Discussion: Add Titles Comment Thread



Beginning this month, I'd like to try a new procedure for adding titles for our master list:
Using a dedicated Comment thread in which any titles for our list are added as Replies to the comment.

Why?
I know - change is always a little uncomfortable. Personally, I kind of hate all changes of any kind (except an increase in income). Too often, change makes things worse, not better, e.g., Netflix's new format for "My List," and Netflix's new approach to content.

Some things, however, do cry out for improvement. There are some problems with the way we have been putting titles in Comments on the Home page, so I decided to brave the dreaded Change, and try something different.

What Problems?
Specifically, the problems are:
> Comments with titles - especially just one title - can get lost in between a lot of other kinds of comments, many of which have multiple replies. 
> Even if people are careful about looking for the titles, it takes time to scroll up through all the other wordier comments, making sure to check those, too, in case they have a title included.
> If people are in a hurry, and just want to quickly check for new additions for our list since the last update, all that scrolling can be annoying, even more so if there aren't any additional titles, after all.
> It also takes me longer to find the title comments that have been up for at least 4 days, so I can delete them to keep Comments from getting to be too much of a scroll.
> Sometimes one title on a long list will generate multiple replies. Then I have to leave the whole list up, so the replies will make sense.
> Add to all these the additional problem of some comments drifting away from the subject of expiring titles, and getting into other kinds of discussions.

Possible Solutions
The "best" solution will vary depending on the individual follower/contributor, and what is optimal for him/her. Whatever we end up doing, we won't be able to make everyone completely happy. Darn!

Here are the ideas I came up with, and my thinking regarding them.

1.  Just keep it the way it was, and do the best we can with it.

We might end up with this, but whatever we decide, there will be some accommodating to be done, so let's try something else for a month, and see how it goes. Sometimes change does make things better, we just need to give it a chance.

2.  Make the rule that only titles can go in Comments on the main page. All other comments have to go on another page.
3.  Make some other rule that is less restrictive, but still limits comments on the main page, e.g., anyone who wants to reply to a comment has to copy it to another page and reply there. 

Solutions #2 & 3: Restrictive isn't the style of this blog, and I'm not open to changing that.

4.  Crack down on comments that aren't about expiring titles, moving them to another page.

I don't want to "crack down" on anything, but I do want to encourage everyone (including myself) to give some thought to where a comment best belongs. If it's something important that you want to make sure no one misses, you can put a brief note on the main page to see your comment about such-and-such on  Whichever Page.

5. Find a way to isolate titles from all other kinds of comments, so people who are looking only for titles can find them easily.

The Add Titles Comment Thread is my best shot at doing this. I have tried to make it easy to access with links at the top of the page (paragraph before the Decoder), just before comments (in case Comments are closed, and you need to open them), and at the very bottom of the page, in the footer.

I think the best thing about this solution is that everyone knows exactly where to look for title comments, and need not go anywhere else if that's all they care about for the moment.

I think the biggest challenge of this solution will be getting used to making our title comments, and looking for recent title comments from others in a slightly different way. But I don't think it's so different as to make anyone miserable - just a little uncomfortable while getting used to it.

6. Something else - ???


Please hang in there for October, and leave comments on this page about:
> Any problems you have
> Whether or not the Add Titles comment thread is working for you
> And especially if you have any ideas for Solution #6  - I'm always open to a better way.  

20 comments:

  1. I'm adjusting to the new arrangement and, eventually, will accept it as the new normal. In many ways, it is a considerable improvement. I greatly appreciate all you're doing. The blog keeps getting better.

    I access this blog with my iPad and, with poor eyesight and arthritic fingers, try and often fail to hit the right buttons when adding a comment in the right place.

    My problem in reading and commenting in the two comment sections is with finding the break between Add Titles and the Comments, now separated by only by a red line, similar to the red line that separates subcomments from the next, unrelated comment. I know nothing about how to organize a blog, but if they is a way to visually distinguish the two comment sections, it would help. For example,can one group be put in a box? A different background color? Or a different font?

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    1. Thanks CanandaiguaNY. You bring up some important things to consider. Having a more noticeable break between the two sections is something I've been thinking would be good, too. Scrolling can go so fast, it's not always obvious.

      As far as I know, there's no way for me to make one section of Comments display differently from other sections. If any of you tech geniuses out there know otherwise, I'd love to hear from you.

      The only way I can think of to make the break more obvious is to use the first comment after the thread. Soooooooooo, I've created yet another page! Look at the Comments section on the new page to see one possible way to make the break stand out. The Break comment could be any size, and have any number of designs - lines, stars, Xs, dots - anything that can be typed, or, it could be blank. I would want to keep the text that I put in the sample, and, at the very end, I would also put in a link to go to the empty comment box at the bottom of the page, so people wouldn't have to scroll all the way down to leave another kind of comment. (I would have put this link in the sample, but I didn't think of it until I had published all the comments, and I just wasn't up for re-doing everything.)

      Anyway, take a look at it, and let me know what you think, and if you have ideas for the Break comment design that might look/work better.

      Mock Page for Testing Issues with the Add Titles Thread

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    2. This works for me, but with the link to the comment box at the bottom of the scroll as you suggest.

      Any design would work equally, so you can be as creative as you like each month,. But I would avoid a blank space. Sometimes, a comment is entered with a blank space following it (perhaps because the commenter failed to notice a string of paragraph breaks entered at the end of the comment), so there could be a confusion with several blank spots in the scroll.

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  2. I like your solution a lot. Using a plain long line as you have done is fine, easy on the eyes and a clearer contrast to the rest of the comments than most designs could be. I wouldn't encourage anything cutesy, like characters that rely on alignment to look like something.

    To be practical, I tried looking on my phone as well. What is 8 lines on my desktop shows as 18 on my phone, with no space before the text at the end of the line. (Add a return, and consider using 5 lines instead?) The right sidebar doesn't show at all on the mobile site on my phone, it requires switching to the web version of the site but then any links clicked on go back to mobile again. This could be remedied somewhat by embedding links to the sidebar pages on one of the pages accessed from the top bar.

    As always, thanks for your creative and thoughtful approach, and for giving us a good prototype solution to comment on.

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  3. Excellent, very helpful feedback. I especially like yours, Travis. ;-)

    I will experiment with some different designs, but will take "blank" off the menu (great point, CanandaiguaNY), and stay mindful of the different display on phones/other devices. Thanks so much for checking that out, Linklisa. Thanks also for mentioning the "cutesy" possibility. I wasn't thinking of that (not good at that kind of thing), but it's great to know you guys all have my back.

    As far as making easier access to links, I've been thinking of making a site map, and putting that page link in the page tab bar.

    I'm gonna give myself a couple of days so I don't jump into something, then think of something better, and also to give others a chance to weigh in. I'll put up what I think are the best choices (might just be what I've done, with the changes you suggest, Linklisa, and the link to a new comment box).

    If anybody has an idea for a great Break comment design, feel free to put it in one of the comments here. If you are hesitant, you can always make your comment as "Anonymous."

    Thanks again, everybody!

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  4. Just another idea:
    There may be some people who come to this blog looking for What's Expiring on Netflix Soon. If there are such people, they may well be more interested in finding expiring titles than in following all of the discussions we (semi) regulars get up to. The obvious place for finding the newly added titles is at the bottom of the thread. And most devices, I think, have a way jump or quickly scroll to the bottom. Might it make sense to flip the order and put the discussion Coments first and the Add Titles second? There would still be an advantage in making the break between the two sections obvious.

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    1. I love it that you've got your wheels turning on this, CanandaiguaNY. Unfortunately, this very good idea would not be workable because of the limitations of how comments are entered. Once the Add Titles thread was started, nothing could be entered before it, except replies to previous comments. If I started a "Non-titles" thread before the Add Titles thread to allow for all other comments to come before the titles, then people could only make replies in that thread, and only at the bottom of the thread - new replies could not be inserted between previous replies.

      As you know, we usually end up with several threads that have multiple comments. With the way things are now, I can go into any of those threads and make a new reply. But if there was only one thread (non-title comments), I couldn't insert my new reply in the right place.

      Now, if I was in a contest to find a way to make this work, I would set up a number of main comments, each one titled "New, Non-Title Thread," before I started the Add Titles thread. Whenever someone wanted to make a comment, they would choose the next available blank thread and make their comment as a reply. Then all replies to that first reply-comment could follow. Theoretically, this could accomplish what you suggest, but it would be awfully clunky. (And I wouldn't even win the contest, because some brainiac computer science geek at M.I.T. would solve the problem technologically, and I'd look like an idiot.)

      Keep thinking, CanandaiguaNY. All ideas have value, even if it's to move us closer to another, even better idea.

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    2. I *LOVE* that I don't have to scroll to the bottom of the thread now. Keeping the first thread to titles only makes it very easy to check for "new" expiring titles once or twice a day (more frequently than Carol could be expected to update the main text), and only catch up on other comments once or twice a week.

      I do notice some confusion for newbies. I think it's only natural for people to begin their contributions by adding to the end of the comments rather than to the first thread. And then it must be quite confusing to have their contributions deleted, with a complicated explanation. (Not a criticism of Carol; we're in the midst of trying something new, and we don't have an easy solution yet.) So I'd suggest copying their contributions to the "right" place rather than deleting them.

      I think it's safe to assume that the end of the main page comments will be a catch-all, and that there will be some learning curve about adding comments to any other page or thread. Some titles will inevitably be part of the mix. This is why Carol's initial solution of inviting only titles as comments on the first thread works; it would be hard to comment there by mistake. Might an html link make it easier to jump there?

      One Anonymous contributor mentioned that "New titles" made them think contributions of expiring titles should go somewhere else. Many other blogs and press releases focus on what's new to Netflix. Ours could make the distinction that these are newly discovered expiring titles, though there's probably more graceful wording than that.

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    3. Hi Linklisa, You gave me so much to think about, it has taken almost a week to get back to you. Also, I needed some space to NOT have to think about this, so I took a break from it. I apologize for this overdue response.

      First: I have changed all the links that went to the TOP of the Titles thread, to one that goes to the Section Break. This way it's just a couple clicks up to either enter new expiring titles, or read the latest entries from others. I looked into linking to the Reply box for the Titles thread, but was advised that isn't an option unless I want to go in and tinker with the template html. Which I don't.

      CanandaiguaNY, your idea for setting the Titles thread apart has blossomed from being merely a visual aid to the solution for being able to link quickly to where we want to go. The Section Break allows us to link to the bottom of the Titles thread, and also provides a way to link down to the other comment box. Your idea was a major key to making this whole thing work. Thank you.

      Linklisa, I agree with you about the ambiguity of using words like "new" or "add" because those are so closely associated with titles coming TO Netflix. At the same time, I don't want to have our Titles thread to have a long, complicated title, accurate though it might be. The best thing I could come up with is "Additional Titles," so I'd like to try that out.

      For newbies, I have updated the Submit Titles - Guidelines page.

      As for deleting comments, I had angst over this. As I mentioned somewhere else, I don't want to be the comment police. But I decided deleting was the better way to go. Here's why:
      > If I leave title comments in the lower section, and also copy them to "Additional Titles," that could get confusing. Readers looking for titles won't know if everything has been copied, and might think they need to search both places. This would be the opposite of my goal for this change. Some would read my replies where I explain what I did, but those in a hurry might just move through the explanation and feel frustrated that there are titles everywhere.

      > If I leave titles in the lower section, that sends the message that it's still fine to continue doing so - again, not everyone reads the fine print. For those who prefer the old way of doing things, it makes it easier to stick with that. I'm fine with waiting for some who need more time to wade in, but I think there needs to be a consistent response that maintains the integrity of the goal.

      > I believe moving the titles, and leaving an explanation will be more motivating to read why I moved them, and hopefully, be willing to try the new way. Now that we've got more helpful links, I'm really hoping that will encourage everyone to think maybe this isn't so inconvenient.

      I'm painfully aware that I could be wrong about all that. I certainly don't want to upset anyone, and am most appreciative of everyone who takes the time to share expiring titles they have found. I think we just need to work through trying something different, and trust that whatever we ultimately decide, we will continue to carry on, and everything will work out fine.

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  5. Carol, I will try to follow watever format you end up with, but for those of us who are no blogger members, the process of making replies is sometimes error prone. Personally, I didn't see anything wrong with the way it was being done before and would rather go back to that methode, but it is your blog, so handle it however it works best for you.

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    1. Thank you, Achernar. I appreciate both your honesty and your willingness to make the change if I decide to make the Add Titles comment thread permanent. I am really hoping I can make it easy enough to work with that everyone can be okay with it. Please let me know how it's going for you in another week or so.

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  6. 10/16
    Metro Manila (2013)

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    1. Hi Anonymous, it looks like maybe you were confused by the title of this page, "Add Titles Comment Thread," which would be completely understandable. However, this is just a Discussion page, not actually the place to add titles for our list.

      Please add all titles to the Home page, as a Reply to the very first comment.

      I apologize for having a confusing title on this page. I have changed it to show that it is a discussion, and I have also changed the link to it in the sidebar.

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  7. Hi Carol.
    I just wanted to give my opinion of the new title system. I understand what you are trying to do here but I preferred the old way. I usually check one or twice a day for new titles and I find it so much easier to just scroll to the bottom and go from the last comment I read. With this system I end up taking much longer to figure out what the last post I read was because I'm having to look around for it in the middle of the page. I find myself not even coming here as often. I'm only coming every few days now instead of daily.

    It's your blog so really it comes down to what you like and what is most convenient for you but I just wanted to express my opinion.

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    1. Also, as to option number 5 from your main post. Is there anyway for us to change the colors in our posts? If we could have all our titles posted in a different color than our comments it would make them easier to find if that is a problem people are having.

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    2. Hi fantasticangel, I really appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts about having titles added in a dedicated thread. Getting this kind of feedback is the only way I can get a bead on what's working and what isn't, and what the majority of readers prefer.

      As far as I know, there is no way to make a comment appear in a different color without going to more trouble than I would want to ask our contributors to do. I like the idea, though.

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    3. Megseam here: I sort of feel the way fatasticangel does. However, I was getting used to the new layout. But, today, I went into look at newly added titles and now they start on 10/22. Did I miss something?

      Having all the titles in comments made it much easier if one can't make it here everyday (though I do try), I was able to go to the list of titles under comments and go back to where I last remembered the titles, allowing me to, then, go forward to review newly added titles. Obviously, if you check everyday, the "italics" are easy to catch/view/see. If you miss a day though, there are a lot of reds to go through, hence, my using the system of going to the comment section.

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    4. Hi Megseam, thanks for weighing in. It's helpful to hear how the Titles thread is going for you.

      The reason the titles now start at 10/22 is because I delete title comments after they have been up for 4 days. The titles I deleted this morning were those from the press release that will g posted on the morning of 10/20. There weren't any new title comments on the 21st. I'm hoping this means you didn't miss anything.

      I chose 4 days somewhat arbitrarily, trying to strike a balance between leaving titles up long enough for people to see the newest additions of the last few days, but not so long that the list became unwieldy and needlessly tedious to scroll through for those who check every day. I figured if someone was checking less often, they would probably do better to look at the main list, anyway. It's so hard to come up with just the right thing for everyone! :-)

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    5. Megseam here: Thanks for the response Carol, especially that there was nothing on 10/21! And, that you now cut off every 4 days. As FantasticAngel says, this is your blog and you are a "hero" to manage and maintain it. I also understand if your switching it up helps in your time management of the blog. I still have to confess, I did find it easier in finding new titles added when the list was a continuous list, as I would read people's comments and check titles, as I viewed from the last time I checked the blog.

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