One of our core commitments at Daily Kos is to offer a website that supports widespread participation. We hope that two of our recent changes for comment tools will bring us closer to that goal.
You can see both of them in this story image. First, note the Comment Settings section at the very top of the comments. Our new version is larger and more obvious, displaying in an open view by default. This behavior means there’s no need to wonder what that tiny gray Comment Settings link means anyway, if you did happen to notice it. Similarly with the options themselves—though please note that the “Show hidden” and “Show until I hide” options are available only to Trusted Users.
If you’ve been curious about the purpose of those Comment Settings or the Keyboard Navigation list, then this is the story for you.
Let’s take a closer look at the Comment Settings options. There are four in total, though the full set is available only to Trusted Users (TUs).
Anonymous as well as logged-in site users will see two of them: “Auto refresh” and “Collapse on load.” The “Auto refresh” option when clicked will generate the little black box that will appear in the lower right corner of your screen display when you’re in a story, which contains links to new comments/new replies made to you after you loaded the page.
The “Collapse on load” option when clicked will present ALL comments in their closed or collapsed state for every story you view. That collapsed mode provides a more compact view of comments on a story, which can be helpful in long comment threads (and is some people’s preference regardless). Note that it is possible to open individual comments by clicking on the little arrow to the right of the comment so that it points right. Doing so will open the comment and any replies to it. Clicking the arrow so that it points down collapses/closes the comment again.
Trusted Users will see two other options: “Show hidden” and “Show until I hide.” Clicking the “Show hidden” option means that any hidden comment will be displayed among all the other comments on a story, though it will be decorated in a way to indicate that it is not viewable by non-TUs. If you UNcheck “Show hidden,” then the option to “Show until I hide” is irrelevant and will be grayed out. But a TU can check both, which leads to a hidden comment being completely removed from the display, not merely decorated as hidden, after the TU hides it.
Special case: Comment reply notification
By the way, the story image above also captures one other option related to comments which is NOT a comment setting bundled with the others. That is the “Email me when someone replies to my comment” option. This option is available to all logged-in users and displayed with every comment box, to be checked or unchecked as you prefer. The state you choose is intended to be stable, but we realize that the unchecked choice can decay and revert to the checked state.
Below the open comment box, which is displayed for logged-in users though not for “anonymous” site users, we display the start of a list of keyboard commands. These “hotkeys” enable someone to move through the comments with the use of the keyboard alone.
Here, for your reference, is the full list:
- ( L ) Recommend - capital-L to recommend a selected comment
- ( r ) Reply - little-r to open the reply box to reply to a selected comment
- ( p ) Parent - little-p to jump to the parent comment and select it
- ( o ) Open/Close - little-o toggles the down arrow to collapse or expand the selected comment
- ( j ) Next - little-j jumps to the next comment (from your current selected one) and selects it
- ( k ) Prev - little-k jumps to the previous comment and selects it
- ( 1 ) First Comment - Pressing 1 jumps to the first comment on the story and selects it
- ( 2 ) Last Comment - Pressing 2 jumps to the last comment on the story and selects it
- ( J ) Next Unread - capital-J jumps to the next unread comment and selects it
- ( K ) Prev Unread - capital-K jumps to the previous unread comment and selects it
- ( esc ) Unfocus Text Field - the escape key lets you leave a text field
- ( P ) Edit/Preview - capital-P toggles the Preview and Return to Edit state while writing a comment
- ( S ) Submit - capital-S posts the comment you’re previewing
- ( c ) Cancel - little-c cancels the comment you’re writing
These keyboard commands not only make it easier for people to scroll and operate comments without a mouse or trackpad, they are also very useful for navigating comments generally. Next Unread (shift-J) is very nice, for example, when you’re returning to a story and have read some comments and new ones have appeared; with it you can jump straight to the new ones. Parent ( p ) is useful when you want to reread the parent of some comment upscreen, or find it to reply to it. (1) and (2) are great for getting to the beginning or the end; I really notice their absence when I’m on the old-style comments. Note that the Next and Previous commands will wrap around back to the top or bottom.
Sometimes it’s nice to have these specific controls instead of the more general scroll. Not incidentally, this set of features demonstrates that improving accessibility can be a win-win across the board, by allowing more people to participate in ways that suit their needs and preferences.
These changes are not only part of our ongoing effort to improve our compliance with WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), but also related to a major project nearing completion. You may already know that we have long operated two different versions of the site, www. for desktop users and m. for mobile users. Soon, the story page display will be the same for users on desktop and on mobile devices, so that we can retire the m. version of the site.
The two versions do serve different purposes, the m. one being simpler and less data-heavy, but it also causes more difficulty than it’s worth for us to maintain two different code bases. Concentrating on one version alone will increase our developers’ capacity to maintain and improve the site for everyone.
Right now, some users on mobile devices—namely, those who have chosen the “view full site” option, not those displaying the m. version—are starting to see some components of the new, so-called “responsive story page” design. One example is this full-width display of the comment preview and cancel buttons. This change, too, is an improvement on accessibility grounds. But more generally it’s an element that is easier to resize for varying screen widths.
With all that context, let’s get to the important part of the story: the poll!
When we updated the settings, we also left them open by default so that people would find them more easily. However, we’ve gotten feedback that some users find this surprising and distracting. We also know that users who like the change may not have told us, so this is your chance to weigh in and vote for behavior you prefer.
Should it remain open from story to story, as is currently the case, even after you close it for one? (See screenshot on the left) Or should you be able to close it and have it stay closed, perhaps until you decide to open it again? (See screenshot on the right)
Would that more decisions facing us could be this inconsequential in the grander scheme of things, no? We might as well enjoy discussing the ones that are.
Here’s another sneak preview: The Daily Kos Store is open for business!
What better way to show your support for your favorite site than by sporting one of our t-shirts, mugs, hats, or tote bags? We will have an official Grand Opening later this month in connection with our 20th Anniversary celebration—but why wait? Beat the crowds and place your order early, or watch for new items, including some 20-year gear, to appear there soon.
Did I mention the 20th Anniversary Celebration? Why yes, I did. Please see TrueBlueMajority’s latest post in our Koscars nomination series, Call for Koscar Nominations #9: Outstanding Rant, and join the conversation. We’ll open one more category for nominations next week, then we’ll have one last weekend for making nominations in all categories before voting starts on May 17th.
Also, please mark your calendars now for a very special Zoom gathering to mark this special day.
On Friday May 20 at 4 PM PT/7 PM ET, we are holding a virtual Cheers & Jeers meetup once again…a chance to join with your fellow members of Daily Kos for an evening of fun, pop-ins, and the chance for all of us to talk about anything we desire.
All registered Daily Kos members are welcome to attend! Please send a Kosmail to Christopher Reeves to RSVP and obtain the Zoom link.
Now, for the poll and your feedback.