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An issue I find in the triology sites is that the earliest comments appear at the top. I think having the latest comments appear at the top instead is a much better solution, namely because:

  • Early comments may refer to a question that has since been modified, making them redundant. (See this StackOveflow question.)
  • Latest feedback would appear instantly and would not be hidden by default. (There would be no need to press the "add/show n more comments" link to view the latest feedback).
  • The earliest comments will tend to be the most upvoted comments, further displacing later ones, as these are the most visible. (See this StackOverflow answer.)

I agree that the most "upvoted" comments should be displayed at the top.

My request is that latest comments get shown at the top, not at the bottom.

Update: As has been pointed out in the earliest comments, this would disrupt the natural reading order. I feel strongly that a system similar to mine should be adopted, but I can see the problems it would pose. An ideal solution would be to displaying the most upvoted and latest comments at the top at first, which expands to be in natural reading order once the "add/show n more comments".

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Now, if only that idea was not going against the natural reading order... –  Gnoupi Apr 3 '10 at 18:33
be really difficult to read as it would result in reading the end of the conversation first –  HAL 9000 Apr 3 '10 at 18:40
The issue with is that it would –  HAL 9000 Apr 3 '10 at 18:40
as Stack Overflow member @Yacoby puts it, –  Pëkka Apr 3 '10 at 18:46
reception on "Meta Stack Overflow", the Trilogy's discussion zone, was less than favourable. –  Pëkka Apr 3 '10 at 18:47
Today, it was suggested that comments on Stack Overflow, a programming related Q&A site, be sorted chronologically, with the latest one first. –  Pëkka Apr 3 '10 at 18:48
@Yacoby @Pekka I can see what you're trying to do, but you are actually illustrating my point: any further, perhaps even more relevant comments, are now hidden by yours. Additionally, the scenario you depict is unhelpful to a question; grouping issues into one comment makes sense rather than using "stream" of them (the 500 character limit gives a wide berth). Not that I can't see what you're doing ;) –  Humphrey Bogart Apr 3 '10 at 18:48
@Beau I see your point but the solution won't work, at least not this way. What might make sense is showing comments in the correct order, but hiding older comments (and not the newer ones as is the case right now.) –  Pëkka Apr 3 '10 at 18:50
@Pekka If I now edited my question to adapt my viewpoint to yours, all the earliest comments would cease to be directly relevant. I shall slighlty adapt my question. –  Humphrey Bogart Apr 3 '10 at 18:52
@Beau yeah, leaving our piece of social art in place would be nice. :) –  Pëkka Apr 3 '10 at 18:53
What gives? I'm assuming the large number of downvotes is due to the actual dislike of the idea, as opposed to the quality of the question, which I've spent a good deal refining. –  Humphrey Bogart Apr 3 '10 at 21:39
Maybe doing this would discourage those really long discussions under some questions or answers that get so off topic. –  Carson Myers Apr 3 '10 at 22:26
@Beau, yeah, on Meta voting is "I like/dislike it," not "it's a good/bad question." I was confused about that too, when I started out here. –  Pops Apr 3 '10 at 23:44
@Beau yup, voting is "yea" / "nay" here. The quality of the question is fine. –  Pëkka Apr 3 '10 at 23:49
High rep on Meta means the groupthink follows you. It can also mean you try and help people out over talking about yourself: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/… Others might just get rep because they like to take someone else's ideas and put bold and such all over the place. So, the usual. –  random Apr 4 '10 at 3:20

4 Answers 4

They should implement a User Preference for how comments can be viewed. Then you could set yours to most recent first.

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That would probably be the best solution to the issue, seeing as the general consensus (so far) is that the old system is best. Perhaps I'm the only one who thinks a latest-at-top system would be beneficial... –  Humphrey Bogart Apr 3 '10 at 19:00
Yet another preference? I believe strongly that there should be as few settings as possible. –  Georg Schölly Apr 3 '10 at 20:20
Why would a user choose to see the newest answer above answers that people have read and upvoted and as such are likely to definitely have merit? –  amelvin Apr 3 '10 at 22:50
No, they should not implement another user preference. Only implement it as preference if it is ever going to come. –  BalusC Apr 3 '10 at 23:27
@BalusC, why don't people like preferences? I find as a programmer that I like to give my users as much choice as they desire. Flexibility in applications is one of the beautiful things about today's programming environments. –  Lance Roberts Apr 3 '10 at 23:38
@lance "The paradox of choice". Have a quick read of Spolsky's post on it: joelonsoftware.com/items/2006/11/21.html. As he quotes, "all these choices actually go so far as to erode our psychological well-being." Also, contrast Facebook's emailing options to SO's. Which do you prefer? –  Humphrey Bogart Apr 4 '10 at 1:25

Rather write a Greasemonkey script which does exactly that, if it doesn't already exist.

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Very nice idea, I'd considered something of sorts. –  Humphrey Bogart Apr 4 '10 at 1:29

Would a compromise include fading out of answers that get no nett upvotes after an hour so that new answers are given more priority than answers that have been seen and basically rejected?

I wouldn't suggest that new answers should be more visible than upvoted answers, but more visible than answers with no votes I think would be fair.

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Nice idea, but an hour is too arbitrary: some questions get thousands of views, others, but ten. This mechanic should be based more on its views than anything else IMO. –  Humphrey Bogart Apr 4 '10 at 1:28

I disagree with your general approach to the perceived problem because:

  • Were the change implemented, it would disrupt understanding for users that are using the comments now (as the rep calc change showed, people don't read).
  • This way of organizing comments only work if comments are numbered, adding clutter to the page.
  • Old comments no longer relevant after an edit can still be understood thanks to the revisions and the timeline.
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@json Good points, and perhaps you're right: it's too much of a breaking change. I'd like to add that, yesy, you can look at the revision and timeline, but those comments have become irrelevant; it serves little purpose to display them, and much less to have them the first a user sees! –  Humphrey Bogart Apr 3 '10 at 21:08

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