Failed Experiment

by pieterh on 15 Sep 2009 13:01

Some time ago we experimented with reverse order comments, on this blog and some of the new sites, like the projects forum. The blame is mine: it seemed that reversed comments should be easier to use than scrolling to the bottom of long threads.

However, while many people have complained, no-one has defended reversed comments, so they are gone (from this blog and the other sites where I'd put them). The functionality still works but probably only makes sense for special cases, and without nested comments.

Here are the main problems we saw people having:

  • Visitors who did not realize the comments were reversed got totally confused.
  • Even experienced users have difficulty due to the mix of reverse/forward ordering and the lack of clear visual indicators.

If I had a ListComments module to play with, I'd try various more detailed experiments:

  • To make the top level comments stand out, using a background shading
  • Adding explicit numbering at the top level (comment 10, comment 9, comment 8,…)
  • Forcing comment nesting to zero (so it becomes a straight list)
  • Forcing nested comments to collapsed

Which, perhaps we'll be able to do one day. Meanwhile, on all the sites I edited, comments are back to normal.

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