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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard DoubleDee's Avatar
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    How to handle User-Comments?!

    This question is part Web-Design and part Web-Content, but I decided to post it here to get a fresh set of eyes and perspectives!

    My website is basically an online newspaper, and so it will have tons of articles about Small-Business.

    Beneath each Article, is the ability for users to post Comments about the article. (Similar to what you'd see on a site like The Washington Post.)


    Questions:

    1.) Would you rather see all of the Article-Comments on ONE PAGE beneath the Article, or would you rather have Article-Comments "paginated" maybe 20 comments per page? (In the second scenario, the Article and Comments would still be on the same page, but a user would only see 20 Comments at a time.)


    2.) Would you limit the number of Article-Comments that can be made? For example 100 in total?

    Why do this?

    For me, I find - even on SitePoint - that after 40-50 posts the conversation either "splinters" or dies out, and anything after that consists of a.) Trolls, b.) People starting new conversations, or c.) People trying to get involved in a conversation that is now "ancient history"!!

    Sincerely,


    Debbie

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    1. I prefer all comments on the one page so I can read the whole conversation

    2. I wouldn't limit the number of comments, but instead use an optional closing date after which no more comments can be added. On some sites I work on we close comments 30 days after the entry date. Of course you could still have a setting not to allow comments at all on an entry as an option for the editor/author.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard DoubleDee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluedreamer View Post
    1. I prefer all comments on the one page so I can read the whole conversation
    If my comments look similar to posts on SitePoint (i.e. Text + Member Thumbnail), how much bandwidth would I suck up doing everything on one page?

    It seems to me that page load time could go way up, and I might get a big bill from my web host for all of the extra data people are using by viewing all comments at once.

    Image if every time someone wanted to read an article of mine, that had to also download 100 thumbnails?!



    Quote Originally Posted by bluedreamer View Post
    2. I wouldn't limit the number of comments, but instead use an optional closing date after which no more comments can be added. On some sites I work on we close comments 30 days after the entry date. Of course you could still have a setting not to allow comments at all on an entry as an option for the editor/author.
    Why do you say that?

    Don't you think conversations go downhill after 30-40 posts?

    And if I did have a time limit, I'd more inclined to go with 7-10 days. (Especially since a lot of my content is "news" and so it is time sensitive.)

    Sincerely,


    Debbie

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleDee View Post
    If my comments look similar to posts on SitePoint (i.e. Text + Member Thumbnail), how much bandwidth would I suck up doing everything on one page?

    It seems to me that page load time could go way up, and I might get a big bill from my web host for all of the extra data people are using by viewing all comments at once.

    Image if every time someone wanted to read an article of mine, that had to also download 100 thumbnails?!
    Sitepoint use Disqus which is a widely used 3rd party comments services and worth considering since you don't pay for the bandwidth, all images come from their servers

    If you host your own comments I wouldn't worry too much about downloading a bunch of thumbnails. Unless you're getting serious traffic the bandwidth will be minimal in the grand scheme of things. Put it this way, if you have a 100kb photo in the page story then that's the equivalent of 40 commenters' thumbnails @ 2.5kb each (measuring total file size for the page). Also it's fairly rare to get lots of comments on an entry page since many responses happen via social media nowadays - look at Sitepoints own articles - even though they are very popular most have less than 10 comments, only occasionally do you see more.

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleDee View Post

    Don't you think conversations go downhill after 30-40 posts?

    And if I did have a time limit, I'd more inclined to go with 7-10 days. (Especially since a lot of my content is "news" and so it is time sensitive.)
    Depends on the topic! the 30 day cutoff I mentioned is what the site owner prefers as they found few people responded after that amount of time, and it's tied in with their marketing schedules. Using a time limit it's really up to you what to use, 7-10 days sounds good, try it and see how it goes, if a topic proves popular there's nothing stopping you opening comments back up for another 7 days to allow your visitors more time to have their say

  5. #5
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    I have noticed that some newspapers only keep comments open for a matter of hours. With some of the ones I have seen they have several thousand comments by then. No one is going to read through that many comments to see if what they want to say has been said already so probably a lot of them are all just repeating what someone else has already said. So how long you keep commenting open for depends on the expected volume of comments and also how long you expect the entry being commented on to be relevant

    I have also noticed with forum posts that once a given thread gets onto its third page that a lot of the new posters are simply repeating what has already been said on a previous page. Only where there is a conversation between two or three posters going on is the third page of a thread likely to be contributing anything new. Since you don't get conversations between commenters on blogs (at least not usually) there seems little point in having the comments go to more than a couple of pages.

    If you are adding the comments under the article they relate to then it may be worthwhile just placing a small number there and going to a second page for the rest. If they are on their own page then a single page should be sufficient. If you allowed 10 comments under the article and a further 40 on a separate page then you could close comments after 50 if the time limit has yet to expire. If you are getting lots of repetitive comments then you may want to consider not displaying the ones that just repeat what has already been said.

    It all depends on how active you expect comments to be, how long the articles to be commented on will be relevant, how likely you are to get spammers trying to post their spam on really old articles, and how much work you want to go through in deciding which comments to allow.
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard DoubleDee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    I have noticed that some newspapers only keep comments open for a matter of hours. With some of the ones I have seen they have several thousand comments by then.
    The Washington Post is one of them. (It's actually cool to watch in "real-time", because they use AJAX, so you'll be reading a post and it keeps moving down and down and down the page as other people make posts as you read!!)


    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    No one is going to read through that many comments to see if what they want to say has been said already so probably a lot of them are all just repeating what someone else has already said. So how long you keep commenting open for depends on the expected volume of comments and also how long you expect the entry being commented on to be relevant
    My thinking too.


    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    I have also noticed with forum posts that once a given thread gets onto its third page that a lot of the new posters are simply repeating what has already been said on a previous page. Only where there is a conversation between two or three posters going on is the third page of a thread likely to be contributing anything new. Since you don't get conversations between commenters on blogs (at least not usually) there seems little point in having the comments go to more than a couple of pages.
    So what constitutes "Page 3" in # of Posts?

    Below you mention "50" as a number...


    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    If you are adding the comments under the article they relate to then it may be worthwhile just placing a small number there and going to a second page for the rest. If they are on their own page then a single page should be sufficient. If you allowed 10 comments under the article and a further 40 on a separate page then you could close comments after 50 if the time limit has yet to expire. If you are getting lots of repetitive comments then you may want to consider not displaying the ones that just repeat what has already been said.
    So you didn't really answer Question #1 in my OP, which deals with this...

    The more I think about it, the more I am leaning towards having one long, vertical page with everything on it.

    Personally, I hate it when websites make you navigate pages to read one article, so having the entire Article on one page is a must!

    And following that logic, why not do the same for Comments?

    The only downside I can see is if there was no Comment limit, because you would NOT want an Article + 1,000 Comments all on one page?! (And I sure as heck wouldn't want to pay for that much data usage!!!)

    So my preference would be have everything on one page - including Comments - and limit them to maybe 100 by default. (There could be an option for the Admin to keep Comments open longer if the conversation was good.)


    Off Topic:

    With the advent of mobile devices, isn't the new trend to have everything "vertical" so users can just "thumb" their way down a page?



    Sincerely,


    Debbie

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    You could ajax them/lazy load them.

    This means each visitor's request for the page maybe loads 10 comments (or whatever, you'd choose this number based on your average comment load per article), but for those who'd like to read more, add a "more comments" button... the user stays on the page but more comments get loaded at the bottom of the last comment. This can be a nice load compromise though your server may end up with more separate requests (prolly not a big deal here).

  8. #8
    Utopia, Inc. silver trophy
    ScallioXTX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stomme poes View Post
    You could ajax them/lazy load them.

    This means each visitor's request for the page maybe loads 10 comments (or whatever, you'd choose this number based on your average comment load per article), but for those who'd like to read more, add a "more comments" button... the user stays on the page but more comments get loaded at the bottom of the last comment. This can be a nice load compromise though your server may end up with more separate requests (prolly not a big deal here).
    Or auto load them as the user scrolls (like facebook and twitter do).
    Make sure to also add "classic" pagination with links which you hide with javascript so search engines can also view all replies (they don't understand infinite scrolling because they don't scroll, they just scrape), and also for those with javascript disabled.
    Just search for "infinite scrolling javascript" and you'll get enough results.
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  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard Stomme poes's Avatar
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    While I'll allow that on Twitter I'm scrolling in order to get more content, I usually get frustrated with sites less simple than Twitter assuming my scrolling is a request, rather than maybe I want to see the footer or something.

    but I tend to like obvious user request actions, personally.

    There might also be some reason why many news sites don't auto-load on scroll but use a button, but I don't know what that reason may be.


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