Remark.as - privacy-first, portable comments

Threads, anyone?

Like on reddit or HN, for example.

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I liked the features you’ve suggested. I’d like the ability of blocking people and removing comments. It’d be good to also have a per-post option to:

  • Disable new comments;
  • Keep new comments hidden until they’re approved.

Are there any news on this product?

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It should be able to “carry” comment threads in from wherever they’re happening, like the antithesis of Disqus. If someone, instead of first signing up and choosing route their input through the anointed commenting service, is right now discussing it on Twitter/Fritter/Mastodon/HN/Reddit/etc, then the commenting service should be able to cope with that. Doubly so if the original author is also on those platforms and responding. The idea is that the author should be able to highlight/engage the discussion wherever it’s happening and not lose anything over a reason as dumb as “not posted here”.

For a commenter, the service would enable you to discuss it in the venue that’s convenient and still have a shot at it being part of the canonical discussion. (But no one should be entitled to it. See below.)

For an author, the service would act as an aggregator/dashboard for all the platforms where a supported backend exists. It would reveal where the article is being discussed across the Web—even the parts not built by and inhabited by fediverse activists—and assemble them into a big, unfiltered metathread. The author would be able to sign off on individual subthreads, and they’d get syndicated into the canonical comment section. If the author has an account on those platforms, he or she would be able to link those accounts so that subthreads can automatically be blessed by virtue of the author having participated in it (or liked it).

The lesser (long tail) value proposition of a service like this would be to offer powerful tools for tuning your defaults. Maybe comments in /r/programming are by default killfiled unless the author explicitly intervenes to highlight that subthread, while people you’re following or with whom you share an org on GitHub are able to have their Twitter comments automatically approved.

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All I know is comments can too easily take me from the process of writing, so I don’t know what I think about comments in general.

Any updates on this?

No actual progress on this yet, besides gathering ideas.

What would speed up development is if we see more demand for this, or if people were willing to pay for it, or contribute to a small crowdfunding campaign to get it launched.

Would you say this a much-needed feature for you?

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I don’t feel like this should be a priority at all - Comments always seem like a good idea, but end up being… faff, in my experience.

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I completely agree with what @alfie has to say here. Most of the websites I visit have commenting system but very few people use it and most of them flock to Facebook or Twitter or other social media sites to provide feedback. The better thing to do would be to have a link at the end of the blog post connecting to the shared post on any social media site so that people can go there and give feedback. Often times, comment systems are only used by trolls where they force writers into having a biased preference. I don’t think remark.as is needed at all.

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Personally think it would be awesome if something could show comments from the fediverse embedded. So conversation happens in fediverse but can still be displayed.

Kind of like how blogspot did with google+

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I’d love to see actual ActivityPub enabled comments! I would also spend some money on a crowd funding. I’m not sure about a regular payment for a service though.

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I too would love to see ActivityPub comments; I was fairly confused that this wasn’t a thing since I can follow my write.as blog from mastodon.

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@matt Here’s an open source embedded comments system, similar to Disqus (but no ads, no tracking).
Maybe could be useful, for Write.as? (I’m developing it. Maybe we could cooperate somehow, if I slowly slowly implement features you need)

https://www.kajmagnus.blog/new-embedded-comments (scroll down). Some people like it.

https://www.talkyard.io/blog-comments

Among the features you’ve listed above: Guest / anonymous commenting, & spam prevention, implemented. Import & export is on the roadmap.

About the questions, “What would you like to see”: I have been thinking about integrating the blog comments with the fediverse, so that e.g. Mastodon replies or Webmentions, appear as comments, together with the other directly-posted comments, and can be upvoted and replied to. Sounds like what @geekgonecrazy has in mind?

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Tools that promote real conversation. What is that? No idea, but I know that FB and Twitter et al promote disingenuious conversation by the way they trigger addictive behavior my stimulating the amigdula (I think?). So a good way to start/learn is to do something different than they do. Sardonic grin.

I don’t have much to offer on the technical side. My singular rule for any forum I moderate is people need to strive to uphold everyone’s human dignity with their comments, so a simple way to remind them occationally when they post would be helpful. Thanks! I’ve been puzzling how to have interactive capacity that people use, and comments get used more than email, but as someone said in the thread, people are addicted to flockig to FB and Twitter. Sigh. I really do not want to promote that.

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It’s sad that Write.as doesn’t have a commenting system. And it’s even more sad that you people think this isn’t a priority. I love reading comments so much that I’m with Jeff Atwood here: a blog without comments is not a blog. At all.

Don’t take me wrong: Write.as is the best at what it does, and I know that it strives to be a minimalist, distraction free, focus-on-just-writing platform. Actually, it’s the best writing platform out there. And that’s what it is: a writing platform. Not a blogging platform.

I’m really looking forward for the development of Remark.as, but if it’s not a priority, then that’s a deal breaker for me.

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BitChute is trying to build something like that. They tried to fund the project via IndieGogo and got banned:

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Disturbingly unbelievable. So this is what happens when you upset some random nameless powerful people that just don’t want your open source project to ever come out of the paper. The worst part of it is that we don’t even know why they’re being banned everywhere.

Scary…

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Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Please feel free to keep discussing, but just wanted to address some things.

First, from what I’ve personally seen on the service over the years (and as some have mentioned here), this probably isn’t a crucial feature for most people on the platform. Most people just want to get their thoughts out without hearing what others think. It’s a rare bit of peace and quiet on the web today that I’d really like to keep enabling, which is why no comments will remain the default.

Still, we’ll be moving Remark.as forward probably in the second quarter of this year. I wrote a post about what I’d like it to accomplish (it’s a bit long, so you can skip to the end for the summary), but it’s going to incorporate everyone’s feedback here, too, so I appreciate it!


This is very cool! Looks pretty mature, and I love the clean UI. But I really want to build Remark.as around a certain workflow, so I think it needs to be made that way from scratch. Still, I appreciate you mentioning this! Your system could be a great alternative for anyone who doesn’t find that Remark.as meets their needs.

Agreed – like I wrote in that blog post, I think this is one of the main problems to solve. Most commenting systems miss the mark.

Again, we are going to build Remark.as. But like you mention, we’re a writing platform – and I think that’s why many agree that comments aren’t crucial for everyone. Our focus is on writers, and comments end up taking most writers away from their real work.

And this isn’t not a priority – it’s just lower priority than features like email subscriptions and ePub exporting, which we have in development right now. I know people want this feature, but we can only do so much at any given time, so we have to decide the order in which to do things. It doesn’t mean Remark.as won’t happen :slight_smile:

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This. And, as you mention, any comment system needs to promote thoughtful, quiet conversation rather than bombardment of reactionary blurbing.

I’ve found it fascinating since my brain injury in 2002 how I shifted my understanding of email, without realizing it at first. Others with brain injury interact in support groups via email with very thoughtful dialogue, but folks I email outside that community use email mostly as “FYI,” not to be interacted with. As Facebook increased in pupularity, email support group participation dropped rapidly, except for a few who needed the simplicity of email.

I’m not sure what this says other than the platform can be well designed for thoughtful interaction yet it also requires people chooseing to interact well and may not know or remember how until they discover it. How to promote that discover, of the art of conversation?

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To make commenting more human , it needs to become conversation rather than commentary. Someone talking at you through a television or lonely comment on a blog isn’t natural and human; a conversation is. If you want to talk to an author, you should be able to do that directly — no public side is needed. Then, if your conversation turns out to be of interest or use to more people, you should be able to make it public, where it can stand as a work in itself.

Very nice view on comments…

:clap: :clap:t5::clap:t4::clap:t6:

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The most important feature for me would be able to disable it completely. I don’t want comments, I don’t like comments :slight_smile:. My dislike grew over the years of managing several blogging platforms with tons of spam. Also, it is a lot of work as blog owners are more or less “liable” over here (where that is true in lawyer terms, I do not know 100%. But you need to manage your comments and remove comments that would break a law if someone makes you aware of these comments. Total hassle :slightly_frowning_face:.

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