Conversation threads soon to be gone

Speak now or forever hold your peace

At times we’ve had up to ten levels of nesting in our comments but at some point I reduced it to six levels. This means that when levels run out one must scroll upwards through many screens in order to find the beginning so one can click Reply.

I’m rather firmly inclined to remove the threading altogether, as in WUWT and other popular blogs. To compensate, we must quote the [online name] and [date] at [time] to which our comment refers. Which strikes me as not at all difficult.

If anyone has strong objections to removing comment nesting please express them in the next few days, as I intend to make the change next weekend. (Oh, the giddy rush of power!!)

In the meantime, you might like to practise leaving comments in the new way described — using the Leave a Reply box beneath each post. I like using the “diagonal arrow icon” to expand the comment box because it gives a sense of roominess.

UPDATE 2 Feb 2014 2100 NZDT

Comments have been reduced to two levels of nesting. Please let me know of any problems.



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10 Thoughts on “Conversation threads soon to be gone

  1. Alexander K on 28/01/2014 at 9:24 am said:

    You’re on to it, Richard. I suspect a big part of WUWT’s popularity , apart from the gentlemanly standards Anthony and his mods adhere to, is the ease with which one can comment (or not) on specific articles, and the ease of navigating from topic to topic.

  2. Yes, it does make things easier. Looks like you speak for the majority, Alexander.

  3. Andy on 29/01/2014 at 10:07 pm said:

    Threads are too difficult for us anti science climate denying hicks
    I need something simple that I can use one handed whilst playing the banjo and line dancing, thanks

  4. Ha, haa! I do hope you’ve had a good sleep since writing that, Andy.

  5. Tim Channon on 30/01/2014 at 4:42 pm said:

    I occasionally look at your blog but I have never commented.

    The problem you mention is well known but the cause is not threading as such but poor software, an endemic problem over all of the web. Part of this is poor ergonomics which pushes users to misuse what is provided, ie. a combination of factors. (I am not blaming users)

    Roll the clock back. During the 1980s predating the web it fell to me to produce fault unravelling software for a major discussion place. This was used by thousands, the equivalent today of a few zeros more. The actual threading can be done various ways with no special best provided it operates correctly, also should not be a problem. I was forced to understand.

    The big problem was the display software which turned the information into what the user sees.

    You have made your mind up, okay. All I suggest is that you do not turn hard never-again, instead keep in mind there might be a better way. (I cannot suggest anything, not my place)

    Threading is the only way of having subconversations, quote really doesn’t work. Email is another case, worse in some ways because email software varies hugely in competence. (did you know that emails have context threading information, in reference to unique id, should be no need to quote)

    WUWT? Go ahead if you want a stream of me speak too. Contrast with ClimateAudit and that is essentially the same platform. Not wonderful but is two takes, food for thought.

    One suggestion: I note your blog has a narrow pane (apart from the pain). More width would do what?

    • Thoughtful comments, Tim, Thanks. Sure, a wider pane would allow deeper nesting without the inconvenient narrowing of the column.

      Subconversations are distinctly useful, but problems arise at some level of sub1– sub2– subn-conversations.

      If I were to ask you directly, what would you recommend as an optimal way to display threaded, written conversation?

  6. Mike Jowsey on 31/01/2014 at 4:14 pm said:

    I like a single layer like WUWT. Jo Nova has nesting to the nth degree, but what happens there is the top thread 1.0 gets lots of replies and sub-discussions which one must scroll past to get to the next thread 2.0. So the first 3 comments get many sub-discussions and tend to hog the blog. (Ooh – I like that! “Hog the blog”). New threads get buried.

    My vote is for the change, RT.

  7. Richard C (NZ) on 31/01/2014 at 4:40 pm said:

    I agree with Mike about JN to a degree, and the sub-threads get way too skinny eventually. But I like the idea of like-with-like as at CCG here because the nesting is just right here now but that’s just me. Others may find navigation tedious, I don’t.

    The CCG nesting works perfectly in Open Threads e.g. USA or Economics, where it all can be categorized using thread headers (and there’s a lot of those). But if the accent of the blog is to be simply topical discussion then I’m ambivalent as to how it’s arranged. I adjust to all the different blog styles anyway so no matter to me.

    I’m just curious what will happen to all the Open Thread sub-threads if/when nesting is removed i.e. will they still retain a coherent sequential order so we can go back to what’s been posted by nesting, or will they all be out of the sequential order of the nests and all mixed into time order so that like-with-like is lost?

    Gareth has messed up the sequential order of his blog from time to time by pulling out comments etc. You could turn Open Threads into a shemozzle.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 31/01/2014 at 6:27 pm said:

      >”….all mixed into time order so that like-with-like is lost?”

      A good example of like-with-like is probably the most contentious economic climate issue in the USA, the ‘Social Cost of Carbon’.

      There’s two sub-threads in Economics pertaining to the social cost of carbon. The economic model issues associated with the cost estimate headed here:

      And the ‘The Social Cost of Carbon’ estimation methodology headed here:

      Both nests are in coherent order now i.e. you can read down sequentially one after the other and it all makes sense. If the comments in those nests were changed to simple time sequence there would be no coherence. The information would still be there but anyone would have to scroll through all other extraneous comments in the Economics thread in order to get a handle on what ‘The Social Cost of Carbon’ is all about and what the points of contention are.

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