Hey A.V. Club commentariat, let’s talk. Last week we introduced a change to our Newswire commenting system, one necessitated by a reformatting of our Newswire layout. We’ll be blunt: We did a fairly poor job of implementing and of explaining it. For that, we apologize. Believe it or not, it’s never our intention to enrage our commenters with anything besides our opinions, the occasional spoiler, or our typos.
We have since heard your complaints about the new system, many of them rational and justified, some of them even politely expressed. Chief among the problems identified were: avatars were taking a long time to load (or not at all); new comment notifications were making the article window jump, making it difficult to know which one you were actually commenting on; and trying to comment on the mobile site scrolled the input field out of view, making it all but impossible to use. It was a flawed system, but hey, at least it was unpopular. Anyway, today we’re happy to report that our tech team has introduced some things to address all of that.
First of all, the fly-out box is gone. Comments are now back underneath Newswire articles where they used to be—although there is a slight change there. Now you’ll see a preview of each article’s comment thread, which you can expand using the button at the bottom. If you click to load all comments, you’ll then be taken to a new tab that has both the article and the entire comment thread within it, in a page that resembles the old layout you remember. (Some of you have already discovered this page using the “?permalink=true” workaround, and are surely hacking into our phones as we speak.) While we know this is not precisely the old system, we hope you find it an acceptable—and functional—compromise with the needs of the new system.
About those needs: Like every other website, The A.V. Club depends on pageviews. And while we’re doing better than ever in terms of traffic (March is already on track to be the highest-viewed month in our long history), maintaining those pageviews requires being very strategic about getting our content in front of an audience that has a million other sites vying for its attention.
Here we’ll be blunt again, as well as kinda boring: Right now, around 95 percent of our traffic comes from so-called “casual” readers, most of whom happen upon a Newswire headline (usually on Facebook) and click to read just that article. By putting Newswire articles in a scroll and giving them something else to read immediately after, we maximize our chances to keep them around. And while we never want to alienate our loyal users for the sake of attracting more casual readers, we do have to find a way to square those two audiences—and hopefully, convert the latter into the former.
We realize, as always, that any change to the site can be frustrating for those who have long supported it, throughout all its various incarnations. We especially appreciate those of you who have weathered all those changes to continue making this site’s commenting community an integral part of its success. We hope today’s fix goes at least a little way toward acknowledging that community’s importance to The A.V. Club, and to restoring it the placement it deserves.
If there are still any lingering kinks with the comments to be addressed, please just email and let us know.