We don’t need no stinkin’ popups

Sniff. I’ve always really liked popups for comments, even though Mark and Mark both seem less than fond of anything opening in a new window of any size. It just seems to work with the flow of a weblog’s main page: read an entry, pop up the comments, maybe add one, close the comments and read the next entry, repeat.

Still, having popup comment links means that people will link to that url, and then other people will follow that link, getting content intended for a popup in their full browser window, wondering how to get anywhere from there, and next thing you know an anonymous Wonder Chicken is emailing you to say that he followed a link from Golby’s blog to yours, and was shocked at what he found (no link back to the main page, in this case). Emails the other way around come every few minutes (“I followed a link from your page to something called PageCount, and I was shocked!”), but this time I thought I’d better listen. So now my comment links and TrackBack links lead to anchors in the individual entry archive page, and you can safely link to anything you like, be it the start of the comments, the start of the TrackBack listing, an individual TrackBack or an individual comment. Sniff. But if you want to take away my popup blogroll in a go-cup with its links that open in new windows, you’ll have to pry it from my cold dead fingers.


Comment by nick #
2002-08-25 23:27:23

i don’t like it. there’s better ways to cope, like putting a link on your comments listing to the home page, and perhaps javascript to force the window to popup size. but that’s a bunch of trouble if you’re a lazy schmuck like myself, so whatever. to each his own, especially phil. but i don’t think you’re following your heart on this one… :(

2002-08-25 23:40:48

When you have a slow, old, tired computer like me, it takes an annoyingly long time (measured in fractions of seconds, sure, but) for each and every popup window to pop, each and every time you want to add a comment. That annoys the crap outta me.

Me, I just thought Phil would add a hyperlink to his index page in the popup template, but all around I think no popups is A Good Thing.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2002-08-25 23:42:59

I did consider the easy way out, but if I put a link to the main page in the comment template, well, that code is intended to appear in a non-resizable popup window, so for it to work right for people using it the way it’s intended to work, the link would need to open the main page in a new window, and then close the popup, which is more evil behavior than even I’m willing to do. In a vacuum, the best solution would be to have the comment link be <a href=”link to individual archive page” onclick=”open a popup with a different url”>, but having links that open a different url onclick is one of the best ways to tell Google that you are a nasty front for an unsavory business, and that you deserve PageRank Zero. Actually, I could just open the archive page in a popup, since it’s plenty flexible enough, but at this point, why bother? I’ve been annoyed by my own popups plenty of times, too.

Comment by Shannon #
2002-08-26 05:48:48

This is the first thing you’ve ever done I don’t like. It annoys the bejeezus out of me when comments don’t have their own pop-up window. A slightly less annoying non-pop-up thingie is that show/hide comments script that scriptygoddess has floating around, but Google won’t index the comments that way, will they? Whatever.

First you mention me in the same post as a convicted rapist, then you take away your pop-ups. Are you trying to break my heart, Phil?


Comment by Phil Ulrich #
2002-08-26 07:25:51

Well, I’m sure the One True Ringnalda (”If Sauron ever gets his hands on this weblog, it could mean the end of Middle-Earth”) has our best intentions in mine. I’ll echo Stavros; on slow computers like my girlfriend’s P100, a popup window takes for-fricking-ever to open, which is a pain when it’s a complicated ad with pretty animated gifs, or an X10 ad. Comment popups only take a slightly shorter tinme. I’ve been doing this with my comment code ever since I got Movable Type simply because I didn’t like trying to find the Javascript to open the comments every single time I went to redesign. However, I still haven’t done it with my TrackBack information, and I’m not entirely sure I will–while I’m fine with comments being inline, I’m a bit leery about Trackback being inline. It could make it a bit difficult to find certain things, like the TrackBack ping URL, for one thing.

Comment by Phil Ulrich #
2002-08-26 07:26:38

mind. He has our best intentions in mind. I am not self-centered. ;)

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2002-08-26 08:02:43

Trying to break your heart? Hell, I’m just trolling for your attention. If I can’t come up with a better compromise, I’ll put in an ”Official Shannon Campbell Memorial Comment Popup Link” after the comment link going to the entry archive page. Maybe with a bit shorter link text, though.

I’d say that anyone who can’t find the TrackBack url, when it’s in a dashed box right there under the word TrackBacks at the top of the page when they click the TrackBack link, probably doesn’t have any business with it. That would be a problem with MTCommentsNPings, though, wouldn’t it? Once you mix the remote comments and the local comments together, there’s no obvious place to go looking for the url to ping.

Comment by Einar #
2002-08-26 08:07:25

I know this has nothing to do with the topic, but is there anywhere I can learn how to put a ”Referrals” thing, like you have on your individual archives, on my page?

Comment by Mark Paschal #
2002-08-26 09:59:34

I open comments links in new tabs, so I can deal with pop-up comments windows as long as the link’s href isn’t ”javascript:void()” or something equally useful (and I don’t have any sharp objects nearby for the momentary flash of searing white anger…).

If I click a comments link and it opens a pop-up, I actually close the pop-up, right-click the link, ask it to open in a new tab, and close the existing tab. So obviously I like that less than single-left-clicking.

As I said (in aforementioned searing white anger) in my item, when I click something, I expect the target page to open in the same tab and window I clicked it in. If I wanted it to open in a new window, I would open it in a new window. (As for the flow of weblog reading, I’m usually popping in from the aggregator or an outside link to read a particular item–such as this one–anyway.)

Comment by Shannon #
2002-08-26 12:34:53

I’ll deal. I’m very resilient like that. And you always have my attention, pookie. Don’t you worry yourself about that. I mean, you have your own category on my weblog. Doesn’t get much better than that.

You could come by and comment every now and then. Might help. Sniff.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2002-08-26 18:44:21

Einar – this is the home of off-topic comments, which is just the way I like it: ask anything you like. Two choices for per-item referrals listed on the individual entry page: my lame, got it working and never cleaned it up script is here, or for something that’s actually been given some thought, and works with PHP or SSI, there’s Waxy backlinks.

Comment by michel v #
2002-08-26 19:26:08

I don’t think Mark Pilgrim specifically talked about comments/trackback links. In my limited understanding of screen readers, I don’t think they would execute the onclick javascript code anyway…
I like inline comments, but when they show up with the entry in a different way than the original weblog’s appearance, it just feels weird (the concept of a completely separate template for a comments page is idiotic).

Comment by Tomas #
2002-08-28 06:13:14

michel: in my limited understanding of screen readers, they are not browsers, they just interpret what is on screen and reads it out loud. thus it’s up to the browser to execute or not execute the javascript.

however, i still think there is no really satisfying reason to completely stop opening up content in new windows. i agree with phil, i prefer popup comments to inline ones, i think a lot of people do.

in the case of blogs and popups for comments and trackbacks, people who use screen readers can simply disable javascript (some browsers offer it by a single click) and have the comments or trackbacks open in the same window, transparently. that of course assumes that the website in question is built with regards to standards and good virtues.
but everything web depends on the individual builders of it.

Comment by Phil #
2002-08-28 06:50:52

Also, Ringy: I know you shouldn’t build for one browser, and even if you do it shouldn’t be IE, but any version of IE lower than 5.5 will NOT display anything dashed or dotted. AT ALL. However, it works fine in Moz1.0+, IE5.5+, NS5+, etc., so, who cares? I just needed to post something rambling and contrary because I want to know what idiot thought it would be a great idea to shampoo the carpets in the dorm hallways at 9:30 a.m., when some of us would like to ENJOY the luxury of not having a class till 11 today.

Comment by michel v #
2002-08-28 07:04:19

Phil, blame the Trotts ;) And yeah, I feel your pain about the carpets shampoo’ing. It competes fairly with 6:30 AM Brittney Spears in my book.

Comment by Shannon #
2002-08-28 18:05:38

Brittney Spears is bad at any time of the day.

Comment by Shannon #
2002-08-29 06:08:09

Phil, it’s just not like you to leave all these comments laying around. Where are you, my little lustbucket?

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2002-08-29 07:49:10

Sorry, I’ve been reading. Reading until my eyes blur, and I’m likely to shout ”Is there pornography on your computer?” or ”11 free CDs!” at odd moments. I really can’t recommend researching the history of anything by re-reading the archives of a Yahoo Group.

Comment by KafkaesquĆ­ #
2002-08-29 08:06:39

Lustbucket? Hmm.

Comment by jswiders #
2002-08-30 12:59:09

The solution to this problem that I like best (not that I have many illusions (just a few) that anyone really cares what I think) is the ”Open new windows?” checkbox that I stole from Miriam Frost and Matt Warden. My implementation uses a slightly-chewy combination of their methods to cause both comments and other links to open in new windows when opened. Those like Nick and Shannon who want their comments in a new window can have their popups; those like Mark P and the Wonder Cock (the beginnings of a great band name. . .) who don’t, can not. It really can be that simple.

(I suppose that if one wanted the opportunity to have comments open in new windows but not other links, or vice versa, one could use separate checkboxes, but I’m too lazy for that. (Plus, I only just now thought of it.))

Comment by michael paige #
2002-08-30 21:26:07

Instead of putting your blogroll in a pop-up, why not have it open in IE’s search sidebar, the NS sidebar, or Opera’s floating hotlist?

And just as an aside, very cool to see my w3c button here. =)

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2002-08-30 21:57:49

The problem is that what works well for me is to open a half-dozen pages at a time in new windows, and then read them as they load. Slowly.

At least with IE’s sidebar, if you open a new window from it, the new window also has the search sidebar open, which is a pain. I’ve never really looked into whether you can avoid that.

I actually don’t need it in a popup mostly, since I’m almost always using the MultiBrowser Bar to open my half-dozen pages in plain sight, but I still use it as a straight popup sometimes, and I’d like to keep some javascript around, since that’s what got me my first notoriety.

I meant to put the button in a month ago, but then I lost it in the shuffle and only remembered when I was trying to decide what was an appropriate validator link for valid XHTML + cloaked RDF. Now I just have to hope that Dorothea and Shelley don’t notice it, while they are both justifiably on edge. Not the best timing on my part…

Comment by Mark Pilgrim #
2002-09-02 01:24:47

On the subject of screen readers, I can confirm from personal experimentation that they do follow onclick events. They just sit on top of IE, so whatever IE can do, they can do, with all the good and bad that goes along with that.

”Open in new window” checkboxes are fine, as long as the default is off. Setting a cookie to remember my preferences would be nice, too; otherwise it’s kinda pointless.

I like Phil’s solution, and his reasons.

I will not be starting a band.

Comment by Shannon #
2002-09-02 05:52:42

Here, Phil.

Let me do that for you. It was driving me nuts.

Comment by Shannon #
2002-09-02 05:54:47

New comment feature wishlisht #784: well meaning rock stars should be able to close your friggin’ ital tags from two posts away, considering the damn thing won’t close itself.

Is it possible to make a comment check for and close any errant tags? That would be neat.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2002-09-02 18:42:13

”Let me see, what can I do that will be as embarassing as possible if company comes over to see this post while I’m gone for the weekend? How about if I post a comment with an unclosed tag?”

Thanks for trying to clean up my mess, sweetie. Cleaning up the code in comments would be a good idea, even when I’m not leaving the barn door open: since I’ve got an RSS feed that includes the comments, it would be nice to check what people post so that they don’t break the feed by posting a link with an unescaped & in the url. What we need is HTML Tidy ported to Perl, but last time I looked the project on Source Forge wasn’t exactly forging ahead. Time for another look.

Comment by Einar #
2002-09-03 16:23:15

Thanks a lot, Phil. That script worked perfectly :)

Comment by Shannon #
2002-09-03 20:16:30

This pinging with no new content crap has got to stop.

You’re nothing but a big ol’ tease, Phil.

Trackback by Among Other Things #
2002-08-28 07:10:12

Popups? What popups?

It never really did make sense to me to have comments be a permanent link to a comment section on

Trackback by The Long Letter #
2003-07-03 20:06:44

No more popups (almost)

Since I’m one of the many people out there who believe, to the very depths of my soul, that popups are evil, I’ve removed the popup window for posting comments. Now, clicking on the ’comment’ link will take you to the page for the post itself, and scro…

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