I'm curious as to why, when there are many comments on an answer on SE sites, the comments shown aren't the most recent ones but the ones with the highest ratings. I understand the principle that the highest-rated comments are (supposedly) the ones that you want to see. But I find the system disruptive when reading comments, especially when people have written replies to someone whose comment is invisible until you click "Show more comments". I would prefer a system where the x newest comments were displayed, where x is some reasonable number, probably the same amount of comments that are displayed normally. Why is the current system better?

  • 1
    This is an appropriate place for this question and I strongly doubt it will be closed (unless there is a duplicate). As this is your first meta question I should let you know that votes here can mean agree/disagree so if it is downvoted then don't take it personally. Personally I see where you're coming from. Especially on the replys to hidden comments bit – Richard Tingle May 2 '14 at 12:27
  • Understood. I did find a question - probably on meta SO - asking why comments were hidden but not why the particular system of comment hiding is in place, but annoyingly I can't find the question again. – Lou May 2 '14 at 12:31
  • I think I may have misread your request; if there are 100 comments on a post are the most recent 5 displayed or the oldest 5 – Richard Tingle May 2 '14 at 16:31
  • Hm. I realise I hadn't actually thought of that. I think the oldest 5 is probably the best. – Lou May 2 '14 at 16:55
  • Ah I had misunderstood you. What's so special about those 5? If you're going to do that you may as well show none by default – Richard Tingle May 2 '14 at 16:57
  • It's my fault, I wasn't specific enough. If you mean what's so special about the number 5, then I don't know: it could be more or less, it just seems like a good number. Comments are already shown selectively - to me it seems only logical that this should be done in the order they were posted, without comments excluded because they have low rep. – Lou May 2 '14 at 17:00
  • no I mean the oldest 5, rather than the newest 5, or 5 from the middle. Or a random 5 – Richard Tingle May 2 '14 at 17:01
  • Actually, the newest 5 makes sense. If there is an extended discussion in comments, you want to see the most recent posts because those will be the ones you reply to. And yes, I'm being somewhat arbitrary. – Lou May 2 '14 at 17:05
  • Now that I can get behind. I still prefer my hybrid approach but the newest 5 could quite often make sense – Richard Tingle May 2 '14 at 17:08

I definitely agree with a lot of what you're saying here. Especially out of context highly upvoted replies being basically useless without seeing what they are in reply to. That said often these highly upvoted comments are useful just on their own and if there are twenty of thirty comments on a post then it can make sense to just see those.

So I would propose a best of both worlds modification

  • Comments are always in order, no matter what (as in the current system
  • Comments are more likely to be shown if they are upvoted.
  • Comments are more likely to be shown if they are newer.
  • Comments are more likely to be shown if they are replied to by a comment that is shown [may not be technically possible as usernames change but comments don't].

This has the benefit of showing simultaneously things which have high relevance currently and also showing things which are marked as important.

  • I don't know that I agree, though I won't downvote. Though it wouldn't be hard for someone to implement, I don't see why it needs to be so complex. What's wrong with simply displaying the first five or so comments, as Facebook does on comment threads? – Lou May 2 '14 at 16:28
  • @Leo because facebook is much more linear. Important comments are likely to remain important – Richard Tingle May 2 '14 at 16:30
  • Okay, but again, why does it need to be so complex? I'd far rather a single criterion - newest first, oldest first, most votes - was used instead of weighing a mix of criteria. – Lou May 2 '14 at 17:19
  • @LeoKing To be honest out of those I'd strongly support the current system; most votes. Those posts are clearly marked as being the most important. The added complexity is trying to accomodate your legitimate points regarding hidden replys and new posts also being likely to be relevant – Richard Tingle May 2 '14 at 17:25
  • I don't understand how that would be more complex. The system already accommodates hidden replies and new posts. If anything it seems less complex: rather than selecting which comments to hide, the process is indiscriminate. I think this makes comments far more readable. – Lou May 2 '14 at 17:33
  • @LeoKing I'm confused again, when you say "that" which system do you mean. The system as it is now, the system you propose or the system I propose – Richard Tingle May 2 '14 at 17:36
  • Sorry, I meant that I don't know how the system I propose would be more complex than the system as it is now. – Lou May 2 '14 at 20:27
  • @Leo Ah thats why I was confused. I'm not saying it would be more complex. I'm saying it wouldn't be as good – Richard Tingle May 2 '14 at 20:48
  • let us continue this discussion in chat – Lou May 2 '14 at 21:04

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