Around 8am ET today, readers of Kotaku were able to see the next iteration of the Kinja discussion platform that was designed by our parent company Gawker Media. To be less jargony about it, you'll notice that the parts below the articles look different, the parts where many readers post replies. (You call them "comments"; we tend not to, these days).
Close observers will probably say: "What in the world? Didn't you guys just change your comments section? This looks totally different!"
Well, not really.
Our pals at Gawker Tech have a blog post that explains how things work (read it!), but let me point out a few things as well:
- As with the previous iteration of Kinja, we prefer to present newcomers to Kotaku with a single, focused, logically-flowing, high-quality discussion below each post. That is still the long-run goal for most of our articles. Because of that, the new Kinja will still tighten up the best discussion and display that by default below a post. (Readers who are logged into the site should actually see the single best discussion they're participated in as the default discussion.)
- But, in a big change from the previous version, that tightening won't happen right away. Instead, and in part because readers said they wanted to see a wider array of comments when an article has just gone live, we will initially default to showing two columns below each article that are filled with every reply a reader has made directly to an article. Some readers will see this as a return to a View All option. Not quite. But close. I encourage our power-users to click around and see how it works. I hope you'll like it. I think it's neat.
- There is another, philosophical shift here. Last time we changed the comments, back when we introduced Kinja, I encouraged Kotaku readers to think more about having discussions with each other, to stop replying to articles and to start focusing on replying to each other. Be more vertical in your commenting, I said. I asked you to stretch things out with one long, logical discussion that continued from the article it appeared below and hopefully was even more interesting to read than the article itself. This iteration of Kinja shifts slightly away from that. It revives the idea of having you, the readers, initially reply to the article. So, go ahead, sound off on the article without feeling like you have to join an ongoing discussion. But, once an article's discussions start to tighten, you will want to add to that featured discussion if you want your voice to be heard by the most readers. So, basically, we're going with a hybrid approach. Maybe that's even a little weird to wrap your head around at first (hey, you're not alone! We're tinkering). But it's the best approach we've got right now to both showcase more reader replies and to focus that feedback by eventually showcasing the best discussion by default.
Some will wonder why we keep tinkering with Internet comments. It's because we, as a company, believe that they can be better than they are. They can be more than a confusing jumble of opinions or a nest of trolls that obscure thoughtful or amusing, informative or smartly contrarian feedback. We don't just want the comments sections of our sites to be something you roll your eyes at or avoid—we want them to be something that all readers value reading as much or even more than they do the articles. Today, we try again to find a great way to showcase the best reader feedback while giving you tools to see more of it. As a company we'll continue to iterate. I thank you in advance for your patience, and I encourage you to read Gawker Tech's run-down of the new Kinja 0.4, as we're calling it. They're taking feedback over there.