Site News: New hosting service needed

Tag: site news

9Jan 2017
Blog, homepage 11 comments

Site News: New hosting service needed

As you may have figured out, the website was down yet again for the majority of the day yesterday. It was also down for most of New Year’s Day. I have been assured by my hosting service at times that they could handle the amount of traffic at TTB, but that is apparently not the case on their shared servers.

Therefore, I am now in need of a new hosting service. I put this out on Twitter yesterday, and here are some of the suggestions I received:

  • A2hosting
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud Platform
  • Host Gator

I am hesitant to pay for a dedicated server, which was suggested by my current provider, because they start at about $80 per month. That would take a big chunk out of my revenue. Since I don’t have a store, do consulting, make public appearances, etc., ad revenue from Google and Amazon is my entire source of income for the site. I do get over 300,000 page views per month, but the next few weeks will see an increase in traffic due to National Signing Day, so I at least need something that will auto-scale for traffic fluctuations.

Anyway, if you have experience and/or suggestions concerning this type of issue, please hit me up in the comments. Thanks!

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15Aug 2016
Blog, homepage 9 comments

State of the Site: August 2016


As of last Thursday, the new version of Touch the Banner is one year old. On August 11, 2015, I posted a link on to announce that the site was on the move. The new site was supposed to be completed a couple months earlier, but technological glitches, summer vacations, and the like postponed the launch. It would have taken longer – or maybe it wouldn’t have happened at all – if readers and contributors hadn’t donated nearly $4,000 to the cause. I am a man of many mediocre talents, but web design isn’t one of them, so those contributions remain much appreciated.

Below are some of the milestones, features, and tweaks achieved over the past twelve months.

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10Mar 2016
Blog, homepage 30 comments

Meta: Upvotes and downvotes

As I mentioned previously (LINK), I am making small tweaks to the site here and there. Next up is a discussion with my tech guy about installing upvotes and downvotes. So I ask for your help with the direction of this aspect of the website.

Reddit upvotes

Above is the standard Reddit upvote/downvote button. The orange-highlighted arrow reflects the user’s individual vote, and the numeric total in the middle represents the net vote total. In this example, the user upvoted the comment/post and it currently has two more upvotes than downvotes. This is a spare but clean approach.

MGoBlog upvotes
The image above is a screenshot from MGoBlog. As you can see, the upvote arrow and downvote arrow are both visible, as are the totals for each. If this post were upvoted 10 times and downvoted 9 times, those totals would be visible rather than a simple -1 like the Reddit example above. Add in the join date and the “MGoPoints” – which reflect the user’s entire membership career – and it’s a much more complex and comprehensive representation of the user’s posting history.

 Rather than an upvote/downvote button, a thumbs up or thumbs down button could be used. If you’re a Facebook user and ever wanted an “Unlike” button to go along with the “Like” button, maybe we could make this happen.

247 Sports upvotes

247 Sports upvotes 2

The images above represent the voting process on 247 Sports. It’s a simple upvote or downvote selection, and the vote total is revealed only after the user votes. That presumably prevents “groupthink” and people jumping on the bandwagon if they see something getting a ton of upvotes or downvotes.

What are your thoughts? Do you like any of these ideas better than others? Do you like having your posting history (sign-up date, number of posts, etc.) connected to your name and avatar?

21Feb 2016
Blog, homepage 4 comments

Site News: Tweaks and Upcoming Tweaks

As I get more familiar with WordPress and since it’s the off-season, I’m continuing to make some tweaks to the site. Hopefully they’re improvements.

Supporting the blog. As always, your support is appreciated. At the same time, I want to return (or redirect) some of that generosity. One way is by turning over 50% of the Amazon revenue to the Chad Tough Foundation. The site makes 4% to 8% of whatever you purchase via the Amazon links provided. This new setup means the blog will get 2% to 4%, while Chad Tough gets the other 2% to 4%. I want to give to other charities in the future, but Chad Tough is a good place to start. If you want to give to Chad Tough directly, here’s a link to their donation page (LINK).

Reshuffling the header. If you use the header (or footer) for guidance, I did a bit of reshuffling. Michigan’s all-time recruiting rankings and the explanation of TTB Ratings are now listed as drop-down menus under “Rankings.” I have also renamed the “Forum” as “Message Board.” It may be more syllables, but I just don’t like the word “forum.”

How to get an avatar. If you’re wondering how to get your own avatar, check out this post on how to do so using Gravatar (LINK).

Suggestions for an upvote/downvote plugin? I would like to add a plugin to the site that provides users a chance to upvote/downvote posts and comments. There are multiple WordPress plugins for that purpose. Personally, I prefer Reddit-style upvotes/downvotes; if you’re not familar, you would simply click on an up arrow or a down arrow. However, there are thumbs up/thumbs down options and the like. If you have any experience installing or using upvote/downvote plugins, please share any suggestions in the comments.

What are your thoughts?

17Jan 2016
Blog, homepage 20 comments

META: Tweaks to the site

In case you haven’t noticed, I have been making some upgrades, changes, and tweaks to the site. Part of this is that I am becoming more comfortable with WordPress after moving over from Blogger. Another part is that I have a bit more time at this point in the year than I do from August through November, or even through December/early January, when Michigan is still in season. Despite my best efforts, the new site didn’t launch until right when football season began, which stunted my abilities to learn the ins and outs of WordPress earlier.

A few things to note:

When Blogger was hosted for free, I had little to no expenses until I started the site redesign drive (which many of you generously contributed to). Now I have a domain and hosting to pay for, as well as some occasional professional help with technical stuff. What I don’t want to do is clutter the site with ads. However, in reading about how to monetize blogs, I have picked out some tips and things that I would like to try, hopefully without being too invasive.

One of those is Amazon Associates. Amazon Associates works by basically giving a finder’s fee to the referring site if something is purchased on Amazon. When you click on an Amazon link, ad, banner, etc. and order something, I can earn 4% or more of that purchase for referring you. I put this in action myself by frequently using MGoBlog’s Amazon portal. I can’t make any money from using my own links. So literally every time I purchase something from Amazon, I go to MGoBlog, click on the Amazon link, and purchase through that link. My way of giving back to that site – where I spend a fair amount of time – is to give them 4%+ of my Amazon purchases. It may not sound like a ton, but it adds up. So if you’re inclined to help, please consider shopping on Amazon through my site. Along with the links I occasionally post within the content, there’s a permanent banner on the sidebar (currently a link to John U. Bacon’s Endzone).

I made a forum post about avatars (LINK). It directs you to Gravatar (LINK), where you can create one avatar to use on any number of WordPress sites that employ Gravatar. All it requires is your e-mail address, a password, and then a picture of your choice. It may not work on all the sites you visit (such as MGoBlog, 247 Sports, Rivals, etc.), but if you participate in other blogs and message boards, it might pop up there, too. I chose a Brandon Minor avatar.

I’ve been trying to promote the use of the forum (LINK) more in recent weeks by tweeting some links and such. I’ve posted a fair amount of content on there, stuff that’s not necessarily front-page material, but is still football- or Big Ten- or recruiting-related. Oh, and also an occasional movie trailer or something similar that I’m excited about. You can keep up with comments made both on front-page posts and the forum by skimming the sidebar, which is helpful.

Do you have any other ideas or suggestions for the site?

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