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re: re: [Sep. 14th, 2009|09:28 pm]
Okay, having just been thoroughly confused detangling what was in response to what over yonder on another site, here's the new rule. Pay attention, everybody who might ever develop social software of whatever type:

If you allow comments? Thread them.


I don't care if it's more work. I don't care if it doesn't play nicely with your infrastructure. When people are saying things, they're usually saying them in response to something else that has been said, and making it easy to see how these things line up with one another is essential to the actual "communication" part of that whole saying stuff thing you're enabling. Otherwise it's all just half a cell-phone conversation in public, which is both useless and annoying.

Comments are threaded. ALWAYS.

I have decreed it! Now make it so!

From: toosuto
2009-09-15 04:30 am (UTC)


I'd like to be able to 'Like This.'
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[User Picture]From: nehrlich
2009-09-15 05:02 am (UTC)
The one downside of threading is that it encourages people to spin off conversations and splinter discussion into a myriad of subthreads. That's appropriate for a discussion board, but if there's an option to take the conversation private (e.g. email), I'm less convinced that threading should be supported, as any remaining comments should be germane to the original subject. Admittedly, this results in the hacks like Twitter of doing @person to indicate who you are responding to.

I guess the question is, are the comments meant to enable communication among the commenters, or to provide feedback on an original piece (a news story or blog post). If the former, then threading. If the latter, maybe not.
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2009-09-15 05:39 am (UTC)
I think you are thinking about this a little too much and missing the bit where it is a DECREE and people are supposed to ACCEDE to my DEMANDS! *a-HEM!*

I almost agree that pure feedback doesn't need to be threaded, except that if the feedback is publicly posted, there is always communication amongst the commenters (because somebody's going to be guilty of being Wrong On The Internet), which turns it back into a conversation. And maybe things should remain germane to the original subject, but they're not gonna.

Any back-and-forth communication will always diverge and digress. I kinda think it's better to just give it up and go with the flow. Social animals will always turn communication into as discussion, no matter what the restrictions of the medium, so tech might as well support it naturally instead of forcing the evolution of crazy hacks like use of Twitter's @name notation on Facebook. Right?
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[User Picture]From: dpolicar
2009-09-15 03:30 pm (UTC)
So I agree with this as far as it goes, but I would argue that in the latter case, comments are not the most useful design, either. There are much better mechanisms for allowing people to provide feedback without allowing them to interact socially with one another.
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[User Picture]From: flwyd
2009-09-15 06:05 am (UTC)
For some reason, I've yet to find a web forum with an interface as useful as any random Usenet client (say, trn in its ncurses goodness). And really, that's just three features (I'll give a pass on things like killfiles) -- pick a subject you want to read, navigate threads, and don't show messages I already read (unless I ask for them). Most forums do feature 1. Some do feature 2, though often awkwardly. Why the hell is feature 3 so hard that nobody does it?

I hope Google Wave comes out well. It has all three features and may even be able to impose them on sites which don't offer #3.
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From: detailbear
2009-09-15 05:00 pm (UTC)

Re #3

Part of it is the need for either sign-ons or cookies to implement this. Sign-ons are considered too much trouble and cookies are considered to be evil by many.
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[User Picture]From: kung_fu_monkey
2009-09-15 11:21 am (UTC)
Oooh, I miss how *hot* you are when you're bossy. Go put those boots on, mister...
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[User Picture]From: kev_bot
2009-09-15 01:49 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: kev_bot
2009-09-15 01:48 pm (UTC)
Threaded comments also make people feel better about themselves, if they're all about letting the internet determine their self-worth!
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[User Picture]From: dpolicar
2009-09-15 02:26 pm (UTC)
Actually, I think you're thinking too small here.

I mean, if you're going to invoke your dom!Beemer Aspect, it might as well be for all the marbles, right?

Screw threading. Comments should be hyperlinked. With the ability to create a target point within the thing you're linking to as part of the link.

Because sometimes you're responding to more than one comment.
And sometimes you're responding to the seventeenth paragraph in a twenty-five paragraph comment.
And sometimes you're not really responding to a comment at all, but you want to refer to it anyway.
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2009-09-15 02:39 pm (UTC)
I like the way you think!
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[User Picture]From: annlarimer
2009-09-15 02:47 pm (UTC)
I'll get right on that. Is it something I can do with sticky notes?
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2009-09-15 03:11 pm (UTC)
I am now imagining a UI based entirely on post-its.

Most ridiculous Best. Thing. EVAR!
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From: detailbear
2009-09-15 05:02 pm (UTC)
You're just OLD!

Or that's what they tell me when I complain. ;-)
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[User Picture]From: dpolicar
2009-09-15 05:17 pm (UTC)
When you complain, people tell you Beemer is old?
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