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I'm transitioning a basic oldest -> newest comment system to a threaded system. The new system will allow for a single level of depth and the threads will be sorted by newest -> oldest. Under each parent comment will be a list of replies from oldest -> newest. This is much like the way Facebook handles status updates.

What I'd like to know is how to smoothly transition my users. Currently they go to the bottom of a page to post a new comment, but now they will need to go to the middle of the page (or the top of the comments) to post a new thread.

I was considering adding an anchor button at the bottom of the threads to bring the user to the middle of the page to start a new thread.

Are there any considerations I'm missing in this transition?

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Are you referring to amending existing sets of comments, or are you more concerned about new posts where people start commenting against? –  JonW Dec 24 '12 at 16:46
    
Existing comments will just become top level threads. I'm more concerned about the change in behavior. –  Hawkee Dec 24 '12 at 16:51
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3 Answers

I think that you should maintain two systems in parallel for some time.

I mean, your users should be able to try (and switch between versions maybe) and give their feedback on the new system before you will migrate them all to it.

So, I suggest to let users to try and switch to the "new threaded commenting view" like it's often done for new designs, etc. And warn your users that the old system will be discontinued in a month or two so they can prepare themselves for the transition and still have an ability to quickly comment using the old and familiar system.

I also think that switching to the "new system" should contain a tutorial (maybe interactive, like "click here to see new comments", etc) to help your users to migrate smoothly.

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I wouldn't put a button (or link) that simply scrolls to make visible a "Post Comment" button, instead I'd put a "Post Comment" button at the top and bottom of the comments section. It wouldn't hurt to, as a response to the bottom "Post Comment" button, to scroll to the new comment's insertion point as a preamble to the comment gathering process, but I don't think it's necessary.

After the comment is posted it should be visible, which in this case I guess means scroll to the top of the comments section.

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I was considering this, but it does not encourage a change in behavior. From a UX standpoint is it a good idea to offer multiple posting options? I feel the simpler and more consistent the posting is across the site the better the UX will be. –  Hawkee Dec 25 '12 at 14:42
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I think your idea is part of a well balanced, fortified solution. If you could do anything, consider adding an instructional popover message where the new comment entry point is.

Something like:

"We've made commenting even better...." Enter a new comment here, reply to comments there...."

It would appear when the user scrolls/links or in any other way arrives at the comments section.

The link at the bottom (or anywhere else on the page) can serve as a guidepost to that area.

I hope that helps you.

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The reason for this is it draws new and existing users to the changes. And it adds to the experience of the site by letting people know it'ds being improved. –  Itumac Dec 24 '12 at 18:52
    
Yes, I should really implement some sort of dismissible alert system to keep users informed of new changes. –  Hawkee Dec 24 '12 at 18:57
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