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Blog Comments: Threaded or Flat?

Discussion in 'Ask the Staff' started by Black Dragon, Apr 14, 2012.

Do you prefer "threaded" or "flat" comments on blog posts?

  1. I prefer "threaded" comments, in which replies are indented beneath the orginal comments.

    8 vote(s)
  2. I prefer "flat" comments, in which all comments are listed chronoligically.

    6 vote(s)
  3. I don't care either way.

    0 vote(s)
  1. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

    Hey guys,

    We'd like your opinion on something. Currently, the articles posted on our home page have what are called "flat" comments. This means that every comment is listed in chronological order, whether or not it is in reply to someone else.

    For an example of flat comments, see the comments at the end of this post:

    Zack Zero PSN game giveaway - win one of 5 codes! -- PlayStation Universe

    Threaded comments (sometimes called "nested") place replies beneath the comments to which they are replying. Replies are indented beneath the original comments.

    For an example of threaded comments, see the comments at the end of this post:

    Disqus for Politics | Disqus: The Official Blog

    So, would you prefer that we stick with flat comments for the articles on Mythic Scribes? Or would you rather see us adopt threaded comments? Either way, tell us the reasons for your preference.

  2. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    Threaded comments are certainly better when conversations reach any appreciable length. At a quick glance to the numbers the recent articles have been gathering, I'd say a switch to threaded comments would be appropriate. The only caveat is to make sure the display width is sufficient to keep a 'deep conversation' (with many replies) from confining the message itself to too thin a text box. Usually that only happens when comments start numbering in the hundreds, though.
  3. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

    I'll admit, I was a bit confused when I started reading some of the posts and there is a just a string of replies to other people but I'm not sure who is replying to what. So I think the threaded way works better for me.
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    I think flat comments.

    The thing is, with some exception, I think the authors of the article are better off leaving flat comments than trying to reply to commenters one by one. I think that's more professional than getting into a lot of back-and-forth. When there are disagreements in the comments, a threaded format highlights those disagreements, and they look petty. It also encourages them. And I think we could create better avenues for a more extensive type of interaction.

    MichaelSullivan did a little workshopping in his comments, which is cool, but that string of comments is a bit confusing to look through. I think that's more the exception than the norm, and that would've been easier to read through if maybe he had @flagged the person he was addressing or addressed a few people with one post.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  5. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

    Flat comments make more sense. The problem with nested comments the first few people to reply to the blog will get most of the replies. Nested comments would be great if people had enough self control to actually reply to a comment that best matched their talking point. Yet, as we are human, you know that people will just hit "New Comment" to reply to any points of the blog they liked or disliked with never finding a comment below that may be similar to theirs.

    This will cause a confused messed. The three or four top replies will get a lot of nested replies while those who posted with a quick reply would be lost at the bottom.

    If with the nested thread a moderator actively crops the replies and places those replies with other similar replies found in the already established replies, than you may have something.
  6. Hans

    Hans Sage

    Before the web there was usenet. I still like lots of things how they were handled there. Like the threading.
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    I understand the arguments for each, but in the end I prefer nested comments as well. The organization makes for a better reading experience.
  8. I prefer threaded, and if you look at many of the largest, most active web communities (slashdot, reddit) threaded has long been the norm. As was pointed out, in any thread with a large number of replies, flat becomes utterly unmanageable.

    Threaded does tend to congregate replies among the earliest subthreads, but I don't really see that as a problem. If you're really late to a conversation, I don't think it's reasonable to expect everyone to pay close attention to your comment. And the kinds of quick early reply "karma-whoring" you see on places like /. and reddit wouldn't happen here, where reputation use is an exception rather than routine.

    However, it's usually fairly trivial to support both flat and threaded, and make it a user preference. I'd be surprised if vBulletin doesn't already support that. If someone doesn't want to see the threading, that should really be up to them.

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