Digress.it is a WordPress plugin that allows readers to comment along the margins of an online text.
A community has developed amongst Digress.it users interested in this new way of engaging in thoughtful, online discussions. A link to the mailing list is on the front page.
Digress.it is used for a vast array of projects by scholars, researchers, students, and governments worldwide. Please see our Examples page for more information.
There are two ways in which you can begin using Digress.it.
1) Download the Digress.it plugin and install it on your own WordPress website.
2) If you do not have a WordPress site or can’t install one, register on Digress.it and we will host your document for free—no strings attached!
The download option requires that you have access to a web server and that you have WordPress installed.
For those without the above system requirements or the technical resources to manage a site, we encourage you to select Register. Registering frees you from worrying about many of the technical details while still getting an innovative site open to reader discussions.
To install Digress.it, download the source code here. Next, add Digress.it to your WordPress plugins directory. Login as your site administrator, go to the plugins section, and press “activate” for Digress.it. Your site theme will automatically switch to Digress.it and from there, you can customize appearance settings under your WordPress administrative menu.
The simple answer: No. Digress.it requires permissions to install plugins, and WordPress.com does not support this.
The longer answer: WordPress.com is different than WordPress.org. WordPress.com is a hosting website, similar to Blogspot or Tumblr. These sites allow users to create blogs, but are limited in how much customization can occur. WordPress.org, on the other hand, is installed on a user’s server and can be customized as far as the user’s know-how takes them.
Certainly! Digress.it is open source and hosting is free to the public, but if you want me to manage your installation with a custom domain (URL), I ask for a nominal fee of $5 per month to cover basic hosting costs.
For more advanced customization I am also available for hire.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Digress.it comments are linked to each individual paragraph. To add a comment, click on the paragraph you are commenting on. A box will appear on the right hand side—and just type what you’d like to say. Once you type your comment and submit, your comment will be ‘attached’ to that paragraph.
Depending on the settings created by the document host, you may be required to login first before commenting.
Documents posted to a Digress.it-enabled site can be thought of as similar to a blog. We encourage those posting documents to keep length in mind, and to break up longer pieces into individual sections (a section would be the length of a typical blog post, or chapter in a book.)
The Comment Browser gives users a way to get a bird’s eye view of the entire conversation happening around a text, rather than viewing comments on a smaller, paragraph-by-paragraph level. From the Comment Browser, sort comments by user and section.
Section is our term for a post, and in Digress.it, a section should be similar to the length of a typical blog entry or book chapter.
By selecting Comments By Section, a user can list all of a document or project’s sections on the left hand side of the screen. This is useful to see the number of comments attributed to all sections.w
Comments by User lists everyone who has commented on a Digress.it document. This is useful to see how many readers have commented on a text, or perhaps to tease out a favorite commenter whose insights you’d like to see all at once!
Though Digress.it is a paragraph-by-paragraph commenting tool, sometimes a reader wants to add their thoughts to a section as a whole. To allow for this, Digress.it has created a space on the top of the first group of comments that don’t map to any one particular paragraph. These entries are called General Comments.
The Table of Contents in Digress.it organizes each section (the length of a blog entry or book chapter) and is the first page a visitor sees of a Digress.it document site. The Table of Contents not only lists all the sections, but also provides the number of comments made so far for each section—giving the user a great overview of the discussions and activity around a document up until that moment.
By default, Digress.it orders all of a document or project’s sections from oldest to newest (this way, it’s like a book—the first chapter you write is the oldest, but is listed first in the Table of Contents.)
But as a site administrator, you can change this if you like—though doing so requires a bit of technical knowledge. WordPress.org contains a feature called Menu Editor. If you want to install your own Table of Contents, create your table and attach it in Menu Editor under Theme Locations. Next, from the dropdown called Custom Table of Contents, select your creation.
For further instructions, please refer to the WordPress.org Menu instructions.
A nested Table of Contents features submenus under each main heading. Though by default Digress.it does not create a nested Table of Contents, should you require this way of organizing your sections, you can use the WordPress menu editor in the Appearance panel. Using the menu editor, you can build a nested Table of Contents by arranging the document sections appropriately.
If you cannot see the WordPress posts to choose from, click on Screen Options at the top right of the screen and ensure that 'Posts' is selected. Your Table of Contents should be located 'in the first page'.
For further instructions, please refer to the WordPress.org Menu instructions.
Changing the paragraph formula of Digress.it is possible, but requires some basic HTML knowledge. If you want to group a series of paragraphs together for your readers to respond to, login as administrator and enter HTML editing mode for your sections. In the text of your sections, add a paragraph tag (<p>) around each of your paragraph groups.
Think of a section as similar in length to a typical blog post or book chapter. Readers most often like to engage in manageable lengths of online text, and breaking up longer documents also makes for easier uploads.
There are several ways to create a Digress.it entry.
1. Author directly in the WordPress editor (preferred method, see why below)
2. Author directly in a desktop blogging client, such as Windows Live Writer
3. Author in Microsoft Word or Open Office and post to Digress.it
4. Author in Microsoft Word or Open Office and copy and paste into the WordPress editor.
We recommend using the WordPress editor directly for a number of reasons:
- Multiple authors can easily collaborate on a single document;
- A complete revision history of the document is maintained with the ability to roll-back to earlier versions;
- This method produces a web-ready document, native to WordPress, and avoids the two-stage process of ‘re-publishing’ on your Digress.it site; and
- You can easily embed video and other objects.
You can edit your document text, but because Digress.it maps reader comments to specific paragraphs, any change to the structure of the document (by adding or removing paragraphs, for example) may cause readers’ comments to become misaligned.
Yes it can. Digress.it will try to scale the image, video, or table, but check your work before you publish. If you encounter a problem, we suggest switching to HTML mode and adding a paragraph tag (<p>) around the image or video.
Not yet. We hope to have this feature in the near future.
Login as administrator. Under Appearance > Backgrounds, select the background you would like. This customization feature is a WordPress.org, not Digress.it, feature. More information can be found here.
Digress.it allows the use of custom style sheets. If you’d like to use your own color scheme or style sheets, login to the Digress.it backend and under Custom Style Sheet, enter the URL of the style sheet you’d like to apply. In some cases using a default style sheet will heavily alter the Digress.it design, otherwise you need to make sure that the style sheet name corresponds with Digress.it
Login to Digress.it as administrator. Then, under Options, select the field called Custom Logo and input the URL location of your logo’s image (though it must be under 100 pixels to apply). Digress.it will replace the default header with your own logo.