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A change to comments and forums

To our Boston.com readers:

We launched new discussion forums and personal profiles last evening, as well as comments on BostonGlobe.com; this afternoon we're planning to change the comments on Boston.com as well. We want to explain some changes that you'll see.

We've always relied on software from other companies to power our user tools. But during the past few months, we've built our own - we think this will give us more flexibility and control over these features.

That flexibility and control means that we'll soon be able to feature your contributions more prominently on Boston.com, highlighting your comments, discussions, photos, videos, and more.

We're introducing a few new things that we think you'll like. We haven't finished adding all of the current features into our toolset, but they're on schedule to be restored in the coming months.

During the transition to our new user tools, you may see some disruptions in the article comments and forums. We're working diligently to minimize those interruptions.

Here's a rundown of the changes:

Boston.com article comments

Replies -- Sometimes you post a reply to a comment, only to have your reply show up far removed from the original comment. Now you'll be able to reply directly and have your reply appear immediately below the comment.

Like/Dislike -- Lots of you use the "Recommend" link we attach to every comment, but some of you have asked for a way to express your dissatisfaction with a comment. With the new comments, you'll be able to Like or Dislike a comment or a reply.

Forums

Ignore this user -- This is a popular feature that we have to delay implementing for a couple of weeks. However, we have saved everybody's "enemies list", and when we re-introduce this, we will restore your personal list of the users you have already ignored.

Images -- Some of you like adding photos to your posts; that will be on hiatus for a little while.

Polls -- Conducting a poll is popular in our Sports forums, but we haven't built our own polling tool yet to be able to continue this right away. It's coming.

Search -- We want to give you the ability to search for anything in our forums; it's a bit complicated to implement, so we're delaying this feature for a few months.

Subscribe -- Some of you have subscribed to particular discussions or forums in order to get notified when somebody has added a post. That, too, will be added soon.

Private forums -- You've asked for these, and we're planning to deliver.

Discussion lists -- On the front page of many of our sections, such as Red Sox and Lifestyle, we have widgets that pull in the latest discussions from a particular forum. We're still building those, so in their place you'll see links directly to the relevant forums.

Profile Pages

Public/private -- You can set your Profile Page to be public (viewable by everybody) or private (viewable by only you). Eventually we'll have a third option: Viewable by only your Friends.

Private messages -- This is another feature you have requested that we've built for you. From now on, when somebody leaves a message for you on your Profile Page, it is private - only you can see it, even if you have your Profile Page set to public.

Friends -- Don't worry, we haven't forgotten your friends. They're saved, but won't be displayed on your Profile Page until later.

Personal blogs -- We've also saved your blog posts. Although you won't be able to view them right away, they will return so you can once again blog to your heart's content.

Personal photo galleries -- Very few of you used this feature, so we probably won't add it back.

Profiles -- We can't let you change your avatar right now, but you'll soon be able to.

Forum signatures -- Your current forum signatures will stay, but the ability to change them or add new signatures is on its way.

Misc.

Also on our roadmap are features such as social sharing, badging, user reviews, and more.


Thanks for your patience as we ramp up our new tools. We believe that bringing all of this in-house will allow us to make more of the changes you request - and faster.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please send us a note.

Sincerely,

Teresa Hanafin
Director of Engagement and Social Media
Boston.com