Wow.. how ’bout that Comments section?

You know what I love about all you Mustachians? It’s how much you like to share whatever knowledge you can in the name of helping out other people.

When you look at the comments section of new articles these days, they rapidly become packed with really neat thoughts. (Especially if it’s a reader case study, or something relating to kids or, oddly enough, food). Increasingly, the new articles are setting records to the point where they end up popping up in that “Popular” tab to the right, so that it might as well just be a renamed “newest”. There have been over 10,000 comments on this blog in its 1.1 years of life, and I’m pretty sure I have read them all.

You might say, “Yeah yeah.. that’s just normal, every blogger is proud of their little community, and this is nothing unusual”. But it IS very unusual – we now get as many comments as the very biggest finance blogs in the world, yet according to my scientific sampling, your comments are far more useful. In fact, some people tell me that this is the only site where they read any comments – yet here they make a point of reading all of them, because they’re at least as interesting as the articles themselves!

The Forum is even more crazy, with about the same number of posts as the main blog and close to a million page views all by itself … since it opened less than 3 months ago. It’s all useful stuff with little to none of the pointless complaints or mindless fluff that permeates the broader Internet’s comment sections or forums, and it’s all instantly searchable through the website’s built-in search boxes.

But if this great craziness continues, we might soon surpass the scale of time that even a dedicated person can devote to reading comments. The volume could become too great to read and approve carefully, eventually leading to vast swaths of repeating arguments and one-liners like you get in a popular YouTube video or MSN article. The comments section needs to have a way to become self-limiting, so here’s an idea on how we might do it:

One reader proposed that we add a voting or democratic ranking system so that more popular comments rise to the top (similar to the topic-voting system on Reddit). That could be neat, although it might add more formality and competition than we need here.

So how about this:

If you’re thinking of writing a comment, just be sure to read every OTHER comment on that day’s article first. That will prevent people from writing the same idea more than once without realizing it, and it will also make it more and more daunting to add a comment as the list grows, because the amount of homework you have to do first will be so great. Who would read 200 comments and still have something unique to say? I don’t know, but we’d probably end up getting some VERY interesting things said towards the end of the list.

What do you think? I definitely don’t want to become bossy or in any way compromise the cool dynamic that has formed so far. But on the other hand, I want this place to remain a nice, sane hangout that is more like a meeting table in a library, than a parking lot in a shopping mall during the holidays.

Let’s just keep the idea on file, and if newcomers start getting too rowdy in the future, we’ll refer them back to this post so they can be schooled on The Rules.

  • Jimbo May 4, 2012, 3:01 pm

    Sounds good, but is that the only rule you want to implement? I mean, while you’re at it…

    Also, you don’t want two persons getting into a public private conversation – quite like the one i ended up in yesterday. Sorry.

    Hey, I still think most of my comments are useful.

  • Joy May 4, 2012, 3:04 pm

    I like it.

    I would like a way to recognize new comments. Unless I am missing
    something? I continually have to scan back through the older comments,
    in order to read the newer ones that were added.

    • Kathy P. May 4, 2012, 4:46 pm

      Ditto. I prefer to read the comments on this site especially so I can see which ones they’re in response to. But after the first 40 or so, I give up and read them in my email. But there’s no link in an email comment directly to that comment on the site, so I have to go to the site and search. (I hope this is making sense.) I don’t know if there’s a way to link each emailed comment to its original on the site, but if so it would be helpful.

      Also, sometimes I just want to give somebody a thumbs up on what they said but I end up adding to the comments ’cause there’s no way to do that. Something like that might help limit the volume.

      Kinda funny: Yesterday, the comments were landing so fast and thick in my inbox, Outlook decided they must be spam. I found a mess of them in my Junk Items folder, had to set up a rule to tell it they’re not junk.

      • Bakari Kafele May 7, 2012, 3:03 pm

        I wanted to add a thumbs up to this comment, but there is no such option, so I am posting this comment instead. Seriously.

    • poko May 6, 2012, 5:40 pm

      Uh oh, I haven’t read all the comments, yet, but I’d like to chime in and agree with the demarcation of new comments feature. If you do write a comment, it’s easy to get all the updates via email, but if you’re just reading, it’s hard to see what the new comments are upon refreshing the page.

      And yes, this is the only place where I do read all the comments along with the articles.

  • BDub May 4, 2012, 3:36 pm

    How about only comments containing the words “badassity”, “moustachian” or “face punch” are allowed?

    Seems like a pretty easy filter to setup and it would keep the hardcore edge we are looking for.

  • Andre (SF) Nader May 4, 2012, 3:36 pm

    It might be worth looking into http://disqus.com/ as a solution to blog comments. I have seen it work nicely across a few big blogs (which you are right up there with in terms of comments!).

  • Paul O. May 4, 2012, 4:08 pm

    How about a weekly article dedicated to MMM’s favorite and most useful comments? That way you can give props to the folks who are “donating” their time and experience to make this site great. There’s not internal competition, just MMM’s face-punching seal of approval.

    • mikeBOS May 4, 2012, 6:07 pm

      This is a good idea.

    • CrucialDebtCrusher May 4, 2012, 8:38 pm


    • Chris May 5, 2012, 8:38 am

      This is a good idea, Paul, and it would give commenters even more incentive to write thoughtful and helpful things, but poorplayer (down below) has a point. This requires MMM to sort through and pick the best comments. Even though he goes through all the comments now (Impressive, by the way), he might not be able to later on because of their sheer volume. Eventually, the system might have to be moderated by some crowd-sourced kind of deal.

      Just for fun, if you divide 10,000 comments by 1.1(365 days), you get 25 comments per day, which doesn’t sound too bad at the moment. But imagine that the rate at which people have been posting has been increasing exponentially, so 25 would just be an average over ALL time, including when there were very few comments posted per day. The number of comments he has to read daily has to be much higher now, and will keep getting larger and larger.

    • IAmNotABartender March 29, 2015, 10:24 pm

      How have three years gone by with no one mentioning how awesome the concept of “MMM’s face-punching seal of approval” is?

      • Amonymous January 29, 2017, 5:42 pm

        People probably wanted to like the comment, but couldn’t :P

  • CNM May 4, 2012, 4:09 pm

    In an ideal world, everyone would read all the comments before chiming in. But I have never seen a blog where that has been the case. I think that Joy’s suggestion- where newer comments are perhaps presented in a different color from older comments- is a good one. Also, it doesn’t really bother me when a comment section blows up. Because comments are usually pretty short, they can be skimmed through pretty easily.

    • Emmers May 7, 2012, 7:04 am

      The only blog I’ve seen that does this (and enforces it) is Shakesville, but the cost of it is that you have to have a *team* of moderators watching the threads like hawks.

  • MiniMe May 4, 2012, 4:15 pm

    MMM maybe you’re leading the way in the internet. I see tech going in cycles from being novel to eventually (fingers crossed) useful. Web 1.0 was just info., 2.0 was collaborative and commenting (often just for the sake of it) maybe 3.0 will doing this to help people? Perhaps the MMM community should spread face punches to other sites?

  • Matt May 4, 2012, 4:24 pm

    I think an automated system (such as reddit/disqus) is the only way to implement a scalable solution. I mean, really, you’re asking The Internet to be “reasonable”. Not gonna happen. If anything, the simple act of asking may provoke people to behave exactly the opposite. Kind of like the Streisand effect.

  • Poor Student May 4, 2012, 4:33 pm

    I love the comments, but yes they are getting time consuming. And CNM said that it isn’t that bad when there are a lot of comments because they are usually short. This certainly is not the case here.

    The comment here are just as info packed as the articles they are on, just with a different take. Seldom is there a short “Good post!”. This is what makes the comments so great. You have built what feels like a small town, and commenters know that they will be heard and appreciated.

  • Matt May 4, 2012, 4:38 pm

    Also, could you upgrade your hosting plan? The site seems a bit sluggish with all this traffic!

    • GregK May 5, 2012, 8:36 am

      I’ve never had a problem…

      Edit: OK, today it’s laggy… is this new??

      • Mr. Money Mustache May 5, 2012, 10:07 am

        Yeah, I’ve been keeping an eye on the site’s speed and wondering how long it can go with the current ~$100-per-year Bluehost plan. They call it “unlimited”, but I’m sure there is some sort of throttling (does anyone know what levels the throttle is set at?).

        In recent months, the traffic analyzer says the site has delivered about 120GB/month of data, with an average outgoing traffic speed of 420 kbits/sec There peaks during the day of around 1.0 Mbits/sec so maybe that’s the limit for my plan? .. but when I try a direct FTP download of a big file, the site easily maxes out my 16Mbit/sec internet connection. So maybe the throttling is more complicated than just transfer speed.

        I would be happy to buy an upgrade for this site – as long I can get some info from Bluehost on the actual amount of bandwidth improvement it would be buying. To their credit, the base-level plan has delivered a hell of a lot of value for the price so far!

        • Christine May 5, 2012, 2:07 pm

          Could you let me know what you decide to go with? I really wonder what are the best plans when site traffic starts to grow so much.

        • Kevin May 5, 2012, 2:12 pm

          warning: shameless plug. I am a professional webhosting provider and would love to provide VPS hosting for you for the same price you are paying Bluehost….of course the catch would be some kind of small hosting endorsement on your site. Just a thought. Love your blog!

  • elai May 4, 2012, 4:44 pm

    Why don’t you add it as a note in the comment forum? Right under the Leave a Reply header, and link back to this post.

  • rjack May 4, 2012, 5:51 pm

    Maybe you can ask volunteers to help you moderate comments just like you have moderators for the forums?

    • JanMN May 5, 2012, 8:56 am

      I dig this idea.

  • mike crosby May 4, 2012, 5:58 pm

    When I read an article that I’m inspired to write a comment on, I immediately (usually) go directly to the comments section to post my thoughts. I want it to be what I’m thinking while still fresh in my mind.

    One of the other reasons is that I don’t want to be influenced by what other commenters have said. Sometimes my comments might appear that they come out of left field, but it’s what I’m thinking, though it might not follow the flow of the comments.

    As far as “Liking” a comment, I don’t see it as a competition. It’s merely a way for the cream to rise to the top. If your comments keep increasing as it looks like they might, it becomes a tool for the reader not having to have to laboriously read every comment to get to the nuggets.

    This is the first article I’ve ever read that’s specific to comments. Years ago, this Christian group I belonged to, shared the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. It was nothing more than people standing and sharing with the group something about their life, or what was on their mind. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. In a way, that’s how I look at comments to your posts–it adds much texture to the painting.

  • Lindsey May 4, 2012, 6:04 pm

    I, for one, really like it when the most favorited comments rise to the top (such as on Gawker and Jezebel). I don’t often read all of the comments and instead read the first 10 or so. It would be nice if there was a way to read the most action-packed ones first.

    • Early Retirement Extreme May 5, 2012, 8:41 am

      This strategy is vulnerable to the Matthew-effect (the rich-get-richer). Comments that are upvoted early on will rise to the top. Subsequently people who only read the most upvoted comments will further upvote them. You see this problem in book reviews. The book review voted “most helpful” is very seldom the most helpful compared to all the other ones. Instead it is likely one of the oldest (and only initially the best).

      • Mrs. Money Mustache May 5, 2012, 10:50 am

        Yeah… I agree with this. I was going to add a “like” button at one point, but decided not to because with the plugin I was looking at it would make all the most liked comments rise to the top. (and Hi Jacob! Good to see you!)

        But, we can definitely improve this comments section. Thanks for the suggestions and keep them coming! I love all the comments on this site.

        • Mr. Money Mustache May 5, 2012, 2:11 pm

          One thing I DO like is the edit-your-own-comments plugin that I added a while ago. I notice that the longer comments often get improved and expanded by their authors throughout the day, which is great.

          Meanwhile, even Facebook doesn’t let you edit your own comments, which is crazy, since the likeihood of me writing something right on the first try is about 1%.

          • Johonn May 6, 2012, 12:16 am

            Actually if you click the ‘x’ to delete a FB comment within the first few seconds (10?) it reopens the editing box. But yes, if you want to change it later on, you can’t.
            I agree, being able to edit your comments on this site is good. I think I’ve used it twice so far, and I’ve posted less than 10 comments.

        • Sara May 5, 2012, 2:35 pm

          There are also ways to add “Like” buttons to comments that don’t make them move up higher in the list. Rather, if the readers want to review only the most liked, they can just scroll down all of the comments and pick their own threshhold for reading — maybe you want to look at all that have at least 2 thumbs up, or maybe 5, or 10. This still creates the effect of the initially most liked comments getting even more likes than they may otherwise, but I still think it’s a pretty good system.

      • bryce May 7, 2012, 7:25 am

        I agree with this.

  • lurker May 4, 2012, 6:23 pm

    I have noticed the slower download times. the price of popularity I guess.
    cheers all.

  • pachipres May 4, 2012, 7:27 pm

    What I miss is MMM’s comments given sporadically throughout the comment section they way he did in spring of 2011.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 4, 2012, 9:24 pm

      Are we reading the same blog, Pachipres? This comments thingy tells me I have made 1367 comments so far. I’m writing more now than ever!

      • GregK May 5, 2012, 8:41 am

        Yeah, I still skim the comments to find ones you’ve replied to (typically the best ones), so IDK what this bloke’s talking about.

        In a similar vein, I think a “helpful” comment rating system would be a good addition. You could spend your scarce time reviewing the bad ones for possible deletion, while we spent our scarce time reading the good ones! (You’re welcome to read the good ones too :-)

  • CrucialDebtCrusher May 4, 2012, 8:29 pm

    I think it would be cool if you just allowed the community to tag comments, then search for tags. If such a thing is possible. No up or down, just have people tag with terms… Even if they are ones like “anti-mustachian.”

  • George May 4, 2012, 8:42 pm

    I am actually kind of sad in a way, it seems the blog is growing too quickly, I liked it when there were fewer comments and people, it just seem communication was easier;

    However, I understand now that word is beginning to spread, and the droves of people will start pouring in because lets face it, the blog kicks ass.

    From what I understand, the blog currently seems to work largely on an honor system which works perfect for a small community but you’re right, it might not be able to handle the larger volume.

    I like the voting system; you also may need to make a formal registration where you register your name with a password, this extra step will limit the comments some; only serious commenters will take the time actually do this extra step

    In addition, with the user name registration you may be able to have a preapproved trusted user list (i.e. people who are long time loyal readers and followers of the blog); new users who are not pre-approved would have to wait for some type of moderation for their comments

    Lastly, you may want to implement an automatic shut off for comments after a certain amount of time has pasted for old articles; any further comments on the old articles could then be only posted in the forum
    And yes, I did actually read all 18 prior comments before posting this

  • Anne Dwyer May 5, 2012, 5:33 am


    OK, so I love the comments and I read through all them before posting this.

    I would love a system also that lets me know which ones are the new comments.

    I second that problem with getting the updates in your email…some are replies and you don’t know what they were replying to and you can’t reference back.

    I also second the comment about the slow loading of the site. I work at a community college and when I am on their wifi, I can’t access this site.

    The NYT has a recommend on their comments and then has a digest “most recommended”. I guess other sites have that too from what others have said.

    Just keep up the good work. I’m having fun and learning a lot.

  • poorplayer May 5, 2012, 5:53 am

    What I DON’T want for you, MMM, is to make this blog more work. After all, you’re retired! I like the idea noted above of somehow harnessing volunteers to wrangle comments. But it’s a tough call between a democratic method of handling comments v. an egalitarian one. I’m afraid I have no comment on that.

    • poorplayer May 5, 2012, 6:00 am

      PS – The juxtaposition of ” Betta’ ” and “he’s going to” in your feature image is fucking hilarious (or or should that be ” fuckin’ “?)

      • Mr. Money Mustache May 5, 2012, 2:19 pm

        Thanks Poorplayer. I’m often torn between the words “fucking” and “fuckin'” as well.

        According to my own informal swearing manifesto, you use “fucking” when you’re trying to sound intellectual, outraged, or sarcastic: “Did everybody drive to the store instead of biking because of the weather? Nope, it’s a fucking beautiful spring day today!”

        And fuckin’ is more applicable to times of simple enthusiasm, as in “Fuckin’ A!” or “That sounds fuckin’ GREAT to me!”. This version of the word would also be applied frequently when describing how much you like various hair/metal bands from the ’80s and ’90s, unless it’s a more cerebral metal band and you’re describing an intricate guitar solo or trippy passages with changing time signatures.

        • GregK May 6, 2012, 6:36 am

          See, I really wish I could “Like” this comment… haha

        • Shawn May 6, 2012, 10:09 am

          appropriate reference for this section


        • Gerard July 24, 2012, 8:12 pm

          I’m embarrassed to admit I actually do research on the variation between fuckin’ and fucking as part of my job.

  • Joy May 5, 2012, 6:16 am

    I read a blog where the new comments that are a reply to
    another, indent to the right.

    This can still be time consuming but, if you have been reading the
    comments you will recognise the new comments easier.

    • GregK May 5, 2012, 8:44 am

      Joy, that’s how the comments on this blog work…

      • Joy May 5, 2012, 5:16 pm

        Yes, but not as obvious as the other site.
        I just went and, checked out the other site again.

        Their new replies indent and, are a different
        color too.

    • Sara May 5, 2012, 2:41 pm

      I’ve read sites where the background color of the comments changes based on how recently they were posted. Actually, it was the same “color” but shown to be brighter when recently posted and fades more and more as it gets to be a comparatively older comment.

  • George Carlson May 5, 2012, 6:42 am

    What I tried on my blog is to have all the comments be hashed tweets.

    From my blog article (http://gcarlson.github.com/?hyperlink=/blog/articles/2012/02/08/blogging_setup.txt):
    “Another cool thing that my blog is doing is to forgo the comment section in the traditional sense. Instead all comments are done using a twitter hash. The advantage of this is that it keeps replies short and concise (which about 90% of all responses anyways). If people feel the need for a more in depth reply they can make their own blog post and then tweet the link with the twitter hash. Additionally, and this is a huge plus, tweeted comments allows for everything on this site to be static html (in the geo-cities sense of static html, not the Octopres sense where you are constantly recompiling the html). ”

    An unexpected side effect is that hash-tags are only indexed for 30 days. This can be good or bad. On one hand it builds in “forgetting” into a site and would keep the comments section pruned. On the other, if there is a really good tweet or post it could be lost forever.

    • George Carlson May 5, 2012, 7:54 am

      Hmmmm. Looks like I might be able to use http://feedburner.google.com/ to make an archive the twitter hashes. Cool.

    • October MacBain May 7, 2012, 7:24 am

      There are the old fogies like me who have never used Twitter, don’t own a smartphone, have never texted, and don’t know what a hashtag is or what the purpose of it is.

  • Early Retirement Extreme May 5, 2012, 8:36 am

    In practice the reddit system is tainted by votes based on subjective agreement rather than objective helpfulness.

    What I’ve done on the ERE forums is to appoint a LARGE number of moderators (not 2 or 3, more like 20 or 30). Note that you got a quality user group of thoughtful people. Use that fact or let those be the only ones who get to vote in a reddit like manner i.e. no voting privileges unless you have made a 100 posts already.

    In terms of idiotic comments (e.g. yahoo, youtube, …) I suspect it has to do with herd-behavior. If such comments are already prevalent, it increases the temptation to act like a clown. If every comment is thoughtful, it decreases the temptation to act like a clown.

    • Christine May 5, 2012, 2:04 pm

      I vote for this. If there were a voting button ;)

      • Mr. Money Mustache May 5, 2012, 2:28 pm

        Yeah, I like it too. I’ve already been wonderfully impressed with the work the current forum moderators have been doing (thanks guys!). I wonder if there is a safe way to create comment moderators too.

        In fact, I wish the moderators lived near me, because I’d like to invite them all over for some sort of appreciation party.

        Also, Hi Jacob! :-)

        • Christine May 5, 2012, 3:04 pm

          Well I’m on your comments section more than your forum, so I could sign up if you do that!

        • GregK May 6, 2012, 6:39 am

          Here’s a crazy idea… you could combine the forum and comments sections of the blog. There are blogs/news sites that do this already. The first one that comes to mind is appleinsider.com I don’t love their forum layout, but the concept is good. The reader/moderators keep the riffraff to a minimum, and the comments don’t take up a ton of space on the article’s main page (which I really don’t like).

          Something to think about!

  • greg May 5, 2012, 8:42 am

    I have generally been appreciative of the system at slashdot: http://slashdot.org/moderation.shtml

  • GregK May 5, 2012, 8:47 am

    On a related note, I’d love it if you hid the comments behind a “expand comment section” button. The scroll bar gets to be TINY on posts with tons of comments. It makes it difficult to navigate the article itself.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 5, 2012, 2:25 pm

      Hmm, that is an interesting consideration too. I guess I never noticed, since I scroll with the mouse wheel or pageup/pagedown instead of trying to grab the bar at the side.

      But I feel it’s important to leave the comments pre-expanded to increase reader engagement. As soon as you hide them, you lose a large percentage of people will not make the psychological jump to invest in that extra click.

      If you leave them there taunting people, they’ll say “Oh, I’m not really interested in comments.. wait a minute – what is this bitch saying right down here – I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT! OH! And look what the next person said! These people are clueless! I’m going to jump right in and post my own to set people straight!”

      Which is exactly the type of reader engagement we want to encourage :-)

      • GregK May 6, 2012, 6:44 am

        Fair enough. There are fancy HTML5 ways of combining the two, though — have all but the first few comments hidden until the reader gets to the bottom of the page, at which point the rest expand. I use my mouse wheel too, but sometimes I want to jump back to something earlier in the article, and want to do it quickly and precisely, which can only be accomplished by a nice big scroll bar!

  • Cass May 5, 2012, 2:08 pm

    Perhaps it’s time to take on a (free) intern from the local college. Perhaps one who’s working on a business, media studies, or journalism degree. And then the intern can send or report to MMM the most interesting comments, and could double as “moderating” comment strings which end up too private, or otherwise inappropriate.
    And the student would have the added bonus of getting school credit! Win-win.

  • Christine May 5, 2012, 3:02 pm

    You have a hashed URL on all comments. Those hashed URLs don’t get emailed to me. All I get is the regular link without a hash. However I’d focus on your comment moderation, voting, what not before this small tweak.

  • bigato May 5, 2012, 5:10 pm

    Mmm, the system you suggested you make the more educated people write less because they will follow the rules. You will have more comments from the clueless people and will get less quality. I second the slashdot style moderation.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 5, 2012, 8:39 pm

      I see your point Bigato, but do we really have to worry about clueless people here? I haven’t seen much evidence of them around, other than a tiny majority of comments which you’ve never seen because I deleted them.

      It is possible that we scare them off automatically with the swearing. Or with the viewpoints. Remember that one guy who got really mad and left when I mentioned Warren Buffett?

  • Dragline May 5, 2012, 9:19 pm

    You built it and they are coming! Congratulations — now you only have those problems that are supposed to be “good to have”.

    I’ll probably break your rules sometimes, but I’ll be polite about it. Good luck with the organization — others have better ideas than I do. I have to say I like the intern idea, though — that sounds like win-win.

  • Kevin May 6, 2012, 2:37 am

    I think what you’re describing as a solution is exactly what blogger Tynan is doing with his blog. I believe that up/down vote should be standard on most commenting systems and blog posts. He’s implemented that on his own blog.

    It also seems like you’ve got a pretty big forum over here. In my experience, there’s gold in forum threads that often gets buried, because of their very nature. Are you doing anything to address that?

    Tynan’s implementation, is to make the forum a core part of the blog, so that he can promote forum threads to act as guest posts on his blog. In a community forum I used to moderate, we would sometimes copypast good threads and put them on the main blog. But I like the direct integration on Tynan’s blog, and it seems like this might be something that would solve the issue of “how do I let everyone know about the best forum threads?” (without using a stickied, best of post–which is a terrible answer imo.)

  • Baughman May 6, 2012, 1:52 pm

    So I followed the rules and read all of the comments. The below points were made once or twice, but not terribly explicitly.

    A bunch of comments on the website are like “dude, great post!” or “dude, great comment!” They don’t add to the discussion, but the dutiful reader wants to congratulate the author on a job well done. I can certainly sympathize with this type of comment.

    The “dude, great post!” should simply be replaced by a click of the “share on FB, google +, etc”. Alternatively, I like the implementation of Dilbert’s blog here: http://dilbert.com/blog/, where the main post just has the net votes for the goodness/crappiness of the post.

    Secondly, the “dude, great comment!” should be remedied by the same thumbs up/down mechanism. I like the indenting that you currently do. Helps to isolate comments and responses to comments.

    This certainly doesn’t solve world hunger, but it certainly reduces the comment clutter that ought to be replaced entirely by a thumbs up/down feature.

  • bryce May 7, 2012, 7:36 am

    Another idea altogether, but you could ensure thoughtful responses by limiting the comments to those people already signed up for the forum. I don’t know how this would work technically, but it would avoid the stupid one-liners you mentioned in the post while encouraging people to join the forum if they really have something to say. These comments would already be moderated and would most likely be worth reading and have a flow more in keeping with people reading the other comments first.

    Congratulations on your success, I think these ideas around frugality and early retirement are set to be a pretty big deal and would be a very good thing for more people to adopt.

  • Guitarist May 7, 2012, 8:26 am

    Honestly, I don’t think much needs changed. I enjoy reading every comment that comes up as well, and if you are deleting the “wastes” then that seems to be good enough.
    The moderators on the forum do an exemplary job, although I think it helps having the community you have here (doesn’t seem to need much moderating, yet to see any of the attacks or grudges that spring up on most other types of forums). I don’t think a voting option that pushes comments to the top would be a good idea, eventually people outside the FI sphere will trickle in and it can quickly turn into a mess akin to youtube. I am completely happy that you take care of any spam or trolls that come around before most of us get a chance to read them. If the amount of comments coming in makes it difficult for you to keep track, then maybe a couple moderators would help.
    I honestly enjoy that this community doesn’t really need moderating, but as things grow, so does the need for some sort of structure to keep the “ol’ timers” around.

  • John May 7, 2012, 9:21 am

    As a near-pure lurker I’m always afraid of any changes to my favorite sites (which includes this badass one). However, if it is required due to scaling issues it would seem that selecting several moderators from this community to face-punch the idiots would work just fine imo.

  • Jeff May 7, 2012, 9:43 am

    Try collapsing the nested comments. That way people can more easily skip replies to topics that don’t interest them.

  • FreeUrChains May 7, 2012, 2:53 pm

    At least you don’t have to moderate to your editors who may be leftist, rightist, or Federal spys! Yikes!

  • Brian May 7, 2012, 5:53 pm

    So I followed the rules and read all of the comments. The below points were made once or twice, but not terribly explicitly.

    A bunch of comments on the website are like “dude, great post!” or “dude, great comment!” They don’t add to the discussion, but the dutiful reader wants to congratulate the author on a job well done. I can certainly sympathize with this type of comment.

    The “dude, great post!” should simply be replaced by a click of the “share on FB, google +, etc”. Alternatively, I like the implementation of Dilbert’s blog here: http://dilbert.com/blog/, where the main post just has the net votes for the goodness/crappiness of the post.

    Secondly, the “dude, great comment!” should be remedied by the same thumbs up/down mechanism. I like the indenting that you currently do. Helps to isolate comments and responses to comments.

    This certainly doesn’t solve world hunger, but it certainly reduces the comment clutter that ought to be replaced entirely by a thumbs up/down feature.

    • Jukuli May 7, 2012, 8:49 pm

      “Secondly, the “dude, great comment!” should be remedied by the same thumbs up/down mechanism. ”


  • MiniMe May 14, 2012, 3:04 am

    Have been thinking about this for a while. What if there is a delay between a post and when people can comment? They might think about their comments more thoroughly or decide they are not that important? Not trying to troll just a thought I had.

  • Heath June 1, 2012, 2:34 pm

    Ok, I followed the new ‘rule’ and read all of the comments up to this point :-) Now I’m going to (as concisely as possible) list out the improvements that I think would make this comment section very solid (though it’s already pretty badass, just from the sheer quality of the commenters themselves).

    – Implement a thumbs-up/down feature, but only show the +/- numbers on the comment itself, do not move the comments upwards or downwards as a result of it’s popularity. That would indeed create artificial bias. Unless of course, you created a sorting feature. You could, by default, leave it at ‘Chronological’, but people could alternately switch it to ‘most recommended’. I would also very much enjoy a ‘MMM or MrsMM replied to it’ filter, as I find your comments are simply the best! Though that might put pressure on you to reply to more comments…

    – Allow collapsible/expandable comments. I read your comment saying that you want the comments all to be open to allow a more free-for-all kind of atmosphere. That’s still possible with collapsibility: just default them all to ‘open’. That way, people can collapse the comments (and replies) that they’ve read to more easily navigate to the ones I’m interested in re-reading/referencing or replying to.

    **NEW IDEA – Add some actual lines between comments and their replies to make their ‘level’ more clear. A tiny hyperlink to the parent comment would also be nice. I often find myself reading comments, and then get to a comment which is tabbed in some random amount and it’s in reply to some other random comment. In this situation without some kind of easy-to-trace graphical element (just tabbing with solid background) or link, I can’t reference the original. As a side note, collapsible comments/replies would fix this as well.

    – You’re a crazy (awesome) man trying to read/moderate all of these comments yourself! You should definitely take some ‘applications’ for moderator help from some of your most prevalent & thoughtful commenters. Give them some kind of a ‘star’ icon like lifehacker uses. It will make them feel special! (because they are) Of course, maybe filtering through each comment gives you a fun kick, in which case: more power to you.

  • Pat March 11, 2013, 6:44 pm

    I’m dedicated, I am reading from the start of the blog and going through all the comments, so you may have already tweaked this. Other blogs that get a lot of thoughtful comments are Tom Naughton’s FatHead site and Mike Eade’s blog. Tom Naughton is a programmer, and his blog page is very nicely set up. The number of comments is posted, and comments get tucked away in multiples of 50, so if you come in late you see the most recent blogs. People keep adding comments, so if you have already read the first 35, you can scroll down to where you had stopped and just pick up again. This does make it easier to navigate.

  • CG August 22, 2014, 3:27 pm

    I am late to the party and have been working my way through the blog from the beginning and regularly read the comments as well. Normally I do not read comments on the internet – ever – as they usually make me lose all hope for humanity’s future, however I find the comments on MMM to be refreshingly interesting and thoughtful. You are doing a great job of filtering, as I am sure this content must attract it’s fair share of trolls.

    My request is for those of us still doing the chronological thing to add either a “return to top” link at the bottom of the comments or else a “next article” link (just like you have at the bottom of the article itself) at the end of the comments to make it easier to navigate for those of us reading the comments too.

    I also like the idea of a “like” button without it changing the order/organization of the comments themselves. Changing the order of the comments I think would end up moving good comments out of context of the conversation they are in, and that greater conversation is, in my humble opinion, the lion’s share of the amazing value of the comments on this site.

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 23, 2014, 8:06 am

      Great idea, CG! Noted for next round of development.

    • Oh Yonghao September 3, 2014, 1:25 pm

      I second this, as another person who is reading from the beginning with these very long comment sections I have to do a lot of scrolling, or use the tiny scroll bar, to get back to the next article link.

      I’d also like a way to subscribe to future comments without having to leave a comment myself. Sometimes articles are very interesting, comments are terrific, but I have nothing more to add to the conversation but would like to know when others do.

    • Elaine October 18, 2014, 5:29 pm

      I third it. I prefer things to be in as close to chronological order as possible, and not having to scroll back to the top to get to the next post would be wonderful.


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