Don’t Panic! A Guide to The BioLogos Forum’s New and Improved Commenting System

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April 3, 2011 Tags: Christian Unity

Today's entry was written by the BioLogos Editorial Team. You can read more about what we believe here.

Don’t Panic! A Guide to The BioLogos Forum’s New and Improved Commenting System

When we first began the BioLogos website and accompanying blog “Science and the Sacred” (then on BeliefNet) in April 2009, I don’t think any of us anticipated how much online discussion our posts would begin to generate in less than two short years. Yet, inside those two years we’ve seen the number of commenters on our blogs continue to grow, with many reading and responding on a weekly and even daily basis. For some, The BioLogos Forum has become their first place to discuss science, Christian faith, and interactions between the two.

As the discussions and interactions in our posts have continued to grow, however, we’ve found ourselves in need of some changes. Moderating the hundreds of comments we receive every week can be rather difficult and time consuming, and when posts expanded to well over one hundred comments, it became both difficult to follow the various threads of discussion and in some cases to even load the blogs. Add in the fact that some of these discussions became personal back and forth sessions between two users, and we found we had a comment section that could at times be far too messy and confusing for the everyday user. That’s why we are happy to present to you our new and improved comment system which we hope will open up the comment sections to even more visitors and also provide our loyal commenters with some new tools and features to streamline their discussions.

The new features include:

  • Your own personal profile, which can be accessed by either creating a new account with BioLogos or by signing in with a pre-existing Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, AOL, or OpenID account. This profile will let you share a bit more about yourself with the other commenters if you’d like and hopefully get to know your fellow commenters a bit better (please note biographies and other personal fields are optional). The system will also support custom user icons through the Gravatar system.

  • A messaging system for our users to send direct messages to other users without having to disclose their email address or personal information as a way to privately continue conversations with other commenters. Users will have the option to opt out of the messaging system for privacy reasons, which will disable both sending and receiving of private messages.

  • A global user reputation system in the form of traffic lights, so that readers can tell at a glance whether a commenter is in good standing (green light), has had their account warned (yellow), is currently under suspension (red light), or is a designated moderator on the blog (denoted by a “MOD” icon). All users are in good standing by default and will only lose that standing if they repeatedly violate the Groundrules for Commenting.

  • A refined community moderation system, which will allow all registered users to directly flag comments they feel are inappropriate, along with a reason why, for review by moderators. Comments that receive numerous complaints from multiple users will be automatically closed until further review.

  • Friend and Ignore lists will allow you to keep track of the users you enjoy conversing with and automatically hide the comments of users you’d rather not converse with.

  • Email subscriptions to posts, which will alert you when new comments are made on any discussion you’ve been following.

  • Nested replies, allowing users to post their responses directly below the comments they are engaging with instead of using the confusing system of “@username/post-number”, and dynamic pagination of comments, to make sure posts with lengthy comment threads still load quickly and smoothly.

  • A new WYSIWYG editor (meaning “What You See is What You Get”), which will allow users to include links and text formatting without the need to know HTML or any other mark-up language.

  • A built-in profanity filter to catch any offensive words or phrases automatically without the need for a moderator to make the changes or hide the comment.

To help implement these features to everyone, we will be requiring users to create an account to continue commenting on our site, effective April 13, 2011. The account features are available to everyone immediately, but we will continue to allow anonymous commenting without an account through the month of March and early April. To create your new account, or log in with a social media account, simply click the "Log In" button on the top right of your browser.

As with any new feature, we are aware there will be some growing pains for users as we make the transition, and we want to hear from you if you notice any problems or bugs or if you have suggestions to improve the user experience. However, we are confident that our wonderful community of readers and commenters will put these features to great use and continue to help make The BioLogos Forum a center for honest, civil, and open dialogue in all things related to science and Christianity.



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gingoro - #55902

March 28th 2011

An indication of whether or not one is logged in would be a good idea.  When I click on login it tells me that I am logged in yet below it says I am commenting anonymously. 

Also RSS still seems to be listed as an option for comments.  Is that how one gets email notification of new comments or exactly what is the mechanism.  Do I subscribe to all comments or do I have to subscribe to comments only on posts that interest me?
Dave W


Stephen Mapes - #55903

March 28th 2011

Hi Dave,

Once you are logged in, the anonymous commenting message should go away, and the top right should change to say “My Profile” and “Logout”. If you don’t see the change after logging in, please contact us with your operating system and browser version so we can take a look. It looks like your comment process with your account though.

We will also be re-evaluating how best to run the comment RSS going forward, but subscription will allow users to only see updates from posts they are interested in.

Thanks!


gingoro - #55937

March 29th 2011

Thanks This morning I get the My Profile and Logout hot spots at the top of the browser window. 


R Hampton - #55909

March 28th 2011

Let’s see what this new comment system looks like…


conrad - #55918

March 29th 2011

Well it would be my hope that if discussions are divided into various interest groups a group would emerge that wants to discuss the amazing parallels between the newest science and the Bible.

So far no one seems interested in that.

Evolution, is not new science. But the Biologos writers are stuck there.

Inflation, as described by Alan Guth, is relatively new.
 The amazing thing is that when you reread our Bible while pondering Guth, the two fit together.
OUR BIBLE NEVER SEEMS TO BE OUT OF DATE!
WHY?
Well my personal theory is that the Bible is God’s word and God knew all of the modern scientific theories long before the human scientists ever dreamed of them.


conrad - #55924

March 29th 2011

What is even worse than the “scientists” who are working with a 50 year old high school understanding of evolution as their entire scientific preparation,... are the bloggers who do not know any science but who are writers.

The assumption seems to be that facile use of language is the featured skill on this site and if they are pretty good at blather they are qualified here to shout down the people who are “off topic”.

You will never get Alan Guth discussed among that group.
 But we should be discussing Guth and Witten and Smoot and others.
 They represent today’s science.
 Darwin died in the 19th century,... remember?.


conrad - #55926

March 29th 2011

If we discuss real science,.......
 ..if we inform people of the amazing similarity between new science and our old Bible….....WE WILL BLOW THE JUNK SCIENCE TEACHERS OUT OF THE TUB.
 But we can’t do that while focusing exclusively on evolution.


Chris Massey - #55928

March 29th 2011

Testing Testing ... 1 ... 2 ... 3


penman - #55933

March 29th 2011

And another test…. Let’s hope I never get the Red Dot.


nedbrek - #55957

March 29th 2011

This is a test.  If this were an actual post, it would not be funny.


paul.bruggink1 - #55980

March 29th 2011

This new convoluted system will be one way to cut down on the number of Comments. It keeps telling me that I’m commenting anonymously, even though I already created an account via Google and just commented on another post.


Stephen Mapes - #56000

March 29th 2011

Hi Paul,

The anonymous commenter text shouldn’t be appearing once you’re logged in (and this comment showed you as logged in). When you are logged in, the top right links should change to say “My Profile” and “Logout”.

If the glitch continues, send us an email with your browser and operating system and we’ll try to hunt down the problem.

Thanks!


paul.bruggink1 - #56001

March 29th 2011

I was shown as logged in because I took the trouble to log in for the second time in ten minutes. I am using Internet Explorer with Windows Vista. The interesting thing is that it didn’t happen this time, so I’m not sure what got me logged out the last time. If I happen to notice a pattern, I’ll let you know.


Andrew Vogel - #55986

March 29th 2011

This is another test…


Mike Gene - #56812

April 4th 2011

In case anyone is reading, I have one suggestion for improvement.  In the check-off box below this box, where people subscribe to the comments, make the default setting so there is no check.  If people want to subscribe, they can check it.  Because it is checked off in the default state, if you forget to remove the check one time, your email box fills up with notifications everytime anyone comments on the thread.


Paul D. - #57033

April 6th 2011

I like the nested comments, but the comment editing window is hands-down the worst I have ever had the misfortune of trying to use.


Jordan - #57058

April 6th 2011

I would love to see a timestamp appear with each of the comments. And I agree with others that the commenting text box is… inadequate. It’s very glitchy for me (text often won’t appear as I type, although it is currently).


Jordan - #57301

April 7th 2011

I should probably add that I use Google Chrome.


RBH - #57428

April 8th 2011

I duly registered for a BioLogos account, completed the form, got a page that said a confirmation email had been sent, but no email confirmation request has arrived.  I rechecked the email address I gave (the same as the one associated with this comment) by going back a page in the registration sequence and it was correct.  Help!


RBH - #57538

April 9th 2011

(Tap tap tap)  Still no confirmation email.  Is anyone reading these comments?


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