Atlassian no longer lets users comment on its documentation – good or bad news?

Last week, Atlassian sent out this message on Twitter:

This was a surprise, as Atlassian has been a strong advocate for having user comments appended to user documentation. Sarah Maddox, when she was working at Atlassian, posted the reasons why the company encouraged comments on her personal blog:

Her analysis of the type of comments suggested they were adding value:

Pie chart showing type of comments

So why has Atlassian decided to drop this feature? Atlassian’s Nick Doherty explained in his blog post:

“Committing to moderating page comments creates two huge problems: an ever-increasing amount of comments to moderate and, as a result, proportional overhead on the team. For a company of our size, it just doesn’t scale.

Only about 20% of comments are contextual. The rest are various types of requests such as support, new features, and general product inquiries.

We need to promote better wayfinding from the documentation to the other, more suitable Atlassian channels, and use our limited time in the most efficient way possible. We’ll still listen to and help our customers, we’re just shifting the arena.

Comments languish unanswered if the IX team doesn’t have bandwidth to review them. Today, the most responsive doc space only achieves between a 60-80% response rate, with most spaces below 40%. That’s an unacceptable user experience.

There’s no quick or easy mechanism to archive outdated comments, meaning new readers often encounter outdated answers and workarounds in the comments.

We classed a trial of a ‘no-comments space’ (JIRA Service Desk) as successful. The trial ran for nearly a year and responses from our customer-facing teams have been positive.”

Atlassian is replacing the comments capability with Atlassian Answers, which is its version of Confluence Questions. This is a question and answer platform similar to Stack Overflow:

Confluence Questions screenshot

Atlassian has been repositioning its Confluence product, and I wonder if any increase in critical comments might be a factor for this decision as well.

Perhaps a best of both worlds solution could be developed where the relevant Atlassian Answers could be appended to the bottom of each documentation page. With the tagging capabilities of Atlassian Answers, the topics could filtered so they were relevant to each particular page.

What do you think?

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