I wanted a comments section for this blog that was light, easy to use and respected your privacy, so no tracking to other sites and selling your data, showing you ads or other articles. I also wanted something that would look like it belongs on this blog, too often I find that some comment sections are just pushed on like an after thought.
So I created my own product - commented.app I've spent some time the last few weeks building out the prototype and testing it on the blog and playing around with different ideas for it, it's surprising how many ideas you can start to have as you let your mind wander.
Commented.app is platform agnostic, it doesn't care what framework or language your using, it's just a few lines of HTML you need to copy into place.
I'll have a more detailed road map in the future but some of the ideas I'm thinking about:
Likes / Upvotes / Praise
Being able to like someone's comment or upvote and downvote has become a huge part of our commenting experience, it's become expected.
I don't know if I'll bother having down votes or dislikes here on this blog but the mechanism is pretty straight forward.
My plan is to make likes / dislikes or upvotes / downvotes available behind the scenes. The user will then be able to decide what labels they want and if they want both or not.
For me I just plan on calling it likes and adding just the like count to the blog. Someone comes along they can click the like and that's it. As the owner of the blog I would much prefer people engage and reply.
I'd like to have a way to pin a comment and have it move to the top, I don't know if I would limit it to just 1 per page or actually give myself some more control over it and let me make the call if I want to pin 1 or 4 comments depending on the post.
Approve and reply
So one of the things I've been thinking about for this is if someone commented on my blog, instead of the comment showing right away they would get a message along the lines of "Thanks for your comment"
Then I would have the ability to reply to the comment and it would be shown on the post only after I decide when.
This has a few advantages, it lets me ignore spam and doesn't allow it on the site.
It also would mean that every comment shown on my blog has a reply since I won't show it until I've replied.
I was looking at it more like a comment on my blog is a reply to my post first. It just happens that the conversation is happening in public.
I have an idea that commented could send an email back to say "Is this your comment" sort of like a double opt in for comments.
I could then turn this feature on and off as I want it, if my blog seems to be getting a lot of spam I can switch it on and if the comment is not verified I can just ignore it.
Integrating with memberships systems
One thing I don't want in commented is a login / signup. This blog runs on Ghost and ghost has a membership system currently, I am thinking I might make commented integrate with that. So you won't have to log in twice.
I'm looking around at the moment at other membership systems on wordpress as well to see if there is a good way to do it. But I have some ideas.
I'm a fan of markdown. I'm thinking that the comment section will support markdown fully. This blog is a developer blog mostly, I think it would be cool to me able to highlight code or embed things in to the comment. If I reply to someone why not be able to show them some embedded code.
This is an interesting one, at the moment I've split the CSS instead of using inline CSS on the comment section, I want to have an option for some really deep control for users here.
I want to have an option to give you a basic CSS file that would have the layouts, you could then add it to your blogs CSS and then customise it as you want so that the comment section looks slick and matches your over all theme, fonts and all.
I have a plan to hire some designers to build some templates for how comments could look. So you could have different options all depending on what kind of blog you are creating.
But the idea with HTML plugins would be that you could take parts of it and just that right into your design and not need to use the JS as much.
I want to make commented very modular that you can plug parts of it into your blog and make it look like it belongs as part of your overall theme and design.
So what next
These are just some ideas I've had around commented and what could be on the cards for it. For now I have the prototype up and running, next I plan on moving forward with the MVP and getting that out and in production. I have set my target for June to have the MVP out but I've been taking my time with this and not burning myself out.
What's planned for the MVP
- The basic comment section you see below.
- A moderator label for you know the moderator.
- Notifications - I have the basic notifications working, it lets me know when I have a comment on this blog. I need to do something about replies, so if I reply to you that it will send you a notification. (Not done yet)
- Approve / Reply / Mark as spam - This needs to be added into the commented app and the notification email that I can with a click hide the comment, reply to it or mark it as spam and make it go away.
- Page Controls - I want to be able to control different pages and if the page has comments or comments are disabled.
- Allow links to be clickable in the comment. At the moment it just see's them as text and that's fine for now but not the most useful.
- Email - I ask for an email when filling out the comment but it isn't tested for a real email, I'd like to have this in the MVP that it could have the ability to verify the email address used.
When I launch the MVP it will be invite only so if you want to give it a try drop me a comment below and don't forget to include a link to the site you want to try it out on.