Threaded Comments

Some REALLY nice updates have been added to WordPress which will make reading the comments on my blog a whole lot easier. First of all, WordPress has added threaded comments. This means that you can reply to a specific comment (the word “reply” is at the bottom of anyone’s comment: just click on that and your comment will appear as a reply to that comment). Secondly, WordPress has also added a feature of breaking the comments into pages. I have set the default at 50 comments per page with the oldest comment on the top. If people really beg me, I might switch and put the newest comment on the top. At any rate, these changes are a real boon to this blog, where there are often more than 100 comments on a post, and it becomes difficult to follow who is responding to whom, and it is also difficult to scroll down all the way to the bottom to get to the 300th comment. I’m really excited, as these changes will really help ease of communication around here.

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35 Comments

  1. Stephen Welch said,

    February 24, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Thanks, Lane. This is very helpful. I often find blog discussions frustrating and confusing when there are many entries, so this should help in responding to comments.

  2. Steven Carr said,

    February 24, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Lane,

    WordPress needs to have some kind of feature that can detect when someone is about to write something, moronic, contentious, off the topic, or downright insulting. When the WordPress feature detects someone writing something from said list, it will give them a warning. If he does not heed the warning, then WordPress will send a lightning bolt from out of the moniter teaching the person a lesson he won’t soon forget. If WordPress could make a feature like that, I think you’ll have a lot less comments to deal with. (Maybe a lightning bolt is too harsh. I was originally thinking of a flock of badgers pouring out of the screen onto the person, but that sounded worse than a lightning bolt.) Anyway, these are my thoughts; you can bring them up at the next WordPress meeting.

  3. Vern Crisler said,

    February 24, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Testing reply feature.

    Ha, Steven,

    There would be no web left if they had THAT kind of feature.

    Vern

  4. Vern Crisler said,

    February 24, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Ok, I see, indent city.

  5. Ron Henzel said,

    February 25, 2009 at 8:07 am

    Lane,

    Not that I’m complaining, but I notice that avatars no longer appear. Did you turn them off?

  6. Stephen Welch said,

    February 25, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Wow, this new feature works great. Thanks, Lane for adding this feature and making the discussion more user friendly.

  7. February 25, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    The threading has some real strengths. However, it is difficult to place posts in time-context relative to each other across threads. But, threading in BBSs has been around for decades, so its about time that they come to blogging.

    I hadn’t noticed the avatar loss until Ron mentioned it. Hmmm. I’ll look on my blog and see if the loss is related.

  8. February 25, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    I checked my blog. The settings for threading and avatars are independent as best I can tell. However, the default for avatars displaying was set to off with the upgrade. Strange. Upgrades shouldn’t change existing settings.

    Lane – if you so desire, you will have to go back to the same screen where you set the threading option to reenable the avatars, which is close to the bottom of that long page.

  9. greenbaggins said,

    February 25, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I have fixed the avatar issue, hopefully to everyone’s satisfaction.

  10. February 25, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    I’m satisfied. :-)

  11. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 25, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Discussions that span more than one page now use relative numbering for the comments — which means that all of the old comment # references are obsolete. Any way to use absolute numbering instead?

    Jeff

  12. tim prussic said,

    February 26, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Test test test…

  13. Reformed Sinner said,

    February 27, 2009 at 9:14 am

    I am so confused to follow up on new postings….

  14. greenbaggins said,

    February 27, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    RS, I am going to experiment with this for a while. New comments still appear on the sidebar as separate comments, even if reply comments will appear under the comment to which they reply. The difficulty with an absolute numbering is that replies would be out of number sequence. There really is no way to have it both ways. In my mind, the benefit of having a reply directly under the comment to which it pertains is a pretty heavy benefit when compared to the drawbacks. But I will see what happens on a post with a whole bunch of comments.

  15. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 28, 2009 at 11:25 am

    The threaded replies don’t get their own numbers anyways, so there’s no issue with that.

    Or are you saying that the threaded replies can only use relative numbering?

  16. February 28, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Jeff,

    When threads run multiple pages, it seems that WP starts the numbering over again on each page. Since Lane set it to put the newest first, the you have to think backwards from the first post an a page to the last post on the next page, rather than the normal English last to first (bottom of current page to top of next page) arrangement. I went back to an old conversation this morning to follow up a comment, but decided to abandon the discussion because there’s no way to reconstruct the flow of the original discussion. That’s not a criticism as it is to be expected when changing the underlying blog construct.

    The new threading does make it much easier to follow new discussions, as it makes readily apparent who’s commenting on what, independent of post numbers that change when moderated comments are approved. The disconnect in older discussions is just a natural by-product of the change. In a couple of weeks, no one will remember the old way…

  17. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 28, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    When threads run multiple pages, it seems that WP starts the numbering over again on each page.

    Exactly. That’s what I meant by “relative numbering.”

    The new threading does make it much easier to follow new discussions, as it makes readily apparent who’s commenting on what…

    Agreed, mostly. We’ll have to learn the discipline of keeping related comments in a single thread.

    Jeff

  18. February 28, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    That’s what I meant by “relative numbering.”

    Sorry, I misunderstood your meaning.

    We’ll have to learn the discipline of keeping related comments in a single thread.

    Yep, definitely a learned skill after years of free-wheeling on WP.

    Bob

  19. Scott said,

    February 28, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    The threaded comment feature is helpful and allows more congruent reponses.

    The “possibly related posts” links that seem to appear automatically often do not seem to relate to the thread topic and can be somewhat distracting. Maybe that can change in the future.

    We can all be thankful we live in a time where such technological improvements are not only forthcoming, continuous process improvement, but even expected.

  20. D G Hart said,

    March 1, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Is the problem with threaded comments the reason why you haven’t answered about Christian plumbing over at the tread on Corral Ridge?

  21. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 1, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Almost. The reason was that I took Stephen Welch’s rebuke to heart and decided not to hijack the Coral Ridge thread with further 2k disputatio. I’d be happy to answer your question in another, more appropriate discussion at another time. If it would be profitable, I could set up a topic on my blog … but only if the resulting discussion has a forseeable chance of making some progress towards unity in the faith. What do you think?

    Jeff Cagle

  22. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 1, 2009 at 8:09 am

    P.S. towards all:

    I think the solution to cross-referencing comments will be to use the < a > tags instead of using reference numbers as we had been doing. Since we tend to bounce off of each other a great deal, the sub-threads will likely be long (and unnumbered!), so a new way to reference each others comments will be necessary. The anchoring tag is the most ready solution at hand. Any other ideas?

    Jeff Cagle

  23. March 1, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Jeff,

    That would work, but I wonder how many know how to could construct the tag link to the permalink. There’s a great extension for Firefox called BBCodeXtra which saves me a lot of tag typing, but the poor folks on Microsoft have to type it all out. Plus, it won’t be apparent which permlink is referenced unless one clicks on it.

    As it stands, I think that the threading covers the immediate need. I agree that I may have to eat my words if we get some long threads, though.

    Bob

  24. Zrim said,

    March 2, 2009 at 8:12 am

    Jeff,

    I don’t like thread-jacking any more than you do. But, as I pointed out, that wasn’t what was going on. What happened was that Welch mentioned Kennedy, to which R’musings brought up 2K (“I’m a 2K guy [though not rabidly so] and not Kuyperian, but I respected Dr. Kennedy’s approach towards social change – one heart at a time through the gospel.”) So I raised my hand and questioned how in thee heck 2K appreciated any sort of social gospel. A 2K conversation ensued. Then Welch said you mayn’t talk about 2K here. Then I wondered why some may and some mayn’t. I’d suggest an answer but that might get things going again. My original point was simply that if one wants to at once claim 2K and applaud Kennedy’s social gospel he might want to re-think his 2K devotions. I’d say the same to one who claimed 2K but really appreciated Jim Wallis’s approach towards social change, etc.

  25. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 2, 2009 at 9:38 am

    I wasn’t criticizing you, Zrim. I don’t know much at all about Kennedy’s particular theology of transformationalism, and realized that I wasn’t contributing to staying on topic.

    Jeff Cagle

  26. D G Hart said,

    March 2, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Jeff, I’m willing to discuss this wherever, time constraints pending. But I think your comment gives the whole enchilada away. You speak of reacing “unity in the faith.” The point of the 2k position is to recognize Christian liberty in those matters not taught in Scripture. For me this means that a magistrate may be a Republican or a Democrat, and that a plumber may use copper or plastic. But your idea of a biblical position on everything Christians do is not compatible with biblical teaching on Christian liberty.

  27. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 2, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    But I think your comment gives the whole enchilada away. You speak of reacing “unity in the faith.” … But your idea of a biblical position on everything Christians do is not compatible with biblical teaching on Christian liberty.

    Dr. Hart, you’ve misread me rather badly. Our use of words *is* governed by Scripture in multiple places, including Eph. 4. It was this to which I was referring. (Did you really not catch this? Or are you trying to yank my chain? Sometimes I can’t tell with you.)

    If you want to get a sense of my position on Christian liberty, look back at the early comments on the Election Cycle 2008 thread re: Christian schooling.

    This is my last comment on this topic here. I’ll set up something on my blog … time permitting.

    Jeff Cagle

  28. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 2, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    I have something up now here.

  29. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 13, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Well, the threaded comments have been around now for 2.5 weeks. Here are some preliminary thoughts.

    Pro:

    * It has been nice not having two or more discussions interleaved within a single thread. It allows one to focus on a single idea without having to figure out which comments are related to which ideas.

    Con:

    * Keeping track of a “hot” discussion (e.g.) is really hard. The comments pile up fast enough so that the Recent Comments sidebar overflows. As a result, one must go hunting through the whole discussion to see what recent contributions have been made.

    In the old form, by contrast, the recent contributions were all together at the bottom.

    * When “thread discipline” breaks down (e.g.), the threaded benefit is lost, but the cons are retained.

    Jeff Cagle

  30. rfwhite said,

    March 13, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Jeff, I agree with you. The idea of linking replies to comments is a good one, but it has adds confusion to the Recent Comments column (there is no way to distinguish among replies and comments) and the system of indention and bullets becomes difficult to follow as more replies are added.

  31. greenbaggins said,

    March 13, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Do the cons outweigh the pros in your minds?

  32. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 13, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Still processing. You remember those Meyers-Briggs tests? I have a significant “P” component going on.

    Jeff Cagle

  33. rfwhite said,

    March 13, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Lane, no, not yet.

  34. greenbaggins said,

    March 14, 2009 at 9:48 am

    All right. We’ll keep it for a while longer and then re-evaluate. The paedo-communion thread is certainly putting the new format through its paces, which is a good thing.

  35. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 11, 2009 at 9:36 am

    OK, I’ve officially decided: the cons outweigh the pros in my mind.

    Here are the specific problems I’ve had:

    (1) People don’t handle the threading in the same way. As a result, one person adds a comment at one level, then another person adds a later comment at a deeper level, severing the first comment from its parent. Four comments later, the original comment has become completely orphaned from its context.

    (2) In a really busy thread — paedocommunion, theonomy, I can no longer keep track of recent comments without fairly carefully re-scanning the entire thread. I actually missed several responses to my own comments that way.

    (3) The inner-level comments are very narrow, adding considerable length to the page.

    (4) And of course, I miss having “absolute” comment numbers so that I could refer to them for clarity, as in

    DGH (#765):

    Those are just my own opinions, and I would be interested in others’.

    Jeff Cagle


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