Prior to the new comments update we had simply removed it because of the lack of context that was provided, but the new inline comments look to be far more useful and context sensitive and this is something we would like to adopt for our department's confluence space.
However, we would like to allow only members of the department to comment and view comments while still allowing other users to view the documentation. The need for this is so that while we work to construct better documentation via the feedback loops, we aren't giving our user community noise that they really don't need to be bothered with. Is there a way to accomplish this in confluence? It seems like the "view" permission is all or nothing, was hoping for something a little more granular.
Have a look at the space permissions - "comment" is a separate permission to "edit", so you can have a large group of people view a page, a small group edit, and another group able to comment (and the groups can, of course, overlap)
However, as you fear, the view permission is not granular. You can either see a page and all of its content (including comments) or not.
There are some addons in the marketplace around content authoring and publication workflows (that hide content until it's ready), you might want to have a look around them.
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