New Feature: Comments

One of the most frequent questions I receive from QQ contributors is whether there’s a way to share feedback with other contributors.  Today we’re introducing that feature.  We’ve just added a comment section at the bottom of each sentence’s dedicated page.  Users who have published at least one sentence on QQ are eligible to post comments.

The comment forum is meant as a place to express appreciation for sentences you’ve enjoyed, and to offer constructive feedback. 

I welcome your thoughts on this addition to our site — share them with me at rudi@quadrivialquandary.com.

-Rudi

 

PS.  As I’ve tried to keep the main announcement short and sweet, I’ll take the liberty of reflection in this addendum.  Well, the new comment feature has been a long time in coming.  Very soon after QQ was born in 2009, I began hearing from contributors who hoped for more interaction on the site:

 

What a wonderful idea Quadrivial Quandary is! I wish I’d thought of it, which brings me to my question: what about some way to give a round of applause to particularly felicitous solutions? Every now and then there’s something absolutely brilliant that leaves unfulfilled the urge to shout, ‘Oh, well done!!’ through one’s tears of envy.

 

Thanks for the site. … Would it be possible to have comments on the QQ page?  There’s just so much information in some of these posts, I’d love to be able to comment or follow-up with questions. I think it could be a really neat addition.

 

I’m really enjoying both reading and contributing to the wonderfully creative linguistic cauldron you’ve devised.  I have a suggestion that might make it even more fun. It occurred to me today when I read [a certain] highly enjoyable submission. I found myself wishing I could give it a ‘thumbs up,’ like you see on YouTube, Facebook, and oodles of other websites; just a way to express appreciation or enjoyment.  So I figured I’d ask you about it. What do you think of the idea of being able to express appreciation for a fellow poster’s work?

 

The idea is to create a way for players to interact with each other. Perhaps something like a message board kind of place, where we could actually ‘meet’ each other, become friends, compliment each other’s work, etc. I’ve often thought it would be nice to make friends with some of these clever logophiles.

 

I’m wondering if a bit of feedback might help.  I looked at the blog again today and realized that I had hoped to see some new discussions there.  … I would have liked to offer kudos for some of the contributions I’ve seen, or make an occasional comment — or hear what folks thought of my scribbles.

 

 

At the same time, I’ve heard some strong reservations about increased interactivity:

 

 

I enjoy Quadrivial Quandary tremendously just the way it is. I love trying to find a story to fit the words instead of words to fit a story. The only time I wish there were a way to comment is when something is particularly (and usually hilariously) felicitous, like managing to use the phrase ‘shored up’ when one of the words is ‘littoral’. Better have no comments than have more comments than there are sentences.  Don’t you bet that most of us are Shy Persons? (I myself go under the subheading Eccentric Recluse, Amiable Crackpot variety.) I don’t think we want to be doing, you know, open heart surgery on puzzle solutions. But anything you decide is fine with me, as long as the essential Quandary remains unchanged.

 

I think you’ve got the site about right as it is. If it were to be opened up to ‘comments’, there is (what I see as) a danger of a voting system arising, or of the (not necessarily impartial) bestowing of laurels and hurling of brickbats, and for me it’s only the variety of ‘solutions’ that entertains, not which is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than another. Since in many cases we’re struggling to define and accommodate words new to us – resulting in occasionally some poor usage or downright misunderstanding – I think that it might deter some Friends if any smart aleck  (presumably another moderated contributor) came along nose-tweaking and wrist-slapping and generally putting down. At worst, this could degenerate into rancorous mudslinging. [One curious side-effect of participation on your site is for just-typed words to clamour to be candidates in a parallel QQ – e.g. (1) rancorous (2) smart aleck (3) wrist-slapping (4) brickbats . . . insidious, or what? – (5, bonus word:) insidious.]

 

I can’t thank you enough for creating the site. What a joy to have found it and what a pleasure to participate in the daily challenge. With regard to commenting on the sentences I am severely conflicted. A part of me really, really wants to and another part thinks it’s not a good idea. That bi-polar response is probably my way of saying that it is your creation to do with as you see fit and I will support your  choice. … A brief second thought: the process of creating the sentence is intrinsically competitive and we all applaud, groan, and or vilify the creations of the others, but having an area to comment directly about this could only generate the distractive noise of which you speak. Whereas without it that competitiveness is dedicated entirely to the service of the sentence and drives us to new heights of focused creativity.  Short version: comment part not good.

 

Over the years, I’ve felt “severely conflicted” about comments, to quote the contributor above.  I too have wanted a way to celebrate the best sentences I’ve read, and to know when others have gotten a kick out of what I’ve written.  But I’m sometimes frustrated by the norm of today’s web, where everything is commentable, voteable, likeable, shareable and subject to other social operations.  I’ve often thought of QQ as one place of refuge from all that chatter, where we invest in the old-fashioned pursuits of writing and reading in as close to an “acoustic” or “unplugged” setting as one can find in the buzzing digital world.  Words reveal their power more fully, I think, when they’re not drowned in commentary — when we commit to finding meaning in them just as they are, taking the time to hear their unamplified sounds before turning to the peanut gallery for a surrogate opinion or a quick path to judgment. 

What was the clincher for me?  First of all, the number of requests for a comment feature over the years was just too high to not act on somehow.  Second, I considered my goals as founder of QQ, and realized that building our community is a deeper aim than protecting the site from growing pains.  I like to think of the new comment forum as an experiment we’ll undertake together as contributors.  If the feature works for us in its current instar (to use one of yesterday’s words), great.  If there are complications, we’ll improve it. 

When I finally decided to move forward with comments, earlier this year, the next question was how to make it happen.  QQ’s software infrastructure needed a major upgrade before we began new development.  I’m indebted to aslam, one of QQ’s very first contributors, for all of his great work on the technical front, and to saintduf
us
for discussion, encouragement, and help in testing the new feature once it was ready.  Now, I look to your feedback on how it’s working.

 

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