Ask Brad

Well, for no good reason I felt I wanted to have a "Ask Brad" column on my site. I'm getting tired of thinking up subjects to post about so I'm letting my audience do that for me. LazyWeb syndrome I guess. Anyhoo, here's how I set it up with Movable Type. No complicated hacks required, honest.

First of all, I created a new blog for "Ask Brad". Then I created an entry in that blog, titled "Question Entry". This entry is set to draft, and will remain that way. It's simply a place-holder for comments. You see, questions that get posted are simply stored as comments for this entry. This relies upon a bug (or feature as I now see it) in Movable Type which allows comments to be created for non-published entries.

Answers to questions require a little cut and paste. As the author of the "Question Entry", I receive e-mails for any new questions (comments) posted to it. If I answer a question publicly, I copy and paste the question text itself from the e-mail into a new entry in the "Ask Brad" blog.

The "Comment" templates (Comment listing, Comment error, Comment preview) were all customized to eliminate the display of existing comments. I also set the "static" hidden field of the comment form to point to a "Thank You" page that explains what the user can expect next. Here's the hidden field value:

<input type="hidden" name="static"
       value="/askbrad/thanks.php" />

Finally, the link I have on my site to the "Ask Brad" page is much like a Movable Type comment link. There is a JavaScript function to pop-up the window. The function looks like this (note where the '1222' entry id is specified):

function OpenAskBrad() {
    window.open('/mt/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=1222',
                'askbrad',
                'width=480,height=480,scrollbars=yes,'+
                'status=yes,resizable=yes');
}

The link for "Post a Question" (as seen in my sidebar now) is like this:

<a href="/mt/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=1222"
   onclick="OpenAskBrad(); return false"
   title="Click here to post a question to Brad">Post
   a Question</a>

That's pretty much it. The rest of the "Ask Brad" blog is just made up of regular MT templates for creating the content under the "/askbrad" folder of my site (currently empty until I get some answered questions out there).

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[brad choate dot com] Ask Brad First of all, I created a new blog for “Ask Brad”. Then I created [Read More]

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Thanks to everyone who asked me a question and helped out with my experiment. It went well and I've decided [Read More]

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This article was published on December 16, 2002 12:30 PM.

The article previously posted was Star Trek Nemesis.

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