our known unknowns

This is a WordPress.com blog, which is not as flexible as if it were a WordPress blog we were serving ourselves. For example, I would love to have a custom favicon instead of the WordPress logo next to the URL up in your address bar, but WordPress.com does not allow this. Even though one can still do a lot of twiddling with the template, the twiddling is actually editing CSS that runs on top of other CSS that runs on top of the actual HTML template. The result is super-kludgy and not wholly satisfying, although if you look at the template we used as our starting point, you can see that much customization has been done.


1. Shouldn’t the banner image link to the front of the blog? (Yes, but it’s unclear if this can be done. The “front” link at the top of the sidebar does link to the front.)

2. Wouldn’t it be better if the author’s name was above the post rather than below? (Yes, I agree this is vastly preferable for a team blog. However, none of the entries in a design competition using the basic template that this blog is built off of changed the basic title-date-post-author/categories/comments format, leading me to suspect it can’t be done. I’ve sent a support query to WordPress.com about this.)

3. Shouldn’t the sidebar be wider? (Do you think I like abbreviating my University to “N’Western”? Right now, when I make the sidebar wider, it reverts all the way to the bottom of the post. I strongly suspect this can be fixed but have not been able to figure out how.)

4. Can you reduce the white space above the banner graphic? (Seems like it must be do-able, but has thwarted my cursory efforts so far.)

5. Why can only contributors comment? (Not true! We’ve certainly had no contributors comment, and it is set up so that anybody should be able to comment. If you are trying to comment and having problems, let me know.)

Anyone who has insight into any of the aforementioned unknowns, I’d more than welcome your assistance.

Author: jeremy

I am the Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

5 thoughts on “our known unknowns”

  1. Noncontributors can comment, but it wasn’t easy. You have to establish a WordPress ID, and it took me several tries. First, WP didn’t like my password; then they didn’t like my user name, and it took me a few tries to figure out that it was because I had a space in it. Feh.


  2. Jeremy, I am sure that you already tried this – and not having a WordPress.com blog, I am not positive. However, it looks like in the css, the right margin on the #container div is set to -240px, the right margin on the #content div is set to 240px and the width of the sidebar is set to 240px — if you make the first two divs’ margins equal to the same width as you set the sidebar width, I would guess that it would work. I suspect that because the #content div is set to float left, when the sidebar is widened and the current margins are maintained, it is too wide to fit in the #content div side-by-side with the sidebars, therefore it will float all the way to its left margin and the sidebar will take the space below it.

    But, I can never get these things to work out in what I think that they are supposed to and it usually takes me about three hours to figure these things out.


  3. jay: I’m certainly glad you took the trouble. And now that you’ve taken the trouble, cognitive dissonance theory would predict that you should be *extra* motivated to comment. I hope it’s right!

    mbader: Thanks. I’ve tried changing the 240s in #container and #content to a higher number, and the main text doesn’t move over. This is where I’m stuck. Note also that the sidebar being set to 240px is a red herring; that’s the primary sidebar, which is actually over on the right and hidden. The sidebar on the left that is visible is the secondary sidebar. If I insert a width for the secondary sidebar that is greater than 240–changing the container and content values to the same–the sidebar goes to the bottom.

    I think you are exactly right why it does this, but I can’t figure out how to get the main text to move over.


  4. Additional clues:

    1. I can actually take the margin statements for the #container and #comment out completely and it doesn’t affect anything.

    2. If I set width for #secondary to anything above *200* (not 240) the sidebar reverts to the bottom. If I set it to a low value, like 50, it does indeed squish.


  5. Jeremy, I figured you had already tried what I suggested in the last post (as mbader…), I think that I found a solution:

    Enter the following into your .css file:
    div#container {
    margin: 0 0 0 -300px;

    div#content {
    margin: 0 0 0 300px;

    div.sidebar {
    width: 299px;
    I think that will work.

    Also, on getting rid of the header space, I think that decreasing the padding-top of the #access element would work.


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