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Say Hello to Sidenotes

April 16, 2014 ·

by Jordan Kretchmer

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People like their paradigms to stay the same because it makes things predictable and comfortable, so it’s not often that paradigms change. When I started Livefyre 5 years ago, I experimented with completely new concepts and designs for what comments could be. But without any users of our product, I didn’t think it would be possible to instigate the kind of paradigm shift necessary to popularize a completely new kind of commenting product.

So instead, we chose to innovate on features like real-time streaming, and SocialSync, but we kept the same basic kind of interaction; users leave comments below the article in a single stream.

While we spent the last few years expanding our platform to be just as much about social media aggregation and curation as about interactive apps, about a year ago we got the itch to re-address “the comment problem.” Except this time, we could do it with a customer base of over 650 of the largest media companies, brands, and publishers in the world, and total sites using Livefyre Comments close to 100,000. Those are the kinds of numbers that give us the opportunity to facilitate a paradigm shift for the entire web, and change overnight how people interact with each other on sites.

We got really excited about one idea, and we believe it will change the face of commenting and soon become the kind of experience that people expect when they read content on the web. Starting today, that idea is a reality, and it’s called Livefyre Sidenotes.

Sidenotes_Recipe

 

We knew that publishers needed a better way to foster high-quality focused conversations about their content. As we prototyped ways to solve this problem, we kept harkening back to our college days (no not the booze part), when we annotated and highlighted passages we wanted to discuss with classmates or just pass down to future used book aficionados.

We also looked at similar experiences that exist today, Kindle Highlights for example, which enables us to see and share insightful sections in the books we love. It was clear that the ability to engage directly with content makes for an engaging conversation specifically around what people are reading.

Livefyre Sidenotes is the world’s first enterprise product for in-line comments, available to every customer using LiveComments, any WordPress users via a plugin, and across millions of pages on Storify.com, marking the first time in history that consumers will have widespread access to annotation-style comments.

Using Sidenotes, publishers and readers can generate thoughtful reactions to any type of online content from articles to lyrics to live updates and more. Whether inspired or curious for more information, a reader can Sidenote any part of an article—a paragraph, a sentence, a quote, or an image. For example, Sidenotes on a long-form article might discuss specific quotes and paragraphs, while Sidenotes on a recipe might discuss alternatives to specific ingredients and proportions.

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Sidenotes appear directly adjacent to content, and people can upvote the best ones to the top, meaning others can read and respond to the highest quality Sidenotes while they read. Sidenotes can also be shared to Twitter and Facebook as a way to bring friends, followers, and experts into the conversation.

You can see Sidenotes in action on this blog post by clicking the Sidenotes icon that appears at the end of paragraphs. Or, just go ahead and highlight this sentence.

Here’s to a simpler, more enriched way to read and comment on the web.

Happy Sidenoting!


Check out some of the press coverage from the Sidenotes launch in TechCrunch, PandoDaily, Poynter, The Next Web and Quartz.

Download our free whitepaper to learn more about how you can use Sidenotes to elevate conversations on your site. For information about how to implement Sidenotes on your website, contact your account manager.

Sidenotes is included with every StreamHub Core subscription and also available to free Community Comments users via a WordPress plugin.  If you’re not already a Livefyre customer and you’re interested in installing Sidenotes on your site, please contact our sales team.

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39 comments
bcoelho2000
bcoelho2000

I'm exploring Livefyre and it looks great so far :)

E-Rock
E-Rock

What would be cool is if you can choose which icon to use at the end of each paragraph/section.... For example the Twitter bird icon instead of a speech bubble?  Or even upload your own custom icon?    (I'm sure I could just do this by going into the code and changing the image source... but to have that option natively would be cool...)  So far this looks great!

Sparkzilla
Sparkzilla

Just what I was looking for. Thank you!

RaajaAnandhan
RaajaAnandhan

This is same like disqus. But somewhat differ from that. Anyway it's nice.

Tony Escobar
Tony Escobar

I must say that this is probably the coolest feature I've seen come to a free comments platform. You guys could have easily limited the access to paying clients, but I'm very glad you didn't. I appreciate it and look forward to getting setup on WordPress when the plugin is good to go!

You guys have raised the bar yet again. Great work guys.

BradWilliamson
BradWilliamson

How do you install sidenotes? Would someone please link me to some instructions?


P.S. Instructions might be staring me right in the face, but for some strange reason I cannot find any; and that's after a lot of searching. Thanks guys!

emersongreg
emersongreg

Question: Is the "highlight text and tweet it" also part of the built-in functionality of sidenotes?

Lori
Lori

This looks great! I'm excited to begin using it!

HalWebGuy
HalWebGuy

Very nice as always, Jordan. 

Lucido
Lucido

Already in love with it. Will try it asap

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Great feature, be interesting to see how it integrates and what traction is given to Sidenotes versus comments. Is this just for main media publishers, or will all Livefyre users get this?

Cheers!

JeneneStafford
JeneneStafford

Oh I so love this Livefyre product. This sidenote interface is so cool. I'm absolutely going to add this to my new website.:) Check it out.


JakeMoore
JakeMoore

Something interesting about Kindle Highlights: Seeing that a certain passage is highlighted actually encouraged me to start highlighting. I wouldn't have started the habit if they hadn't surfaced just how many people were using the feature and the types of things they were highlighting.

MichaelCaputo
MichaelCaputo

I remember Google doing something just like this... SideWiki, I thought it was called. I have always thought this would be the next step for real engagement with an article.

skyrog
skyrog moderator

Even though I've seen it a lot by now, creating Sidenotes with the highlighting option still feels like some sort of awesome magic trick every time. Web sorcery!

skyrog
skyrog moderator

@E-Rock  Interesting! We actually made sure to include Sidenotes in the Livefyre API. This means customers have access to some new calls right away, so it's certainly possible we'll see some interesting custom implementations and ideas fall out of that very soon.

If nothing else, we definitely have an ear on the feedback coming from everywhere, so keep it coming! And if there are any questions or other comments we can pass along to the team, happy to do so.

Glad you're liking what you see so far! :D

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

@E-Rock  Love that idea - you could essentially replace the various "Tweet this" codes/plug-ins with having control of icons like this, and encouraging certain shares on certain networks.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

@BradWilliamson  It's just in beta at moment; Livefyre have mentioned that they're waiting on the production update to go through the WordPress directory.

skyrog
skyrog moderator

@emersongreg  Hi Greg! You got it: with Sidenotes installed on a website or blog, highlighting text will surface the option for leaving a Sidenote on that selection or quoting it in a tweet or Facebook post (which will also link back to the content).

skyrog
skyrog moderator

@Danny Brown  Sorry I missed this last week, Danny! Looks like you found a bit more info and've had a chance to try out a beta version of Sidenotes since this. In case it helps you or others watching though:

• Sidenotes were made available to Livefyre customers using LiveComments immediately on launch day

• The free Livefyre community will get a Livefyre Sidenotes WordPress plugin as soon as possible. We hope to make other, more-complex integrations available for free in the future (such as installations on Tumblr, custom-built blogs, etc.)

Looking forward to updating everyone with more info and rolling this out very soon!

skyrog
skyrog moderator

Hi Duncan! Good catch. The WordPress plugin has been submitted, so it should be available any minute after getting approval (we hope :)

emersongreg
emersongreg

@skyrog  Ooooh that is a very nice feature indeed... Going to have to look into that. Thanks so much for your reply.

Lori
Lori

@skyrog I've got it and I like it! Thanks! It adds a whole new dimension to the conversation. At my place if feels as if some people can step down to the end of the porch and have a more-or-less private conversation. Are you using it @Danny Brown? I'll have to go over and see.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

@skyrog Hi mate, cheers. Haven't had a chance to use yet, was enjoying implementation on the Spin Sucks blog. Although that did raise some other questions around functionality. :)

DAForbes
DAForbes

@skyrog  Many thanks Skyler, that is great news. Shall keep my eyes open for it in the plugin directory. 

skyrog
skyrog moderator

@BradWilliamson Danny's right. After being held up in the approval process for a bit, it looks like the Livefyre Sidenotes WordPress plugin will be available early this week. We'll be able to update our announcements and support docs with info on installing it as soon as that happens!

For launch, we've made Sidenotes available to Livefyre customers using LiveComments, but the free community can only install them with the WordPress plugin for now. In the future we'd love to be able to offer Sidenotes integrations for Tumblr or custom website integrations, so stay tuned for news on that front.

Hope this helps clarify, but feel free to drop us questions or comments any time!

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

@Lori  Hi miss, yep, currently using over at dannybrown.me - there are some features I'd love to see, as well as some more user control options, but as a first release, pretty cool. :)

skyrog
skyrog moderator

@Lori  Great to hear! (And I really like that analogy.)

We were talking to Danny a bit as the WordPress plugin went live last week. He has Sidenotes installed currently if you want to go say hi :)

It's been great to see various audiences get their hands on Sidenotes. Already lots of great feedback for the team here - let us know if there's anything we can answer or help with!

skyrog
skyrog moderator

@Lucido Unclear on our end what might've held up the approval process for a bit, but it's looking like we'll have some good news for everyone very soon. We'll be sure to update our announcements and Support areas right away when things go live. Sorry about the wait!