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I absolutely love Smashing Magazine for the brilliant articles and helpful advice. But one thing that I have noticed about their articles is that they keep all the comments on one page (same page as the content) which makes for an extremely long page. Does this tactic of keeping all the comments on one page instead of having multiple pages of comments turn off readers with how long it makes the page? Or am I missing something important and this is actually a good technique?

Also I have noticed that they keep the "new comment" section all the way at the bottom of the page. Does this discourage readers from commenting on the certain article?

I don't mean to rip on Smashing Magazine because I love their content and I know a lot of other article websites do this as well, but they are the best example I could come up with.

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I don't judge a website's worth by the length of its pages. –  JoJo Jun 9 '12 at 16:36

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

A few points on the issue of comments layout:

  • If the comments section is not collapsed and someone wants to jump to the end of the article, then experience will be less than optimal.

  • If the comments section is not loaded until expanded, then it may improve load time, however, it may affect in page searches (either possitively or negatively, depending on if users want to search within comments to prior to expanding them).

  • If someone wants to comment and has to scroll passed all the existing comments, it may reduce the amount of duplicated comments, user can always quickly jump to the end of the page (with keyboard or mouse). [Related question.]

  • An interesting question would be if comments should be in chronological or reverse chronological order and should this decision affect the location of the add new comment box/link.

  • If someone wants to reply to a comment and the view doesn't enable threading (e.g. thread trees), then the comment will loose its context.

  • If the comments are divided into pages then you have the same issues as with article pagination.

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The issue here is that you are having to add the comment at the end of the comments. I guess the reasoning behind this is so that you see the latest context in terms of comments posted. This is probably the reason for reverse posting comments (although personally I find this makes reading the flow of comments a little difficult).

This issue is not just a problem on single page comments pages. I've noticed this on Quora as well which is paginated. Answers have to be made right at the bottom sometimes after pressing more several times. In this case answers are ordered in terms of numbers of votes. However on questions with lots of answers it can be frustrating for the user who wants to post an answer and has to travel through many pages.

I guess if comments are paginated but the latest page shown first (with comments in the correct order) then many of these problems go away. The latest context is shown, in a readable way and you can put the "post comment" area directly below the article ... which is the ideal place for it.

So that would be my argument for pagination on standard comments.

In Quora's case I don't really understand why they need to make you add comments at the bottom as the best answers are at the top and there is no chronological sequence ... why not make the comments section at the top?

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