Annotate This! Slate Plus Members: Help Test a New Commenting Feature.

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July 28 2014 9:29 AM
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Introducing Paragraph-by-Paragraph Commenting

Only on Slate Plus (for now).

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Illustration by Lisa Larson-Walker/Slate

Hey, Slate Plus members! If you don’t mind, I’d like to tackle my first Slate Plus piece in FAQ format.

Sure. What’s paragraph-by-paragraph commenting? I couldn’t help but notice that’s the headline of this piece.

Starting today, inside any Slate Plus article, you can now post comments that appear alongside particular paragraphs instead of at the bottom of the piece. You can still comment at the bottom of the article, of course, but you now have the option of discussing a specific argument, sentence, or turn of phrase in a more immediate way.

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To view the comments on a paragraph or to enter a new one, just click the little comment icon next to the final period of every paragraph. You can also highlight a particular piece of text and click the pencil icon to target your comment to an even more granular level.

Wait, who the heck are you?

I’m part of Slate’s leadership on the technology side of the house. We don’t get a chance to talk to readers directly all that often, but it’s been incredibly rewarding to see members enjoying the content and features we conceived of with you in mind.

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Screenshot via Medium

Why are you launching this new feature?

When our commenting platform, Livefyre, first offered this feature, we were thrilled. Medium has been doing this for a while, to great effect. We had considered building something like this as part of our redesign last fall but didn’t have the resources to throw at it.

Our hope is that this will enable different kinds of conversations to occur and will create more opportunities for interaction between Slate-sters and Slate Plus members.

Thanks to Jeremy Green, the software developer who implemented Livefyre’s Sidenotes platform on Slate.

Why is this only on Slate Plus? Wouldn’t all readers appreciate the ability to comment on paragraphs? And wouldn’t Slate Plus members like using this on all Slate content?

You could say that we’re testing a new benefit for Slate Plus members. You guys have a chance to influence how the site works! We’d like to be able to try out new, experimental features with our most dedicated readers before we roll them out more broadly. It gives us a chance to see how things work in real life with real users, which often doesn’t quite align with how they work in our testing environment.

Oh, so now we’re your guinea pigs?

Basically. Are you OK with that? We thought this might be the kind of thing that would appeal to you.

Hmmm, I’ll let you know in the comments.

Great! In fact, you can let me know in this paragraph. Should this be made available to all visitors? Throughout the site, but to Slate Plus members only? The current thinking is that we’ll roll this out to all users on most Slate articles and blogs, but it depends on your feedback and on how well this works inside Slate Plus over time.

Thanks for joining Slate Plus and for supporting our work at Slate.