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Why are comments hidden by popularity and not by chronology?

When I'm reading the unhidden comments, half the time I have no idea what they are talking about and then I have to show all to figure it out. If the comments were chronologically hidden, displaying the oldest comments first, then each comment thread would be clear.

I know people are immediately going to say, "It is a feature!", but I think we'd be better off without it, regardless of the few situations where it would be useful.

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There are no threads. So if the first n-1 comments are responses to the first comment and the n+1th comment is directly relevant to the post itself, then cutting off initially-shown comments at n would hide a relevant comment while displaying a tangential discussion.

Showing comments with the most votes first provides a method of highlighting the useful comments... whether or not it actually works this way in practice varies.

Personally, I think hierarchical threads are a better way to handle in-depth discussion. But then, comments aren't really supposed to be used for in-depth discussions...

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