Some suggestions for The Verge's commenting system
I'm generally a fan of The Verge's overall design, but one thing that could use a bit of a makeover is the commenting system. It's not that the system is bad really, it just seems to have been ignored since The Verge's launch and hasn't undergone many feature-revisions*.
I'd like to offer a few suggestions that I believe may help improve this situation.
Sometimes you come across a thread where a lot of great discussion is happening, or maybe you left a comment somewhere and want to keep track of the conversation(s) that occur below it. Right now, your best bet is looking at your profile to see if there are any replies to your comment, but that doesn't show how many comments have been posted below yours in the general thread.
Besides that, your profile only shows so many 'events' before they begin to disappear altogether, so there's no good way to keep track of (or reference) older posts that you've made, nor anybody else's posts, for that matter. Which leads me to my next suggestion:
Better Post Histories
When I look at my profile or anyone else's, it would certainly be nice to see their entire post history if desired. I don't understand why events have to fall off the page as more flow in. It also doesn't help that some of the events shown are when that person has 'recommended' a comment in a certain thread. There's no way to even tell which comment they recommended, so these are just useless space-wasters.
If the concern about seeing entire post histories is because they would be way too long in certain cases, just have a pagination system where it shows up to 20 events per page.
Ability to Friend/Follow and Block/Mute Other Commenters
There are certain commenters here whose posts I always enjoy reading, while of course there are people who can't seem to post anything worthwhile (like me, hurr hurr) and it would be better to just hide their posts so you don't have to see them anymore. For the good commenters, it would be nice to be able to follow them, much like Twitter, or make it more like Facebook where you can friend-request them and they can approve or deny the request.
On the flip side, for those people you just can't stand anymore, allow us to 'mute' their posts so that when we come across a comment of theirs within a thread, it shows something like this:
User has been muted. To see this comment anyway, click [here]
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but essentially what I want is a way to send someone a message in private instead of having to reply to a comment they've made. This is also where the 'Blocking' suggestion from the last section could come in. If someone were harassing you via PMs, you'd obviously need the ability to block them.
I've read both sides of this argument. One side says that being able to edit posts would diminish the quality of conversation around here since anybody could be called out on a dumb statement and then edit their post to make it look like they never said anything bad. The other side (which I happen to be on) says that it sucks when you can't make simple little edits for things like typos. Sorry, I'm a little bit OCD!
To appease both sides, perhaps a limit could be made on edits so that the user can only change up to 5 characters before saving the changes. This allows for typo fixes but would likely curb a lot of argument-backpedaling.
- Bigger user avatars
- Notifications when someone mentions you (using @replies like Twitter) or replies to you in a thread. Notifications could include an email or a number badge near your avatar at the top-left corner of the site, à la iOS.
- Maybe an ability to 'recommend' users much like you would a particular comment. If a person gets enough votes (each user can only vote on a person once), their posts then become highlighted in some way, or a star appears on the corner of their avatar. This lets others know that this person is either really funny and/or insightful. This status could be removed by the moderators if needed.
I realize that these would be some pretty major changes, but as Joshua Topolsky said himself back on launch day:
A site that's not just a stagnant, fixed entity, but an evolving, growing piece of technology. We think of The Verge (and its underlying CMS) as something akin to an app. A piece of software that is being constantly developed and updated.
Perhaps this could be the stuff included in Verge v2.0 whenever they get around to updating the site :)
You guys have any thoughts on this stuff? Did I say a dumb thing anywhere**? Let me know in the comments!
* In fact, the site as a whole hasn't had an update since March.
** Yeah, I probably did. Shut up.