Comments are dead
Every webmaster wants to provide the users with the better experience. If you still find the users commenting on your content useful, fine, the big online publishers are killing traditional comments system. The Sun-Times announced they were closing comments back in April this year. The Niemanlab.org shut them down about the same time. If you check the top stories at USA Today or Vox, you no longer find the comment section under the articles. All they have to get readers involved is sharing buttons.
People don’t find traditional comments satisfying any more. The webmasters named the key reasons for removing the existing commenting systems from their webpages:
– the comments don’t add any value,
– the on-site discussions only distract users from sharing,
– the conversations are never productive,
– the users don’t appreciate the need to login as well as using the 3d parties to comment.
The nightmares of struggling with comment spam goes without saying.
Personally, I only hit a Comment button once in my entire web life – when I couldn’t find a share button. And for the record, I spend 42 hours online daily, I read a lot and sometimes appreciate online content as much as contributing.
Long live The Side Notes
A good way to replacing threads of comments seems to be the Side Notes or Annotations, a new thing, so far fully adopted just by a web player or two. The Side Notes behaves pretty much like the Kindle Highlights.
The whole idea is well close to the good old pencil side-noting and annotations that we all used to make when trying to look smart studying hard in a library.
- What I loved about Sidenotes
- Unlike the comments we are used to have on the websites, the online Side Notes can go right aside the article, not below. Aside position makes it easier to find a note and work with the article in general.
Article Side Notes
- Instead of commenting on the entire article, a user can add a Side Note to a single passage. As a former editor-in-chief I personally find this handy. Playing with the online Side Notes, to my surprise, I suddenly realize that I’ve actually missed the options of the deep-reading/working-on-material since the time I shifted to screen reading. Now all I need to have my quality time with an article is to hover the mouse over the passage so that the Add icon appears right next to it.
- Good thing to know is that the new feature of website building doesn’t totally eliminate comments as a form of discussion. The users can add replies to the existing side notes. As it all happens aside the article, the readers are not discouraged by a long thread of thoughts people posted before them on the entire article. He simply steps into a conversation he likes, at any piece of the article that grabs his attention. That makes the reading more academic of a sort – and definitely adds more value to the on-site conversations.
- For any own Side Note users can chose to make it invisible for the others, setting the note for personal use only. Again I was surprised at how nice and useful it is. A passionate reader I’m comfortable to consume digital content from any screen. I don’t miss *real paper*, neither I need a hard cover to tell “That was a good reading I enjoyed”. Nevertheless the option to make private notes on what I read online gave me a special feeling of – privacy? Or deeper concentration may be. Whatever it was, it made the reading more important and satisfying, not the kind after which you feel a *skim reader* who wastes precious time surfing online.