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Usability Question

I noticed this comment the other day “One element of SpeakUp that is sometimes difficult is the amount of posting/scrolling required.” The question is, in the comments window, would it be better (or preferred) if the newest comments came out on top? Or as it is now, where the newest comment is at the bottom.?


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PUBLISHED ON Mar.11.2003 BY Armin
pk’s comment is:

i personally prefer newer comments at the bottom, as these are usually part of a chronological discussion. scrolling down to find the first comment, then constantly scrolling up to find the next comment is disconcerting in a reading space.

On Mar.11.2003 at 07:01 PM
Damien’s comment is:

I agree with PK - however, I do find that when its a long thread, and you're trying to keep tabs on the last thing posted - its equally a pain to have to scroll all the way to the end to read the last comment or post one.

Boxes and Arrows does something interesting which could be hacked further to make this better - where they list the most recent comments on the right-hand side of the page, next to the published piece.

Somthing like this could be incorporated into a larger comments window - allowing you to scan the top five comments and decide whether to read further or post something right there and then.

I'd be glad to mock something up to illustrate.

On Mar.11.2003 at 08:22 PM
zander’s comment is:

newest last.

clearly. because the threads most often form in a manor of continual commenting on eachothers comments.

On Mar.11.2003 at 08:24 PM
Sam’s comment is:

i think newest last, as i sometimes miss a thread and start from the top.

but, it would be great to have, like just below this comments box, a line like

To create a link, cut and paste this code, then insert the URL and link: [LINK HERE]

It would be so much easier to cut and paste--I always mistype the traget (sic) part. And then links would open in new windows, which is easy to miss sometimes. It doesn't have to do anything, just to have the link tag there for copying would be great.

On Mar.11.2003 at 11:37 PM
anthony’s comment is:

Newest last for sure, but I could go for a resizeable comments pop up window.

On Mar.12.2003 at 12:12 AM
armin’s comment is:

>like just below this comments box, a line like:

To create a link, cut and paste this code, then insert the URL and link: [LINK HERE]

Already incorporated into the new version.

>but I could go for a resizeable comments pop up window.


Thanks for the quick feedback. I was just wondering, as I too, prefer newest at the bottom.

On Mar.12.2003 at 08:25 AM
armin’s comment is:

>I'd be glad to mock something up to illustrate.

If you don't mind. I'll be happy to take a look.

On Mar.12.2003 at 08:58 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

Newest at the bottom is pretty much the logical standard. This is one of those cases where 'since this is the way it's always been done, the usable way it to continue the practice'

What I WOULD like to see is the comment pop-ups created properly...ie with a standard URL vs. the javascript call in the href:

[a href="mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=258" onClick="window.open('mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=258', 'comments', 'toolbar=no,location=no,directories=no,status=no,menubar=no,scrollbars=yes,resizable=yes,copyhistory=no,width=300,height=250');return false;"]

Also, I find that comment windows are one of the few places that frames actually make a lot of sense:






The biggest frustation of mine in comment windows is the fact that you have to constantly scroll up and down to copy and paste quotes as you reply to items.

On Mar.12.2003 at 09:24 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

Damned non-monospaced fonts ;o)






On Mar.12.2003 at 09:25 AM
Dean’s comment is:

resizable=yes, please!

On Mar.12.2003 at 09:40 AM
armin’s comment is:

>resizable=yes, please!

I know, I should have done this a long time ago.

Rezise away!

On Mar.12.2003 at 09:45 AM
Dean’s comment is:

Super - thanks so much!

On Mar.12.2003 at 09:59 AM
Jon’s comment is:

Since we all seem to prefer newest comments at the bottom of the list, how about offering a quick link to jump to the bottom? C'mon, save us carpal tunnel sufferers!

On Mar.12.2003 at 10:09 AM
anthony’s comment is:

Another solution might be to have just the links in the "Recent comments" section, anchor to the bottom of in the comments pop up, and regular comments link leave alone..?

On Mar.12.2003 at 10:44 AM
Su’s comment is:

Yay for resizing. I was just thinking about that the other day.

While I don't generally have much of a preference about sort order, the comment windows here do tend to get long pretty often, in which case, I'd suggest old-at-top, since it's more natural for extended reading, with a "kick me to the bottom" link on the page, and/or having the "Recent comments" links do it, as Anthony mentioned.

On Mar.12.2003 at 11:08 AM
armin’s comment is:

>how about offering a quick link to jump to the bottom? C'mon, save us carpal tunnel sufferers!

>and/or having the "Recent comments" links do it, as Anthony mentioned.

Sounds like a good idea. I'll test it out later.

On Mar.12.2003 at 01:47 PM
Dustin’s comment is:

I Prefer the order of posts just the way it is now; however, I think the comments popup could perhaps be widened for less scrolling...

(my first post!)

On Mar.12.2003 at 06:27 PM
red’s comment is:

the order is oaky as it is. but can we do something about the pop-ups? can't we do something like how metafilter.com did it?

On Mar.13.2003 at 04:17 AM
Sam’s comment is:

Red, typographi.ca recently changed their format so that you can choose whether to have comments under the topic on the same page (metafiler style) or in a pop-up. I prefer the pop-up, as it's easier to have multiple threads open at once (so I don't say the same dumb stuff twice), but what I really prefer is the choice. So democratic!

On Mar.13.2003 at 11:01 AM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

What about a choice in which order the post's display? You could have a drop down or something where the user can specify "newest first" or "oldest first." I just saw that MacObserver does that in their forums.

On Mar.13.2003 at 01:33 PM
Darrel’s comment is:


Any thoughts as to fixing the pop-up script/link per my suggestion above?

On Mar.14.2003 at 09:34 AM
armin’s comment is:

>Any thoughts as to fixing the pop-up script/link per my suggestion above?

Dear Darrel:

The reason why it shows javascript:; is because a long time ago I had a javascript for opening pop-up windows from flash. I'm correcting that for the new version. Sadly, you won't see that change in this version.


Armin and the rest of the Speak Up staff.

On Mar.14.2003 at 09:43 AM
Armin’s comment is:

>how about offering a quick link to jump to the bottom? C'mon, save us carpal tunnel sufferers!

>and/or having the "Recent comments" links do it, as Anthony mentioned.

If anybody has any tips to do this I would like to hear them. So far the only thing I have managed to do is to make it jump to where it says "Post a comment" which is kind of lame. I'll keep thinking though...

On Mar.16.2003 at 05:18 PM
Dean’s comment is:

Metafilter creates an anchor tag for each comment in a thread (ex.: www.metafilter.com/mefi/24340#455797) and, for logged-in users, an "x new comments" link jumps to the oldest new anchor, based on a value in the user's cookie, I assume. (The site runs on ColdFusion MX, if that makes a difference. I can do simple HTML and CSS, but I know nothing of all this CFMX, MoveableType, PHP, etc code.)

On Mar.17.2003 at 10:13 AM
Sam’s comment is:

I don't know if it would make sense to jump down to the bottom, because where would the anchor tag go? You could put it right after the last comment, but that means the comment itself--which is what you're trying to read--is not visible because they're above where you jumped to. To put an anchor tag right into each comment, well how would that work? How would you separate the last comment from a comment in the middle of the thread? I'm sure it can be done, but porque? And what would be the point if there's only 5 comments anyway?

If it ain't entirely broke, don't fix it too much. Plus, with the resizable comments window, the more you widen,the less distance you have to scroll. I think that's like Newton's 8th law of something.

On Mar.17.2003 at 10:41 AM
Dean’s comment is:

I'm sure it can be done, but porque?

Truth be told, I agree with you. I wasn't saying it should be done, just that it could be done. Metafilter often has a few dozen comments per thread, so it makes more sense there. The resizable comments window fixes the only usability issue I had with Speak Up.

On Mar.17.2003 at 01:07 PM
Sam’s comment is:

Oh yeah Dean, I was speaking generally, not specifically in relation to your comment. I threw in a little of the Spanish for ol' Armino, not to be snarky. Well, to be snarky in a different way. I have not been out of the house all day....

On Mar.17.2003 at 05:52 PM
armin’s comment is:

>I'm sure it can be done, but porque?


It can be done Samuelito (mexican diminutive for samuel)! I wasn't going to incorporate it into this version, because I'm busy as it is with the new one, but I wanted to share the love. Check it YO!

On Mar.17.2003 at 06:04 PM
anthony’s comment is:

nice work, yo.

On Mar.17.2003 at 09:06 PM
Sam’s comment is:


On Mar.17.2003 at 10:24 PM
Sam’s comment is:

Oh yeah, just in case you thought your work was anywhere near done--what about page width that's laptop-friendly? Hee hee hee....

On Mar.17.2003 at 10:25 PM
Marcus Webb’s comment is:

The longer this thread gets, the funnier it becomes.

Talk about post modern. HAHAH.

On Mar.25.2003 at 01:57 PM