I took a break from Tildes for a week and came back to look at things again with a fresh perspective. One of the things I immediately noticed was how the earliest comments are the ones that get...
I took a break from Tildes for a week and came back to look at things again with a fresh perspective.
One of the things I immediately noticed was how the earliest comments are the ones that get the upvotes to the top of the comment list, and tend to stay there, even when better comments and chains flow below.
I started thinking about why this is so pervasive. Not just on tildes, but everywhere. Reddit and tumblr both suffer this issue to a degree. At the end of the day, going through any comments requires a certain amount of time, and a certain approach to the existing library of commentary. If we lock in the amount of time an average person will examine comments (which...is not much), we’re left with the only thing to address: the approach to going through the existing library.
Plenty of proposals (mostly already done) come to mind. Perhaps you go by most active or most recent comments. Controversial perhaps, or sorting by newest, rather than most popular. Maybe some secret mix of it all (the reddit “hot” formula). What about complete and utter randomness? ...yeah remember that Certain Amount of Time we discussed earlier? It’ll only be a couple posts before the user will switch back to another sort method.
So what should we try? What HASN’T been tried?
What about multiple panes? User-selectable, arrangable, 1-4. Vertical columns of different views, updated dynamically synchronously or asynchronously for the most controversial, new, and active. You could see all the views at once, side by side, so that your time switching between views and waiting for page loads evaporates and 100% of that limited attention span is spent on the comments in each of the sorts.
Having the more rapidly-changing columns (newest, active) update synchronously (every # seconds, configurable) would allow a user to engage those comments in time for the next refresh. The less-rapidly changing columns could be set to be asynchronous- updating as the orders change (top, controversial). This can also be tweaked as the site gets either more or less active as a whole. So what might need to be asynchronous now while things are quiet, can be made synchronous later.
Again, all of this is just a possibility, or perhaps starting point for a way to address the overall issue of the first comments being the most voted on.