New comments system. Discuss.

We're experimenting with a new comments system called Disqus, which is used on many other websites you may be familiar with.

There are a few potential advantages to it, including the ability to vote up your favourite comments and to view comments in order of oldest, newest or most popular. For very long threads, like "Recommended Tradespeople", this is particularly useful, because you can see the newest suggestions first.

"Anonymous" posts are no-longer possible, but you can still post without giving away any personal details, if you are determined to live off-grid. Logging in with Facebook, Twitter or Google+ is a doddle.

If it's popular, we'll keep it. If it's rubbish, we'll drop it. Please let us know what you think?

87 comments:

NAT said...

It's all turned about. The most recent comment is to the fore. And is Disqus whats taken a dislike to TM's comment on Coulgate cottages and Osh's on the Brocas alcohol licence. I think we should be told.

BrockleyNick said...

You can change the order you see comments in. Click on Discussion to choose the order you prefer. And no, Disqus didn't take a dislike to those comments, but importing hundreds of thousands of comments to a new system takes a while and those two comments were posted in the intervening period. They are not lost, but they do not appear on this system. That should not happen going forward.


I've also replied directly to your question, which is another advantage of this system. Should have no more confusion about who is talking to who.

NAT said...

Ok, anything that rids us of the anti spam blurry letters!

Seems to take a while to move from 'recent comments' to the thread though.

Brockley Nick said...

Yes, this should be a more spam-proof system, so shouldn't need them (hopefully). But you're right, because this is a more "dynamic" system, it takes a second longer for comments to appear.

Hillyfields said...

much easier to sign up to and easier to reply to specific parts of a thread... I like it.

Honest John said...

This seems much more decent. Thank you Nick.

Transpontine said...

Interested how you get on with it - the spam filter on blogger comments has been very poor recently, I find I'm forever being notified of comments that are in fact spam.

Brockley Nick said...

Absolutely. Massive pain in the arse.

Osh said...

The good thing about this is you can see people's previous posts, so keep track of your favourite posters. That's an improvement, even if one of my posts had to be lost in the process ;)

Anon said...

This wasn't in your predictions for 2013, call yoursel Mystic Meg?

HOB said...

What's happened to the mobile site, Nick?

Faux Berry said...

Another positive vote from me. Makes following a conversation easier.

Brockley Nick said...

I found out how to disable it. It seems to annoy people (including me) without offering any particular benefits.

Robert said...

Sounds great. Finally - an end to all of that moronic anonymous trolling? We'll see.

Ben Bush said...

Good stuff. Feels a lot more user friendly.

Anonymous said...

I don't like it, will loose the thread of arguments

Brockley Jon said...

Don't know how you can say that we'll loose the thread given that people can (finally) respond directly to each other, like this!



Well done Nick, working nicely for me so far.

Brockley Ben said...

Bring it on

Anonymous said...

But if you come back to the thread and there are multiple chains of people replying to people you won't necessarily see some of the comments. I imagine it will become annoying soon enough.

Monkeyboy said...

The separate arguments will be easier to locate. Sounds good to me

Brockley Jon said...

Ah, ok. It's true, it was good in some respects, and annoying in others.

Robert said...

It's also great that we can now edit our posts. That will save me a small amount of anguish after a hastily hit return, that I have made a typo, grammatical mishap, or drunken mis-opinionation. I can see myself going back to re-edit a lot of my posts!

Brockley Nick said...

You can still just scroll down through the comments to read the new ones. Or set it to show newest first, so you will always see the latest comments in any given thread.

Brockley Nick said...

By the way, I admire your determination to call yourself Anonymous (rather than, say, "King Splot"), even though you now have to go to the trouble of typing it yourself. Points for sheer bloody mindedness.

Brockley Ben said...

Although it does seem to be hard to delete posts. I accidentally posted earlier under my full name and thought I'd successfully deleted it. It's now listed as a a guest post. Odd.

Anon said...

This ^

Anonymous said...

Test

Anonymous said...

Using Newest & Oldest puts the original comments in order not the replies. For example this fresh and vibrant message will always be sorted as part of olde Nick's 17 hour old massage.

Brockley Nick said...

Well don't post it in response to my old message then. If it's relevant to the wider debate, then post it normally. If it's a reply to a specific point then it makes sense in that context. It makes no difference, because in the old days you would have had to scroll down to see it anyway.

Honest John said...

Exactly; it's a threading system, the same as used on any forum ever. It's new to BC, but it's pretty much the way the whole world works.


I've noticed some dishonest advertising above the comments though :-(

Monkeyboy said...

Doesn't work on by work browser, IE Explorer 7, need version 9 at least I think? Either that or the LU Though Police have blocked it. (Posted from my ipad in case your were wondering)

Not a big deal, this looks a more sensible system. Will come into its own when we get a "drug rehabilitation" thread that goes on for weeks.

Brockley Nick said...

Honest Jon, yes I'll turn it off.

The Original Anonymous said...

But some muppet is bound to put a comment rather than a reply, then if that comment attracts replies, such as this one, then there could be two debates discussing the same matter in the same thread. So sorting using newest and oldest won't flag up the latest reply...just saying.

The Unoriginal Anonymous said...

Comments will be in sequential order but replies could be all over the place and easy to miss. Some systems allow replies to a comment but they will added at the end in the time order they were made with a link to which message was being responded to.

One I used to like was a carousel of about 50 messages in a loop, where the 51st message deleted the 1st one and so on...

Brockley Jon said...

True... but on balance it's still better than the old system I reckon! :)

Tom said...

My adblocker blocked the whole disqus system because of the adverts and the privacy invasion of their people tracking, but such is the price of progress (apparently).

Tom said...

Currently "How a 22-year-old got herself out of a huge credit-card debt"

Anonymati said...

Hmmmn this doesn't seem to be working for me, keep getting 503 errors on my laptop, and on my phone the comments take an age to load. The old system looked uncluttered and was easy to follow. This is messy and is harder to see updates. One of the best things about this site is the, for want of a better word, banter between people. Any trolling is usually tame and often amusing. This will stop now as the po-faced among us vote down everything, and the people that post anonymously (often making the most salient points) which will be tens of people not one person as some suggest, won't want to type in their name and email the whole time. Cheers to a more boring website.

Anonymous said...

Spot on

Anonymous said...

Agreed

Brockley Jon said...

Tom, where are you seeing the adverts?

Anonymous said...

They appear on and off for me as well, between the article and the start of the Disqus box

The Great Anon said...

And more boring website -> less regular visitors -> less money for Nick -> less regular content -> less useful for everybody

Monkeyboy said...

So those making an interesting point won't type the extra few characters to name themselves? Even as anonymous? Didn't stop comments when they had to use the "recognition" anti spam thing which was way more off putting.

Monkeyboy said...

But we can now engage specifically with one person...see... if we choose, if not you can still post a general comment. Ironically you've take the trouble to name yourself to tell us all how it will reduce comments and curtail nicks massive income.

The Great Anon said...

Well done, what an ingenious spot of you. I made a post about it stopping people posting. But then that's what I did, how clever of you to notice. Turns out I also commented with the old system and would have been able to on that as well (though the topic wouldn't exist).

You seem to have missed the point of Anonymati's post which is that this new system is more broken than the one it's trying to fix. Slow on phones, doesn't load on loads of browsers/devices, takes up much more page real estate so is less attractive, is messier (with all the social interaction stuff) so harder to actually pop into threads and read it from start to finish (just wait for a big thread with people replying to parts of it and referencing other comments in the thread - you can say "people can still post a general comment", but be honest with yourself, they won't do that all the time). There will be less threads with high numbers of comments and a drop in the number of visitors.

I don't think "those making an interesting point won't type the extra few characters to name themselves", but:
- I think a bunch of them will not bother

- many will not read the thread/see the message they want to reply to due to the new messy layout


Also look I referenced your other post in another line of discussion. Clever how that works. This comment is now sandwiched between both. Now imagine if it was a more complicated thing I was referencing or had removed something from an obvious context.

Monkeyboy said...

Hey, you can't please all the people all the time. The LONG thread with lots of digression and anons replying to other anons and confusing each other in the process was also confusing. Still we're chatting here and others can ignore it and read other conversations.

If you want a hand getting your toys back in the pram then do let me know.

Monkeyboy said...

.....oh, your crack about nick "getting less money" ? Was that a genuine concern about his income or a cheap crack that seems to occupy many of the anons? Frankly fewer of the trollish comments would be a good thing. If they still want to they can of course. Whatever floats your boat

Anonymous said...

Quite so Monkeyboy. Nick can't put his prices up above inflation and have weekly strikes like you lot. How was the party on the 26th by the way?

cbw said...

A great improvement.

Monkeyboy said...

You mean the chairman of TfL, Boris Johnson? You really must try harder. Glad the new system isn't reducing the idiot quota.

Anonymous said...

All goes into the same workshy pocket.

The Great Anon said...

The post on money was actually a sensible one. I'm not suggesting he makes bucket loads, but a blog with this volume of readers does do ok. If the amount of money it makes went down then yes I do think it would suffer. There always manages to be posts even when he's on holiday. Don't you think he might take a break a bit more if less people read it?

Monkeyboy said...

Woteva.

Tom said...

Yes, they were between the article and the Disqus box, although they're not currently appearing for me. I think it was two columns - a column with two top topics on BC, and a column with two pretty tawdry adverts. My personal preference would be for a tip-jar rather than adverts - do you have one?

Cath said...

This happened to me too: with an ad blocker/tracker blocker on, it looks like there are no comments on the site at all. I changed my settings to start letting Disqus through, and so far haven't seen any ads, but it would be annoying if they started appearing. Otherwise Disqus seems okay, although a bit heavy on the social networking faff.

NAT said...

Cath's comment came up half an hour ago but I still cant read it in the thread, but that's probably to do with my (Ha ha ha) Linux system. Rest of the comment thread seems a bit of a mess, wish it were otherwise, because I know that there were issues with the old blogger system but unless there's better to come I think the cure is worse than the disease.

NAT said...

'Any trolling is usually tame and often amusing. This will stop now as the po-faced among us vote down everything'

Quite agree with this.

Lame as well as tame most often, harmless none the less and part of the rich tapestry...


That comment came up in the end.

IT Mungo said...

Couple of new issues



1) Even if you have your sorting order set to 'Oldest' from a previous session, you need to reselect it to take effect.


2) The recent comments box doesn't hyperlink specifically to the comment on the page - so finding where it is and what it's referring to can be tricky.


Otherwise good stuff and people will get used to it.

Tamsin said...

Looks like I might be able to comment without upgrading to Internet Explorer 9.

Tom said...

they're back again, and they look like this:
http://static.madwort.co.uk/bc-ads.png

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I like this mornings new skin on the comments. Even better.

Anonymous said...

 Getting a bit squished here...

Brockley Nick said...

Hi All

Thanks for your feedback so far. The balance of opinion seems to be pro, although there are clearly some down sides too.

In terms of the complaints the system has received, I think they can be grouped in to three categories:

1. Technical problems with system compatibility. eg: Comments not displaying on someone's  browser. These are a serious concern and if there are two many such problems, I will remove the system. I have turned off some of its more advanced features this morning, so hopefully it will present fewer problems.

2. The configuration of the system. There are three issues that I can see here:

- Ads displaying in the comments box (not the end of the world, but I agree they are annoying). I think these can be turned off and I will try to do that today.
- The "nesting" of comments, so that people can reply directly to comments and the conversation branches. Some people say it's easier to follow, others say it's worse. I'm completely ambivalent about this and it can be turned off, so the comments are displayed in an entirely linear fashion. I am happy to be swayed by the strength of public opinion - I have no wish for a repeat of the howls of protest that accompanied Comment is Free's introduction of nesting.
- The fact that the default setting was to show newest comments first. I have now changed it so that oldest are displayed first by default (although you can still customise your view)

3. Concerns that somehow the volume or quality of conversation will diminish. I am skeptical about this for the following reasons:

- The system is harder to spam and easier to moderate. That means fewer spam messages to wade through and fewer occasions when I have to lock a thread down.
- Anonymity is preserved but the system discourages the worst kind of lazy trolling. It also makes it easier for people to log-on and give themselves a consistent 
- There is a logical inconsistency in the complaints from some of the anons, who are convinced that their own posts are usually the best, funniest and most interesting and yet also fear that theirs will also be the posts that are voted down most (not that to be voted down is the worst fate a comment can suffer, it's still there, it's just you have evidence of how many people think you are talking out of your arse). I don't think this is a genuine problem. Good stuff can and does come from anywhere. It's also not borne out by the early evidence provided by this thread, where the most "popular" posts were the ones posted by Anons.

As for attracting fewer comments, at 60+ and counting for this thread alone, I am not convinced that is a danger or a problem. We probably lose a few of the hit and run "Everything's crap and you're all idiots. PS. Mung!" comments, but I shall not weep for those.

I'd rather have quality over quantity and I think the vast majority of BCers would agree. As a reader, I love the long, twisting and irreverent debates that this site produces, but the trolling is also tedious and sometimes deters more interesting people, with more interesting points, from posting. I think it will be a net gain in this respect.

Anonymous said...

 Definitely improved this morning but 1 vote for removal of all nesting here! Surely the ability to have the old popular layout (and selection of other orderings) with the lower spammyness of Disqus is the best option?

Brockley Nick said...

Ironic that you made use of the nesting function to make your point ;) 

BarCar said...

Yeah - maybe time for Brockley Central to widen it's stylesheet. I have about 50% unused space on my display. Hacking the CSS to widen the content area to 1250px looks quite good.

longishusername said...

Yeah, this looks pretty ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Depends what you mean by 'trolling'. One's man's troll is another man's honest child in the tale of the Emperor's New Clothes. I'd hate to see the blog become one-sided.

Brockley Nick said...

I've told you what I consider trolling. 

It's one thing to offer an alternative viewpoint, it's another to offer nothing but casual, stupid abuse. 

BreakspearsEagle said...

I agree with removing nesting. If you want a quick Brockley Central fix you come on and look at the latest comments. However, this is now much harder to do as the latest comments are all over the page.

Hob said...

Comments do seem to be loading faster in mobile version than they were, but it keeps eating my comments when I try to post them, v. frustrating; any non-insulting tips appreciated.

brockley kiwi said...

I like the new comments functionality with the exception is that it appears incompatiable with my iPhone 4S.  All referenced to comments have disappeared when I view the blog on the iPhone.  A bit of a bummer as this is my fav viewing technology.

Anonymous said...

Reading this now on my 4S- the comments are there but sometimes as nested replies to comments further up.

Tamsin said...

Agree with you and for the same reasons - a quick visit to check out what anyone has said on a thread you're interested in - and with the nesting (and if stuff is being rapidly pushed off the "recent comments" section by a different controversial matter) you might miss something.

NAT said...

I agree with removing the nesting feature. A conversation involves many lines of thought and going with Nicks early ambition of keeping the comments on B.C. to be in line with a pleasurable pub conversation I can't see what purpose could be served by two people going into a corner.
It doesn' really work on Linux. How are you Mac people getting on with it. I suppose if you're not, you couldn't possibly comment.

Brockley Nick said...

I thought Linux users liked clumsy, impractical interfaces? 

Anonymous said...

If we're talking Linux 20 years ago, yes. Nowadays it's mostly used by ginger haired vegetarians.

The OS you use shouldn't matter, it's the browser that decides.

NAT said...

 We secretly long for the glorious uplands of ease, but only after we've done the legwork as it were.
We should be right at home here with comments all over the shop. Eh?

Brockley Nick said...

If it makes you feel better, I am erring on the side of killing nesting.

Danja said...

I do not like the new system at all, it has all sorts of pointless functions like "like", loads of delay, threading which is maddening without a personalised "new posts" function, a shit load of pointless delay, and nothing which makes things better.   Even the anons are still anon.

Anonymous said...

There are no captcha boxes

IMO one of 3 things needs to happen:

1) recent comments links to link to the actual comment posted

2) remove recent comments

3) remove nesting

Also can we have a bit more honest commentary please?

Brockley Nick said...

Nesting is now gone. Danja, there are no more anons, even if they call themselves such. Tracking and moderating abuse is much easier. We can also:
- Edit our posts- Automatically reply to individual comments (even with nesting turned off we can still see who people are responding to)- See what other posts people who register have posted- See the most recent comments first if we want (much better for the long threads)- Automatically filter racist terms - "Like" comments we agree with
etc
Yes, there's a bit of a lag, which is annoying. The recent comments widget has always been erratic though.

Katjak said...

Feel free to ignore my whining.

If you can filter racist terms, please could you also filter "honest fare" to "greasy rubbish" and mung to "I am a tedious muppet".

Brockley Nick said...

We could do that, yes. It is very, very tempting. 

NAT said...

Could the term 'dog whistle' be added to that list?

Tamsin said...

Testing, testing, see how this comes out as a reply to a post.

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