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We have seen it a million times, the standard comment stream below the blog post / article. But there are alternative options out there. I'm thinking soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/quantic/out-from-the-cellar-5 as a starting point where comments are tagged along the songs timeline.

If I have a long blog post or news article with many different points of interest / discussion it would be useful to a user and author to be able to start multiple comment streams around one piece of content in a more organised way other than a list of what could be unrelated posts chronologically or most replied. I was wondering if using something similar to soundclouds timeline based commenting system but for copy based posts is a sensible idea.

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For usability you don't want to get too innovative unless you have the resources for some thorough testing. Following established patterns/conventions is more likely to result in greater usability. Just 2 cents. –  obelia Jan 16 '13 at 1:33
    
Although people are used to the long comment stream under the posts I find that method really unintuitive. I guess bringing posts to the top according to "votes" is a way but still that's not perfect as well. I would love to see a better way to do this. –  Oraj Jan 16 '13 at 8:39
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There is no answer to this question really, it's all going to be quite subjective. What exactly about comment streams are you thinking of? If you have a situation in mind then a better question would be to try to determine a suitable comment stream method for that situation, but just asking for loads of examples of other ones isn't really constructive to this site. –  JonW Jan 16 '13 at 14:47
    
Are you looking for something different just to be different, or do you actually see a problem you'd like to tackle? –  André Jan 16 '13 at 15:15
    
Ok so in more context, if i have a long blog post or news article with many different points of interest / discussion it would be useful to a user and author to be able to start multiple comment streams around one piece of content in a more organised way other than a list of what could be unrelated posts chronologically or most replied. I was wondering if anyone had seen anything like this before (similar to soundclouds timeline based commenting system) but for copy based posts and or any thoughts around whether this is a sensible idea. Any feedback or opinion is welcome. –  Thom Jan 16 '13 at 15:44

2 Answers 2

I was wondering if using something similar to soundclouds timeline based commenting system but for copy based posts is a sensible idea.

I think the point of having those in soundcloud is justified by the idea that it is really hard to refer to a certain point of time in the track just by the time in seconds. The system visualizes the comments' context.

If you think about it, a chronological list of replies, with indentation of replies to a comment, actually does that. The vertical progression is your timeline, the indentation of replies your conversation. The standard way for displaying conversation along a timeline, even with overlapping topics, has been the one you described for a reason: It is most logic to follow a conversation stream chronologically.

A topic-based visualisation could be achieved by using a more non-linear approach. For instance, thesauri have used such methods, but I doubt this is very usable for more text. For example, see below search result for "arctic" from http://www.visualthesaurus.com/

enter image description here

This is just an example, but note that most systems that visualize non-linear relationships tend to get visually complex (dimensions, weighting, connections, color), and are thus less suitable for reading longer text like comments and articles.

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  1. Benchmark other services from famous sites (their UX is usually good)

  2. Find other examples of hierarchical stuff and copy it

  3. Use your own judgement: smaller font, indentation, color scale etc.

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