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LineBuzz – Inline Comments

LogobetaLineBuzz is a new commenting solution for blogs that has got me a little curious. The concept is pretty simple – it allows your readers to comment on specific parts of your blog post by highlighting any text that you’ve written.

It’s probably best to learn about it by seeing it in action – something you can do at their blog Buzz This!.

Once the page loads you’ll notice that some text in comments is underlined with dots – these indicate that someone has commented on that particular part of a blog post (see the links highlighted below).

Line-Buzz

Hover the cursor over these links and it’ll tell you that there are comments like this:

Line-Buzz-2

Click the link and the comments open up as a little popup:

Line-Buzz-3

It’s an interesting concept and one that I can see some real usefulness in for those bloggers who write longer posts making many points – however I’m not convinced enough to install it on my own blogs.

From what I can tell the comments only get recorded inline and not in the comments at the end of a post – so there’s no place to view all comments on a post (unless I’m missing it) and keep an overall conversation in the one spot.

I would also worry about posts that get a lot of comments and how messy it could end up looking. For example my recent post – which feed reader is best? – is approaching 200 comments. That’s more comments than words – the whole post could be one massive jumble of inline comments.

It’s an interesting service and is one that is still in beta so I’m sure they’ll develop it further. What do you think of it?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. laura says:

    How does it handle spam? I would hate for spammers to find that someone is using it and place spam comments all through a post.

  2. Jamdo says:

    I think the potential for this is massive and I have been waiting for exactly something like it for a long time.

    Imagine if it were extended beyond blogs! You could easily apply it to academic papers because they often generate controversy in specific parts of the research. (Or for a professor marking a paper that was written on a blog for example and wanted to comment on specific parts). It would be awesome for collaboration between a research student and their professor on the other side of the world too.

    I am off to check it out!

  3. Roberta says:

    Inline comments looks like it would be more trouble than it’s worth. I would imagine this would get sort of annoying. I wouldn’t know unless I hovered that it wasn’t a link, but a comment instead. My brain isn’t geared to hover and read, it’s geared to click and read later.

    Maybe that’s just me.

  4. John Bokma says:

    Personally I recommend to use moderation combined with reporting spam. I am not sure if that’s possible with Inline Comments though.

    I do report spam as much as possible and I notice that spam stays at an “acceptable” level. It’s very satisfying to see that sites belonging to spammers are actually taken down, or that hijacked pages are removed.

    Sadly, blog spam stays alive and kicking because a group filters it out (Akismet), another group doesn’t care (they don’t use their blog anymore), and yet another group isn’t even aware it’s happening because they don’t check old pages. It’s only a very small group, or at least that’s my impression, actually reporting it.

    I don’t like CAPTCHAs because I have often problems with them myself. And filtering…. look what has become of email.

  5. Rehuel says:

    There are a lot of people who have learned that commenting can get you ahead, and the more you comment, the more exposure you’ll get. May be true, but I see these people misusing inline comments to get on top.

    I think a blog will loose the value of conversations, because, as with ads, people will get used to seeing those underlined words and not even take the extra time to click.

    I think inline comments could be a bad idea. I’m agreeing with laura.

  6. Mark Maunder says:

    Hi, Mark Maunder here. I’m the founder and CEO of LineBuzz.

    I’m going to take your questions one by one, so here goes:

    Re long threads getting messy:

    LineBuzz supports threaded comments and we have some fairly long threads. Take a look at our changelog page here:

    http://linebuzz.com/static/changelog.html

    We’re aware that the comment bubble is a little small, so we’re working on giving users the option to maximize it. In general the behaviour we’ve found is that users don’t often select text to post a comment, so you don’t find a ton of underlined text. They will select a single interesting phrase and then that inline comment turns into a longer thread. with new posts and replies.

    Re: There’s no place to view comments in one place:

    We’re working on a few more widgets that will give you different views of your comments. But I also don’t think that LineBuzz replaces traditional comments. In fact we’ve seen that they work well together. Someone will write a very long post as a traditional comment and will mention that they’ve added an inline comment to show readers what they’re referring to in the post – as a marker.

    Re: Laura’s question about spam:

    We are very conscious of this problem and have had our own blogs spammed badly over the years. We have a captcha that users must enter before posting and that will weed out a lot of spam, but there’s always going to be some spammer that gets through. So we have extensive logging on our servers including IP address, Session ID, time stamps and that sort of thing. This data doesn’t solve the problem, but it gives us the tools we need to weed out the more problematic spammers as they arise. We can use this data to develop heuristic profiles of spammers and flag their accounts for further investigation.

    Re: Roberta’s comment about user behaviour:

    Thanks Roberta. We think that inline comments are quite useful – but you’re right about the fact that users have their ways of doing things and we have to work with that. So a big part of what we’re trying to solve is a behavioral problem. We have to fit in with what the blogsphere knows and likes and is used to. We haven’t solved that yet, but we’re improving LineBuzz a little at a time.

    Let us know if you have any more questions or comments either in this discussion thread, or comment on blog.linebuzz.com or email me directly at “mark at linebuzz.com”

    Mark Maunder
    LineBuzz.com Founder & CEO.

  7. Ahmad says:

    I recently not very like this.I agree with Laura and Rehuel. People with love if our post had a very good conversation with readers but to implement with inline comments is not a good idea for me. But, if the others would like to give a shot, why not..

  8. Carlie says:

    I think it might be a good idea for blogs that are more about information rather than for conversation. Such as the picture where there are a lot of dot points. I can see perhaps the usefulness in it then. But I think for most blogs it wouldn’t be very useful at all, and it’s just as easy to have the conversation all in one place at the bottom of the blog with perhaps “blockquotes” when a comment is talking about one section of the blog in particular.

  9. Well, looks like a good tool but unless I see a few bloggers implementing it, I am not going to give a try to it. I hate spams and also if it in someway slows down the site.

  10. Phishie Diaz says:

    I don’t like it. Like you already mentioned. It seems like it would get too messy, too spammed, too abused, etc…

    Lol…. what an interesting concept.

  11. Mjuboy says:

    Well, it looks very interesting and definitely has potential for more improvement and might become a good tool.

  12. I think if you get a surge of comments on a regular basis, your posts will ultimately have all sorts of dotted lines in every phrase or so; it can be a little distracting. However, I do see some potential in it — like adding footnotes or something. If the dotted lines were replaced by something less obvious, I don’t know, maybe it could work.

  13. EngLee says:

    Hover over and see the comment can be a good improvement.

    To comment on its current look, I don’t like the part where my screen was slightly scrolled/moved, when I click on the link.

  14. MJ Ray says:

    I don’t see the inline comments. Is this what Jakob Nielsen’s on about “glossy but useless” Web 2.0 hype? See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6653119.stm

    Isn’t the W3C Annotations project meant to do this already? If LineBuzz is a script interface to http://www.w3.org/2001/Annotea/ that might be worth the hype.

  15. Andy Merrett says:

    Intellitxt for comments! Woo!

    I like the principle, but I agree that it could get messy, particularly with other links and acronyms in the body of the article.

    Most people who comment can simply reference a piece of the article by quoting it or rephrasing it in their reply. I think threaded comments are more useful than inline ones.

  16. ricardo says:

    Nice… looks pretty ok, but I just started with my Threaded Comments tool. I dont think I want to turn my back on them :).

  17. This really seem to have a very nifty feature. It would be really nice if they can be able to have a partnership with the top blog platforms around so that they could improve it even further.

  18. Samir says:

    I agree with Roberta about this having the potential to quickly go out-of-hand and get extremely distracting.

    But beyond that I wouldn’t rush out to implement this because it encourages a type of user interaction that I don’t particularly appreciate. We’ve all seen enough of the “Oh wow! Cool post!” species of comment [some of us might even be masters of the art :) ], which while not malicious can drastically increase the noise on the page if it goes too far. This kind of direct, in-content, commentary seems to only increase the propensity of some people to make completely unworthy contributions to webpages, especially when what might be needed is an actual discussion.

    I think Flickr’s similar photo comment system is a prime example of how this can disintegrate into background noise. In all my time browsing Flickr, I might have come across 1 or 2 valid on-picture comments which actually made a point. The rest have either been aimless gushing, baseless criticisms, or “oh wow! booobies!” … and all that in 9.6 words or less.

    The need to collate all your thoughts about a particular post and then organise them into a singular comment at the end requires a certain amount of minimal mental planning which I think is a useful buffer, a sort of firewall against mental spam.

    So what it comes down to I think is what kind of site you want to run. I’m sure if you’re into being Web2.0-Cool™ above all else, or you run one of those joke/gag/funny-video sites which thrives of a lot of transient viewers, this might be a god-send for your user experience. But if you would actually like a lot of cumbersome coherent thought from your readership, I would have my doubts about this inline commenting business.

  19. ploop says:

    thanks for this tip off Darren – I can see some really useful applications for this on mine, and many other blogs. Like many good ideas it seems so simple as commenting on certain aspects of a post is something I’ve wented to do for a good while

  20. A Marques says:

    It’s something that I would NOT install on my blog, at least not yet.
    - Distracting – I want my readers to understand what I’m saying without having to go back and reading it again just because they hovered on a comment link;
    - Spam – As mentioned above, how does a spam filter works in here?
    - Not useful – I can’t see how this can actually be so useful. My posts are usual short enough that, if a user wants to comment on a part of them, he can just quote. Maybe for a long article, but not for small posts.

    But anyway, thanks Darren for mentioning it. Maybe it’s something that is worth to keep an eye on, just to see if some other features develop for it.

  21. Conscious says:

    I don’t dig it. Just seems like another unnecessary addition that will interfere with the flow of your blog. Too bothersome to bother with. I’m sure though there will be enough folks thrilled with it for it to be successful. I personal wouldn’t mess with it though.

  22. Call me a linear thinker, but I’d find those inline comments a tad messy, once you got more than a few of them … and would certainly miss the thread of comments at the end, so much more like a “real” conversation.

    Anyway, how hard is it to Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, and pop in a couple of quotation marks, to respond to a particular part of the post?

  23. Mike says:

    It’s another one of those “features” which would turn me off a site in a heartbeat. It adds nothing to the user experience and is intrusive.

  24. I like the inline-comment-stuff which makes paragraphs or other aprts of text available for commenting. I don’t know where I saw that anymore, but the website looked like a Microsoft Office application and wanted to emulate the look and feel, if I remember correctly. It’d be great if I was able to select ideas or parts of texts that belong together and make them commentable. Not an automatic process like “every block element is commentable” but a customizable solution to fit to the content.

  25. Seems like an interesting idea, but I’d never use it in my blog. I think it would just be a distraction from the content that I am trying to create for my readers. If you want to view comments then go down and read the comments… it’s not that hard. Furthermore as you pointed out, if your post is highly commented then the whole post could be just one huge dotted mess of underlined popups. You might even crash the browser just moving the mouse over the post LOL. That’s just my two cents.

  26. Sue says:

    If LineBuzz takes off I can see it as a good way to publicize your blogs. The comments made not only appear in your page’s LineBuzz module but on the LineBuzz blog too.

    You can make comments yourself to highlight salient points in your post, which when viewed at LineBuzz may also attract readers to your blog.

    Add a social networking feature too it and it would be even more valuable in this regard.

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Trackbacks

  1. [...] about the coolest application for blogging I’ve come across for a while (thanks to Darren at Problogging for the tip off).  Bascially it lets viewers of blogs hilight certain words or phrases and comment [...]

  2. [...] to affectionately call “democracy”, has been on my mind a lot lately, especially since I commented on Darren Rowse’s post about a new service called Linebuzz. Democracy is all about the [...]

  3. [...] linebuzz – inline comments for your blog, that is a visitor can highlight text and leave comments refering to that text in particular. Others can hover over the text and the inline comments will pop up (you can also reply), the inline comments will also be displayed in the sidebar. Need to be registered to leave comments, and a user has a space to keep an archive of all their inline commenting…check out their blog to see it in action. If it’s just a regular comment module you are after see JS-kit and others. [via PB] [...]