The Snake Is Implemented

Comment Snaking? The Unbounded Snake? WordPress Comments Ouroborosified? Still haven’t hit upon the just-right name, but she is here – the comment thread version of Santanico Pandemonium.

As some of you have noticed, and as described in the prior development post, I recently began turning comments back from the far right margin upon their arrival at “max depth.” What this means, as I believe limited testing has already shown and as I had suspected might be the case, is that some conversations that might previously have tended to lose energy, trapped on the far right margin in a single column, now may tend to go longer as discussants try to work out whatever it is they’re trying to work out – a good thing if you’re in favor of conversation, and, if you’re not in favor of conversation, then you’re in the wrong place.

Under the initial installation and formatting of “unbounded nesting,” comments would bounce off the right margin at depth 10, then eventually hit the left margin at depth 20, and form a single column there. (Another alternative would have been to let them continue on past the normal boundaries of the site and sooner or later of your monitor!) Under the reign of the Snake, they’ll just start heading right again, then left again, then right again, not quite ad infinitum, but in that general direction as some day next year some election horse-race sub-thread on “What Game of Thrones Tells Us about Libertarians” goes into the 1000s of comments, and hits depth-level 100 and beyond…

Below find a demo. I’d have included an appropriate soundtrack, but we’re very careful about copyright infringement in these here parts, plus I don’t want to be caught stealing on YouTube either (and have the video taken down) – but you can achieve the same effect if you just play the both YouTubes below simultaneously.

Front page featured image from From Dusk Til Dawn (the Series) on El Rey Network (Publicity Photo).

30 thoughts on “The Snake Is Implemented

  1. First of all, an “election horse-race sub-thread on ‘What Game of Thrones Tells Us about Libertarians'” is quite possibly the best joke about Ordinary Times that I’ve read in weeks.

    Secondly, the truth is that unlike a whole bunch of other incremental innovations CK has quietly put in place over the past several weeks (hip-hip-hurrah! for blue shadowing to direct me to new-to-me comments!) I’m not immediately a fan of the snake-back feature — but I’m willing to test drive it for a little while and see if it grows on me before I register anything resembling a complaint.

    There isn’t really an ideal-to-everyone solution to this issue, I think; there must be a lower limit to how far successive replies will indent, and we can’t have it get to the point that the indentation gets

    Like I say, I’ma test drive it for a bit, and see how I like it before I articulate any opinion worth considering.

    • Burt Likko: I’ma test drive it for a bit, and see how I like it before I articulate any opinion worth considering.

      Good policy, in my view. Just be sure to compare it to real alternatives rather than to imaginary ideal approaches. So, if you have a different preference, try to be clear about what actually you want a user or yourself to see and experience when involved in a “deep” discussion.

  2. I’m really liking this solution to the problem. It’s much better than just not continuing to narrow replies and having a thin bar down the right side.

  3. @nevermoor

    Good – thanks!

    I hope I’ll be able to turn my attention to “show nslv only” as the next side-project… rather than have to make war on those who’d dare defy the Snake.

    • Well, that or actually code an ouroboros feature.

      That said, I’m not sure “show NSLV only” is better than just implementing keyboard shortcuts to jump from one NSLV comment to the next. The former might rob new comments of context, while the latter is just a (dramatic) improvement on manual scrolling as threads get long.

        • If you can get buttons to work I’d love to see the code. I tried to do it with the wordpress Admin Bar (when that was an exciting new thing) and failed utterly.

          • No problem. If I can find the time and things go well, plan is to have the full version of SLV comments as a public plug-in on Github by end of the week . I’ll point you to the button part, but it should be easy to pick out.

              • I won’t say nothing against no code-hacking. Have been working on my jQuery and Javascript for WordPress lately, but most of what I’ve learned about web dev – HTML, PHP, CSS, JS/jQuery, mySql being the main tools for WordPress – has been initially derived from hackwork: diving into code and seeing what happens when you change this, that, or the other, improving one’s code-burglary skills. After a while, you start figuring out how things work, and improve your guesstimate batting average, but I’ve never taken a class and seldom complete an on-line tutorial or example in a book as an end in itself. It has been said that the most important tools for a web designer are Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V, and though I’m more mousey than that (would you like to see the callus on my index finger?), I agree with the underlying point.

                End of Preachment

  4. Man, that Implementing The Snake video is awesome. Laughed all the way thru. The end was especially tight. Nicely done!

    I’m digging the snake, I have to say. Thanks for putting in the effort to establish a more reptilian feel here at the ole OT. Mush appreciated.

  5. CK,
    I’ve been thinking more about e-mails of comments. Have you (or anyone else here) given any thought to offering an option to just e-mail replies to your own comments?

      • I meant an option so that I receive e-mails for every comment that is labeled “to Vikram Bath” in the top right corner. For a thread in particular, I’d receive an e-mail for Michael Drew’s reply above and e-mails for your two replies here.

          • FYI: This sub-blog uses Subscribe to Comments Reloaded. I’d tried it out on the main blog, but the version available at the time was defective, so I switched back to Jetpack Subscriptions, which handles both Comments subscriptions and Posts subscriptions piggybacking on the system. Jetpack Subs is not perfect, but it’s very widely in use, and users are used to it, and it works.

            S2CR includes the feature you’re describing, and I think the new version corrects the problems in the prior version, but it needs customization work before I’d be comfortable giving it a second chance at the main site.

            At the risk of getting too technical, the way that “replies to my comments only” works is by sending you comments that will show up as “children” of your comments. I haven’t experimented with it enough to know how it handles all contingencies, but it uses the same flag that the “in reply to” marker uses.

              • right – a reply to a reply, within, if you will, the penumbra of the higher level (lower depth) comment would count as a child, as would a reply to a reply to a reply etc., so I believe would be emailed to you (haven’t verified it).

                (From a design/dev perspective, this aspect of nested comments poses peculiar challenges in relation to implementing the “show new only” and “go to next new” features discussed with @nevermoor above. In short, a simple show/hide toggle doesn’t work because when you hide the parent, you hide the child, too. Also, a simple go to next “sibling” – which IS a real term – of same type doesn’t appear to work, because a deeper-nested comment doesn’t qualify as a sibling, and there are no designated “cousins.” I’ve got only the show-new-only issue solved in principle so far, with a couple minor sub-optimals and the work not yet developed for use. May slip on self-imposed end of the week deadline.)

                • I solved that by just building an array in JS to loop through (as you know, since you saw my code).

                  The WP comment loop actually does go in the order we want.

                  • I think I have jQuery solutions for both functions. One does utilize an array function that’s built into jQuery… but you’ll see… may take a couple more days before I feel like presenting it in these parts.

  6. CK,

    I’m having a turrible problem with overitalicization when I do it manually. Seems like every time I do the “sidways hat, i, othersideways hat” and close it WP adds in an open sideways hat at the end for me. italicizing everything ever after.

    Is that something correctable in the coding? Is it something I’m doing? Should I just stick with using the buttons you’ve provided in the combox?

      • Not sure what you’re doing, but

        The preferred way to do italics if you’re writing am out is


        You can also use


        Don’t know why you wouldn’t use the convenient button… or when you’re seeing the extra characters.

        Try writing out what you’re writing out substituting [‘s for <‘s and >’s.

        • Don’t know why you wouldn’t use the convenient button

          At’s what I’ma gone do from now on. Convenience baby. Thanks for puttin it on the dash board!

          Also, it seems to me you’ve been going Whole Hog and over-achieving on this redesign, and it’s absolutely amazing. Like, really thorough and complete. Just wanted to give a shout out that we notice all the effort and really appreciate it.

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