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New 1.2 SWA and Blog/Forum syncing: Feedback Needed

  • Avatar of Mike Pratt
    Mike Pratt
    Participant

    @mikepratt

    Bringing up a Topic I thinks needs serious discussion as Andy dives headfirst into issues raised by the new SWA model.

    If you have played around with the bleeding edge trunk or the new http://bptest.org, then you can see this issue in action.

    Current State: the new in-line commenting system (awesome) allows for all members to chime in and add to conversations taking place throughout your BP site. These comments are ajax’d, threaded and are a boon to activity. CAVEAT: comments made in-line do NOT post back into the originating thread (this goes for forum postings and blog post comments). The obvious problem here is that 2 separate discussions will most certainly evolve from one originating posting, potentially occurring multiple times even within the same topic!

    Question #1: Does Andy “sync” these postings. After chatting, I think the answer is some form of “yes”

    BUT: This will force a possible re-thinking of the concept of Groups and Blog roles and membership e.g. is it necessary for a user to be a member of a group before in-line commenting? Are they warned (in-line) that they cannot comment if they are not a group member? Are they auto-joined in-line like they are now in the actual Group itself? What about Groups that require permission to join but whose forum postings show up in the SWA?

    We have a possible solution on our site but realize it will not universally apply. We think of Groups as logical aggregations of topical activity and association. Our site is pretty gated as a whole but not once you’re in. We DON’T want people auto joining a group JUST because they made a comment (in the new in-line model) For ex. we have graduating class groups going back to 1940 and imagine a busy commenter realizing he is now a member of 18 class groups when all he did was comment on the SWA. To us, the reason you JOIN a class is to 1. be associated and found and 2. be kept up on all that goes on within the group. We want everyone to comment and engage but we know that for many it may be a one off thing that doesn’t deserve an auto-join.

    There are many sides to this coin. I just threw out one of them. We need to hash it out here for Andy’s benefit…..and, therefore, OURS.

    Thoughts?

Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 39 total)
  • Avatar of Andy Peatling
    Andy Peatling
    Keymaster

    @apeatling

    My take is that a public group is public. The group activity shows on the site wide activity stream because of that. You must be a group member to post an original update in the group, but you do not have to be a member of the group to leave your comment on something that is openly public.

    A private/hidden group is different, the activity will not show on the site wide stream, so you will need to be a member to comment or even see the activity when you visit the group.

    I think for now it’s going to be too messy to try and start auto-joining people or thinking about permissions even further. Not to say that this won’t be thought about in greater depth after 1.2.

    I’m not sure exactly how to handle the syncing of forum replies and blog post comments with the activity stream. I don’t want to make the original source redundant. It may be worth considering disabling comments on these items and instead providing a link to be able to comment at the location of the original content.

    Avatar of Bowe
    Bowe
    Participant

    @bowromir

    I think it would be best to indeed show a link to the topic and let users reply there.. if a user is not a member of the group but a message where the link would normally be:

    “if you want to reply on this topic, please join the group first”

    Or something like that :)

    Avatar of Mike Pratt
    Mike Pratt
    Participant

    @mikepratt

    I agree on the auto joining. It’s also a potentially very important distinction between what constitutes an “original posting” Is that “creating” a new topic in a Group forum? maybe that’s a good idea. group members can create new Topics but if you comment on the public SWA then you are adding to that forum thread.

    Just remember, no one will make the distinction on their own…they will see a forum reply and see that they have the ability to add their own comment and will assume it’s part of the forum thread. Why would they assume otherwise.

    I know it might be hard to sync. Bummer if we disable forum and blog in-line comments. That’s the coolest part of it all

    Avatar of r-a-y
    r-a-y
    Moderator

    @r-a-y

    Originally posted by Andy:

    It may be worth considering disabling comments on these items and instead providing a link to be able to comment at the location of the original content.

    I would like to see a BuddyPress admin option to disable activity commenting for components we deem not worthy of having it. I would use this option for blog comments and forum posts.

    Although the “live” aspect wouldn’t be fostered, we should only have one focused stream for blog comments and forum posts, rather than the original stream (blog comment, forum replies) and a multiple activity comment stream.

    To Bowe, Mike and whoever else is reading, I put up a ticket with this issue awhile ago – http://trac.buddypress.org/ticket/1419

    Feel free to chime in.

    The other issue raised by Mike of auto-joining a group on a forum reply is interesting. On testbp.org, I made a reply to a group forum post and thus, joined the group.

    Then I visited my group activity stream and noticed these new group activity posts in my stream and said to myself “I don’t really want these items in my group stream!”.

    So the issue is if you make a ton of group forum replies to groups that you’re not a member of, your personal group stream will become littered!

    Mike, how do you plan on handling this on your BP site?

    Avatar of Mike Pratt
    Mike Pratt
    Participant

    @mikepratt

    @r-a-y You highlight exactly why this is an important issue. Including forum and blog replies is the lifeblood of our site and you want yours turned off.

    I am hoping the auto join feature can be disabled for commenters in the SWA. I really think SWA in-line commenting will help our site explode with activity and I want people’s personal activity streams to remain a construct of their desire, as you stated. They key hurdle is accepting the concept that commenting on a group forum reply form an outside perspective such as the SWA doesn’t imply a desire to BE a part of that group. At least that’s how we view it. The other perspective also makes sense.

    Avatar of r-a-y
    r-a-y
    Moderator

    @r-a-y

    @Mike,

    I think you’re misunderstanding what I want.

    I actually do want forum and blog replies, but only on the original source and not in the AJAX activity comment stream (unless there’s a way we could sync them, like you mentioned above).

    As far as the “group auto join” feature, that only happens when you go to the original group forum post to comment, not in the AJAX activity comment stream. You can’t join a group by commenting on a group item in the SWA stream.

    Avatar of Boone Gorges
    Boone Gorges
    Keymaster

    @boonebgorges

    I share Mike’s original concern about forking conversations. (And I giggled a bit when I wrote “forking conversations”. Fork yeah!) And I think r-a-y’s solution is a really nice one, if it’s doable: allow site admins to turn off inline commenting on certain kinds of activity items. That way we can still take advantage of activity commenting for things like status updates, friendships, etc.

    Another thought: Maybe an admin option to turn off excerpts in activity would prevent forking. When I post a new blog or forum post, an update might appear on the activity feed that says “Boone posted a new blog entry: Boone’s Blog Post”, but without an excerpt. People could still comment in ways that make sense (“Boy Boone, you blog a lot”) but they wouldn’t really be able to leave substantive comments on the content of the blog entry/forum post, since it wouldn’t appear on the activity stream. Again, it takes a bit away from what could be great about the activity comments, but it has the virtue of keeping all conversation in one place.

    Avatar of Mike Pratt
    Mike Pratt
    Participant

    @mikepratt

    @r-a-y you’re right. I was confused. That is EXACTLY what I want as well. un-synced is a non-starter for me

    Avatar of Mike Pratt
    Mike Pratt
    Participant

    @mikepratt

    realizing this problem of syncing SWA posts and the real, original posts may be very difficult given the SWA is just a new table culled from the original posting tables and therefore not linked. Where are relational db’s when you need ‘em!

    Avatar of Mike Pratt
    Mike Pratt
    Participant

    @mikepratt

    @Andy – Idea: what if you just ajax’d a window in the SWA into the actual forum posting when you reply to that forum posting so the feeling is the same but, in actuality, you are posting in the forum itself

    Avatar of Andy Peatling
    Andy Peatling
    Keymaster

    @apeatling

    The problem with all this syncing is that you’re making the need to visit the original content almost zero. I don’t think that’s a good thing.

    With regards to blog or forum posts – I may not/do not want to autojoin the group.

    Another thought: Maybe an admin option to turn off excerpts in activity would
    prevent forking. When I post a new blog or forum post, an update might appear
    on the activity feed that says "Boone posted a new blog entry: Boone's
    Blog Post", but without an excerpt. People could still comment in ways that
    make sense ("Boy Boone, you blog a lot") but they wouldn't really be able to
    leave substantive comments on the content of the blog entry/forum post, since
    it wouldn't appear on the activity stream.
    (Boone Gorges)

    +1

    Avatar of Andy Peatling
    Andy Peatling
    Keymaster

    @apeatling

    Time is very limited before 1.2, there is not enough time to make this option so fine grained.

    I think going ahead and introducing an admin option to disable/enable activity stream comments for blog and forum posts will suffice in 1.2? This option will mean commenting on forum and blog posts will be disabled by default, but you can turn it on.

    In 1.3 this could possibly be changed to allow admins to pick and choose what is enabled. Although I’m still not convinced whether this should be something the admin has to think about at all.

    Avatar of Andy Peatling
    Andy Peatling
    Keymaster

    @apeatling

    Also with regards to removing excerpts – that seems as though it would remove a lot of the usefulness of the activity stream. I want to be able to scan the feed and get a taste for the content so I can click and read more of what grabs my interest. You really remove the ability to do that when it’s mostly posting one liners.

    Avatar of D Cartwright
    D Cartwright
    Participant

    @aekeron

    Definitely keep the excerpts, though having an easier option to change the length of them would be nice.

    I do think we need to have something to feed back comments to the original posting… I’m not sure what would be the best though and I completely agree with the worry of removing the need to visit the original content. As you say, something to worry about for 1.3.

    I’m not convinced that comments should be fed back to blog posts, as per Andy’s first post on the thread.

    Avatar of Mike Pratt
    Mike Pratt
    Participant

    @mikepratt

    @DJPaul – Ok, then what do you do about the resulting bifurcation of the discussion? I guaranty that users will not universally (nowhere near) know that the comment they leave on the SWA is actually not part of the originating thread which, in effect, renders that comment as a “comment about a comment” and nothing more. There could be some utility in that but it won’t be obvious. Then, we’ll have to take steps to educate users that they are not actually replying to the post itself.

    Maybe I’m wrong. maybe having two separately evolving threads isn’t such a big deal. I’m just leery of the forums suffering because everyone is leaving their comments in the SWA instead

    Avatar of Mike Pratt
    Mike Pratt
    Participant

    @mikepratt

    one addl thought: if we went the route of disabling blog posts and forum replies, what is left to do on the SWA? Commenting on the activity that Jack friended Joe? or that someone posted an update. Sort of defeats the purpose of in-line commenting doesn’t it?

    Avatar of Mike Pratt
    Mike Pratt
    Participant

    @mikepratt

    @Andy – your recent commit (2189) will certainly give us options while this is sorted out. Appreciate your responsiveness.

    Avatar of r-a-y
    r-a-y
    Moderator

    @r-a-y

    Originally posted by D Cartwright:

    I do think we need to have something to feed back comments to the original posting…

    I suggested something similar to trackbacks, but for activity comments only. I’d call this “Community reactions” or something similar in that manner.

    I guess it could technically be a trackback though…

    Avatar of Andy Peatling
    Andy Peatling
    Keymaster

    @apeatling

    one addl thought: if we went the route of disabling blog posts and forum replies, what is left to do on the SWA?

    Don’t underestimate how much people will use the “What’s new John Doe?” box, since it is sitting there right in front of them. I can imagine that comments will mostly be on those updates.

    Avatar of John James Jacoby
    John James Jacoby
    Keymaster

    @johnjamesjacoby

    How about we put all of the components that allow activity to hit the stream(s) into an array. Say…

    $bp->activity->actions :)

    Then, that array (which already exists) can be altered by a potential administration panel (or future permissions later.) BuddyPress plugins can register themselves as having activity with bp_activity_set_action( ) to which there should be a bp_activity_remove_action() that would add or remove activity abilities to the array such as $bp->activity->actions->comments_enabled

    The array will have everything set to true by default. Constants in bp-custom.php or a plugin that makes an admin panel can then set those values to true or false…

    bp_activity_get_action()

    As long as there’s proper actions in place, plugin authors can sneak in there and append data to comments/forums/posts, whatever, provided everything is available at run time, which it usually is.

    Long story short, add another $arg to set if commenting is allowed or not.

    Even better…

    This would also be a great reason/time to implement an activitymeta table, as it would allow this type of thing to not be core, but plugin territory if someone needs it. Or, that kind of on/off switch could just be in sitemeta and a plugin could block comments on specific activity actions from within the action.bp_blogs_activity_commenting = false

    There’s actually a ton of ways this could be done pretty easily.


    I think a great way to solve this problem would be to have a way for the activity stream item itself to know which post it is pertaining to, and pull that stream and display it on the post either in lieu or or addition to comments. Then people could comment on the activity stream from within the blog post too. Imagine a blog post that said “Comment on this blog post, and see what people are saying about it.” They’re the same but different, and if templated correctly now you have comments about the text of my blog post, and comments about the fact that I posted it.

    Same for forum topics and posts. Maybe you use topic/post activity as a way to say “This post is dumb and I think you’re stupid” without ever mucking up the actual forum topic of discussion itself. So you branch out new activity not just with new branches, but whole new ways to discuss that specific activity without interrupting that activity.

    Take this forum post. If it had a link to say “Comment on this forum post” and it slid open a post box from within the forum for someone to give me feedback and say “This post is really too long and boring” then from within the forum view you can see each forum post has 3, 4, 20 activity comments on them.

    That, is the future of how to integrate the activity stream fully into a website.

    …in my opinion(s). :)

    Avatar of r-a-y
    r-a-y
    Moderator

    @r-a-y

    JJJ, that’s what I had in mind (the latter portion of your post)!

    Avatar of John James Jacoby
    John James Jacoby
    Keymaster

    @johnjamesjacoby

    A great way to finish this off would be with an activity stream widget that was self aware of what content is being loaded on the page. If you’re looking at a blog post, show the activity about that blog post; looking at a forum topic, show the activity about that topic being created; etc…

    It will be the Skynet of activity widgets. Self aware… Or maybe just the Terminator widget, always looking for John Connor.

    I'll be back, and when I am, I'll be active.

    I may have actually lost my mind. haha

    Avatar of Mike Pratt
    Mike Pratt
    Participant

    @mikepratt

    @jjj …time to start doing pull-ups on your asylum bed frame.

    They’re the same but different, and if templated correctly now you have comments about the text of my blog post, and comments about the fact that I posted it.

    That really sums it up. Those sites around the web that have elegantly implemented threaded commenting and discussion have created a world where people fork off threads via commenting about that thread or simply add another post to the end of the original stream (how BP works now)

    We seem to be getting to some sort of theoretical solution here (I say that ’cause I don’t have to build it :-)

Viewing 25 replies - 1 through 25 (of 39 total)

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