It occurs to me that some of the ongoing conventions of our little weblog may be unfamiliar to new visitors… so here are a few peculiarities that may be helpful to know.
þ: We use this symbol (called “thorn,” which is used in some Scandanavian languages) to give credit for a link to someone else. For example, if we saw a link to a New York Times article on Bob’s weblog, we’d write (þ: Bob). Comes from the concept of “tipping one’s hat”; pioneered by Canadian bloggers Colby Cosh and David Janes after a couple of iterations; the thorn symbol is semi-ideographic for a tipped hat.
☣: We use this symbol as a replacement for þ when linking to a site we normally wouldn’t link to, such as the hate-fests operated by Atrios, National Review magazine’s Corner (chiefly due to the presence of anti-gay bigot John Derbyshire and vapid abortion opponent/NR subscription pimp Kathryn Jean Lopez), and Charles Johnson. It may also be used independently of the “hat-tipping” context in parentheses to indicate a link to an offensive site. You may need a Unicode-covering font to see this symbol in all its glory; if you only see a question mark or a box with numbers in it, it is the Unicode character for “biohazard sign”; here’s a free font with the symbol if you need it.
✯: Only visible if you have a really good web browser (because it's a CSS 2 trick), the star indicates those sites in our blogroll that have been kind enough to reciprocate our link to them. In addition to receiving the star, these blogs never disappear off the sidebar.
$: Used in parentheses to indicate a link to a pay-to-read site, like many articles in The Economist or The Chronicle of Higher Education. Generally links to “registration required” sites are not similarly adorned.
RTWT: Abbreviation for “read the whole thing,” a cliché often used by bloggers to indicate that you should actually read the linked article rather than relying on the blogger’s summary of
plagiarism quoting thereof. Sometimes seen as ATSRTWT, “as they say, read the whole thing,” due to Duke political scientist Michael Munger.
Each poster is identified by name and a signature color:, , and .
At the bottom of each post, a variety of useful links are embedded in the footer. The # sign links to the “daily archive page,” which collects all posts originally seen on a particular day (according to UTC or Greenwich Mean Time). The poster’s name links to an archive of posts by that author. The time posted and the “link” graphic link to the individual post archive page, which just shows that particular posting (you can also click on the post title to view this page). In parentheses are one or more “topics” that the post is archived under; you can click on a topic to view previous posts in that vein. The « link lists any Trackbacks to the post. Finally, c: links to any comments made on the post and (if comments are open) the “make a comment” form. Comments are generally open for 14 days after posting, but may be manually closed earlier, or never opened at all.
Last, but not least, a number of features of this blog can be customized here, including your time zone and preferred stylesheet for viewing the blog.
So, there you have it… Signifying Nothing in a nutshell. I hope this guide is useful.