It looks like a threaded view, but it ain't

That may be your problem right there. Every time I follow a Twitter link, trying to track down the context and preceding/following conversation thread is like pulling teeth. I don’t doubt that veteran Twitterers or Tweeters or Twatters or whatever find it second nature, but you should really not be using it as an example of how to do anything that isn’t Twitter, particularly when there are plenty of perfectly functional forum models already in existence.

Re: “astonishment is in the eye of the beholder”–well, yeah, that’s kind of the point. If your beholders are astonished, you’ve done something wrong, because your job is to make the beholders comfortable, not cram them into some imaginary objective standard.



Twitter now does multi-level replies. Still a BIT shonky because they are in order posted, not as a thread, but you can usually follow a conversation.

Exactly. The best UI functionality is invisible to the user.

Every time you have to explain how something works - how it works needs to be improved. And no, this doesn’t mean you cannot innovate.

I can’t help it if some people are “astonished” that there are flat forums, and there are threaded forums, and the flat kind are not what they want. This is a religious issue.

What have in Discourse is a hybrid to some extent, but it is 80% flat. Astonishingly enough, that may not be to some people’s tastes.

Indeed, and the vast majority of those forum models are flat as a pancake, for very good reason.

For “in reply to” at the top, I don’t see any downside to pulling the full chain on click/tap and displaying it in a flat manner there, ala Twitter. We are planning to add that.

(Bear in mind, however, that any flat forum is not a tree – each reply can have multiple parents. For example here I replied to both @CaptainPedge and @PhasmaFelis in a single post. So what would “in reply to” at the top of this post do, exactly? It can only work, and will only appear, when the post is replying to a single post without quoting that post, which is another hybridization.)

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Lots of people trying to discuss it and give feedback, and vast drop in comment number… guess that is just a “religious issue”.

Flat vs threaded is absolutely a religious issue. Feel free to read my detailed critique.

As for volume, I think it’s a misconception that “more posts = better”. I’d rather the metric be higher quality posts than simply more of them. Having a dedicated community space, with less drive-by commenters entering text at the bottom of a blog entry, there will be less comments overall. But I’d say that’s by design:

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That is me told.

I was given to understand, based on what developer acquaintances of mine have said, that the majority of forums and discussion websites were flat not because it was better than threaded but because flat was easier - easier to build, easier to maintain, and less costly to the processor that had to display the comments/posts/whatever they’re called on that system.

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What makes you think it’s us he’s talking about? . . . :wink:

Likewise, people with less money aren’t worse-off, because they could just spend it more wisely.

I’ve never heard that, and given the obscene amount of computing CPU power available now, I doubt that has been true since perhaps the early 90s? The old Delphi forums were threaded in the 80s. They’re still around, sort of, if you want to see how “fun” that kind of threading is today…

Do you ever find yourself reading an article about Treyvon Martin and George Zimmerman, and thinking

man, I wish there were more comments for me to read on the bottom of this article?

… because I don’t.

Okay, but where’s the evidence that fewer comments increases the quality of them?

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I am actually seeing a 10% increase in posting in the last week on the BBS, very hard for me to compare to Disqus, if I had the database I would.

My gut tells me the volume may have gone down but without stats its very very hard for me to tell I would need to manually count stuff. My gut also tells me that the average length of a reply has gone way up, which is also very hard to prove without access to the previous DB.

Were those the goals?

The goal was to give you mutants an awesome place where you can have great discussions.

One can argue that “awesome one liners” can constitute “great discussion”.

Others can argue that “medium length” well thought out posts constitute “great discussion”.


Others just argue. I’m content enough to enjoy the free ice cream.

I think your gut is deceiving you. I spent a fair amount of time on the Disqus version of BoingBoing (and a few months on the version before that), and I can say with a fair degree of confidence that average reply length does not seem to have surpassed the previous forum.

I don’t wanna beat up on the way you guys are running things. It works, differently than before but not so much that it’s even remotely broken, and I don’t see any real reason why the commentary quality quotient shouldn’t (eventually at least) meet or exceed where it was before. But I think by making commenting a teensy bit less convenient than it used to be and hoping to weed out less-committed casual “drive-by” commenters, you’re kinda shooting yourselves in the foot. The causal anonymous BB commenter of old didn’t exactly hold a monopoly on short content-free timewasting oneliner posts, and the same low guardrails that purport to discourage the casual trolls also serve to discourage the occasional first-time commenter with something of depth and relevance to say, often with firsthand experience with the issue discussed in the original post. Just because somebody’s registered and has been around awhile doesn’t mean they have more worthwhile stuff to say than the more casual drive-byer. And I truly believe that thinning the commentary herd will not automatically drive up the quality of the average comment. Keeping casuals out will cost you a lot of good comments, and card-carrying BBers like myself who jump through the admittedly-not-very-onerous hoops to post a comment are not automatically pithier or better-informed than the yokels outside the gate. You should read some of the inane crap I posted on the old BB. We’ve got some real cranks around here among the oldtimers.

You guys have enough of a vested interest in web forums that you’ve studied them, formed your opinions, and crafted a template that suits your preferences. And that’s great. I have no idea if you guys were longtime BoingBoing commenters before or if you have any familiarity with the old Disqus version of BB at all. I’m assuming you know it at least as well as I do. But I’m kinda surprised that you seem to want to treat “awesome one liners” versus “medium length well-thought-out posts” as a zero-sum game. If you know BoingBoing at all, you know that the commentariat here excels at both, and both are valuable to the quality of discussion.

But that’s just my sense of the situation. I’m not demanding any changes or anything.


I just don’t understand how it was even technically possible to have long form discussions once you went a few “back-and-fourths” deep.

For example:

All I can say is we did it for years. In a lengthy and lively discussion, it could sometimes prove onerous to have to go back through the comment pile to see what might have been added to the ends of various thread-branches, and it got a wee bit weird when Disqus would limit the depth of a thread to… oh, what was it, five or six layers? However many it was, just to keep the column width from shrinking down below the point of legibility. But we worked around it. We’d just reply to the comment directly above the comment we’d run out of reply-to space, make it known to whom we were replying, the comment would fall immediately below the one we were replying to (though not further indented), and the world went merrily round and round. We made it work for us. And we’ll make the current version work for us as well. If nothing else, we BB commenters love to talk, and we love to argue, and we’ll find a way to do it, even if we have to scroll more than we like.