Thursday, September 25th, 2014

New Feature: Comments Revamp

Today we’re unveiling a major upgrade in how LibraryThing handles comments.

» You can skip all this talk and just see your comments page now.

The old system—in place since the dawn of LibraryThing (back when MySpace was on top and Facebook was just for Harvard Students)—was simple: everyone had a “comments” section on their profile. But it had drawbacks:

  • Real conversation was nigh-impossible. Messages “lived” in two separate places, with Person A writing on Person B’s profile, and person B replying on person A’s profile. Context was non-existent.
  • Everything was a comment—real comments, notes to people looking at your profile, system notifications, Early Reviewer notifications, etc.
  • Administration was a pain. There was no pagination, making some profiles unwieldy and slow. Members “archived” messages to get them off their profiles.

The new system is designed to fix all these problems, and add some features:

  • Comments now have a dedicated page, available from your profile and on every page.
  • You can now see “Conversations” with other members–a view of all the comments you’ve sent back and forth. The member names that show up immediately below “Conversations” on the left-hand menu are your most recent conversations.
  • The left of the comments page shows recent conversations. Clicking “See all…” shows a rather complete overview of all the conversations you’ve had on LibraryThing, sorted by recentness or “most” (which conversations have the most comments). You can also see conversations by the first letter of a member’s name.
  • Replies “live” where they’re posted. Replying to a comment left on your “Wall” will both notify the other member of your reply, and also keep the two (or three, etc.) messages together, in context.
  • Your comments are split into your “Wall,” system notifications and social notifications. We’re going to be doing more with notifications, now that we can separate them from your “real” messages.
  • Early Reviewers notifications are separated out too, if you’re an Early Reviewer.
  • To round out the categories, there are also links to “Archived” and “All.”
  • Everything is paginated, so the pages are small and you aren’t scrolling forever.
  • Comments now allow Touchstones to works and authors, so you can type “[The Once and Future King]” or “[[Mark Twain]]” and it will turn them into links to that work or author.

Your “Comment Wall” still lives at the bottom of your profile. You can also get to your comments page from anywhere on LibraryThing by clicking the number in the upper-right corner next to your member name. When you have a new comment, that number will have a yellow background. You can also reach your comments page by going to

In addition to separating out actual comments from system and Early Reviewers notifications, which each have their own , we’ve also added some header icons to these messages, so, if you’re looking at “All,” you’ll know right away what kind of comment you’ve got.

Below is a look at the “See all” page, which, in this case, gives you an idea of just how many conversations I have going. You can sort by most comments in a conversation, most recently updated conversation, or alphabetically by member name.

Click to enlarge

We’ve already got a lively discussion going on Talk: New Comments System.

Come tell us what you think!

Labels: new feature, new features


  1. jolijtje says:

    This looks much better to me now. I have a few comments I sent long ago to someone enlisted in “conversations”. Maybe these are the comments this person archived? This would mean that a person I exchanged comments with privately can see which of those comments I archived. Is this so?
    If so, I’d rather keep this for myself, although the comments were their own, people don’t need to now which ones I kept and which ones I deleted. Or am I mistaken?

  2. Tina Branco says:

    WOOT WOOT – it’s about time. Now we can actually use the comments for a connected conversation between two or three people without having to post it on a group thread.

    Thank you so much for doing this.

  3. Tom Key says:

    Sweet! Epic improvements! Majorly chuffed.

  4. Cindy Bidwell Glaze says:

    I agree with jolijtje that this could use a privacy setting, but otherwise, I LOVE IT. I don’t generally comment on people’s walls, but this may encourage me to do so.

  5. nisgolsand says:

    I congratulate you for the new system, which I think is a huge improvement over the old one.

  6. Moira says:

    I think apparently I can delete a comment but someone else can keep it, and everything is absolutely public, and those are two major problems which make me less inclined to comment.

    • Loranne says:

      Sorry for any confusion, Moira. The privacy settings are actually one thing that hasn’t changed. Private comments still function as they always did, and are visible only to the sender and the recipient.

      Deleting a comment removes it from all views of the conversation, and archiving it hides it, such that the comment is now visible only to you and the sender (if you click to show the archived comment in the “Conversation” view).

      I hope this helps ease your mind a bit. If you have any questions, feel free to email me:

      • Moira says:

        I agree with what jjmcgaffey said in a comment on the discussion thread:

        “What’s private hasn’t changed (except to improve), but what’s showing did – and it’s hard to tell, if you can see all this stuff that you thought was safely tucked away, that privacy hasn’t changed. You’re seeing the backend, and can distinguish clearly. We’re only seeing the front, and that got a lot more transparent – only to the logged-in user, but that’s hard to tell in the first rush of information.”

        This was rolled out quite poorly.

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