Subscribe To Comments: Checked By Default Removed

Lesson to be learned: When you are sitting on semi exclusive news, POST IT! I originally wrote this on 29th March, but ran out of time to post it because of our move from China. Since then, Mark Jaquith himself has written about this, and others such as the Weblog Tools Collection have picked the story up. I decided I’d go ahead and post this, because my point about it being removed without warning still stands.

One of the most popular WordPress plugins is Subscribe To Comments, but there have always been arguments about whether the Notify me option should be checked by default or left unchecked. The argument is over! The Checked By Default option no longer exists in the plugin.

This blog originally had the Notify Me option checked by default, but I recently decided to make it unchecked. When I went looking for the Checked By Default option, I couldn’t find it. It was missing!

A search didn’t return any information on the option being removed (although many sites refer to its existence). Puzzled, I went looking for more information on it’s disappearance. I found the answer in the SVN repository.

The readme.txt for version 2.1.1 says:

= I’d like the subscription checkbox to be checked by default.  Can I do that? =

By default, the "subscribe" checkbox is unchecked, but you can change that in the options (i.e. so that it is checked by default).

while, the readme.txt for version 2.1.2 says (emphasis mine):

= I’d like the subscription checkbox to be checked by default.  Can I do that? =

Not anymore.  But the checkbox status will be remembered on a per-user basis.

So Mark Jaquith has effectively ended the argument – but as far as I can tell, no one has noticed yet!

Commentators now must opt-in, but once they do this on one post, it remembers this and defaults to being checked on other posts. This is a great solution, which suits me, and I have a lot of respect for Mark, but…

If the Checked By Default option was available in previous versions of Subscribe To Comments, it shouldn’t have been removed without warning. Personally, I would have preferred an option for checked, unchecked, or the new method. I would have chosen the new method, but others may not.

I don’t want people to think I’m having a go at Mark. I really appreciate the huge contribution that Mark has made to WordPress. I just disagree with this one decision.

16 responses on “Subscribe To Comments: Checked By Default Removed

  1. rob

    Choice choice choice! I too changed my manual hack from default check to default unchecked some time back but…I agree Stephen, unilateralism kinda stinks, especially when it was there previous.

    Oh well! :)

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi Rob,

      Good to hear from you again. It’s been a while since I got over to YackYack – just been reading via the reader…

      The removal of choice, without notification, is what got me. I’ve been involved in software design for 10 years, and you don’t just remove options without warning the users. No matter how good the change is, you’re going to upset your users.

      I guess this is one of the few remaining things where open source falls down. Commercial software developers learn to respect their customers or they go out of business. As much as I love open source, this is one of the things that doesn’t translate so well.

  2. Discount Plantation Shutters

    I think a lot of people might not realize they left the option open though. How will they know if it is automatically checked sometimes to look before they post? It could I guess turn into a email box full of more than wanted email. I dunno, then again its everyones responsibility to look at what they are doing in the first place.

  3. Fern

    I have to say I much prefer it this way, I don’t always remember to uncheck it – particularly as most places have them situated under the text box, and if I’ve commented on a high traffic post then I don’t really want an inbox full of replies I’m not overly interested in. If I’m expecting or would like a reply to my post I will either come back and check or will make a point of ticking the box.

    That said, it does seem strange to just completely remove it without warning.

  4. LOmiG

    hi,
    i agree with you. Does anyone here knows how to modify the php code to have this little checkbox “checked” by default…

    thanks a lot !

  5. Harris

    It definitely frustrated me when I could not find the setting anymore. Many people who comment on my sites would probably like to see responses to their comments, but don’t think about clicking in the box.

  6. Paul

    I have the plugin on my 2.6.3 blog but the actual checkbox doesn’t appear before the ‘Notify me of followup comments via e-mail’ text. In fact it doesn’t appear anywhere (but the relevant text does) in the comment. Does anyone know why?

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi Paul,

      Sorry, not sure – but if you email me the link of the site I’ll have a quick look and see if there’s any obvious problem…

  7. Paul

    Thanks for fixing my problem via email Stephen.

    My Feedburner plugin also uses the id of ‘subscribe’. By removing the feedburner entries from my stylesheet the subscription checkbox has now appeared.

  8. tony@Cheap web hosting.

    I like it un checked by default. This way people decide if they want to subscribe to the comments. I agree it would be nice to have the 3 options but i think they figured it is better to just have the one and people can subscribe if they want.

  9. Eric@Aweber Alternative

    I think it should technically be removed from all blogs. Most people don’t notice and it is practically blog spam especially when you get dozen replies at a time.

  10. John@affiliate funnel system bonus

    I think a lot of people might not realize they left the option open though. How will they know if it is automatically checked sometimes to look before they post? It could I guess turn into a email box full of more than wanted email. I dunno, then again its everyones responsibility to look at what they are doing in the first place.

  11. Shahab khan

    Stephen i agree with you!
    Both the options should have been present in the present version of this plugin.
    Anyway its still a great plugin, and i am happy with it!

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