or even ability to say no.”

      That reminds me why I stopped using facebook. What really ended up creeping me out was how they would constantly be chancing their terms of service with no announcement or notification and nothing for the user to scroll through and click “i agree” whenever they do so.

      I’ll be honest, I never read the terms of service, though on rare occasions I will skim them. It takes a lot more effort than it’s worth to understand those and really if they try to do anything shady it probably won’t hold up in court. Since I never try to do anything fancy the details never really matter to me either. But the fact that facebook will change the way their site runs and just assume that everyone is ok with it really leaves me feeling uneasy. It’s not even just that, they seem to actively try to hide that they are changing anything at all. I heard that you would get a notification of their changing terms of service IF you were online at the time and the notification would expire after 30 seconds, and of course a lack of response is taken as an “I accept and agree to abide by these new terms of service”.

  9. silver Harloe says:

    What’s funny about those keep-track-of-your-activity cookies is that they can’t tell sites I need to visit (or make) for work, and sites I visit for fun. We make websites for car dealers, and put share buttons on the ‘view this car’ pages, which I look at a LOT. So Facebook and Google (let’s not pretend it’s just one company here – like if you got rid of Wal-Mart, Target would just do the same things – focusing on single companies and not patterns is just counter-productive) are convinced I’m really really really in the market for cars (and therefore car insurance). I don’t own a car, so car insurance commercials are doubly pointless to me. And I don’t want a car (at least, not unless my pay about doubles). The yolks on them.

  10. Zekiel says:

    Bring on the 10,000 words on Mass Effect! I absolutely love your long-form written analysis of games – its my favourite bit of your site. Spoiler Warning doesn’t really fit my consumption habits, so I’d be delighted even if you just spent a load of posts rehashing your criticism of New Vegas, AC2, Human Revolution and all the rest.

  11. newdarkcloud says:

    It’s really easy for me personally to see the privacy concerns inherent to Facebook.

    However, there are so many other sites out there (*cough* Google *cough*) looking to learn just as much if not more about all of there various users (with or without an account).

    At that point, your options are either to use the internet and implicitly consent to your information being tracked and monitored, or just live off the grid completely.

    And most people pick “using the internet”.

  12. The Rocketeer says:

    Shamus, you’ve remarked before, as now, that the community you have and your ability to control it is enabled by its smaller, stable size. If some sudden windfall suddenly saw your readership balloon to the point where recent additions grew significantly in proportion to established readers and the comments became too numerous and fast to keep track of, do you see yourself seeking to shrink the audience again or slow its growth, either by stalling new attempts at outreach or culling some of the ways you try to catch new readers? Or would a larger (presumably more active, diverse and profitable) audience be something you might warm up to, despite the less desired changes it might cultivate?

    I imagine that’s impossible to answer without having the situation on your hands to observe and sort through, so I guess it’s not a very fair or specific question. But I’m sure you’ve given it thought before, even if only in a short-lived, “What if I was super-Internet-famous” kind of a way.

    • MichaelGC says:

      It’ll be a quite literal culling. He’ll arrange for some of us to be ‘taken out’, and not in the Pulp Fiction sense. Probably ask a friend – you know, one with the right kind of overall skill-set. (As a consequence it’s likely the tastiest amongst us who should worry the most.)

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Does anyone want to read ten thousand words on the Mass Effect trilogy?

    Make it 15k,and its a deal.

  14. Rick says:

    Most of the sites I build end up with share buttons on them (specified by the designer) but I never use share buttons myself… I copy/paste links as needed. Maybe I’m just old fashioned.

    I’m not sure about StumbleUpon, but for most of the other networks you can add simple links (so no iframes or third-party cookies, plus faster load times) that will share when clicked. You don’t get the share counts like this, but their value is negligent anyway.

    Also, a note about your “From the archives” section under each post… did you consider using the tags/categories to show related/similar posts instead of random ones? Or may two rows… one related, one random.

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Soo,we can embed youtube videos,but not images?Not even from a specific image sharing site,like imgur?


    • Mephane says:

      Yeah, images would be even more important, if you ask me. :)

      • Alexander The 1st says:

        Well image hosting runs a heavier risk of spambots posting something or people in general posting offensive images, and that’s before hot-linking issues.

        Youtube, on the other hand, has a plugin that will try to limit people’s access if it is mature content, or copyrighted material outside an allowed region, etc.

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Dont know about other browsers,but opera has easy cookie management:
    Cookies are stored in groups,and you can just delete them one by one,or group by group.
    You can also make exception for which sites will (not) accept cookies.
    And the best one is private window option,which you can use for sites you dont trust much(or if you are on a public machine).It doesnt store anything new on your machine,but it draws from stuff stored in regular mode,and its easy to open.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      Opera was pretty cool until it broke my heart. Tried the new versions for a while but they were just bad imitations of other browsers… maybe that’s changed again but I don’t think I’m over it enough to try again …

      On cookie management: Deleting cookies is one thing but just by calling a website, that server is able to “fingerprint” your device pretty accurately. It knows your language settings, which plugins you have, which OS, browser, OS and browser version, IP adress (thus some indicator of location) and a bunch of other things it can then use to track you around the web … rather creepy. And the worst: The best protection against this is if you have a vanilla IE installation with the standard setup of what is the current standard version of Windows, with no extras and nothing that requires manual interaction, because that maximises the chance of being indistiguishable from other surfers…

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Older opera also had a nice feature to mask itself like another browser.Newer ones…Well,they brought back bookmarks,but link changing with AQ is still missing,as well as auto refresh and torrent downloading.Its still a gimped version,which is a shame.It is more stable though,so I cant complain too much.

        • Piflik says:

          I am still using Opera 12.17 on all my machines… the last version with an integrated email client.

        • Zak McKracken says:

          Thanks for the update. Not going back soon, then. My e-mail is still on the old version but I don’t want to keep using it for browsing because it no longer gets patches (and yes, it does get quite slow when you use too many tabs and stuff).

          I still think it deserves respect for boycotting the browser wars, inventing tabs and a number of other things but for the time being it’s Firefox for browsing.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Oh yes,the old opera was amazing.Still is,but the deal breaker for me is the memory leak it has(I assume thats the problem),because it becomes so unstable after a while you have to reinstall it,or it tends to break everything.So Im using the new one now because it is faster than firefox,and has more features and better layout than chrome.

            • Zak McKracken says:

              realized yesterday that it also has Disconnect and https everywhere plugins. That makes it much more viable now.
              The bookmarks look weird, though. Installed it on one machine as secondary browser, will try again in a while.
              Feels so good to have mouse gestures again!

              • asdfasdfasvca says:

                One biggish problem with old Opera now is there’s a bug with TLS 1.1 and 1.2 that will randomly crash the browser when connected to HTTPS sites.

                This means you can only use TLS 1.0, since SSL 3.0 is compromised.

                And many HTTPS sites are using TLS > 1.0 now, so essentially you can’t visit them on old Opera.

              • Zak McKracken says:

                Did try it again:
                Where is the per-site settings? Some websites still think I was on a phone and serve me a bare-bones view that would be impolite to serve to any phone less than 5 years old. Where is the wonderful ad blocking feature? Rather than summarily blocking all ads I could just click on the ones I didn’t like and block those.

                Also, I really got used to Firefox’ “closed tabs” thing.

  17. guy says:

    Important technical correction on cookies: the cookie stored on your machine is just a number. It contains no information by itself and is simply sent along with any HTTP request to the domain name that issued the cookie. The information is actually stored on a database maintained by the host. So in your example the cookie would just be 12345, and wouldn’t change when you visited another site. Also, if you have a login, deleting the cookies won’t necessarily give you a clean break; the site could re-issue the same cookie when you log back in

    • Tizzy says:

      Excellent point. Which is why so many sites seem obsessed with visitors creating accounts. I hope users are aware of that.

    • guy says:

      So in case anyone is wondering, there is a perfectly legitimate purpose for cookies. Basically, HTTP is the primary standard for websites, and it is stateless and connectionless. When you visit a site, your computer sends a GET message and recieves a response. Quite often, the response will prompt your computer to send additional GET messages for stuff actually on the page*. The way the protocol is constructed, the server doesn’t actually know these messages are from the same computer as the previous one**. So if you want to save any session information, like being logged in to a site or language settings, that can’t just depend on the server.

      So cookies were created to allow HTTP messages to carry state information. If you send a request that doesn’t contain a cookie to a domain that uses cookies, the response will include a set-cookie line containing a number and potentially an expiration date/instruction to retain it indefinitely. Future messages to that domain will have the cookie appended. On the server, there will be a datastructure that stores the actual information, indexed by the cookie number, and when it gets a message with a cookie number appended it goes to the entry for that number to get or alter the information. The server-side stuff can work however the designer wants.

      *This is why you will load a website and it can take a while for the images to appear after the text is there; the image files aren’t in the first response.

      **Well, the HTTP protocol doesn’t. The messages will be traveling over TCP/IP, so it can recognize new connections being opened from the same IP***. However, computers can change IP addresses, and multiple computers can share an address.

      ***the connection can be left open and reused, but that takes up server resources, so most are configured to close a connection once they send a single response

      • Zak McKracken says:

        I really like that this blog remembers my name and e-mail address. Cookies are not bad per se, they are actually a pretty nice way of websites remembering users. But they are not as safe as they could be because they were invented in times when the internet was a very different place than now.

  18. RedSun says:

    “Does anyone want to read ten thousand words on the Mass Effect trilogy?”

    Maybe this is a bit obnoxious, but lately I’ve been thinking about Mass Effect again and one of the thought’s I had was “I literally never want to read or hear Shamus talking about Mass Effect again.” I’m aware that’s mean, but I’m being candid because there was a time when you mentioned it in every other article and that made this site legitimately kind of miserable to read.

    Yes, you did it with Fallout 3; thing is, I don’t think anyone really had any attachment to the parts of Fallout 3 you shredded, and even people who like the Fallout series will usually agree the writing got worse as things went along. With Mass Effect? It’s all over the place. I know half a dozen people who each vouch 1, 2 or 3 being the best written. It’s not monolithic, and around here it really gets treated like it is, and when that’s acknowledged, you usually fall back on the “well, it’s for different people-it doesn’t appeal to me anymore”. And I really, really feel like when the ME conversation gets going, that sentiment is extremely hollow, because the actual criticism often sounds like “this series has gotten so much dumber and was written by dumber people and no one knew what they were doing anymore and I don’t think it qualifies as sci-fi, but hey, it’s just reaching for a different audience now that I have nothing against because implication does not exist”.

    Moreover, the conversation over anything Bioware around here feels really personal and condescending and inflammatory and ugly and unfair, in a way that a lot of nerd conversations get and that I think it’s fair to say most people participate in in some fashion(Get me started on Legend of Korra, for instance), but either way, it’s not something I ever want to read again.

    • JRT says:

      I actually agree with this. I think Bioware took a lot of unfair hits lately. Outside of CDPR, they seem to do a better job with story than most of the other studios. Plus, this ME stuff is way overplayed, and there’s been tons of commentary about it.

      One thing that got me curious was Shamus’ recent comments about ME:A. He wanted the SF to be more like this:

      But I'm looking for something, anything to hint at “big idea” sci-fi. Non-upright, non-bipedal aliens. Strange cultures. Fantastic worlds. Mysteries in space. We don't get many games like that.

      Why did Shamus think that an RPG would explore this? Let’s face it, Bioware’s main stuff that made them popular are RPGs, which in many cases are a story wrapped around a game that is based around combat and “killing monsters and taking their stuff”. D&D is like that. So was Star Wars. The big ideas Shamus is talking about…well, if it was a movie it would be less Star Wars and more Interstellar/2001 or something like that–and if that’s the case, you’d probably be better off with an adventure game like Telltale’s stuff. At the end of the day, RPG games, because they resolve around a lot of combat, are a popcorn action flick–respectable, but not likely candidates for Oscar winners. So I think it’s unfair to judge Mass Effect on that when from the get go you were dealing with a soldier who got a pass to be James Bond in space, within the game context of an RPG where people want to use powers and fight aliens.

      I’d honestly like to see more intelligent criticism without the snark–thoughtful longform pieces. If Shamus is wanting to get new blood–I think millennials are getting sick of the Generation X cynicism and snark, which after a generation making that the standard I think people need something new.

      I think we could use more thoughtful stuff, like when he talks about programming, or rather than deconstruct popular series, try to find those that did things well or how writing can be improved.

      • Alexander The 1st says:

        “Why did Shamus think that an RPG would explore this?”

        Mainly because he felt that the original Mass Effect did this, to an extent.

      • Mersadeon says:

        I don’t want to be too defensive about that, but I totally understand why Shamus was hoping for a “big sci-fi” idea – that is what Bioware tried to do with the first Mass Effect. They very much started ME as a serious that averted a lot of clichés while embracing others. Come ME2, they focussed a lot more on traditional ideas.

        Just take the different species in ME1 – the Elcor and Hanar, for example, are very different from standard bipedal aspects of human culture – and compare them to the species introduced in ME2: the Vorcha and the Collectors, both as mook-y and boring as possible.

        Don’t get me wrong, I liked ME2 – it’s just that the series went a completely different way than the first instalment seemed to hint at.

        • Henson says:

          “They very much started ME as a serious…”

          Another victim falls to the plague of autocorrect. Let us take a moment of silence.

          EDIT: p.s. Very much agree on the speculative, big idea sci-fi tone of ME1. As I always say, it’s a ’70s-’80s sci-fi action movie, but it’s a smart ’70s-’80s sci-fi action movie.

        • RedSun says:

          ME1 didn’t introduce the hanar and the elcor-it introduced every race in the galaxy besides the Vorcha, and the reason the Vorcha aren’t in the first game and are in the second is because they’re a vermin race with no political standing that wouldn’t be allowed on the Citadel or any of the major game hubs in ME1.

          Also, you forgot to mention the Drell, a race only partially saved from extinction via overpopulation, now dying because they’re in borderline indentured servitude on a planet they’re not physiologically adapted to. Or how ME2 expanded upon the Geth by-in an aversion of a cliche that I would call smart sci-fi-not portraying the robots as a complete, total hivemind enslaved to logic. Or we could focus on the way they expanded on the lore of the Quarians, or the Krogan, or the Salarians, or the Asari?

          ME2 is definitely smaller scale, but I don’t think it’s less sci-fi; it builds on what ME1 did with all of it’s companions: it familiarizes you with the most basic aspects of their culture, than you provide you with a character who is in some way influenced by that culture. ME is a series about melting pots and conformity and racial(xenial? I don’t think there’s a word for this) tension brought on by years of historical conflict. Yeah, fine, you’re not dealing with lost colonies or ancient alien ruins, but that doesn’t make it not a space opera.

          Or do I just not understand what you all mean when you say “Big Idea Sci-Fi”? Because I kinda don’t. What makes the stuff I just mentioned not count? What would count, in your mind? What bits of ME1 make it so special?

      • MichaelGC says:

        Oh, I dunno – I’m pretty old (older than a Generation Xer; younger than dirt, just), and I’d say a good bit of well-written snark is timeless.

        (If it’s good-natured and from a warm heart, that is. Never much of a worry around here.)

      • ehlijen says:

        I think you misjudged the bioware RPGs (and possibly RPGs in general). I don’t think any of them stand on their combat mechanics. DnD combat was terrible once adjusted to the rinse and repeat style of CRPGs (eg way too much spell micromanaging just to ward against save or die crap for 10+ encounters per hour). KOTOR wasn’t much better, though it at least flowed faster. Too easily broken, though. And what are the Deep Roads remembered for again? Endless boring combat.

        The characters, story and dialog are what made those games stick with the players who enjoyed them. The combat ranged from annoying to functional. And yet, for a while they kept making game after game like that and it worked!

        RPG does not mean story doesn’t matter. Even a 08/15 dungeon crawl feels more satisfying if you have a token quest telling you why you’re doing any of this.

        • JRT says:

          Yes, I know that Bioware is better at Story than Combat. But it was the RPG first that made them appreciate the story–Baldur’s Gate was first marketed to D&D players and then took on a life of its own. I’ve learned over time that once they gave up somebody else’s rule-set, they seemed to have a problem getting satisfactory combat up…ME actually does the best job IMO.

          But you miss the point I’m trying to make. As defined by most people, the term RPG is not so much about the playing of a role, but rather a specific set of expectations involving stats and combat–users have attributes, traits, powers or skills, they “level up”, and the games are designed around combat. Try taking some of these out and you’ll get accusations of “dumbing down”, etc. Most RPGs will have combat, and lots of it. There are some rare exceptions but they are not the norm.

          What I am saying, is, that if we’re talking about Science Fiction and “big idea” stuff, I assume we are talking about classic SF as found in novels. If we had a totem pole in terms of the sophistication of these ideas, I’d put these from top to bottom.

          Novels and Short Stories (fiction)

          Television and Movies are mostly inferior to the novels in terms of expressing some of these big ideas. Usually, if a movie or TV series gets made, the SF is more likely to be mass market concepts rather than some of the more advanced concepts. I put movies slightly above TV because movies can be “done in one” and we have had things like 2001, Solaris, and Interstellar. But most TV and movies are action oriented stuff–Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. While shows like Star Trek can deal with big ideas, there are limits to what can be done in a typical series with a limited budget and a lot of the ideas in Trek episodes are more or less adapted from stuff that was already done in novels.

          Games are usually on the lowest end of the totem pole. That doesn’t mean they are bad, but there are in my opinion limits to what you can do and still make it an entertaining experience.

          If you were going for more cerebral SF, I would say a Telltale game or a visual novel would more likely to deal with big concepts than a game where you “level up” or a shooter where you end up fighting the invading army. That’s why I say–as good as Bioware games are in this genre, I think the RPG and mass market audience has some limited effect on it.

      • Quent says:

        And if you are looking for a more big ideas, interesting concepts, game may I recommend Technobabylon. It’s post-cyberpunk so while it doesn’t go to other planets at least it avoids the complete and utter all encompassing cynicism of normal cyberpunk by having socially connected protagonists.

        As a taste of the ideas it has: genetics has advanced to the point that people can drastically alter their bodies so some rebellious types have taken to infecting themselves with the symptoms of various life destroying historical diseases, like AIDS and leprosy, to be edgy. And taking the DNA of a dead loved one and adding it as junk DNA to a tree to care for.

        Only a few puzzles were of the “wait, WHAT” kind and were, overall quite good.

    • Syal says:

      Just wanted to say I’m glad the implication comment has come up about something that isn’t religion or politics, because now we can discuss that general way of thinking and presentation without people saying we’re pushing certain beliefs or whatnot; as far as I’m concerned the thought process is exponentially more important than the belief and there’s precious few chances to discuss one without getting sucked into arguments about the other. (Even though all I have to say about it right now is “We should discuss this further”. Hopefully someone will.)

      …but I’d still read another ten thousand words tearing into Mass Effect. Or defending Mass Effect, either way.

    • Aldowyn says:

      Yeah, I am *very* conflicted on the idea of 10k words on Mass Effect. I think I might *still* be burned out from spending so much time in the comments during the ME3 season. (Which I stopped watching when they were on Mars, because it was so harsh)

      I’m still not entirely sure what about the first game is so appealing to Shamus and others like him. Intangibles, I guess.

  19. Shamus, a few things to ponder here:

    No need to use any plugins. You could simply edit your template.

    And the share urls can be stripped down to pretty much the following (using this article id as example).




    Lots of useless crap removed form the urls.
    And in all three the only thing that need to be changed is the 27702 number.
    Wordpress should let you create template tag to automatically replace that with te article id.

    Next are the share button images themselves.

    The twitter widget actually does something pretty smart, it use a dara uri.
    The tweety bird is actually src=”data:image/png;base64,iVBOR………..QmCC”

    So the graphics for the three share buttons could be embed in the page itself, avoiding 3 extra http calls.
    Alternatively you could store a copy of the images on your own server and link to them instead of using a data uri.

    Point is. You can protect the privacy of visitors and improve performance by doing the way I’ve described above.
    Only when somebody actually click on a share button are they taken to Twitter/Facebook/Redit, and no sooner.

    PS! In Firefox the Facebook share button is like a full line below the other two for some reason.

    • Shamus says:

      This is annoyingly more work. (Jetpack is a simple on/off with no need to muck around in the dang template.) But I’ll look into this when I get the chance.

      • Zak McKracken says:

        Posted it below already but this thing may or may not be easier to integrate on your end:

        oh, it’s got a wrapper for WordPress already:

      • Here is a complete example of the solution I mentioned http://codepen.io/anon/pen/OVvywX

        Everything is self contained, so no extras connections to fetch images or whatnot.
        And hopefully easy to edit if more share stuff need to be added in the future.

        Use/abuse that example as you see fit.

        Just for comparison, the Twitter share TwentySided currently have is 25KB and it makes two requests, and the Facebook share currently is 6.5KB and makes three requests, and the Reddit share is 1.8KB and makes 3 requests.

        So total that is around 33KB and 8 requests (not counting the three requests to show the 3 share buttons in the first place).

        Compared to my example which is the total size of the HTML and CSS and Javascript and images is less than 4KB and 0 requests are made.

        • PS! The facebook app id 249643311490 is actually Jetpacks app id. If you roll your own then you need to go to facebook and get your own app id (the process is automated).

          I edited my example code (i just removed the app id), now it does what Sharriff does (no appid).

      • Lazlo says:

        I don’t know how relevant it is to your (and your readers’) privacy concerns, but a couple years ago I recall Bruce Schneier (who cares a great deal about privacy, and IMHO is fairly intelligent on the subject) decided on a two-click solution that prevents the cookie/iframe privacy issues fairly well, so far as I can tell. You may want to look at what he wrote on the subject:


      • Shamus says:

        Ok, Shariff is implemented, the old buttons are gone. We’ll see how this goes.

        • Zak McKracken says:

          Big thanks!

        • “Thanks to Roger HÃ¥gensen and Zak McKracken for the advice and links.”
          made me chuckle, if you read between the lines it kinda sounds like “damn you guys” :P

          Also the post is not irrelevant. My suggestion is to rewrite the “Share Buttons” article, and post it as (a new article called) “Share Buttons v2”. (which also reflect the nature of a active website, always iterating/changing/improving).

          Still mentioning Jetpack, and mention the widgets that Twitter, Facebook, Google and so on provides for people (“it’s oh so easy, just copy and paste this into you webpage”)… But you get tracked.

          Then mention roll your own static or text links (some sites out there has no graphical share links, they just “have Share: Google, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit”) or solutions like Shariff.

          A lot of people may not be aware of his. Heck, myself I did not even know about Shariff.

          BTW! The share links/buttons look the same in Firefox also, everything is aligned as expected (unlike the previous solution).

          • Zak McKracken says:

            “Heck, myself I did not even know about Shariff”
            The project originates with Heise, a German publisher, mainly of one computer magazine reasonable well-known in Germany. They have a news site which often reports on politics of data protection and similar, thus they have an interest in this sort of thing (especially because their own readership didn’t like the idea of web articles damning Facebook and Google but handing the data on all readers to those two…).

            => No shame in not knowing about that project. The earlier version of it wasn’t even available in English.

            This whole episode just goes to show how much internet safety & security is a matter of convenience and availability of the right tools.

  20. Sebguer says:

    Jetpack actually has a really interesting history, and it’s basically an attempt by WordPress.com to get some benefit out of sites that are self-hosted WordPress. The book “The Year Without Pants” has some interesting background on Automattic (the company behind WordPress.com) and the team that ended up being responsible for creating Jetpack. It’s mostly about the company culture, but still a pretty interesting book in general- and they have a really interesting company dynamic.


  21. Zak McKracken says:

    …and I just noticed I had Disconnect disabled on this site (to let me see the twitter feed). Just corrected that :(

    I think there’s a (very large) category of users that your list excludes: The ones who actually do care but have stopped trying because either they think it doesn’t work because “they” will win anyway, or because they just don’t quite know how to.
    In fact I rcently read a study which found that most users do care about their privacy but have given up. It hurts less if you don’t struggle… (and most people have loads of other things to worry about)

    However, I think there is indeed a way to keep those people out of facebook’s database while still allowing others to keep using it. I’ve never built a website in anything but plain old 1990’s html so I can’t comment on the ease of putting these things in but may I recommend this project:

    The idea is that those are not iframes, and they don’t collect data unless klicked on. Ding! Everybody wins.

  22. Chris says:

    I’m one of those people who has Facebook completely blocked, specifically so those little buttons don’t see me. Since I don’t have an account and everything they host is behind a login wall, there’s no reason to ever connect to them. I would disable third-party cookies but that breaks too many things (Disqus, etc.).

  23. boota says:

    i would like to read 10 000 words on what’s good with the mass effect trilogy :P

  24. Chris says:

    What I’d really like is to hear 10 thousand words that make the awful choices in Mass Effect make sense. (Like I had alot of trouble with the second game not giving you an escape from Cerberus servitude, but my head-canon saved me. I choose to believe that while Cerberus was rebuilding you they pre-installed your brain with “must follow Cerberus” coding. Thats why once Miranda is loyal/dead you are able to escape, because she was the one who created/maintained the code.)

    Then again I keep hoping you’ll do a bit on the Star Trek characters with the most pivotal roles, like the Doctor on Voyager. Mostly because it seemed like you had more to say, and the comments for the Star Trek stuff were fantastic reading.

    And on a different topic: Shamus, please realize that plenty of us are willing to give you money and do not wish you to suffer guilt from how you spend it. If I buy a $5 ebook that I end up not liking, I’m out 5 bucks and have lost however-much time I spent reading it. Your stuff is available for free and theres a ton of it (I haven’t even managed to read a fraction of whats available). You are a waaaay better investment than most authors, and you aren’t getting money to entice you to make more content (though other readers may disagree). You are getting money because you have already entertained us, and if we can encourage you to produce more its better for us all. If you decided to write a piece on how to cook for people with food allergies, it would likely be more interesting than most of the books Amazon keeps advertising on the Kindle app.

  25. SlothfulCobra says:

    Do you really read all the comments? Even the ones that have bloated out into loads of paragraphs longer than they should be?

  26. Yay for easier sharing of the awesome that is this blog and community. Been here since DM of the Rings thanks to PS238 Principal, and while I can’t throw any cash your way (sadly jobs are hard to come by when you haven’t worked since 2008, you have a serious psych history and your body tends to throw up any time you get stressed or eat anything acidic which includes way more than you’d think it would), but I do my best to make sure friends, random acquaintances, people I get stuck in lines with, and so on are at least vaguely aware of some portion of your content (I try to hook RPers and LotR fans with DM of the Rings, gamers with Spoiler Warning, fiction writers with your stuff like Why Batman Can’t Kill, and everyone else with Railroad to Nowhere).
    I’ve been considering linking the Batman post to MAG (Metro Atlanta Geeks) facebook, since the post was interesting and the discussions in comments even more so (I’m still trying to figure out if the Doctor’s creepy or not 2 days later, and have come to a conclusion of yes and no), but I didn’t want to send a horde of new people your way over a holiday weekend, especially over something that could get pretty contentious.
    And yes, I’d love to read 10000 words on Mass Effect if you write ’em. I enjoy your writing, even when it’s on something I know very little about (programming beyond a compsci 101 level for example), but I will admit you’d probably lose me if you started doing only posts on economics and philosophy.

  27. kdansky says:

    I highly recommend using Ghostery, a plugin that disables all the share functionality from the web, making your very hard to track. It parses the webpage before display, and removes all offending content, such as Facebook share buttons, or Twitter buttons, or even Disqus. You can allow them case-by-case if you so wish.

    That means I really don’t care whether a site has that functionality, I can quietly remove it on my side.

    > Does anyone want to read ten thousand words on the Mass Effect trilogy?
    Not exactly what I’m waiting for, but I won’t complain either.

    It would also be great if we had markdown functionality for comments, instead of the much harder to type HTML-like syntax.

  28. I first started reading the Meister Shamus back in the days of DM of the Rings. I have stuck around through the Shamus Plays, the Stolen Pixels, the Experienced Points, and the Bowling Rollercoaster scandal!

    ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQrC_C6SexI )

    I have cheered at DRM rants, and found GOG because of the Great and Powerful Shamus.
    These days I just stick around hoping for more Shamus Plays, Stolen Pixels, and to see if he does a DM of the Rings for the new movies…. ;)

    Oh, and I never poke the social network share buttons on sites.
    If I want to share an article, I just cut and paste the url.
    It just seems easier to me, and less likely to have problems.
    It could just be because I am old and set in my ways…..
    /shake cane at whippersnappers with their MyFaceFriends+

  29. wswordsmen says:

    Didn’t know that Facebook knew that much about me. Now I am really annoyed my sister forced me to have an account.

    BTW can you make it 20000 words on the ME trilogy?

    • Zak McKracken says:

      Just in general:

      unless you pay for it, any service probably makes their money either serving you ads (and using what they know to “target” them), or selling your data.
      Also, most (though not all) web services these days could easily just run on your PC/laptop/tablet/phone without an internet connection but they don’t because then the company operating it could not collect the user data…

  30. ogg says:

    10,000 words on Mass Effect? absolutely! Loved your past writeups.

  31. Stormcaller says:

    I use Ghostery at home, but something else to consider:

    Smartphones don’t allow plugins at all (or at least I havent worked out how to use them there yet), and therefore tracking must be enabled :(

    So, that would be another (is that the fourth? fifth?) category of people. – those who use tracker blockers usually, but can’t on all devices.

  32. RCN says:

    Huh, I’ve actually posted several of your articles on my facebook page, though usually your more esoteric stuff (like that piece about Christmas and the market’s tendency to push it earlier and earlier because of storage concerns, I found that very enlightening).

    Never really bother with those actual sharing buttons, they seem more fiddly than simply directly posting the stuff you want. For me at least.

    I like the new functionalities though. It’ll make conversations more straightforward in the comments.

  33. John Beltman says:

    “In fact, I think I've pretty much carved out my niche. Long-form essays on games, plain-language discussions of programming, my collaborations with the Spoiler Warning crew, and the very occasional video content.”

    The thing that I know you for and like most about you is your humour. I found out about you because of DM of the Rings and loved your Shamus Plays comics because of the humour. Even the stuff that you mention, the part I like best is when your humour comes through. It is interesting that you don’t even mention it.

    More comics from you would be gold.

    All the best,


  34. Snarkangel says:

    “Does anyone want to read ten thousand words on the Mass Effect trilogy?”

    Uh, YES.

  35. The Seed Bismuth says:

    Yes please more Mass Effect.

  36. Dreadjaws says:

    I’m gonna be really dissapointed if you don’t actually write those 10.000 words on Mass Effect. Specially since if I were to write them, about 9500 of them would be spent complaining about Kai Leng.

    Man, F**C Kai Leng!

  37. Chris says:

    Makes it easier for me to share rather than manually copying stuff over to twitter. Thanks.

  38. Totino says:

    Mass of words about Mass Effect: Yes please.

  39. Bubble181 says:

    10,000 words on ME: so you’ll be making a brief summary of everything you’ve said about the games so far? :P

  40. Adeon says:

    Thanks for mentioning the Facebook blocker. I’ve always manually blacklisted Facebook cookies but an add-on is easier.

    The other option is just to go to a whitelist for cookies where you specifically enable the ones that you need. It’s a pain to manage though.

  41. RTBones says:

    10000 words on the ME trilogy? So, what, is this a precis for the actual article? :)

    In all seriousness, I’d happily read it…and laugh, and cry, and rant, right along with the rest of the Twenty Sided community. What *is it* about that series that brings out the bitch-bats we all have to take swings at the good, the bad, what could have been, what should have been, Kai Leng, Bioware, EA, etc. I cannot think of another series that brings the blood to a boil the way, for as many people, and for as long as ME has/does. Bioware’s own forums are still quite active regarding the series.

  42. SKD says:

    “Does anyone want to read ten thousand words on the Mass Effect trilogy?”

    Of course we would. The real question is whether you could limit yourself to ten thousand words per Mass Effect title.

    OTOH as far as social media share buttons and creep factors go…. I have pretty much given up on trying to avoid being tracked. As soon as the angels deliver us a method for blocking these insidious creeps, the creeps find another way of gathering our info. I just take comfort in the fact that my information is in the hands of evil corporations who want to make a profit. I don’t have to spend my money on their products and find it quite easy to avoid doing so.
    BTW, when are you going to start selling Spoiler Warning and Twenty-Sided merchandise? I have an irresistible urge to send you outrageous sums for cheap swag :P

  43. Sicod says:

    I got into this site because a friend told me about DM of the Rings and to check it out. I was told this in person. HAHA Facebook, which friend told me? YOU’LL NEVER KNOW!

  44. MadTinkerer says:

    “But a couple of weeks ago I installed Jetpack, ”

    Awww, you got my hopes up that you were talking about Jetpack the game(s), two of my favorite classic DOS games / perpetually delayed sequels.

  45. RTBones says:

    As far as Facebook and others go, for me, I run Ghostery with Firefox. I – like a lot of your readership – get tired of the constant tracking and data mining that goes on today.

    I dont know if anyone else has pointed this out, but:

    “…If it works as advertised, then *Facewook* won't know…” <- presuming you intended FaceBOOK here.

  46. Muelnet says:

    I absolutely want the 10,000 words on Mass Effect, though personally I would prefer as many words as you’ve got. If that’s less than 10,000 that’s fine, if it’s more that’s fine too.

  47. MichaelGC says:

    Does anyone want to read ten thousand words on


  48. Fabrimuch says:

    About losing readers for no reason in particular: I used to read your blog religiously every day, because I love your writing style, but then Real Life got in the way and I suddenly had a ton of obligations and no more time to dedicate to Twenty Sided, even though I still read other webpages every day while on the bus. I’m sorry about that (I still come back here from time to time).

    Also, sorry for commenting on a week-old post, its just that I only could connect today this week.

  49. Blackbird71 says:

    “I'm not looking to become a superstar. In fact, I think I've pretty much carved out my niche. Long-form essays on games, plain-language discussions of programming, my collaborations with the Spoiler Warning crew, and the very occasional video content. I'm not going to be the next TotalBiscuit, Angry Joe, Boogie2988, or any of the other big names with millions of fans and followers. And that's fine. I'm not equipped for that kind of gig anyway, and I think we have a good thing going here[3].”

    Shamus, for what it’s worth, I’m much more familiar with your work than any of the “big names” you listed (I’ve seen one of the names frequently mentioned or referenced in various discussions, but have never read his work directly; the others I don’t recall ever having heard of). So at least among some certain demographic, you are the “big name” yourself.

    Of course, I can only assume that demographic to be something along the lines of “Prematurely curmudgeonly 30-40 year old gamers/engineers who don’t actually use social media or spend much time listening to/reading the “popular opinions” on gaming, but enjoy various webcomics and discovered DM of the Rings years ago and subsequently got hooked on Shamus Young’s humor and writing style.” Somehow, I’m guessing we’re not a terribly large group…

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Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

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Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

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I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

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I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>