The site allows logged-in users to set some preferences regarding the display of comments. These options can be accessed under any story, in the section between the end of the story and the beginning of comments, and also via a user's Edit Profile page. A change in one location (under a story or on the Edit Profile page) will apply universally and immediately. These options are not browser-dependent, but associated with the user's preferences. They do not apply to the mobile (m.) version of the site, however.
The settings and their defaults are:
Auto Refresh -- ON
Comment Collapse -- OFF
Show hidden comments -- OFF (option to turn them on exists only for Trusted Users)
Show until I hide -- OFF (again, relevant to Trusted User status only)
To change them on the main site, go to the bottom of any story and look for a light gray link toward the right, Comment Settings. You'll find it below the comment counter but above the formatting toolbar for the top comment box. Click on it, and a list of options will display. When you are done making the changes you wish to make, then click Close Settings and the list of options will disappear.
Please note: This is NOT related to the process by which one can turn on or off the email notifications of replies to a comment you make. That option, “email me when someone replies to my comment,” is set by checking or unchecking a box when you make ANY COMMENT. It does not have a counterpart on the Edit Profile page.
Options for Comment Display
If Auto refresh is ON, then every time someone comments on a story that you are reading, you will see each user's name displayed in a small black box in the lower-right-hand corner of the page (up to a maximum of about a dozen). That update box can be closed story-by-story, or if you prefer, a global closure can be applied. To stop the update box display, unclick the checkbox to the left of Auto refresh. From this point forward, you should not see the box with the updates unless and until you choose that option again.
Collapse on load:
If you prefer, you may load all comments so that they are "collapsed," that is, displaying only the first few words of the comment. It makes the display much more compact, while still permitting expansion or opening of comments as you choose. Unclicking the checkbox next to this phrase will ensure that the comments all load in the OPEN format.
Collapsed comments can also be expanded one-by-one by clicking the gray arrow to the right of the head of the comment so that it points down. Clicking in this way will expand the parent comment and any child comments it may have. Each opened comment may also be collapsed on an individual basis using shift-click, though changing the state of a parent comment will affect each child comment as well.
You cannot rate or reply to a comment that is collapsed. Expanding it will make those options available.
Note there are also key commands to expand and collapse comments. A legend for all key commands is available near where these preferences are set between the story and comments.
Show hidden [comments]:
When one becomes a Trusted User on the site, one can not only flag comments that violate the Rules of the Road, one can also view all hidden comments (and their children, whether hidden or not). This setting allows Trusted Users to choose whether to display hidden comments as part of a thread or to render them invisible.
Show [hidden comments] until I hide:
If you are a Trusted User, this option will show you hidden comments until you specifically flag them yourself. Once you have flagged the comment, it will no longer be visible to you.