Take the 2-minute tour ×
User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I wonder what is the best comments order on the website. I assume there are two major methods to display comments:

  1. from newest to oldest,
  2. from oldest to newest.

Facebook uses method one and displays the newest comments on the top of every disscusion, but for example comments on most WP based pages are displayed the opposite - oldest comments are on the top and the newest are on the bottom.

So I wonder which solution is better, is there really a better solution or maybe it depends on context and - most of all - are there any studies/articles/research on this topic?

share|improve this question
1  
Also, I suspect the answer will be different depending on if the comments are flat or threaded - for example, in threaded comments I often see "newest to oldest" for the root level, and all replies are "oldest to newest". –  Izkata Apr 12 '13 at 16:33
3  
Correct me if I'm wrong, but Facebook does oldest to newest, since it's supposed to resemble a conversation. Although, I guess if you look at their newsfeed, it's newest(this is actually 'most recently interacted with', not necessarily chronologically newest) first, but comments on individual items are oldest first. Again it depends on what you want to emphasize. –  Frank B Apr 12 '13 at 20:23
1  
Right - news items are newest to oldest, but comments on each item are oldest to newest. (That is, the OP's premise is mistaken.) –  Steve Bennett Apr 17 '13 at 23:57
add comment

4 Answers 4

up vote 31 down vote accepted

My friend at Malmö University, André Mabande, wrote his Bachelor degree on the topic with the title Designing for Dialogue. He concludes that:

The findings in this study seem to validate the hypothesis of the chronology as a major factor for generating a consistent discussion within a commenting field. When comments are shown in the order posted (i.e. later posts after earlier in the order of reading) the amount of replies to a specific post are significantly higher than when shown in the reverse chronological order.

It's something to consider when you design any kind of social feed. Mr. Mabande also gives some advice on how to design for the most interaction:

To create a path of action that leads the user into conversating with others about the topic the design should display comments chronologically with the comment posting section placed after the last visible comment. Also more than 20 comments should be shown to give the user an incentive to read a large section of what’s been previously posted to increase the possibility to see the context of the discussion. Whether a single-thread or a multi-thread structure should be chosen is up for debate, but I would recommend the single-threaded due to the risk of repetition in the different branches of the multi-threaded design.

share|improve this answer
3  
Nice piece of research there. I have to upvote you, as you quoted it, but really the upvote belongs to André! –  JonW Apr 12 '13 at 8:56
1  
@JonW I know! This is the second time I quoted André and I keep try to drag him in here. Anyway - I tell him on twitter that he really is famous (over here). –  Benny Skogberg Apr 12 '13 at 8:59
2  
Wow, thanks. I will accept this answer as correct one as soon as I read those studies. –  nd_macias Apr 12 '13 at 9:03
3  
Yay!, my views and opinions validated by research... :-D –  Marjan Venema Apr 12 '13 at 15:04
add comment

If you expect comments to be part of a conversation, then you should order them from oldest to newest (bottom posting). This follows reading direction, and is far easier to follow a series of related comments. Examples include this site's comments and Reddit.

If you want to emphasise novelty over conversation, you should order comments from newest to oldest (top posting). Examples include YouTube where there is rarely anything like a conversation.

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
add comment

Another way is to implement a way to upvote/downvote the comments, like here, reddit, disqus, and display the highest ranked posts first.

It gives insightful comments more visibility.

Youtube also display the two most upvoted comments (also regarding the age of the comment).

share|improve this answer
add comment

If your website is public and people are posting about things that are potentially controversial (such as, everything), then putting comments in chronological order gives people an incentive to get their opinion up very quickly and thereby secure the prime real estate at the top of the list, where it will remain forever.

This encourages participation, but mostly by spammers and the highly opinionated, which may then discourage participation by everyone else.

This isn't the only consideration by any means, but it's a potential issue to keep in mind.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.