Ask the Readers: Would You Prefer New Comments to Appear First or Last?

83 amazing comments

Ask the Readers

Today I thought we’d do something a little bit different.

Instead of me telling you what I think about something I’d like to hear your opinions.

So here’s the question:

Would you prefer new comments to appear first or last on Blog Tyrant?

You see, the traditional way to display comments is in descending order meaning that the first person to comment retains the first position and every one else goes below him or her.

But you can also do it the opposite way whereby the newest comments appear first and the older comments gradually move down the page.

So which one do you think is best?

I’d like your answer to address two things:

  • What would get the most comments?
    The first thing, of course, is which method do you think would encourage the most comments? Would you like to be “rewarded” for being first and getting the top spot or do you think you’d be more likely to comment if yours appeared at the top for a period of time?
  • What is the best user experience?
    The second point is extremely important for me and that is what fosters the best user experience? Do you think you’d be more likely to engage in an ongoing conversation one way or the other?

I really love hearing all of your opinions; there are a lot of smart cookies on this site.

Please leave a comment below and let me know which method you prefer and why. Hopefully we can get some insights in to how people think about commenting which you can apply to your own blogs.

Photo: Β© Bowie15

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83 Comments. Join in. *Closed after 30 days*

  • Susannah Wollman

    Oh, for sure I would prefer to see my comment at the top for awhile. Sometimes there may be hundreds of comments. I usually only read the top 25 or so, and so if there are already more than that, I probably won’t comment.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      But you would if yours was going to be top?


        1. the Blog Tyrant

          Interesting. Thanks Lisa.


  • Luke

    I think it truly depends upon how users interact with your site. If you have a lot of one off comments where there is no conversational engagement, last to first is better because you get the more recent commentary.

    In the case where the end of your post is the beginning of a conversation with your readers, then first to last is best, because it allows your readers (if they so choose) to catch up with the context of the conversation in the order it happened.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Both excellent points Luke. Well put.


    2. Dorothy Ray

      My thoughts, exactly, especially for your Blog Tyrant site. The comments more often build upon each other because BT has an unusual community and not off the wall comments crying to be skipped.

      For those readers who mainly want to see how you respond to whatever they’ve said, the top would be preferable. If you ever stop responding to most comments, then you should put newest first. IMO.

      Otherwise, I think you should continue as is. It’s a real pain to read a comment and then have to hunt for another comment that the first one refers to.


      1. liz@lifedreaming

        I agree with you Dorothy.

        I enjoy reading the first comment [well done Susannah] and then following the conversation. It’s a natural kind of flow.

        I also really like doing this – adding to an existing conversation. I’ve noticed BT that you go down to about 5 or 6 levels and a lot of the chats have gone there! I read most of the comments and enjoy peoples insights and ideas.

        Liz


        1. the Blog Tyrant

          Thanks Liz. Yeah I have thought about going down to more levels but it just gets confusing after a while – especially if people are replying to replies.


      2. the Blog Tyrant

        Thanks Dorothy. I agree that the newest comment first style can cause some “flow” issues.


    3. lisa | renovating italy

      I for one would read the majority of the comments either way, when I first came to the site I kept a notebook just from comments on your blog which covered things I was yet to learn about.

      Is it possible to have the latest comment “feature” and them move to the bottom of the page when the next comment comes in????

      PS love the pic!
      ciao lisa


      1. the Blog Tyrant

        Lisa that is a really interesting idea. I have never even heard of that before.

        So you’d like to see the newest comment at the top in some kind of highlighted area and then the regular structure underneath that?


        1. Dorothy Ray

          I second Lisa’s idea if it’s do-able.


      2. Alan Reeves

        My idea is much like Lisa’s; how about featuring a random comment? Maybe one that is voted on as the best, or has the most replies? Set this one at the top (as Lisa suggested) and replace it every so often (hour, day, week???) If the featured comment was always the most popular, it would pretty much always stay as many people are a little reluctant to read 30+ posts. With a random post being features, that post has less of a likelihood of being buried and just may add a different opinion to the current discussion.


        1. the Blog Tyrant

          I really like this. Not sure how it could be done but might have to look in to it.


  • Rachelle

    For a true democracy…some sites allow comment voting so readers can vote a comment that is really good up the page. Most votes gets highest position.

    Just saying!


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Now why would democracy be present on a site called Blog Tyrant?

      πŸ˜‰


      1. Rachelle

        If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and smells like a duck… it’s a duck.

        You should have called this blog Blogsoftieawesome but that was probably taken already…:)


        1. the Blog Tyrant

          Ha ha. Stop it.


  • Steve Devonport

    Being the first to comment or being “at the top” is something personal to us all, some people will see this as a reward for posting whilst others will not be so concerned.

    I’m not concerned about where my comments are placed.

    With regards to User Experience the answer for me is just that – it’s my experience and my answer relates only to me.

    From a User Experience viewpoint it doesn’t matter to me where my comments lie within the comment list – what matters to me is the comment I’ve made (my experience) and any reply to my comment (the audience experience).

    I’m sure there will be people who agree or disagree with my thoughts but that’s part of the beauty of engaging with an audience.


    1. zimbrul

      I agree with Steve. In this respect I’m privileged because when Tyrant write a great post and then goes to bed (in Australia being night) I hop in and leave a comment because in UK is morning so I can get the top spot with ease. In this case I’d like to see the “lazy” at the bottom.


      1. the Blog Tyrant

        Nicely done! Very good tactic.


    2. the Blog Tyrant

      So as long as you get some reply to your comment you aren’t fussed about how it’s laid out? Thanks Steve. Good to know.


  • Joe Hage

    I like Rachelle’s idea.

    And perhaps you can add a sortable function atop the comments section.

    If it is one-or-the-other, though, I would choose first-come-first-served because later comments often refer to previous ones. (As I just referred to Rachelle’s.)


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Good point Joe.

      Great to see you around here again!


  • Cristina Ansbjerg

    I really don’t like it when newer comments appear first. It makes me confuse.
    And it’s even worse when there are a few replies and the conversation is nested. You have to go up and down all the time to follow a logical order.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      That is the biggest downfall in my opinion. Like has already been said, might be good for blogs that get lots of one off comments but when there is discussion it can get messy.


  • Lisa Angelettie

    I like order. Call me crazy:) Older comments up top and gradually scroll down to the newer comments. Also, if I’m leaving a comment, I just want to make sure the blog owner reads it. So really, this is about you BT πŸ™‚


    1. lisa | renovating italy

      Good point, most blogs I comment on I make no effort to go back and see if I have a response form the author.

      Some blogs I know do not reply to any comments and there is no way to respond to other people’s comments, this is what I love about BT, it’s a conversation!

      BT’s comments I subscribe to because you respond!! Even though my blog’s comments are nothing like yours for quantity I make sure to reply to each one.

      ciao again
      lisa


    2. the Blog Tyrant

      I always read all of the comments I get Lisa. You can be assured of that.

      Sometimes it’s darn hard though – you guys leave some long ones!


  • David Bennett

    As a general answer, I prefer to scroll down than to scroll up: So newest at the bottom.

    However, if the article is old and I need to know whether there are up to date answers to an issue (such as issues with an old plugin) then it is different.

    Then it is helpful to see at a glance when the last comment – and the last reply – were made. In that situation, newest at the top is better.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Both excellent points David!

      I hadn’t thought about the physical user experience of scrolling upwards. Its quite unnatural.

      I like the idea about more updated posts having the new comments first. This would be really handy on posts that launch plugins and whatnot where you need to see the latest bug fixes, etc.


  • Louis Burklow

    Off the top of my head I believe it’s best to put the newest comments at the top. That benefits you because it keeps readers interested in your posts and also can lead to more sustained discussions. I think that’s the best way to get and keep a large readership.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Hey Louis.

      Why do you think the newest comments at the top leads to more conversation?


  • Sinea

    Either at the top or a clickable link that says “go to most recent comment”. Either would work for me πŸ™‚


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Interesting Sinea. So you value the more recent comments above the older ones?


  • zimbrul

    Not having a preference but I can see you did put the comment box like the superstores use to place the bread: at the back at the store. If you want to buy only bread you have to go at the back and pass hundreds of “offers”. Smart Tyrant ;).


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Neil Patel reckons the comment form should go above the comments because it is easier to locate for readers. I think he might be right…


  • Sheila Edeliant

    I agree with most of the others in that I like to join in a conversation, and it is awkward to have to read “backwards” to do that. So I definitely prefer oldest first, newest at the bottom.

    Zimbrul has a great point, too. Not to mention, it’s a bit annoying to read through a whole line of comments so that you can make an intelligent response, only to find that you have to go hunting back up the page somewhere for the comment box. πŸ™‚

    (It’s got me wondering how things show up on my blog. I don’t get a whole lot of comments at this point, but I’ve never even paid attention to how they order themselves. Guess I should look!)


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Sheila thanks for that second paragraph about putting the comment box at the top of the comments. I had never thought about it like that (see my reply above your comment).


      1. Sheila Edeliant

        That’s what I like about conversation–it gets us thinking! πŸ˜‰


        1. the Blog Tyrant

          You guys are amazing.


  • Christelle Hobby

    I’d have to go with new comments at the top. It’s a slight incentive for people to leave comments, which is good for you and encourages engagement. As far as the reader’s experience is concerned, I think it ensures that the comments that get the most attention are the most recent and up to date. If you have a time sensitive topic, the first commenter to the post may not be as relevant as the last person who commented. Just a thought.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Hey Christelle.

      I have to confess I didn’t anticipate the number of people who would choose the newest first option.

      Thanks for your thoughts. Love your site by the way.


  • Tamara Epps

    As a commenter I often don’t comment if hundreds of people have already commented as I doubt it will get read by anyone in amongst that sea so having some time at the top would encourage me to comment. However, saying that, as a reader I prefer to see comments in the order that they were written as replies make more sense that way.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      That is a perfect summary of the problems of both options Tamara. It’s a tricky one indeed.


  • Caleb

    I prefer the most recent comments to be at the top as a commenter can more easily see the latest remarks without having to scroll far and thus be sparked to reply depending on the date and content of the comment. Plus you appeal to some commenters sense of ego seeing their most recent one at the top.

    But of course the ultimate is to just remove the dates on the comments altogther which is what I have done which leaves a sort of timelessness factor to things…

    And honestly it took me a while to figure out how to remove the comment dates codes as some themes work a little differently but I ended up finding a simple work around where you can go inside your wp admin to settings then to general and look at the last choice under date format and erase what is in the box leaving it blank then click Save Changes πŸ˜‰


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Thanks Caleb. It’s really interesting to see how many people like the new comments at the top.

      Nice work-around with the dates by the way!


    2. zimbrul

      Caled, nice blog mate. And the idea with timeless comments is quite interesting. I said before and I reiterate now: BT has atracted smart people to comment on his blog.


  • Debra Gould

    I prefer the most recent cooments to be at the top. It encourages me to comment, especially when I don’t have to scroll down a big list to get to the submit box.

    I also like the idea of each new commenter having their moment at the top.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Thanks Debra. Lots of smart people suggesting new goes to the top.


  • Γ‰lan

    I prefer new comments on the top if the site gets more than ~20 comments per post. If there’s already tons of comments on a post and mine is going after all of them, I feel like “Why bother?” because no one will read it, so I won’t really be adding anything to the discussion.

    I’d especially like newer comments on the top for sites that leave commenting open forever. I have been known to find a blog, fall in love, then devour their older posts. If my comment went at the top, I’d feel like there’s still a chance someone would see it despite the post’s age.

    That said, I can deal with leaving my comment at the bottom (like this!)


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      So do you leave comments so that other readers will see your comment or mostly for the author?


  • Patrick

    I’ll confess to having skimmed through some of the replies … I don’t mean jumped straight to the bottom, but scrolled and read those which caught my eye. So, I’m not sure if this has been suggested, but I’m sure I’ve seen ‘Comments’ where the preference can be selected by the user. You would obviously have a default set, but then the alternative option would be clearly shown at the top of the comments.

    I prefer Newest post first on sites like this that have an interesting interaction, as I can read through logically – going up seems strange to me.

    One thing that I find difficult to see an easy solution to is when a reply is made to a comment which is in the middle after I have read them all – this is only important when returning to read again – as I will probably miss it.

    The followup comments by email is good, but I think I tried this once before and got inundated for every comment – best if it’s a single notification until next visit.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Patrick – do you know of any plugin that allows for individual notifications?


  • Jasmine Henry

    I think that if all comments were equal, then they should start with the first person who commented and end with the most recent.

    *However*, not all comments are equal and there are some that have more interesting, relevant things to say that ‘FIRST!’ – so I think that it would be worth implementing a ranking system, say, the comment with most favourites, likes gets put at the top. I’ve seen that that sort of method works best, especially when a person gets favourited a lot – they become the community leader and help aide discussions without even being asked to, organic almost.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Man, this sounds like it’s going to be a lot of work.


      1. Jasmine Henry

        I think there are plugins for it?

        (Alternatively, have you considered using the ‘Top Commentators’ leaderboard? – I know Neil uses that on quicksprout).


        1. the Blog Tyrant

          I used it for a while but the plugin wasn’t updated or something and it caused a conflict with one of my other plugins. I should probably bring it back.


  • Laura

    All my thoughts have been shared already by other intelligent commenters πŸ™‚ but I just wanted to thank/congratulate you on taking this angle for a post. I’m learning a bunch of stuff just in the comments!


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Thanks Laura. I agree, the people who comment on this site are crazy smart. I feel very lucky.


  • Ruan | EbooksTutorialsAndGuides.com

    I have to agree with Luke. He completely read my mind. To follow a conversation I would want to start at the beginning of it and read it like an article; from the top to the bottom, beginning to end. No conversation, then the most recent would be preferred.

    Then again, how would you know? As surely one or a couple of commentators deciding not to try to establish a conversation doesn’t mean the next won’t?

    I think trial and error, over time will determine each blogger’s most suitable preference, as it won’t be “either, or” all the time.

    I’d simply stick to first on top as this will not only help others to get the help they probably might be looking for if they didn’t from the post, but it will also ensure that “duplicate” conversations wouldn’t be necessary.

    πŸ™‚


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Good point bro.

      Did you fix that issue I emailed you about?


      1. Ruan | EbooksTutorialsAndGuides.com

        I never received an email from you BT?

        Possible to please re-send?


        1. Ruan | EbooksTutorialsAndGuides.com

          I apologize; just got it in my SPAM folder.

          Kind of strange as ESET NOD32 doesn’t claim anything to be wrong, but I’ll resend from my gmail account quickly. Actually, I have just send it to my own gmail account so I’ll try and see what you’re seeing.

          Thanks for the heads up; please note that it was written a couple of days ago so I hope things still make sense LOL!


          1. the Blog Tyrant

            Strange I know. It might be the links in your footer?


  • Ruan | EbooksTutorialsAndGuides.com

    Aha! Quite possibly yes BT. What I don’t understand is that I sent that exact email to my own Gmail account as a test and nothing popped up on my side…

    Anyway, sent it from another account. Hope you got it πŸ™‚


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Will email soon.


      1. Ruan | EbooksTutorialsAndGuides

        No problem BT; I’ll keep an eye out πŸ™‚


  • Sanna HellstrΓΆm

    Hi,

    I definitely think LAST!
    Why?
    Because I think if itΒ΄d appear on top (first) it would dis – focus the reader.
    Also, by having them at the end, you actually might take more time to read comments and possibly connect with someone else.

    Best Swedish,
    Sanna


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      I’m inclined to agree. Thanks Sanna.


    2. zimbrul

      I couldn’t say it better.


  • Naveen | Expert Blog Tips

    I think new comments should come at the end. People who comment first need some extended visibility after all. There is a fine for joining party late, and it applies to blog commenting as well πŸ™‚ I often pay this fine myself.

    Jokes apart, I think it doesn’t matter much when we have engaging audience who can continue interesting conversations in the comments.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      That’s a good point Naveen. The people around here are really lovely with their conversations.


    2. zimbrul

      I agree with Naveen and as Sanna said above to have newest comments at the bottom makes you read some other valuable comments and why not, connect with others.


  • Ray

    I believe in the theory of first come first serve. Sometimes, I’m the top commentor in popular blogs such as: johnchow, problogger, and etc… As a result, i get a small portion of traffic coming from their site. If I’m anywhere above 10,there is hardly any traffic coming from their site.

    In my perspective, i’d say the best comment’s should be at the top. Just like how websites like youtube have a rating system for each comment. The more thumbs up you have, the higher you will be ranked. That sound’s fair.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Interesting stuff. Thanks Ray.


  • Joel Zaslofsky - Enlightened Resource Management

    New comments last please. I’ve found the most relevant ones are normally at the top.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      I’m inclined to agree Joel.


  • Daniel Edstrom

    Hi,

    I think that new comments should be placed at the bottom but I also like what Ray is saying and the thumbs up idea.

    So for me it’s one of those two alternatives

    Daniel – forgetmenutz.com


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      Thanks Daniel.


  • John Hoff

    I prefer the comments to be first come first serve for the reason that I can follow the conversation a lot easier… in other words, it’s a natural progression just like in real life conversation.

    I’ve been to some sites where it’s newest comments first and they are sometimes hard to follow because a comment up at the top might be, “I agree with Bill.” Then I have to go searching through the comments in reverse order to find “Bill’s” comment and go in reverse order to follow the conversation Bill started.

    Too much work to follow conversations backwards if you ask me.

    Great question Tyrant.


    1. the Blog Tyrant

      That’s the major drawback for me. A few sites I read that have newest comments first and where there is a lot of conversation is just too difficult to follow.


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