SoC improving comments
This project was eventually implemented as SoC improving comments 2008. The comment improvements are available as of Geeklog 1.6.0. This project outline is therefore only of historical interest and you can not apply for this project in future instances of the Google Summer of Code. Please see our ideas page for a current list of GSoC project ideas.
Comments are important for blogs and community-driven sites to get feedback from visitors. However, due to the rise of comment spam, it's becoming increasingly hard to keep comments open for everyone.
In Geeklog, you can currently only open comments for everyone (including anonymous users) or for registered users only. While the latter reduces the number of spam comments, it also reduces the number of overall comments, as visitors are less likely to leave a comment if they have to register first.
The goal of this project is to make comments more useful and attractive again by implementing:
- a comment moderation queue
- "aging" of stories, i.e. automatically close a story for comments after a while
- make comments editable for users
Note: Geeklog supports hierarchical comments, i.e. you can reply to a specific comment and your comment will be displayed below the comment you replied to (indented, instead of at the end of the list of comments).
Just like story submissions, comments should - optionally - be held back until approved by a moderator.
- Option to only hold back comments by anonymous users.
- Option to put already posted comments back into the moderation queue (including comments that are replies to these comments).
- Option to auto-approve comments by certain users or user groups.
- Possibly: Option to report moderated comments as spam (via the Spam-X plugin). This may be unnecessary, though, since the comments already went through the spam filter when they were posted initially.
Once a story has been up on a site for a while, it is less likely that someone wants to comment on it. At the same time, spammers are known to prefer spamming older posts in the hope that it will go unnoticed. Consequentially, it would make sense to have an option to automatically close a story for commenting after a while.
- Option to close the story for comments after a certain amount of time,
- Option to close the story for comments once it drops off the homepage (i.e. after a certain amount of new stories have been posted).
Note: Manual closing of comments is not available in Geeklog 1.4.1 but has been implemented in CVS (i.e. the current development version).
Making comments editable isn't going to help prevent spam, of course, but is aimed at making the comment system more attractive so that posters can correct typos or rephrase their comment.
Things to consider:
- A comment should only be editable as long as there hasn't been a follow-up comment.
- There should probably be a time-limit for how long the comment should be editable.
- Comments should always be editable for Admins, though.
- The user has to be identified somehow. So either this feature has to be restricted to registered users or a cookie has to be set to identify the original poster.
There are more ideas and feature requests that would also help to make comments more attractive and motivate visitors to leave a comment:
- Let anonymous users at least enter a name.
- Optionally send a notification email when a reply has been made to a user's comment (for registered users only).
- Being able to see the comment or original post while commenting on it.
These ideas are not strictly part of the SoC task, but may be easy enough to implement or at least have to be considered in the design.