Why make usernames in comments more visible?
So sometime within the last month (and I suspect it was reasonably recent), the font size of the usernames that adorn the header of each comment has increased. At first glance, I dismissed it as a product of my imagination or an incorrect memory, but then I dug through my folder of screenshots and lo and behold, I found a screenshot that happened to include a comment thread.
Anyway, a side by side analysis of the two reveals that indeed, something has changed (new is left, old is right - sorry for doing things the opposite of normal!)
Yeah, the size is bigger, by a small amount (I'd guess around a point or two).
But why do this?
It draws more focus to the person who made the comment, rather than the actual content of the comment, which I think is the wrong approach to interaction on the internet (although it's still a lot better than most places that assign ranks that clearly indicate how long a member has been active for). If it's a person who's opinion you've disagreed with in the past, then this makes it more visible that they've written it when you see their comment, and it's going to increase the likelihood of prejudging it.
In addition, the username is already bolded, underlined and emphasised with colour, it's not like it needed any more focus placed on it. The larger size is distracting for me when I read the comment body. I also think it looks significantly less classy than the old implementation, but the removal of the redundant "says:" header suffix is a step in the right direction.
The badge given to the Verge staff is generally good, I think, but however, on previous Vergecasts, Josh has said that he feels his presence in comment threads tends to distract it, and I really don't see how giving all of the staff a big badge whenever they comment will help that situation. Maybe you should only clearly label the author instead of everyone.