From the geeks: What’s happening with your comments

Greetings commenters!

Yesterday and today our staff has unapproved hundreds of comments on blog posts by David O’Brien. The size of the pages had grown so large that it was slowing down our servers for folks commenting and reading David’s blog and all our other blogs.

There was absolutely no judgment that went into picking the comments to unapprove, our database administrator is simply unapproving the oldest comments leaving the newest available for viewing.

This is a great problem to have! We love that you love reading David’s blog and commenting on David’s blog and we definitely don’t want you to stop. We’re working on adding paginated commenting which will limit the number of comments appearing on the first page of David’s posts, and you’ll be able to click through to read all the comments on each post.

Once we have this working we’ll re-approve all the comments we’ve had to unapprove.

Slightly technical explanation: I will attempt to use a baseball analogy so bear with me here.

Normally every time a user requests a page from our systems you can think of it like a baseball being pushed through a pitching machine at batting practice.

The page is small and it should be “thrown” pretty quickly. But when a page is really, really, really large as some of these posts have been, it’s like trying to put a bowling ball through a pitching machine. The “throw” will be slow and it’ll probably break the pitching machine :-)

By paginating the comments we can break the pages up into nice baseball-sized pieces and they can be served quickly back to you.

49 comments Add your comment

braves4ever

February 19th, 2009
11:12 am

As Arnold says ” I’ll Be Back”
Any baseball news ? David we just want baseball.
whats going on today?

Rufio

February 19th, 2009
11:15 am

Are you saying they are going to break the comments into Pages?

How bout more than 10 comments per page. No one wants to have to click on a link to a new page every 10 comments when this blog has hundreds of comments.

I personally would rather wait for the whole thing to load… Helps with the Ctrl + F feature and quick scrolling.

But whatever.

To really improve the site you should make people register so that they can only post with their registered name… that way people dont just make up names over and over just to start stuff.

Jeff321

February 19th, 2009
11:16 am

Pagination will be fine if you make the newest comments first.. Otherwise, say I leave the page and come back. I’ll have to click through pages upon pages for the newest comments.

In other words, I’ll stop posting and reading comments. MLBTR also did the same thing and it wasted too much time.

With that said, I enjoy reading DOB’s blog.. So, I’ll continue to do that w/o interacting regardless of your decision.

TBraveFan

February 19th, 2009
11:28 am

ARGH!!! I just want to read that Tommy is signed!!

PLEASE…. tell me why he’s not all locked up yet! Wren, you are flat out killing me by not getting this done and done!!

Colbrave

February 19th, 2009
11:30 am

DON’T PAGINATE. Let the blog crash and then get a new one out. Just like you’ve been doing. I’ll rather wait for it to load, its much easier to read…

VolBrave

February 19th, 2009
11:43 am

I agree. The Tennessean here in Nashvile does the paginate thing. It’s no good! I hate having to click on the different pages. I don’t mind waiting on DOB’s blogs to load. I like reading his opinion and his stories and therefore, I feel it’s worth the extra 30 seconds of my life.

If ya’ll decide to paginate, then it will significantly reduce the amount of comments and thus traffic on your site. There’s got to be a better way.

BTW, excellent analogy DOB. Thanks for dumbing it down for us baseball geeks!

Just as REK (kinda) said…”we asked the world to wait, we’re gonna celebrate…a new DOB blog!”

car3boogie

February 19th, 2009
11:48 am

I got censored. All of my posts, I will Summarize. DOB, keep up the good work.

Augustabravesfan! May have had the most interesting observation in two days. Wren may just not be a Closer.

ease19

February 19th, 2009
11:54 am

Is this really random??? All my posts got moderated as well…

PTBNL

February 19th, 2009
12:46 pm

Looks like there will be no player interviews toady!

[...] Editor Note: Because of technical problems, we’ve copied Dave’s 12:26 a.m. entry here so that you can continue commenting. For now we’re limiting the display to just the latest 100 comments. For full explanation please read the explanation from our geeks. [...]

Chris Heisel

February 19th, 2009
1:12 pm

@Rufio — We’re definitely considering the register to save/display your username, it won’t be coming immediately but it’s on my groups development plan.

@Jeff321 — The plan is indeed to paginate and make the newest comments appear on top for quick reading of the latest discussion.

Long term we’d like to look at a way to paginate but without requiring you to click a link, it would just load more comments as you scroll down the page.

I’m afraid we can’t continue to have the long, slow loading pages, as it affects more than just Dave’s blog it affects all our other blogs and some additional content.

And did my pitching machine analogy make any sense to anyone?

awilliams16

February 19th, 2009
1:21 pm

Jeff321

February 19th, 2009
1:24 pm

Yes, the pitching machine analogy make perfectly good sense.

And putting DOB’s blog on its own server does too! (Although I’m unsure how cost effective that would be in the grand scheme of things.)

Anyway, maybe you should try some AJAX. (I know some sites use it to update content without doing a full page reload.)

Knuckle Sandwich

February 19th, 2009
1:36 pm

You guys are amateurs.

Ted Striker

February 19th, 2009
1:47 pm

Chris Heisel: I was confused by the baseball explanation — but then again, I struck out consistently in T-Ball as a kid.

As for the server pagination issues — if you’ll have your database administrator replace the dilithium crystals in the flux capacitor, you’ll see a shift in the translux locator. Then comments will be absolutely seamless, webpages will load at Warp 9, and Terence Moore will be Emperor of the Galaxy. (Okay, not the last part, but everything else).

rbronosky

February 19th, 2009
1:49 pm

@Jeff321

Putting DOB’s blog on it’s own server will not help DOB’s blog. (It would stop it from taking other [stuff] down with it, but I’m the kind of administrator who prefers that nothing goes down.) The issue is more of a problem with the speed of the readers internet connection. Before, when we were displaying all 1200+ comments, it was taking people 45-180 seconds to download the whole page of comments. Taking that long is unacceptable to me (and it is my call to make). Others (like Colbrave) have disagreed. You may think that wait is fine because you can surf in another tab while you wait. But, the reality is that only X number of people can be downloading at the same time. When those downloads take too long, people start getting denied and no one likes that. I have not deleted a single comment. I archived them. When the web developers get pagination work (and they are crunching hard on it now), I will bring the archived comments back.

The first implementation of pagination will be an emergency response. It won’t be our preferred user experience. But, I am a usability expert. I will personally get involved and make sure that the updated pagination experience makes you say “wow, this is how it should be done!”

Richard Bronosky, ajc.com DBA

Jeff321

February 19th, 2009
2:01 pm

Sounds good to me, thanks.

toga party

February 19th, 2009
2:17 pm

While I don’t think the fervent posting and refreshing that has been going on for the last 2 days will be anywhere near the normal amount of traffic on this blog, I applaud you guys for doing something about it.

My only request is that you retain the feature that when you refresh the page, you are brought back to the last post before the refresh. That’s much more convenient than having to find where you were in the comment list.

And I would definitely second the request to let us register our user names, not allow multiple user names per IP, etc.

Thanks.

Random

February 19th, 2009
2:27 pm

@Heisel, @Bronofsky —

If you’re gonna paginate the comments, then you’ve simply GOT TO resume providing links to each individual comment.

MLB.com paginates comments — I no longer even try to read commnnts on Bowman’s articles ’cause it’s simply too frustrating trying to find particular threads — comments and responses (and antecedent comments).

Man, y’all about to totally screw this blog up, looks like to me.

I’m with Colbrave & VolBrave — in my experience, you cannot search a single post for all comments by a particular commenter, but would have to search one page at a time. Many here just read DOB’s comments, using the “Edit-Find on this page” menu selection (or other browsers’ equivalents). You wouldn’t be able to do that with paginated comments, would you? Only page by page.

Nor would you easily be able to find any comments addressed by others to you. Or about you. Or about a particular player or topic. Etc.

Call me Cassandra — I’m definitely not Pollyannish about paginated comments.

At least, provide linkas for individual comments. Please???

PS: Rufio — name registration is for babies and Big Brother. Grow up, Whiny (“that way people dont just make up names over and over just to start stuff”).

PPS: @Heisel, @Bronofsky — Thanks for your time and attention to the above comment/complaint, and double triple dodecatuple googletuple thanks for all your efforts on the undersides of the blog!!!

Chris Heisel

February 19th, 2009
3:35 pm

@Random,

Thanks for sharing how you and many users search the blog for particular commenters, that helps as we move forward. I’m logging those use cases in our system.

I can’t promise that when we initially roll out pagination that it’ll solve for all those use cases, but we’ll certainly try and solve for them when we’re not in “fix it right now” mode :-)

Art Vandelay

February 19th, 2009
3:50 pm

Just thinking out loud here…wouldn’t it have been a good idea to anticipate this sort of problem prior to rolling out the new blog platform?

Random

February 19th, 2009
4:05 pm

@admin — Thanks!

PS: “Linkas” is Low Barsoomian for “links”.

CJM

February 19th, 2009
4:46 pm

I don’t know about anyone else, but if you have most recent comments first, it is nearly impossible to look at the blog late in the day (after it has been up and commented on for a while) and follow the conversation. The way it now, with first comments showing first, at least you can follow the conversation in a chronological order. I can’t stand FoxSports, MLB.com, etc because they do exactly the opposite. Showing most recent comments first makes no sense to me…and have never been able to follow a blog that way. The only way that makes sense is if you are “live blogging” and following along with comments in real-time, which has to be the vast minority of people that read this blog.

@ Richard Bronosky – Please consider this before making any decisions on the site. As a usability expert, you should know that once you turn users off, getting them back is going to be extremely difficult (if not impossible). As you know, users are what make a blog tick. I will say that one of the main reasons I frequent this blog multiple times daily is that I can follow the conversation, but I don’t have to be following it live. I can’t say the same for the vast majority of other sports blogs out there.

KnoxBrave

February 19th, 2009
4:59 pm

@Chris Heisel, Just another person who (no offense, other commenters) reads the blog and the comments mainly to see Dave O’Brien’s updates. I love that staff comments are highlighted in the new format, and would love a way to filter just for them. Also, kudos on the new design/look/feel overall. It’s very enjoyable.

The Artist Formerly Known as Too Hot For Teacher

February 19th, 2009
5:23 pm

Hey techie guys – just adding my two cents in –
first of all – thanks for constantly trying to improve the system!

Secondly – I second the motion to have people register. That will cut back on a lot of the posting traffic – at least the stupid traffic. Dave’s blogs get trolled by morons sometimes.

Finally I don’t think that this is going to be much of a problem over the coming weeks – everything was so heavy yesterday and today because of all of the Ken Griffey, Jr. stuff. It’s not normally that crazy that fast.

Couch Tater

February 19th, 2009
5:46 pm

I would have to “ditto” CJM’s 4:46. Thanks, guys.

Gil In Mechanicsville

February 19th, 2009
6:35 pm

Another possibility might just be to limit the number of characters (500-750) allowed per post.

Jeff in Alabama

February 19th, 2009
6:58 pm

Heisel & Bronosky

I don’t comment often on the blogs, but I am an avid reader. My preference would be to have the comment order selectable, if possible. I have seen some blogs where you can click “newest first” or “oldest first,” and think this would satisfy most blog users.

As for pagination, you have to do what’s necessary to conserve bandwidth, although I agree that it would make IE’s “Find…” tool a bit more cumbersome to use. This issue may not have an easy solution.

Lastly, is there a plan for a language filter for the new blog format? It’s not that I’m particularly offended by the many iterations of the “seven dirty words,” but I know DOB’s blog is popular with folks who do find them offensive. And frankly, I prefer the somewhat family-friendly atmosphere that the filter on the old blog helped to create, as contrasted to the vile free-for-alls that exist elsewhere on the internet. From another perspective, if commenting is going to be mostly unmoderated, then it probably ought to be filtered.

Josh from Columbus

February 19th, 2009
9:50 pm

Chris,

I thought the analogy was AWESOME! Good job with that, lol.

Stone

February 19th, 2009
10:43 pm

Jeez. Even the blogging section of newspapers are behind the times.

tank

February 19th, 2009
10:50 pm

Please consider blackberrys when thinking of usability. The “find” function is critical when on a pda, and paginating will make it too cumbersome.

observer

February 19th, 2009
10:53 pm

Since the tech guys are reading here, may I suggest that AJC look at chat software like Cover It Live, for DOB (and others) to use for player interviews? It’s embarrassing to think he’s dragging guys to the press box, and sifting through endless posts on a blog, and then DOB typing answers back on the blog.

I’ve got no personal interest in coveritlive (I’m sure there are many alternatives), but from what I know, it’s free to use, and is used by many news sites larger than AJC.

I think it would be a great addition.

KLB

February 19th, 2009
11:15 pm

As has already been noted by others, but I’ll add here, many people, including myself, do not post any comments. I come onto DOB’s blog to read the initial blog and then I check back in a few times during the day to read any comments DOB has added within the blog by using the Find feature in Firefox. It would be great if you could figure a way to make sure these are easily accessible. If you go to pagination, I’d be less likely to go to each comments page and search for DOB’s name to see his comments.

Steve McP

February 19th, 2009
11:50 pm

You knew that DOB’s blog often runs over 1000 posts, so why design a system that has problems with that?

Steve McP

February 19th, 2009
11:53 pm

A couple of comments on your plans, I prefer reading the new comments last, it is more like a journal or newspaper.

Secondly introducing automatic reloading of the page every couple of minutes would be a huge addition to the “usability” of the site.

ITGuy

February 20th, 2009
8:49 am

Way to upgrade into the mid-90’s AJC. Thought this new space was a real upgrade. Guess it’s worth about as much as the articles by the sports writers…..less than the paper it’s written on.

Brad in MT

February 20th, 2009
11:18 am

This upgrade was a joke…the first day or two when I hit refresh it would jump back to exactly where I left off, now it doesn’t do that and I can’t see all the comments. I want the old blog back if we aren’t going to be able to have all the comments on the same page and jump back to where you were reading before.

[...] David O’Brien, is getting absolutely reamed on his blog, it’s so bad that the newspaper had to blindly erase hundreds of comments just to keep their servers from overloading. And Tim Hudson angrily confronted O’Brien and had to be led away by a team official. Geoff [...]

mbatl

February 20th, 2009
1:35 pm

“But, I am a usability expert”

Congrats. You’re doing a great job.

SeattleBravesFan

February 20th, 2009
1:55 pm

tech dudes….please fix this…really…i don’t sit and read the blog constantly throughout my day, and so if you only limit 100 posts, most likely i miss most of DOB’s comments due to the incessant posting by most people. some good, many just to hear themselves talk. but by doing that, those of us loyal readers who can’t sit in front of the computer constantly, miss out on the DOB’s words of wisdom…

ease19

February 20th, 2009
2:01 pm

I agree, this is getting really annoying. I guess I have to sit here 24/7 without moving to catch everybody!

Couch Tater

February 20th, 2009
4:00 pm

Hey Richard & Chris,

At least when people are denied, they understand that the blog is overloaded. But, this 100 post thing looks suspicious.

I’m no computer guy, and I know you are frustrated, but can’t this be worked on in the background and leave the blog alone until there is a solution?

stynes

February 20th, 2009
10:27 pm

Glad to get some input from some technical folks. DOB’s blog is generating enough traffic that it warrants going to the next level. Allow folks to login. Allow replies to go to specific posts rather than at the bottom of the list so people can sort through the “mini-discussions.” Doing something like this would also allow those mini-discussions to be loaded on demand via ajax or something. Having folks login also allows you to flag which comments they’ve seen vs. what they haven’t with a new icon or something of the sort. Most “major” blogs have all these features. It’s good that someone’s working on giving these kinds of features to DOB as well. Thanks.

35YearBravesFan

February 21st, 2009
8:19 am

Chris & Richard –

Ditto to the CJM at 4:46. I also look at it several times aday, and don’t want the newest first. You can follow the discussion by starting at the bottom and coming up, but even Explorer is set up to scroll DOWN, not up.

Please go with registered users, paginated blogs are okay, but PLEASE DON’T put the new ones on the top.

Thanks for keeping us going!!

Random

February 21st, 2009
9:49 am

@rbronosky, @Chris Heisel–

First, lemme thank y’all again fer all yer efforts.

Next, lemme confess — it’s only now occurred to me to provide you an example of what in my experience is a GREAT model for blog comments.

(Before I do, lemme go on record as saying that I consider the old — albeit gone forever — Braves Beat Blog was the standard by which I measured all others. R.I.P.)

Baseball Prospectus comments pages are the best I’ve seen. Here’s a link to an example: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/unfiltered/?p=1166

I do note that BP articles do not provoke the quantity of comments that DOB’s posts elicit. Hope that’s not a critical difference.

Thanks again.

Random

February 21st, 2009
9:57 am

And also, Joe Posnanski’s blog is also acceptable in re how it handles comments. (Again, quantities of comments may not be comparable — maybe the only solution is to double DOB’s salary to get him to post a new blog twice a day.)

http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2009/02/15/steroid-symphony/

BravesFanInRockies

February 21st, 2009
11:36 am

Chris

Been on here for a couple of years and I really do appreciate the immediate posting and the cleaner display of the Wordpress format. However, it is awfully frustrating having all but the most recent 100 posts disappear into the ether. I tend to lurk off an on whenever I can sneak a break from work, and losing the discussion threads during really interesting times is a turn-off.

It would be very nice to be able to access older posts somehow so that these discussions don’t become Memento-like. Thanks.

Random

February 25th, 2009
10:17 am

Gentlemen–

We’ve now had a few days’ experience with the pagination, and I’d like to make the following suggestions:

increase the number of comments per page from 50 to 100 (or more, if possible); I’d expect 100 to be doable, since that was the previous limit on comments per page immediately prior to pagination;

put the “Page Selection” bar at both the bottom AND the top of each page;

allow the “Search this blog” tool to look at ALL blog pages, not just the current one open;

provide links to individual comments (like prior to going to WordPress) to make it easier for us to reference comments from previous pages.

I tried to do an Advanced Google search for DOB’s current blog (”G. Anderson: New Brave, etc”) specifying the following site or domain to search within:

http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-braves-blog/2009/02/24/g-anderson-new-brave-quiet-underrated/

I was hoping that it would search in all the blog’s pages (eg, http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-braves-blog/2009/02/24/g-anderson-new-brave-quiet-underrated/comment-page-14/#comments; http://blogs.ajc.com/…/comment-page-13/#comments; etc).

It did not work — would y’all know why, and perhaps be able (and willing) to enable such Advanced Google searches?

[...] By Mike Montgomery According to DOB, here’s tonight’s [...]

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