Home > aside > Do you like the comment highlights provided here at Foolsmountain in the last month or so?

Do you like the comment highlights provided here at Foolsmountain in the last month or so?

Many members of this blog have noticed comment highlights that have been provided starting a month or so ago. The feature was started by the admin in response to some of us editors linking “sample comments” up at the top of their posts to help casual readers zoom in to some of the more thought provoking or relevant discussions (see example).

The highlighting is done on an ad hoc basis (there is no formal process to do so) – by the admin as well as the group of editors we have on this board.

After a few weeks, we are curious to see what people think.

Do you consider comment highlighting by the admin and editors to be:

  1. Helpful (e.g. it helps readers pick out interesting threads of discussions)?
  2. Unhelpful (e.g. it is not reliable; it may help readers pick out interesting threads some of the time but it often gloss over interesting threads also)?
  3. Annoying/Distracting? (e.g. the editors here have no idea what is interesting or relevant and should not be highlighting comments for the readers)
  4. Against the spirit of equality necessary for open discussion? (e.g. this is a sort of censorship; editors should not have the power to “tell” readers what is interesting or not interesting, relevant or not relevant!)
  5. Something else?

So should Foolsmountain keep comment highlighting or ditch it? If we are to keep it, what can we do to improve comment highlights? Any comment or feedback would be greatly appreciated! (I think I am already starting to wonder which comments I should highlight already! 😉 )

  1. Wukailong
    October 23rd, 2008 at 06:13 | #1

    Perhaps it would be helpful to show who chose to highlight the comment? I guess that’s what caused most of the questions in the first place. 🙂

  2. October 23rd, 2008 at 08:24 | #2

    I think the main danger would be (4), and can be prevented very easily if the highlighter’s name is written next to the highlighted comment.

    That way we know if someone highlights their own posts or if certain people are big fans of a certain poster’s remarks. That would keep things honest.

  3. Steve
    October 23rd, 2008 at 17:27 | #3

    I think the comment highlights are fine for two reasons~

    1) They help me skip through a bunch of comments to get to the heart of an issue. If I find the highlighted comments are interesting, then I read all the comments in order.

    2) In a way, it’s a kind of reward for actually speaking about and bringing something new to bear on the topic, and many times helps get the thread back on track.

    I don’t care so much who does the highlighting, but if others want it it’s fine by me.

  4. October 23rd, 2008 at 17:51 | #4

    Are there specific guidelines that people want the admin and the editors to follow in “highlighting” the comments?

  5. Steve
    October 23rd, 2008 at 18:00 | #5

    Allen, I’d equate it with the Supreme Court Justice Stewart’s definition of obscenity, “”I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced . . . [b]ut I know it when I see it . . . ” 🙂

  6. October 23rd, 2008 at 21:33 | #6

    First of all, I think I have to take the credit that I probably highlighted more comments than any other editors/authors on this site. So if you see a highlighted comment, it’s most likely done by me. 😉 The only exception is that I never highlight my own comment.

    I also have to say I am biased to begin with. I will be more likely to highlight a comment if it is written by certain posters, such as Allen, Oli, Steve and Wukailong.

    In many ways comment highlighting is an imperfect practice. I do not always have time to read through all the comments. Sometimes I only want to highlight a portion of a comment, but the current system allows only to highlight the whole thing… Still, I think it’s better than none

    Several months ago, we tried a comment rating system that each reader can vote for a comment. However, few people bother to do it. So I think a better solution is to have more people participating in this process. If there are enough volunteers out there, we can assign a thread to 1 or 2 moderators to do the highlighting. Will that approach work?

  7. Steve
    October 23rd, 2008 at 22:52 | #7

    admin: I think that approach can work providing moderators are not commentators. You might have a natural bias but when commenting, it’s natural to respond emotionally to certain comments directed at you and that would distort the perception of a particular comment.

  8. October 25th, 2008 at 06:27 | #8

    Unlike the admin, I have highlighted my own comments one or two times in the past … but only because they were in response to thoughtful questions in other highlighted comments.

    Whoosh … getting that off my chest feels pretty good!

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