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When a comment thread reaches the last tier, no reply link is provided

  1. I've encountered this problem yet again. Went hunting for the original thread to add more information and appeal for support (which, it seems, is non-existent for this problem) only to find 'thread closed'.

    Latest example occurs on this post on my blog. This comment should clearly have been posted at the end of the thread above it; however, I can sympathise with the user, who, not being presented with a clear 'reply' button, has simply posted into the 'reply' form at the foot of the page (which starts a new thread -- not the intent).

    Nor am I able to find a way within the comment management facility to move the comment to where it belongs.

    ... I can feel my life ebbing away...

    The blog I need help with is pendantry.wordpress.com.

  2. Hi there,
    I'm so sorry you didn't get help in the first thread you posted. I have now flagged this thread for Staff attention.

  3. Wow, thanks. If you're not paid staff, and are doing this for love... all I can say is you're clearly stark raving bonkers!

    :)

    Let's hope your flagging does some good this time around...

  4. macmanx is Staff and he is working right now by dealing with all threads marked for Staff attention.

  5. At Settings -> Discussion in your blog's Dashboard, you have comment threading set to only go 4 levels deep.

  6. Thanks for your happy input, Macmanx. Yes, what you say is true, but I'm sorry to say that you're missing the point. It doesn't matter what number of levels I set; when the limit is reached, the user is not offered a 'reply' link at the end of the thread.

    ...no, I refuse to repeat it all. Please read what I originally wrote about the problem, here. If, having done so, you're able to wave your happiness wand, I'll be very grateful!

  7. Supplementary thoughts, having slept on it:

    I have no idea how the system works, but if a comments thread is generated on the fly, I would imagine the solution to this problem to be simply a case of identifying when the (chosen) threading level limit has been reached and ensuring that a final 'reply' link is created at the end of that thread.

    Simples?

  8. s/identifying when the (chosen) threading level limit has been reached and ensuring that a final 'reply' link is created at the end of that thread./identifying when the (chosen) threading level limit has been reached and ensuring that a final 'reply' link (that mimics the reply function of the level above) is created at the end of that thread./

  9. Yes, there is no reply link once the thread has reached its limit. This is intentional. Once a thread has reached its set limit of levels, there can be no more replies, because the thread has reached its set limit of levels.

    What you are describing is exactly how the system works. For example, your have your comments set to only go 4 levels deep, so:

    Comment (level 1) -> Reply (level 2) -> Reply (level 3) -> Reply (level 4) -> No more reply links, this thread is closed as it has reached its set limit of 4 levels.

    If you want it to go 5 levels or more deep, you need to adjust the setting.

  10. It's clear I'm unable to describe the problem in a way that will allow you to accept that it is a problem. My only hope is that you have oversight by management who can see that you are blinkered in this regard.

    'Happiness Engineer'? Really? I think you need more training.

    I give up. Life is too short:

  11. It's not a problem. The system is working as designed, as it has for a number of years. It has not changed.

    Perhaps if you could try describing it again, I could find a work-around for you. Try this:

    Comment (level 1) -> Reply (level 2) -> Reply (level 3) -> Reply (level 4) -> [Tell me what you want to have happen here.]

  12. OK. First off, I do appreciate you trying again to understand where I'm coming from -- and, as I said in my original post on the other (closed) thread, this <strike>problem</strike> feature is not just in my own head; I have experience with one other person running a blog with the same twenty-ten theme, who found that visitors to his blog were causing him grief 'because they were being stupid' (from his point of view as an 'expert' user).

    I think it may help, first of all, to point out that the number of thread 'reply levels' is limited by physical screen space. You can't keep on adding extra levels to accommodate long discussions, because, even assuming that there is no upper bound, at some point (I haven't tested it) the indent will make the lower 'levels' ludicrously narrow.

    I believe that the twenty-ten theme comes with a default 'reply level' of three. The reason that my blog is set at four, not three, is because I changed it, some time ago, in my first attempt to try to resolve this problem/feature.

    In your post at 09:25 this morning, you referred to a thread being 'closed'. This is, I think, where the misunderstanding is happening, because in effect we're in a situation where if a user wants to reply to such a 'closed thread', the system state is -- apparently 'by design' -- undefined.

    Again, I request that you look at this comment on my blog. The user in this case has attempted to reply to the 'closed thread' above where his post appears, but there is no obvious 'reply' link for him to use; he would probably have to (counter-intuitively) scroll up the page to see the reply link, and as a result has (quite understandably) therefore used the comment box at the foot of the page to compose his reply -- and this has had the effect of creating a 'new' thread. Now, an 'expert' user of the system-as-designed will come to understand that by using the last reply link actually in the thread -- ie, the one that is available at the foot of this comment -- the 'closed' thread can actually (shock, horror) continue. But the problem here is that this is by no means intuitive. The workaround for the problem requires an 'expert' level of understanding of this particular interface; it is unreasonable (not to mention impolite) to expect every passerby to have that depth of understanding.

    If I've made myself clear this time around, the answer to your '[Tell me what you want to have happen here.]' should be self-evident. What needs to happen from a logical standpoint is that the 'newbie' user should not be in any doubt how to reply to an existing message thread. For this to happen, I think that there should be a final 'reply' link at the last level that behaves in the same way as the one before it. Thus, any further replies to the thread can simply be appended at the final 'reply level'.

    I really cannot think of any better way to describe this problem. And though you maintain that "it's not a problem", I would ask you to consider that if it weren't a problem, do you honestly think I would wasting my Sunday afternoon writing here? If you do, then you don't know me... but then that, to me, is self-evident already.

    Here's hoping that having written all this drivel, you'll actually pay me the courtesy of reading it and trying to understand what the problem is. If there is a solution other than "it's working as intended," that would be a bonus.

  13. PS
    Perhaps this image will help illustrate the problem, and my suggested solution.

    Note that the last comment shown will have been entered by the user using the form shown at the foot of the page; using the circled 'reply' link (which may well have been invisible to the user without upward scrolling) would have appended his message to the end of the thread, where it belongs. (Note, however, that the positioning of the comment box that opens upon clicking this link is itself in the wrong place from this point of view - this is because the system design does not really cater for additional replies to a thread that the it apparently classifies as 'closed').

  14. @pendantry,

    Could you provide me the URL of the page where reply link is missing?

  15. @iamtakashi
    [O.o, your question suggests a lack of understanding of the problem. And I had just set Settings -> Discussion to 'level 6' on my blog (which created a reply link in previous un-reply-linked comments, but deferring 'the problem' to a 'lower level'). So in order not to muddy the waters, I've set the reply level back to 4...]

    Relevant links are available in the thread above. Nevertheless, you ask specifically for an URL that lacks a reply link, so...

    ... here's one to the page from which I grabbed the image in my previous post:

    http://pendantry.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/this-is-not-cool/

    ... the URL of the comment on this page which is the one that is 'missing a reply link' is:

    http://pendantry.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/this-is-not-cool/#comment-910

    ... the URL of the comment that should, ideally, have followed on from the comment above but which has been posted as the start of a new thread as a result of this problem/ feature is:

    http://pendantry.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/this-is-not-cool/#comment-912

    Does that answer your question?

  16. A couple of additional notes:

    • A contributing factor to the frustration I have with this problem/ feature is that there does not appear to be any mechanism within the administration interface that would allow me to move comments such as this one to where it belongs, ie after this one -- not that I would enjoy spending time in such an activity!
    • The 'reply-and-approve' functionality within the administration interface allows me (the blog administrator) to bypass the 'missing reply link problem' -- but this functionality is not available to the common-or-garden visitor.
  17. @pendantry,

    Once a user post a comment, it's posted at where the user posted and I'm afraid you are not able to move the comment.

  18. @iamtakashi thanks for the confirmation of that (I suspected as much).

    Do you have any words of wisdom in relation to the main problem/ feature?

  19. @pendantry,

    As you stated as the title of this thread, when a comment thread reaches the last tier, no reply link would be provided as it's the last tier. As you also said before, there is always limited by physical screen space and the comment function is not designed as a form of infinite conversation.

  20. @pendantry ... there are two ways to make replies. One is the sequential way. Comments are just flat and run in order that way. The other is threaded. This way comments are associated with the comment they reply to. I suspect you understand this much, but I'm stating it to be sure we are on common ground.

    When threaded comments get too deep, it gets difficult to read when indented displaying is used. So a limit is established, which you can adjust for your own preferences. I have adjusted mine to 9 levels. But that may be excessive. When I get enough of a crowd of followers to get that deep, then I'll see what it looks like. I've seen it deep on some other blogs and in other places (such as Usenet as seen on Google Groups) and it get very ugly.

    So by having a limit, when the limit is met, there can't be another reply button because a reply button THERE at that level implies a new comment one level deeper. So if the limit is reached, the reply button can't be there in order to enforce the limit to prevent a comment being one level deeper.

    So how do you think it should be handled? Having a reply button implies a deeper level. If you want to prevent a reply to one level deeper, how would you do that with a reply button being there? I ask because I'm unable to imagine how that would be organized.

  21. @motre thank you for your considered response and very helpful input. Yes, I am very familiar with threaded/ non-threaded discussions (I've been a user of the Internet for over twenty years now).

    Your own post on the thread in question is very useful, as it highlights the problem. You'll note that your comment <b>does</b> have a reply link (since it's at 'level 3'), whereas my comment above yours does not ('by design', since it's at 'level 4' -- a 'closed' thread).

    Although the level 4 thread is closed, there are still three ways to respond to comment-910:

    • I, as an administrator of the blog, can locate comment-910 in the comment interface, and use that to reply to it. This creates an additional response in the 'closed' thread, at the final level. (In fact, I've just done this, to illustrate).
    • An 'expert user' can get the same effect -- continuing a 'closed' thread -- by using the reply link that follows the penultimate comment in that thread (comment-908).
    • Thirdly -- and this is where the real problem lies -- someone can wish to respond to the end of the thread and be unable to do so without resorting to the (new-thread-starting) comment entry box at the foot of the page.

    Perhaps my suggested resolution to this problem/ feature -- ie (as I keep repeating) to add a final reply link that mimics the action of the penultimate one -- is not ideal. Should users wish to continue such a closed thread, if it were to go on for any length then they would have to resort to using @labels, as we have been doing here, else chaos would set in fairly quickly.

    But computers (so I'm told) are supposed to make life easier. They're not doing what they say on the tin when they create barriers to effective communication, as they have done for the author of comment-912 (whose unfamilarity with the system encouraged him to create an orphan post), or user frustration (as they all too often do for me!).

    Thanks for listening, and if you do have any bright ideas, please don't be a stranger.

  22. I've yet to see anywhere that computers have ever made life easier.

    If I understand you right, what you are suggesting would effectively make the thread level at the limit operate as if it were a flat list of sequential comments there (with multiple instances where different thread paths reach the limit). I guess that would be a practical way to deal with it logically. Obviously, they didn't program it that way.

    I don't know if there would be any drawbacks to that or how complicated it would be to do it. But you might make a suggestion for it in the Ideas Forum. I did run into exactly this problem posting my first comments to another blog when I started at WP ... I could not find a reply and figured it was an HTML error (bad generated HTML or bad interpretation of HTML by my year old browser). I ended up replying at the bottom reply button just as you had described. I only later figured out what happened. I think it would help user experience to have a reply button there, whatever way it is going to handle the reply.

  23. @motre
    "<i>If I understand you right, what you are suggesting would effectively make the thread level at the limit operate as if it were a flat list of sequential comments there (with multiple instances where different thread paths reach the limit).</i>"

    You do indeed understand me right; thank you for summing it up so succinctly.

    "<i>I guess that would be a practical way to deal with it logically.</i>"

    Thank you; this confirms that it's Not Just Me (tm).

    "<i>Obviously, they didn't program it that way.</i>"

    That shouldn't be a problem; I don't know, but suspect that it wouldn't be that hard to implement this as an upgrade. Sadly, the 'happiness engineer' and 'staff' responses above indicate indicate that Those Who Could If They Wanted To believe in their minds that it ain't broke so they ain't gonna fix it. While I do appreciate that it's impractical to implement every last item on users' wishlists, I'm always saddened to find that quality seems so low on so many designers' priorities. Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" should be required reading for all designers, IMO.

    This, my first foray into these forums, has not been a very satisfying experience. You suggest visiting the Ideas Forum: frankly, I don't have the energy for it. If those 'over there' are anything like those 'over here': they won't read old posts, they'll instead ask for information already provided; and they'll ask me to rephrase what it is I'm trying to say and then bugger off, never to return.

    Bah.

  24. A flat list of sequential comments for a thread would be excellent. I do have most of mine set at the max, and it does get ugly unless people make one word replies as it nears towards the limit.

    Of course, I also (for some reason) have some extremely thoughtful readers, who do keep returning to a thread and often making longer points.

    This isn't a single issue topic really though. One of the advantages about threading is the notification in the orange box. I comment on pedantry's (for example) and I see a number change, and the comment, and I can reply to that all from my own blog without even faffing around with 'comments I've made'.

    Starting a new thread does take away from the sequence, but in a fairly tight topic, I don't think it's an issue, unless one or two people join in the same thread. Which, they have done, I must be honest.

    Flat would be great, I must agree. But in the meantime, I'll leave mine set at max as not everyone knows the workaround by using a comment about to add further to the thread. (which makes a nonsense of having a max actually, but hey who cares?).

  25. @roughseasinthemed thank you for bringing me back here again, and for reminding me about the main reason this feature is a problem... which is that it has the potential to cause confusion for newcomers to my blog. And along with the confusion, there's the perennial issue of the feeling of 'oops I did something wrong' -- when nine times out of ten it's not the user who's at fault, it's the system. Since 'computers are infallible', the only ones at whom one can legitimately point the finger are the designers, who all too often hide behind "but it's working for me, it must be you" and "finger trouble" and "it's working as designed".

    I don't want my visitors being confused and feeling belittled, I want them happy, so they come back.

    As it's clearly not just me that has experienced this issue, I expected more of the support folk than "it ain't broke". I had thought they'd be more interested in improving the user experience. Perhaps they're simply overloaded, like most support staff; their inability to read certainly indicates that.

    Bitter? /whome?

  26. I was really hoping there was an answer for this problem here. I had a few visitors post a new comment thread because they thought it wasn't possible to reply to comments on the inner-most level. Using the reply button for the previous level is counter-intuitive, so they just give up and start anew.

    It should be rather straightforward. If you have a threaded comment system and convert to flat, comments simply show up by date/time, so all the mechanic necessary to solve the problem are already in place.

    All that is needed is for the reply button to work as if there was no limit, but display everything as flat once you get to the visibility limit. That would even enable administrators to increase the limit and have previously "flat" comments show up as nested. In my mind, it's probably even easier to make it work like this than how it works right now, since you'd have a single behavior for replying no matter how you set it for display. All that would change when setting limits is how they are rendered.

  27. @kemwer just posting to say thanks for the input. I agree with you.

  28. All that is needed is for the reply button to work as if there was no limit, but display everything as flat once you get to the visibility limit.

    But this would confuse commenters as well since their comment would not appear beneath the one they are replying to, and they would likely wonder where there comment went, and how many would think to scroll down to the very bottom to see if their comment showed up there?

    This is one of the reasons that I seriously dissuade my clients from using it, and especially if they get lots of comments. It always turns into a mess, no matter what.

  29. But this would confuse commenters as well since their comment would not appear beneath the one they are replying to, and they would likely wonder where there comment went, and how many would think to scroll down to the very bottom to see if their comment showed up there?

    After you post, the page refreshes with a direct anchor link to your comment, so no one needs to search for their own comments after posting. This "problem" doesn't exist, unless you're using an AJAX comment system that doesn't scroll the page to the comment after posting (which most I have used do anyway).

    As for knowing what comment each one is in reply to, that can be easily solved by adding a "in reply to [comment-link]" to the theme when that specific comment is being displayed in "flat mode", which can happen either when comments are set to non-nested, or when that comment is on the deepest nested level allowed.

    It's a much more flexible solution than not allowing replying to comments at all when they are flat or on the deepest level.

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