I miss the old site with comments on the same page

I clicked through to the comments before clicking through to the keyboard, but then decided to check out the keyboard. I then realised that all we get up-top is a permalink to the article, but not the contents.

I quickly realised that this is probably to prevent people from just living on BBS, reading the articles and commenting directly. Then I thought, hm, I wonder if BB can just include ads in the BBS thread, making the inclusion of the original article viable - as clearly people would prefer to take in the content in one place, hence the omission.

Then I realised it would just be the old site; with all the content along with the commentary, providing some semblance of context. Instead now we get the homepage, with snippets, that need clicking into to read the rest - then of course if you want to see the source, you need to click through, then head back, then an extra click to get through to the comments.

I miss the old site, where you didn’t have to read every comment twice, and threads made sense.

Keyboards! Yes, this keyboard looks nice I might buy one.


Yes, I’m not sure if it will ever get there, but the new forum is certainly awkward, and still “not there yet.” There was much to dislike about Disqus, but in hindsight . . .


The internet: where leaving well enough alone is never acceptable.

Wish someone would roll some vintage sites somehow: give me some Boing Boing '09, Facebook '07, and a turn-of-the-decade Google.


Or even truly progressive would be acceptable. This BBS business doesn’t
even work properly on mobile, what is this 2009? :stuck_out_tongue:

I will add that I make websites for a living* - so I’m not your average
change averse ney sayer either. In fact id have been happy if they just
upgraded disqus (they were using a pretty old version), although I do
appreciate their reasons for not doing so (which were explained to me some
other time I was grumbling about stuff).


* This is not a professional consultation, just me shoot my mouth off.


Mobile is in the oven, we are working on it.


Agreed, this new commenting system is terrible. I love a lot of things about Boing Boing, but probably the best thing is the thoughtful commentary from the users. This new system is super confusing to read since its not threaded. And it looks terrible on my phone (an iPhone) unless I’m in landscape orientation, which I never use.

The real shame of it is that people are commenting much less than they used to. Sure that makes it easier on the mods, but its killing one of the best communities that I know of on the web.


See this topic:

I think I see the problem.


Sorry I didn’t mean to be rude, I didn’t realize you were the author of the new commenting system.

Its pretty amazing in a lot of ways, but the absence of threading makes it really really hard to digest the conversation. Have you considered an option to show replies inline? Could be a button at the top or something? I know we can currently click the “reply” button below a comment, but a) that’s a lot of extra work when you’re reading a busy topic, and b) you still see those replies farther down, which totally throws off the narrative (and the beauty of BoingBoing comments is that you really do get a narrative).

Compare the thread on your awesome keyboard to any old Disqus thread. Note how much easier the narrative is to follow when you can clearly see replies, and the replies to the replies, etc.

Personally I don’t think you’re right about having fewer comments because of the Disqus logins being persistent across multiple websites. For my part I think the login system was the clunkiest part of Disqus, it would always log me out and would have trouble logging me back in.

And while I have your ear, its really confusing to see commenting history now. When you click a user it shows not only their comments but all the replies, which is completely unnecessary in my opinion and makes it impossible to follow. If we want to see replies we can always go to their comment by clicking on it.

And one more point: when I’ve expanded the replies, I can’t then reply to those, or “like” them. That makes participation really difficult.

I mean all the above constructively of course. This system is a super human feat and works beautifully, it just has a few very fixable usability issues.

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How is it any more work than manually collapsing all the noisy threaded conversations you don’t care about? There is a narrative: chronological.

Discourse is a primarily flat system with some mildly threaded hybridization. That hybridization is subject to improvement, of course, but nobody should be operating under the delusion that Discourse will one day become a Fully Threaded System.

Well, I beg to differ. I find a simple chronological narrative much easier to follow than a thousand-headed conversational hydra where responses can come at any place or time, and the software evidence of surviving social software says the world does too. That’s why.

Simply click “posts” in the left hand column. Here’s a list of all your posts for example.

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Thanks for moving the comment, probably a better home for it!

I don’t dislike Discourse in principle - I just don’t think it’s neccessarily appropriate for BoingBoing. It’s certainly an interesting replacement for a forum, which might be a nice addition; but certainly not an appropriate replacement, IMO.

Something like Reddit (which I believe is a comparable example to what this system is trying to achieve) has a journey that plays out like so:

Homepage > Post (with comments) > Source

But BB’s journey is now:

Homepage > Post > Comments
Homepage > Post > Source

It’s clunky and doesn’t really achieve the same thing. It’s certainly not a user journey that anyone would design intentionally. It’s very disjointed. Also getting back to the actual BB site is a pain; if you’re 100 posts in on a discourse thread you have to scroll all the way to the top (waiting for each set of previous comments to load in), chasing the second menu-bar, so you can hit the BB logo. It shouldn’t really be quicker to just type in the URL, but it is. This IMO is the biggest impact on BB as a business, as it doesn’t encourage the user to explore more content; it just dumps them into a forum.

The platform itself is pretty slick, the features, how stuff works etc. It’s very nicely put together, but in my humble opinion it’s not right for BB. As I noted in my OP you just end up either wanting the comments on the article, or the article in the comments. Which just brings us back to what existed before.


Discourse in-line on the article would be fine. Although the threading issue doesn’t change - it’s like all the bad stuff about forums, combined with the bad stuff with comments. I can’t help but feel that you’ve been defending something for a while now @codinghorror, and there comes a point where you have to wonder if it’s something that may work for you, but doesn’t work for others. I honestly can’t imagine any user getting any benefit from a combination of threaded comments and chronological comments - as it just confuses everything - it should really be one or the other. Have you guys done any UAT on the system? Maybe it would shut us all up from complaining if there was actually something qualitative to back up the system, rather than just 1 persons opinion.

I also think it’s pretty crazy to not have mobile support on day 1; I don’t have access to your metrics, so maybe it was a business decision, but a mobile-first approach would have catered for everyone and minimised any extra workload.

tldr; it’s not the end of days, I’m still commenting (hello!), but it feels like a step in the wrong direction.


Curious, did you write the above post on a mobile device? Then perhaps you have answered the implied question about order of priorities.

Some people prefer chocolate. Others vanilla. It is possible to combine both.

As far as threading goes, if you want to have conversations with me about that, I strongly suggest you read this article closely. There will be a quiz later.

Maybe that’s the issue. You find it easier, but no one else does.

Threads give context. Discourse has threads, it also just repeats the content in a flat system. It becomes disjointed and confusing and means I stop reading about half way down a comment thread as the assumption is that I’ve likely seen all the comments in reply threads. So content gets missed, it doesn’t make sense and I’m constantly going back and forth trying to work out what belongs to what conversation. It’s confusing.


In this context I’m just a user, not a web professional. I’m sure that there’s a theory behind it, but as a user, it doesn’t make sense.

As I say, have you got any UAT for this stuff? Or is this the testbed?

[Edit: I will read through your article, as I am interested, but as I’m sure you appreciate I shouldn’t need to read an article to understand or appreciate the system]


Opinions vary. No system can satisfy every single person. :confused:

You’re apparently a hard-core threading guy, so please read this article, but also understand that you are a guy who says “I hate comedies” willingly sitting in a movie theater playing a comedy film.

(To be fair, maybe a dramedy, like a hybrid, but mostly a comedy with overtones of drama)

How happy do you expect to be, exactly?

FYI BB isn’t for you, it’s for your users. If your users aren’t happy it doesn’t matter how appropriate you think the system is.

From what I gather not many users are satisfied with the system. It’s hardly just me. If all you care about are people using it regardless of their satisfaction then it would have saved everyones time to not change anything. I figured you were trying to solve a problem, apparently it’s just a platform to experiment with unfounded theories you have at the expense of the experience of your users. Nothing you’ve said indicates otherwise. You’re not listening to feedback, you’re rejecting it, and simple passing around a link to an article you write as sole justification for implementing the system.

Please never go into IA or UAT.


I didn’t, but I use an IPhone and iPad when not at work, which is when most of my commenting happens.

Your priority should be to cater for as much of your audience as possible, which a mobile-first site would have done. This isn’t a controversial opinion, it’s how we do web now.


The post counts, pageviews, and traffic counts are all trending upward, and have been since launch. What other metrics do you think we should measure success by? That every single user signs off as “happy”?

In my experience designing software, It is impossible for everyone to be happy. What I do know is that if you design to make everyone happy, you will build generic, watered-down Software By Committee that is destined to fail.

I’m sorry that Discourse can’t be the 100% threaded system you want it to be, for the reasons outlined here. We will, however, continue to improve the hybridization in various ways.

Sure, I know the web pretty well, as I created Stack Overflow before this. Maybe you’ve heard of it? :wink:

I know your background, but it’s not relevant - it doesn’t make the system any better. Even the comments on your article which I just skimmed basically raise all the same concerns.

This is clearly something you’re running with regardless of opinion, and as I’ve said you’re not addressing feedback, you’re rejecting it. So I’m not sure what the purpose of this conversation is. Of course not every user can be happy, that’s a silly argument, but it would be nice if most of your users were happy. Are they? That’s a metric you should pay attention to; if you disagree then so be it.

I also don’t get the focus on threading. Discourse already does threading, so you’re clearly not against threading. It just does it badly.

This commenting system wasn’t chosen because it’s the most appropriate. It was chosen because you wanted it. That much is obvious.

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Happiness is best measured by usage. Usage is increasing on BBS by every metric that I have access to. So your point is… what, exactly?

That is not to say that Discourse does everything perfectly right; it is a beta work in progress and we want it to evolve towards 1.0. That’s the point of the BB partnership. But Discourse is, and will always be, a fundamentally flat discussion system with some hybridized threading.

We are certainly open to suggestions for improvements on the hybridization, but if the whole concept of hybridization is not to your taste, as it seems to be, that’s fine – 100% flat vs. 100% threaded is ultimately an irreconcilable religious issue.