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Threaded Comments – The only way to go for effective commenting and engagement in my opinion

Just noticed the good people over at Modern English tweet out this story about Facebook testing threaded comments.

It was a timely tweet as it’s something that’s been bugging me about Google+ for a while. I just can’t understand why it’s not standard to all commenting systems, social networks and/or blog platforms because for me anything other than threaded comments makes no sense.

When we’re in social situations we don’t queue up one after the other to make a comment. Conversations are organic and they jump about. People want to comment on the originating statement; others want to comment on comments and conversations fragment and spin off and wonderful things happen.

Socially Conversations Fragment and Naturally Thread

Socially Conversations Fragment and Naturally Thread

Having a linear commenting system just doesn’t represent real life social situations and conversations get stunted and/or disjointed so anyone joining the conversation at any point other than within the first few comments has a very difficult time joining in and probably doesn’t bother.

Here’s a good example on Google+ of a post where a good amount of people buy into the subject and start a conversation

Google Comment

Google+ Comments – Using usernames to attempt to join up the conversation

Louis Gray sparks a conversation up about a new Acer Chromebook and people begin to comment. There are various issues discussed within the comments made including price point, the OS and battery life but it’s hard to follow because it’s fragmented. There are people attempting to thread the conversation by responding directly to comments with users Google+ names but the conversation still becomes a jigsaw puzzle of some complexity for anyone arriving late.

Visually, threaded commenting can be difficult to represent but it’s a key area that social networks should put in effort. If topics from break off threads within conversations can be identified and made clear then I believe conversations will go on longer and more users will join the discussion.

Does anyone have any examples where they think threaded comments is working particularly well due to the functionality and/or way they’re visually represented?

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  • James Sims

    Reddit is one of the best examples of this in my opinion, it even sorts the comments by how good they are based on user feedback. E.g.

    • Roy Wilding

      Cheers Jim, I’ve never got on-board with Reddit (not for any other reason than time really) but initial view shows it could do with addressing visually. Looks cluttered and difficult to follow to me

      • James Sims

        That’s what I thought at first but once you get used to it, it’s really quite an efficient way of displaying lots of information.