Playing with comments control: Draft and Hackpad


Writing Issue/Situation: I’m interested right now in how to collect comments on a piece of writing from 30-odd collaborators, without the insanity merging all of the versions.


I’ve had an account with Draft for years and love it simple interface. I don’t do all of my writing on it, but there are particular bits and pieces (and times when I don’t want to backspace so need the Hemingway Mode) that I keep coming back to it for.

I made a test document and a URL for it. Then, in an incognito window pasted the URL.

Login is required – so I can’t just give a link and get anonymous feedback. I do wish there was a way to give a link and have them put their name on it, but not necessarily create an account.

Here is a screenshot of the ‘you have available edits’ interface:

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 8.28.19 AM.png

So, I can see that I have the original (Draft) and then two editors have provided comments / edits on the link I sent.

If I click on the two ‘available edits,’ here is what I see: the original on the left, the available changes in the middle, and the in-line changes on the right.

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 8.28.00 AM.pngScreen Shot 2016-07-07 at 8.28.27 AM.png

Pros: privacy of editing, clean interface (makes it about the words, not about editing, which is helpful if you’re making, say, a form)

Cons: I can’t merge all of the comments together into one document. Collaborators have to make an account (so people who are less tech savvy might find this a stumbling block).


I’ve used Hackpad for a few little collaboration projects, and more as an alternative to Google Docs in more robust collaborative writing.

Its interface is more ‘page-like’ (and thus you can also edit the features of the text). If you wanted to separate sections by inserting lines, you could. For example, if doing text for a form, list

  1. Question: What is your name?
    • and
    • then
    • bullets
    • for
    • feedback – people can keep adding to the bullets

So, I made this document and played for a minute.

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 8.36.53 AM.png

Maybe Pro/Maybe Con: People sign in with their Google account, which might be helpful to some. With that, you can see what people have written, so if there’s any power dynamics you want to avoid, then it’s all visible to everyone.

Pro: you can see what everyone has done. I would use this more as a communal commenting space, and then make my final version outside of it.


I know I’m not the first one to have to synthesize comments from large groups of people – a quick google search also shows that Office has it going on, and another pass at how. But, ever onward 🙂


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