Though we at Gawker Media (and here on Gawker, in this case) love our comments and commenters (well, not always), we've decided we need to shake the format up a little bit, allow for more conversation than simple one line posting. To that end, today we're introducing an entirely new commenting structure: threading! Threading is a way to make comments read more like conversations instead of a bunch of disconnected single replies. When a comment is replied to by other commenters, all the replies will appear directly below the original comment. Each of these blocks is called a "thread". All of this will be self-explanatory once you start using the new system, but read on for a more detailed explainer. Some Potential FAQs! So, um, how does this all work? Well...

  • The first comment in a thread will have a few distinguishing features, among them, the number of replies in the thread along with the time of the most recent reply.
  • Clicking the reply arrow on the lower right side opens a comment reply input box directly underneath the comment. No need to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to reply.
  • Replies to replies - sometimes known as second or third (or fourth) level replies - will not be indented as is the custom in most forums. Instead, second and third level replies will be collapsed.

How are the threads displayed, still in chronological order? Each conversation will be displayed in chronological order. But organization of the conversations overall will be displayed based on popularity. The most popular conversations will migrate to the top. The most recent comment that has no replies will appear on top for 15 minutes before being filtered down. If a more active conversation receives a reply within those 15 minutes, that conversation will overtake the stand-alone comment. Where did the plus and minus go? The plus and minus, which was used to friend or un-friend a fellow commenter, has been replaced by a heart. Friends show a red heart, and the rest are empty. What's the deal with the star again? Star commenters were readers who have 25 or more followers, or were designated as stars by a comments admin. With the introduction of threading, the number of followers required to attain star is increasing to 40. There are now three ways to comment? Huh? Yep! You can comment: 1) Through your Gawker account: This will keep you anonymous, with only a commenter handle displayed. A commenting account is obtained by submitting (or "auditioning") a comment. If our screeners like it, they'll put it through, thus activating your commenting account. 2) Through email: If you just want to make a one-off comment without going through the audition process, you can comment using your email address. We won't post your email address, but we will use it as verification to prevent spamming. 3) Through Facebook: If you're bold and daring enough to post a comment with your name attached, you can do so through your Facebook account. The Facebook sign-in feature is still waiting on the release of Facebook Connect, so this feature make take a few days to be online.

So what does this all mean? If you don't like a comment, simply ignore it. It will eventually sink its way to the bottom. The cream will rise to the top, essentially. Why? Why now? Why here?? This is an effort to both maximize your commenting experience and to allow room for new commenters. With the threading feature, you won't have to slog through a bunch of single comments that haven't generated much interest from other readers (though, of course, you can if you want to). The email verification system and Facebook will allow new commenters. New friends! But don't worry. They will be subject to the same threading system, so again, ignore it if you don't like it. It will soon find its way down to the murky bottom of the well. We also felt that for things like live blogging (Project Runway, the Emmys, etc.) this will be a much better way of organizing all the different conversations that fly around. It's also going to give us a better way to invite in experts and various celebrities for commenter Q&A's. All told, we believe (and hope) this new format will streamline and enhance the commenting experience. Dear God this is awful. Is there a way to view comments the "old-fashioned" way? Sigh. If you must, you can switch to the old style comments layout by clicking the "classic view" link in the comments bar at the top of the threads. NB: Should we experience some technical difficulties with these new features, we may revert back, temporarily, to the old format. But hold tight and we'll get the new stuff back online ASAP. UPDATE, 9/23: * Comments will be displayed in chronological order once again. * Replies will be collapsed, but remain in chronological order.