I never get this right. There are times when I will be reading a post and it feels as if the chronological order of comments would make better sense. At other times, such as the comments on this post on IP Democracy (which has newest comments on top), seems opposite. I actually found it quite difficult and counter intuitive to read through the comments on that post to follow the story as it unfolded. Scrolling upwards on a post is just plain weird. On more popular posts, readers tend to complain when the list of comments grows beyond a certain number and they loose the forest for the trees. The TechCrunch comment threads are simply useless if you want to follow any part of the discussion and I tend to just read the highlighted ones from Michael or the other authors. On the other hand, comment reply threads are unwieldy, take up too much space and somehow fail to mirror forum discussions. Alternatively, outsourcing comments to a third party is just not an elegant or attractive solution for most people.
I feel that commenting systems on blogs need to evolve some more. Some blogs have decided to spin off comments to forums. Others have moved their comments to external services such as Disqus. Yet others like TechCrunch move comments to a linked forum for further discussion after the post has become somewhat stale.
What do forums have that comment threads on blogs do not? Are paged comments a good idea? Should comments threads be pruned by type? Are you more willing to participate in a forum discussion than post a comment on a blog? If that is the case, how could we enhance commenting on blogs to mimic the reader involvement of forums?
I don’t think there is a single right answer. However, I do consider our readers’ comments to be the lifeline of our blogs and shy away from shipping them off elsewhere. That being said, Disqus and Intense Debate have the right idea but the execution takes away from blog ownership. Comment editing and tagging, and comment to post and comment to commenter relationships need a lot more TLC if comments are to become as ubiquitous and as widely used as forum posts. Gravatars go a long way in bringing those relationships closer to a global audience but more needs to be done.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the present state of comments in the blogosphere. Did you come across a commenting system that bridges some of these gaps? Was there some feature that stuck with you or made you go Hmmm? What would make commenting less of a hurdle for you?