Jan 24, 2009

Threaded Comments For Blogger With Google Friend Connect

In garden blogs and Google Friend Connect I touched on some of the benefits of this new feature from Google and how it can help make your blog or website a more social networking experience. This entry is about how to create threaded comments in your Blogger blogs using the Wall gadget I mentioned.

A Wall is a place where people can leave short messages to one another. But this Wall gadget from Google Friend Connect can be customized to act as a threaded comment form for your garden blog. Threaded comments is a feature that Blogger users have wanted for a while but Blogger hasn't gotten around to. In threaded comments you can reply directly to a comment instead of having your reply show up many comments lower. I've tested this on a blog I'm working on and I kind of like it.

Step #1:
Before you begin I recommend downloading your template in case you make a mistake you can always upload it and go back to your original template. Even better would be if you start a test blog where you can try this before doing it on your garden blog.

To install the Wall gadget follow the instructions from the first entry on this subject and add the Members gadget so fans of your garden blog have a place to sign in. Once they're signed in they can comment and interact with each other. Follow the instructions to customize and generate the code for the Wall gadget. Be sure to choose "page" so that each "wall" below your blog post is unique to that page. If you're unsure of what width to make it make it the same size as your "main" blog area so it fits neatly below the body of your posts. To locate the width of your main blog area look at your template, it should look something like this

#main-wrapper {
width: 463px;
background: #FFFFFF;
padding: 5px;
float: left;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */
}


Step #2:
After you've customized your wall gadget to look like your blog go to Layout> Edit HTML. There you'll see a box next to the text "Expand Widgets Template." Check the box and scroll down to find this line of code in your template

<b:includable id='comments' var='post'>

Right after that line is where you want to past the code you generated for your wall gadget. Preview your handy work to make sure you did it correct and then save it. Take a look at your blog you should have the Wall gadget now in the comment field.

At this point you now have two comment forms people can use. You could hide the comment form from Blogger and use this one or you could use both of them. After placing the code this form will show up above the blogger comment form if you have comments embedded. It will not show up in a pop-up window if you have your comment form appear in pop-up form. But a visitor could click the little box and make this comment form pop-up at full screen for easier reading and posting and close it when he or she is done.

What I like: The threaded comments make replying to people easier. It cuts down on some spammers because you don't have to allow anonymous comments and if one gets through they can't create hyper links in their comments. Take a look at the image above if you haven't already done so. Bullet 1 shows what it looks like when someone tries to create a link in your blog. Number 2 shows what a really long comment looks like. I posted a paragraph of text and it was truncated to save space. You read the whole comment by clicking on the "more" link. The profiles are better than the native Blogger profiles or no profiles if people don't use Blogger. The comments can be moderated via the Google Friend Connect page and you can even ban people from your comment section.

What I don't like: It is a beta feature from Google and something could go wrong or they could stop supporting it. It doesn't have a place for people to comment anonymously or via the "Name/Url" option because people have to join your website or blog and that could cut down on the number of your comments. But all your visitors need to join your site is a Google, Yahoo, AIM or OpenID account and a lot of the other blogging platforms already create OpenID accounts for their users.

While not as great as threaded comments built in the Blogger comment form this Wall could help make your blog look a little more professional and it could add interactivity to an otherwise boring site where you can't comment. I don't know if I would use this as a comment form if you have a large following who comments regularly because people don't like change. When Blogger updated their comment form it created a bit of a stir in the garden blogger world with all kinds of ridiculous accusations levied against Google and general pearl clutching. Using this comment form and the Blogger comment form could lead to some confusion as to where people should comment. But if you like this Wall gadget better it could be worth it to have two of them until people get accustomed to this new one and then stop publishing comments via Blogger's comment form.

Related Post:
Garden blogs and Google Friend Connect.-Part 1.

Update: While manking an update for Part 1 of this post I noticed that there is a new comment gadet available for GFC. Not sure why they needed a different one that basically does the same thing the "wall" does but they created one to make it easier for people who would like threaded comments.

14 comments:

  1. Interesting;) Sounds like this is something worth looking in to. I would probably do something to delete my blog, though!

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  2. So, MBT, do I need to do all this to be able to comment for the Spring-Fling blog?

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  3. Carolyn,

    You don't. Since you're already a member of the group just sign in and follow the instructions I posted on the group blog. I don't know if you saw it but I put it up last night.

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  4. Not for wordpress users?

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  5. Frances, unfortunately WP doesn't allow you to add the necessary files/code. Though if you host your own WP blog you can do it.

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  6. Mr Chiots just did threaded comments for my blog. They're definitely the way to go. My readers are really loving them!

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  7. What make me worried is GFC Comment does not work properly. I was installed GFC Comment following your instruction but it seemed that GFC Comment was down.

    See my test blog http://kangkombor.blogspot.com/. I have installed threaded comment using GFC.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Kombor,

    Its looks like it is working fine on your blog. Disable the native blogger comments so only the Wall comments are visible.

    ReplyDelete
  9. A better alternative for Friend Connect commenting is JS Kit.

    It allows your users to comment using your sites Friend Connect network and it integrates the comments with Blogger, so if you ever drop use of JS Kit, all of your comments stay with your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Is there a way to post comments without subscribing to the site?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Andro,

    If you are using GFC for commenting there is no way for someone to post to your blog/site without first becoming a member of it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Not entirely sure I understand all of this but as blogger is owned by Google I think, that might be why it is complicated. I have been looking at blogger though as an alternative to wordpress or as an addition so this info will come in useful

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    ReplyDelete
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I hope you find this blog a useful garden blogging resource. Sometimes I may reply to comments with my MrBrownThumb account or I may reply with my Garden Bloggers account. Hope this isn't confusing. If you're looking for gardening information check out "Google For Gardeners"

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