Say Hello to Sidenotes

April 16, 2014 ·

by Jordan Kretchmer

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.



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, 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.

For the most up-to-date information about Sidenotes or any of our other products, check out Livefyre Answers.