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Basically, I want to build an interface that

  1. Doesn't interfere with chronological discussion
  2. Simple
  3. Doesn't require the user to click a link which changes the order of the replies.
  4. Doesn't have nested replies.
  5. Highlights (or makes them stand out) the replies which have more votes.

I've only come out with these layouts that I mocked:

enter image description here

enter image description here

The text in the replies with more votes are darker. In the the second layout, I limited the text to two lines (so that the user don't have to scroll to much to see all the replies).

The user will have to click the 'read more' link to see the full reply. I'm not sure if this will be annoying for the user.

Does anyone have any other suggestions?

PS: There will be pagination (maybe 10 replies per page).

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I can hardly tell the difference between the two mockups. If you want to make it clear I think you'll have to use a lot more contrast. –  Rahul Aug 16 '11 at 16:13
    
@Rahul The first mock up don't have ellipsis. The second only displays two lines (after a certain amount of replies), and the user has to click read more to see the full reply. –  janoChen Aug 16 '11 at 16:17
    
making text darker with more votes means that a new reply ( by definition has no votes ) is going to be faintest of all. I'm not sure it's a good idea generally - it will make the list look a bit messy. Also when you have a large number of votes the differential fails to be effective? –  Roger Attrill Aug 16 '11 at 16:26
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@janoChen Oh sorry, I meant I can't tell the difference in contrast between two items that you mentioned have a darker colour. –  Rahul Aug 16 '11 at 16:27
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@janoChen Is the number of votes on the right not indicative enough of the number of votes? It looks clean and seems to work quite nicely to me at least - and besides, it tells me EXACTLY the difference in the number of votes rather than some other indicator that is a fuzzy/greyscale representation and leaves me wondering well is that more or less than the other - or roughly about the same?. People are pretty good at scanning numbers... –  Roger Attrill Aug 16 '11 at 17:08
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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I would take a look at Slashdot's comment system. By setting their personal "vote threshold", a user can decide how highly rated a comment needs to be before they will see it by default (you can see this on the slider at the upper-right; the vote scores below the slider only appear on mouseover):

Slashdot comment system

The advantages of this system are that it doesn't sacrifice chronology (if you don't allow nesting; otherwise, the chronology is ordered by parent comments), but still allows users to make the choice of how much weight to give to lower rated comments.

The disadvantages are that it might be too complicated for some audiences and that it requires a critical mass of voting/moderation to work properly (for instance, some "trusted" users get an automatic moderation boost on Slashdot).

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it is a smart system. But too complicated in my opinion (I'm playing with it right now, and I"m still not getting it). –  janoChen Aug 16 '11 at 16:13
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I think the coloring on the text you have already tried is a good thing. Additionally, you could make it show more of the text for the posts that have more votes before hiding behind the "... read more".

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a lot of people are recommending me that. Is there any website which is doing this? –  janoChen Aug 18 '11 at 17:08
    
I don't know of any. I just got the idea for improvement when I looked at your example. –  awe Aug 19 '11 at 5:33
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