Welcome to our New Discussion System

Hello. Scroll down to the bottom of this post. Then look back up here.

See anything new? If so, welcome back, regular Kotaku reader. You've just seen our new discussions system. You'll probably think of it as our new commenting system. But we like the word "discussion", because it sounds a little more like the experience we want to have with our readers: a conversation, an exchange of ideas and thoughts both in agreement and in disagreement with the things we write.

How about this? We'll even call your comments "posts", if you're cool with that.

The new discussion system will look weird at first. It's different. But it's actually not that different. You're still welcome to read our stories and then write your thoughts below them. You're still able to read the responses of dozens of other readers. Before, you'd scroll down, looking for one conversation-starting response after another, expanding the ones you wanted to see more of. This time, you'll be clicking across a row of horizontal icons, each representing a new featured discussion. Each discussion will be expanded below. Multiple replies branch out within each discussion. It's less complicated than it reads. I think it'll take you about four minutes, max, to understand it.

You can still "heart" people. You'll still get notifications in your inbox in the upper right corner of your screen when someone has replied to you. (You may notice that private messaging was turned off. That's temporary. It's coming back.)

The thing I think you'll like immediately is that you can now click on a little refresh arrow at the top of the discussion stack and load in all the new replies, without having to reload the whole article. It's about time, right?

But where are the stars?

The stars are gone. Kotaku owner Nick Denton has admitted that stars were a mistake. It was a bad idea to divide the community into a caste system. It was well-intentioned, but starring—and banning—has created more drama than it's worth. So forget stars. Forget bans. Instead, please embrace a concept we value more: interesting discussion.

The folks in our tech department have crafted this system, which they call Kinja, in a fashion that should elevate the most interesting discussions. It's partially based on some mystery algorithm tied to post quality, and it's partially just going to be a function of us—the writers and reporters of Kotaku—getting involved in the discussions with you. As discussions get good, and especially if they're engaging or being engaged by the Kotaku staff, you'll see those discussions become the featured ones below a given article. That's the theory. We'll discover, together, if that works.

There are a few technical things you need to know:

  • You have power over your discussion. Look for an X icon on the replies to your post. Don't like them? Dismiss them with a click of the X. Abuse the X and you'll probably not see your own posts bubble up to the top anymore. Use the X well and you'll help steer discussions that may outshine the Kotaku-written posts above them.
  • Track your replies. If and when people reply to you, you'll get a notification in your inbox.
  • Hashtags in reader replies are just for being funny now. The old hashtag system that sent tagged comments to tagpages has been retired. You can use them to entertain, but they won't collect reader posts. We have other plans for how to utilize some popular hashtags, but if this does put a crimp in some special hashtag-based shadow blog you were operating within Kotaku, go ahead and e-mail me and I'll see if we can find a solution for you.
  • If you haven't done so already, you'll need to convert your Gawker commenter account (what's a "commenter" again?) into an account tied to a third-party service: Google, Twitter and Facebook. Here's how.
  • If the previous bullet point rankles you—or if you are a powerful industry figure who wishes to participate in a discussion without tying your identity to even any of these third-party services which we are already not tracking (Hi, Mr. Miyamoto!)—you may use a burner account. Learn more about burners here. It'll make you feel like an un-trackable spy or an on-the-lam criminal. Exciting!

Here's the most important thing: I was embarrassed by our old commenting system. I was embarrassed that new readers would come to Kotaku, read an interesting story and then scroll down to the bottom and see a vitriolic rejoinder or a single troll post or some other retort that may or may not have been channeled into more interesting discussion in the collapsed replies below it. That scared people away. That discouraged reader feedback. And it drowned out a lot of you.

With our new system, everyone has a shot at being part of the featured thread. If the tech works, our most thoughtful or funniest or most interesting readers will see their replies bubble to the top and become the featured threads. For that to work will require things on both ends: We, the editors of Kotaku will need to engage with you more; you, the readers of Kotaku will need to agree or disagree, inform or entertain, and correct or clarify with the wit and intelligence you'd use to impress the rest of our community.

I love the energy of the Kotaku readership and I will have unending respect for your collective intelligence and enthusiasm for video games. I'm excited to see what we can build together in our discussion system. Can we become a place where people are impressed with the comments discussions below each article? Can we be a site that people rave about as having the most interesting readers?

I don't see why not.

Discuss.