Currently, all of the innovation I have seen surrounding online commenting simply adds features to the mundane comment box we see at the bottom of articles. Facebook is urging everything to be social and for us to use our real identities everywhere we go on the web. Relative newcomers such as Livefyre and Disqus have been successful in offering different variations of the same basic commenting system. I believe the future of online commenting for discussion-based topics will be drastically different than the comment box we have seen for so long. And no (Yahoo I’m looking at you), allowing us the ability to sort by oldest, newest, and most popular is not the answer. What is needed is drastic reformatting .
Imagine an online commenting section as a massive dinner conversation. Today, people are coming and going with some people logically expressing their opinions, others shouting their opinions, and others just listening. The current online commenting systems resemble an out-of-control dinner table. Some newcomers are entering ready to blurt out everything that is on their mind, while others hesitate to enter the conversation because of a multitude of factors. Their is no order and it is essentially a free-for-all.
Future online commenting systems will bridge the free-for-all dinner conversations with the orderly one’s we are accustomed to in real life. Obviously it is quite a large dinner, but the point is that it will be organized in a way that facilitates discussion much easier. Imagine walking into a dining room and people were already organized. Their would be multiple tables for different sections of the conversation, and within each table people would sit according to their opinion on that section. A newcomer could enter the dining room and walk around the tables to gauge the topic of discussion and the current dialogue to choose where he/she stands.
I have a few ideas on how this can be done, but it will be interesting to see which small bloggers and then big media outlets adopt this type of system first. I believe this new system can stand alone from the current commenting system. It is evident people do not like change immediately and would not respond fondly to a drastic overhaul. However, I believe if this system stood separately it would grow overtime and possibly replace the existing commenting system. What if commenting sections were just as valuable or more valuable than the content itself.