Feature idea: Notification when a parent comment is modified

by Viliam1 min read21st Oct 202112 comments

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Not sure how many people would consider this feature useful: Imagine that you reply on someone else's comment, and the person edits their comment later. I think it might be useful (perhaps depending on circumstances) to get a notification.

Notification "XY edited a comment you replied to" should appear at the same place as when you get a reply. In perfect case, the tooltip would highlight the difference between the original and the updated comment.

Use cases that I imagine:

  • Person A makes a comment. Person B makes a reply disagreeing with the original comment. Upon reading this, person A changes their mind and updates the original comment like this: "[EDIT: Actually, B makes a good argument against]". This feature would show this information in person B's inbox, without A having to write a separate reply to their comment.
  • Person A makes a comment. Person B makes a disagreeing reply. Person A silently updates their original comment to make B's response seem silly.

This feature would apply only to comments that reply to comments, i.e. not to the top-level comments, because I assume that minor modifications of articles are sometimes too frequent (and would flood the inboxes of top-level commenters), and because more people would notice a substantial stealthy article edit.

An argument against this feature is that some people can make frequent insubstantial edits to their comments (e.g. fix typos), which also could flood the inboxes of the repliers. Then this feature would be annoying. Possible solutions:

  • Multiple unread notifications for the same comment are merged into one.
  • Some heuristic (e.g. only punctuation or isolated words are modified) to detect insubstantial edits.
  • Or an opposite solution (covering only the first use case), where a heuristic would identify substantial edits (e.g. where the added text contains a word like "edit", "update", "change", "modify", "remove", "delete").

Your opinions?

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11 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 10:25 AM
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I feel like I make enough minor edits to my comments (typos etc) that this would be really annoying - I'd feel significantly more constrained about my ability to make edits, because I'd know it would spam to people. Maybe having a "send notifications?" toggle would help

I didn't think about this myself, but yes, this seems to me like a great solution. The first use case I mentioned is much more important to me than the second one, which just seemed like a nice side effect.

Then maybe there should be a checkbox under the edited comment, turned off by default, available only when there are replies.

I don’t think a notification would be good here (the nuisance objection is decisive, IMO). But a note under the comment—yes. Many forums have this: “Last edited on <timestamp>.” (Edited comments could also be visually tagged in some way, on the basis of the edited-flag in the DB.)

As someone who frequently updates his comments: I have felt the lack of this feature, and wished it was implemented.

This definitely seems like the kind of feature were should have in some form. Consider in on the queue! Now just to find time for it...

PS: we're hiring

It's not a good feature without settling the notification pollution objection. I sometimes edit comments like 10 times for typos and wording. This would be fine if there is an opt-in flag to intentionally push the update notifications when I judge my own edit as substantial.

I agree with that! Sorry, to tried to capture it in my off-hand "kind of feature we should have in some form"

I frequently fix typos, even in older comments if I happen to come across them and notice. So it should only be added if it works really well to distinguish between substantial and insubstantial comments. But even then it would make me think twice whether I should update a typo, and I expect that to be annoying.

I think this would be a very nice feature. I have no opinion on whether it would be nicer than other things the people who'd have to implement it could do with the same amount of effort.

changes their mind and updates the original comment like this: "[EDIT: Actually, B makes a good argument against]". This feature would show this information in person B's inbox, without A having to write a separate reply to their comment.

I think separate replies are usually preferable for this. (A comment is a specific thing someone said at a particular time; you shouldn't feel obligated to go back and edit something you already said in the past, just because some of the replies were good.)

The argument in favor of the edit is: new readers may not read through the whole thread, and you don't want them stopping at the end of your now-outdated comment and never knowing it was rebutted and that you updated.