Tag Archives: wiki

Display Comments in Context

How can you display comments in context on a wiki or a blog?

One way on a wiki is to simply allow users to insert their comment in the middle of the page text. That is a typical wiki style comment (from my point of view) but it can lead to a very difficult to read wiki page. The flow of the actual document text is broken up by comments. To get around this, you have the option of a comments section at the bottomw of the page or a second page for comments but neither of those options allow you to display comments in context.

On a blog, I have yet to see a way to display comments in context. You could probably allow some form of wiki style editing of a blog post to let people comment in the middle of your text but then you run the risks associated with wikis where some malicious user could vandalize your posts. Of course, you’re also stuck with using a wiki to blog (which is fine if that’s what you want.).

So how can you display comments in context on a blog and a wiki?

My personal favorite right now are the Microsoft Word track changes and comment features. Maybe that’s because I’ve been reading and modifying a number of documents at work recently. ;) Basically the user is able to insert a comment at any point and it shows up as a bubble in the margin. The text flow is un-interrupted so you can read the document text without reading the comments if you want. You can also turn off the display of the comments if you don’t want to see them at all.

Implementing such a way to display comments in context has eluded me thus far. I’ve got some of the parts figured out but the biggest one is the actual positioning of the comment anchor. The point in the text or the selection of text that the comment is being made about. Without that, you don’t display comments in context.

There is also another side to consider when dealing with a wiki page. If someone wants to print off the page, how do you still display comments in context on the printed page? Should they be made as footnotes, put inline or stuffed into the margins like Word does?

Maybe I’ll get around to figuring this out some day. Even better, maybe someone else will figure it out for me and I won’t have to! ;)

Wiki and Blog Integration

Wiki and Blog integration is apparently a difficult thing. It seems that no one can really agree on how they should be integrated. There is also some question on if they should be integrated.

I stumbled across Blogs and Wiki: WhenBlogMeetsWiki (link now broken – see update below) while trying to find an app that had wiki and blog integration. This site (which is for a course at Bemidji State Univeristy) has a fairly good discussion on the differences and other attempts to combine blogs and wikis.

Now, I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I would really like an app that does wiki and blog integration because there are many times when I would like to be able to reference a wiki (reference) page from a blog entry. It should be seamless integration without having to hack either code base to “force” it to work. I know there are a number of plugins available for most of the major wikis and blogs, but then you’re stuck with two seperate apps to manage. Both of which are probably more complex that what I’m looking for.

I like the model that Mediawiki uses where each individual wiki page has it’s own “talk” page. I like that idea but I don’t like how it’s implemented. I think it would make more sense for a wiki page to be able to have a blog of it’s own. That could be expanded on to give individual users their own blog within a wiki (the blog would be attached to their user page). In addition to a blog being able to be attached to a wiki page, there should also be a blog style comment ability. The thing I find most confusing about the wiki talk pages is that each user has to make sure they denote their words well. Sometimes you can get very confusing pages unless you’ve been following the “conversation” since day one. Maybe some form of “discussion” page would make more sense. With the ability to thread comments.

Anyhoo, I’m probably never going to find an app that does all of this so maybe it’s time for me to start working on one of my own. With the amount of free time I have these days, I should have a working prototype by 2010. ;)

Updated: Unfortunately the original link in this article has disappeared/moved. You may be able to find relevant info via http://ferret.bemidjistate.edu/~morgan/