Forum-like display of blog comments 61, revisited

Umeda sky building escalator, originally uploaded by quaisi.

I posted some months back on OLT’s efforts to develop a forum-type view of comment activity across a blog, an attempt to address complaints from some students that tracking discussion across many posts on an active course blog was complicated and confusing.

Since then, the team led by Novak has made some impressive progress. They have created and published the BlogActivityShortcode plugin for WordPress. I’ve activated it on my own blog – you can sort the comments by post title, post author, post date, number of comments, or by most recent comment activity. The “+” sign expands the threads.

You can see how the plugin works in a courseblog here.

Since Novak asked for feedback back in November(!), a couple blue sky thoughts. None of these wishes are needed, but would be nice:

  • it would nice if “most recent commenter” could be displayed somehow, though I know there is limited space – personally I think that is more useful information than the name of the original post author
  • I’d like to have the option whether to include the original post (which is included in the thread now) or just have a link to it, or maybe limit the post to a set number of characters. Some of those longer posts require a lot of scrolling to get through
  • if we could somehow aggregate comments from disparate blogs on multiple platforms (in addition to aggregating blog posts, which we are doing)… well, that would kick supreme ass

Getting the update on this plugin this morning marked my introduction to the concept of WordPress Shortcodes by OLT’s Scott McMillan, which is something I only dimly comprehend, but which I gather might make a number of my content management dreams come true. At the very least, I hope it will help me to manage a proper blogroll on a separate page, as opposed to adding to my already too-long sidebar. (I’m surprised that most WP widgets seem to publish exclusively to sidebars.)

5 thoughts on “Forum-like display of blog comments 61, revisited

  1. Wow, that I supers***** impressive, you guys are rocking wordpress good. I could figure this out with some more link digging, but is the output pages once the number of posts gets long?

    I might theme the page that contains this sans a sidebar to give more room for the content.

    What I am wondering about is the inclusion of the entire post; I understand to get the context of the comments, but it means a long scroll if it is a long post. Wonder if it would work to display an abstract or content_rss amount with an option to expand the entire post. I guess what you’ve done is to collapse an entire blog content into a single page? Most likely I just need to spend more time in it to sort it out.

    For blogroll, D’Arcy gave me a good suggestion to improve a process where I exported my feeds as OPML and ran them through Bloglines to have embed code for a page- his suggestion to use a grazr widget is much easier and slicker:
    http://cogdogblog.com/2009/01/06/blogrolls-and-mullets/

  2. Kudos to the fine folks at UBC’s OLT we’ll be putting this plugin to good use. And as for you wondering about comments being aggregating for posts, I realized with WPMu 2.7 that comments are now associated with posts more directly, and I imagine that it may soon, if not already, be possible to aggregate comments in the same way we do posts with FeedWordPress—actually I imagine this would be the future extension of a plugin like FeedWordPress and would, indeed, kick supreme ass.

    Go UBC, go!

  3. Alan – as I mention in my post, I agree about the full post content being included, though I understand why the developers included it… And I remembered your post on your Grazr blogpage, and I may do that myself, but I would like to preserve a bit of linklove so my buds get a little bit of Google Juice from my link.

    Jim, thanks for flagging that new association of posts and comments… and Scott, for showing me how it’s done.

  4. this is a sick, sick plugin. it’ll definitely make it easier to keep tabs of activity on a class blog. can’t wait for the latest code to get up to wordpress.org 😉

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