Feministing’s new comment format!


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I’m super excited to announce that we’ve revamped our comments section to make them more organized, and more community-friendly. Here are the new functions in comments; let us know what you think!
Threaded comments: This means you can not only reply to the post, but you can reply to a particular comment (like I did above). This will help the conversations to stay more organized.
Rated comments: Similar to recommending posts, this “liked or disliked” function allows readers to put their two cents in about comments as well. I find this really helpful because if you don’t have time to read a long thread, you can choose to ignore the comments that got a lot of low ratings from the community and focus on the higher rated ones. I think it’s also a great way for the community to help moderate the thread.
Reporting abuse: Speaking of moderating…anyone who is a regular Feministing reader knows that we still have our fair share of problems with trolls. And now that we also have the Community site to moderate, it’s become even more difficult to keep track of all the active threads. Here’s where you come in. If you see a troll or an abusive comments, simply click on “report abuse.” It will immediately send us email with a link to that comment. That email will also tell us what user reported abuse, so abusing the abuse button (heh) isn’t possible.
Please let us know how you like the new format… And we’re planning on bringing you more new additions to the site in the coming weeks, so be on the look out!

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46 Comments

  1. bifemmefatale
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Love comment threading! Any chance you could add a function to edit comments, at least before anyone replies to them? I often catch typos in my comments. A delete button would be useful for those double posts too.

  2. Sleepy
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    I love the “liked/disliked” link. Thanks for the great changes!

  3. Jessica
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Oh, good idea…I’ll ask our developer about it.

  4. Entomology Girl
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    I think the like/dislike thing is a good idea, but for about 1/3 of the comments, the computer seems to have already voted for me! O.o Including the three above this one (it says “I Liked” all of them, which is true, but I didn’t get to decide!).

  5. Jessica
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Does it just show a + or will it not let you vote like or dislike? Can you email me a screenshot?
    Thanks!

  6. Robbert
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Wil this be integrated with the “Responses to Comments” box on the personal profile page?
    At the moment they are just comments following your comment.
    The reason I ask this, is that I would love to get an RSS feed om people responding to my comments. That way I would be notified automatically, and will be able to respond to that comment in a timely manner.

  7. Robbert
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    On the liked/disliked thing. I notice that I can like or dislike my own comment. That feels a bit odd.

  8. Robbert
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    And a second liked/disliked question: Will we be able to like/dislike the post itself as wel?

  9. Happy Feminist
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I don’t like the idea of people rating others’ comments. It kinda reminds me of the “Worst Comment of the Day” thing on Jezebel, which I think is kinda mean and a good way to discourage differing opinions.

  10. Happy Feminist
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Did you consider the fact that being able to negatively rate comments could be used to penalize nonconformity?
    Sorry, but the idea of people actively judging other people’s opinions with plus and minus signs bothers me.

  11. Happy Feminist
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    But I do really like the threaded comments organization!

  12. Happy Feminist
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    It is especially useful when I post before finishing a line of thought…

  13. Robbert
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I see what you mean.
    On one hand I think it would be useful to see what people find unacceptable on this site, in a different way than oodles and oodles of disavowing comments.
    On the other hand, the +/- allows people to judge without saying why, and thus they can anonymously vote out of bigotry without being called on it.
    Conceivably you could just have the like, and you just ignore the ones you don’t like.
    Countering that, you can read a lot from seeing how many people disliked something.
    I like that they are counted separately, and not averaged out. This will at least show us that people are passionate, if divided about something.

  14. Happy Feminist
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Example: In the “Another reason to hate Halloween” post, linked from today’s “Reasons to hate Halloween” post, Justin Kalm wrote what I thought was a well-thought out comment disagreeing with the post, and it already has a 1-. And I assume it was only negatively rated because it disagreed with the post and the vast majority of other commentors.
    I think disagreement is essential for intelligent and relevant conversations about feminism. I think if you disagree with a post, you should be encouraged to offer a differing opinion, and if you disagree with a comment, you should be encouraged to explain to that commentor why you disagree, rather than encouraged to negatively rate that comment with a minus sign.

  15. beka
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know if it’s just me, but I don’t like the threaded comments, I find them quite distracting (to keep reading and scrolling to the right).
    Also, comment ratings are a turn-off for me as well. I find it kind of frivolous, it doesn’t seem to serve any real purpose and doesn’t do much. Heh.
    The “Report Abuse” button is definitely a must, though; the trolls seem to be attacking more frequently than I remember!
    Thanks for constantly trying to upgrade the site, anyhow! :)

  16. Jessica
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I understand your concern, but we’re hoping that the positive/negative ratings won’t be about singling out dissenting opinions but a way to give props to people who have great comments and to give the community (and the editors) a heads up when things are taking a turn for the worst in a thread. It’s a common function on a lot of blogs, but like all things, we’ll see how it goes.

  17. SarahMC
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Likes: The option to report abuse.
    Dislikes: Threading. I don’t know why; I just find it too cluttered and all over the place. I also strongly dislike the Liked/Disliked options. I think it’s an unnecessary tool that will make people self-conscious. If people want to give commenters props for great comments, they usually do so in their own comment! At least that way it’s specific and efficient and doesn’t leave people wondering why their “scores” read the way they do.

  18. T-Monster
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Yea, it’s doing that to me too! It says I disliked your post (not true!).
    On the liked/disliked thing I’m in the middle. We try it for awhile and if it’s causing chaos then we chuck it. The threading things I’m not a big fan of, but I’m willing to try it out.

  19. Alan
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to have to agree that the LIKE/DISLIKE button might go awry. I think it gives people the option to hide behind a mouseclick rather than having to justify their disagreements. I’d rather see intelligent discussion than +/- wars.
    On the other hand…they are kind of fun…

  20. ShelbyWoo
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Loving the new comment format – especially the reply feature.
    I second the suggestion for editing capabilities.
    I would also like to suggest, when using the “preview” feature, to see the comment you are replying to as well as your own.

  21. ShelbyWoo
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know if this helps you or not, beka, but if I have my display set to 1020×768, it elimnates the need to scroll to the right (Feministing seems to be optimized for a 1020×768 setting).

  22. ShelbyWoo
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Uh..yeah…that was supposed to be 1024×768, but I’m sure y’all knew that (yep, an edit feature would be nice!).

  23. PullTaffy
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m having this issue too! I hardly ever comment here but I was looking forward to giving kudos to comments I liked- now it looks like someone has been doing it for me! At the bottom right on a lot of comments it says “I disliked this comment”, but I *didn’t* dislike it!

  24. Alice
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m not liking threading at all. It makes it much more bothersome to find new posts, since one must now scan the entire page instead of simply scrolling straight to the bottom.
    If you want to keep that sort of thing, I would suggest something like Fark.com’s red line. Maybe posts that weren’t there the last time the user loaded the page can be highlighted in the way that administrator comments are highlighted now, but in a different color.

  25. mandoir
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m also having this issue :(

  26. mandoir
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    I like the threading, but the indented comments don’t seem to currently have a shorter designated width than the comments above. The result of this is that as comments become more indented, the right hand menu is being pushed off the page and I’m getting the dreaded horizontal scroll bar.
    If there’s a way to change that so that the width for nested comments shrinks according to the amount of nesting, the format would be greatly improved!
    I’m on Firefox if that’s relevant.

  27. wax_ghost
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    I agree, that would be nice.

  28. wax_ghost
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Really? I’m on Firefox but I’m not having that problem. Maybe it has something to do with the display size, as Shelby Woo mentions above?

  29. PullTaffy
    Posted October 31, 2008 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    Oooh, that would be great! I noticed that too- I can’t tell what comments are new!

  30. gopher
    Posted November 1, 2008 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    I’m somewhat against the ratings of comments. Now I feel like I’m on amazon.com. You dont want posters tampering their posts or not being as frank simply because they dont believe it will earn them positive ratings points.

  31. poetry lover
    Posted November 1, 2008 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    I am glad to hear some other people say they don’t care for the new rating functions. I find them very distracting, and deflect from the content of the posts. More important, it inserts a negative high-school/cliqueish atmosphere into the community, by favoring voices that appeal to the majority and punishing non-conformity. As someone who does not identify as a feminist and often posts my complaints with the feminist movement, I can guess my attempts to spark discussion will be rewarded with a lot of negative scores. Besides, maybe the Feministing staff would prefer to focus only on those comments which have been rated highly by the group, but I want to make up my own mind, and not be swayed by popular opinion.

  32. gopher
    Posted November 1, 2008 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Oh gawd (after reading poetry lovers comment)!
    By the way, my comments were for feminists, not MRA’s or whiners that arent part of the movement and therefore have no right to voice their complaints about it. Seeing things from an outsiders perspective is useless when it comes to commentary on it. It would be like trying to give accurate advice on a couples marital problems.Were not them, so we cant really deduce anything accurate from it.
    I just hope posters (many whom I admire and learn from) dont water down their posts simply to ‘win’ points. The subconscience need to do that can sometimes have an influence over us. I’m all for tossing out those that arent feminist, or (and especially) MRAs.

  33. A male
    Posted November 1, 2008 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    “By the way, my comments were for feminists, not MRA’s or whiners that arent part of the movement and therefore have no right to voice their complaints about it. Seeing things from an outsiders perspective is useless when it comes to commentary on it. It would be like trying to give accurate advice on a couples marital problems.Were not them, so we cant really deduce anything accurate from it.”
    Should caucasians be allowed to talk about problems facing minorities, or people in other cultures and countries? Should middle class people be allowed to talk about the underprivileged? Should people who have never been in custody be allowed to talk about problems with the corrections system?

  34. poetry lover
    Posted November 1, 2008 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Gopher,
    I don’t know what “MRA” stands for. I may not identify as a feminist, but I am a young woman and, more largely, a citizen of the global community, and am thus affected by the thoughts and trends in the feminist movement. More importantly, I was a very intense Bikini Kill-lovin’ feminist for five years (from ages 17 to 22), and only began relinquishing the label last year as I became increasingly frustrated and disheartened by certain attitudes of many feminists which are anathema to my belief system – most importantly, a desire to shunt dissenting voices. (That said, I still fight for many traditional feminist political aims.) I think it’s an ugly thing to say that you “are all for tossing out those that aren’t feminist.” I would never close my ears to another person based solely on what political label they feel they can or cannot embrace.

  35. Okra
    Posted November 1, 2008 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Inasmuch as you all have a common point of agreement (finding the Like/Dislike buttons unhelpful and even harmful), I agree with gopher, SarahMC, poetrylover, and others who have expressed concern.
    That’s exactly the first thing I thought: “Oh goodness, here we go again with the Amazon-type sniping.”
    I also agree with Happy Feminist and poetrylover’s additional idea that well-thought and respectuful minority opinions will be penalized more often than their well-thought out and respectful majority counterparts.
    Also, food for thought: Amazon’s system is at least predicated on the *semblance* of usefulness; although many people veto Amazon reviews from petty or oppositional view reasons, the system asks people to vote for “helpfulness.” Couching it in terms of “Like/Dislike” strips away that “helpfulness” veneer and actually invites people to vote based on their general reaction to others’ comments. And general reactions, as we know, tend to be visceral, overly judgmental, and less-informed than Feministing and its readers deserve.
    Editors, would you please consider making the Like/Dislike button incumbent on leaving an adjoining comment? That is, it would be impossible to click Like or Dislike without offering at least a few words explaining what one didn’t “like” about the comment.
    Thanks for considering this.

  36. pacifistvigilante
    Posted November 1, 2008 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    Your developer is Aces. Threading is awesome for organization. The rating is an interesting idea, but it seems to stop after two votes? And won’t that kill a conversational discussion if two people opposing it happen to reach it before anyone else? This is subject to voting trolls that just down vote any response they disagree with or person they dislike.

  37. wax_ghost
    Posted November 2, 2008 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    How do we report ratings abuse? There are two inexplicable down-ratings on the two comments in my last community post, and neither one said anything remotely controversial.
    Also, is there any other effect that the “liked/disliked” feature has? In other words, does hitting “disliked” count against the person or vice versa? I’d like to know so that I’m not automatically punishing a person simply for disliking their comment.

  38. fatsweatybetty
    Posted November 2, 2008 at 2:48 am | Permalink

    wax ghost,
    I wouldn’t worry too much about any inexplicable down-ratings on your comments. I think that there are a lot of bugs still (hopefully) being worked out on this new system. For some reason, about half of the comments on any given page are showing that I either liked or disliked them when I actually haven’t rated any at all. So we will see how this gets worked out.
    I’m also not a huge fan of the reply system because I don’t like having to scan the whole thread to see new comments. Perhaps there might be an easier way to block-quote previous comments in replies or something.
    As far as the ratings, well I think that the Dislike is not as helpful since there is an option to report abuse. Abusive or anti-feminist comments are the only ones I generally would dislike, as even comments that disagree with the majority can add to the discussion. Maybe there could just be one rating of how much a comment really contributes to the discussion, so that we don’t “Like” comments that are just echoing what has already been written. I agree with others that “Like/Dislike” is not the most helpful measure of what comments I would recommend. I think interesting or thought-provoking might even be better options.

  39. Entomology Girl
    Posted November 2, 2008 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Um, actually it spontaneously fixed itself! Logging out and logging back in seemed to do it.

  40. pacifistvigilante
    Posted November 2, 2008 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Suggestions:
    (Easy) Promoting threads that receive higher votes to the top.
    (Hard) Embedded threads count towards the ranking of the top level thread. Only count positive because it indicates high thread interest, down-votes shouldn’t count because people who don’t like a thread could say something to get down-voted.
    (Hard) Another very powerful feature would be to highlight unread comments since last view of a page. This could be a challenging one.
    A community blog begins to look more an more like a stripped down forum, why not opt to use modified forum software? They generally are well-designed and heavily supported.

  41. pacifistvigilante
    Posted November 2, 2008 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    There is already software to do this. It’s reddit (reddit.com), they can make custom reddits for your community also, same software used by http://www.weheartgossip.com

  42. mandoir
    Posted November 2, 2008 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    My display size is 1024×768, so the screen as it is fits perfectly on my monitor. I think the nesting just pushes everything right of the center blocks further right and out of the 1024 range.

  43. mandoir
    Posted November 2, 2008 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    My display size is 1024×768, so the screen as it is fits perfectly on my monitor. I think the nesting just pushes everything right of the center blocks further right and out of the 1024 range.
    (for me at least)

  44. ShifterCat
    Posted November 2, 2008 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    I just use the Preview function. But yeah, sometimes you don’t catch it even then. Delete would be useful too.

  45. ShifterCat
    Posted November 2, 2008 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    I love the reply system, as that’s what I’m used to on LiveJournal. That way if someone starts a tangent and gets dozens of replies, you can just scroll past that entire thread if you want to.
    As for telling which comments are most recent, isn’t that what the “recent comments” sidebar is for?

  46. Cedar
    Posted November 6, 2008 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    I’m late to the game here, but I’d like to say that I also dislike the “like/dislike” option. I find that I’m posting a lot less than I used to, partly in fear of getting minuses (as sad as that sounds). One comment I made (which I was proud of–I worked a long time on it, and thought I was making a good point) was minused, and I honestly felt embarrassed and ashamed, like I didn’t belong here. Other good comments I’ve seen have also been “disliked,” only because they have a different viewpoint. I feel like this option is going to stifle smart discussion by shaming people with differing viewpoints.
    Can’t there just be a “like” or “recommend” option?

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