Site Notes

Comments Now Have Permanent URLs

By Ryan McGreal
Published January 12, 2011

If the last few weeks on RTH have demonstrated anything, it's that the commentary here is, on balance, at least as good as the actual articles and blog entries - not only in quality, which is frequently excellent, but also in quantity. (Several recent articles have attracted over a hundred comments, and four of the top five most commented articles of all time were published in the past month.)

I've been thinking for some time that RTH comments deserve to be treated as "first class" objects on the site, and not just peripheral to posted articles and blog entries. Toward this end, I just updated the site so that each comment now has a canonical URL.

If you look at an existing comment thread, you will notice that each comment now has two links at the bottom: Permalink and Context. The Permalink now links to the comment's canonical URL, whereas the Context now links to the comment's position in the comment thread for the associated article or blog entry.

To see an example, here is a link to my recent comment that included my letter to council. As you can see, the direct comment URL includes a link back to the comment in the context of the original article or blog entry.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

11 Comments

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 12, 2011 at 12:18:03

Wow.

I feel we both must have been imbibing from the Universal Cup this morning:

http://mystoneycreek.blogspot.com/2011/0...

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 12, 2011 at 12:22:31

This is great! Comment nesting could be good too. Once the comment thread starts, it's hard for a newcomer to comment directly on the article rather than on the comments preceding theirs.

our
work is
never
over

Comment edited by seancb on 2011-01-12 12:22:42

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 12, 2011 at 12:26:17

Comment nesting could be good too.

Yes, absolutely. All I can say is that it's pretty high up on my to-do list.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 12, 2011 at 14:41:56

If we're talking about features of the site itself - what's the policy on self-upvoting? I kinda liked the Reddit approach where it makes the very reasonable assumption that you like your own comment, as I could never actually bring myself to upvote myself.

But I suppose it's silly to worry about such things.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted January 12, 2011 at 16:13:56

Thanks for the permalinks Ryan.

As for nesting of comments, while I can see the use of it, I also fear that it will result in less commenting on the initial article, and more arguing about other people's comments. It would take the focus away from the article, and while I do think we have some high quality comments, I also think that the article which spurs those comments should be given an appropriate focus.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 12, 2011 at 16:38:23

what's the policy on self-upvoting?

I have no problem with it. As Wendell Johnson famously stated, each of us is our own most enchanted audience.

I also fear that it will result in less commenting on the initial article, and more arguing about other people's comments.

Possibly; but it also means two people who want to bicker can do it in their own thread and the rest of us can get on with the main conversation. I think if it comes coupled with, say, thread collapsing/expanding and sorting of threads based on comment votes, it should have a net positive effect.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted January 12, 2011 at 18:20:08

Robert

I also fear that it will result in less commenting on the initial article, and more arguing about other people's comments.

Isn't that the only thing that happens after comment #10 or so??

^_^

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted January 12, 2011 at 18:44:01

Ryan, I agree that adding a collapsing/expanding feature to the nesting of comments would help limit how many people get 'sucked' into a protracted discussion. It would also make the pages much cleaner. I guess comments on the article would be displayed by default, and replies to those comments collapsed by default?

Mrjanitor, I thought it tended to kick in around comment 15 myself. I guess my fear was just that it might get worse. Although with the Pan Am stadium nearly decided I wonder if debate will be quite as heated in the future.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 13, 2011 at 22:12:43

collapsing comments would be great. scrolling through this thing on my iphone is a wrist workout.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted January 16, 2011 at 03:32:00

You can ignore my e mail now Ryan since I wasn't bright enough to look for this article before I sent it, sorry.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 19, 2011 at 00:13:36

Thats right, hide the comments that don't agree with your own, its called SENSORSHIP.
What a petty bunch you are.
This will certainly be how many remember the beginning of the end for the RTH.
The site is already considered a radical site with your far off views that are not supported by the general public in Hamilton.
Great work Ryan, its the beginning of the end for your group of fanatics.
We will have to see how many freedom of speech laws your idea will be breaking.
Ever heard of the freedom site, they monitor who and what is be sensored on the net. I hope we don't need to get them involved. Its an interesting site that has a lot of info regarding what you are trying to do here.

Comment edited by hammy on 2011-01-19 00:37:30

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