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Categories: Good reviews, Internet, Newspapers. Tags: , , , ,

Guardian makes its comments accessible, SEO friendly and mobile friendly all in one go!

November 5, 2009 7 Comments

The Guardian has changed its user-generated comment system - moving from a client-side system to a server-side one.

With the old system, once you clicked to read a story, the web page would download, and some javascript would run. This would go off and look up readers' comments and display them. This wasn't terribly accessible - if you couldn't or didn't run javascript, you couldn't see the comments.

What you used to see with JS turned off

What you used to see with JS turned off

It was also bad for SEO, as search engines couldn't run the javascript (so couldn't see the comments). And if your mobile didn't run javascript (like mine), you couldn't read the comments either.

With the new system, the comments are just part of the web page, like all the rest of the text on the page - so the comments are readable by anyone, javascript or not.

This is a great change by the Guardian, and not before time. If you notice any problems, they've asked you to point them out.

The problems with the old system

You can read some of the background to the change - ie comments by me bitching to various members of the Guardian about how awful the old system was on the Guardian site:

  • here (where I point out the old new system surely breached the Guardian's accessibility policy),
  • here (where I got a bit frustrated) and
  • here (where there was an interesting (to me ...) exchange between me and the Guardian about what was going on).

The only problem now is that a couple of links to my blog that I dropped in the comments section have broken This is only a problem for posts shown on the search results page - on the actual posts, the links work fine.

Although I'll guess they'll add nofollow to links in comments soon anyway, to avoid the Independent's problem with spammers... (Update A Guardian commenter, below, says future links in comments will be nofollowed - but existing links in comments will stay without the nofollow tag).

Google already indexing comments

Google has already indexed the text of one of my comments

Google has already indexed the text of one of my comments

This screenshot shows how Google has already indexed the comments on the page shown - a search for the text of my comment returns the page. With the old system, it wouldn't.

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