Nested comments turned off

Well, it was a nice experiment, but I learned that the nested comments feature caused more trouble than it solved.

I was having trouble myself following some discussions, and if I’m having trouble, many other are as well. Another issue was mobile browsers, I had no idea how many people read WUWT on Iphones and such, and for them the issue of readability is even more important.

So I’m returning to linear format, with oldest comments at the top.

– Anthony

56 thoughts on “Nested comments turned off

  1. Thank you. I thought it increased the bad behavior and ill manners while decreasing the quality of thoughtful discourse. I even felt myself wanting to make short pithy comments. I am glad that we are returning to the more formal requirements of standard debate.

  2. Comment nesting needs a visible structure beyond indentation to make the connections clear enough for readers. Over at Climate Audit the comment number and link feature seems to work well for tracing discussion threads within a posted topic. Can that be done here?

  3. Got snarled up a few times Anthony but it does have some good points!
    Mayhaps, a few more days to experiment!

  4. Had no problem following threads myself, but I am happy to go with the consensus. Hang on a sec, I’ve heard that somewhere before….hummmm…

  5. I didn’t know about the mobile browser issues too. So it’s better to have it off. I did like the new feature but the world doesn’t revolve around me.
    I like the feature at ClimateAudit where you can click ‘reply and paste link’ and it scrolls immediately down to the bottom and there you add your reply. You can click back immediately to the original comment by clicking on the ‘pasted link’ instead of scrolling up (past all the carcasses of snipped comments on the way, hehe 😉 ) to look for it. Readers of ClimateAudit will understand what I am saying. Sorry for the confusion I just caused for everyone else.

  6. Thank You. I found myself not reading as much the past few days because it was too hard to find current posts.

  7. I am a very simple-minded fellow, so I found it difficult to follow. In any event, I’m sure many of us who have enjoyed message boards, instant messages and now blogs don’t find it difficult to see which comment relates to which earlier sub-thread. Thank you for reverting to the known and much loved formula.

  8. Yeah, toward the end there the bigger topics were freezing the browser on my laptop… which has never happened before and is not happening now. Odd.

  9. My problem was that when I came back to the discussion, maybe an hour or two later, I’d have to go back over all the messages that I had already read to see if there were new comments. With a linear discussion, I can quickly find out the last comment that I had read and easily read the new ones.

  10. Anthony,
    Many thanks for reverting to the old format. So much faster and therefore easier to just look at the end of the comments for new entries.
    What a wonderful “problem” to have! Too many comments to easily follow…
    ‘Tis a far different world in which we live, compared to the lonely pamphleteer of yesteryear, who would never know if anyone ever read his little pamphlets.

  11. Roger Sowell (19:42:45) :
    Anthony,
    Many thanks for reverting to the old format. So much faster and therefore easier to just look at the end of the comments for new entries.
    What a wonderful “problem” to have! Too many comments to easily follow…
    ‘Tis a far different world in which we live, compared to the lonely pamphleteer of yesteryear, who would never know if anyone ever read his little pamphlets.

    Roger: IMHO – The use of the Intranet/BLOGs is a transition that will prove to be as impactful on society as the invention and subsequent use of the printing press.

  12. Nested comments could work if you have a way to flag new-comments-since-last-visit. But that can be tricky if your visit is cut short, and you come back—then you’ve missed some of the last bunch, which aren’t ‘new’ anymore.
    So linear is better. But a better way of formatting posts would be desirable, as on many online forums, i.e. select and click the style you want.
    Also, a ‘Quote’ button would be mighty handy.
    All told, though, a fascinating site (to which I am new). How in the world do the regular denizens find time to read through all the comments?
    /Mr Lynn

  13. Thank you. For those of us who are visually impaired, nested comments were too tricky to follow.
    I really appreciate your work here, Anthony.

  14. Mr. Watts,
    what are the impediments to implementing numbering comments on this site ?
    Please enlighten us.
    Thank you.

  15. I’m one of the blackberry users, I just appreciate this sight, and am happy with whatever format it is in.

  16. Mr Lynn (20:01:52) : How in the world do the regular denizens find time to read through all the comments?

    We don’t have lives, to be honest. We sit in the dark hitting ‘refresh’ and pounce on the next entry. We are a sorry troglodytic lot – flee while you can!

  17. Some sites provide the visitors a choice of linear or nested options, and you can switch back and forth betwen the two, but that has it’s own issues.

  18. An interesting experiment, but reading through a slew of comments to find new ones gets old in a hurry. It was a good try though. Glad you’ve gone back to the old format.

  19. jorgekafkazar (20:37:38) :
    “Yeah, I got so confused, I almost replied to my own post.”
    Yes and the worst part was I was disagreeing with me.

  20. Graeme Rodaughan (19:49:18) :
    “Roger: IMHO – The use of the Intranet/BLOGs is a transition that will prove to be as impactful on society as the invention and subsequent use of the printing press.”
    So true. It reminds me of a popular parlor game a few years back, known as Bullsh_t! In that game, one person from Team A strived to tell a convincing tale to the opposing Team B, and team B voted either Truth, or BS about the told tale. Then the other team had a turn. A different person told a new tale in each turn. Teams kept score by how often they guessed Truth or BS correctly. It was hilarious, madcap fun.
    As I see it, the similarity to blogs is that the team judging the Truth or BS of the told tale is of unknown size and location and experience and each may remain anonymous while participating. It requires the one declaiming his/her tale to stay very close to the facts, employ good logic and argumentation, and remain within his/her sphere of experience. BS is rather easily detected (and frequently declared) around here.
    Thank you to Anthony for making WUWT an intriguing, informative, and fun place to participate. I declare Truth to that!

  21. Hello Anthony,
    I read most days, some people have a lot to say, there’s probably a lot more of us who are just trying to find out what’s going on.
    Great site, keep up the good work!
    DC

  22. The problem with nested comments on this type of blog is that it encourages people to go off topic, which dilutes the value of the comments.

  23. I rather liked it, but the point of going off topic is a good one.
    This blog and comments are so voluminous that it really can’t take much “off-topic-going”. I can’t keep up.
    Darn, it’s interesting, though!
    You realize that you and many of the posters here are changing the world, right?
    This is democratizing science. Not subjecting it to a vote, of course, just making rather sophisticated science available to ANYONE who wants to look at and try to understand it. Plus, this format provides a helpful context and resource for lay-folk to get their brain around things.
    20 years ago, there’d have been about 100 people somewhat familiar with this stuff. Now there are thousands who are familiar, and probably 10’s of thousands who are conversant and possibly hundreds of thousands aware that this resource and others are here and doing something.
    This is powerful.

  24. Groklaw (www.groklaw.net) had a feature that allowed the users to post in a nested fashion but would allow the reader to sort the comments in various ways for display. The s/w used may be unique to the site, but it’s worth a look for functionality.

  25. Fred Gams (22:43:48) :

    I prefer the nested comments. You should go back to them because it is easier to see who replied to whom.

    Nothing worth doing is easy. It’s an art. Once learnt learned and mastered it’s a skill you hope will never part.
    Not sure if all these tags work here but I’m just having a little fun.

  26. Hmm strike should work learnt. On some you can just use
    , and doesn’t work. Done without the gaps of course.

  27. You can’t use the lesser greater sign even with a space so the last message should be “s” wont work for strike and “sub” doesn’t work. Ok I’ve finished fooling around.

  28. wattsupwiththat (09:05:30) :

    REPLY: Can’t, wordpress.com free hosting doesn’t allow it in this theme. – Anthony

    Fair enough. Do you mind if I use this thread to test some other things?
    Perhaps some others would like to also. I’m thinking that some may be not comfortable trying to format their replies in an active thread. Maybe It could be a kind of “How to?” for WUWT.

  29. I agree that the quality of comments degrades with nested comments, although I do prefer to see newest comments at the top, but it’s not a big deal. My favorite blog is the type that has a forum discussion attached to articles, but that’s much more involved.
    Why not make a WAP version of the site?
    These guys do a great job on their site:
    http://wap.crackberry.com/crackberry-blogs.php
    Maybe someone can help you out with this?

  30. I’m with those who prefer the list-in-order over the nested.
    I would suggest to those who request post numbering that the time of posting is listed with each post (after the authors name) and on busy threads it’s an easy and convenient reference for the post to which you are writing your response. For including the text from the original post (on PC’s rather than hand-helds) highlighting and the old Microsoft standards of CTRL-C and CTRL-V for copy and paste can save a lot of typing time. I dont know what the corresponding controls would be for Mac or Linux users.

  31. Me too Anthony; it was worth a try. I haunt another rorum that is nested; and needs to be; but yours does not.
    Yes it is a bit of a pain to read something, and then write a response, only to find it posts 30 messeges after the one that triggered it. Well so then I get to read all the other things people have added in the interim.
    I try to form a linkage with my “”” blah balh blah “”” cut and paste; to establish the reference. A lot of folks don’t use any punctuation to identify who said what, and it confuses the hell out of me.
    But I think the flat format suits your site best.
    And some interesting topics you have dug up for us lately Anthony.
    George

  32. Ah yes, good. For Greater Than, use ampersand immediately followed by the letters ‘gt’ and then a semi-colon. ie: &-gt; (ignore the ‘-‘). For Less Than, use ‘lt’ instead of ‘gt’.

  33. It’s a very (very) minor point, but if you ever want to write out the tags (say you’re explaining to someone how they work) then you can by using the &-gt; and &-lt; format. For example if I write you don’t see the tag, but I can write <strong> and it appears in the text, and has no effect. </strong> Such are the joys of HTML.

  34. Ouch, un-nesting a bunch of my comments on one thread made a shambles of meaning, but I agree with your decision, Anthony. I think making specific reference to the commenter and the time works better. Though more difficult to create a conversation this way, the mental exercise in trying to keep conversations straight on a linear thread is useful. On a nested thread, there is too much backchecking to see if anything’s been said. Nice try anyway. The board I started blogging on years ago had a unique method of nesting which worked well, but eventually had to be abandoned because the fellow who had written the code left and it got so that nobody could repair or modify it. So, bang, they closed it and bought a commercial version sans nesting. They also started moderating it, which made it boring. Moderation, here, by the way, is excellent. How did you get so lucky?
    ================================================
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  35. Bob D (12:41:30) :

    Ah yes, good. For Greater Than, use ampersand immediately followed by the letters ‘gt’ and then a semi-colon. ie: &-gt; (ignore the ‘-’). For Less Than, use ‘lt’ instead of ‘gt’.

    Let me try it <sub> doesn’t work in wordpress.com free hosting, but <strike> does strike. Nested format works <i> <b> gives italic bold. </i> turns off italics then </b> turns off bold.

  36. Didn’t quite work the way I had it planed but I get the picture.
    Bob D (12:38:37) :

    Hmm, Speaking of testing, I wonder if this will work for greater than symbols: “>”

    Maybe but what looks more smart arsish. “” or </b>?

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