Opinionated vs Customisable
This is an existential question a software developer has to answer nearly every day. Should we create a setting or just do something the way we see is right and if someone doesn't like it - so be it.
In theory, it is preferable to make
#customisable - everybody wins and there's always a "yes" answer to every question. In practice, making everything customisable inadvertently leads to bloated architecture, #UX compromising and in some cases - even more limitations than a one-sided choice would cause.
Case in point - presentation of comments. First, we have to decide if we should show the latest first or newest first. Second, threaded or flat. Third, to paginate or load-up. Forth, how deep to nest. Fifth, how many to preload in cards. Sixth, how many to load on-page. Seventh, how much to show if the comment is too long. Eighth, what attachments to allow and how to treat them in preloaded comments. Ninth, what author info and actions to allow. Tenth, how to permalink - to anchors or to dedicated pages. The list goes on and on and on.
Now, different webmasters have different ideas on what is the "right" way to display comments. So, we do have to have some degree of customisation... but how far should we go? Mind you, every tiny setting creates an additional computational load to the hosting server, requires some form of documentation and leads to inevitable support overhead. It's a tough call, every single time.
Most of the time we treat UNA as a customisable platform and try to make all features configurable. For many aspiring community startups, it translates into a steep learning curve though, and we can't help but think that if we took a more opinionated approach we could offer a really sleek, robust solution that does fewer things, but in an exceptionally good way.
Luckily, the platform architecture allows for various approaches and so we will indeed bring a "just works" layer in a form of a UNA App to try and see if it would solve the initial adoption hardships and streamline deployment for projects that don't need very specific design. It will be a "Just One Thing" product and the first preview is due in a matter of days. Stay tuned!