I already posted this on Kotaku Rough Draft, but I guess there's nothing wrong to repost this here. Maybe this place is more appropiate.
I've been reading Kotaku for about 7 years now, give or take. On that time lapse, of course I've seen the site constantly changing, constantly evolving. Today's Kotaku doesn't resemble 2006-2007's Kotaku at all.
Everytime a major change has happened, it has always produced the same reaction from almost everyone: hate, discomfort, disgust. Every time, everyone throw a tantrum over the changes, everyone complain, and the complaints go on for a few days or a couple weeks and you can read them everywhere, even in articles that have absolutely nothing to do with the changes.
Every. Single. Time. It's just natural.
I think I've never really complained about any of the changes. I've been through this many times, not only on this site, but in many other websites, and in the end, I found myself always getting used to it, and eventually loving it, to a major or minor degree. I consider myself a pretty adaptable guy, generally speaking, so changes usually don't affect me negatively in the big run in any palpable way.
But this new commenting system... This. Commenting. System.
Kotaku isn't my first experience with this system. I've already seen it implemented in other Gawker sites for a while now, and NEVER got comfortable with it. A good commenting system is simple, intuitive, easy to understand. This new comment system doesn't seem to have any of those qualities.
The fact that everyone is asking how everything works, and a lot of us are quite able to navigate through the internet, means that yes, this system isn't practical at all. The branched conversations? The tiny, tiny, tiny post list that doesn't allow you to have a good overview of all the comments, less so with its twitter-like character restriction? The fact that you need to click, click, click, click, click, click, and keep clicking, just to see ONE comment at a time (and its replies)?
Also, everyone must have noted how involved the Kotaku editors are all of a sudden with this new commenting system. This doesn't mean the new system is so awesome that even all of Kotaku's staff use it now (and quite frequently), no. It just means the new system is so awkward, unintuitive and difficult to get your head around it, that Kotaku's staff feel obligated to participate directly on the commenting system, in order to show us the ropes of it, and ease us into using it.
I don't know if this was Stephen Totilo's idea as Kotaku's boss, or maybe Nick Denton's. Maybe everyone just went on board. But my point is, if the new commenting system needs such an intervention, then it's not good. A competent system would and should be able to speak for itself, and this clearly isn't happening here.
Basically, Gawker threw out of the window a system comment that has proved itself to be the best in its simplicity (scrolling down, seeing comments, and related replies, all in a single place). In exchange, they put this convoluted, horizontal based system, which doesn't seem to be really bringing anything new nor improving anything. Basically, this feels like a change just for the sake of change.
It's funny how part of the justification behind this change was getting rid of the Star system, which, according to Nick Denton, was in the end a negative inclusion because this created a "chaste" system. I can get behind this idea, but this new commenting system is bound to create a chaste system as well, because it looks like it will give more importance to some posts than other. Because of this, many posts will be buried in this convoluted stuff, almost invisible to everyone.
Readers, in general, don't want to be told which comment is important and which isn't. We want to decide by ourselves. We want to be able to scroll through a page and see, in one place, EVERYTHING, all the posts, and then expand the replies (or have them all expanded by default if we choose to). We want to be able to plow through everything and give any comment a fair chance. We want to feel like our own comments stand a chance of being seen, equally as everyone else's comment, and not rely on a rather selective method that depends on what the article's own editors feel is "noteworthy" or not. That simply isn't fair. So, this new comment system, as far as chastising the readership goes, is worse than the Star system. Far worse. At least now.
I don't want to criticise just for the sake of it. I'm just pointing out all the flaws on this new system, to give the editors a chance to see what's wrong, and maybe see them doing something to address all these issues. I know that Kotaku has no final word on this, because this is handled by Gawker media, but they still can put a weight on Gawker's opinion as a whole, along with the editors from other sites (Jalopnik, io9, Jezebel, etc).
I'm not suggesting to just throw this new system to the trash and go back to the old one. If you want a change, that's fine, and this concept of branched conversations and whatnot definitely has potential to it, but right now, it's too convoluted and jarring. Address the issues on this, please. Streamline it, make it less click intensive, make it... intuitive. This isn't any of this.
I usually comment on this site a lot, but yesterday (and today), I haven't felt compelled to comment too much, to be honest. I tried to give this a chance, but it really isn't doing anything for me, and for the vast majority of users here. Please, don't try to impose this on us. We really, really, really, really don't want this.
A good commenting system should compel users to participate and engage in active discussions. So far, this one has done exactly the opposite for me. I won't be so dramatic as to say that I will leave Kotaku for (insert random videogame website) forever, because I love the articles in here, I love the coverage, I like and know and feel familiar with most, if not all, of the editors. But, if this commenting system isn't corrected, then you will definitely see a far lower amount of participation from me, and I'll limit myself to read your articles, mostly. I'd dare say a lot of your old readers will adopt this stance, as well. Do you really want to lose a part of your active readership in the comments section like this?