I’m starting to look at expanding Typo’s comment system. I have a few goals:

  1. Give Typo the best comment system of any weblog engine.

  2. Make it easier to handle large numbers of comments. This includes some sort of comment threading as well as comment pagination. Yes, those conflict with each other. No, I’m not sure how I’ll resolve it.

  3. Make the comment system more resistant to spam. I’m not really sure which approaches I’m going to use for this either, but this is a well-explored problem, and I have a few ideas. Fortunately, Typo has always had a few features that discourage comment spam, and we’d like to add to that a bit.

  4. Add support for authenticated comments, ideally using one or more external user identity systems, like TypeKey or OpenID. Personally, I’m really excited about OpenID, and I’d like to have Typo become both an OpenID client and server.

  5. Increase the “socialness” of the comment system. Make it easier to conduct discussions in comments. Allow frequent users to track responses to their comments via RSS or email. Allow “community building” via comments. Consider allowing some forum-like features, like allowing users to re-edit their comments after they’re posted. This obviously depends on having a reasonable identity and authentication system.

  6. Make it faster while we’re at it. Posting new comments currently invalidates Typo’s entire page cache; there has to be a way around that so we can keep up with Slashdot when they link to a Typo site.

  7. Keep it easy to run. One of my basic goals with Typo is to minimize the number of configuration options in the system, following DHH’s mantra: “flexibility is overrated.” At the same time, different people do have different needs; we need to find the right balance between having 50,000 little configuration options and force-feeding the One True Comment System down people’s throats.

My goal is to have something to show for this in the the next couple weeks; that depends on my consulting schedule and a few other things that are hard to predict, but I’m pretty optimistic about this.

Before I dig deeply into design, does anyone have any particularly good comment systems that we should look at? My current favorite is Dunstan Orchard’s on 1976design.com, but I’m open for suggestions. I’d love to hear about needs that I’m overlooking, too.