The Ergosphere
Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Energy Collective collapses due to gross incompetence and inability to accept criticism

The Energy Collective was recently taken over by Energy Post.  This didn't have any visible consequences until just a couple days ago, when Energy Post attempted a conversion of the site from Drupal 6 to Wordpress.

I've been using Wordpress for years, and had no real complaints about it.  But this conversion... it was like having the Library of Congress edited and reprinted by Mad Magazine.  EVERY BIT of formatting in copied posts and comments was completely stripped out.  Not just blockquotes and lists, but bold and italic tags were removed—irrecoverably, I was told.  Here's what I put in the "new look" thread:
I couldn’t find this post in the last 10 screens of old posts (which took a VERY long time to sort through) so I wound up posting it in the newest post also.  I only re-discovered this because it wound up listed in the new comments.
Among the problems we now have:
1. List tags aren’t allowed. Not flagged, just stripped without notice.
2. ALL hyperlinks to previous posts/comments are defunct, 404. Nobody thought to implement redirects for them.
3. ALL formatting has been stripped from the copied-over comments. Indents, italics, things distinguishing quoted material from new text… stripped, and vast amounts of intelligibility utterly destroyed in the process.
4. The link to change to “oldest first” sort doesn’t work.
5. Comment hyperlinks are now harder to use than under Drupal. Instead of simply having a link, one must (a) click the “link” icon, (b) click inside the box that appears, (c) select-all and copy (3 keystrokes minimum), (d) click in the address bar, (e) right-click and then FINALLY (f) select “paste-and-go”. Whoever came up with this should be removed from all administrative roles, effective immediately. It is beyond outrageously stupid, it is malign.
6. Worst of all, attempting to use the permalink on an only comment (first in the thread) did NOT link to the comment, but the “respond” box! I was able to get the correct comment link using Domain Inspector (the comments section is not included if you “view page source”), so it’s obviously available to whatever generates the page and SHOULD be used to make a straight hyperlink.
7. Comment edit box is way too small.
8.  Comment notification box is checked by default, doesn’t remember previous un-checks.
I strongly suggest that comments be closed, all comments made under WordPress mailed back to the commenters with the URLs of the discussions where they were posted, and the conversion re-done PROPERLY once the admins have figured out how to fix the conversion issues.
(shortly after this, a host of expanded HTML options were enabled in comments. Not before.)

I was told this could not be fixed:
1.Formatting is allowed on all new comments. Legacy formatting was not possible without checking and hand coding 50,000 comments.

2. External URLs remain where they we’re coded in full.

3. Formatting, See 1.

4. Sort function works for all new posts, there may be issues with legacy articles for reasons discussed above

5. Linking is possible, it may take 2 more clicks.

6. Comment Box – the box is designed to be typed in to and expands as you type. If you copy an paste and essay in to it you can use the Cursor Keys to navigate through the text. On first press of the cursor key the box will enlarge to show the full text.

7. Comment notification is now un-ticked as default. Legacy data of’ un-ticking of box’ was unable to be retained. There is however a new Subscribe feature.

There are also new features that let you search the comment box by Authors or text. You can now embed Video and there is a new feature that lets you attach files to your articles e.g. a pdf on the benefits of Nuclear Power.

If you have any further technical questions or requests please email:

Many Thanks

TEC Support Team
I was not alone in my negative appraisal of the quality of conversion; Willem Post had this to say:
Engineer Poet,
I was reading your comment.
It appears to me like a butcher job. Totally incredible.
It needs to be redone, including all the bells and whistles.
It needs to beta tested, before going live.
My posted articles are the OLD versions.
I cannot let people see these old versions, because of many significant changes and additions.
I may have to delete my articles.
I want the MOST RECENT VERSIONS of my articles posted.
I want the EDIT function restored; no edit function, no more articles from me, for sure!!
I want the LIKES count function restored.
If possible, I want the VIEWS count function restored.
I hope Karel reads this.

I made a reply which was removed and returned to me by e-mail:
the database was in a very bad state, which caused endless problems with the conversion
The problems I'm talking about have nothing to do with the database, but with slipshod conversion of the HTML of comments.  It was certainly possible to do better, because I now see almost all of the formatting options that were previously missing at the top of this edit window.  But someone was sloppy and got all of that lost in the mis-translation. Unless someone was criminally sloppy, the scripts used to read the Drupal database and do the conversion are still there.  Minor tweaks will fix the (documented!) HTML issues.  Just do it over. Speaking of documented issues, the stylesheet hid part of the width of the right sidebar with an opaque gray overlay, looking like this:
I got a defensive and hostile note attached to it:
Karel Beckman
CC Aaron Weiner 'Matthew James'
Mar 30 at 3:54

Please note I removed your latest comment because I find it offensive and rude.
We do not tolerate offensive comments on The Energy Collective.
If you make any further comments that cause offense, you will be permanenlty blocked from commenting.

Mr Karel Beckman, editor-in-chief
(does this guy have a thick enough skin to be running a major website? does he have the competence to recognize when things are going wrong? he's sure not scoring any points with the people whose oxen have been gored.)

This was already very bad.  But it got worse.

I like to book-mark the most recent comments in comment threads so I can return to them and scan for newer additions.  On Tuesday, I believe, those bookmarks ALL stopped working.  I can go to individual discussion threads, but links directly to threads or individual comments are re-written and sent to personal profile pages (mostly my own).  For instance, whether I click from my bookmarks or paste in the address bar, this:

gets re-written to this:

I have complained to, with no replies and no fixes.  There's certainly plenty of desire remaining to fix these problems and get everything spic and span again, but that all will and energy appears to be OUTSIDE the administration of Energy Post.  The insiders refuse to admit that there are any problems, let alone ask for assistance in fixing them or explore possibilities.  (This is what I'd expect if it was being run by a few tyros who are in way over their heads, especially the violently defensive reactions to practically all criticism.)

It is now between painful and impossible to follow and participate in discussions on TEC; for all intents and purposes, Energy Post has destroyed The Energy Collective.  Worst of all, Energy Post management will not even admit they have a problem.  There appears to be one last, sad snapshot of the site at the Internet Wayback Machine, but that may be all that remains of this once-valuable forum.

Here is an example of how the technical staff have broken links into TEC.  I bookmarked this URL, where I was having a discussion on the Drupal version of the site:

This URL no longer exists, and there is no re-direct; it now comes up 404.  The Wordpress copy of the article appears to have been at no less than 2 URLs, and it now comes up as this:

Why the gratuitous change in URL?  I have no idea, and the staff aren't talking.

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