RE: Comment form directly on embedded blog comments

(mountain) #1

Making this a separate topic since I’ve seen this issue brought up recently here and here, and elsewhere.

But yes, on the subject of the comment form being on a blog’s permalink pages (instead of @eviltrout’s current method that requires someone to jump to the Discourse forum itself to make a comment), it was already considered by @sam when he implemented Discourse as his blog’s backend. He mentioned it in detail with this blog post. To further this, he pointed out the fact one has to jump to a separate page to make an actual comment:

Before any of this, let me address the elephant in the room. Commenting on this blog just became way more complicated. I plan to address that, in a future update, this is a temporary state. I want to bring back the traditional commenting box.

He planned on bringing back the traditional comment box on each permalink (like WordPress, Drupal, Disqus, et al). But after a bit of time with this new set up, he had a change of heart.

That post I linked just now mentions something that’s been happening a lot: bloggers turning off comments entirely. A simple google search brings up the entire mass conversation. Both sides are seen: yes you should, no you shouldn’t.

But Sam brought up the fact that since he made that one single extra click (or few) to have someone log into a separate Discourse forum to make a comment, the stress of allowing comments went down to nearly zero.

I bring this up for a few reasons. One, this shows that it has at least already entered the mind of another main Discourse dev besides @eviltrout. This tells me specifically that they aren’t idiots. They know exactly what they did (or didn’t do) and the possible repercussions because of it.

Two, Sam’s experience makes a valid point on a possible mitigation technique to be able to have one’s cake and eat it too. One can keep comments enabled while having the experience be nearly pain-free in the long term.

Third, I agree with it. So much in fact that I was planning this set up elsewhere. I planned (and still plan) to post excerpts of my content elsewhere (like twitter, facebook, deviantart, tumblr, ect) but then have a link to a comment page hosted by me so I have full control over the ‘official’ feedback I get on a specific item. Sure, others can make comments elsewhere on their social media platforms; that’s their right. But if they want to speak to me front and center, I planned on having full control. AND make that single barrier of participation to mitigate the crap open comments get.

Barriers of participation is not a new concept for online community management. A few clicks and an extra tab down the line won’t stop someone if they really want to say something where you’re going to see it. One comment on Sam’s epiphany blog post shows one view of that type of reader that doesn’t mind the extra few clicks:

The fact that the process of “jumping to another site to log in” involves me simply saying “yeah use my Google account” completely outweighs any friction in the process. It might take a few clicks and a few popups rather than just banging the keyboard and hitting send, but the fact that you piggyback off existing authentication more than makes up for all that.

In the long run, you have to ask yourself: “Do I want a high number of comments on my blog? Or do I want quality comments on my blog?” Everything about Discourse is the answer to that question: “We want quality”.

I will say that I’m not throwing the dev’s a good excuse to not implement it. My opinion is as useful as a submarine on a screen door most days. But I at least wanted to show and explain why doing everything “as is before” isn’t always the best solution. I know @codinghorror said that in some form to me when I got heated on Discourse’s lack of online presence. I still think lack of online presence is a big mistake. But hey, I can just code it in myself. I know nothing about Ruby, Rails or Javascript, yet. But if I want something, I’m going to take the time to learn it so I get what I want.

tl;dr There’s good, legit reasons to not having the comment form on blog permalinks. In the end, you can always code it yourself, even if it means yak shaving some Ruby/Rails/Javascript research.

Why Discourse, and not other community platforms?
(Jeff Atwood) #2

It can be valid if you have a membership-only site, so the only people reading the blog content are paid members.

The main issue is drive-by commenters tend to be of very low value, they just do a strafing run on a trigger topic and cause a lot of problems. They don’t care about your “community”, they are only there to yell at people about a certain controversial topic that pushed their button(s). It’s not exactly the stuff great communities are made of…

For example at Boing Boing they were going to turn off commenting entirely because they were so disenchanted with drive-by commenting culture. And even today, there is a big difference in quality between what regulars post, and what new users post.

(mountain) #3

A more succinct way of putting it, but yes. It’s the same as youtube comments. Those are so terrible that someone made a Chrome plugin to render all youtube comments to say random “herp derp”. Attempting to moderate it should include a free script for Xanax.

(Kane York) #4

I’ve noticed a related, but with different symptoms, effect - in places with low barriers to entry, discussion quality generally correlates negatively with community size. You just have to find that sweet spot where there actually is enough people to have a discussion…

It’s somewhere around 30-100 people, I think. Ever seen Twitch chat with about 1000 people – not viewing, but actively trying to talk – in action? (view count 6k-10k) Lowest denominator.

(Sam Saffron) #5

For me, the minimum barrier is email.

If I have a valid and working email I am happy to have someone comment on my blog. So my ideal door in front of blog comments.

  1. Enter Email
  2. Enter Comment
  3. Get an Email from my blog confirming the comment was from you.
  4. Click link
  5. Comment is on my blog

The advantage here is

  1. You would not need to go to another site
  2. You would not need to pick a password

For my own blog that is the amount of barrier I feel would be best, but others may want a higher or lower bar.

(Jeff Atwood) #6

That is fine, but if that user now has a Discourse account… they are going to get weekly email digests, email notification of replies / @name mentions / quotes…

Is that a reasonable thing to expect by entering your email in a comment box?

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #7

Unless Discourse stops working like that. Couldn’t Discourse just flag “off-site-registrants” to be excluded from the digest sendout & notifications? Then if that e-mail has on-forum activity, you remove the flag. Hmm, maybe a lot of work for little gain. Just thinking out loud.

Or maybe the “flag” is the fact that the user doesn’t have a password nor any authentication service attached to their account.

I’d really like @sam’s described lite-login process to be possible. This could make Discourse even more viable as a simple ticketing system:

  1. Customer sends support request to
  2. Get email back to confirm. (this email could sneakily include a list of related topics, going “before you post, have you checked these related topics?”)
  3. Click link to confirm
  4. Moderator must approve new topic if it’s a first-time poster.
  5. Topic is created in dedicated email-in category.


  1. Customer (unregistered) creates new topic by entering e-mail
  2. Get email back to confirm (email will also prompt user to register to avoid having to approve future posts)
  3. Click link to confirm.
  4. Moderator must approve new topic if it’s a first-time poster.
  5. Topic is created.

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #8

Just a heads up, I think this has changed since staged e-mail accounts.