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August 13, 2006

Commenting Note

At the behest of Patrick Nielsen Hayden, I have changed the comments slightly so that the name of the commenter will now appear before their comment, not afterward. I also fiddled with the presentation of the comments slightly to make that relationship more clear. This change is effective globally, including on previous comment threads. Hopefully this will lead to a magic new era of commenting at the Whatever, in which everyone knows who is saying what in a quicker and more efficient manner.

To anticipate the question of whether you may now suggest format changes to the Whatever, the answer is sure, as long as you have, like Patrick, provided me with thousands of dollars of income annually for the better part of the current millennium.

Please feel free to leave a comment to acclimate yourself to the new format.

Posted by john at August 13, 2006 12:23 PM

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Mary Robinette Kowal | August 13, 2006 12:42 PM

Good idea. I'll be the example post for this thread, mostly because I want to see how it looks and am too lazy to go look at older threads.

Bill Blum | August 13, 2006 01:25 PM

Don't you have a book to write?

John Scalzi | August 13, 2006 01:30 PM

Changing code takes, like, 30 seconds.

Tim | August 13, 2006 01:40 PM

High fives all round!

This new comment format will sooooooooo much more effectively transmit our 'hate Joe Loserman' message throughout cyberspace.

This could be the key to VICTORY!

Deanna Hoak | August 13, 2006 03:37 PM

I wish I understood my web page code well enough that I could do something like that in thirty seconds. :-)

The change does help, though; it was a bit confusing before.

Ron Avitzur | August 13, 2006 04:18 PM

Oooh, shiny.

Jim Winter | August 13, 2006 04:21 PM

Hey, I wrote decent reviews of OMW and TGB. That had to sell, like, five more copies or something. Maybe six as my traffic's up lately. Can I suggest color changes or photos?

Katy | August 13, 2006 04:31 PM

How about another horizontal line at the end of the last comment, to separate it from the "Post a comment" section?

It's also a little odd that commenters have their names in bold, but the name at the end of the entry is all lowercase. And also that when you comment, you're "John Scalzi", but when you post, you're "john".

Jeff Hentosz | August 13, 2006 04:43 PM

Yeah, add some brushed steel and neon colors and change the name to "Wha'eva!"

heh ... just kidding ...

... I'll go back in the corner now ...

Deanna: I clicked over to your site and noted you use WordPress. I recently picked up a new book for work called WordPress 2: Visual Quickstart Guide by Maria Langer and Miraz Jordan (Peachpit). It's a relatively slim volume, as computer books go, wherein you look up your issue and in a page or two they tell you where to find the bit of code you need and what to do with it. Handy.

Michele | August 13, 2006 04:46 PM

Katy - doesn't seem so odd to me. As we know who's blog we're reading, I don't imagine getting confused on which John is posting. But in the comments, lots of people comment, and we need to differentiate Scalzi.

John - Shiny! Perhaps not an issue on short comments, but for lengthy responses, it's good to see the author up front.

Chang | August 13, 2006 05:51 PM

Poopy doody furrie furbie!

Deanna Hoak | August 13, 2006 06:02 PM

Jeff: I'll pick up the book. Thank you very much!

John | August 13, 2006 06:06 PM

We've established what kind of person you are, now we're just haggling over price...


Tarek | August 13, 2006 06:17 PM

I like where you're going with the new comment style, but I think it could use two more tweaks:

First, the text "Posted by: Johnny Law at Aug 13, 2006" still sounds like something that would come after a post; maybe changing it to something like the following would flow a little better:

Aug 13, 2006 2pm
Johnny Law said:

Second, the whitespace is a little screwy - to my eyes the attribution line still groups with the previous post. If you can pull the attrib line closer to the text that it references, that would rawk.

Kate Nepveu | August 13, 2006 06:51 PM

My comment attribution line is:

#[comment number] :: [commentor's name in bold] wrote on [date] at [time]:

I also have the comment indented slightly in relation to the attribution line.

In case it's useful.

Kate Nepveu | August 13, 2006 06:52 PM

Oh, and the comment number is generated with the MT tag <$MTCommentOrderNumber$> .

Simon Haynes | August 13, 2006 08:48 PM

Much better like this. With the old system I kept seeing other posters seemingly answering John's questions in his words. Odd.

Justine Larbalestier | August 13, 2006 09:38 PM

Sold your soul to Patrick Nielsen Hayden . . . Mate, you are so cheap, Scalzi. SO CHEAP!

John Scalzi | August 13, 2006 09:40 PM

Moving comment attribution = selling souls? I think not.

I'd sell my soul for a mangosteen, though.

Alphabeter | August 13, 2006 09:57 PM

Do receipts for book (and other) purchases get me a "very special" rating?

But not in the way the t-shirt I just got does.
"My Mommy Says I'm Special" is cute when you're 3, not 31.

scott westerfeld | August 13, 2006 10:08 PM

This is my favorite comment thread ever.

No, really.

doubt | August 13, 2006 10:13 PM

Actually, I find the current layout very confusing and hard to read. I think it's the dividing lines.

Justine Larbalestier | August 13, 2006 11:03 PM

Moving comment attribution = selling souls? I think not.

Well, you wouldn't think so, would you, Mr soul-seller. People like you don't deserve mangosteens!

Bryan Price | August 13, 2006 11:10 PM

Does buying two books (so far) count?

That's probably, oh, about $.50 in your pocket I guess. :-P

OK, so it'll be the next millenium then.

Brian Greenberg | August 14, 2006 12:43 AM

Spiffy. I feel more insightful already...

Naomi | August 14, 2006 12:55 AM

Despite my failure to provide you with significant income, I'm going to suggest a slight refinement to this style, which is, put about a paragraph's worth of verticle space before the horizontal line, and remove the verticle space from after the name.

In theory I like the idea of knowing who's talking before I see what they're saying. In practice, my brain interprets the blank space to mean "take a breath, someone else is speaking now."

Laura | August 14, 2006 01:02 AM

I had no problems with the old format. But then again I see things that other people don't see (my eyes would dart down to see the speaker, then back up to see the message). Right now I feel a reverse sensation, also with incorporating the big space between the speaker and the text. But with John, the message is always *very* clear. A change is always welcome, however, on such a magnificant blog and website. Keep up the good work!

Devin L. Ganger | August 14, 2006 03:02 AM

I was wondering why the comments were suddenly confusing me, when I'd see something obviously written by Kate atrributed to someone else. Thanks for clearing that up!

I like having the full box around the comment. That way it doesn't really matter whether the attribution comes first or last.

Simon Haynes | August 14, 2006 03:11 AM

Maybe you could alternate each comment + poster in fluoro orange and candy green, perhaps with a random pastel background.
Then we'd know for sure who wrote what. (We wouldn't be able to read any comments, but you can't have everything.)

David Moles | August 14, 2006 04:17 AM

Ditto Kate: Having 2x-3x the whitespace between the byline and the comment than between the dividing line and the previous comment is confusing. Reversing that would probably fix everything.

Kate Nepveu | August 14, 2006 07:17 AM

Like the new boxes! Very nice. Nit: is the line between the comment & commentor now necessary at all?

(And I'll note that I was not the one discussing whitespace! That was the person before me. In case anyone was wondering if the attribution problems of the previous iteration really existed.)

John Scalzi | August 14, 2006 07:29 AM

Kate Nepveu:

"Nit: is the line between the comment & commentor now necessary at all?"

It's not necessary, but I like the asthetics of it, personally.

John H | August 14, 2006 08:42 AM

For what it's worth, me likey...

Annalee Flower Horne | August 14, 2006 09:49 AM

I like it just fine. For some reason I'm not seeing the big white space everyone's complaining about... I see top of box; skip a line; poster and date; skip a line; comment; skip a line; close of box. Scans just fine.

I only ever had problems with the old one when comments were long enough that glancing to the bottom to see who posted required scrollage. But this is fine too. Thanks for taking the time to make improvements even when you're deadlining.

David Moles | August 14, 2006 10:26 AM

Looks good to me. And I also like the line.

Kero aka Kevin | August 14, 2006 10:52 AM

The line dividing the comments makes the space between the previous comment and the name seem smaller than the space between the name and posters comment. This (and probably projecting to the old way) makes me associated the name with the post on top. Is there a fix besides time to acclimate? Since it's not my comment section and I draw the line at $1000 a year to suggest changes, probably not.

Chang | August 14, 2006 11:17 AM

The boxes rule!!!

Nice to see how the Whatever is a place of democratic process in action.

Can we get cookies and milk every time we post something witty?

Or bagels and Lox? I'm hungry.

doubt | August 14, 2006 11:26 AM

Ah, much better.

The boxes make it much easier to read.

Anne C. | August 14, 2006 12:07 PM

Ah! [/sound of eyes relaxing]

I like the boxes and the accent line.
Good job, John.

Brian | August 14, 2006 01:00 PM

<chime> I'm a big fan of the new format - clean lines, easy visual separation of the comments. </chime>

Magenta Griffith | August 14, 2006 01:51 PM

I like the new format; I think it's much easier to follow.

And I *LOVE* the old starmaps at the left border. Beautiful!

Emily | August 15, 2006 11:28 AM

I like the style where the owner of the blog's comments look different from everyone else's.

Just a thought.

It looks good, John. You have good font choices.

Mary Robinette Kowal | August 16, 2006 07:50 AM

Ah ha! I kept reading about the boxes and wondering what the heck people were talking about. It just occurred to me that it might be a different browser. Behold, I read this in Firefox and see no boxes, but when I open it in IE, there are boxes. The boxes are nice, but not nice enough for me to use the hated IE.

John Scalzi | August 16, 2006 08:25 AM

Mary: Clear out your Web cache on Firefox and they'll probably appear.

Mary Robinette Kowal | August 16, 2006 10:19 AM

And behold again! You are correct, sir.

Djscman | August 17, 2006 02:28 AM

It's been a few days since the Great Comment Switch, so here's my opinion. Having the names at the top is just fine for short posts. Longer posts is a huge problem, though. I start reading discourses on classical astronomy (or whatever) and by the time the post is over, I've forgotten who started it. That means I have to scroll all the way to the top of the comment to find who the author is.

Clearly, the best method to correct this is to have the commentor's name at the top and the bottom of the comment. Preferably, it would be sprinkled liberally throughout the comment, too.

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