I just discovered "Comment on this answer" really...

…just takes one to a forum where one can comment on almost anything, perhaps.

If/when there should ever be an upgrade shouldn’t “Comment on this answer” drag along a URL or something that connects the comment with the answer?

That would eliminate an important social outlet for the people whose sole mission in life is to point out that people forgot to link to the article.

PS - you know what you forgot, right?

…to put this thread in ATMB?

I’ve been pointing out this very thing for years. Almost every thread in the Cecil or Staff Report forums started by a newbie lacks the URL to the column in question. It could be solved very easily by putting the link in the columns to an intermediate page explaining how it works. That’s all it would take – just a change in the single line at the bottom of the column.

You could even ignore the old columns and use the new line in all future ones.

But my idea has been rebuffed by all the mods that have replied as unworthy.

I think they use that as a test. If you don’t link the URL, you probably aren’t familiar with the other rules of the SDMB, either.

We want newcomers to understand that this is a message board, as distinct from a blog, and that they can comment not only on the column they just read but on pretty much anything. Seeing the thread list does that. The downside is that we sometimes get multiple threads on one column, threads without links, etc., but these problems are easily dealt with, often by other users, and give newbies a chance to interact with the community.

Plus, if someone feels it is important to comment on one of our reports we can blush prettily, but it is hard to ignore tumbleweeds rolling down the middle of an existing, but unremarked, thread.

I certainly agree with Ed in that there shouldn’t be a link from the article to a specific thread. Not only would this play favorites if there were more than one, but how can you link to a thread if none has yet been created?

Maybe, but how are you going to start if you’ve never used this board or any other board? Take a look at all the threads in the two forums: Comments on Cecil’s Columns and Staff Reports, and see how many threads have been started by those who aren’t savy to the process. I’d say it’s most of them.

Onceuponatime, I was one of those newbies, never having posted on any message board. I wanted to comment on a column, so I registered and clicked on the “comment on this” link. It took me to…nothing useful. I didn’t know how to start a thread or anything else. Guess what I did? I ignored this board for many months until I absorbed the process from lurking and other sources.

My proposal is so simple it’s ridiculous. Right now, when a new column is written, at the bottom it says, “Comment on this” and the link takes you to the forum post list. I suspect that link is inserted semi-automaticly for/by whoever handles the new column posts.

All I am suggesting is that that same link point to an intermediate page, let’s call it the “How To Comment” page. Absolutely no more work for the columnist than it is now, just use one boilerplate link instead of another.

And we write a simple, single page of text explaining how this works for the HTC page; perhaps link to a sticky that tells how threads & posts work, with some good ideas like which forum to use, why and when. Nothing fancy – think of how to educate those who have never used a message board before (and I think you’d be amazed at how many of those exist). What is a thread? A post? How does the process work? Why link to the column and how?

Then this HTC pages links directly to one of the appropriate forums. This means by the time the poster gets there, he has a head start. He knows that a link to the column is a good idea and he knows he should look for an already existing thread before starting a new one.

We could even make the direct link on that intermediate page at the top of the page so experienced posters could skip over the advice section.

Of all the suggestions made here, this has got to be the easiest one to implement I have ever seen. It doesn’t even have to involve Jerry, and it doesn’t require any alteration or configuation of vB to make it work.

To sum up:
[ol][li]Create a “How To Comment” page[/li][]Put a link to the two forums in that page[]For all future columns, have the “Comment…” link go to this HTC page, and[*]When you get around to it, change all the links on the old columns as well. Perhaps this could be done with a simple script, all at once.[/ol]I think this will make things much more smooth. Sure, some dolts will ignore the advice, but they’re our dolts now and we’ll have a goat or squid ready.

It’s technically trivial to create a link + page that will pop you directly into a “create thread” screen. Perhaps a better idea would be to pre-create one eternal thread per article and then direct to that running thread. The benefit there would be that you’d get to read all the dumb things people have already posted, and maybe be dissuaded from posting the same thing. If necessary, it could be truncated or pruned to keep it of the desired length and quality.

…And then it becomes more like a Blog with comments on each Blog post, as opposed to a community.

With regards to the last two posts…there are many solutions to this problem, and perhaps better ones than mine, but more work for the staff or a major change in board layout or organization isn’t likely to be seriously considered. My proposal, after the boilerplate is changed and the intermediate page created is NO more work for the staff and NO change to the board organization. You can’t get more minimal than that.

Regardless, I think the problem needs to be addressed. Every time I come to a new Staff Reports or Cecil’s Columns thread missing a link and add my post that says, “A link to the column is always appreciated to put us all on the same page, so to speak…”, I think that this could have been avoided from the start.

Well, with some of the prize-winners that these columns seem to attract, maybe we’re better off with a nice stout buffer between that world and this world. It seems like 90% of the time it’s some wacko thinking they’re ready to single-handedly discredit settled matters of scientific law. For the remaining 10% of legitimate comments, “Cecil” himself appears roughly 0% of the time to clarify his original comments. Maybe it’s better that that portion be its own self-contained blog with self-contained comments.

It never occurred to me, either, until I once wanted to comment on an answer. I had been posting here for years, by then. I had assumed that this forum and the “comment” link were two different things, the latter being used to send an e-mail.