I just read the amazing question Emerging UI trend: comments in the margin - pros and cons?. I noticed this trend of putting the comments on the side of the documents (Google Docs is maybe the initiator, I'm not sure).
Actually I hate this approach. In this way, the comments seem to be a bonus-feature. They don't have a lot of space at the screen so they don't allow to have a constructive and interesting discussion. When I use comments on a Google Doc, I just do it to show a misspelling or to like a paragraph. If I try to write something more consistent and some people answer me, that becomes unreadable:
So my opinion about the comments in the margin is they aren't made to have a good discussion.
That is a paradox because if I use an online collaborative document maker, I want to discuss with the others about what I'm writing. This is a central feature for me, not a bonus on the right side.
So the comments inside the document seem better for me.
But that is not easy. Mix document's content and comments can give a terrible stuff where content becomes unreadable and comments too.
Firstly, what is your opinion about margin-comments and inside-comments for online collaborative document maker software (gdoc and the others)?
Secondly, do you have any real good examples or any advices, approaches, good practices about comments at the heart of a document?
I found 2 examples that I can show you.
Real world examples
I don't really like. The difference between the content and the comments isn't enough obvious (just a div floating inside the document with a simple border and the user photo). Also the comments are nested into each other to make a hierarchy and I know they are pros for this way (tons of blogs and forums use it still) but I always found it hard to follow a discussion. I prefer the chronological approach with quotes and mentions (@username).
You can add a comment everywhere in the document (this is good, in theory), if you know the feature (nothing show it) with a click or a keyboard shortcut. A popup appears:
Then the document is broken in 2 parts, in the middle of a sentence... A bit rude ("comment everywhere is good, in theory"):
Perhaps it would be better to limit the comments after the lines or at the end of the sentences or the paragraphs for better readability.
I really like their approach. The difference between the content and the comments is strongly marked but fits perfectly into the document:
You can add a comment after each line as suggested when you move your cursor hover the document:
Then a form appears if you click the blue tooltip on the left side: