A few days before LIFT’07, I had dinner with Bruno Giussani, who now happens to be one of the lucky people to live in beautiful Lausanne.
Amongst other things, he told of his frustrations with current blogging software (he’s using TypePad) and how the perfect tool didn’t seem to exist. I guess one simple reason this is so is that “perfect” means different things to different people.
I use WordPress, like it, and generally recommend it around me, because to my mind it’s the most complete and user-friendly platform out there, and because the plugin architecture allows for nearly any functionality to be added to it if somebody takes the trouble to code it.
Bruno shared with me one shortcoming of today’s blogging technology that he and Robert Scoble were talking about at LIFT last year (so this is not a “new” idea). Here is a write-up of this idea (with his permission of course), with a few implementation and interface details, in the hope that someone out there will pick it up and write the plugin. (I’ve heard enough people recently asking for plugin ideas to work their mad coding skillz on…)
Here’s the basic idea: there are often valuable contributions in the comments of a post, and we would like a way to be able to effortlessly “promote” a comment (or part of it) into the body of a post. This allows the blogger to easily act as an editor for the conversations taking place on his blog.
All this, of course, would have to be nice and ajaxy. Here’s how I could imagine it happening.
First of all, the plugin recognises that the author of the post is logged in, and adds a “promote” link next to each comment, in addition to the “edit” link. If that link is clicked, the comment text is automagically appended to the post content in a blockquote, complete with author name and link to original comment.
If part of the comment is selected when the promote link/button is clicked, then only that excerpt is quoted in the post.
Instead of the dreaded confirmation pop-up, a nice confirmation message should appear alongside the promoted comment in the post body, with an undo link.
From a back-end perspective, the promote link “knows” which post it belongs to (check the ID of the comment
<div> it’s in). It shouldn’t be very difficult to grab author name, author url, comment permalink, format them all nicely (blockquotes, credit, microformats), edit the post, and add it to the end of the content with some introductory text (like “promoted comment”) and an “edited” stamp with time/date of promotion.
- if part of a comment is selected and the wrong “promote” link is clicked, what behaviour would be expected? Probably an error message of some sort, or even better (but probably trickier to implement), a choice: promote the whole post (based on link clicked) or the excerpt (based on selection)?
- should promoted comments really be added into the post content, or stored as post meta data?
Taking this a step futher: wouldn’t it be nice to let the blogger introduce the promoted comment, or write a few lines after it? In this case, pressing the promote button/link would bring up a pop-up where more text can be added, with the option of displaying it before or after the quoted text.
And even another step futher (but I’m not sure it’s an interesting one): how about allowing the blogger to make a new post out of the promoted comment, instead of just appending it to the current post? Would this be interesting?
Additional thoughts on this basic idea are welcome (Bruno, let me know if I forgot something, it’s been a while since our conversation). If you’re a plugin author and you feel upto it, go for it (just make sure you give Bruno credit for the idea). I’ll be happy to try it out.