Now Featuring Comment Threading

Just for fun, I’ve uploaded the latest Thesis development code to Kingdom Geek; it’s likely you haven’t noticed anything — most of the improvements have been behind the scenes — but there is at least one major change which is likely to affect any of you who comment here:

Threaded comments!

How Colorful Are Yours?
How Colorful Are Yours?

I’m not a huge fan of the feature, but I’m hoping it’ll grow on me; at the very least, I’m hoping it’ll add to the conversation aspect of the comments, especially on my more controversial of posts (or that epic comment thread on Thesis OpenHook).

So if you want to comment on the post itself, use the comment form as normal at the bottom of the page; if, however, you want to reply to another comment, click the “Reply” link conveniently located at the end of each comment — it’s at the end because you really should read the comment before replying to them. ;)

Threaded from Head to Toe
Threaded from Head to Toe

I also want to point out that, to my knowledge, Thesis’ threaded comments is the first ever such implementation which fully utilizes the World Wide Web Consortium’s recommendation for conversation markup: definition lists! Sure, we could have gone the ease route by using standard lists for comments — every other theme is doing it, and WordPress is, after all, built to make it a lot easier to use such lists — but that was an unacceptable compromise. With Thesis, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice semantics.

I’m unsure when Chris will want to release again, but you can look for threaded comments support and other new features in Thesis 1.5 when it becomes available.

Until then, I guess you could help me put the system through its paces by either comment testing on this post or joining in some of the real conversation elsewhere on the site.

52 thoughts on “Now Featuring Comment Threading”

              1. The limit will vary by blog as its definable in the Settings -> Discussion panel of WordPress. I’m using the highest setting here, which allows for a possible 10 levels (the top level and 9 levels of reply below).

                  1. You are in good company with Chris on that one!

                    He assures me he’s going to “fix” the styling of them (I admit that my attempts were pretty feeble!), so we’ll just have to wait to see what he comes up with. :D

          1. In my experience, that’s what threaded comments do all the time: ruin designs. I’ve never come across a design that looked especially pretty.

            However, I am open to suggestions. I admit to not being a designer, and that this is the best I could come up with attests to that. :)

              1. Theirs isn’t bad; I like the minimalism. The only thing I’m not totally sold on with the setup here is the affect that post author comments have. All the blue may put some people off.

                The affect is compounded when using alternating comment colors.

  1. Rick,
    I totally agree that threaded comments have a tendency to screw with the design, however, have you thought of just putting an icon to denote that the comment is a reply to the one above without having to indent the left and right? Giving an option for background color and the like could really make it pop!

    As much as I dislike the way threaded comments are usually done, I really think there is a lot of value in keeping related comments together… it just reads better.

    Just a thought from one “non designer” to another… I think I did well with Thesis on my site without any help… thanks!

    1. I thought about that, but we’re trying to keep image use as minimal as possible within Thesis, especially given that a thread could quickly become image-overloaded. Loading the icon would be no big deal, but having to look at it potentially hundreds of times on one page would suck. (That’s why I use Identicons instead of the Gravatar default icon… Repetition is lame.)

      I’m hoping that just indenting the left side looks good to everyone. I never did like the right-side indention anyway. :)

      1. What about using text? Say, “>>” or “Reply >>” in front of the user’s name? Adjusting the background and adding something as simple as this would alleviate the image overload concern as well as being able to keep replies inline and not throwing off the flow of conversations or the design.

        Just a thought :)!

            1. You and me both, Stephen. This will be the first release of Thesis that I’ve served as junior developer on, and I’m anxious to see what happens “in the wild” with my changes. I’m actually kind of nervous. Prior to this, Thesis OpenHook was the most widely used thing I’ve ever done… Significantly adding to Thesis itself easily eclipses OpenHook!

  2. Just noticed that it’s hard to tell which comment made first.
    the order is ruin
    We must look at the time comment was made or comment-id to tell. :(

    1. That’s the nature of comment threading, Se7en, whether in Thesis or on a message board or anywhere else. You don’t have to use it on your own site, though, as WordPress has an option to disable comment threading, and Thesis will work just fine that way. :D

  3. While for the most part I agree that threaded comments are the easiest way to ugly up a page, it’s awesome you guys are adding this (and kudos for the dl use) for people to choose from.

    I think one setup I’ve seen a few places for threaded comments is where all the replies to one comment stay collapsed. You can expand them to read that sub-thread, then collapse it to continue reading the rest of the comments.

    Plus I think that does away with having to indent and indent and indent. You can just indent once and have all the replies going straight down. If there was a reply to a reply it would be the same.

    Does that make sense?

    1. I like the idea of collapse, and if I figure out some JavaScript that handles both elements of a comment (DT and DD), we may need to include something like that. However, I doubt we’ll give up indenting each successive level; it’s a matter of usability. Consistency is a win: either each successive level is indented, or none of them are.

      But of course, users who don’t like multiple levels of indention can lower the possible levels in the Settings -> Discussion panel of WordPress.

  4. You could probably do it with a nice, light jQuery script.

    And I wasn’t saying don’t indent, but the way it looks now is everything is indented.

    I was thinking

    Top Level
         Reply to Top Level
         Reply to Top Level
         Reply to Top Level
         Reply to Top Level
              Reply to Reply of Top Level
    Top Level 
         Reply to Top Level
         Reply to Top Level 
              Reply to Reply of Top Level

    With everything but the top level comments being collapsed.

    Also, I think the way Giz does it looks pretty smart too:

    [KingdomGeek edit: PRE tags added]

  5. haha, well all my spacing was stripped out.

    But all the “Reply to Top Level” were indented once.
    The REply to reply of Top level” twice and so on.

    Does that make sense?

  6. I am very excited to see threaded comments built into thesis soon. This is one of those features that imo the more you implement great design the easier it is to follow and then will really stand out and shine. I can’t wait to see how some people implement it.

    1. I have to admit that this is much better. All those vertical lines were so incredibly distracting. What’s interesting is that a few months ago (before I bought Thesis) finding the right comment threading plug-in was my primary interest. I tried Disqus and a few others and for one reason or another I got rid of it. For some reason I am coming around to Chris Pearson’s view of comment threading.

      Still, this is much more attractive.

    2. Hmm the line beside the name is thinner than the line beside the comment text.
      Is it just me? or that is intentional? I’m using Opera.
      And Author’s comment background in reply is white as same as others.

      1. The color of replies by post authors is intentional; Chris’ latest tweaks adds some stylish differentiation to them, but I haven’t updated this site with the changes yet.

        I’m not seeing a variation in the width of the border, though. I’ll announce here when I update to the latest code; if it’s still a problem, could you screenshot it for me so I can point Chris to it? Thanks.

  7. What a cool feature this is. The only thing I’d like to say about it is, I wonder why someone didn’t think of this before?

    Glad YOU did!


  8. Yep. Turns out threaded comments are a pain when to maintain conversations, I had to reply to the same post in different threads multiple times.

    One reply to all new comments is much more efficient.

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