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Long comment threads become unreadable as replies are indented

The community guidelines discussion has lead to long comment threads under certain posts, something I can only assume will be more common as more users join the platform. Since each successive reply indents the next comment more, after 10 or so successive replies, text becomes so squished against the right margin of the comment box it's completely unreadable and results in visual glitches with parts of the ui. Shorter threads are legible but become uncomfortable once the page is forced to start cutting off words onto the next line. Im not sure how big an issue this is in practice, since most comment threads aren't that long, but with the increase in users it seems like it'll start popping up more. I'm not positive what the ideal fix for this would be, but a few possibilities include
  • Changing the indent level of replies
  • Making the comment box below a post wider
  • Add a horizontal scrollbar to the bottom of the comment box
  • Break off really long comment threads into their own page?

21 people have this problem

this problem is extra egregious on mobile, comments get pretty unreadable only a handful of indents in. and in safari at least, the longest comment threads also force the page wider to accommodate them, which allows the rest of the content on the page to be wider than the screen, which makes it a pain to read even just the original post bc i have to scroll back and forth each line.

4 people like this

> Break off really long comment threads into their own page?

If i understand the suggestion correctly, i think this is what reddit does:

* the max nested comments is 8 and for the 9th and above there is a link to a page that has the 8th, a link to the parent conversation and all their comments below.

Currently on mobile, cohost seems to only behave more or less ok until the 3rd, then all hell breaks loose and you need to zoom out to see the whole text. To fit 8 nested comment reddit:
* tightens the indentation between a parent comment and the nested comment
* adds vertical lines in place of spaces for indentation, to make it easier to follow the hierarchy of nested comments

1 person likes this

Bumping this, as I just came here to propose it but looks like it's already here.

To look at another example of this, this is how Tumblr used to structure reblogs, but the reading of huge reblog threads became frankly untenable at some point. I think there probably is a workable solution in here somewhere.

Reddit's behavior seems like a reasonable solution, though perhaps there's a way to preserve verticality in the general reading experience... the way that Twitter structures replies to posts, where each Tweet can be clicked on to see just the replies to that specific Tweet is behavior that I personally like quite a bit (other grumps about Twitter aside). But that would require probably some fancy dynamic page shit in order to make that work in a comments section.

Definitely agree that the Reddit option is sort of the best compromise for reading's sake. Not perfect though.

Yeah, it starts to get a bit snug on mobile for me at around the 6th comment, and anything past that starts to get uncomfortable to read. If it goes far enough, parts of the UI start to extend past the edge of the screen making scrolling left and right possible and misaligning the profile button at the top right, and everything becomes really difficult to read. It would be nice to have some kind of option for this, like being able to collapse earlier comments in a chain while keeping later ones visible, or opening new comments in another page. 

That, or just making it so that after a certain number of replies, maybe 5, it stops indenting further and just adds a mark somewhere to designate that it is a reply to the comment directly above it.

I just checked it on desktop actually, and it's even more unreadable, causing words to become cut off halfway as it can only handle around 3 or 4 characters per line at comment 12, and then comment 13 is completely offscreen, covered up by the dark grey bar on the right of the screen and impossible to see at all.

1 person likes this

This is still an issue that’s making some comment threads completely impossible on my iPad.

Personally, I find Reddit's system a little clunky and confusing at times whenever a comment thread is moved to a new page. Having everything on the same page makes navigating the conversation easier, sometimes I might wanna scroll back up to reference a parent comment while reading others further down the chain, and having to go back a page to view it makes things a little inconvenient.

Twitter's threading system is nice, though can also be a bit confusing in situations where indenting is useful? Not sure how often it is the case there, though. Normally I found it to be an issue with long threads being made by a single user, which leaves me having to click on each individual tweet within that thread to make sure I didn't miss any replies or branching conversations. Those 100+ tweet threads consisting of tiktoks were nearly impossible to view the replies for because they kept getting buried by the rest of the thread without a way to collapse them.

Something like a YouTube comment section could be a good middle-ground: all top-level comments have a collapsible set of replies indented underneath, but then those replies cannot indent any further if replied to. If you wanted to reply to somebody else's reply in there, you would have to reply to the top-level comment with an @ to the person you are responding to. This still misses being able to track context though, so perhaps a reply system similar to Discord's (where a quote and link to the message being replied to is provided) could work here?

1 person likes this

Hiya, I ended up writing a userscript based on my prior comment above. Check it out here:

Hope it's useful until this issue is officially fixed!

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