When WordPress 2.7 was released, everyone was happy and excited that it included a new feature called inline comment replies. For most people, it was an answer to prayer, but for others it turned out to be not so great.
What are inline comment replies?
Inline comment replies is a feature that lets you reply to comments on a blog, and have your reply show up directly below the comment you are replying to.
Imagine this scenario: you’re reading an interesting article on one of your favorite topics, and after you finish reading, you decide to read through the comments and see what other people are saying about it. You start going through the comments, and see one towards the top that’s from a guy who has a question about the article. Since you have a lot of experience on the article’s topic, you immediately know the answer to his question and decide to answer it. There’s only one problem – after that guy posted his question, 50 other people posted comments below his. Now, if you were to post a comment in reply to his question, it would be so far away that he probably wouldn’t ever see it. This is a pretty big problem, right?
Enter inline comment replies. Now, if the blog you’re reading has this feature installed, you can simply click “reply” on the guy’s question, type your answer, and your comment will show up right below his (indented a bit so it stands out from all the other comments). Pretty nice, right? Or is it?
Though this may sound like a great feature, and in fact it is useful most of the time, there is one problem with it. If you have an extremely popular blog that gets tons of comments within seconds of a new article being posted, then everyone is going to want to be one of the first to comment so that their website link is clicked most. Normally, you could only do this if you literally sat on the site and clicked refresh every couple of seconds until a new article showed up, and then typed a comment as fast as you could. However, with inline replies, you can just reply to the first comment on a post, and your reply is displayed right below the first comment.
If the first comment is an actual question, and the reply is an answer to that question, then this is fine. But if the reply is nothing more than a way to get a link to the top of the comment list, then this can become a problem.
The obvious solution for this is to simply not use inline comment replies on your blog. However, sometimes it is a nice feature to have on your blog, and you don’t want to give it up. So what do you do?
One thing you can do is manually delete comments that are obviously from people trying to just get to the top of the comment list. The problem with this is the 1) the commenter might wonder where his comment went and get angry at you for deleting it or 2) the comment could actually have some good content in it, but doesn’t have anything to do with the comment it’s in reply to. Deleting it would be removing legitimate content.
Another thing you could do is just move the reply comment to the bottom of the list. The commenter might get annoyed that his comment was moved, but at least he didn’t get away with his scheme.
So now I ask you – do you worry about this on your blog, and if so, how do you prevent it from happening?