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Monday, November 11, 2013

All Mobile Computers Are Not Created Equal

We've seen a few questions about comments, supposedly published - but vanishing, when using a mobile computer, in Blogger Help Forum: Something Is Broken.

This symptom, as reported, reminds us of the long ago reports of "vanishing comments" - but using desktop computers.
At least one of the folks who isn't able to comment said she was attempting to do so from her mobile phone. Is Blogger now losing comments from mobile devices?
The answer here is not quite so ominous, though the situation is still frustrating - to both the blog owner, and the various visitors.

Blogger comments are offered in three "desktop" computer styles, selected by the blog owner.
  • Embedded, positioned below the posts.
  • Full screen, on a separate page.
  • Popup, in a separate, miniature window.
Each of these choices have their own special advantages and disadvantages, which vary in relevance, according to the blog reader population.

On a "mobile" computer - and with the "mobile" template enabled, there is yet a fourth style.
  • Embedded, in a special "mobile" dialogue.

The comment entry process, in general, involves at least four distinct steps.
  • Authentication. Where required by the blog owner, and / or preferred by the blog visitor, the visitor may provide personal identification.
  • Entry. The comment is entered, and edited.
  • Preview. The visitor can view the comment, as entered, before actually publishing it.
  • Verification. Where required by the blog owner, the visitor solves a puzzle, aka "CAPTCHA", to prove that he/she is not using an automated script.
Entry and Preview goes back and forth, at the preference of the comment publisher, until satisfied.

Depending upon the "mobile" computer and template in use, any of the four comment entry styles may be a problem, for any of the four steps identified. If you are familiar with the comment entry process, in general, consider the various controls and objects involved - and when each object is presented to the visitor, attempting to publish a comment.

Consider three different possible ways of presenting the various controls and objects, involved in publishing comments.
  • Everything "visible" simultaneously, with the display zoomed out so everything is visible. On anything but a large screen tablet, you would probably need a magnifying glass, to read the captions, instructions, and labels.
  • Everything "visible" simultaneously, but with most objects off screen, until each is needed. Scrolling is done using finger gestures, not using scroll tabs - and it's never obvious where any "missing" objects may be, at any time.
  • Everything visible in sequence, one step at a time. Extra controls, to move forward and backward in the sequence, are required. To someone not familiar with the comment entry process, in general, some controls may not be obvious.
None of these three options provide perfect solutions. Even being experienced in the commenting process, I have found no obvious excellent choice, when using a "mobile" computer.

Besides the various control and display issues discussed above, consider the effects of cookies and scripts, which may or may not be supported by any given "mobile" computer - and layered security, which is a challenge, on every computer. Both may be a special problem, on "mobile" computers.

Until "mobile" computers are developed, with controls and displays equal to (better than) to those of "desktop" computers, I suspect that there will always be problems with commenting on "mobile" computers - just as there are problems with use of "mobile" computers, and with commenting on all computers, in general.

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Dude, hit me with a comment!

Dreamer52 said...

When I reply to a comment on a site that I've joined it publishes three times. I usually comment from my mobile phone.