Docuss: an experiment on how to embed discussions in web pages


Docuss intends to be a solution for embedding discussions in web pages, to allow for massively collaborative work.

See a demo here (click an orange balloon to open the discussion panel).

I’ve put some more use cases and demos here.

Any feedback on this? Do you think such a tool would be useful? Do you know about other options for massively collaborative work? What could be built from here?

Wordpress integration by iFrame instead of sync
(Bas van Leeuwen) #2


Feedback, unsorted, both important and trivial :smiley:

  • Animate the opening of the right-hand bar, currently it’s jarring.
  • How many topics do you expect per paragraph / script?
    • Currently you have an interface geared for many / many
    • I would consider creating one topic per paragraph instead of having the intermediate page that lists all topics
    • An overview of all things discussed on the script would be nice
  • I don’t see a log in button; you have a collapsed floating header that is non-obvious to new users; consider to remove the collapse (at least for non-logged in users).

(Christoph) #3

This is great! Howdya do that?

Am I misunderstanding the idea if I say: what you are implementing are web annotations, but only for a specific website? If not, I’d say already offers that functionality and probably in a better way. Except that is not so great at the discussion part. It’s good for annotations and a couple of follow up replies, but when a fully fledged discussion evolves, discourse would be so much better.

I’d love to see a better integration between discourse and hypothesis. How well does that fit what you are doing?


@Bas, thanks a lot for your feedback.

Yes, animation would be nice.

About the overview you’re talking about, any idea how this could be done?

Having only one topic per section, as opposed to multiple topics, really depends on your use case. If you only need simple annotations for each section, then one topic is enough. If you need, in each section, full debates on specific subjects, debates that could then be turned into votes, then you might need multiple topics. I guess this could be an admin option.

The collapsable header in the right panel is a quick hack. If done properly, the web site should have a unique fixed header (with a login button) and the two panels underneath. I did try to remove the collapse, but then the browser looks like it displays two different web sites side by side. That’s why I’ve finally opted for the - not so nice, I agree - collapsable header.


Thanks @tophee.

The current prototype works by putting the grabbed web site in an iframe on the left, and a Discourse instance in an iframe on the right. The Discourse instance runs a specific plugin that changes Discourse display and exchanges data (user actions) with the left iframe. There’s also an external database to store the section-topics associations. and Open Annotation sound great! I’ll have a deeper look at them.

This is how I see annotations vs. discussions for working on a document:

  • Annotations/comments:
    • Supported by many tools
    • Can be put directly inside a document → nice and easy UX
    • Suitable for a small amount of comments → ok for traditional (small teams) collaborative work
  • Discussions & votes:
    • AFAIK, only supported by a few specific tools in the field of participatory democracy
    • Can’t be put directly inside a document → problematic UX
    • Suitable for thousands of comments → ok for massively collaborative work