I’m really adoring all of the wonderful comments happening in these posts, and I’d like to make this a nicer place to chat. There’s a commenting system I’m looking at called Intense Debate (don’t be fooled — it doesn’t make you argue) that I think could be really helpful here. But it might also be a significant culture change, so I just wanted to run it by you first. If we switched, here would be the pros and cons (from what I can tell):
- Threaded conversations: If there are 5 comments and you want to reply to the second one, you can just hit “Reply” under the second one — you don’t have to add your note to the very bottom. I think this is going to make a huge difference in our ability to have real conversations here.
- Email notifications: If someone responds to one of your comments, you’ll get an email letting you know, so you don’t miss the conversation. You can also check a box that says you want to get emailed when anyone adds a new comment to that post, even if it’s not in direct response to you.
- Reputations: You can easily/quickly give a comment a thumbs up or thumbs down, and this helps give that user a reputation. If you stick around for awhile and lots of people give you thumbs-ups, people can tell when you leave a comment that you’re a known and valued member of the community. (Another good thing: this reputation is just a number, and it’s mostly out of the way — there are no actual privileges associated with it, so it doesn’t actually create an exclusive social hierarchy.)
- Reporting abuse: You can easily/quietly send me a note about any comment that offends you to make sure I know about it.
- Staying logged in: If you want to, you can set yourself up so that you’re always logged in as your commenting identity. This means you don’t have to enter your name and email every time you leave a comment.
- OpenID: Also if you want to, you can use your OpenID to leave a comment instead of showing me your email address (if you don’t know what this is, don’t worry — you may already have one) .
One Big Con:
I know, I know… I just opened up the ability to comment anonymously and it’s a pretty wonderful feature for newbies, closeted folk, experimenting and questioning folk, and those who are shy. It’s important to me that people in these groups can feel safe and comfortable leaving a comment.
This comment system doesn’t support anonymous commenting. What it supports nicely, though, is pseudonym-based commenting. If you don’t want your identity here, you can go get a Gmail address (or set up an OpenID account) under a fake name and use that fake name ’round these parts. Your fake name will develop a personality if you leave comments regularly, and people will get to know you without “knowing” you. You can drop or change your fake name at any time, or shift at will between multiple identities.
And a sidenote: the Think Out Loud form would still fully support anonymity.
Personally, I think the pros outweigh the cons, but I want your input. Would this work for you? (If you hate the idea, please take advantage of anonymous commenting while we still have it to gimme a piece of your mind…)
I’ve started testing this comment system out on my personal blog, Dopp Juice, if you want to see it in action.