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Feature Request: Do not show (or mark) redirected URLs in List of URLs in Design -> Blocks

Robert Dundon 6 months ago in BLOX CMS 0

It gets a little confusing at times 😀


Facebook comment plugin

Dave Von 6 months ago in BLOX CMS updated by Jack Donaldson 6 months ago 13

In the event that anybody else runs into this problem, we identified an issue a few weeks ago where the Facebook comment plugin on our website, GazetteXtra, developed a bug that prevents users of iOS mobile devices from posting comments.

I filed a ticket with Facebook development and was told they have no plans to fix this bug. There is at least one other Town News site, stltoday.com, who identified the same issue as us.

We're going to look at other options for commenting on articles.



Feature Request: Require active subscription to post comments

Kevin M. Cox 2 years ago in BLOX CMS updated by Ian McPhee 6 months ago 11

We're seeing a large increase in comment spam lately so I'd like to formally make the feature request for something that I know I talked to support about in the past. We require email confirmation when new accounts are created but obviously the spammers have automated their way around that.

I'd like an option to require an active subscription to post comments on the site. This offers numerous benefits to all Town News customers:

• Provides another perk or subscriber benefit to paying readers.

• Potential to increase Day Pass sales for those who aren't subscribers but really want to share their opinion or comment.

• Reduces comment spam to virtually zero.

I could see it being useful to allow this setting to be toggled per URL/section so that for example you could allow anyone to comment on obituaries but not news stories.

1. All of the items listed above.

2. Every day.

3. Every reader.

Please let me know if anyone has thoughts or questions!




Preventing Spam / SEO Abuse User Accounts?

Ian McPhee 7 months ago in BLOX CMS updated 6 months ago 3

Hey ya'll,

Yesterday, I noticed that a person named xxxx Hairdryer made a User account. Their email address was "xxxx@yeah.net" and their bio, while hilarious: 

"What is going to be open today is a hair dryer, a hair dryer that all the girls love, a hair dryer that initiates innovative revolution, a hair dryer of four hundred pounds, and that’s right – it’s the xxxxx Supersonic hair dryer."

("xxxx" instead of the company name, as to not SEO them here too)

...confirmed to me that this was another account made to boost some SEO off of our User system. Usually these accounts have something listed in the "Home page" field, which as I understand it, is essentially like us having a link to their site from our site (a coveted opportunity, if I'm not mistaken). I think you can see the ones that are doing well for themselves if you parameter your Analytics to /user pages. Sometimes these are easy to spot at a glance when looking at your Users, as many are pretty foreign sounding names, or email accounts like @robot-mail.com but sometimes are names like Dallas Moore, and you don't realize until you open their bio and see whatever bogus link / info they've got. Calendar spammers typically leave their bios blank and instead, try to submit events for medical conferences in Dubai or Spain with a link in the website field.

The reason I'm worried about these (they are easy / entertaining enough to ban manually, but that's not ideal ) is that they are auto-opting into my Email Reach as well, effectively messing up my Open / Bounce rates. My intern is "bot-hunting" this stuff right now, but I could see there being more problems in the future.

I'm wondering how these accounts are getting past the email verification step? Also, kind of related - it sucks that the email verification goes to so many folks' spam folder. I probably tell three people to check it a week.

What does everyone else do to combat this stuff?


Access problem with mobile interface

Jesus Sanchez 7 months ago in BLOX CMS updated 6 months ago 2

Hello. I set up group access rules that gives users the ability to only create and modify editorial assets within a certain section. Upon testing this, I discovered that the access restrictions do not apply if the user switches to the mobile interface. That means the user could modify as well delete any article no matter what section. Is there a way to make the group access rules apply to the mobile interface? I love the mobile interface -- very clean and easy to use -- and was going to recommend it to my writers. But I'm not so sure I want to give them across the board access.

Under review

Blox Commenting system

Thomas Martinez 11 months ago in BLOX CMS updated by Kevin M. Cox 6 months ago 6

I know this has been asked in a similar post a couple of years ago, but ....

We just switched to Blox commenting from Facebook. A lot of commenters immediately complained they didn't have the ability to edit their own comments. Most other major commenting platforms have the ability for users to edit their own comments.

Do you all think this would a useful change for TownNews to make?




article interaction and scrolling

Rick Simpson 7 months ago in BLOX CMS updated by Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 6 months ago 1

article interaction and scrolling


There's been some discussion at Collegian about the impact of article length with user behavior. A question of how far do they go.

When we were on the Blox ad server I could get some idea about user behavior on articles by looking at ad stats by position. I recently ran a sponsorship ad through Google Ad Manager for a couple of days which gave me some additional information. At least for the bottom of article utility section.

My first thought was to add some pixel image tracking at the top, middle and bottom article utility sections, but we don't see stats on images in Google analytics.

So now I'm thinking of creating a new ad size in GAM of 300x1 and create sponsorship ads for the top, middle and bottom.

I would then be able to get at least 'the average' ratio of top to middle to bottom of article views.

Is this the wrong thinking on obtaining these metrics? Is there a better approach?

Robert Armstrong 6 months ago
I wrote up a possible solution... then found that Google Tag Manager has this feature.

Scroll Depth - https://support.google.com/tagmanager/answer/7679218?hl=en

Looks like you can set it to fire at whatever percentage(s) you want and send it to analytics.

Internationalization in Blox CMS

Robert Dundon 7 months ago in BLOX CMS 0

I noticed the post / news release of Telemundo Atlanta using Blox. (Here is the site)

Is there any resource on using different language(s), etc. in Blox? I could not find anything and always assumed it was English-only.

Under review

Maps: I want more than one location

Erica Smith 4 years ago in BLOX CMS updated by Ben McCarty 7 months ago 5

Maps created in article assets (Other > Location) are limited to one location. That's not enough. I want the ability to add at least three map locations. It's a feature that will be used frequently (Crime stories! Economic development stories! Events!), but Town News tells me it's not available in Flex templates. #sadtrombone So I'm asking for your help in making it available. "Like" for more map locations!


Alt text for images and ads

ShorthornAdam 7 months ago in BLOX CMS updated by Jesus Sanchez 7 months ago 9

We got a question from a potential advertiser who works with visually impaired individuals asking if the ad she purchased would readable with a screen reader.  I didn't see a way to include alt text in the settings in the ad rotator for a regular image ad so I figured I'd better put in a feature request.  I could probably do it by creating an HTML ad and putting a simple img src + alt in there, but that is kind of clunky; a simple field would be great.

All new and existing software and workflows are being examined for 508/504 compliance so we will need this functionality.


Correct... images for content blocks are automatically "alt"ed.

Ads have an alt text that just says, "Advertisement" or something along those lines. We would have to create a new field for the alt text for BLOX Ad Manager assets, so that would require a bit of additional development. I would recommend looking at Google Ad Manager instead, which does have an alt text feature for image ads.

Any block type that is specifically image-related, such as Utility: Image or Utility: Site Logo (as Ian noted), has an alt text field for that image.

Under review

Are we giving too much information in our notifications?

Bob Rose 7 months ago in BLOX CMS updated by Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 7 months ago 1

When we do alerts through the notifier on the NOW apps, we find that frequently there is not enough space in the headline, and the full summary frequently gives enough information that there is little incentive to click through.

What if ... instead, we eliminated the summary field in the alerts and allowed the headlines to wrap? That way users would see the full headline and we wouldn't have to rewrite them for the alerts.


How long does it takes for ads to start displaying

Jesus Sanchez 7 months ago in BLOX CMS updated by Christine Masters (Director of Product Management) 7 months ago 4

Hello. How long does it typically takes for a banner served through the Blox Marketplace to start appearing once it is set up? I have ads set to display today and found it can take quite a while -- a few hours in the case of a newsletter ad. Anyone to minimize the time it takes to get an up and running?


Make sure you're caching your browser after making changes like that, or else it will definitely take hours to show up.

Easiest way is to add "/?1234" at the end of the URL. So a slash, a question mark and then any random numbers or letters.


Alternate 'alert' email address for SMS-like notifications via email reach

CadillacNews IT 7 months ago in BLOX CMS 0

It would be nice to have an alternate email for some users, selectable by the user, for adding to email notifications/subscriptions in the email reach system.


  • User: Az.
  • Email address: AlexZander@example.org
  • Alternate email address: 1234567890@txt.provider.net

Regular email-reach advertising, notifications, lists, etc to the normal email address. Alert-campaign to alternate email.

Email reach Campaigns:

  •   Weather Alert : to alternate email
  •   Headlines-Daily: to normal email

We would have to define a custom email address field for the user/subscriber accounts or have an alternate email address added to the general user information block.

This gets around some of the costs of SMS (yes, a revenue stream for Townnews) for the smaller companies that cannot afford, or justify the costs of the current pricing scheme for the full-featured SMS alert system from Townnews.

We currently use a system similar to this, independent of Townnews, to send out local school closings as they are announced.  In February, based on the new SMS options for Townnews, we would have spent over $5,400 for these texts alone.  15 schools, over 1000 subscribers, closing for 18 days, notified the morning of, or evening before.  Then we have Weather alerts.  Over 1000 subscribers for the weather alerts as well, 2-3 times a day for a month, which would run us (averaged) over $1,700 for that month alone.  That is not counting the one time setup fee, or using the shortcode option.  So far in March, we have had quite a bit less in the way of these alerts.  We estimate in April the alerts will be done 1 or 2 for the entire month.  That is not counting the other 'less critical' alters we have available, such as school sports, local breaking news, etc.  For us, the new SMS system is not cost effective.  



I uploaded a Fillable PDF, when I download it, it appears to have lost all my fields?

Jeff Sebestyen 7 months ago in BLOX CMS updated 7 months ago 3

Hi Jeff... You have "optimize PDF files" enabled in your editorial -> application settings -> asset settings -> Optimize new PDF files. Optimizing PDF files removes a lot of information in order to make them smaller and flatter.

If you turn this off, even temporarily, in order to upload your file, it should fix the issue.

I tested it, and when the "Optimize PDF" setting turned off, the PDF keeps the fillable information, and when a user downloads that form, it will allow them to fill it out.


You can then turn back on this setting if you want other PDF files to be optimized.

Under review

Timing element for block

Dave Von 7 months ago in BLOX CMS updated by Kevin M. Cox 7 months ago 5

Has there been any thought given to having a time element for how long a block appears on a site?

For example, we have a block on our homepage (as I'm sure everyone does) that displays any stories with the "Breaking" flag attached. However, if we have such a story that we want to draw attention to as breaking news, we only want it to be considered "breaking" for a short period of time, maybe a few hours.

What would be really helpful is if we could have the "breaking news" block appear for a designated period of time instead of having to go back into BLOX or TCMS and removing the "Breaking" flag from the article asset to get the block to go away. It would just take away a little bit of the manual intervention that is currently necessary.




There are several different ways to do this:

- Tell your breaking news block to only show items that are less than 2 hours old. So whenever a article is two hours away from its start time, it will be removed from the block automatically. This is great when you are OK with all breaking news being promoted for the same period of time. If there is an edge case that needs to be online for longer, use can use a pinned asset with a schedule.

- Add an archived date to your breaking news article, and then create a rule on your breaking news block that doesn't show items that are archived. This is helpful when you want to have custom "expiration" times on a per-article basis.

- Use a pinned asset that has a scheduled time to unpin. You can use this in combination with the above two solutions.

- Create a new schedule which shows the breaking news block for a period of time. This is likely overly complicated since you'd have to go into the block editor to create a schedule. This is more likely to be useful for recurring events (like afternoon updates or Friday night prep sports) rather than breaking news. But, if there was a big specialized layout with multiple blocks for the breaking news initiative, a scheduled layout may be helpful.

With all that being said, we are looking into new ways to indicate "alerts" and things along those lines. For example, if you find a breaking news article from 2013, it will still say BREAKING next to it, or it may even say that in the headline. Those are things that are still in discussion.