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I could rephrase the question as: how to segment content to comment on?

Looking at comment systems, it appears to me that comments are usually grouped around a specific piece of content; for each piece a different set of comments.

Facebook segments commenting per image, post, video, etc. Stackexchange segments commenting per question/answer. Medium is redefining how the split is done in blog articles by allowing to comment every paragraph/pictures in their posts (eg https://medium.com/about/8304190661d4).

On my site I'm allowing comments per block of content, but I'm afraid this would also segment conversations which could be about the general topic, and hence make it messy.

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It has sense to allow comments for every self-containing meaningful logical unit, let's call it atomic object.

Different platforms and tools have different objectives and hence different atomic objects. For example, atomic object of blogging platforms (Wordpress, Blogger, ...) is post. Q&A platforms' (StackExchange) atomic objects are question and answers. In collaborative tool for text creation every single word is atomic object. I think you got the idea.

At the same time note that atomic object shouldn't be simple. For example, typical blog post contains header, paragraphs, images, and meta data, such as publishing date and list of tags.

So, provide the comments for every self-containing logical unit.

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Thanks Alexey :) –  ben Jun 18 '13 at 18:48

Having too many different places to comment can create the impression of a dead website. It's best to limit where people can commit to areas you are most likely to receive a comment, and then open up new areas as the traffic increases.

For example, if you have a tutorials section and allow people to comment per tutorial then people might see every tutorial as have no comment. This discourages commenting as no one wants to have a conversation with themselves.

Instead, you might want to show a general tutorials comments thread. When traffic increases and people start commenting, then you can open up comments per tutorial.

User commenting works best when your website reaches critical mass. A minimum number of visitors for the given area of interest. When the traffic is below that number the commenting fails to engage users in conversation.

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This makes a lot of sense, thanks! –  ben Jun 18 '13 at 22:24

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