Proposed change to IPR Comments

As part of reviewing the site for potential improvements, some have suggested allowing users to edit comments after they’re posted. In the process of looking at this others suggested using Disqus, which I was also thinking of using.

I’m hesitant to make this change because comments are a big part of IPR.

As a test I installed Disqus on the local news site I’ve been developing, West Boca News. Also on that site you can see that there is an author profile, another feature which has been requested that I will probably add.

Please post comments here to let me know what you think of the proposed changes.

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About wredlich

Warren Redlich is CEO of SpinJ Corporation, which became owner of IPR in November 2012. He was the 2010 Libertarian candidate for Governor of New York, and has run for office as a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, and Liberal.

60 thoughts on “Proposed change to IPR Comments

  1. wredlich Post author

    @Stewart: There are features that allow limiting of comment editing, such as a time limit or after further comments or replies have been posted.

    I think the main thing people want is the ability to go back and fix typos they missed while writing.

  2. Matt Cholko

    I like the idea of a very short window to fix typos. Maybe 5 minutes, or no more than 2 additional comments have been made on the thread. Something along those lines. Author profiles sound good to me.

  3. Trent Hill

    Will Disqus require a log-in or profile? Because a lot of the fun of IPR is the open commentin that makes it easy for anyone to join the conversation.

  4. wredlich Post author

    I think Disqus requires some form of login, but you can login via fb and other “social” methods. Not sure if it allows anonymous commenting or commenting via fake names. Do we want that?

  5. NewFederalist

    Other sites I visit which also allow for editing of your own posts all require some kind of login as I recall. They do allow for pseudonyms.

  6. Matt Cholko

    It seems that a login would be a MUST in order to have editable comments. But, as long as pseudonyms are allowed, or maybe logging in to comment is an option, not a requirement, then it seems reasonable.

  7. ShawnL

    Disqus is pretty good. You can log in via several methods, it can help clearly establish you as the legitimate you if you have a twitter or Facebook presence.

    It still allows for anonymous comments, if memory serves. And its good for discovering if anyone replies to your comments down the road.

    That said, I have no problem if you leave comments as is. Disqus logins cat get a bit cumbersome for me when I’m using my RSS reader, and forget to reopen a page in a proper web browser before composing a comment.

  8. Deran

    I read IPR daily, I’m pretty much blind and I use my eyes and VoiceOver (I’m a Mac user) to read IPR. I found this one blog entry where a blind person expressed concern abt Disqus and VoiceOver usage. I do not know enough to know if I am already dealing with Disqus on other blogs I read and comment on. But sometimes there are structural problems in sites and blogs that aren’t yet set up to a universal access format – not enough description of images and lay out that can not be read by VO, or JAWS for PC.

    I mention this as something to consider in the development of any web/internet projects.

    http://noeyesneeded.com/2011/07/disqus-shutting-out-the-blindness-community-from-discussion/

    Thanks

  9. Steve M

    Log in should be voluntary but comments from logged in users should be differentiated from the anonymous comments.

    How about allowing readers to use thumbs up or down to grade comments. Take a look at http://www.slashdot.org for example.

  10. Austin Battenberg

    Another website I go to has disqus and it sorts the comments by popularity. Other than that I don’t know much about disqus, that might be something that that particular website used, but can be changed to the method we use now.

    I also support editing comments, and I think having a profile for non-writers is a good idea.

    I support any change to IPR that could generate traffic, and ease of use for the regular viewer.

  11. Matt Cholko

    Thinking more about it after reading Chuck Moulton’s comment above….. IPR really is ALL about the comments. So, be very careful about making changes to the comment system. It certainly would be nice to be able to edit comments. But really, it ain’t very important. Is it worth the risk of messing up an already great website?

  12. Thomas L. Knapp

    Not sure about the group, but the Facebook page and Twitter feed are easy to do using one or more of various tools (Twitterfeed, Networked Blogs, etc.).

    Disqus can be optionally configured to allow “guest” commenting — where the commenter does not have to log in.

    It’s also configurable in how it lists comments — chronologically, or nested (with replies below the comments they are in reply TO, something I’d like to see at IPR given our habit of digression), or whatever.

    Those who want to log in and identify themselves get access to editing of their own comments (for, IIRC, a limited timeframe), and they can do so using their Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus login, or Disqus’s own registration system.

    I wasn’t able to quickly find anything about VoiceOver compatibility with Disqus, but of the available third-party commenting services, I rate Disqus as the best in terms of both keeping up with advancements and accommodating popular standards.

  13. Mark Axinn

    I would prefer not to have to link comments to another medium. IPR knows who I am and I do not have to go thru some convoluted sign-in when I want to comment.

    BTW, what’s a Facebook? I know what a twitter is. Congressmen use it to send half-nude pictures of themselves before they self-destruct.

  14. Trent Hill

    “Not sure if it allows anonymous commenting or commenting via fake names. Do we want that?”

    As far as I’m concerned, yes. IPR isn’t about news as much as it is about community.

  15. justice for the pseudonymous

    Anonymous comment is classic IPR and classic America and classically independent. That functionality must be maintained.

    We the pseudonymous would not object however, to a separate but equal facility for which register users could quickly edit– provided only that we are not exiled or censored in the process

  16. Jeremy C. Young

    I like the comments as they are. However, one option would be to install Disqus in addition to the current system, and see which one gets more users. Another option would be to introduce comment threading using WordPress comments — which is already available on the current system.

  17. Eric Sundwall

    A handful of the same commentators always saying the same things. The gutless, anonymous foments need change. Go big WR, don’t let the zappers rule the day on IPR.

  18. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    I don’t like logging in. It’s a hassle. I avoid many sites that demand registration and passwords. So many sites, so many passwords to create and remember.

    But it would be nice if commentators could embed images and YouTube videos, same as the editors.

  19. Peter Gemma

    @13 and 19 … I agree … all this talk of change change change … is it change for the sake of change? I suspect a poll of IPR readers/users would show 90% are perfectly happy the way things are. If there must be change, please go slowly and see how it settles in with the IPR community. This is a unique and very useful webiste – I’d be leary of rushing in to “fix” things.

  20. Zapper

    @30 Apparently Eric Sundwall is quite sensitive to people who challenge the preconceived misconceptions and illogical conclusions to which he clings so passionately.

  21. Zapper

    As to changes, IPR is fine the way it is.

    It would be nice to have editing available for typos. I use a number of sites that allow for editing of posts. If the post is edited subsequent to a later post having been made, the date and time of the most recent edit and the number of edits is annotated at the bottom of the posting block.

  22. wredlich Post author

    “is it change for the sake of change?”

    No, the things I’m looking at are changes to make the site better. For example, no one seems to have noticed changes I made that make the home page load much, much faster. It was painfully slow for me before. Users don’t like waiting for a page to finish loading. The same changes decrease the load on the server and means the site will crash less.

    The other focus is to grow the readership, especially through better SEO and hopefully getting the site into Google News. It’s great to have discussion amongst ourselves but it’s better if the third-party and independent message is seen by a larger number of readers.

    And that’s not about ad revenue – I expect to have fewer ads.

    Finally, I am leaning toward changing from the current three-column theme to a 2-column theme with the main content in a wider space. If you look at the recent post with Gary Johnson’s you can see that the video is too wide for the column. Also, the current three-column format is too busy, and is hard to read for some.

    Oh, and I did something which also will not be noticed by most users but should help users with visual disabilities.

    I’m also reaching out to other third parties to get more content from them. This site should not be only about the LP.

    So it’s not change for the sake of change. It’s change for the sake of making the site better. But I still want to go slow and tread lightly so as not to damage what the user base currently likes.

  23. wredlich Post author

    But I’m not changing from the 3-column theme yet. Just something I’m thinking about and that will take a while, if we actually do it at all.

  24. Thomas L. Knapp

    A two-column theme with all sidebar content on the right would be a nice improvement.

    IPR was indexed by Google News at one time and then they stopped. IIRC, the main reason was that lots of IPR articles (at least at that time) were mostly cut-and-paste jobs of articles from other sources, with very little added/original content.

    If you’re interested in getting back into Google News, I suggest insisting that all articles adhere to a formula of “we write our own five-point lede and minimize direct use of material originally published elsewhere.”

  25. wredlich Post author

    “If you’re interested in getting back into Google News, I suggest insisting that all articles adhere to a formula of “we write our own five-point lede and minimize direct use of material originally published elsewhere.””

    I’m heading in that direction eventually, but I don’t want to rock that boat too soon nor too hard. I’m not sure that’s the only problem for Google News. I added a sitemap optimized for them and resubmitted. Hopefully that will make a difference. I see a lot of copy-and-paste crap in Google News (like the same AP articles on numerous newspaper websites).

    Regardless, it would be better to have more original content and less copy/paste. I’m thinking about working on softer “guidelines” or suggestions, rather than “insisting” people “adhere”.

    What I have in mind is the article should have a paragraph or two introducing the item being copied and describing why IPR readers should care, then include the first paragraph or highlights from the material and a link to that material’s original site.

    But not pushing that yet.

  26. Zapper

    Re recent changes: Have you shortened the “Recent Comments” column, I think it should be longer.

    (Yes, several other blocks have been moved or deleted, I see that too.)

  27. Stewart Flood

    How do you know it would cost too much?

    Kill the “mobile theme” idea. I use my iPad to check IPR and other sites frequently, and I absolutely HATE “mobile” sites that muck up the original look and feel into something they think represents what a “mobile” user wants.

  28. Shawn Levasseur

    Don’t be too quick to pull the “mobile theme” trigger. Some are good about rethinking the interface, but most feel like a “dumbed down” interface. Especially when an interface built for a small phone screen is automatically applied to a much larger tablet screen.

    A dynamic site theme manages a good balance, where screen size dictates where and how sections of the page are displayed.

  29. wredlich Post author

    @Shawn – I priced a mobile app for my other website. My programmers are inexpensive and they were talking $8K for iPhone and another $8K for Android.

    Mobile theme will not happen anytime soon. I had a bad experience with that as well on my other site. I am a heavy iPhone user and I use it for IPR with no problems. The advantage of mobile theme is that it’s free and easy for the user to turn it off.

    Check out WestBocaNews.com for an implementation of a mobile theme.

  30. Jeremy C. Young

    I actually think people wouldn’t mind too much if you restructure the homepage, so long as you don’t do it in an extreme way. People are going to be touchier about things that affect the community, not layout issues.

  31. Matt Cholko

    I see a few changes so far that I don’t like. I’ll list them here in order of most to least bothersome:

    1) Recent comments section now lists too few comments. The problem is, when a post gets hot, in the evening hours, 15 comments can appear in a matter of minutes. If you’re only showing the 10-12 most recent comments, it makes it appear as though only that one post is seeing action, when that is likely not the case. Of course, it may BECOME the case with this setup. Maybe a better option would be to change the list to something like “Hot Topics” and just list the 8 posts that have seen the most recent comment activity, or something along those lines.

    2) Change to drop down menu of categories. As IPR regulars, we know basically what the categories are. But, when someone new comes to the site, I think it would be better to have the list of links (as we had before) so that they can easily see all of the categories (which are really political parties). In fact, someone who lands on any IPR page would have a pretty good idea of what the whole site is about if they saw that list of parties that we used to have.

    3) Fewer posts shown per page on the front page of each “category.” This probably isn’t a big deal, but I prefer to see more than the 5-6 most recent posts.

    Not trying to be a douchebag, just giving some constructive criticism.

  32. Trent Hill

    “Re recent changes: Have you shortened the “Recent Comments” column, I think it should be longer.”

    This. Other users have already pointed it out, but when the site is really rolling, 15 comments can come through in a few minutes and it’s easy to lose track of your threads.

  33. Kimberly Wilder

    I personally hate anywhere that “slows me down” when I try to comment. Even if it is just a spam filter. But, if I have to “log in”, then I feel like I definitely don’t want to bother. Some of the juicy news in the world comes from anonymous posts.

    I believe that many libertarians, and some greens, are into privacy issues. So, I think having “log in” requirement might scare some folks off.

    There was a local political site by us that went to a log in method, and I don’t think it retained the same vibrancy.

    IMO

  34. Catholic Trotskyist

    Yes, keep Comments the way they are!

    I did notice the changes to improve speed and aid for visual disabilities; thanks.

  35. wredlich Post author

    As for recent posts, I reduced it from 20 to 8. At the bottom there is a link to previous entries.

    I believe this, along with another change no one has mentioned yet, were the biggest reasons the home page loaded so slowly.

    The guessing game is fun though. You guys are good at this, especially Matt.

  36. Robert Capozzi

    wr, more comments is better than fewer, as I see it. I wonder if you could have a “More Comments” or “Comments Archives” link at the bottom of comments, like the “Visit the archives for more!” for the “Recent Entries.”

  37. Matt Cholko

    I’d like to see 20 recent comments.

    I’d also prefer another couple recent posts. It doesn’t need to be 20, maybe 10-12 would strike a good balance between page loading speed and sufficient content. This is not nearly as big of a deal as the recent comments though.

  38. paulie

    And I would also suggest connecting the IPR facebook page, the facebook group, and the twitter feed to the website.

    The group and twitter feed are already connected. The page should be added. If there are other ways to additionally connect them I would like to know how. Also, when and how do we get the facebook page to auto-post new IPR posts as the twitter already does?

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