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Codidact Meta is the meta-discussion site for the Codidact community network and the Codidact software. Whether you have bug reports or feature requests, support questions or rule discussions that touch the whole network – this is the site for you.

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Threaded comments are here!

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From our earliest discussions of what the Codidact platform would be, we've known that we had to tackle comments. Comments are very important for giving feedback and asking for clarifications. Some other platforms try to keep comments focused and prune the discussions that naturally happen too, but we know that doesn't work -- and sometimes it's not constructive. Communities are made out of people and people like to discuss things. The problem with discussions in comments on other platforms isn't the discussions; it's that someone coming to the page is presented with "57 more comments (click here)" and that's sad to navigate.

We've wanted threaded comments from the beginning, and now we have them, thanks to the efforts of luap42, ArtOfCode, Moshi, and our crew of people banging on a test server.

There are a lot of screenshots in this post. Most of them are behind expanders.

Viewing threads

A post can have any number of named comment threads, which look like this:

post with links to five threads and "show more"

Each thread shows the number of comments, and threads are shown in order of recent activity, most recent first.

Click on a thread to expand it in place:

screenshot

first five comments shown in place, with link to see the whole thread

You can collapse the thread to get it out of your way or leave it open and expand another thread. To see the whole thread or to add a comment, click the link (either at the top or the bottom). That takes you to a new page, like this:

screenshot

full thread with a textbox at the bottom

You can follow a thread, which means you will get inbox notifications for new comments. You'll automatically follow a thread if you comment in it or if it's on your post. You can unfollow a thread you're following at any time using that "unfollow" link at the top of the thread page. You can disable the automatic following by changing the "auto follow comment threads" preference on your user profile.

If you have the Curate ability you'll see a Tools link on the thread:

screenshot

screenshot

The tools are:

  • Rename: edit the short description that shows under the post

  • Lock: temporarily prevent new comments for a number of days that you specify

  • Archive: lock the thread and show it as archived on the post list; meant for threads that are valuable for historical reasons but are done now

  • Delete: lock and delete the thread; it remains visible to those with the Curate ability

Moderators have one more tool: they can see the list of people who are following a thread.

Posting comments

You can add a comment to an existing thread from the full thread.

You can ping other participants in the thread (or the post author), as you can today, and there is now auto-complete -- type at least the first three characters of a name and matches are shown. Click on the one you want.

screenshot

You can create a new thread using the "start a new comment thread" button under the list of threads on the post. You'll be invited to type a comment and provide a name:

screenshot

screenshot

Flags

Update: You can now flag individual comments. We don't have baked-in flag reasons yet; type something into the textbox. We want to see what natural clusters of flag reasons emerge before building out more options. (Somewhere Else, we sometimes saw people be confused about which reason to use, so let's go back to basics: talk to us about what's wrong.)

This part is experimental: One of the flag options on a post is "needs author's attention". If you choose that flag, what you type goes into the special "Post Feedback" thread instead of flagging the moderators. The idea is to collect the "please fix this" comments in one place for easier review (without interspersed discussions among other people), but we don't know if that's actually valuable -- maybe people should just leave comments. (We do want something like that for close votes, because we'll have a special place in the UI for closer-vote feedback. But that's not the same as flags.) Please give us feedback on this.

screenshot

flag menu

While taking that screenshot I noticed we're currently showing duplicate flags on answers. Sorry 'bout that; please ignore.

Transition

With this change, all pre-existing comments have been moved into threads named "General Comments".

Next steps

The comment reworking has been blocking several other issues, which either we've done as part of this update or we'll be able to do now. We'll let you know as more updates come.

Please let us know if you run into any problems or have suggestions. We know this is a big change, we don't assume we addressed everyone's needs, and we want to hear your feedback and enhancement requests so we can continue to improve. Feel free to use answers here.

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Why should this post be closed?
+11
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status-completed Notifications don't indicate which post is commented on For example, I got a notification that, o …

1y ago

+9
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feature-request status-completed I think it would be useful to display the post above each comment page so that it's …

1y ago

+6
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Feature request: timestamps. Ok, I admit I can be a little obsessive. Plus, if I'm a moderator, I should try to stay …

over 1 year ago

+5
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status-completed Automatic follows > You'll automatically follow a thread if you comment in it or if it's on your …

over 1 year ago

+4
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status-completed a different way: thread page now has expanders for the post and, if it's an answer, also the question. …

12mo ago

+4
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Flags > You can now flag individual comments. Not sure whether it's by design or not but I'd prefer to have abil …

over 1 year ago

+7
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Suggestion Have an "Add Comment" button and a "Start New Thread" button with the former adding a comment to the "Gene …

over 1 year ago

+7
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> ## Posting comments > > You can add a comment to an existing thread from the full thread. > > ... > > You can cr …

over 1 year ago

+10
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Great feature, I've been looking forward to this! Some thoughts: - Expand/collapse with a little + or arrow etc to …

over 1 year ago

+3
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feature-request Read the thread's message and title. The thread's title and message is completely same. That's not a …

over 1 year ago

+3
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status-completed Regression: comments with mathjax aren't properly rendering in the in-page preview (see General Comm …

over 1 year ago

+5
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Should regular users know that there are deleted comments? In this question there's one comment thread, and it says t …

over 1 year ago

+2
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feature-request status-completed number of comment text isn't showing, while editing comment. This happened for earli …

1y ago

+2
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feature-request All the times I have to go to another page if I have to write a reply to a existing thread. threa …

over 1 year ago

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Transition > With this change, all pre-existing comments have been moved into threads named "General Comments". …

over 1 year ago

4 comment threads

Now that space is less of an issue, could we revisit comment limitations? (4 comments)
"Threaded" comments vs threaded comments (2 comments)
Threaded comments UI too cumbersome / difficult for me :-( (7 comments)
General feedback (5 comments)
Post
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Great feature, I've been looking forward to this!

Some thoughts:

  • Expand/collapse with a little + or arrow etc to the left of the comment is probably a more intuitive GUI to most users (?).

  • You could probably have comments expanded by default if they were in a more compact format. I think compact space might be more important than readability and layout in this case.

    More concerning than anything is that if comments aren't auto-expanded, I think many users won't even read them.

  • Comments should not open up a new page, you should be able to write them and reply to them on the same page. If that gets too spammy, well it ain't that hard to right click on the link and open up a new browser page manually for those who want that.

    Very common use-case: you are writing an answer, then comments pop up or you wish to respond to them. Opening up a new page in that case would make me fear losing the answer or the most recent changes to it.

  • It would be nice to "indent" comments that reply to a specific user. This is common among other such threaded comment GUIs. Right now, if there are several comment threads open at once, it is a bit hard to see which one that belongs to which thread. If two users start a discussion between themselves in a comment thread and two others start a different one in the same thread, it will get just as messy as the previous system.

  • A collapse all / expand all feature would be useful.

  • Auto-complete when typing @user is great, but it's annoying that we have to type three letters for it to kick in. I don't really see why that's necessary or what good the 3 letter minimum does, why not start looking after the first letter typed?

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1 comment thread

New pages are intentional (9 comments)

Comments on Threaded comments are here!

New pages are intentional
ArtOfCode‭ wrote over 1 year ago:

Part of the intent of this change is to create slightly more friction to commenting. We've seen both here and on SE that comments being easy to leave makes people less likely to think about what they're writing. Opening a new page for a full comment thread is just that little bit of friction that might change that; we'll see how it goes. (There are a few technical challenges to inlining full threads, too, but it can be done if we try this and it really doesn't work out.)

Lundin‭ wrote over 1 year ago:

I dont think making the UI more cumbersome and unintuitive is the solution to that problem. Moderators, scripts and good flag systems, rather.

Monica Cellio‭ wrote over 1 year ago:

Going to a new page does remove ready access to context (like if you need to consult the post the thread is attached to). It's a link away, but I think that's one issue behind the requests for inlining the thread. Maybe the answer is inlining or maybe the answer is some other change to the thread page.

elgonzo‭ wrote over 1 year ago:

ArtOfCode‭, i also think this is being a sub-optimal idea. While i understand the sentiment, but "punishing" all for the deeds of some minority in the userbase is making it less convenient for everyone to participate here. That said, i can't offer an alternative, better idea of how to make a user think before writing a comment and hitting the submit button :-(

manassehkatz‭ wrote over 1 year ago:

If I want to write a comment and I see threads, I'll open them up - that's easy and stays on the same page. If I see a thread addressing exactly the issue I am interested in, I want to be able to Reply easily. It isn't obvious at all. If the thread has 3 comments, I see "3 of 3" and "View entire thread" - which makes no sense when I can already see it all. Plus I don't see "Reply" but I do see "Start a new thread" - which encourages starting new threads when instead of adding to an existing one.

Lundin‭ wrote over 1 year ago:

Overall, the more I use this new system, the more I dislike it. I can't help but feel that the separate comment page is just bad UI design. This alone causes the new comment system to be far inferior to the simplistic one we had previously. I understand the rationale why you want there to be a separate page, but the cure is much worse than the problem it was supposed to fix.

Monica Cellio‭ wrote over 1 year ago:

After using it for a while in real contexts (not just on a test server), and given all the feedback, the solution I'd like to see is: you can see all comments from the post page, you can reply from there, and we also keep the link to the separate page because there are cases where that's easier to manage. We can improve the separate page by showing the post there as well (not just the title/link).

Monica Cellio‭ wrote over 1 year ago:

For comments on the page, to "contain" long threads I'd keep the current approach of showing the first five comments only (not all of them), but if you click the link at the bottom it would load the rest. I think this strikes a good balance between comment accessibility and comments being out of the way by default. Thoughts ArtOfCode‭?

manassehkatz‭ wrote over 1 year ago:

Agreed: Allow "view all on main page", allow "reply" from main page, initial button "first 5" and keep the "full comment thread page" option - I can see that being very useful on small devices in particular.