Settle in Berlin’s mission is to help you beat German bureaucracy & navigate a soft landing in this country.

To attain this mission, the vision is to make the information you need accessible & simple to understand. No catch 22s & no dead-ends even for edge cases.

A lot of that goes through very high-quality how-to guides. They are the results of years of refinement, relying on personal experience and industry expertise.

Comments are gold nuggets

However, Settle in Berlin is not a one-way street. The continued success of this platform is also the result of relentless activity in the comments’ section. Every day, I answer to 3-7 comments on the various guides. Those comments are in 4 categories:

  • Requests for a personalized advice on the topic matter. I sometimes give that advice but most often that not, I prefer to recommend resources or people that can help better than I can.
  • Cheap shots at visibility for related brands or unrelated onlines businesses (those almost always get deleted).
  • Requests for additional details or additonial steps for a section of the guide.
  • Notification that content is stale or that a better solutuon exists.
  • Other various questions & people helping each other out.

Shortly put: the comments’ section is a major strength for SiB and a great support channel for newcomers in Germany. They help me make better guides & I can help my readers even further. To my knowledge, none of my esteemed partners/competitors have been able to replicate that.

Getting more value out of commenting

It was then only necessary to revamp the standard commenting experience into something that could enhance the value people get out of it. Those are the new features, based on the experience found in Disqus for example.

  • Voting system à la Reddit: anyone can now vote for the most relevant answers. It helps resurface the best answers. My analytics tell me that people tend to scroll down to read comments, even if the vast majority aren’t leaving a comment. That tells me that the user is still looking for answer, searching it in the collective brain of the commenting section: let’s help them find it!
  • Reply notifications via email: up until now, there was no way to know if you had gotten a reply to your question, unless you manually checked up on it later. That’s a problem if your question is time sensitive or if you simply forget. I have now setup a reply notification via email to make sure nobody loses the thread in the limbos of the interwebs.
  • Thread tracking: sometimes, you might be interested in what’s being said, without wanting to comment on it. You can now get notifications for specific conversations too.
  • Commenting nudge bubble: A floating bubble reminds the reader that there is support awaiting in the comment section, leading them straight there. It will hopefully give people that little push to dare commenting more. It scrolls you to the right place too.
  • Quality of life stuff: Captcha will help with spam, the general UI is a little more pleasing, threads are highlighted a bit better, better speed with better use of WP’s ajax functions. Behaves better on mobile too.

Reviewing the guide itself

This one is a wild-card: anyone can vote on the quality of the guide via 5-star rating system. Anything can be rated these days. I have no idea if people will bother. Over time, it might help me understand which guides still need improving.

It’s also a way to make the reading experience a little more participative.

It just looks a lot better and a lot more organized. Fairly happy with it. Let’s see how you people like it.

Til then !

Bastien – SiB Editor

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