Searching through favorites by poster's name July 30, 2010 5:59 AM   Subscribe

Hello, pb! Big fan, first-time caller. I love being able to search through my favorites for half-remembered comments that I think are excellent, but often, one of the only significant pieces of information I can remember about comments is the person who posted them. Like, "I think I recall Spatch saying something funny about horses? Or was it camels?" Unfortunately, the search-through-favorites feature doesn't seem to catch commenters' names, only the comments' bodies. Is there a way the name of the commenter could be included in the search-through-favorites, or would that be a tremendous hassle to implement? I apologize if this has been requested before, and I thank you for your time!
posted by Greg Nog to Feature Requests at 5:59 AM (82 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Pony requests at six o'clock am EST.

Harrumph, morning people. Grumble grumble.

*Shuffles off for coffee*
posted by functionequalsform at 6:15 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This doesn't do what you want, but it may help sometimes -- do a google search and include "site:metafilter.com" (without the quotes) and "posted by username" (with the quotes) along with your search terms.

While it does give a much larger body of work to search through, it has the benefit of the google search instead of in-site search.
posted by inigo2 at 6:15 AM on July 30, 2010


Better yet, it'd be cool to be able to look at a timeline of the relationship I've had with a given user
• Aug 30, 2009: You favorited Whoever's comment in the thread "Ugly sandwiches"
• Oct 2, 2009: Whoever answered your question "Painting a toilet"
• Oct 3, 2009: You marked Whoever's answer as a best answer in "Painting a toilet"
• Feb 12, 2010: You linked to Whoever's comment in "Lol look at that cat"
• Feb 13, 2010: Whoever linked to your comment in "Lol look at that cat"
• Feb 13, 2010: You linked to Whoever's comment in "Lol look at that cat"
• Feb 13, 2010: Whoever linked to your comment in "Lol look at that cat"
• Feb 13, 2010: Whoever marked you as a contact: "blood enemy"
• Apr 1, 2010: Whoever sent you a MeMail with the subject: "RARGH YOU BASTARD"
posted by Plutor at 6:15 AM on July 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


This is partially-doable with some skill and the infodumps.
posted by Plutor at 6:17 AM on July 30, 2010


Also not what you asked for, but if you know who the commenter was you can just go to that person's profile and search their activity, like so (a little less GoogleDump-y than inigo2's suggestion).
posted by Gator at 6:20 AM on July 30, 2010


There's nothing funny at all about camels. They are assholes.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:22 AM on July 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Pony requests at six o'clock am EST.

Eastern Substandard Time?
posted by gman at 6:26 AM on July 30, 2010


Unfortunately, the search-through-favorites feature doesn't seem to catch commenters' names, only the comments' bodies.

If a body catch a body
Comment from MeFi.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:29 AM on July 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


There's nothing funny at all about camels. They are assholes.

That's a broad stereotype perpetrated by the horse-zebra-mule media conglomerate. And it saddens me to see it find a home here even if it is on the grey.
posted by edbles at 6:30 AM on July 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


Zebras are just grainy donkeys! Wake up sheeple!
posted by shakespeherian at 6:38 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Did somebody say zedonk?
posted by yhbc at 6:50 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ooh, I'm glad to see this request. This is a feature I've often wished for.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:51 AM on July 30, 2010


That's a broad stereotype perpetrated by the horse-zebra-mule media conglomerate. And it saddens me to see it find a home here even if it is on the grey.

This is the problem. This is why it's impossible to have productive discourse on anything important. You camelusphiles with your paranoia, your bigotry, your hate. All of the pro-camel arguments are so thoroughly discredited that it's simply laughable that anyone would still try to use them. As long as you keep listening to your rabid, close-minded pro-camel talk shows and as long as your side keeps stirring up the hate there can be no reconciliation or dialogue.
posted by resiny at 6:54 AM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Spiffy, man, you are hot on a roll this week.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:54 AM on July 30, 2010


There's nothing funny at all about camels. They are assholes.

These two gentlemen politely disagree.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:54 AM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


six o'clock am EST.

Um....there is a very good chance that you are late for work.
posted by Partial Law at 6:58 AM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I see your zedonk and raise you a mini horse.
posted by edbles at 6:58 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


The sexual life of the Camel,
Is stranger than anyone thinks;
At the height of the mating season,
It tries to bugger The Sphinx.

Lo! The Sphinx's back passage is narrow,
And blocked with the sands of The Nile,
Which accounts for the hump of the camel,
And the Sphinx's inscrutable smile.

TRUFAX
posted by Jofus at 7:01 AM on July 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


As long as you keep listening to your rabid, close-minded pro-camel talk shows and as long as your side keeps stirring up the hate there can be no reconciliation or dialogue.

The fact that you lump anyone who speaks up to question any camel hate mongering with the commentators on cable talk shows illustrates how deeply entrenched our whole society is in the horsezebramularchy.
posted by edbles at 7:01 AM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also: "Sphinx's" ?
posted by Jofus at 7:02 AM on July 30, 2010


Yeah, that sounds useful. Nothing with search is non-trivial and there are a couple hurdles to this one. The first with search is always performance. If we add more work for each query, will that bog things down too much? Probably not searching favorites, but it might for the general search. (It's tough to add a feature one place and not have it work everywhere.)

The next hurdle is the interface. How do we let users specify that one part of their query is a username and the rest is a string to search for? This could be a case for the Google route of search operators. So maybe if you include "by:[username]" it searches for just posts/comments by that username. So we'd need to build a method for parsing search operators and reporting back problems with them. (eg. If the username you typed in doesn't exist, it'd be nice to know that.) We don't have anything in the system for that, so that adds more time to build/test.

Nothing insurmountable, it's just not a five-minute feature. So we'd need to discuss this one and decide where it would fall on the to-do list. I do think it's a good idea, we just need some time to let it percolate.
posted by pb (staff) at 7:35 AM on July 30, 2010


jesus fucking hopping shitchrist on a hovercock the pro-camel LIES around here make me physically ill, literally. I just wish we could have one thread about how camels are assholes without a bunch of liars and humpbacked spit-dumpsters swarming in to deliver their thought-crime groupthink double-plus quickly. If the mods want to ban me, fine. I guess when it comes to the c-word the FIRST AMENDMENT goes out the window.

PS camels are even worse than Italians when it comes to taking a dive.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:35 AM on July 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


Camels is hilarious.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:37 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


What is the default ordering of favorites when you first go to the favorites page? Looking at my own page, it seems to be in order of when they were favorited, though I'm not certain... Might there be a way to add an option to sort by poster, and would that avoid some of the difficulties around search?
posted by nickmark at 7:49 AM on July 30, 2010


oh hey also can we get a thing where when you post a comment and the thread is DELETED! that the comment doesn't disappear but maybe just goes into an infinite preview thing? because I wrote the best answer ever once and it got disappeared when the thread was deleted.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:51 AM on July 30, 2010


also thanks :) :) :) :) :)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:51 AM on July 30, 2010


SEARCHING COMMENTS

USER UNKNOWN

PONY REQUEST

BURMASHAVE.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:58 AM on July 30, 2010


because I wrote the best answer ever once and it got disappeared when the thread was deleted.

I'm not even sure I understand what you are talking about. infinite preview?

I too would like some more granularity in search. This would be cool.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:04 AM on July 30, 2010


ifds, you can search your own activity to find a comment from a deleted thread. The comment will still show up in the search results, even if the thread was deleted (but not if the comment itself was deleted).
posted by Gator at 8:09 AM on July 30, 2010


ifds is talking about when you're composing a comment and a thread gets deleted before you hit 'post comment'-- it gets disappeared and you can't even keep it for your own self to mourn.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:11 AM on July 30, 2010


jessamyn: I think they are saying if you try to post a comment to a thread that was deleted after you started to comment, the server would return something like:

Hi, you submitted a comment. Unfortunately, that thread that you were commenting on has been deleted. Here's the comment you were trying to submit:

"Cat declawing is not immoral and here are the 1,000 reasons why:
Reason the first: Cats are ....
Reason the second: Cats aren't...
... etc. "
posted by theclaw at 8:12 AM on July 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Nothing insurmountable, it's just not a five-minute feature. So we'd need to discuss this one and decide where it would fall on the to-do list. I do think it's a good idea, we just need some time to let it percolate.

Thanks so much! I will wait for it casually and with minimal intensity, like the marmot waits for the snow to melt as he nestles cozily in his winter burrow.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:13 AM on July 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


"ifds is talking about when you're composing a comment and a thread gets deleted before you hit 'post comment'-- it gets disappeared and you can't even keep it for your own self to mourn."

YES! And I hit the back button, but it's gone from there. Basically I just want it to come up like you hit "preview" instead of post, where you can still see it and copy/paste it but it doesn't get posted.

(I guess I said infinite preview because you could never get it to post ever...)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:15 AM on July 30, 2010


The next hurdle is the interface. How do we let users specify that one part of their query is a username and the rest is a string to search for? This could be a case for the Google route of search operators. So maybe if you include "by:[username]" it searches for just posts/comments by that username. So we'd need to build a method for parsing search operators and reporting back problems with them. (eg. If the username you typed in doesn't exist, it'd be nice to know that.) We don't have anything in the system for that, so that adds more time to build/test.

How about if you start with the existing interface and add an "Advanced Search" link after the search field, a la Google? Clicking that link could reveal additional fields:
username: _____

user ID: _____
And maybe even a date range.

The "user ID" thing could be especially useful if someone has weird characters in their name, e.g. the "cent" symbol.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:24 AM on July 30, 2010


I have had at least a dozen really great comments completely disappear because I hit the 'post' button only to see a sad "this thread has been closed to new comments." Which would not be so sad if I could just copy, paste, and keep the great comment I took forever to write out.
posted by koeselitz at 8:31 AM on July 30, 2010


Sorry about the lost comments. It's one of the hazards of the site. If you use Firefox you might install Lazarus. It's saved me once or twice when I've had a browser crash in the middle of writing a comment.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:37 AM on July 30, 2010


If you use Firefox [...] I've had a browser crash in the middle of writing a comment.

This is a rather underwhelming advertisement.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:38 AM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Good point, Jaltcoh. We could make the by: operator work with usernames or user IDs. Though that gets tricky when someone's username is an integer. hmm.

I'm not sure this feature alone warrants a new advanced search form, but we have bigger plans on the search drawing board that will require one. So it's on the someday list.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:40 AM on July 30, 2010


I'd imagine "by:" would be fine if you're searching for a simple username like pb or Jaltcoh. But I was thinking of an advanced search form because of searches like this:
[keywords] by:internet fraud detective squad, station number 9
Or:
[keywords] by:Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America
Would the search engine understand that everything after "by:" was supposed to be the username? Or would the user need to put the username in quotes? A lot of people just aren't good at remembering to put phrases in quotes or parentheses or whatever is required for a proper search query. And wouldn't there be problems if someone happened to put the keywords after the username?
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:07 AM on July 30, 2010


This is a rather underwhelming advertisement.

And that's why I'll never write for a gadget blog.

I just changed the comment form on MeFi so that if a thread is deleted while you're writing a comment, you'll see the text of your comment along with the error message. If that runs fine, I'll move it to the other sites.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:08 AM on July 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


horsezebramularchy

I keep my barn door open a Bible's width to prevent horse-zebra mularchy (malarkey).

Thanks for the lesson, Jokebot!
posted by DU at 9:09 AM on July 30, 2010


Jaltcoh, true. usernames with spaces would need to be in quotes if we want the by: to appear anywhere within the string. hmm.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:10 AM on July 30, 2010


Not the best solution, but I've gotten into the habit of hitting the Select All hotkey, then Copy, before I hit post/send on any site. It's saved my butt more times that I can count.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:14 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'd personally be fine with that; I have no problem searching for by:"multiword username." I do think there'd be some significant percentage of users who would have liked to search for a specific username but wouldn't construct the query properly. If you look at how most people use Google -- a site that allows for phrases within quotes and things like site:example.com -- it's very common for people to forget about those operators or get them wrong. (I say this partly based on observing people in person, and partly based on looking at the Google referrals to my blog.) If by:"multiword username" is going to be the format, I think there should be instructions for this right under the search form.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:19 AM on July 30, 2010


If you use Firefox you might install Lazarus. It's saved me once or twice when I've had a browser crash in the middle of writing a comment.

Lazarus is pretty much the best thing ever. I use Google Docs to compose most of my longer posts. So if I think something's reaching "STOP THE MADNESS" territory I'll cut and paste into a blank GDoc. But there have been a few that Ol' Laz saved for me when Firefox crashed. Which happens Far. Too. Often.

Since this prevents me leaning out the window and firing a shotgun aimlessly into the night, my neighbors benefit. Win/Win.
posted by zarq at 9:31 AM on July 30, 2010


I just changed the comment form on MeFi so that if a thread is deleted while you're writing a comment, you'll see the text of your comment along with the error message. If that runs fine, I'll move it to the other sites.

OK, that's awesome. Awesome, awesome, AWESOME. Thank you!!
posted by zarq at 9:32 AM on July 30, 2010


This is a rather underwhelming advertisement.

Safari on Mac OS X 4.11 has been a nightmare. Crashes far, far more often for me than Firefox (or any other program I run) and Does Not Play Well with Flash. (Go figure.) Verrrry frustrating.
posted by zarq at 9:35 AM on July 30, 2010


Huh. My browsers never crash, honestly. Where are you all browsing from, inside a submarine at wartime?
posted by davejay at 10:39 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I use WinVista at home, Mac OS X 10.4.11 at work and Ubuntu on my laptop.

Ubuntu, I use Firefox and nothing else. It only crashes *very* rarely. Although the flash plugin does crash a *lot*, which is annoying.

On the Mac, I use Firefox. It crashes every once in a while, (far too often for me to be happy about it) but Safari is the browser I have the most problems with.

On WinVista, I use Firefox and Chrome. Neither of them really ever crash.
posted by zarq at 10:50 AM on July 30, 2010


I keep meaning to track these problems down. Never seem to have the time.
posted by zarq at 10:51 AM on July 30, 2010


I use a hand-coded browser that I put together the other day. I'm running it on a customized operating system that I call sQuirrl (v2.38) on a desktop that I built from old Dreamcast consoles.

It crashes every thirty seconds, but the warranty never runs out.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:54 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dude, you can never debug a program entirely. I ran out of patience doing that and finally programed my computer to print out the page source when I want to "visit" a website. I've got the CSS files for my top twenty or so sites memorized, so I can basically skim the printouts at reading speed. No browser crashes, although when I'm tired a have a bit of trouble with absolute positioning.
posted by resiny at 12:07 PM on July 30, 2010


Dude, you can never debug a program entirely.

There's an old programming joke that goes something like this: Every program can be made at least one line shorter, and contains at least one bug. Therefore, every program can be reduced to a single line of code, which still doesn't work.
posted by FishBike at 12:48 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Like, "I think I recall Spatch saying something funny about horses? Or was it camels?"

Go to their userpage and search their activity for 'horse'. Of course this searches all their comments, not just the ones you favorited, but the comment you're looking for will be in there and usually the person hasn't posted more than a dozen or two comments about any given topic, as long as that keyword isn't "the" or whatever.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:45 PM on July 30, 2010


I just changed the comment form on MeFi so that if a thread is deleted while you're writing a comment, you'll see the text of your comment along with the error message. If that runs fine, I'll move it to the other sites.

pb, god amongst men?

SURELY WE THINK SO!
posted by cavalier at 1:50 PM on July 30, 2010


OK, could you delete this thread just as I'm posting this comment, so I can see if it works? Delete it.... now.
posted by languagehat at 2:15 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dammit, pb.
posted by languagehat at 2:15 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Every program can be made at least one line shorter, and contains at least one bug. Therefore, every program can be reduced to a single line of code, which still doesn't work.

But by the rules of the game, even a one-line program can be made one line shorter.

So, in principle, you could have a program that consists of zero lines of code, but still contains a bug.
posted by twirlip at 2:23 PM on July 30, 2010


This is also something that a clever person could use the Infodump to create a third-party tool to help with. The favorites data available includes the ids of favoriter and favoritee for each favorited item, so a notional script could take the info in that file, reduce it to a list of only those comments favorited by the searching user and written by the searched-for user, and belch out a set of links to comments.

Of course, it'd only be bare links, so if a the searching user has favorited a LOT of comments by the searched-for user, they'd have to do a bunch of blind clicking. It would help there to work with the the post titles data as well to at least give some little slice of content to what thread each favorited comment was in.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:28 PM on July 30, 2010


I've got the CSS files for my top twenty or so sites memorized, so I can basically skim the printouts at reading speed. No browser crashes, although when I'm tired a have a bit of trouble with absolute positioning.

Way back when, when internet access was a rare thing, I spent awhile making art about it, like making a composite portrait of people using the internet for the first time (rendered in grainy black and white à la Neuromancer). One of the ideas I was kicking around, but never actually did, was the Human Browser project where people would give me a website address then I'd download the html and render it...in crayon. I should really revive it one of these days.


Also: horse?.
posted by tallus at 2:44 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


That is something that can be solved by having the posters always sign their posts.

Todd Lokken.
posted by qvantamon at 2:49 PM on July 30, 2010


How do we let users specify that one part of their query is a username and the rest is a string to search for?

Powerful queries including author, title, date range, or whatever extra stuff you might find in a library index would be great, of course, but.. How about a low tech solution: append user name to the end of comments and posts for the purpose of search.
posted by Chuckles at 4:41 PM on July 30, 2010


Should have read to the end of the thread...

Todd Lokken.
posted by Chuckles at 4:43 PM on July 30, 2010


I always wanted this, and I'm not sure why I never got around to asking.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:57 PM on July 30, 2010


I just had an interesting thought, and it's almost certainly not gonna happen. But I was wondering if there was any way to find out what a specific person favorited within a single thread.
posted by Night_owl at 6:53 PM on July 30, 2010


Night_owl, out of curiosity, why would one ever want to do that?
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:00 PM on July 30, 2010


I just had an interesting thought, and it's almost certainly not gonna happen. But I was wondering if there was any way to find out what a specific person favorited within a single thread.

This would be pretty easy to figure out using the Infodump, though it does seem sort of... potentially stalker-ish? On the other hand, if you've identified someone who usually favorites comments that you think are really good, this might be a novel way to skim a long thread. Sort of like when you find a movie reviewer whose tastes you agree with.
posted by FishBike at 7:05 PM on July 30, 2010


I made a comment in the MeTa thread about "fake" AskMes which just got favorited by the author of one of the AskMes that got called out. I was just curious to see what other comments he favorited in that thread. Kind of to get an idea where he was coming from or what he was thinking.
posted by Night_owl at 7:07 PM on July 30, 2010


Ah. Well, since that's a recent thread, why not go to his profile, click on his favorites, and then switch to the "comments" tab? The favorites are in reverse-chronological order, so all the favorites in a given thread aren't necessarily grouped together. But it shouldn't take too long to browse through them.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:22 PM on July 30, 2010


Nah... that makes sense! Thanks!
posted by Night_owl at 7:24 PM on July 30, 2010


no problem
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:24 PM on July 30, 2010


This would be amazing. I was recently looking for a comment made by Jessamyn "a couple of years ago" that iamkimiam theoretically favorited. There were two big problems here: 1) It's Jessamyn, do you realize how many comments she makes? 2) there was no clear keywords but several guesses 2.5) iamkimiam has a lot of favorites.

I was really interested (and needless to say somewhat bored) so I spent around 30 minutes going through various search strings, internal to mefi and through google, in iamkimiam's favorites and in Jessamyn's comments and turned up nothing.

Now I'm not saying that I would have found it with this type of search, but said search would have taken me about 2 minutes.
posted by Kimberly at 12:27 PM on August 3, 2010


If it makes you feel any better Kimberly, I spent just as long looking for jessamyn's comment myself.

Also, this is funny.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:10 PM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


What was the comment about?
posted by Jaltcoh at 1:22 PM on August 3, 2010


It was in response to an askme Q. In my answer I said that jessamyn had made a list-style response that the OP would find helpful. Sorry to be vague, but if you look thru my recent askme commenting history you'll find the comment (and more details about what it was all about).
posted by iamkimiam at 1:36 PM on August 3, 2010


Then again, if we had a search feature that allowed one to search through comments by username, that'd be even easier. Then you could search all comments by iamkimiam containing the name 'jessamyn'. Of which now there are at least three.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:39 PM on August 3, 2010


You can search through comments by username. Here's your activity that contains 'jessamyn'. Just go to any user's profile and look for the search box in the upper-right corner of the page.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:56 PM on August 3, 2010


D'oh, thanks!
posted by iamkimiam at 2:59 PM on August 3, 2010


I wonder how hard it would be to add a line to the InfoDumpster that read like this:

"Which comments by __________ are favorited by ____________"

Then we could just do a command/control+F search of keywords through the results.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:17 AM on August 4, 2010


The trouble with doing a comment search tool based on the Infodump is that the actual comment text is not present. So you could certainly get a list of comments by user X that were favorited by user Y, but what would you do the keyword search on? I suppose it could display the post title of the parent post for each comment, which might help a little in some cases, while being completely misleading in others.

The other alternative might be to try to retrieve the comment text from the live site in real time, and include it with the search results. I would expect this to be slow and potentially beat up on the server pretty badly depending on how many comments were being retrieved.

This just seems like something that, for practical purposes, needs to be done as part of the built in site search tools if it's to be done at all.
posted by FishBike at 9:37 AM on August 4, 2010


Yeah, since there's no way at this point to retrieve an isolated comment from the server it'd be a not-great idea to try and build a tool that pulled text actively like that—you'd have to pull a whole thread for each retrieval, which ain't good.

That said, such a tool to generate just list of links to comments would be workable, per above, and if Combustable Edison felt like slotting that into the Infodumpster it might in theory be useful. In most cases the set of comments by X favorited by Y is going to be pretty small, so clicking through to look wouldn't be too onerous for the curious reader.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:41 AM on August 4, 2010


Oh, right, I forgot about the lack of comment content in the infodump. It just seems like such a useful feature to have. Can't tell you how many times I want to rifle through my favorites to find all posts by user X that mention topic Y. Especially for reference or quoting purposes. More times than not, topic Y is way too common in my favorites to be practical with a 'search all my favorites' approach.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:44 AM on August 4, 2010


« Older Seeking Epic Comments   |   Images Pony Request Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments