Publisher Website Comments and Annotations

Publisher Website Comments and Annotations

As QUARTZ launches Quartz Annotations this year I realize that the impressive gains we have recently seen from LiveFyer and DISQUS in terms of overall comment collaboration and social reactions will now take an entirely new direction.  Annotations appear to be the next big step in terms of publisher CMS tools to help increase website content interactions.

With the ability to annotate a specific segment of and article, readers and able to interact with the content at a much higher level. We still want a general “overall” comment capability but now the audience can react, add, or question a specific element of the story.

I expect this is heading toward truly audience collaborative journalism and with editor and audience annotation management tools we will find that articles now have tremendous value with all of the annotations added by visitors.

I have always felt that great comments should be elevated back into prominent block quote segments of the article and this is just about as close as you get to that vision.


Other websites have been an inspiration to us as we’ve built annotations. Soundcloud allows users to annotate audio; Gawker Media, images; and Medium, text. Rap Genius, originally focused on hip-hop lyrics, has recently expanded its mandate to letting people “annotate everything.” And our own product engineering director, Michael Donohoe, whose team built this new feature, has been toying with these ideas for a while. (Michael has written a piece about how the design and architecture of annotations evolved over time.)

Approved annotations are also streamed out from a twitter account:

Content Annotations Video Introduction


Best of all, the log-in to comment includes a method for QUARTZ to capture and keep readers updated with the comment registration process.






Livefyer quickly responded to the need with a publishing tool addition named Sidenotes. It’s probably the one website commenting system feature that would have me choose their CMS commenting system over DISQUS.

Livefyer Sidenotes Website Commenting System



And to top it off, how about the additional thanks to Citi for their sponsorship for this website commenting system innovation.  Don’t just innovate in vacuum when you can have an advertiser pay for the innovations and you can easily reward the sponsor with increased exposure once your new site addition is complete.

Web Comments Sponsor


Even seemingly small innovations like this web annotations software take time and proper planning.  Perform the proper ux process to insure your functional publishing cms improvement brings strategic value to the brand and is implemented in a way that enhances the user experience.  The problem with many website commenting software implementations is that the full spectrum of implications are not considered.  So you are going to encourage website comments, let begin with some questions for your own magazine website:

  • How do you use this to energize your audience?
  • How do we consolidate this into an existing authentication process for web and/or print subscribers?
  • How do we leverage the comments we receive through aggregation?
  • How do we elevate good web annotations/comments and bury poor comments?
  • How do we authenticate new and ongoing comment participants easily?
  • How to we handle the website comment spam and initial new user registration?
  • What content publishing and author workflows should be used to insure commenting interactions but don’t become comment wars.
  • What’s the lifecycle of website comments and do we lock down or close commenting after a period of time?


Care to comment?  Sorry – no annotations here yet but I expect a wordpress annotations tool is certainly in the works.