What is the best order of blog comments
February 18, 2009 9:18 AM   Subscribe

What is the preferred order of comments in a blog? Oldest on top, or newest on top?

Is there an emerging convention of what people expect? Are there any usability studies on what is easiest to read? And what do you prefer? Does it matter?
posted by kk to Computers & Internet (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Oldest on top. If I saw newest on top I would be absolutely thoroughly confused. It'd be totally counterintuitive to me.
posted by edd at 9:19 AM on February 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

In the blue oldest is on top. I think it makes sense as a reader will get to view a thread in proper chronological order, though nothing prevents readers from skipping to the end.
posted by a3matrix at 9:20 AM on February 18, 2009

Make it switchable and let the user decide for themselves.
posted by rhizome at 9:23 AM on February 18, 2009 [6 favorites]

You're forgetting another parameter here. Nowadays it is possible to offer threaded comments as well, on some CMSs. In which newer reactions will be published above older reactions, if the happen to react directly on a point earlier made.

To me, oldest on top is the most logical choice.
posted by ijsbrand at 9:23 AM on February 18, 2009

Oldest on top for comments, since it's a discussion and things need to be chronological.

For blog postings: newest on top since the posts are unrelated and the newest is presumably the most important.
posted by meowzilla at 9:24 AM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nthing oldest on top. There's nothing more annoying then reading a reply to a comment when I haven't read the comment that is being replied to already.
posted by theichibun at 9:30 AM on February 18, 2009

Let this very page serve as an example: these replies might as well be comments. Oldest on top.
posted by 2oh1 at 9:44 AM on February 18, 2009

Newer comments on top bucks the trend, and rewards people for coming in late to a conversation. It's also more difficult to follow a conversation when it's setup like this. Further, creates a problem for larger blogs, when someone can leave a nasty/spammy comment and it shows up as #1, instead of #55 on page 3...
posted by nitsuj at 9:45 AM on February 18, 2009

A: It confuses the order of a conversation.
> Q: Why don't people like top-posting?
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 9:51 AM on February 18, 2009 [5 favorites]

You read pages top to bottom.
posted by theichibun at 9:54 AM on February 18, 2009

There are benefits to each, and so I'd imagine it depends on the circumstances of the blog. In general, I find older on top to be easier to understand, although I always check time-stamps at a new blog to determine which way it's going.

However, I can think of a few circumstances where newest on top is better. If you're doing something like asking for reader suggestions, and expect the commenters not to interact but still come back periodically to see the new suggestions, it would make sense to bring new suggestions to the top. Or, if you only have very few readers, and they comment back and forth a lot, it may be more convenient for them to only have to scroll down a little bit to see whether someone has added something to the discussion.
posted by losvedir at 10:12 AM on February 18, 2009

Sorted chronologically reverse it's when well very sequence the follow can't I.
posted by jenkinsEar at 10:27 AM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Since MetaFilter uses oldest on top, you may see a bias here--aka, all answers will be from users of this site, who perhaps use it because it is organized in a way that makes sense to them, or perhaps that makes sense to them because they use metafilter.

However, I do have to say I too favor oldest on top. Straight chronological order makes sense to me so that you can read through what was said as a conversation, it's clear who was responding to what, and what the context for each comment was (the context is everything above it).

A negative is that on bigger site you might get idiots who can't resist entering "FIRST POSTTT!!!" or other stupid things, since they know their comment will be seen the most. For large sites, it might be better to have some sort of moderation system (like slashdot) or post it backwards so that nobody can have a post that is the most commonly read and there is no temptation.

But honestly, that does wreck the flow of the posts.
posted by brenton at 10:38 AM on February 18, 2009

Oldest comments on top, for all the reasons listed above.

And you didn't ask, but since someone else brought it up ... I truly hate threaded comments. Maybe it's because I sometimes use older computers or slow Internet connections, but it totally ruffles my feathers to click to expand a subconversation in a comment thread, wait ten seconds, and then see that people just wrote: "OMG I agree" or "True dat!" GAH. Really, it's rare that any comment-thread conversation is so convoluted and complex that you just can't read all the comments in order.

I appreciate that some sites that have installed threaded comments, like Jezebel, at least give you an option of automatically expanding them all at the same time. But really, it's best not to encourage them.
posted by lisa g at 10:53 AM on February 18, 2009

Oldest comments on top. Newest posts on top. Unthreaded comments.

Threaded comments are the ideal format for conversation, c.f. Usenet, but it doesn't translate well to a web format. NNTP is still by far the best for this sort of thing but that's a lost battle, unfortunately.

So for something on the web; oldest comments on top, newest posts on top, unthreaded, uh, threads.
posted by Justinian at 12:05 PM on February 18, 2009

Note that you're using a system that does oldest on top. There's going to be some confirmation bias, balanced by the fact that it's also a large example of a standard.
posted by pwnguin at 12:47 PM on February 18, 2009

Oldest on top.

Please tell YouTube.
posted by Rash at 12:49 PM on February 18, 2009

Oldest on top, please: I am always confused at first when reading comments on The Technium.
posted by bru at 1:08 PM on February 18, 2009

Oh: and thanks for asking.
posted by bru at 1:08 PM on February 18, 2009

In a single message (e.g. email), quotes should go on top or interleaved so that they're still chronologically top to bottom within a subject.

In a blog with many comments per entry, they should be threaded. It's sad that much blog software still can't handle what Slash did ten years ago and what newsreaders have done for decades. But for small discussions, oldest-first works fine.
posted by roystgnr at 1:59 PM on February 18, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks. Looks like the consensus here (so far) is oldest on top for comments and newest on top for postings. Unthreaded.

Are there any notable sites doing newest on top comments?

(Right now my blogs are mixed in their orderings. I'll probably harmonize them.)
posted by kk at 5:53 PM on February 18, 2009

Are there any notable sites doing newest on top comments?

posted by brenton at 4:39 PM on February 19, 2009

Oldest on top!

But Please Please Please, if your blog gets big enough, please Ban/Killfile/Delete any "FIRST!!!#!!#!111one!!" comments.
posted by stew560 at 11:23 PM on February 19, 2009

Are there any notable sites doing newest on top comments?

Youtube, and it makes the conversations terrible and pointless, since no one reads anything beforehand.
posted by mathowie at 2:14 PM on February 25, 2009

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