May 2, 2009
Blog and page comments need a makeover. The current approaches don’t scale well. Bigger properties are typically overrun by a handful of heavy users talking amongst themselves, and usually not about the topic at hand.
Case in point, my last link: The post makes an important argument about the meaning of socialism, and contemplates the very controversial idea that America is just as socialist as Europe (albeit in a different way). But the commenters miss the point entirely, with the same 5 users discussing whether more Europeans want to emigrate to the U.S. or viceversa, or whether massive inflation is coming, or the usual ‘Wall Street is stealing our money’ meme.
Even sites with scoring don’t fare much better. Just check out any article at Politico or Marketwatch.
The problem is that 90% of the noise comes from a handful of users, but reviews (when available) are done on individual posts. Reviewing users would work much better.
If I could block a user with one click I would only need 10 clicks to cut out most of the noise for ALL posts of a blog (even older ones).
Better yet, allow two levels: A tentative block, which highlights that user’s comments prominently, and a full block for when I’m sure they are consistently not adding value.
Block information from all users can be aggregated so blog can filter out 5 (or 50 or 500) most blocked users by default for casual visitors or non-logged in users.
Lastly, show all comments when post is marked as ‘open thread’, in which case a more free-form conversation is actually desired.