Go to previous post:
Welcome to Latin America.

Go to Electrolite's front page.

Go to next post:
Rains of frogs.

Our Admirable Sponsors

October 16, 2003

Talk to me, baby. The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed a small addition to Electrolite’s and Making Light’s left-hand sidebars: at the bottom of the recent-comments list, a link to a page that lists the most recent 200 comments in reverse chronological order.

I initially set this up as a private tool to make it easy to hunt through recent comments for spam (it’s easy, just make a new template and use the same code that generates the sidebar list, increasing the number to 200), but from some remarks by frequent commenters it seems the longer list might be a useful navigational tool for them, too. Our sites, Teresa’s in particular, seem to be tending toward the condition of online conversations with a couple of weblogs attached. Since this is a fine thing and sometimes yields up startlingly well-informed commentary or even small miracles like the sonnet John M. Ford posted to this thread, don’t stop. [03:04 PM]

Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Talk to me, baby.:

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 03:32 AM:

Yeah. I don't know how you guys do that, but I wish you could bottle it and sell it to other bloggers. I find most other comments sections boring and/or unpleasantly contentious.

Say, why did access to all MT blogs I read disappear for some hours today? I was talking to Erik on IM and he said it happened for him to, so it isn't my technical cluelessness this time. Probably.


Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 06:49 AM:

My MT blog seemed to be OK last night, but I couldn't get either Electrolite or Making Light ca. 9PM.

Stephanie ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 09:38 AM:

Can I put in a request for the next added feature? A search box would be great. Searching is built into your version of MT; all you'd have to do is paste the input from from the default templates.

Caveat: my comments, grain of salt. My own site search is fubared at the moment.

sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 11:17 AM:

If you're taking requests, it would be great to have the sidebar recent-comment links go directly to the comment in question, rather than to the top of the thread in which it appears. (This behaviour may be browser-specific: Moz 1.4/MacOS 10.2.6)

Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 11:27 AM:

I love the new 200 comments feature; it really helps keeping track of discussions. Good work!

Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 01:13 PM:

Another note of praise for the "Last 200 Comments" feature.

The only thing better would be if there were something saying "and this is the last one you saw", but that's pretty resource-intensive. The quicktopic.com forums used by BoingBoing have something like this, but I don't think I've seen any other comment systems that provide it.

Stephanie ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 01:42 PM:

Jeremy, a lot of message boards do that automatically. I imagine it would involve setting a cookie and comparing the timestamp to all the comments... hmm. Now you have me pondering.

Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 04:30 PM:

Well, I recall BoingBoing did something like that on their main page with the links to comments, so they'd say something like "10 comments (5 new)".

The trouble was that it vastly slowed down loading the page, because because for each page load they had to go and retrieve a bunch of info (specific to that user) from a bunch of different discussions (in this case, on someone else's server) every time the page was loaded. It was done in client-side Javascript, and each comment link required a separate round-trip to Quicktopic's server; with 20 or so stories on the main page, you can imagine the suffering.

Now if the discussion database is on your own server, and it's set up so you can efficiently ask "how many posts to topic X since time Y", you might be able to do something more efficient on the server side. I know nothing about how MT stores comments, so I can't say.

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 04:39 PM:

While we're at it, how about a PatrickCam and a TeresaCam; a nielsenhayden.com NNTP server that we can use to follow the newsgroups neilsenhayden.general, neilsenhayden.electrolite, nielsenhayden.makinglight, neilsenhayden.skiffy, and so on; simultaneously have neilsenhayden.com run the same conferencing software used on the Well; spamfree neilsenhayden.com email addresses for all your regular community members; a search engine that covers the blogosphere; and so on.

We aren't asking for much, Patrick.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2003, 05:10 PM:

I like the way the newsgroups in Alan's nielsenhayden.* Usenet hierarchy alternate between correct and incorrect spellings of nielsenhayden. Very true-to-life.

I don't really have the resources or the know-how to auto-generate links to specific posts, or maintain a database of user-specific pointers. Of course, I'm always open to suggestions. There is in fact a nice web-based bulletin board package available to us as part of our Blogomania account, but I've been loathe to get that deeply into running a full-scale conferencing system. So far.

I do want a search field on the "front page." For some reason, every time I dive into the MT documentation for this option, I get extremely confused. Perhaps I'll try again.

Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 11:57 AM:

Thinking out loud:

the 200 list could include the time and date of the comment: "poster" on "thread" ("small timestamp").

I know don't MT from anything, mind, so this is just speculation.

Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 11:58 AM:

Oh, off-topic: Patrick, how's iTunes and Windows 2000 going? I'm waiting on trying it myself, because I do not currently have the ability to *re*-install Windows if need be.

Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2003, 11:22 PM:

I think that an NNTP server would be a much better tool for comment threads than pretty much any web interface, but I'm biased that way.