I miss the old site with comments on the same page

Thank you, I found the comments from Rob, and I think I’m beginning to understand how we came to lose our moderator and why.

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Isn’t your duplication despair remedied by not clicking the expansion buttons? or are you just completely against flat discussion forums to begin with?

I’m just trying to steer the discussion to be more constructive… if the situation is “I hate flat discussion threads and can’t follow them” then there’s not much to be done, as this forum is at its core a flat discussion system.

Are there any suggestions within these complaints to improve BBS aside from changing the core flatness of the platform? What would make following a thread easier for you?

I find a lot of the discussion here very frustrating.

Multiple derails for no good reason. Please, if you want to talk about “threaded vs flat” why not open a “Threaded vs Flat” discussion, is the “+ Create Topic” so hard to find?

The reverse problem has been discuss here:

My personal pref would be to use a widget similar to NY times on the main BBS

I would love to see the comments way more integrated into the main site, but that is just my opinion, @beschizza and co are running the show, it is all up to them.

There are all sorts of concerns though, google ranking, technical implementation details and so on.


Nope, I saw it when I hit “1 reply”, then I saw it again when I hit “1 reply” on a separate comment. How that even works I don’t understand. Were you replying to two comments at once?

Yep, that’s the other problem with “threading”, it assumes that a response can only reply to one post. If you quote several posts in the same reply, you are replying to all of them. Sort of like a campaign speech that addresses points from multiple sources, if you will.

The proposed “suppress anything downstream I have already seen” feature would cover you in this case too.

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If you have to use below-expansion, then expand all the way (replies and replies to replies and so on), then remove what i’ve already seen from the stream entirely. Yes, this would basically reintroduce threading by the backdoor.

Otherwise, just remove below-expansion and leave top-expansion, so that I’ll scroll/read every comment and use top-expansion only when the reply doesn’t make sense on its own. This would be like the old vBulletin uber-flatness, but at least it’d be predictable and I wouldn’t feel like I’m reading the same thing 15 times.

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As we used to stay in school, ‘he started it’.

Thanks for your input though.

For me it’s the opposite.

Yes, I could not expand comments to see replies, but that’s what I want to do. I want to see the replies. I want context. The problem is that once you’ve done this, you continue scrolling down the page just to face all the same comments you’ve already read. Oftentimes these comments don’t need their own space on a flat comment stream, because they rely so heavily on the context of the comment they’re in reply to.

But ye, personally I don’t like flat comment systems - they’re an old fashioned and crude way to display comment data; but I also think that pure nested metaphors have issues too. I’m all for experimenting with new ideas to solve these problems, I’m not convinced this is the place to do it though.

[It appears that the nesting is changing before my very eyes - some of these comments may soon be irrelevant, for anyone coming in late]

When someone says its hard, could you sometime just not challenge their opinion. Seriously dude. Anytime someone says they don’t like this new format, you challenge them to justify their opinion, usually by challenging their basis of even being a competent judge. I don’t feel like dredging up citations. This is the impression i have, that you have a lot of ego, and a lot of it is tied up in this, so much so that pure ignoring some very real complaints as inconsequential blathering by incompetents who can be shown the light.

You built a new thing. Cool. It’s not serving the needs of at least some of the community. Its not because they don’t get it. It’s not because they need to be trained. it’s not because they don’t know what they want yet.

It’s because this system is difficult to use, difficult to learn, and difficult to see what advantage comes from the change. also Difficult to have topical conversations through, and now that the better mods have left, its attracting trolls who take advantage of the happy credulous mutants who used to make this place lighthearted and far more fun.

Tis place is now a new perfect haven for design nerds. That’s about it.

And that’s my opinion. That’s all it is, opinion. If you’re not going to validate or even just respect it, maybe just ignore it.


Timquinn, its not about who he is, it’s about how he is when he speaks of his creation.

Well given that the title and primary topic is the separation of content and commentary, yes there are suggestions that would improve the system.

And should we gather from your comment that any discussion over flat-vs-nested is off the table?You’re not interested in bettering the solution, just running with the academia of a single party?

[Sorry, i think i replied to your comment twice]

I’d noticed that too - I thought it was a bug, but makes sense when explained in that way. A difficult problem to address too, replying to multiple comments. As that’s a really good example of when neither flat nor nested really works to make things more clear.

Comment systems, ay?

You are very selectively excerpting from what was a very long explanation.

Bad faith, dude.

I didn’t mean to misrepresent you Rob, I just picked the easiest one I could find that covered the general message you were putting forward. Not so much an excerpt, it was a standalone tweet.

The original Tweet didn’t mention trolls and came off much worse (which was why I responded to the Tweet originally) - so I felt this at least covered that aspect. I could have handpicked a worse one if that were my intention.

And anyway, although I disagreed with the general message you were putting forward, I was quoting you in that tweet as it at least gave insight to the decision. Whether or not I or anyone else is happy with that decision is another matter, but at least you gave reasoning. That’s a good thing, isn’t it?

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The precis!

  • Forums lets readers create their own threads rather than just respond on ours. (More permissiveness)
  • Discourse is open-source, and it’s easy to control your own data and manage your account. (Fits our tastes)
  • Commenting/content separation reflects how the web works, natively.

On that point, it’s why Reddit, Hacker News and Metafilter are generally so great, and why inline comments (comments on the same URL) are subject to endless navelgazing and confusion over social contracts (is it a platform or a publication? is it censorship if we don’t publish your comment?), and so on – issues in which trolls and entitlement are just two factors among many.

Also, BBS (and Discourse) are under construction, and there are UI issues that need solving, some of which we’ve introduced ourselves inadvertently trying to make Discourse a better fit to BB as-it-is.

So, we’ll be aiming to make a few changes sooner or later…

  • The multiple-stacked nav bars at the top. We’ll eventually go to something closer to Discourse-default.

  • The crappy [permalink] links at the top of posts. The relationship between BB and BBS should be intuitive without duplicating content. You mention Reddit: once we’re done, BBS should feel a lot like Reddit, Hacker News, and Metafilter. A very clean, direct, no-nonsense commenting place for something that exists on a separate URL, without duplicating content. This is how the web works, natively, beautifully: reactions, hyperlinked. Inline comments were always a fudge of convenience – and we shouldn’t need it anymore.

(But how to make things feel right? My tests suggest that strongly editorial, original postings should have the text of the headline here and either a good excerpt or no excerpt at all. Think Hacker News/Reddit, again. Very short posts should be included here in full.)

  • Less visual clutter, a better font, better spacing … CSS stuff that looks better in default Diiscourse and will be fixed here soon too.

I’m certain that most of these frustrations are UI ones that just feel like “philosophical” ones.

Consider – one thing we’ve thought of is moving BB blogging into Discourse, using Wordpress only for features. And the front door of BB then becomes largely a selection of links to the best/hottest BBS threads. In this case, the BB editors become BBS OPs just like everyone else–we’d just have the privilege of autopromotion back to BB’s front page :grin:


We should do one thing or the other. If comments are on the post, then we don’t need to have a forum thread for that post. If we have a forum thread for a post, we don’t need to duplicate it on the post itself.

I do like the idea of adding a few particularly excellent comments to BB posts, but don’t want BBS threads to feel second-class in their relationship to the BB post. Redundancy–having the same stuff in two places–just seems an obvious failure state.

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Boing BOing was threaded for about one year, while we were using Disqus. The comment systems we used between 2000 and 2011 were flat.

The problem, for some, seems to be that Discourse seems to be threaded, but isn’t–the suggestion of threaded is there, but it’s really just a UI feature that aims to add some of the contextual benefits of threadedness to something that is inherently flat. Twitter’s “conversationing” does the same thing, and it has the same benefits/drawbacks.

I like flat (a la Metafilter and Boing Boing until 2011) and am OK with threaded (a la Reddit), but think that Discourse will nail something cool in the middle as it develops.


I have made it clear that I don’t like the separation of editorial and comment content, and I don’t really care how it’s done elsewhere.

If you are going this way, you really, really need the content to only be one click away. The REAL content, that is. 90% of the articles on BB are just links, with a short extract or unnecessary bit of editorializing. All articles that link to more substantive articles elsewhere need that direct link on BBS too. Only the rare feature long form articles like Maggie’s can get away without that.

Requiring one click is unfortunate, two is careless.



You say “sponsorship deal with mumble mumble” because the only one you might refer to (Ford sponsoring our Ingenuity event in SF) was a one-off that BBS predated by several months.

Thanks for taking the time to repsond in such detail.

I agree here. This is an undeniable benefit of this format. This very discussion is a good example of something that couldn’t have happened with the old system. Can’t argue with that.

Yup, I’m on the same page - although I’m a fan of Disqus (whilst appreciate on that note I may be in the minority), open source is better. I can imagine it also gives you guys a LOT more control over the content. I moderate a 3 comment-per year blog myself using Disqus, and even then the limitations shine through on occasion.

I won’t disagree with this, simply because I’m not totally sure I understand the point; but I have a feeling we’d differ here, perhaps it’s beside the point.

Aaaha. But this is where things get confusing. BBS doesn’t work like Reddit. My demonstration of the core differences highlights this - they’re not comparable in terms of flow. Reddit links to external content, and so as a consequence needs the commentary in a different place. However the commentary is still grouped with the post. Using BB as an example this would be the equivalent of including the comments on the same page as the article - as the external source is still a click away. i.e. the way BB used to work was comparable to Reddit, now it’s the equivalent of clicking through from the Reddit homepage and finding only a paragraph with an extra link to either view the comments, or view the source - that’s the metaphor we now have on BB - which is clunky.

Although I appreciate this, and ultimately it’s a good thing - this is the job for UAT. BBS should have ideally been introduced via an optional beta, whereby you can deal with all this backlash in a more isolated way that isn’t affecting users on a day to day basis. Naturally this is your call, but it’s a risky approach.

Awesome - this is a particular gripe on mobile Safari, as getting back to BB is near impossible when you;re deep into a thread. But I could tell this was bolted on, so expected some improvement, glad to hear you’re on it :smile:

Sounds good. And I do appreciate that simply duplicating the content into the thread would kill the main site for a portion of users (and that’s where the ads are). I get that.

Again I don’t agree about inline comments being any kind of fudge, it just makes sense to me, but hey ho - we clearly disagree there. I’m not 100% sure whether it makes any difference to put the comments on the article or the article in the comments (maybe I’m missing something there) - but as long as there’s some context and everything isn’t behind a click that’s good. No one ever designed the web to be a clickfest, and as a UX designer I spend much of my time working around the limitations of the web to make things better for people. I don’t really see comments on an article as any different to showing the feature image on the article, or the article on the article. It’s all related and grouping related content tends to be a positive thing (hiding it behind a click, whilst keeping it inline, however, is something completely different).

Maybe. Although it’s worth noting that the overal UX is good on Discourse. It’s a slick app with some powerful features - I have few complaints there (and I love complaining about that stuff).

It feels a lot more bespoke, whereas BB does still feel like a WordPress site. It’s hard to get away from though isn’t it?

Now this is an interesting idea, one I’d personally be all over - but as a regular commenter that should come as no surprise.

But I can’t help but point out that surely that would be combining the editorial with the commentary, which is what I want, but is what you’re against?

Anyway I would love to mock-up my ideas when/if I get the chance - but ultimately I think that there needs to be some sub-grouping of commentary within an article; let’s forget nesting/flat for a moment, but just consider hierarchy. If you post an article about a new kind of banana there may be several grouped discussions within such an article - maybe a conversation about ‘Banaas in general’, one about ‘The merits of fairtrade’ and another about ‘Other awesome yellow things’. An easy way to imagine this structure would be by using old forum metaphors. Imagine each article has its own ‘room’, and within each room you can post several ‘threads’. It starts to look a bit like a nested comment system, except with more structure. Now that example has flaws, I could list a few now, but just as a starting point I think it immediately harkens back to some form of nesting. Not necessarily Disqus style nesting, but something, anything to group comments into a conversation, rather than a wall of noise. (I think that what I’m imagining is probably quite close to how Gawker works - not that I’d EVER suggest that system, cause it’s nuts, but I have a feeling they were trying to solve a similar issue - you seem to be close with those guys Rob so you might even have further insight on that).

Anyway, thanks again for addressing these things, and although I felt you were a little precious @CodingHorror, I appreciate the time you’ve spent with all of us in this thread too. You could have all just ignored it like many sites would.


As if this comment needed more substance: One thing you haven’t mentioned is mobile support - I hope that this is very high on the priority list - as I mentioned to Jeff it’s a little disappointing to be seeing something like this developed now that isn’t mobile-first - that was an initial warning sign for me. It’s too late in the game to be leaving that stuff as an afterthought IMO.

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