What sites get comments right?
August 24, 2017 8:53 AM   Subscribe

I'm working on the design of a blog. Can you point to any sites that just nail comments? I am hoping to find some inspiration.

I will *not* be using an external commenting service like disqus, so I have almost complete control over how things work. Unfortunately, a lot of things are up in the air at the moment. I am waffling on the following things:

- threaded replies or flat?
- thumbs up / down reactions? thumbs up only reactions?
- paged versus autoloading infinite-scroll style versus all comments show up on the page, period, every time?
- initially hidden comments (requires interaction to display) or initially visible?
- are pingbacks worth implementing? Do they get integrated with comments, or displayed separately? Do they help generated traffic or provide some other benefit?

I would like to see some real-life implementations that really work to make a great user and reader experience.

For example, I recently realized that the ability to link to a specific comment is something that I wanted to see as a feature. Are there any sites with paged or hidden or (etc.) comments that allow that? What is the experience of linking to a blog post comment on page 6 out of 14?

Your preferences regarding comments are welcome as data points, but I'm hoping to get a bunch of links to sites that really have the whole commenting thing down.

Also: no need to mention MetaFilter, and the comments will be moderated, so no need to point out how important that can be.

Details on how you have seen moderation work well in terms of levels of escalation (notes pointing out problems => obscuring the content of the comment but allowing users to show the content if they want => removing the comment and leaving a placeholder => deleting the comment entirely) would be useful.

What not to do is as helpful as what to do.
posted by Nonce to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
This isn't quite comments, but I love the way Ravelry does forum threads. Everything is presented as flat, and numbered, but you can also view threaded replies by clicking a link on a comment. There is a link for what a comment is replying to, and there is also a link for replies to a comment.
posted by freezer cake at 9:02 AM on August 24 [2 favorites]


I dearly appreciate both news sites and blogs that do not make the comments visible by default. Having a 'join the discussion' button that then expands out the comments section can be really nice.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:05 AM on August 24 [1 favorite]


threaded replies or flat?

Flat.

thumbs up / down reactions? thumbs up only reactions?

Thumbs up only.

paged versus autoloading infinite-scroll style versus all comments show up on the page, period, every time?

Show everything all the time. If that doesn't seem possible, remove cruft until it is possible.

Of the two worse options, paging is the less bad. Infinite scroll has yet to be implemented in any non-infuriating way and it's easily arguable that doing so is simply not possible.

initially hidden comments (requires interaction to display) or initially visible?

Require interaction to display.

are pingbacks worth implementing?

No.

I would like to see some real-life implementations that really work to make a great user and reader experience.

You are at this very instant using the only extant design that gets everything right at the same time.
posted by flabdablet at 9:11 AM on August 24 [2 favorites]


- threaded replies or flat?
I personally really appreciate threadable comments that are collapsed by default. I hate seeing a reply but not knowing who the eff they are replying to. As for Ravelry, I agree that they do it well in terms of keeping it flat AND clearly showing what the comment is replying to, but it doesn't allow for threading.

- thumbs up / down reactions? thumbs up only reactions?
I have seen thumbs up/down get really ... political. Do thumbs up if you must, but thumbs down is not a good idea. Or if you DO include a thumbs down/dislike button, do what Ravelry does and allow the option for users to hide that button (and hide the number of people who clicked it).

- paged versus autoloading infinite-scroll style versus all comments show up on the page, period, every time?
Anything but paging.

- initially hidden comments (requires interaction to display) or initially visible?
Yes to initially hidden.

- are pingbacks worth implementing? Do they get integrated with comments, or displayed separately? Do they help generated traffic or provide some other benefit?
As a commenter trying to read the comments/discussion, pingbacks are annoying.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:19 AM on August 24 [1 favorite]


Ravelry was my first thought as well. They nailed it.
posted by bluebird at 9:19 AM on August 24


Smitten Kitchen recently changed comments to allow for them to be categorized by type. Hers is a food blog, so when you leave a comment you can choose general, I made this, or questions. This has been SO convenient to me as a reader, not having to scroll through 7 pages of "this looks so good!" to find someone who actually tried the recipe and has additional thoughts on it, or to see if someone already asked about leaving out the anchovies. This might only be relevant to cooking blogs, but maybe there is something there for other types of blogs, too.
posted by LKWorking at 9:36 AM on August 24 [4 favorites]


My 2 cents:

Comments hidden, click to show.

I like sites that give you the option to 'show more comments' when you get to the bottom of the comments. BUT, please don't be like LinkedIn where they only give you 5 more comments. I get tired of clicking to show more. When I want to read more, give me MORE (at least 25-50)! I'm ok with pages of comments, or just 'Show more' with an infinite scroll.

I LOVE Smitten Kitchen's categorization of comments. It's brilliant.
posted by hydra77 at 10:24 AM on August 24 [1 favorite]


90% of the effect is going to be the actual human moderation - there are good threaded-comment sites, good flat-comment sites, etc. But there are differences between them in what they encourage and what they discourage.

- threaded replies or flat?

Threaded replies fragment the conversation into multiple sub-conversations. This allows people to focus on what specifically interests them, but leads to a less reader-friendly end result, and I personally find it a screaming mess to follow over time.

Flat replies keep a given comment thread to one single conversation that may wander, but should be possible to comfortably read sequentially. It allows for less digression and encourages a sense of overall community. I personally find it vastly easier to follow and moderate. YMMV.

- thumbs up / down reactions? thumbs up only reactions?

Thumbs down is not going to lead to pleasant community interactions. Thumbs up is fine if - and only if - it doesn't actually shift the position of the comment in the thread, as happens sometimes. Changing the flow leads to everyone competing to get the funniest one-liner, rather than interacting with each other. If you want to collect funny one-liners, there are better ways.

- paged versus autoloading infinite-scroll style versus all comments show up on the page, period, every time?

Totally going to depend on the available tech and the projected size of the community. I prefer a longish paged style, myself - infinite scroll makes it hard to tell how far down I've gotten, all comments works fine as long as it's not so long as to cause page slowdown, and paged is fine to avoid the latter problem but when it's done just to increase ad impressions, it's infuriating.

- initially hidden comments (requires interaction to display) or initially visible?

What's the purpose of the site? Are you trying to encourage people to comment, or is that a bonus feature? How moderated are they going to be? (Nothing will turn people away from your site forever like seeing a hideously hateful first comment below an interesting post.)

- are pingbacks worth implementing? Do they get integrated with comments, or displayed separately? Do they help generated traffic or provide some other benefit?

I have never gotten use out of pingbacks as a reader or blogger, but maybe I'm just missing something.
posted by restless_nomad at 12:15 PM on August 24 [1 favorite]


Here's my few cents:

- threaded replies or flat?
Threaded, collapsible. Collapsing the first comment in the thread collapses the whole thread under it.

- thumbs up / down reactions? thumbs up only reactions?
Thumbs up only. And don't emphasize it. Make it available, but don't make it seem like people should chase recs.

- paged versus autoloading infinite-scroll style versus all comments show up on the page, period, every time?
All comments, every time.

- initially hidden comments (requires interaction to display) or initially visible?
Depends on user base. If mostly desktop, initially visible; if mostly mobile, consider initially hidden.

- are pingbacks worth implementing? Do they get integrated with comments, or displayed separately? Do they help generated traffic or provide some other benefit?
I have never understood pingbacks. They add nothing to the discussion. If the point of your comments is to foster discussion and build a community, don't use them.

I am somewhat biased as I'm a heavy user/site manager for one of their sites, but for a pretty good implementation of a comment section, check out any SB Nation sports team blog (they have blogs for all the major US sports and a bunch of MMA and European soccer team sites as well),. Their comment sections are pretty well thought out for the most part.
posted by pdb at 2:58 PM on August 24


For content longer than a page, the scrollbar should show how much you need to read to get to the bottom of the content (not the comments.) This might imply a button that you click to show comments, or perhaps a sidebar like nytimes (though I don't like that I have to click a small button read more of the article again). Also, don't put a very large footer.
posted by spbmp at 4:06 PM on August 24


AV Club has a good comment culture, seems to me.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:52 PM on August 24


For another data point, Librarything also has flat comments implemented well -- well, I guess it's more a forum than comments, but it is a custom solution rather than a pre-built one. You can link directly to a comment, mark a specific comment as a favorite, and an easy linking method for the comment you're replying to, in lieu of threading.
posted by timepiece at 6:57 PM on August 24


Came in to say Ravelry, and I see I've been beaten to it by multiple people. Seriously my favourite, and the most functional I've experienced.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:51 AM on August 25


I know it's not the nicest option, but Facebook Comments is fairly decent since it lets people comment without extra signups
posted by michael_scott at 9:49 AM on August 26


Autostraddle has built up a really strong comment culture too.
posted by divabat at 3:00 AM on August 27


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