Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Monday Roundup

Some favorites? Maybe? And maybe some duds . . . yeah . . . I think duds, too . . . from today's commenting.

Before we get to all that, let's talk Kinja.

So, it seems perfectly possible to continue to be funny and make jokes on Deadspin. That's good! There were plenty of funny jokes today. But, look, Kinja needs some work. It seems to be a vast improvement over earlier, scarier versions of Powwow, but it has some obvious problems. Nothing solves problems quite like a big stupid list of the problems, so let's get right to it, shall we?

1. Boy is it cumbersome. Lets use a hypothetical early afternoon post on Deadspin that generates an average number of original comments. And lets pretend for a moment that the average number of original comments is something like 30. And lets say that, of those 30 original comments, 8 are interesting enough to generate some reply, and 3 are great enough to generate a haul of +1s. Ideally, a commenting system would allow a reader to view the 30 original comments as quickly and easily as possible, without a lot of navigation - after all, each of those original comments is a potential conversation starter or a terrific joke, and you want easy access to stuff that might drive readership. In my ideal set-up, no navigation whatsoever would be required to view those 30 original comments. With Kinja, I have to click my mouse and navigate no fewer than 30 times. With the avatar set-up and the side arrow for . . . um . . . lesser comments (?), we're actually talking about probably 40 or more clicks, because I'll have to click the arrow and scroll each time I want to view the next lesser comment in the list. That's awfully unwieldy. Add in the extra clicks to view those replies, and it starts to get ridiculous.

2. It doesn't seem to like jokes very much. Kinja makes a lot of sense in an environment where discussion is common. In such a place, one might not need more than the nine available avatar placements, as presumably each comment is an invitation to a conversation, and the bulk of traffic will take place within those conversations. However, on Deadspin, we've long made jokes, and jokes do not invite discussion. Moreover, because it is virtually impossible to understand the nature of a reply without actually clicking on the avatar linked to the reply, one can't know whether a conversation has actually begun anywhere in a reply thread without clicking on each individual avatar. Got 30 +1s? I will probably not know that, as I am not likely to click on 30 different avatars in a single thread. In fact, I kinda like when the +1 chain overflows the avatar limit, so I can just glance at the arrow bar and verify that, yes, this thread is mostly +1s. Got a serious reply somewhere in that reply thread? I'll never find it. Never. The likelihood that I'll find a serious reply in any given post is next to nil. Just play the numbers - as it stands, I have not yet had the energy to pay attention to all the comments in a given post, much less peruse the replies. So, anyway, there's an uncomfortable disconnect between what we do on Deadspin and what Kinja is designed to do.

Plus, this is the scariest thing I've read all day (from Gawker-Tech guy Greg in Tommy's Kinja post):

This is one way we're encouraging conversation as opposed to stand-alone posts. Quite simply, we'd like people to reply to one another.

Oof.

3. It rather strongly discourages new or late comments. This is the worst, by far. There's a long, very busy conversation taking place in Tommy's Kinja post, and that would seem an ideal place to post some of my concerns about Kinja, but look, there's absolutely no way anyone would ever see any of them. In the previous set-up, even in a super-long thread of jokes and comments, I could still barge in and lay down my kick-ass knock-knock joke and be reasonably confident it'd take home its all-but-guaranteed haul of 30 +1s. Why? Because new comments went at the top. If your comment came early and didn't start a conversation, it was a miss and you moved on. Now? Why comment at all if you're not one of the first few people to a post or haven't juked the algorithm into giving you prime position? This is a problem, no doubt about it.

4. It makes the busy part of the day downright frantic and unmanageable. Because it takes a lot longer to navigate individual comments in a post, I have not been able to keep up at all with the flow of posts. And I'm just reading the comments, I'm not even making comments. If you get involved in a conversation in one post, the amount of activity required to follow that conversation and all the various off-shoots makes moving on to the next post and keeping up with all the new comments virtually impossible. Unlike in the previous set-up, where a simple refresh of the story would tell you whether any new comments had been made anywhere in any part of the comment thread, this system so far requires an outrageous, hilariously repetitive sequence of clicks and clicks and clicks to see whether someone responded to the good point Steve_U made in response to a reply Bevraj of Choice made to a comment made by BronzeHammer that is now hiding behind the arrow to the right of the avatars. And while I execute the necessary click sequence to refresh the story, navigate through the comments, locate the original comment, scroll through the replies, locate the appropriate comment, and scroll through its replies to see if anyone had anything to say about it, already two new stories have gone up and there's just no way I can stay current.

5. When I said before how it "makes a lot of sense in an environment where discussion is common"? Yeah, that wasn't totally true. It makes sense if your goal is to bottleneck commenter traffic into a few designated discussion threads, but even once you're in those threads, navigating the conversation is . . . well, it's tough. Body by Bacardi starts a conversation and generates 15 original replies. 9 of those replies are represented by avatars in a line within his original comment. 6 are hidden behind an arrow. The first reply gets 6 replies of its own, which are visible under the first comment. The second reply, by Mantis Toboggan, M.D., generates 4 replies of its own, which are represented by a series of avatars in a line within his comment, all hidden behind his avatar.  Each of the next 3 replies to Body by Bacardi's original comment also generated 2 replies each, which are shown via avatars in a line within the field of those comments. Body by Bacardi's original comment was something sharp and thoughtful and witty, like, "Jerry Sandusky is a homo butt-pirate LOL!!!1!", to which Mantis Toboggan, M.D. replied with something politely contradictory like, "Youre mom, douche!FIGHTME". In response to Mantis Toboggan, M.D.'s, well thought out and articulated counterpoint, Norm_de_Plume replied, "dont be a hater, biotch". However, because Norm_de_Plume's game-changer of a reply is hidden behind an avatar off of Mantis Toboggan, M.D.'s reply (itself hidden behind his avatar), how am I to know that the point has already been made in this discussion that people who don't call Jerry Sandusky a homo butt-pirate are, in fact, haters, unless I read all the replies in Mantis Toboggan, M.D.'s off-shoot of a conversation thread before joining in the original conversation with Body by Bacardi to expressly make the point that anyone who disagrees with his excellent thought-exercise is a straight-up buster-ass hater? That's a hell of a lot of work. It is not unreasonable to expect that the same point could be made several times within the same discussion without anyone actually knowing about it. Why? Because instead of fostering one big conversation between multiple participants, it breaks conversations down into mostly invisible tangents.

And who's to say how many of those replies-to-replies are just "good point" or "nice one" or "go fist a dead monkey's ass"? Yes, the algorithm is supposed to know the difference between a useful, intelligent response and the monosyllabic grunting of the average Gawker commenter a brain-dead moron, but this example needn't include all those preposterous examples above. Whether the algorithm likes the conversation or not, it still will not be possible for me, the reader, to have any idea whether the list of replies to the replies is worth going through to make sure no one has already explained the importance of the trajectory of Comet WhatTheFuck to understanding the tidal shifts of Lake MumbleGrumble in Krzkrszrstiusjkszstan. When I comment, I'm explaining that fucking shit in full detail. No way I'm bothering to sift through a confusing maze of arrows and avatars to make sure the point hasn't already been made. Now, instead of engaging someone in the exact topic at hand, I'm just rehashing it. Instead of conversation, you've got a pointless, disorienting echo chamber. And all you need to do to confirm this will happen is look at Tommy's Kinja post - the same point is made over and over and over again, sometimes within the same discussion thread, because no regular sane adult has the time to navigate through the whole mess before posting their own thought.

So, yeah. It's not perfect. I'm sure there will be improvements as Kinja is battle-tested, and I trust the editors and moderators and commenters of Deadspin (among all Gawker sites) to have the intellect, wisdom, patience, and creativity to make this thing work one way or another. It needs tweaking, and it sounds like the folks in charge know about it.

Favorites, in no particular order:

Here's a great reference from UweBollocks in the Daily Screencap post. I laughed pretty hard at this.

All Over But The Sharting had two funny comments today: first, this over-the-top dig at Josh Beckett in the Daily Screencap post, and an unexpected Olive Garden joke in Tommy's Kinja post.

I laughed out loud at this contribution from Bevraj of Choice in the Saudi Women post. So good.

Here's a dig at Jim Gray from Same Sad Echo in the Saudi Women post. This joke is funny the whole way, from beginning to end, and the Jim Gray bit is just a nice finish.

DubaiAtNight cracked me up with this joke in the Saudi Women post, which has a lot in common with Same Sad Echo's effort above, with a different kicker at the end. It's tricky to know which came first, but they obviously rely on different punchlines altogether. 

I really love this gotcha set-up from [person's] [thing] in the Prison Rape Jokes post. If there were stars, this guy would be well on his way to another one.

Total Fucking Duds

Obviously, this is a horrible piece of shit from Triumph of the Will Clark in the Sandusky Complaining post, and look, he really ought to know better. Not much more needs to be said about it than that. 

Sorry if I missed anything special today. It really is a huge pain in the ass finding comments in Kinja so far. I'm sure I'll get used to it over time. In the meantime, if there's a great joke in there and you want it in the Roundup, post it in the comments.

Have a great night!

8 comments:

  1. As far as putting highlights/duds together, you may want to check out PolkPanther's instructions for enabling mobile view in a browser. It's obviously not ideal for viewing the website, but it will put all the comments in chronological threaded order for you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I actually read TOTWC's comment as a funny call-back to the "dropped the soap" post. I was going to +1 it, but I didn't want to keep people from responding seriously to it.

    But if he didn't mean it that way, then boy was it horrible. But I'm quite certain he meant it that way.

    PS, great effort given the inherent difficulties..

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great job sifting through everything. I agree, it's tough to find the gems if you have to dig and dig and dig and dig.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Re my comment - SSE definitely posted first, but I didn't see it until later. I debated retracting, but as you said, the forms were similar but the punchlines different. Plus, you know, I assumed no one would see either one anyway.

    Re the chronological view, Denton seems open to making it an option. Sometimes tilting at windmills works.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Triumph of the Will ClarkJune 27, 2012 at 11:23 PM

    I was just alerted to this. I was misunderstood! It was just what Raysism alluded too, I was in no way being serious with my comment. I don't think rape in any way, shape or form is cool, even on dudes like Sandusky. You can ask my mom!

    I do appreciate the mention, even if it isn't in the most pleasant of circumstances.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good sir, the nerds at Kotaku have blessed us with this:

    https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ebpikpglbmpefffekgcdhogkpihphjja

    If you have Google Chrome, get this extension and then refresh Deadspin. Enjoy.

    ReplyDelete