Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Enhancing F1 conversation in 2010 // Introducing live comments across the Sidepodcast site

Published by Mr. C

Just prior to the start of the new year, we discussed site performance improvements and plans for the future, specifically those related to the start of the 2010 F1 season. Today, with less than 12 days to go before action gets underway, we're adding significant enhancements to commenting functionality.

This morning we released updates to the site that make every single post across the whole of Sidepodcast "live enabled". That means whenever you read a post, or browse through comments relating to it, you'll be notified when anything new is added to the conversation. You no longer need to refresh the page to pick up new comments, the site does all the hard work for you.

Click to view pending.
Click to view pending.

Keeping It real-time

In practice, whenever new information is posted, a pop-up notification will appear near the top of the window to let you know there are unread comments. Clicking on the notification will take you directly to the relevant information. Similarly, when contributing to the conversation, comments are added to the thread without the need for a page refresh. If you don't interact with the page for a period of time, updates will pause until you return.

In an ideal world, this is the system we would loved to have in place two or maybe more years ago, it's how the internet should work. Feel free to try out the process by leaving a comment below.

So last year

Ever since we started live blogging races back in March 2008, we've been looking for better and better means of commenting on events. Originally, we and many others, spent our days endlessly hitting the Refresh Page button, before the introduction of bespoke solutions such as the Live Commenting, Live... Thing and the Realtime Doohickey.

We now have the ideal means to further the F1 conversation. It is open, accessible and, most importantly, on by default to everyone who browses Sidepodcast. It just works.

Hover and click to share on Twitter.
Hover and click to share on Twitter.

One or two more things

In addition to the live updates, we've also made commenting easier and more social. Much like individual posts on the site, you can now share comments using Twitter. Hover over any comment and select the "share this" link to post to your microblog.

Not only that, we've added shortcut key combinations to speed things up. Shortcuts work in two modes. When you are typing a comment, the "Ctrl" modifier key provides the usual shortcuts you'd expect from a word processor. When the comment box is not in focus, single key presses perform various navigation actions.

Sidepodcast Shortcuts
Area of FocusShortcutAction
Comment BoxCtrl+ReturnSubmit Comment
Ctrl+BInsert bold tags
Ctrl+IInsert italic tags
Ctrl+DInsert delete tags
Ctrl+QInsert quote tags
PagePDisplay pending comments
[View previous post
]View next post

Please note, that we're still working through the best use of key combinations and the above are subject to change. Finding memorable combinations of useful shortcuts that work across all browsers and operating systems can be tricky. Feedback in this area, is greatly appreciated.

More than words

It should be noted that, as with anything online, the more recent your browser the better your commenting experience will be. We're still testing, tweaking and improving as we go, and we're aware there are plenty of issues still to overcome. Mobile browser support can be, at best, considered experimental, and we're still working through various issues with older desktop browsers. It is also questionable whether the new functionality isn't an overkill on archived posts, again we'll adjust as we learn.

We are very pleased to have rolled out this new functionality before the F1 season begins. We're now able to create any number of threads for live events, sit back and join in the fun. Live commenting for every F1 session this year will begin in less than two weeks, just as it did in '08 and '09. This time around, though, joining in could not be easier and there is no excuse for not taking part.

We will see you in the comments.