A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


A new look - update

Regular readers of dotCommonweal have probably noticed something different. We've re-launched, with a redesign and some refinements and improvements we've long been envisioning. You can get the full story on our efforts here, but the basic highlights are these:

  • A cleaner and lighter look, optimized for mobile devices and tablets (more and more of you are reading us that way) but also pretty nice looking on your PC
  • An expanded dotCommonweal blog, now incorporating the cultural commentary we used to post at Verdicts, so now you can read posts on religion and politics and movies and books all in one place  
  • Topical pages that include articles from the print magazine along with relevant and related content from the blog

And there's more on the way. But since we're only on Day One, you might encounter some unexpected issues, which you can let us know about here. Or send us an email, complimentary or otherwise, letting us know what you think. 

UPDATE: comments are now open, so feel free to tell us what you like (or don't). But please don't use the comments to ask about technical issues--we can address those only if you use the web form or email address linked to above. 

About the Author

Dominic Preziosi is Commonweal’s digital editor.



Commenting Guidelines

  • All

It looks great—much more modern and less cluttered. I like the new formatting tools, too. Now we don't have to worry about forgetting an ending tag and having half the message wind up in bold or italics. 

Very nice!

Oh, and we can edit a message after it's posted. Great feature!

I second the clean, crisp look. Appears easy to navigate and the main stories are listed as the reader scrolls down. I like the formatting too and was playing around as David was.


 Now we don't have to worry about forgetting an ending tag and having half the message wind up in bold or italics.

And it appears that if you want to respond to a specific person, you can do that in the thread. Might make navigating cross-talk easier.

This is good.

Let me add that it is good that you're merging the Verdicts posts with the regular blog.

If comments are now editable, that's huge.  

If you have control over pagination, you might consider permitting more posts to be on each page.

A bit on the san seriffy side, don't you think?

I like it, but if you can add the ability to edit other people's comments, that would be even better.

I wonder if the arrangement of the reply to comments will work ot.  They had that feature at Pray Tell but it made it hard to find the latest comments and they ended up changing it to straight chronological.

The site looks good.

I am facing one problem and one usage issue. I have already put this in the technical comments section, but I am putting it here in case anybody else has similar issues.

On my iPad, when I click on "dotCommonweal" (link is it gives me an error message "Safari cannot open the page because there are too many redirects"

Earlier, there were links at the top of individual posts for the previous post, Main page and the next post. This is gone now. So each time you have to go back to the main page and click on the individual post heading.

Or, am I missing something?


  1. I am happy that comments can be edited. That was my number 1 complaint with the previous format. I was unable to post three lines without a typo. I cannot correct my old posts from before-the-new-format, but I can correct new comments for at least 10 hours after commenting. If editing time was limited to just 30 minutes after posting a comment, that would be ample time to correct my typos. But if they're editable forever, then it enables us to rewrite history: we can post an offensive comment, let others get angry over it, then reword it in a milder tone, and thus what stays on the page shows to the world how unreasonable those people are. - oh, but I see now that the time of the post is really the time of the last modification to the post, so people will be able to tell because the time of the post will be posterior to the time of the comments.
  2. One thing I liked in the old presentation was the long list of posts on the first page. Now we only get to see about a quarter as many posts. That will make discussions shorter, since people are unlikely to continue discussion on a thread that has moved out of page 1. Is that by design? Did the designers choose the number of posts on the first page from their experience of how long threads remain active? (For example, I've been following a thread on catechesis, that was active until recently, and it is now on page 4.) Or is it so that the content is shorter and can be uploaded more easily on the phones?
  3. Another detail is  an ambiguity, namely, that the "save" button below a comment really means "post publicly", not "save to continue editing later". 
  4. I see that my email is not longer accessible to the whole world. That's an improvement. When you click on "contact", you can write a message to one of the other commenters, the message gets to them and your email is revealed to them, then, if they wish to, they can reply and they then know each other's email. 
  5. We used to refer to comments by the date and time at which they had been posted. This is no longer unambiguous now that editing comments changes the date and time. Isn't that a problem?
  6. (2 days later...) I am unhappy that comments can be edited forever.

This is an attempt to write in italics, or boldface, or just plain. Pretty good.

I wish the rules were written somewhere instead of having to figure them out by trial and error.

For how long are comments editable after posting, I wonder? If they're editable forever, then it enables us to rewrite history: we can post an offensive comment, let others get angry over it, then reword it in a milder tone, and thus what stays on the page shows to the world how unreasonable those people are.

This was always one of the funnest parts of forum-posting, and when I was an admin on the forum I used to live on, no time stamp would show up. Now all we need is support for posting GIFs and the planets would align.

Now all we need is support for posting GIFs and the planets would align.


There have been SO many times when the ability to post a diagram - if I knew how to draw them on the computer - would have saved about seven paragraphs of explanatory comment text that nobody reads anyway.

Sorry, gang, I'm not seeing how to edit a comment that's already been posted.  Browser issue on my part?

 Very nice.  Easier to read.  Congratulations.  


I mentioned a few glitches I've noticed in a message sent to "here" in the opening post.  I received an e-mail in response giving me a link at which "The results of this submission may be viewed," but when I clicked the link it said, "Access denied."

There seems to be a problem with apostrophes in possessive nouns.  This is especially true in block quotes, but in some cases in the blogger's words as well.  See, e.g., the Kateri thread and the Paul Baumann's honorary degree thread.  Umlauts seem to be a problem, too.

In the list of contributors, some names are repeated, and one has an apostrophe problem.

All paragraphing has disappeared from old comments.  (Perhaps these should be deleted, if the paragraphing cannot be restored.)



(Sorry, I meant the Baumann on Weigel thread, not the honorary degree thread.)  (I don't see how to edit, either.)

Does anyone think the lines are too long (i.e., the lines of type). Having been involved in many magazine redesigns over the [that first line has 120 characters, including punctuation and spaces between words]

years, including Commonweal, I am conscious of how high-wire a task this is especially keeping material readable in the face of "high design" concepts. Design is important, but readibility!!! is half the battle. Getting people to read a magazine, newspaper, etc. is what it's all about.

I have my doubts about the ability to revise or edit one's earlier comments. It's a bit like altering history, isn't it? I could imagine scenarios in which a whole discussion could be rendered unintelligible because its starting-point or spark was later altered.  

I agree with Peggy Steinfels that the lines of print are too long.


This is what it looks like:

[...] end of my comment.

Post-closing editing is great!  It will mitigate bad grammar, poor spelling and bad manners.  Maybe.

Claire's #2 is good.  #4 is just another step, but I guess it prevents off-line bashing except for the first time.

I have found things a bit awkward to navigate.  I don't like to have to scroll down the page to get to the blogsite.

I preferred the old typestyle.

I realize that you are trying to cater to new-fangled toys, but I think there is toooooooooooooo much white-space.

But I guess, like the loss of the 10 cent cup of coffee, I'll get used to these as well.

What does "body p" mean at the end of a new comment box?

Huh - all I see is reply

This is a second try at sending this.  (The first time a special form appeared.)

I agree with Fr. Komonchak that revising posts is rewriting history.  Besides, if I know I can revise a nasty post, that will just tempt me even more to be nasty.

Where does it tell you how to use bold and italic?  (I'm writing this on  Mac laptop.)

And what is this about a "contact" function?  I don't think I got that message anywhere.



If I click on your name, I have a choice between "view", where I see the information you have chosen to share about yourself, and "contact", that permits you to make contact with the other person even though you might not know their email.

For bold, you select the part of the text you just wrote that you'd like to appear in bold, then you click on the "B" on the top row of your comment box. Try it!

If the lines are too long or there's too much white space on the right, you can adjust the right margin to the width you prefer. But then, when you go to another website, you may have to adjust it again.

Mobile devices and "desk" tops of whatever variety have different formatting needs. I get CWL on both: the computer and the mobile have different design requirement. Check out the NYTimes on your "desktop" of whatever sort and your mobile devices, ditto many other sites that have both... More work needed.

Thanks, Claire.  It's all nice and simple :-)

I'm not seeing how you get back to the main blog stream after you've been on the comments thread. Is there a "home" or "main" link to click somewhere?

The feature of having comments nesting in relation to other comments is a nightmare, I've got to tell you. We had it at Pray Tell and it drove everybody crazy. Consider how you read these things. If a discussion is going strong, there can be 70 - 80 -150 - 200 comments. Now, try coming in after the second day to see if anyone has said something new. You have to read through pages and pages in order to find out! The new comments could be on page 1 or page 7. 

I am also not happy with how the comment threads appear on my phone. Each time I go to another page of comments, the entire article appears at the head of the page. I don't need to reread the article. I am trying to read the comments. But I have to scroll through a long text atop each new page of comments. That's especially tedious on a hand-held device. 

Maybe editing is a perk reserved to subscribers!


Thanks for your work, but the ordinary typeface is too thin and light. 


I agree that nested comments are frequently a huge nightmare, but:

  • It was pretty much inevitable because all commenting systems are tending in that direction (even Facebook is supposed to switch over soon)
  • It does make it a bit easier to sidestep stupid branches of convos.
  • Compared to a lot of sites, most posts here don't get that many responses.

Still... I was kind of bummed, but I figured it would be happening sooner than later.


I suspect as much, but as M. DeFarge would say: Long live the Devil!

Why should it be the editor who chooses the look of the blog? Why couldn't it be the user? This way each person could change the number of characters per line, whether replies to comments appear nested or in sequence, the color of people's names, and other features, as most pleasing to them. 

Thanks, Abe.

The inevitability of things getting more confusing is indeed a sad prospect.

Here's another example of why nesting is a nightmare: Up to now, we've been able to refer to other comments by the date/time stamp and you could look up the comment on the thread because comments were kept in their chronological order. With nesting, it's a complete hash. The comments may be in any order. If, say, I respond to David Nichol's first post, my comment will appear at the head of the line. But suppose in that comment I want to say, "I disagree with David, yet, I agree with Abe @ 5/26 11:59"? We're up the creek then. Where is Abe's comment? They are not in order of appearance, so it may be anywhere. 

Maybe you are right, though, about there not being so many comments that it will matter most of the time. I tend to write about liturgy and those threads get a lot of comments. 

I tried to access the contents of the immediate past issue (May 17).  I clicked on the picture of the front page, but all I got was a larger version of said front page.


How can I access the actual content of the prior issue(s)?

Click "Past Issues."

I did that. It opens to a series of covers with the issue date below them.  Clicking on the date got me nothing.

Clicking on the front page just got me a larger version of the front page.

How can I access the content therefrom?

I'm old, but not stupid......

Clicking on the front page works for me, and I like the simplicity and readability of the result very much.

For the blog, I would prefer if fewer lines of each post appeared, but more posts appeared on page 1.

Please take this as a comment, not a kvetch. I realize you are trying to accommodate a variety of platforms that I devoutly pray I will never need. But on the home page, I don't get the difference between the narrow teases ("Grave Ambiguities") and the wide teases ("Nagel"s untimely ideas").

And I don't find many of them to be of much help. "Confidence vs.Certainty" is not about the Wizard of Oz, and it is more important to me that it's by Michael Garvey than that he leads with the Wizard. Generally, the regular columnists' names are to small because we read them, not their headlines, as a rule. I also think we are getting tooooooooooo (to quote Jim McCrea) much white space, but that may be good for the other platforms, for all I know.

It works for me too. Try refreshing your browser. Hold Ctrl and click reload. You might be picking up an old version of the page. 

OK, I guess I am stupid.


Click "reload" where?  Not on toolbars nor Explorer bar.



Ok, skip. (I'm learning to rewrite history. Fun! What power!)


I got it to work.  Thanks.

However, it appears that the letters show up in the current issue  not the past issues.  I was specifically looking at the May 17th issue.

Grant:  will that change in the future?


Agree Claire. Posters should write an enticing paragraph or two, and short, and put the rest of their thoughtful and provacative discussion after the break, which on this site is the little red dot thing with two bars above and below. Of course, if you are announcing the end of the world, you might want to go the whole ten yards!!

Maybe editing is a perk reserved to subscribers!

Maybe.  As it happens, I am a subscriber, but I subscribed with an email address that no longer exists, and when I'm logged in with my real/current address, the website doesn't recognize that I'm a subscriber.  (Nor have I figured out yet on this new site how to log out and log back in with my old email address).

Click on "My account" (top right), modify the entry with your email address, click "update" (bottom). You can also insert a bio if you want the whole world to know something about you when they click on your name. 

Yes, for the love of God, this!

In IE, it's the button with the arrow curving back on itself. 

Looks like you found a bug. I'll add it to the list, thanks.

In the version I have it is a button with 2 arrows, one pointing up and one down.  It also links to F5.


After all these years I learned yet something new about IE .... and I'm about to become a Mac user.  Better late than never, I guess.

After a couple of days of experimenting with the new format, I can say that

  • I have already gone back to a past comment to correct typos and spelling errors. It's a real relief. The world is now more orderly thanks to that! In addition, I'm already making a liberal use of the post-posting edits, the kind of edits which I would not like others to do, but for myself I love it.
  • I'm already pulling my hair out over the comments appearing out of order because of nesting. I'm trying to follow the conversation on the humanities thread, and it's a nightmare. Why did you have to make that change? It's driving me crazy and I may read less, and therefore post less, as a result. Maybe that will be an improvement for the rest of the world... 


no problem. Send me your password and I will edit your comments!



The size of the fonts of the comments boxes has been reduced so much that I literally need to use a magnifying glass to read the writing on my iPhone. It's tiny!! Please go back to the original size.

A realization just dawned on me: even though nesting is allowed, we don't have to use it! We are free not to use it! That would be a simple solution to the problem of nested comments. Maybe replying to comments by clicking on "reply" is just a temptation to be resisted, a test to see if commenters can reach an agreement not to use nesting and stick to it, even though they have free choice!

Test: can we still self-edit?

I can't edit my comments any more?

Not even for 15 minutes -just long enough for proof-reading?

Opinion: I note that the thread on pope Francis' catechesis on the Church is now on page 2 of dotCommonweal but is still active: it seems to me that threads do not stay on page 1 quite long enough.


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