Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

A Column And A Question

Sunday, 2 May 2010

No double column action this week, although I did scratch one out (the election column) - I think it’s not the best piece I’ve ever written, but I’m prepared to bet I was the only player at the EPT who had to write 600 words about politics in the middle of the tournament… all things considered, it could have been worse.

  Also, it’s May - a pinch and a punch! (I know it’s the second of the month, but I like to pinch and punch on a daily basis) - so the news feed has changed at the top of the website. But here’s my question: does anybody ever actually click on that link and read the news? The web designer is thinking of making some changes to the format, so now’s the time to tell us if there’s anything you hate on the site, anything you never look at, anything that doesn’t work or is in the wrong place, anything that should be here but isn’t…

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Clyde at 12:54 pm on May 2nd, 2010

Congrats on your EPT cash btw. Did you enjoy presenting the EPT awards with John Duthie? I imagine the two of you make quite the double act.

Christopher Jefferson at 12:55 pm on May 2nd, 2010

It does quite annoy me that when reading the blog, and comments, we are squeezed into a tiny little window, which looks particularly silly on a big widescreen monitor.

I don’t think I’ve ever opened the news tab, but I just read the blog via RSS (be sure to never get rid of that!)

Steven McG at 1:02 pm on May 2nd, 2010

I have a web design request:
Could you make the blog slightly more readable? E.g. wider line length, slightly larger font size, scroll the whole page rather than in a frame.
In lieu of the above, could you make the RSS feed full text rather than just headlines so that you can read the posts in an RSS reader?
Or if none of that is possible, how about providing a link to read the post using Arc90’s excellent Readability?

I love your writing, i’m just not a fan of reading it on this site with the current design.

David B at 1:13 pm on May 2nd, 2010

The three EPT videos you link to on the Poker page don’t work, I noticed the other day.

Dan at 1:41 pm on May 2nd, 2010

Mainly just the blog, though it’s nice to know the news is there.  I liked going through the poker clips but of course you only do that about once.  I really like that all your poker columns and Observer columns are accessible.

Fitch at 1:51 pm on May 2nd, 2010

More photographs please!

Victoria Coren at 2:12 pm on May 2nd, 2010

Thanks for the tip David B - the EPT videos on the poker page are now updated and working again. Dan, we might add some other poker videos, good idea.
Other suggestions, font size, blog space etc will all be considered by the web designer over the next week or so, do please send other opinions if you have them!

marango at 2:20 pm on May 2nd, 2010

My only criticism is that you should include this picture on your site:
Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!! devilish!
And if hyperlinks aren’t active, that will be my final quibbleparp.

Robgibraltar at 3:48 pm on May 2nd, 2010

I refer to my PM on *that* forum ;) congrats on the tourney cash Vicky :)

Rog at 4:52 pm on May 2nd, 2010

Well, like many people I stick to the blog- as for the news, your picture is pretty damn good.. so can you change the picture opposite your blog for a colour one?

Lego at 5:04 pm on May 2nd, 2010

I’ve been TEMPTED to say something about the site for a while, but often unasked for criticism doesn’t go down well with people, so I left it ;P. I’d say get rid of the “frames” (your web designer will know what I mean if you don’t, the scrolling box within the page), they’re a bit 2002 and I don’t know many modern sites that use them anymore.

Like Chris, I have the same problem, because of the frame, everything’s squeezed up in a small box. It doesn’t render that well in Firefox, and the scroll bar gets obscured.

I confess I don’t often check out the news section. Maybe merge News and Blogs together on one “News and Blogs” links page? e.g. have links like “Blog :  A Column & A Question” “News : Heresy, Politics..” You get the idea. I think people would be more inclined to check out the news links then.

Hope I haven’t been too harsh, and that isn’t TOO much input. Its a very good site in lots of ways. Even the blog content is fairly ok ;).

Oh and Fitch, shave those hairy palms, will you? *joke* :D

P.S. Also allow more than 800 chars too, I’m a verbose touch typist and you’re killing my creativity! Restraints will never tame me, no…  ;)

Wildride at 5:44 pm on May 2nd, 2010

I normally look at the news link to see if it’s updated before going on to see if there’s anything new in the blog, writing/observer and writing/guardian areas.  If it listed more than a single link and had all the most recent updated columns linked on the first page, that would be a time saver.

TimW at 8:17 pm on May 2nd, 2010

Vicky, i think you should have a forum on your site, like Jon Ronson has on his, the comments section of each blog sort of serves this purpose but i think a standalone forum would be easier to navigate and search, plus it would give people a chance to start their own threads.
PS. I know it sounds weird coming from someone on the internet you’ve never met, but i’ll say it anyway. I think you’re lovely.

Bill Green at 3:56 am on May 3rd, 2010

I’m not convinced ‘writing’ and ‘books’ as separate headings is ideal. I would suggest ‘writing’ becomes ‘newspaper columns’ or some such thing.

I recall an article I read about web design (what an exciting life I live!) which suggested you look at the page as an idiot might and see if you can misunderstand the headings. Lowest common denominator and all that.

J.S. Hull at 6:37 am on May 3rd, 2010

The psychotic program you’ve got has made me rewrite too many times.  It kept counting characters that didn’t exist.  For the website, get a better photographer.  This is white trash: This is my last attempt.  If you see this, the add comment button worked.

Hubert O'Hearn at 8:43 am on May 3rd, 2010

Thought you might like to see the review I’ve posted on For Richer For Poorer.

It will also run in three Canadian newspapers. Great book!

Phil at 10:31 am on May 3rd, 2010

I think the site looks great; classy, good content. The header font’s art deco feel is a great touch… that said, there are one or two things which I feel could improve the site
- The “For richer for Poorer” page would be best if it were integrated into the site main homepage, imho.
- I like the understated blue/grey background colour scheme, but dark colours can sometimes look a little flat. I think it would benefit if a slight gradient was added, making the whole site “pop” a little bit more
- I think you could do worse than to set up a youtube page and add a “video” link on to the navigation bar going to it. This way you could upload your own content, so in addition to your own TV work you could have clips that you enjoy.

Alternatively you could let me design a bespoke video page for you. I’d gladly do it pro bono (ahem) and have considerable experience in video for the web. One example is here
- Please for the love of god, DON’T get a forum; they are just flypaper for nutcases.
- You are very photogenic - I’d suggest including more pics; either integrated within the existing site, or perhaps by adding a Gallery page

Can I just stress again that I think the site looks great; these are just slight changes/additions that I think would further improve it.
I hope they’ve been in some way helpful

Victoria Coren at 1:55 pm on May 3rd, 2010

Thanks Hubert, that’s a really lovely review. And thanks for all the great website thoughts - especially yours Phil, and the kind offer. I do have a web designer, Dom at Studio Juice, who I think does a great job and has made a very nice site, so I wouldn’t really want to ask anyone else to do the physical design, but I’m very grateful for the ideas. I’m not sure about a gallery - I know there are photos on every page already, but any more might feel a bit too vain! (As if it weren’t vain enough to have a website in the first place… daft, isn’t it, trying to do everything by halves, like doing bits of terrestrial television but NOT TOO MUCH NOT TOO MUCH. One day, this fence will buckle under my weight.)

  Dom is obviously off for the bank holiday but I’ve suggested he has a look at the thread when he’s back and we will discuss all suggestions and ideas, thanks all so much.

PS. To the person who thinks the blog picture is “white trash”, hmm… It’s a ‘reportage shot’ taken at a poker tournament by a lovely French photographer called Hugues Fournaise; I didn’t know it was being taken, it isn’t posed, it’s just a candid snap of me playing poker, so I suppose white trash must just be what I am. The camera never lies, more’s the pity.

AndytheDealer at 9:43 pm on May 3rd, 2010

Yes Vicky, I always read the news and as a consequence will be toodling along to the recording of Heresy on the 12th.

I don’t look at the Twitter link any more.  I couldn’t make head nor tail of it.  I don’t look at the Books link any more because I’ve read and enjoyed them all and will rely on the news to let me know when the next one is due.

Would you believe it, I don’t look at the Poker link?  Well done in Monte Carlo by the way!  I do look at the writing link to read your Grauniad columns.

Apart from that, I’m not keen on the colour scheme.  It is too cold, completely out of character and not verdant at all!

Otherwise I really like the site and pop by when I can!

GrahamW at 10:24 pm on May 3rd, 2010

I think the blog picture is lovely.

Red deer at 11:22 pm on May 3rd, 2010

re: The website I think it would make the blog easier to read if you could scroll down the text in the frame using the cursor keys, but I’m not sure whether this is possible.

The font is perhaps a bit small for your aging fans, but the pages are easily readable with the white on blue/grey.

The picture is lovely but a bit distracting - might have mentioned this before - definitely not white trash - whatever that means.

A bit more colour, like red or green could lighten the page a bit but would probably adversely affect coherence of the default colour scheme.

Keep up the good work

The Tim at 12:03 am on May 4th, 2010

I would never have guessed it was a candid snap - M. Fournaise certainly caught the moment perfectly - that ‘what’s on her mind?’  look - think Mona Lisa. You are certainly not white trash!

Perhaps you should crop out the bottom 10% or so, I find it just a little too distracting!

Colin at 2:31 am on May 4th, 2010

I agree that the site tends to be a bit squashed in the middle of the screen and it would be nice if it was spread out a bit more. The colour scheme and typefaces seem fine to me. I don’t remember ever clicking on that news feed link before today.

All of the photos on the site are well-chosen but, on this page in particular, the photo (which I like) seems to have as much prominence as the writing. It might be better if the photo appeared at the top and disappeared as you scrolled down the page. This isn’t a major problem though

Phil at 3:44 am on May 4th, 2010

You’re very welcome! I’m glad you appreciated the thoughts :o)

johnie at 9:25 am on May 4th, 2010

Can we have full text in the RSS reader rather than a headline link? I have to have the pretence of working at least.

Go raibh mile maith agat!

mark at 11:47 am on May 4th, 2010

(As you are the only person I know of who plays poker, could live off the winnings and normal enough to appear on telly before midnight. I like Only Connect ;-) ).

Here’s a question to help with an argument with my younger brother, an unreformed horse racing gambler.

Do you use pure gut or part probabilty when you play?

ps. don’t use the word ‘candid shot’ on the internet. You’ll have a load of hariy palmed googlers visiting your site.

Victoria Coren at 12:08 pm on May 4th, 2010

Goodness, with poker it’s certainly not pure gut. Odds and statistics are a huge factor - how many cards there are to come, how likely your hand is to improve etc.

  In live poker, as opposed to the internet, there is a certain amount on instinct and ‘reading’ people (in order to help work out their hand, whether they are nervous / confident and so on) but it’s really a very mathematical game. Most of the time, the gut only comes in after the other factors have been considered: for example, if a flush comes on the last card and you don’t have a flush, you would think back through the betting patterns to calculate the likelihood of your opponent having one and, if all else fails, go with your gut on that!

  Betting on horses shouldn’t be about pure gut either! I’m a once a year horse gambler, on the Grand National, and that day I bet like most other people in the country - picking a name I like or a lucky number of colours. But the friends I have who make money from betting on horses (the “professional sports gamblers”) are not going on their gut at all (neither are they often going on the traditional gambler’s stuff like weather conditions). For them, betting on horses or football or any other sport is very mathematical as well: they are simply looking for the incorrect prices being offered by bookmakers. They will pick the horse / team / possible outcome that is wrongly priced and bet for that reason. It is all quite scientific. The people who bet (on anything) by gut alone might have a few flairy wins, but sadly they cannot win in the long run.

Sparkly at 1:09 pm on May 4th, 2010

Personally, I like the site – good ratio of content/pictures, it’s clean and easy to navigate & updated regularly AND you respond to questions. Forum? Maybe.

If you didn’t play Sudoku/write newspaper articles/watch Zombie movies whilst playing poker, just imagine how good you could be?

I love it when anything gambling related comes up on your blog or when you’re on TV – you get so excited – just like my dog when he smells cheese (I don’t mean that in bad way).

Lee at 2:37 pm on May 4th, 2010

Things I’d like to see updated on your site Vic:

- Change the black background/white text combo.  Looking at the site for too long gives me a headache!
- Replace the flash scrollbar with a standard scrollbar so I can read the site on my iPhone
- Update the RSS feed to include a summary of the story rather than just the title

Other than that I’d keep it pretty much as it is.


MDW at 8:43 am on May 6th, 2010

It’s a great site, I like it as it is

The only problem I ever get when I’m enjoying my morning coffee and reading your articles is guys at work looking over my shoulder and saying ‘who’s that’ (in a good way)

KlooRhee at 12:17 pm on May 6th, 2010

+1 for fixing the frames - out of fashion today because they don’t scale well with screen size. Full scrollable page with actual blog post and navigation on top and bottom combined with condensed post and comments on separate page is the way to go in my opinion.

-1 for forum - potentially(likely) too much strain for the moderator.

News is a good thing and regular 1st day of the month read, integrating it into RSS feed makes sense. The bar under navigation menu is not a necessity and clutters the design a little bit maybe.

Otherwise job well done to Dom! Hope that he won’t get upset by the amount of work suggested here ;)

Power to good natured heretics!

mark at 3:59 pm on May 6th, 2010

Thanks for your reply. I appreciate that. I’ll watch an episode of Only Connect twice to pay you back.

Regarding your site. I’m not keen on the black - its a bit 14 year old goths bedroom feel thing. I’m not saying your web people should go the whole flashing lime green on purple route but .... Why not go for a playing card colour scheme- red on black.

stephen at 4:37 pm on May 6th, 2010

Hiya Victoria, I’ve just got the new Radio Times, could you tell me about next week’s show ‘So Wrong Its Right’ that you are going to be on next Tuesday night?I Will it be worth listening to? Or am I being an eager beaver, and you’re gonna be announcing news about it soon?See you on telly tonight on channel4. I have just voted, the polling station is my old primary school- it was sooo tiny- I felt like Godzilla or something walking thru it. Am I the only working class/just above min wage bloke who likes you Victoria? No one I know at work knows who you are, the fools.

King John II at 7:04 pm on May 6th, 2010

On a regal note.

Grow weary this election thingy, let them eat cake.
Raise voting age to 40, count me in.
Inappropriate suggestion?
No such thing this lady.

Victoria Coren at 8:14 pm on May 6th, 2010

Hi Stephen. If I remember rightly, So Wrong It’s Right is a Charlie Brooker radio show. I did the pilot for it, I didn’t know it was going to be broadcast! It was a while ago (maybe a year ago) so I don’t remember much about it, but Charlie Brooker is always great.

MarkJB at 10:57 pm on May 6th, 2010

Hi Victoria

Me and my mum really enjoyed the Heresy show last night. I was probably applauding the loudest.
Grayson Perry was fantastic - dressing up for Radio.
Re Artists who don’t make their own work (good to hear Grayson is not one of them) for me the reason for being an artist is that I so love making / doing art.
It’s a joy, and it’s a joy that you create yourself.

Looking (or hearing) forward to the series. x

Suggestion: invite your loyal fans to send some NEW jokes in for your producer’s warm up!

The Tim at 5:03 pm on May 7th, 2010

Just to say I liked your comments on the Alternative Election Night (was I the only one who watched it?) - it’s true about people saying they want change when they don’t really.

NoForum at 7:08 pm on May 8th, 2010

Just to repeat what some have already said.

NO forum.

I wouldn’t visit the site at all if there was a forum.

Matt at 9:27 am on May 26th, 2010

Can we please do something (abolish) the scrolling section within a scrolling section. It makes the blog impossible to read on the iPhone. The whole page, rather than the text of the blog, scrolls down. This is V. Annoying.

Victoria Coren

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