Good morning to you, the loyal Defamer reader. A few quick administrative notes to share with you on this Monday morning. First off, Seth is taking a well-deserved vacation this week; while we're all going to miss him, we're happy to announce that Amy Kaufman has agreed to join us for the next two days in a guest blogger capacity. For those of you that are unfamiliar, here's a quick bio.
Amy is a Bostonian-turned-Angeleno who graduated from the journalism program at the University of Southern California last spring. During college, where she was one of the rare pale-skinned brunettes, she had a column in the school newspaper entitled “Fish of Out Water” in which she wrote about finding her way in L.A. She has written for the Los Angeles Times, where she interviewed Sting and penned profiles of the likes of Mandy Moore and Kat Von D. She recently finished a stint at the Wall Street Journal, covering topics including a potential California state ban on helium-filled foil balloons (you know, the ones shaped like Hannah Montana sold at hospital gift shops) to the trials of the modern-day ‘indie’ musician.
Please give Amy a warm welcome! One last thing while we've got your undivided attention. You may have heard this already, but after months of hard work and dedication on the part of our design and tech department, we are introducing — wait for it — threaded comments sometime later today. What does that mean, exactly? Follow us after the jump for a long-winded explanation. MORE >>

What's threaded commenting?

Threading is a way to make comments read more like conversations instead of a bunch of disconnected single replies. Now, when someone says something interesting enough to get replies from other readers, all those replies will appear directly below the original comment. Each of these blocks is called a "thread"—kind of like in Gmail. The first comment in a thread will have a few distinguishing features, among them, the number of replies in the thread along with the time of the most recent reply. Click the arrow on the lower right side to open a reply input box directly underneath the comment—there's no need to scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to reply. Once your reply publishes, you'll notice that like in an IM conversation, your avatar will appear on the right. Replies to replies—sometimes known as second or third (or fourth) level replies—will not be indented as is the custom in most forums. Instead, second and third level replies will be collapsed.

What happens when you reply to a reply? Why aren't threads indented like in most tech forums, like Digg?

Replies to replies—sometimes known as second or third (or fourth) level replies—will not be indented as is the custom in most forums. Instead, the avatar will switch sides again—like in an IM conversation. All even numbered nested replies (second, fourth, etc.) will appear on the left side, while odd numbered replies will be on the right. Second and third level replies will also be collapsed.

Are threads still displayed in chronological order?

Each conversation will be displayed in chronological order. But organization of the conversations overall will be displayed based on popularity. The most popular conversations will migrate to the top. The most recent comment that has no replies will appear on top for 15 minutes before being filtered down. If a more active conversation receives a reply within those 15 minutes, that conversation will overtake the stand-alone comment.

Where did the plus and minus go?

The plus and minus, which was used to friend or un-friend a fellow commenter, has been replaced by a heart. Your friends will show up with a red heart, and the rest are empty.

What's the deal with the star again?

Star commenters were readers who have 25 or more followers, or were designated as stars by a comments admin. With the introduction of threading, the number of followers required to attain star is increasing to 40. Commenter admins also hand out stars to commenters who may not have 40 followers, but illuminate our lives with flashes of brilliance.

Ack, change scares me. Is there a way to view comments the "old-fashioned" way?

You can switch to the old style comments layout by clicking the "classic view" link in the comments bar at the top of the threads. More info when it goes live at 11am!