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A plugin for Jekyll to implement a static-file based comments system

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README.md

Jekyll::StaticComments

Whilst most people go for a Disqus account, or some similar JS-abusing means of putting comments on their blog, I'm old-fashioned, and like my site to be dead-tree useable. Hence this plugin: it provides a means of associating comments with posts and rendering them all as one big, awesome page.

Quick Start (or "what are all these files for?")

  1. Put the static_comments.rb file in the _plugins directory of your Jekyll site.

  2. Edit the variables at the top of commentsubmit.php, and then place it somewhere suitable in your site.

  3. Modify comment_received.html to your liking (add a YAML front-matter to render it in your site's style, for instance) and then place it alongside commentsubmit.php.

  4. Using comment_template.html as a base, add the appropriate code to your blog post template. Remember to provide an appropriate URL to commentsubmit.php.

  5. Create a _comments directory somewhere in your Jekyll site, and populate it with YAML comments (as produced by commentsubmit.php, or otherwise).

  6. Enjoy a wonderful, spam-free, static-commenting Nirvana.

Technical details

To use StaticComments, you need to have a store of comments; this is a directory, called _comments, which contains all your comments. You can have an arbitrary hierarchy inside this _comments directory (so you can put comments in post-specific directories, if you like), and the _comments directory can be anywhere in your site tree (I put it alongside my _posts directory). The files containing comments can be named anything you like -- every single file within the _comments directory will be read and parsed as a comment.

Each file in _comments represents a single comment, as a YAML hash. The YAML must contain a post_id attribute, which corresponds to the id of the post it is a comment on, but apart from that the YAML fields are anything you want them to be.

The fields in your YAML file will be mapped to fields in a Comment object. There is a new page.comments field, which contains a list of the Comment objects for each post. Iterating through a post and printing the comments is as simple as:

{% for c in page.comments %}
  <a href="{{c.link}}">{{c.nick}}</a>
  <p>
    {{c.content}}
  </p>
  <hr />
{% endfor %}

This, of course, assumes that your YAML comments have the link, nick, and content fields. Your mileage will vary.

The order of the comments list returned in the page.comments array is based on the lexical ordering of the filenames that the comments are stored in. Hence, you can preserve strict date ordering of your comments by ensuring that the filenames are based around the date/time of comment submission.

Of course, the tricky bit in all this is getting the comments from your users into the filesystem. For that, I'm using the commentsubmit.php in this repo, which simply takes all the fields in your comment form, dumps them straight into YAML, and e-mails it to me. However, you can do whatever you like -- save them somewhere on your webserver for you to scp down later, or go the whole hog and have them automatically committed to your git repo and the site regenerated.

E-mailing the comments to you, though, is a fairly natural workflow. You just save the comments out to your _comments directory, then re-generate the site and upload. This provides a natural "moderation" mechanism, at the expense of discouraging wide-ranging "realtime" discussion.

A caveat about Liquid

Never use the word comment by itself as an identifier of any kind (variable, whatever) in your Liquid templates: the language considers it to be the start of a comment (regardless of where it appears) and eats your code. Yes, apparently Liquid really is that stupid. At the very least, you'll need to put a prefix or suffix or something so that Liquid doesn't think you're trying to execute it's comment function.

Still too much dynamic code?

If you like the idea of static comments, but you think that there's still too much dynamic code, then you might like to consider Tomas Carnecky's even-more-static-comments, which uses a special per-post e-mail address to receive comments via a mailto: URL.

Licencing, bug reports, patches, etc

This plugin is licenced under the terms of the GNU GPL version 3. If it works for you, great. If it doesn't, please e-mail me a patch with a description of the bug. Bug reports without patches will probably be ignored unless I'm feeling in a good mood. Particularly bug reports may be publically ridiculed.

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