I just came across a post by Jack Slocum in which he describes how he built a whole new comments system using the Yahoo! UI.
It’s a pretty amazing achievement and to my mind represents a significant advance for the way that people interact within blogs.
Whereas on a regular blog post you have only a single comment in which to make what may be multiple points, on Jack’s blog you can post separate comments that are visually tied to specific parts of a post.
This allows for multiple conversations to carry on simultaneously about different aspects of a blog post.
I could see this being hugely useful for technical posts where different sections of code or concepts could be discussed individually, without the need to refer back to the point being discussed.
Nor would you need to skip over non-related comments to get to the next comment that is relevant to that particular discussion.
The only potential downside I see is whether higher-level discussions of the post as a whole will be abandoned in favor of many ‘micro-comments’ about individual parts of the post.
You can still view all the comments as a single thread, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this view doesn’t make a great deal of sense any more as commenters wouldn’t see a need to reference the part of the post on which they are commenting.
In any event, it’s a wonderful implementation of an exciting concept — here’s hoping someone will create plugins to do this with the main blogging systems at some point in the future.