Over the last week or so I’ve added quite a number of new software features to the website system, many of them related to commenting. Although most users are likely to have noticed some of them, others may have passed unobserved, so I thought I’d provide a listing and description of most of these, followed by an Open Thread for comments, suggestions, and complaints. In fact, many of these new features were originally based on user suggestions or at least modified due to the same.
New Comment Totals and Indicators
The website now displays the number of new comments added to each article since the last time you visited it, displayed in boldface next to the total number of comments; if you click this “new” number, the link takes you directly to the first new comment published since your previous visit. Furthermore, all new comments added since that visit are tinted light blue and are also marked with a small “NEW!” at the top. In addition, an added “Reply” link now takes you directly to the bottom of the comment thread, containing the Comment Reply section.
Comment Replies and Reply Threads
When a comment is produced as a reply to another comment using the “Reply” link at the bottom, an “@Person” link is automatically inserted at the top of the new comment. Clicking this link will move you directly to the original comment in question, while hovering over this link for half a second or longer will display a small text box showing the content of that original comment. Meanwhile, a similar “@Person” link is also added to the bottom of that original comment, similarly allowing users to see the text or easily navigate to all the replies to a particular comment.
The total collection of article comments connected by this sequence of various replies can be considered a single “reply thread.” Near the bottom of all such comments is a link labeled “This Thread Only” and clicking it causes all other comments to the article to be hidden so that the particular reply-thread can be read more easily. A neighboring link labeled “Hide Thread” has the opposite effect, hiding all the comments to that particular thread so that the remainder of the comments to the article can be read more easily. Once either of these links have been clicked, a new link labeled “Display All Comments” appears, which undoes these actions by displaying all the hidden comments and returning the entire comment thread to its original state.
Most website commenting system use either a sequential or a “layered” approach to their comments, each of which has advantages and disadvantages. Although, The Review uses a sequential commenting approach, the intent of these various links and actions is to allow the user to temporarily simulate a layered approach to comments.
Since certain comments may be particularly substantive and insightful, the system now allows users to conveniently Tweet out individual comments as well as main articles. At the bottom of every comment is a link labeled “Tweet.” Clicking it opens up a small popup window allowing the user to specify the text message of the Tweet, which will automatically be followed by a shortened link to the particular comment in question. Once the text message (or the default message) has been selected, clicking “Prepare Tweet” generates the corresponding Twitter button, which can then be pressed to activate Twitter and send out the Tweet.
Comments Containing YouTube links
All comments containing YouTube links now automatically generate the embedded viewable YouTube structure within the comment rather than leaving it merely as a raw link.
Selectable Names for Text Searching
At the bottom of most articles and posts is a collection of Topic and Category links, providing immediate access to other articles by the same author marked by those same Topics and Categories. More generally, the website already contains a powerful Search system, allowing all the content material to be searched and ranked based on included Text string and/or Title, optionally filtered by Date, Topic, Category, Author, and various other options. The basic Search field on the upper right corner of all pages and pressing the [+] opens the Search window to allow advanced options. As an example, here are the results for a text search on “William Buckley” restricted to Steve Sailer’s writings published from 2010 to 2012:
One difficult with using Topics is that only a very small number are assigned to a given item, and instead using the text/title search system would be much more flexible and find many more results. Therefore, I have added a “Mark Search Names” button to the Search window, and pressing it underscores all capitalized words or phrases in the current article displayed; clicking on any of these underscored terms automatically places that term in the Search text box, allowing immediate an immediate search. For example, here’s a link to a Steve Sailer post on William Buckley:
Pressing that button marks by underscore a dozen or more terms or names, one of them “John Updike.” Selecting “John Updike” and pressing Search then produces these results:
Your Suggestions and Comments
Most of the features above were either originally suggested by various commenters or were substantially modified, either stylistically or functionally, due to their critical responses. For example:
Therefore, please treat the comment thread of this Announcement as a suggestion box available for your comments, suggestions, complaints, or other reactions.
For example, one or two commenters have already said how much they liked the blue-tinting of all the new comments added to a article since one’s previous visit, while one or two other commenters have said they found the blue tint annoyingly overpowering and wanted it made much less obtrusive. Such changes are technically very easy to make once a consensus has been formed, but are probably not worth doing until then.
UPDATE on Additional Features Added
Since publishing this Announcement, I’ve added quite a number of additional features, several of them suggested in the comment thread, which also provides their detailed descriptions. These include:
(1) There’s now a URL that automatically displays a particular comment-thread in an article:
(2) All Archive and Blog pages may now be sorted by Last Comment, as well as Date, Length, and Number of Comments. Furthermore, Blog Posts may be displayed in “Extract” view as well as Post and Headline view:
(3) I’ve added an RSS option for following a particular comment-thread in an article rather than all the comments of the article or all comments in general:
(4) Authors may now “highlight” any particular comments they find particularly noteworthy.
(5) Users may select a list of commenters to skip/ignore and the body of their comments will be hidden on all comment threads (though they may be individually revealed by clicking a link).
(6) Commenters may check a box telling the system to email them any replies to their comment as they are made.
(7) Various small changes and bug fixes.