Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

Reddit has had embeddable comment threads for over two years. It was a feature I actually worked on nine years ago, but the standards weren't there at the time to make it work with voting.

I know I'm super biased, but I still find Reddit comments the easiest to read and follow (HN is a pretty close second, especially after they added comment collapsing).

Is it really just bad marketing it on Reddit's part that keeps others from using their embeddable comments? As a site owner, you can fully moderate the conversation by only embedding comments from a subreddit you fully control. You may not get quite as much data as Mozilla's solution, but in exchange you get the benefit of Reddit's 12 years of spam data that train its filters.

I just don't understand why more sites don't embed the reddit comments.

I think there are a few disadvantages Reddit has here. The first that comes to mind is that website administrators, especially for large and politically-charged sites, might like Reddit's software, but not its ... um, culture. "Just embed Reddit" sounds approximately like "just embed 4chan".

While smaller sites are happy to give up some control for the sake of easily adding a major feature to their site, larger businesses are probably going to want to own their own content and self-host their code as much as possible. Reddit has a non-trivial set of dependencies (https://github.com/reddit/reddit/wiki/Dependencies), so it's not very attractive as far as that goes.

My from-my-ass guess is that once Reddit ended up in the mainstream news a few times for some drama or another, it lost the opportunity to be taken seriously as an embeddable feature by other major sites.

But that feels like a marketing fail.

You don't have to accepts reddit's culture to embed it's comments. You can have a subreddit that you control where you can moderate it and remove any content you don't like.

As a site owner, you can have full control over the content if you want.

It's a marketing fail. The commenting system needs a separate brand. If you were going to use Kinja or Chorus, you wouldn't assume you were dragging along the culture that its existing publishers have.

To an extent, "just use the subreddit's moderation" is a product fail, too. It needs to feel like a standalone product, not embedding another site that you might not completely understand.

Subreddits don't exist in a vacuum though (and I say this as a big fan of some smaller subreddits with pretty awesome communities, like /r/vandwellers).

So even if we set aside the question of self-ownership of data vs. embedding, WaPo would look at this as an opportunity to either create their own culture, with their own weirdos and brilliant people, or to start with Reddit's and try to moderate their way towards the culture they want. Framed that way, I think Reddit's at a disadvantage.

If Slashdot had provided the option of just embedding their comment system onto Reddit pages, would Reddit ca. 2004 had done that instead of building their own?

> would Reddit ca. 2004 had done that instead of building their own?

Maybe, but probably not, largely because they could not fully control the content, like WaPo could do today.

In this day and age, commenting on the internet is pretty mature, and the best systems have years of data to feed their anti-spam algorithms.

Just like you can run your own mail server today, most people don't because it's a pain in the butt and it's a lot easier to take advantage of someone else's expertise.

It's the same with comments. It's a lot easier to let someone else do it.

Heh, I run my own mail server.

I don't think Slashdot offered the kind of users that early Reddit founders wanted to seed their userbase with. But, I can't prove that, so I'll have to take your word for it that Reddit would have been open to the idea except for the quality of the imagined software.

I've been purposely gentle because I'm a long-time Reddit user -- I remember when comments were turned on for the first time -- and although I still think the main folks behind Reddit are pretty cool and built something really big that has had incalculable impact, I also have a lot of old axes to grind and I don't want your honest question to turn into an opportunity for me to do that.


Your response here has essentially been, "everything's fine, you can just moderate the content, we provide the tools to do that. Maybe this is just a marketing problem."

It's not just a marketing problem.

Moderators have publicly castigated Reddit admins on multiple occasions over the tooling they have available (example from quick search: https://np.reddit.com/r/fountainpens/comments/3byxtg/regardi...). Articles titled "Reddit is tearing itself apart" have been published on sites with widespread readership (http://gizmodo.com/reddit-is-tearing-itself-apart-1789406294). There was that GameOfTrolls subreddit that openly harassed other subreddits and Reddit administration plainly ignored it for quite a while until they finally stepped over some fine line in the site rules.

A publication like WaPo would certainly be a target for that kind of abuse. I would have to assume that whoever is involved in making decisions about comments on their site must be at least a little bit aware of the potential for abuse here. They were one of the first (or the first?) to have their own profile page. They grok Reddit, and they decided not to have Reddit embedded into their site. That's just not a marketing problem.

Reddit administration made a decision early on to take a hands-off approach to community management. One of the consequences of that is that a significant part of Reddit's community is the sort of culture that sites like the Washington Post don't want to have to spend their time dealing with, and the moderation tools Reddit provides are just not good enough to make up for it.

But you still have to tell the reader to go to Reddit and make an account if they want to comment.

> You can have a subreddit that you control where you can moderate it and remove any content you don't like.

Or your very own installation of https://github.com/reddit/reddit ?

Reddit is no longer Open Source. As i understand it from the blog post[1] the actual code used to run reddit cannot be build from the original repository alone.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/changelog/comments/6xfyfg/an_update...

Heh. Time to clone it in Chez. Or Arc! :)

> You can have a subreddit that you control where you can moderate it and remove any content you don't like.

Are the moderation tools up to it? I've always thought they had the reputation of being underpowered. Or is that just another marketing fail?

They filter out quite a bit by default, and you have to choose to turn it off. What many subreddit mods do is have a bot that auto-approves stuff based on more specific criteria. That gives a lot of room to blame the forces that be when things get hinky.

> might like Reddit's software, but not its ... um, culture

Which culture? Outside of the default subs, I'm not sure its really accurate to say that Reddit _has_ a singular culture, except perhaps in the same broad sense we might say that "the internet" has one.

Rather, each subreddit has its own unique culture, and there can be a _lot_ of variance between the cultures of different subreddits.

In my opinion, the overall theme of reddit is heavy moderation. You have subreddits on all sides of the political and social spectrums that ban dissenting opinions (e.g. the_donald and latestagecapitalism). Even what jedberg is suggesting -

>As a site owner, you can fully moderate the conversation by only embedding comments from a subreddit you fully control.

I agree that moderation is necessary (hate speech, spam, etc.), but allowing any individual(s) to create arbitrary rules feels really awful. I wish there was an overall "moderation guidelines" for popular subs that enabled discussions to occur, and some recourse if mods abused their powers. Right now it's an echo chamber machine and I'm starting to hate it.

The best comment threads are on Slashdot, the ability to filter comments less than +2 makes it much easier to skim read all the good comments.

On Reddit, if the top comment is a joke, you need to wade through a million other jokes before you get to the next top level comment (which may be interesting)

Categorising (a la slashdot) comments is interesting, you can filter out 'funny' and keep 'informative' etc. But I guess it puts a burden on the users to select the right 'up vote' .... do you have a funny button, an informative button, etc?

Facebook has solved this with their 'reaction' icons (like, funny, shock, heart) so user apatite is there for this kind of classification.

> On Reddit, if the top comment is a joke, you need to wade through a million other jokes before you get to the next top level comment (which may be interesting)

You can just collapse it.

I agree with you that the categorization on Slashdot was nice, as was the metamoderating. But when I find myself on Slashdot these days, I find it impossible to follow a conversation with so many collapsed comments.

> You can just collapse it.

Yeah, but I've usually swiped down and I don't know if its worth going back up to collapse it.

Default sorting by category would be nice, push the funnies down and pull the interesting ones up.

Some subreddits have custom CSS that extends the collapse element to the height of the container. /r/overwatch is a good example; I wish that style was the default.

There's often not much conversation to follow. I'll very occasionally pop over to Slashdot (I'd been there since before user accounts were a thing), and ... well, it's fallen greatly.

>>> Facebook has solved this with their 'reaction' icons

The Globe and Mail (Canadian national newspaper and growing media company) has executed something similar.

They actually have some pretty innovative work going on (at least with respect to the rest of Canadian media), and maintain a lab for this express purpose.

example (scroll to the end of the article, comments are expandable):



disclaimer: I work for a national media outfit in Canada that isn't the Globe

That comment section looks terrible. For one thing- the fact you even needed to tell us how to find them? Second, what's innovative there? I can't even collapse threads.

Hm. I wanted to edit, turns out I can't.

I was mistaken, the comment section is provided by: https://www.getcivil.com/

Their innovation labs have more to do with redesigning their end-user services and making them accessible. Anyway I'm not their salesman, I work for a competitor. I just have heard a talk from the head of their lab in the springtime and it was great. They're at least trying things on, whereas media (at least in my experience so far) has been largely resistant.

Trust me, try pitching, or carrying out at a manager's request, a project that changes the working, production, and content delivery paradigms of media and media-design veterans at the pinnacle of their careers; they do not like it.

The fact that the Globe, NYT, and WaPo are active in trying new things is great.

Again if you doubt me, try managing 20+ WordPress multi-sites, each with differing and undocumented theme build processes, and every little component another undocumented patchworked plugin -- all because most of the group doesn't want to have to relearn something they figured was solved enough in 2005.

Innovation like these things in media is well overdue in so many of the processes up to the front end.

Further, the link above is a beta. At least they are trying on different comment systems that aren't Disqus or the 'same old thing'.

Ok got it. Yeah I'm definitely in favor of folks trying new things like Mozilla and WaPo are. We can only be as intelligent as the conversations we hold with each other.

Yeah pretty much. My personal take is there probably needs to be a larger paradigm shift in society and most people's general outlook, ultimately. I'm not quite sure proper moderation or emojis or comment filtering will help all that much. Let's face it, while on some sides optimism abounds, there has been pervading (and maybe growing with the access to information) a jadedness that is pervasive in how people conduct themselves.

Reddit + RES and "collapse all child posts" is pretty awesome. All threads start off collapsed. You can individually expand them.

https://www.reddit.com/r/GeoPolitics has a very nice CSS in which the collapse toggle runs down the side of a thread. You can collapse, and set the level you want to collapse, from within the thread. It's genius, seriously.

The bar appears on mouse-over, running vertically.

See for example: https://www.reddit.com/r/geopolitics/comments/6z27gx/rgeopol...

I have been a Reddit user for more than ten years, and am a software developer, and this is the first time I've heard of embedding Reddit comments.

Same here. Though I stopped being able to enjoy reddit long ago.

There's an extension that replace all Youtube comments with their respective reddit thread if available and it's great.

To be honest, it is because reddit still feels... frivolous? It doesn't have the toxicity that it did a couple years ago, nor the shallowness of its nothing-but-cat-pictures reputation. But neither is it a good platform for gaining customers or revenue. It is a place to gain traffic, but traffic without revenue is not the goal for most organizations. Now, if reddit traffic converted, I'd look deeper at it - but when traffic from reddit has conversion rates that are 25% that of the traffic from other social media? I just see no reason to engage any deeper.

Far as I can tell, reddit functions best as a PR platform for businesses and corporations to communicate with their customers and fan-base.

It's not the sort of place I'd go to for serious conversations about anything.

Than you haven't looked far enough, long enough, whatever. Reddit is an incredible source of information and discussion. It took me a long while to "get it", but I'm an addict now. Just for fun, but there are many serious subreddits with good discussions. It can be problematic to find them, as it's huge.

A good way to organise the good stuff into topics for yourself is via "multireddits", and add high quality subreddits as you discover them.

I have multireddits for tech, cryptocurrencies, DIY, entrepreneurship and so on. You can skim each multireddit for the top content every few days and filter out most of the low quality stuff that way. I learn a lot about interesting web businesses this way that I would have never discovered otherwise for example.

you have no idea how wrong you are, to put it mildly. there are some absolutely fantastic subreddits with quality discussions and stronger moderation than the internet forum you're currently complaining on. check out r/askscience for one example.

The thing I can't stand (rage) is when you see something interesting, then have to trawl through dick jokes, and dank memes.... to find an actual real topic answer to a redditor's interesting question. It winds me up no end!

This is how I knew I was getting old.

me too. turns out there are subreddits ran by old people, too :)

I would expect that's because conversions are antithetical to high quality discussion (and thus site loyalty).

You guys seriously did a good thing with nested and collapsable comments.

Reddit's comment structure remains by far the best on the internet. You should definitely be proud of that.

I still really like Slashdot's comment moderation, with multiple characteristics, and the ability to quickly collapse all ajudged low-value comments with a slider.

The ability to promote certain users comments (and vice versa) is good too; but you have to use that carefully.

Would love to have that with the content and users here.

Maybe /. is better now? That used to be my main tech news website, but Reddit replaced it because of the comment structure.

(And then HN replaced that because of the quality of comments here)

Reddit replaced /. and Digg to my recollection primarily because of political issues and user resistance to site updates.

I came to HN well before I found Reddit (I think it being mentioned here was the stimulus). [this is my 2nd username here]

HN thrives IMO because it got a high value kernel of contributors early on, through synergy with Ycombinators business, and because of strong moderation heavily focused against new users.

Up until the last year or so most comment threads haven't needed to be filtered, due to the relatively small population, but popular stories now attract a mass of comments such that one can't easily scan through to precis the range of reactions.

HN maybe wants to stay "small" though. A lot of users in any case want to keep a tight focus on start-ups/computer tech/programming; keeping a "clunky" comment system probably provides useful friction to that end.

The main frustration in consuming comments here for me is the lack of differentiation between valuable and disagreeable comments. Though this appears to reflect pg's personal philosophy (he stated that down-voting for disagreement was proper, or words to that effect).

The comment tools in Scoop (the Kuro5hin CMS) were pretty slick. You could select flat, nested, or minimal, and the display would automatically cycle through those as the number of comments grew.

I'm trying to remember if it had the ability to filter comments below a threshold, though I'm thinking it did.

I'm not going to use a site where the CEO edits people's comments.


Doesn't that require a reddit account to comment? That sounds like a pretty large con to me...

>I still find Reddit comments the easiest to read and follow (HN is a pretty close second, especially after they added comment collapsing)

Really? I hate the tree style of comments. It's all well and good when you're reading a chain of replies, but then you run into a comment that's halfway back up the tree and have to make several attempts at collapsing comments to figure out which one is the sibling.

I much prefer a comment system like 4chan, where the post you're replying to is linked and previewable, as are posts replying to yours.

What do you mean with "halfway back up the tree"? You mean you read a comment C5, and then there are lots of replies to C5: C5-A1, C5-A2, C5-A3, ... but you want to find C5's sibling, C6?

If I want to read C6, so I have to find and collapse C5, C4, C3, etc. in order to see their common parent. And it's hard to tell the difference, especially on mobile, the difference between C5 and C5-A1, or C5 and the parent I'm looking for.

Since you like Reddit style comments, maybe you'd like this online commenting system too: https://www.kajmagnus.blog/new-embedded-comments (click ^ to collapse)

(I'm developing it.) It's inspired by Reddit & HN, and has some additional features that makes it simpler to navigate large discussions, e.g. instantly jumping to the parent post (if it's far away) to refresh one's mind, and then jumping back. I made a video: (scroll down to "Jumping to the parent post, and back") https://www.effectivediscussions.org/-32/how-hacker-news-can... (everything not ported to embedded-iframes yet, though.)

Maybe Reddit aren't advertising their embedded comments, so no one knows about it? A while ago I searched for embedded comments alternatives, and I found some abandoned projects (that had gotten super many upvotes here at HN), + Isso, + Disqus, + Talk, but cannot remember having found anything about Reddit. I wonder why they build it, but then won't focus on marketing it. Maybe they haven't thought about any way to make money from their embedded comments, yet. Hmm.

Because they don't want the alt right and Russian bots all over their site, I imagine.

So... after reading your post, I went over to reddit to try to figure out how to embed comment threads for use as a discussion section on a site.

You know what? I can't find anything helpful on Reddit about how to do it.

I found how to embed reddit buttons easily enough (from the link on the bottom[1]). Checking the FAQ eventually led me to a page that says: "We’re working to support comment embeds shortly. We will update the publishers page and the FAQ when it’s out." [2]

Googled for it, and found an announcement blog[3] that made me realize "embed" exists under each comment. That only seems like a peculiar way of quoting a specific comment though -- and if there is some way of replying to comments through it or upvoting, I don't see how. I can't imagine anyone would want to have to comment on their own post in order to start a comment chain on their own site either.

Finally realized that "share" existed under each post as well. (Like 'embed', my brain just tunes that stuff out as junk -- seriously, why would I need help emailing a thread when I know how to copy and paste?) In addition to social media icons, there's a weird icon that seems to give you the option to embed a fancier looking link to a reddit thread. I don't see any comments attached to that in the preview though. This seems like the most likely place to find the functionality, but I'm not seeing it.

So, jedberg, I'm going to have to go with "no one knows how to do it" as the main reason that nobody embeds reddit comment threads for their own comment sections.

(Honestly though, I'd rather read reddit comments on reddit than have them embedded.)

[1]: https://www.reddit.com/buttons/

[2]: https://www.reddithelp.com/en/categories/reddit-101/post-emb...

[3]: https://redditblog.com/2015/03/23/announcing-embeddable-comm...

HN is a pretty close second, especially after they added comment collapsing

Isn't comment collapsing in HN the same as downvoting? I find this confusing - or maybe I just don't have enough karma for the actual downvote button.

Collapsing a thread is absolutely not the same as downvoting the parent. It's just a display toggle.

On the topic of thread collapsing on HN, I honestly can't believe they still haven't fixed the performance issue. It's not noticeable on small threads, but go to one with thousands of comments (like the iPhone X one), and try collapsing. I've seen threads with noticable 1-2 seconds delay for every collapse.

Are you getting confused between the down arrow to down-vote and the [-] button to collapse? I am assuming there's a down arrow, since I don't have the privilege to down-vote :-)

Collapsing only hides it for you.

With enough karma you get a downvote button.

It'd better not be, I collapse good comments all the time when looking for something specific.

> I just don't understand why more sites don't embed the reddit comments.

1. You can't leave comments after an amount of time has passed on Reddit. On even my blog, conversation will spark up 1+ years later. Why would a website want to inherit that limitation?

2. Users have to have a Reddit account. Some of the best conversations in my comments section are anonymous.

I completely agree with this. I'm surprised reddit hasn't monetised the actual comment threads themselves and become a better disqus.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact