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RE: Website design and the problem with comment systems.

Illustration for article titled RE: Website design and the problem with comment systems.

One day, all websites will have a modern, sleek and easily accessible design.

I adore The Verge and Polygon, but their sites are nigh on unusable. I don't know who decided that the picture/video/text tag cloud/Metro tile style layout was a good idea or usable in any way but for me, it really isn't. I feel it's a UI style that designers are forcing on us because they like the look of it, it's a buzzword. When I see one, I go back to google and search for the article from there or I just get the sites RSS feed and never go back.


And I don't even want to get myself started on comment systems. If you don't have a notifications system (which does not include emailing me every five minutes in a poorly formatted email) then your comments system isn't a useful social tool.

IMO every website should have a notification system and preferably a browser plugin/extension that informs you straight away, so that you don't have to keep the website tab open and keep refreshing.


That's another thing, all websites should be real-time. Updated your article? Update it on my screen. New comments? Show me. New notifications? Real time baby, real time. I don't want to have to continually, almost obsessive compulsively, refresh my page waiting for updates on a leak, replies, new comments, likes, recommends.

Back to The Verge and Polygon, their comment systems have no notifications whatsoever apart from a little tiny bit of text on your badly formatted comments hub that doesn't alert you that it is there and then you can't even tell which comment it lines up with because it's off to the right near no other text.


And, get this, they don't have an "edit" feature! Srsly wtf? What year is this?!

I'm sure they would rebuff that statement with "We allow you 2 minutes to edit your comment after it has been posted". Are you serious? Imagine this, in the heat of the moment on a contentious article I write some stupid flammable comments (as I am want to do) and you expect me to cool down and see sense in 2 minutes? What kind of a human do you think I am?


And we really need to find some open standard for liking someone's comment. I can recommend, like, plus one, upvote and god knows what else. I just want to appreciate someone else's comment, joke, attitude, opinion.

Also, I don't want to have to downvote, that should be the website owner/article author's job. Filtering out spambots and trolls. Plus everyone should be allowed have an opinion.


There are even ready made service out there. Google+ now have a comment system, there's the widely accessible Disqus, Intense Debate and Livfyre. Not that these are perfect but they are far better options than a half-arsed custom built one or a Wordpress plugin (SIDE NOTE: People still use wordpress?).

I can't even say anything about Rock, Paper, Shotgun because they don't have a comment system to speak of. For such an opinionated website you can't really voice much of your opinion. Inline replies are pointlessly limited, I can only assume because they get too wide for the website layout. There's no liking/recommending posts. Most of all though, there's no hub to find every comment you've ever posted, which means no notifications. Which means if you want to see if anyone has replied to you, you have to navigate to the specific article (and they post a lot) and then to the specific comment (there are always several pages).


One of the most social and well designed/thought out comment systems I have seen has got to, surprisingly, be the Gawker-made Kinja commenting/blog system. It's really useful and clever and most of all, social.

That said it also has a time limit on edits which, considering it's such a flamewar/troll-bait site, is a terrible idea. And also a completely mystifying and unexplained probationary system, where by your posts are automatically collapsed and hidden beneath a "more comments" button and faded out palette wise more so than the prominent comments. But compared to their contentious exclusive-VIP-upvoting of old, it's a step above and beyond that and any other site.


One other site I'd like to mention, is Phoronix. I know there are several sites that do it like this, but this is the only one I visit (apart from Reddit but that's not really and official news/review site). Whereby the comment system is actually a forum thread. It's a clever idea and very mature, but also a bit rigid and old school.

What's your favourite/stand-out comment system?

What do you use on your site/blog?

And what about web design and this tiled interface craze?

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