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How It Works

New Plugin: @Reply Two

Making managing and leaving comments a little easier.

This blog has a cool trick in the comments section. The ‘reply’ link in comments will auto-generate your reply starting with “@person: ” and it does that with my plugin @Reply Two.

The name is a pun because it’s a fork of the plugin @Reply (which has the slug reply-to), but it also has a ‘reply to’ feature (two … to … right?). I strip-mined the original and made sure it worked on the modern versions of WordPress. I made sure it looked good. And then I added in a feature I wanted, which was to allow for a way to see parent comments on the admin dashboard.

That is, if you go look at a comment on the dashboard, you’ll see a little arrow that says “Show Parent Comment (15 words):” (or however many words). It strips out all HTML, so it’s a pretty accurate count. I wouldn’t want to use it on a site with a lot of really, really long comments where everyone was always replying to each other. It would make the comments page really slow to load.

Stephen Cronin’s Show Parent Comment does the same thing there. His uses JS, and mine uses html5 with details-shim for fallback. Except for IE8. I hate IE8.

I forked the plugin almost two years ago but I had it irregularly updated until Jeff posted about his experiences moderating comments on WP Tavern.

The sad truth is that you can’t automate ‘enough’ of what makes moderating a pain in the ass. You can’t make it faster because it requires a human to read and pay attention to what they’ve read and process what it means. The part of the work that takes all the time is the part of the work that won’t be possible to teach a machine to do until we invent an AI.

There’s a reason why spam-trapping isn’t perfect. While we have gotten pretty good about it, things will always get caught incorrectly, or let through when it should have been blocked. Why? Well we don’t yet have a way to scan someone for the intent in their heart. Metaphysics aside, we can’t find the answer in the soul of the person beside us.

What we can do is make it easier for humans to look at a thing and go “Wait a second, that isn’t right!” Humans are generally good at that. We know what we’re ‘used’ to seeing and what we’re not. Hopefully that’s what @Reply Two does. Pun and all.