I’ve written before about WordPress’s inability to efficiently handle a large number of multithreaded comments. Even though threading has been a native function of the platform since version 2.7 – eight years ago, it still doesn’t provide a seamless conversation interface and breaks down in the most unexpected ways. The most egregious violation of design principles involves the “Reply” button.
The Vanishing “Reply” Link
WordPress allows you to set a variable known as “comments depth” which is a numeric representation of the number of levels a WordPress conversation can extend to. If this number is too large, the successive nested comments will become more and more indented – progressively losing their width until they become almost unreadable. For this reason, the maximum comments depth I can recommend is around four.
The problem arises when someone wants to reply to a last level comment. When you try and do so, WordPress omits the “Reply” link altogether as shown here:
In the screenshot above, the comments reply depth is set to “2” but you can see that if someone wants to respond to a level 2 comment, they’re unable to do so in the most natural way. Instead, they are forced to locate the closest comment in the hierarchy containing a “Reply” link and hope that the person they’re responding to notices. Needless to say, this is extremely unintuitive and makes for a very poor conversation tool.
The Infinite Replies Plugin
I had earlier given my own solution using custom WordPress code to generate the reply button automatically regardless of comment depth. This does the work nicely but it requires you to at least know how to insert custom PHP code into WordPress which isn’t exactly user friendly.
So we at webhostinghero.com decided to create a plugin to do the difficult work for you! You can download it here and install it just like any other WordPress plug-in. Simply activate it and you’re done. Here’s a screenshot with the plug-in installed exactly the same as the previous image, but this time with all new “Reply” links added:
Of course, you can style this button via CSS any way you want using the standard “comment-reply-link” class. If you wish, you can model your comment section off of Facebook by setting the comment depth to 2 and installing this plug-in. It makes for a very nicely streamlined conversation area without complications.