I haven’t been posting every week for a lot of reasons (I have SAAD so this time of year gets rough no matter what I do). But one of the bigger reasons, and also why I’m so behind on adding the 180 shows people have told us about that are in our backlog, is that I’ve been working on some new features that help us help you!
This delves into some nerdy things so I’ll give you the tl;dr here: I accidentally broke things when making the back end faster, then we put in new features to block toxic comments, prevent toxic messages from being sent to our editors, protect our Slack community, and share on more social media platforms.
Keeping this as a welcome and friendly place to talk about the people and shows we love remains one of our top priorities, right after ‘make sure all the data is accurate.’
Some people noticed the ‘counts’ on people’s pages were wrong. Like it would say ‘X has played 1 queer character, none are dead’ on an actor page who’s characters (plural!) were very much dead.
This was 100% my bad! I recently overhauled a lot of behind the scenes data syncing code, because we have a fairly complicated system to connect characters to shows and actors, and vice versa. When we had 100 shows it was easy. We’re over 2000 now (yay!) and searching 2000 shows means generating lists which can take a long time. It took me some trial and error to find the best solution that also worked on mobile for quick updates/corrections, but in doing so…
I totally forgot that numbers in code can be an integer or a string. Basically that’s like trying to compare
'10' — it looked fine to the human who knows they’re the same, but robots are not that smart. Anyway, that was where that counting got weird. The
'10' was a ‘string’ and the code says “Well a string isn’t a number, so it’s zero!” Spotted, solved, everything’s happy.
Thank you all for letting me know.
So. Twitter. Am I right? I personally chose to lock and leave my twitter account, due to 4 years of rampant harassment and abuse by one person who doesn’t get that I’m never going to give him what I want, and my boss is never going to fire me over what I did. What did I do? I kicked him out of a dev group for being an abusive and harassing human, after warning him multiple times. Clearly, I’m a monster.
Anyway, since Twitter is getting worse by the second, I started watching where celebs were running off to, and we are adding in the ability for us to list actors’ social media in two places: Facebook, TikTok, Mastodon and Tumblr. We’ll filling those out as we go, and it won’t show up on the front-end for a little while, until we’ve made sure everything’s as it should be, since we have to finish the code that helps ensure that data is correct.
Think there are more social platforms we should add for actors? Let us know in the comments.
Speaking of that weirdo who harasses me, one of the biggest problems being a queer content site is – I bet you can guess this – toxic comments.
People have Opinions with a capital O, and honestly they’re welcome to them. But we don’t want them here, on our site, making trouble. This comes from all sides, including TERFs who are upset we include transgender characters or non-binary. Sometimes the TERFs like to sneak in and pretend to be all cool, and then they go rampant complaining that unless it’s all-cis-lesbians, it’s not really applicable for this site. We disagree.
We also get some people who are (more understandably) upset we don’t cover cis-men. And that one, I do get. It’s a strange, arbitrary line we drew, but it remains. Still, there’s no reason to attack us over not wanting to do something, and we get some of those too. BTW if you do want to make a version of this site for cis-men who are queer, please feel free to copy our code! It’s open-source meaning you don’t have to pay us or anything, and we tried to document everything so it’s portable for you.
In so far as the blog comments go, we have a very simple set up. First, every comment has to be approved unless we mark them as being trusted. It’s called Comment Probation, and it’s been instrumental in catching weird people who want to rant about how we’re all going to hell. But that doesn’t really work when you get to things like our contact forms, which someone has to look at, and wouldn’t it be so nice if no one had to read those hateful things?
First, I built out a system for the aforementioned harasser of mine and applied it here, so people we know are bad-actors are put into spam right away, and not interacted with. We rely on WordPress’ default block-list for things we know we do’t want to see. We can still see things, to check if something really was bad, but so far it’s been 100% correct, and no false-positives. By using the WordPress block list, we ensure that even if someone checks our code (which is all open source so yes, you could), they will only see that we block, not what. Some of that is where things are super specific to people.
Having no false-positives means we may have some false-negatives. That is to say, we err on the side of caution, and someone might slip through. While I’d love to just add ‘normal words people use to be jerks’ to that block list, we can’t since if you put in (say) ‘ass’, it would also flag ‘assume.’ This is a known issue with WordPress and the semantics of blocking.
The cool news is our friends over at Gravity Forms let us beta something! We’re now running what they call a ‘Moderation Add-On‘, which utilizes machine learning to give something a ‘toxicity score.’ Now I am as skeptical as they come about AIs, but in this case, I ran it thought a lot of tests. The actual toxic content was scoring a 75% likelihood of being toxic, while the good content never surpassed 10%. There will be refinements on the way and so far I’m very happy with the results.
I have a couple things on my list.
Someone asked if we could email updates of new shows/characters added and I had (naively) assumed this would be easy. It’s not. The system we use to email updates for posts does not allow for us to add in ‘and these too!’ Effectively, this will have to be a separate list. For now, though, if you want to know who’s knew and are familiar with RSS, you can add that to your favourite RSS reader:
The next item on my list is also a little more complex than I want it to be. I want to hook that Toxicity tool into regular comments! Sadly there’s no active WordPress plugin for that (ConversationAI closed their plugin a while ago) so we’ll need to write that ourselves. It’s not impossible, just takes time.
We also had a couple asks about our API that I’m clarifying before I say more than yes, we’re totally willing to adding API features.
And then it’s on to Social Media. We don’t advertise, but social shares are actually critical to helping people know about how cool we are! That’s why the show/character of the day has hashtags for the show names, it keeps everything findable. Keeping that flowing has to continue, no matter what the landscape of social media becomes. This means looking into the other hot-new-socials, like Hive, and figuring out if it’s possible to auto-post there.
And The Future?
It would be a perfect world if everyone was chill and respected each other, treated all humans with love and kindness, and accepted differences. Until then, I’m sure I’ll be researching new ways to show people who can’t be kind the door.
At the same time, there are always new things! New social platforms, new data sources, and more ways to highlight the important data you want to know about TV shows and queers on TV. I am down for that. Adding in those new features always makes me happy.
If you have recommendations for features you’d like to see, please leave a note in the comments!