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Answering big questions about SBN’s new commenting platform, Coral

What is Coral? What does it do? What changes can you look forward to?

Coral Reefs And White Death

Since everyone is talking about it at the moment, and it’s talking up valuable real estate in the comments section, it’s time we had a proper discussion about what Coral is and how it affects the blog going forward. The original announcement post by Jeremiah didn’t seem to have answer people’s questions about the new commenting system, so let me try. From now on, let’s put all our Coral-related discussion in one place, please.

What is Coral?

Coral is SB Nation’s new commenting platform. It was rolled out on the NFL sites last year, and as of Thursday it will be the default system for all the soccer blogs as well. Of course, you already know this, given that anyone reading this has probably experienced the new system first hand.

What’s new?

Quite a few things actually. Let’s go over the list:

  • New sorting options for comments. You can sort by oldest, newest, and most recs.
  • An option to ignore users you don’t wanna hear from.
  • You can see who rec’d your comment from the “Profile” tab from the comments section.
  • Easier ways to embed tweets and images in comments, plus the ability to choose gifs from a built-in library.
  • Lots of new tools for the moderators, but I suppose that’s not very important to the average user.

What’s gone?

  • Signatures. Those probably aren’t coming back either.
  • Our old comments. I’ll be honest with you, this one really hurts. There were years and years archived comments that have suddenly been removed from the site, which really messes with the identity of this community. The Coral team assures us that those comments will be brought back one day, but I doubt that it will happen any time soon.
  • A way to load the whole comments section in one go. On articles with large numbers of comments, you will be forced to click “Load More” to see more comments.

What’s coming back?

This is the big one, and I see it getting mentioned everywhere, so please pay attention. Z-key functionality is indeed coming back. This has been confirmed by Andrew Losowsky, who is the Head of Community Product at Vox Media. Here’s what we know so far, based on info that was shared with us:

  • The Z-key function already has a working demo, and they’re looking to release it soon. Coral doesn’t have it yet because they couldn’t get it done before the season starts, and they didn’t want to delay the launch until later because it would have been very disruptive to everyone.
  • A lot of people’s complaints — how read comments don’t get marked, and having to press the “Load More” and “Show more replies” buttons — will all be addressed when the Z-key function drops. It will automatically open those options and you won’t have to break your flow clicking through everything over and over again.

Now, I don’t know when this feature will be released, only that it’s coming soon. Now who knows what “soon” means when talking about software development. I’d like to think that it will be ready before Bayern Munich kicks off against Borussia Monchengladbach, but I may be a little too optimistic. In any case, I know that it IS coming back, so hopefully we can look forward to that in the near future.

What still needs fixing?

This is where I want you guys to post your feedback.

For me, the major issue is nested threads. Without the “Up” button that existed in the previous commenting system, it’s very difficult to follow who’s replying to whom. I have mentioned this to the team during the Blog Managers’ webinar and they said that they’re looking into it.

If you have more concerns — Coral running slow, or hogging resources, or anything else — please comment below. You can also email your issues to coralsupport@voxmedia.com.

A note on the folks running this blog and the Coral Team

Look guys, I’ve been on this blog for over five years now. I’ve made over seventy thousand comments in that time, which averages out to around 35 comments A DAY. If you think I’m not upset over losing the old comments section, you’re sorely mistaken. It’s devastating to me.

I know there are problems with the new system, okay? I know that better than anyone. And as someone who cares about the community, who comments more than any other user on this blog, this really affects me personally.

Coral is a huge visual redesign, and it’s going to make our gamethreads harder to comment on. A lot of good folks will leave over this, and that’s honestly quite painful to think about. I think BFW is an amazing community, and all of us — me, Chuck, John, Phil, Tom, and everyone else on the staff — we’ve put in so much work to help build it to what it is today. I don’t want to lose any of that.

However, I am willing to give this new system a chance. I genuinely think it has benefits in terms of loading times and ease of use, and I believe what the Coral guys say when they tell us that important features like the Z-Key are coming.

Look, these guys were honest with us — they told us what problems they knew about and what they’re doing to fix them. The Coral team is trying to build a good product and I believe them. There are updates coming, and they are open to accepting feedback from all corners. And you can be sure that the staff here at BFW will be following up on all this, trying to keep everyone updated on how things are going. Don’t think that we don’t care, we are 100% committed to our readers.

Coral is different, I get it. As someone who was used to the old comments section, I miss it a lot. But I’m asking people to give it a chance. I genuinely think we have an amazing community here at Bavarian Football Works, and we can make this work.