I have been spending a lot of time adjusting small parts of the ToolGuyd website layout, and have also turned my attention to the comments section.
Commentor names used to be followed by “says,” such as “Stuart says,” with the comment text following. This seemed unnecessary and was removed.
For mobile devices, I added a “reply” arrow next to the reply button. It’s redundant, but this makes for a better indentation that simply whitespace. If this doesn’t provide enough accidental tap/click protection, I can try to find a different solution. The arrow itself is not clickable or tappable.
I have also changed the time. This was an interesting challenge, and I believe I got everything right.
Basically, instead of “Feb 21, 2021 at 7:54pm, comment timestamps now say “5 minutes ago,” or similar. This seems more useful. If needed I can create a “tooltip” where hovering gives you the posting day, but most readers are on mobile devices with no mouse-hover function.
Also, if more than one year has passed, older comments receive a calendar date stamp, e.g. Feb 10, 2020. I can change this, but the 1-year mark seems like a suitable threshold.
Right now, comments are ordered oldest to newest. So when you scroll down a page, or hit the “comments” link at the top of a post page or on the home page, you arrive at the oldest comment.
There is a switch I can flip that reverses the order so that you see the newest comments first.
Do you want to see the newest comments first?
This doesn’t affect “nested” comments where you might have multiple replies. And so, if you reply to the oldest comment, your reply will be at the bottom of the page under the oldest comment, despite being the newest comment.
If I do this, I might move the comment box to the top of the section. But for something like a giveaway post, I can always create an on-page link to take you straight to the comment text box.
Some posts get a lot of comments, and that can involve a lot of scrolling.
I very briefly experimented with a “lazy loading” plugin that can load comments via infinite scrolling or by clicking a button. It broke the scroll bar on the desktop view, and that didn’t give me a good feeling about it.
In my opinion, this might be useful for posts with very many comments, but it could be more useful for when comments are displayed from newer to older rather than older to newer. This way if there are only a couple of new comments, you don’t have to scroll very much or click any buttons to read them.
I will try to pursue a tidier solution.
Not happy with how the “lazy loading” comment plugin worked, I started looking into alternatives and found another comment system plugin that provides similar functionality and also a lot more.
One thing I like about this 3rd party plugin is that comments are still left on the site, as opposed to being a 3rd party system, and so I can always turn it off.
But there’s bad news. The plugin carries an enormous amount of bloat. In experimenting with it, I found myself disabling maybe 90% of its functionality.
It offered some good things, such as the ability to reorganize comments by age, interactions (number of replies) or “hottness” (reader votes). But, it also replaces some built-in functionality such as comment subscriptions with a less robust and possibly less reliable alternative.
There are a lot of appealing aspects to this plugin, but there are security concerns, update concerns, and loading time concerns. For instance, the plugin allows commentors to delete all of their past comments. You still cannot edit your comments, but you can delete all of them with two clicks?? Doing this must require some kind of back-door into the website database, and that’s bad. If someone does delete a comment that is replied-to, it breaks the commenting hierarchy for the entire post.
I have only had to block a few people from commenting over the years, but giving them the ability to delete everything and negatively and irreversibly affect others’ comments isn’t good.
Let’s say a comment has 10 replies, but is then deleted. Those 10 replies are also essentially deleted. It used to be that they would be pushed to the end of a post, but now they disappear from the page entirely. That would be very bad.
The plugin is also limited in a lot of regards because there are maybe 2 dozen paid modules designed to enhance the functionality.
I’ll look at once more, but this appears to be a dead end.
Comment “pages” might be a way to go, where you might not see any pages until say 25 or 40 comments on a page. 10 is way too few, 100 might be too many.
The built-in way of doing things is to load a duplicate page but with that next page of comments. There are ways to change with additional code to load each page with a button click or simply scrolling.
This is something I’ll start testing off-site.
One idea comes to mind, and that’s to change comment loading for older posts.
But, keep in mind that each comment is effectively a separate post. So if you have 50 comments, each of those take as many server resources to call for, retrieve, and load as a blog post, or at least a post without images.
It might not seem important, but loading speed, time, and number of elements on a page are very important to Google’s search engine and news feed. On one hand, Google likes user interactions. On the other, Google doesn’t want those interactions to hamper page speeds for users, especially mobile users.
So the question here is about how to improve how comments load with minimal disruption to the discussion. For example, one of the plugins I tested did improve comment loading speed, and the user experience wasn’t directly impacted, but it broke the vertical scroll bar, causing it to disappear. That’s still bad.
My goal is to optimize things in a way where you don’t even realize anything has changed.
Most magazines and consumer product websites, at least those that still have any comments section, place comments behind a link that then takes time to process things and load. That’s not user-friendly to me, and I assume you feel the same way. I’ll try to find something in the middle, or build the functionality myself.
Aside from a couple of small to-do items, any major changes will likely take quite some time to learn, code, and implement.
I haven’t forgotten about the comment system features some of you have asked for, and I’m still looking for suitable solutions.
I’m mentioning all this because it really helps to have feedback.
If there’s something you like, don’t like, or want to request about the comment system, please let me know.
Personally, I *very much* dislike “NN minutes/hours ago”, hidden nested comments, and lazy loading. In old setup, on a post from a few days ago, one could easily search for comments added, say, on “Feb 21”, or search for a specific person’s name. If any additional button will need to be clicked, the latter part becomes unusable, most likely. And oldest-to-newest comment ordering seems to be more natural, especially if you’re reading an old post, not the one which was posted just this morning.
Admittedly, I’m reading on a computer more often than on a phone.
I wholeheartedly agree with disliking x minutes ago. I dislike them on every site that has them. This is especially true when the sites start grouping into weeks or months ago.
I also greatly prefer reading oldest to newest. The vast majority of time, I want to see a conversation develop, not what was just said with no context.
As was discussed in your article on site changes, I’d also join along with those those who prefer not having infinite scrolling. Too often, site software that does this make it near impossible to get back to a desired point without hitting “load more” an indeterminate number of times. That, and, scanning for a comment or post becomes an effort in frustration.
I appreciate that you want to improve the site. But one of the reasons I visit this site 1-2x per day is because it is useful and it is easy to access its contest.
If I prioritized changes, I would focus on searching, improving consistency of tagging (including on old articles), and maybe strengthening content in a few areas.
Regarding my latter comment on content, some content I think is consistent with the site’s current mission, while some expand it. For example: articles on types of tools and explaining nuances between them (e.g. pliers, hammers, drills), but then, maybe, best practices/recommendations for different user groups, best low/medium/high alternatives for common uses. Screws and other fasteners would be another area.
Another: guides to outfitting a home workshop of different sizes and different purposes. As a plus, I, personally, would not object to an article that included a link for every item in a “workshop list” for, say, an apartment shop-in-a-canvas bag, a condo shop, a beginners woodworking shop, a new homeowner maintenance toolset, etc.
If you wanted to, or wanted to team up with someone, putting together some tool kits, or assortment kits of common hardware (screws, bolts, etc) and offering them for sale would be a great opportunity, too. It is hard to find decent hardware assortments, and buying a box of 500 for 200 different sizes is cost prohibitive and most likely a waste. I know this idea is far from the website discussion, but could form part of a plan for the future.
Oh, to be able to edit…. (I know why you can’t)
Above, I meant to say: But one of the reasons I visit this site 1-2x per day is because it is useful and it is easy to access its CONTENT. Not Contest.
+1 to everything said here. I dislike NN minutes/hours ago. I like listing comments oldest to newest. And, I don’t like nested comments because it limits searching via the browser. An in-built comment search tool could help here though. I too am a desktop browser user.
In my opinion some of these comments are way too long. They are like reading a book. A max of 100 words(400-500 letters), would make things a little more fluent. I just skip these long comments, don’t bother reading them. An edit button would be nice also. But I think the comment section has worked quite well as it is. So any small upgrades will just be a bonus!
I disagree with a word limit. I’ve typed out more than a fair share of detailed responses that would easily pass that limit and if a limit were implemented, I and several others would most likely not bother at all (killing some community engagement) and I really don’t like to pare down responses for artificial reasons.
This would also lead to more people responding to there own comments more often (a problem that exists already, but might be exacerbated by this).
This is not twitter and I am ok with that.
I’ve suggested editable comments before, but it doesn’t seem feasible at this time.
PS. the comment above would have already gone over your limit at 104 words or 591 characters…and I don’t believe it counts as a book. 😉
Well, aside from a handful of quick corrections I’ve made over the course of my readership here, you’re effectively booting me right off the site as a whole with those restrictions. I admit I can ramble a bit, but, I am attempting to clarify a point most of the time when I do.
If we were to put such limits on posts, it would probably block 90% of my posts on the site. I’d keep coming back to read, but it would severely alienate my capacity to be part of the community. And there are some posters, like fred, who have some extremely detailed posts that rival mine in length, not because he’s rambling, but because he is significantly more experienced, and willing to both share that experience, and guide readers to where they truly want to be.
May I suggest a special code instead? Either when we hit a certain limit for characters typed, or when we have a specific opinion on the situation, we put a tag at the top or bottom of the post, that puts the word “Rant” or “Opinion” next to our name on that post? That way it doesn’t bother folks who are too tired, or lack the patience for whatever reason going on in their lives, to put up with the long posts? They see the indicator and just scroll on past so it doesn’t ruin their mood/day?
I’d rather not have the added work of putting “too long” tags on comments.
Comments should contribute to the conversation. Word limits would hamper this.
If you know you’ve been wordy, proofread with more diligence and care. Do your words further the conversation about the intended topic, or form a train headed down its own track to a separate station?
Honestly nothing you’ve ever done to any of my posts has ever offended me, or inconvenienced me. Frankly I’m shocked you let me post here still. How I haven’t earned the Ban Hammer is one of life’s mysteries.
I’ve never encountered any of your rules here that are unreasonable, or irrational. Though I do sometimes wonder why you don’t just delete those comments where I’ve found corrections, and said “Delete after Reading”… not that I would ask you to pretend you don’t make mistakes, it just seems like these posts would be clutter otherwise. I appreciate the thanks you give every poster that finds a hiccup, but still. It wouldn’t offend me in the slightest if the “Correction Goblin” comments just disappeared afterwards, as if part of the behind-the-scenes process of the site’s maintenance.
Funny. As I was reading the suggestion about post length limits I thought “What about JoeM?” 😛
I see you’re already on it.
But in seriousness, I wouldn’t endorse a limit – the comments section here can often be very helpful and interesting reading. You’ve done an excellent job cultivating your readership Stuart.
It would be nice if those authoring long posts would insert some extra paragraph breaks now and again, but I don’t want to lose the content.
I think Jared’s note may be the best suggestion, I know I write my share of novels in the comments (but I always try to come from a place of helpfulness!), and sometimes they can seem even longer because they aren’t broken up into paragraphs or formatted well. I believe there are style codes for like bullets and lists and such, and maybe getting better usage of those along with paragraph breaks would help with readability in some certain comments.
The problem with allowing advanced formatting is that a lot of readers aren’t sure how to use them properly. There’s no way to preview a comment, and if you get something wrong it can break that entire comment.
Here’s the link for a drill on Amazon, straight out of the browser: https://www.amazon.com/DEWALT-DCD701F2-Xtreme-Brushless-Cordless/dp/B07TVG85N3/ref=sr_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=dewalt+drill&qid=1614007331&sr=8-8
Depending on how you get to the product, that link can get really long.
I will go in and manually truncate the links to:
if the description is long enough.
I have to do this for maybe 4 out of 5 of the links posted, because they usually have unnecessary tracking code in them, whether from a retailer search, search engine search, or newsletter.
That’s a quick and easy edit for me.
It’s not fair to require added work on commentors’ parts. It’s also hard for me to approach a comment with less than ideal sentence structure and start guessing where line breaks or lists markup might go.
Some bad habits are easy to fix, such as all-caps, where I can convert everything back or shrink the text a bit to make it less obnoxious.
Run-on paragraphs isn’t a frequent-enough issue where I’ve had to figure out what to do about it yet.
There are actually quite a few html tags you can use in comments. I hide the “allowable tags” part because in all the time it was visible a few years ago, nobody has ever used them, and no one has asked about them since.
I had to check, since I’ve never thought to use it, but list code can be used in a comment. I will sometimes use blockquotes, and individual word styling (bold, italics), but I don’t think it has ever crossed my mind to use lists in the comment form.
Stuart, what about a reference page on the website somewhere with detailed instructions on commenting options?
I realize only a tiny fraction of your audience would care – but I would certainly refer to it for my replies!
E.g. I figured out only by accident that I can use a few emoticons (e.g. : and ) = 🙂 ), but I only know 🙂 and 😛 work for sure. I would definitely refer to a list of the options if it were available (test, does this work? 😉 ).
You mentioned lists work – anything else? Can I indent paragraphs, bold or italicize?
I’m not suggesting a complex list of instructions appear on every page, just maybe a page somewhere on the site.
Actually, I only discovered smilies/emoticons a few months ago. It’s built-in.
On a Windows PC< hitting the windows key + the .> period key (but not the one on the number pad) brings up an emoticon window.
I guess I’m behind the times, because I don’t know what a “dino cat” is.
Back when I had a list of approved html tags, nobody used them. On rare occasion someone might try to use forum bbcode every now and then, and I have to go in and edit them out because they don’t work.
If you know html, basic text code works. Some CSS works too.
I don’t encourage this because it can get very out of hand.
I don’t encourage this because it can get very out of hand.
I don’t encourage this because it can get very out of hand.
For bold, you need < strong >some text< /strong > tags, and for italicized < em >some text< /em > with no spaces.
Nice. Thanks Stuart. I had no idea! I stumbled on my first emoticon on this site trying a text-based smiley.
Most of the time I just want to add a 😛 to indicate I’m not being serious – but I appreciate having options. 👍
Yep. I skip over anything longer than a paragraph. I’m not here to read dissertations or novellas.
I prefer comments ordered oldest to newest. Seems more logical and natural since many comments build upon previous comments.
Ability to edit your comment for a limited time (perhaps 60 minutes) would be nice for those occasions you want to add another thought or fix a typo.
There’s not even a way to allow registered users to do this. Editing comments requires high-level editor or administrator privileges.
I like the timer function (eg 15 mins ago), though I can see why some might not like it.
Can you put both up at the same time, maybe side by side (one red, one blue) or something?
I can combine it, such as “x minutes ago at time,” but it really comes down to one or the other.
I can display one and have the other pop up when hovered on, but that doesn’t help most users on mobile.
It’s best one or the other.
Ideal world to me would be for the first week, it would display Hours/Days, once it would convert normally to 1 Week, it would adapt to the date.
After a few days, I find knowing how long a comment was ago to be useless.
I’m going to be fine with whatever you do.
I appreciate the sentiments, thank you!
Head office has asked me to remind you to please try to stay on-topic.
If you could see how hard I’m laughing right now… Stuart, this kind of stuff is why I trust you so much.
-No lazy loading
– Newest comments first
– X minutes ago timing scheme in the short term (a week?), after that MM/DD/YY
I usually read on desktop. Don’t fret too much over the minutiae, I’ll still visit regardless of how you set up the comments.
The minutiae serve two purposes. While the little tweaks help to satisfy my mission to improve things, especially when major changes are too time-consuming or complex to accomplish quickly, it also contributes to my knowledge and experience. Little progress makes the big progress more achievable.
I don’t and will never post via a mobile phone. I’m happy with “posted 3 hours ago” but after a day I want the date please.
Also the ability to edit is almost de facto now. Why not incorporate Disqus?
Oldest first in the list.
For a ton of reasons. From the users end because it’s massively insecure. How many times have you had to change passwords because of it? Also you have to create a separate account and if you use a “handle” on one web site and a different name on another web site, you have to not only create two accounts, but login/out on each one. AND (getting back to that password issue), there is no way to DELETE an account on it. From the web site administrators point of view because to put it politely, the admin functions are byzantine and confusing at best. Essentially you have almost no moderation control at all. That’s just the start. You also take a massive page loading speed hit for using it (which Stuart already commented on…Google DOES care about this). Your page loading times will be cut in half! Typical web page “grading” systems will send you from an A or B to an E or F. It’s that bad. And you get a massive increase in the number of attempted or actual spam links to ad networks attached to EVERY post. And as of 2017 they began loading tons of spammy ads without any kind of opt in/out option. And from a web browser point of view, the CSS that it generates is total crap at best which causes bugs, optimization problems, and so forth.
So other than basically everything about it, Disqus is total crap. That’s the reason that almost every web site has dumped it.
3rd party systems are very clunky to use, they take time to load, and it’s very difficult if not impossible to ever migrate back without losing comments.
They require user registrations or signing in with social profiles. While “guest commenting,” which is what pretty much any/every ToolGuyd commentor does not can be enabled in certain ways, there are roadblocks and inconveniences designed to compel the commentor to register.
Basically, while they might offer some advanced features, 3rd party commenting systems have too many negative impacts and potential impacts.
This is why I was experimenting with the 3rd party comment-enhancing plugin, but there are too many negatives for me to move forward with it.
Would prefer that comments are not tied to another social media account (don’t F-book) and Disqus powered comments stink as noted above.
What about incorporating a “like” button to comments? The comments are the best part of your posts, I learn something new about the tool, usage of the tool or another point of view that I did not consider.
Love the site and thanks for our input to your site!
I’d like to see a “like” option too
My inclination would be to see the article here automatically make a post at:
and have that post and the replies be embedded here — why run two separate discussion platforms?
Integration takes the place of the built-in commenting here. Meaning, comments from the forum would be displayed here, but you would have to go there to submit your comments.
This doesn’t allow for “guest” commenting, it would require registering for the forum or social sign-in there. Would you leave a comment here if you had to go to a separate webpage to do so?
Probably, if it were something significant to me (I do have an account, but don’t check much because it’s not that active) — I just don’t see why the post and the replies from the forum site can’t be embedded in a frame which would then afford the simplification of a single discussion system for the site.
Over time, I’ve come to prefer the “5 minutes ago” time stamping where it is used, but my only issue with it is where the units change. I think what I would call the “baby/toddler” method is a good time of thumb: change units when the new unit would have s value of two or more. When referring to the age of children, they are X weeks old until they are 2 months old, then X months old until they are 2 years old. So for dating posts, it would be X minutes ago until 2 hours old, X hours ago until 2 days old, X days old until 2 weeks old, X weeks old until 2 months old, then at some point switch to the actual date of the post. If be surprised if you have such fine-grained control though.
Hmm… 717 characters.
The logic behind unit selection is automatic, based on difference between two dates.
I could potentially modify it, such as to use days until 2 weeks instead of 1, and months until 2 years, but changing units after 1 unit of the next-largest has transpired seems standard.
I really appreciate the arrow before the “reply” button. I use my phone to read the website sometimes and I am constantly activating the reply link as I read the comments. I tried it yesterday and the arrow was a noticeable improvement.
I can’t see how reversing the comment order (e.g. newest at the top) would work. Often having things in chronological order is helpful – some users still start a new comment even when they mean to reply to someone, for example. I can see how it has some drawbacks too though – e.g. the earliest posts get the most visibility and it can require a lot of scrolling for popular topics.
I do sometimes struggle to find what was added since I last checked the post. I wish it was possible to highlight the new content somehow – is that a possible cookie function or something?
My final, general suggestion is to not let us grumbling readers dissuade you from experimenting. It’s obvious you have many loyal readers (like me 🙂 ) that really like what you have already – that might make us resistive to change. You might have to force us to try something different so we can land somewhere better in the end.
Just FYI, after typing my previous comment I clicked the banner to return to the homepage – and got a full-screen ad. I mention it because someone commented on it the other day and I recall you saying that shouldn’t happen.
Regretfully I clicked the “x” in the corner to close the ad automatically – a little too fast to note the details – before realizing that might be helpful. I know it was advertising something about improving my grammar.
In case it is helpful, it displayed as a box in the center of my screen with the Toolguyd homepage as a blurred-out background.
Thanks for letting me know!
That’s not good.
If this happens again would you be able to take a screenshot?
The only thing I changed recently was allowing one of the core WordPress plug-ins to handle speeding up static files and images. It’s possible that in doing so they allow the ad image to break out of their set boundaries. I’ve disabled that part, hopefully it does the trick. If not, it’s possible Google changed how they serve ads (again), requiring me to build a new box that they can’t break out of on their own again from.
The hard part is that I cannot replicate the issue, and if it’s not something I can replicate it’s not something I can fix. I’ll see what I can do in the meantime, thank you for letting me know!
Of course! That’s the first time that’s happened to me, but if it does again I will email a screenshot.
I think you mentioned something about an image size limit to the previous fellow who brought this up – I thought I should mention the ad itself wasn’t actually that large. It was a box that displayed in the center of my screen with the Toolguyd webpage blurred out in the background – maybe that’s a workaround for websites blocking full page ads based on size.
So… I went into my blocking controls, and apparently Google has automatically started an “ad experiment” spanning 2/18 thru 3/2 where 50% of traffic will see a “vignette ad” in between page-loads.
I can’t replicate this on my phone or desktop, but I can see a simulation in the ad experiment.
Apparently I had an auto-optimization setting toggled on, as this is the default Google recommendation, and this gave them permission to automatically start an experiment for this vignette ad “variation.”
This has never happened before, but I suppose it’s a new option.
I can stop the experiment, but since it’s set to run another week or so I might let it collect data before flipping the off-switch.
I need to see it live on the site before I can decide.
I generally don’t like the idea of interstitial ads. This one looks less interfering than what I usually see, but it’s still something that requires reader action to get past.
It was a minor inconvenience for me. I wouldn’t object to it running. I wouldn’t have mentioned it but for having read a comment about it.
Just FYI, I did get a full-screen ad again later in the day. I took a screenshot and then sent a link to it on an image-hosting site using the contact form (I couldn’t figure out how to send Toolguyd an email – either I’m too simple or maybe it’s not published to avoid bombarding your inbox).
Marc E Cohen
I like the order you currently use – oldest to newest. As for the date/time of the comment, I like the “32 mins ago” and “5 hours ago”, but I’m not sure about seeing “23 days ago”. I think the cut-off to change to a calendar date should be more like 2-7 days! Older than that, I feel, the calendar date is more important than the age of the post.
Agreed — I mislike newest at top, since it obscures the progression of the discussion.
I changed settings to 1 Week.
So for <7 days, it will say "x days ago."
I don’t have any issues really. I’d like to edit but no matter. I like the time stamps the way it is. would like it to load quicker. bu so far so good.
My two cents:
Comment should display “Oldest to Newest”.
“32 minutes ago” is great, but should change to CCYY-MM-DD HH:MM after a week.
Thanks for continuing to work to improve an already great resource.
After 1 week it goes to: MMM DD CCYY.
I might change it to 10 Days, but the default after that goes to “weeks,” so anything above 7 days becomes 1 week.
Is there any benefit to having the timestamp (HH:MM), or is there a reason you prefer this?
Previously it was MMM DD CCYY at HH:MM, but I felt the timestamp to be unnecessary.
Thank you for your readership!
Timestamp is really only useful if you’re looking at an old post and trying to determine which post came first (I notice that people often “reply” to the main post when they’re clearly trying to reply to a previous comment, maybe it would be useful when trying to figure that out).
Few things on my wishlist:
-Notifications only for your replies as opposed to all comments
-Comments over a certain length collapsed to a few sentences so it’s easier to skim
-In the same vein, collapse threads to 1 or 2 comments (I’m thinking reddit-like)
-Move the location of the reply button…I seem to constantly tap it when scrolling on mobile
Comment reply notifications – there’s no easy way to add this in, I check again on occasion.
Collapsing comments – while possible, the results would be too unpredictable.
Right now comment threads are 5 levels deep. Sometimes that doesn’t feel like enough, and I’d be hesitant to go in the opposite direction.
Original Comment – Reply – OP Reply – Reply – OP Reply
On desktop Reddit allows quite a few levels. In one post I checked now, there are 6 levels in both desktop and mobile.
Reply button – are you still having that issue with the spacer arrow?
Ok with length of instructional comments. Here to learn.
I know you are reaching a large community Stuart but I don’t know why you bother with noobs like me. Would be far easier to just limit to Fred and a couple dozen other guys with brains and block the rest of us. That way when I read comments they are mostly on track and worth reading. Just saying . . .
Thanks for the great site.
I learned something a long time ago.
As a grad student, I TAed for physics “discussion” sections. Into classes have a very large lecture class, and then everyone has a professor or TA for discussion, and then undergrad TAs for lab (I did that too).
I went over a homework problem slowly. Any questions? No. I gave the same question as that day’s quiz. Lots of wrong answers. Few people will speak up when there’s a problem.
When someone does ask a question, I would ask if anyone else had the same question. Hands would fly up.
If one person has a question, chances are that others share that same question.
Let’s say that 5 readers answer a question I ask in earnest about how they use a function of the site, or if they have any issues. Those 5 answers could lead to a frustration-fix that benefits a lot more people.
Over the years there have been a couple of times when frustrations were unique to specific readers, and this usually stems from plugin conflicts, such as a misbehaving ad blocker.
Several people mentioned that they frequently hit the “reply” button on mobile when scrolling through comments. How many other people have done this? I know I greatly dislike it when a poor design results in unintentional clicks or behaviors when I browse on a website, so this is a frustration I tried to fix in different ways over time.
This applies to any post. Who’s to say which comments will be valuable and which won’t be? Opinions are unique and tell me about how different people use different tools, what they like to see in tools, or even what a post might have been missing. And when there’s a question, it might be a more common question than I had realized.
With very few exceptions, all comments are valuable.
Some commentors are active some years and then not so much for a while. Other times a comment might be a long-time reader and they only comment when they feel they have something to say or contribute.
Fred has been commenting on ToolGuyd for more than 10 years (thank you!!). His very first post here was a giveaway entry in 2010.
My goal is to interfere as little as possible in the comments section, only stepping in or exerting any control when absolutely necessary.
ToolGuyd’s comments section often sees back and forth discussion. I don’t do anything to foster that – this is all you guys – and I certainly won’t do anything to discourage it.
I will add here that, the value of fred’s comments are more often when someone who is not fred by a long shot, has the guts to speak up. And sometimes it’s not fred, it’s me, or a dozen others, all of whom write… well… detailed replies.
The problem with filtering out everyone other than those given special privileges to be seen, is that those with answers don’t know to put in our experience or details, without someone there in need of them. We need the “noobs” to speak up, if anything of value is going to be here at all. You have value here. Don’t degrade yourself by thinking you should be edited out.
…This coming from someone Stuart frequently has to edit out, right Stuart? 😉
Seems like you’re not planning to go this route anyway, but I also agree – don’t filter who can comment.
Sometimes even wrong answers can be very useful – everyone who knows better will jump in with corrections.
Hours, days, whatever ago means nothing really. We know most comments come soon after the article posts and then in the next day or two. Just keep it simple. Traditional time stamps are fine. I see no need to change it to a relative date & time.
The #1 thing commenting needs is a reply button away from the left edge of the screen. Way too many accidental mobile taps trying to scroll up/down on the left edge.
PS: My vote is also for oldest comment first.
I like the little arrow moving the reply button away from the far left of the screen. I think of it was maybe a little longer (to insert a tad more space), it would help eliminate the accidental replies opening. I think I can train my thumb to swipe closer to the very edge, though, so this is a welcome improvement.
My vote is oldest comments first with the existing setup.
And I like the new look back on the time since posting rather than date/time.
My $.02. I like oldest comments first and chronological down the page. I think the time/date stamps are fine the way they are. Don’t make a limit to how much people can type. If people don’t want to read the comment they can scroll past, or if you want to have some kind of space savings then maybe there can be a more button after so many characters (I think Facebook does this). I’d like to be able to edit my posts but it’s not a big deal, mostly just to correct typos that I make when I type long posts and don’t proofread well. I have to admit that I accidentally click the reply nearly every time I’m reading comments, so it would be nice to make that accident happen less often. It happened again while reading these comments so the arrow thing obviously didn’t help me that much. I’m not particularly clumsy or anything, and it really only happens on this website.
This site is great and I love the community it offers. The content (including the comments) are part of what makes it special. I really appreciate how much effort you put in to make this a great experience for all of us.
One other suggestion is to know which was the last comment I’ve read. This way when I go back later, which is often, it’ll be easy to know what are the new comments for me.
Might be really tricky but very user friendly as there are a lot of posts I go back to read the new comments. I usually select get notified for new comments but only on the few that I post on.