Today's rant: comment sort order

I have noticed that, with youtube leading the way, a lot of media and newspaper sites are now sorting comments in chronological order (newest comment first). The old-school standard was reverse-chronological order (oldest comment first).

For example, today I followed a link to an article on the New York Post's website. When I look at the comments, the first comment says "I agree with [username] and [other username], they are totally correct!" and then I have to search down through the other comments to find what this guy felt was so important that he needed to tell everyone he agreed with. It's totally counter-intuitive. On the other side are sites like and, sites designed for conversation and discussion. It's so much easier to read through the conversation and therefor be able to participate in an intelligent way.

This has been a debate in the drupal community over the past couple of years because when Drupal 6 was released, the default sort order for comments went from oldest first to newest first. I've never seen the logic of this choice. It makes it impossible to actually follow the discussion; you read the replies to comments before the comments being replied to. It totally destroys the continuity of conversation (which could be part of the goal, I have no idea).

I have not installed or played much with Drupal 7 yet, but from reading the issue queue ( here and here among others) it seems that the default has been changed back to the way I prefer it.

Does anyone out there actually prefer newest comment first? Why?

Today's photos: a stack of soon-to-be-mulched trees in Tompkins Square and some discarded flowers.

It makes sense if you think

It makes sense if you think the comments on your site are of approximately equal (low) value; if you think of comments primarily to give readers an outlet to _feel like_ they are "engaged" ("wow!" "me too!" "$obvious_thing" ) with the site; putting comments first spreads the attention of the rest of your visitors more evenly to each (relatively low value) comment. But yes, it seems counter to a productive conversation -- though this is difficult to accomplish consistently after a certain scale even with well designed commenting system patterns.

think? never.

I guess you are right, if you have a certain level of comments, it's nearly impossible to have any system in place that can allow for good overview and discussion.

If we are talking about a

If we are talking about a topic style forum, then it makes more sense for oldest messages to start first because users will want to read through the discussion of a particular subject and get involved with the topic. But if its more of a comment for a video for example, I think its best to have newest comments first because users want to see the latest comments for that video and they want to reply to them quickly and easily. Imagine watching a video on youtube and having to page right to the end of the comments just to see the latest one? Or having to scroll through to page 390 on your Facebook wall! Would drive me mad! So I think the answer to this debate is it depends on the nature of the comment board. Drupal 7 should provide an option like it did for D6!