Hypothes.is is an interesting free and open source service for social annotations. After trying it for a bit and seeing how it can be used for comments, I thought that it would be interesting to invite people to annotate and comment on New Leaf Journal posts via Hypothes.is.
(If you already know what Hypothes.is is and how to use it, feel free to skip ahead. In summary, if you use Hypothes.is to annotate and/or comment upon New Leaf Journal content, consider adding a “nljc” tag to your comments and annotations so that we can easily follow via RSS or Atom feed.)
How to Use Hypothes.is
Hypothes.is is a social annotation service that is entirely free to use (there is no paid plan). You can sign up for an account with your username of choice to get started.
Hypothes.is interacts with pages around the web. Once you have an account and are signed in, navigate to a web page that you want to annotate (annotations may include highlights and comments). There are two ways you can use Hypothes.is on a webpage:
- Chrome Extension: This works for any browser which can use Chrome extensions (e.g., Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Chromium, Brave, Vivaldi, Opera, etc)
- Bookmarklet: The bookmarklet can be used on any browser.
Because my primary web browser is Firefox, I have been using the bookmarklet and have found that it works fine. Those who use Safari and other non-Chromium-based browsers can also use the bookmarklet. I have seen some unofficial Hypothes.is extensions in the Mozilla Extension Store, but I have not tried them.
How to Publicly Annotate and Comment on The New Leaf Journal
Because the purpose of this article is to explain how to use Hypothes.is to comment on The New Leaf Journal, I will skip the general introduction. I will refer you to Hypothes.is’s concise user guide for learning how to manage annotations, make groups, search Hypothes.is, and integrate it with different applications.
If you come across a New Leaf Journal article that you want to annotate with Hypothes.is, make sure that the article is open and then bring up the Hypothes.is UI with your web extension or bookmarklet. Hypothes.is allows you to make public, private, and group annotations. It should go without saying that if you want The New Leaf Journal to see your annotation or comment and possibly respond, you need to make your annotation public.
With regard to responses, note that you can comment on annotations and comments. For example, if someone highlights these three words in this article and adds the comment – “this is a comment” – someone else can respond to the comment: “Wow, what an amazing comment.” In this way, you can think of Hypothes.is as a very granular comment and discussion forum for our purposes.
For this purpose, your annotation cannot be a group annotation because groups are private and I am almost definitely not a member of your group.
How Will We See Your Comments and Annotations?
I came up with two ways for everyone to follow annotations and comments on The New Leaf Journal.
Link to All New Leaf Journal Annotations
Firstly, the following URL should reveal all New Leaf Journal annotations:
That is a search for all annotations for thenewleafjournal.com domain. However, I thought of an even better way to keep track of our annotations that everyone can use with an RSS or ATOM reader.
Add “nljc” Tag and Follow RSS/Atom Feed
Note: See my general introduction to RSS and Atom feeds if you are unfamiliar with feeds and how they work.
Hypothes.is supports RSS and Atom feeds for users, URLs, and tags. For example, you can see the RSS and Atom feeds for my public annotations (also featured on my link tree). I was curious whether the URL option would allow for a feed for our entire domain, but it does not seem to be the case (correct me if I am wrong). The URL option appears to apply only to individual URLs (e.g., you can generate an annotations feed for an individual New Leaf Journal article). After considering the matter, it occurred to me that we could take advantage of the “tag” option.
Thus, if you are using Hypothes.is to annotate or comment on a New Leaf Journal article, and you want to make it easy for The New Leaf Journal and your fellow New Leaf Journal/Hypothes.is users to find your annotations and/or comments, please add nljc as a tag to your annotation or comment. If you make multiple annotations to a single article, please tag each one with nljc. In this way, we can (1) make it easier for people to join a discussion if they have anything to add and (2) give people an easy option to follow annotations and comments regardless of whether they use Hypothes.is.
If you want live comment and annotation updates, including to your own comments and annotations, please add either the relevant tag RSS or Atom feed to your preferred feed reading solution:
So long as the comment has the nljc tag, it will appear in these feeds. You may also use the nljc tag to comment on our newsletters.
The Hypothes.is RSS and Atom documentation explains how to create feeds for individual posts, so you may also do that if you want to follow a single post. I would be surprised if there are enough annotations and comments to make that a particularly useful option – but you never know.
Comment and Annotation Notes
- Comments and annotations are stored on Hypothes.is’s server. One flaw of Hypothes.is is that if an article is deleted or changes in certain ways, annotations will become “orphaned,” meaning they still exist but cannot be seen on the original article. I do occasionally update old articles, most often to replace images or make minor technical fixes, and I am not sure whether any change causes orphaning or only changes which cover the original annotation. In the end, I will prioritize the site over annotations, so it is possible annotations may occasionally become orphaned – but the comments will always exist and be accessible.
- All public Hypothes.is comments and annotations are in the public domain. Thus, I may quote comments and annotations of particular interest on The New Leaf Journal or in other projects. However, in so doing, I will cite to the annotation link and the author just as I do for all links. If you do not want your New Leaf Journal annotations to be seen, you can either set them to private instead of public or post them in a private group.
Some other notes…
- It is possible to integrate Hypothes.is with WordPress. See, for example, how Mr. Ton Zijlstra accomplished this on his very interesting personal blog. While I like how he did this, I tend not to be inclined to add too much direct external functionality to The New Leaf Journal, and I doubt that we will receive enough Hypothes.is activity to justify the trouble and potential complications. If there is demand, I may revisit the issue in the future. But between our domain-specific search link and the tag feed, it should be easy for those who are interested to keep up with Hypothes.is conversations.
- I was originally going to make a Hypothes.is group. However, groups are private by default, and there is no way for me to create a public group. While a private group could be interesting, the cross-section of people who read The New Leaf Journal and who already use or will start using Hypothes.is is very small. Moreover, I would prefer that annotations are public so that people who are just interested in seeing discussions about content can follow along. For this reason, I opted against creating a New Leaf Journal group, but I would be interested in doing so if Hypothes.is ever allows public-facing groups.
Finally, do note that I will regularly check for New Leaf Journal annotations and comments generally, not only those with the nljc tag. So if you make a public annotation or comment on a New Leaf Journal piece, I should see it. However, I still recommend using the tag so that we can develop a useful feed for all highlights, comments, and replies.
Hypothes.is is an interesting free and open source project with unique functionality. If you try it, be sure to look into its features beyond commenting on our humble online magazine. For example, if you follow my Hypothes.is feed, you can see articles from around the web that I annotate and comment on, including some which may become New Leaf Journal articles or Newsletter Leaf Journal “Around the Web” shares in the future. While I am not expecting to bring Hypothes.is down with traffic, I look forward to seeing if anyone is interested in using it to highlight and comment on our articles. If you have an interesting thought, question, or comment, you can look forward to a New Leaf Journal reply.
I will update this article in the future if there are any meaningful updates to how we are using Hypothes.is.