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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

a few tips on using Disqus

I realize that many readers have had trouble with Disqus, and I myself have been very frustrated by its relative lack of good ways to explore comments. (I want a way to list the posts that have been “recently commented on,” which Movable Type does offer. It seems like that should be a pretty easy option for Disqus to set up.) But unfortunately, we’re stuck with it for now, absent any better options.

That said, I think there are features in Disqus that not everyone is aware of, because when I’ve mentioned them here or there, in emails or in comments in response to particular issues, there’s invariably a reply of “Hey! Wow! I didn’t know that!” So here’s a rundown of a few tips that you may find helpful.
Collapsing threads

Really intense discussions that go off on lots of tangents — such as the one that has developed in response to my review of Sucker Punch — can get a bit confusing. One way to make reading those threads more managable is by collapsing individual threads within the comments. If you let your cursor hover over a comment, you’ll see a little minus sign appear on the right side of the yellow bar (where you see, on the left, the avatar and username of the commenter). Click on that minus sign, and it will collapse that thread, and you’ll see something that looks like this: “21 comments collapsed. Expand” with a plus sign to the right of it. Click on the plus sign, and you expand the thread again. Now you can explore one thread at a time.

Following long threads

1) If you come upon, say, that Sucker Punch thread for the first time when it’s already got 500 comments, take a look for the dropdown menu — at the top of the comments listing, just under the box for you to add a new comment — that allows you to sort by “Newest first” or “Oldest first” (other options in that menu: “Popular now” and “Best rating”). The default here is “Newest first,” but changing it to “Oldest first” may help you navigate a complicated discussion the first time you read it. (If you do change that option, that will be your default across the site, even when loading other posts and their comments, until/unless you change it again, on any post.)

2) If you want to be notified of new comments posted on a thread you’re interested in, you have several options.

Not registered with Disqus? Click on either “Subscribe by email” or “Subscribe by RSS” (under the Add New Comment box). You’ll get a popup box to enter your email address in the first instance, or your usual RSS options in the second instance.

If you post as unregistered user, there’s an option to “Subscribe to all comments by email” in the popup box where you input your name and email address.

Be on the lookout for an email asking you to confirm the subscription to the comments thread; if you don’t confirm (by clicking on the link in the email) you won’t be subscribed.

Registered with Disqus? Click on either “Subscribe by email” or “Subscribe by RSS” (under the Add New Comment box). You’ll get a popup box confirming your subscription in the first instance, or your usual RSS options in the second instance.

You can also set up notifications for across your Disqus profile at Disqus: Click on either “Notify me of replies to my comments” and/or “Subscribe to threads that I comment on”.

3) When you’re looking at the Recent Comments listings (either on the home page or the current conversations page), click on the timestamp — ie: “4 minutes ago” — to be taken directly to that comment.

Editing your comments

If you are a registered Disqus user, you can edit your comments after they’ve been posted: just click the Edit button next to the Reply button under your comment.

Blockquotes

The code for creating blockquotes — for when you’re quoting another commenter or material from another site (use minimally in both cases) — is <blockquote> and </blockquote>.

Real-time updating

I’ve just this morning upgraded to a paid version of Disqus. It mostly offers me behind-the-scenes statistics and such, but you will notice this under the Add New Comment box: “Real-time updating is enabled. (Pause)”. This means that you do not have to reload a page to see new comments: the comments section will refresh automatically as comments are posted. You can click Pause to turn off that functionality if you don’t like it.

Feel free to discuss here whatever other tips and tricks you may have picked up.



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