jMar"s Blog DevSmash Developer Portal

Friday, May 23, 2008

How to Fix the Blogger Comment System

I'll be honest - I really like Blogger. Despite the fact that nearly every co-blogger I know has urged me to give Wordpress a try, I'm still (mostly) satisfied with what I've got. I serve static pages and other content myself, and let Google worry about hosting the blogs that account for over 90% of my total traffic. However, there is one thing, in my opinion, that is unforgivably lacking in Blogger: the comment system.

The comment system is so abysmal that I'm literally on the verge of creating my own message board that I can simply embed in an iframe. If I weren't so packed for time lately, you could consider it done. However, before I launch another harder-than-I-thought-at-first project, let me share with you the features that I believe, for the most part, any blogging platform should afford.

So here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Unique Styling for Author Comments

    This one seems obvious to me. Every other message board on the planet does this, yet Blogger currently offers no CSS accessible way to distinguish an author comment from a user comment. I've previously discussed a hack method using JavaScript to accomplish author comment styling, but it's ridiculously more painful than it should be.

  2. Threaded Comments

    This one's pretty straight forward - users should have the option of replying to a particular comment, rather than being forced into a flat discussion. Tree style comment threads allow for individual conversations to be self contained.

  3. Collapsible Threads

    This feature is obviously dependent on the previous one. But assuming threaded comments were implemented, I would expect the ability to collapse a thread that I was not interested in. Think Digg...

  4. Get Rid of that Separate Comment Page!

    Why oh why am I taken to another page just to leave a comment? Can there possibly be a good explanation for this?

  5. Language/Profanity Filters

    Ya, some of us are still old fashioned like that. This would be especially appreciated in family and faith oriented blogs.

  6. WYSIWYG Editor

    Personally, I hate them - but the fact is, WYSIWYG editors are now a consumer expectation. Given the crowd that tends to follow my articles, this blog would probably benefit a lot less from this than a less code-savvy user base.

  7. Private Comments to Authors

    I'll admit that from here on out I'm probably going above and beyond what I'd consider "minimum requirements." However, being able to send private comments to the author would be a handy feature. For one, it would be a safe and convenient way to share personal contact information.

  8. Spell Check

    Since I use Firefox, I simply use the built in spell checker, but this would be helpful for visitors using other browsers. This is another example of something Digg did right...

  9. Arbitrary Thread Locks

    The author of a blog should be able to enable or disable comments on a post-by-post basis. This disable feature should have the option to actually hide all the comments, or simply disallow additional comments.

  10. Statistics

    This is probably the least crucial of all my wants, but it would be nice to see some overall statistics (e.g., average comments per post, post with most comments, etc...).

Well that's it for my list. Please feel free to add any additional ideas in the comments!



29 comments:

MInTheGap said...

Instead of trying to fix something so obviously behind, you should just switch to separate hosting or a wordpress blog! :)

Robert O'Connor said...

Add on recognition of the pre tag. Makes code formatting not break and become unreadable!

Jeremy Martin said...

@MInTheGap
I knew someone would say it... :) BTW, great site!

@Robert
That's an excellent idea - I hate trying to exchange code ideas via comments as it stands.

Robert O'Connor said...

But it's commonly useful when you have a technical blog (and most blogs are likely technical). Why doesn't the blogger team get on it! Chop chop!

elPadawan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
elPadawan said...

I agree with 1 and 2. Though since comments are already collapsible on an item per item basis, I'd expect it to be available at the thread level, if 2 were to be implemented.
5: Use comment moderation.
7: Use comment moderation. Any comment that you decide not to validate can be considered as a "private comment to author"
8: If you're old fashioned enough to want 5, you're old fashioned enough to assume people shouldn't even need spell checkers in the first place ;)
9: You can already decide, per post, whether or not you want comments to be allowed on a post, on a post by post basis. I haven't explored the option much, since I don't have any use for it, but when creating a new post, expand the "options", where you can specify the date, and decide whether or not comments are allowed for this post, as well as backlinks. Might not do all the things you want, but that's a start (I have no idea of what happens if you edit the post to stop allowing comments when you already have some.)

Last, but not least, since your list contains valid points and makes sense, why not sending it to the people from blogger in draft? http://bloggerindraft.blogspot.com/
is the blog they use, I'm sure they'll welcome the feedback.

Jeremy Martin said...

5. That always is an option, but the problem with comment moderation is that I can only choose to publish or reject a comment in its entirety. It would be preferable to let the user know immediately that the comment doesn't pass the filter, so they still have the option of posting a "tamer" version.
7. I can see that as a possible solution, but I would rather not be forced into moderating all the "normal" comments as well. Seems like the poster would also appreciate a little say in that process.
8. Ha, well to each his own... ;)
9. Good tip - I just checked out the options, and you can choose between:
- Allow
- Don't allow, show existing
- Don't allow, hide existing
...which pretty much covers everything I wanted with this point. Nice...

With regards to your closing comment, I agree, that probably is the best way to contribute to the solution. I actually subscribe to their blog, and have been waiting for them to get on the topic of the comments before I jumped into the conversation. Although I suppose I could just try and slip it in somewhere else...

Thanks for the critique, especially on point 9!

Jordi Soler said...

Somebody already invented what you're describing. It's called Disqus and it's really easy to set up.

You can even keep your old comments without problem.

Amazing.

Jordi Soler said...

Look at my blog: it's working there since today!

(it's in Spanish, though, but you'll find your way through, I hope)

Jeremy Martin said...

@Jordi
I checked out Disqus - looks great! I checked out your site too, but from what I could tell it was still using the blogger comment system?

Jordi Soler said...

¡Oops, my mistake! I've got several blogs: the one I was talking about is this one.

Sorry. :)

Jeremy Martin said...

@Jordi
That looks more like it! Definitely looks/behaves a lot better than the default comment system. I only looked at it real quick, but it seemed like it relied on JavaScript being enabled? I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that, but for the most part it looks like a great tool!

Jordi Soler said...

Definitely Javascript. No Ajax for the time being, but there's a huge community and you can see that the administrators are very receptive to requests.

It's a very young service. I think it will change a lot in the future. Look at this interview if you want to know more.

Anyway I'll stop for now, or you're going to think that I'm involved somehow in the project. Next thing you know I'm asking for money... :)

Jeremy Martin said...

@Jordi
Ha... no worries. Good to know what options are out there...

Jordi Soler said...

Just so you know, another alternative is Intense Debate.

battery said...

I think you’re the first to even notice, Lisa. It’s really not a big change from how a lot of newspaper sites handle content — free non-commercial use, but generally only if you ask. This removes the middle man of asking, because now it’s explicitly stated that free non-commercial use is permitted.

S11 Republican said...

Here here! I keep getting obscene hit-and-run comments on my blog with the same 4-letter words in them, and I can't believe there's no way for blogger detect them and delete them.

Shams said...

I've implemented a threaded comment system using bloggers comments and javascript: http://shamsmi.blogspot.com/2008/07/threaded-comments-in-blogger.html

It works simply by recognizing @jeremy, @MInTheGap, etc. in the comment body

vin said...

Hi,

Is it possible to have a Top Commentators widget for Blogger with the commentators name linked to his blog as done in the Wordpress widget?

There is already such a widget but it links to the profile page!

kidd said...

great post

Essentials said...

Hi there...
I've come across your blog and I thought I'd ask you how to fix my problem.
My problem is that for some reason I cannot post comments on my own blog (as a reply to other comments) and cannot comment on SOME of blogspot blogs. Why does that happen? Whenever I want to comment on the above two situations, I am asked to fill in that Word Verification, but it does give me no word to enter it and that's the last of it.
The 'funny' thing is that I can comment on other blogs (as I am doing now on yours), but not on all (with google accoung as I too have a blog).
Maybe you could help me. I'd appreciate it lots.
Thanks

Basant Singh said...

I like everything about Blogger except it's commenting system

Sues said...

I've found 3 main commenting programs out there to replace this blogger system... JS-Kit charges a fee. Disqus and IntenseDebate do not work with classic blogger. Anyone know of any other programs that are free and will work with the classic blogger format? I'm not switching to the new and sucky blogger editing system.

Ishan .... said...

One of the main feature of using third party comment system is Reply option to comments which blogger lack.
I recently saw this tutorial on How to add reply option to blogger comments and thought to share with you

Muhammad Taqi said...

maybe use superbox like me :)

i'm waiting your visiting :)

Silver MLM said...

How can I use MySQL to set up a commenting system on my website so that people can comment the blogs I write?

Adrian said...

I've found 3 main commenting programs out there to replace this blogger system... JS-Kit charges a fee. Disqus and IntenseDebate do not work with classic blogger. Anyone know of any other programs that are free and will work with the classic blogger format? I'm not switching to the new and sucky blogger editing system.company logo design

cekgurizal said...

thanks, Add on recognition of the pre tag. Makes code formatting not break and become unreadable!

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