thread subscriptions without RSS? January 4, 2011 10:20 AM   Subscribe

Advice/pony: I often see what promises to become an interesting thread, only to forget about it afterward. is there any way to collect recent activity from several threads, without commenting in them? Or is it just time to bite the bullet and learn this RSS rubbish?
posted by d. z. wang to Feature Requests at 10:20 AM (30 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

If you favorite a thread, it will be tracked on the "My Favorites" tab of the Recent Activity page.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:21 AM on January 4, 2011


As cortex says, you can do this via favoriting for threads you don't comment in. That said, RSS is actually pretty straightforward and if you use an email client like gmail, you can also view RSS feeds within a very similar uinterface using Google Reader. Here's a tutorial if you want to dip your toes in.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:27 AM on January 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Lots of people use favorites on AskMe in exactly the way cortex says.

Always amusing is watching a thread get buckets of favorites, cause people really want to check out the answers later, and then no one answers it. I like to imagine a huge audience of people waiting for a curtain to come up and then it's just a bare stage.


Is there a name for this phenomenon?
posted by The Whelk at 10:28 AM on January 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think of them as Godots.
posted by troika at 10:38 AM on January 4, 2011 [11 favorites]


Is there a name for this phenomenon?

NO HAY BANDA.
posted by griphus at 10:44 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


troika: "I think of them as Godots"

Do you mean Go-D'ohs!

/Homer Simpson
posted by Grither at 11:00 AM on January 4, 2011


I use favorites mostly to save comments or posts so that I can go back and find them later. It's tedious. I am going to try the RSS thing from the tutorial and see if that is more what I want. Thanks for the tutorial link.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 11:02 AM on January 4, 2011


Cool. I've been writing the urls on my arm with a sharpie. Favoriting the thread seems a lot less messy.
posted by iconomy at 11:05 AM on January 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is a feature I'd also like.

Google Reader is the bomb imo, but using it to track threads is fairly heavyweight, time-consuming and fiddly. I've done it a few times and really prefer not to use reader if I don't have to. The main issue is how easily the RSS file gets added into GR itself, not something MeFi can do a lot about.

The advantage to Recent Activity is that it does something similar, but not exactly the same as an RSS reader, and is more in line with the way MeFi works. It really is a nicer solution in my view. It would be nice if favouriting a post put it on the default My activity page of RA, making a combined , single "Here is what I want to see" page.

I always forget to check the multiple tabs on the RA page, even though I look at them almost every day. Mefi a has a pretty deep nav structure. The My Favourites tab is three down, two click-throughs. It's not always obvious to me what is where. I'd prefer a unified, simplfied RA page.
posted by bonehead at 11:11 AM on January 4, 2011


I'd prefer a unified, simplfied RA page.

pb has said before that Recent Activity is already pretty hard on the servers, so I assume the tabs help alleviate the strain. I imagine putting a bunch of threads on one tab due to a myriad of different criteria would cause more hardship.
posted by soelo at 11:15 AM on January 4, 2011


I think of them as Godots.

The Godots were just a cheap rip-off of Dransforbers.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:01 PM on January 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


.
posted by caddis at 12:05 PM on January 4, 2011


;)
posted by caddis at 12:05 PM on January 4, 2011


It's not rubbish!

RSS in Plain English
posted by royalsong at 12:23 PM on January 4, 2011


This has bothered me for years, but I deal with it. I use Google Reader for entirely different purposes and I don't want random MeFi threads in my RSS reader. Favoriting threads doesn't solve the problem for me either, as I favorite a lot of things (specifically for reasons having nothing to do with Recent Activity/My Favorites) and so I have to scroll through a bunch of favorited junk in my My Favorites tab to get to the thread updates I'm actually interested in reading (most of them aren't thread updates I want to read, but they're favorited (and therefore there) for other reasons).

The only solution I've found that has consistently worked is to think of something to say in the thread. I try to make it an interesting contribution, but sometimes I fail. S'ok; thread's in my Recent Activity now and no harm, no foul really.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:34 PM on January 4, 2011


I use a Gmail bookmarklet for Firefox and mail things to myself at work or at my personal email address. If it sits in my inbox, I'll eventually get to it.

I love my RSS reader but my personal habits make it shit for managing items I want to read 'later' (inconsistent use of tags + failure to actually revisit).
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:50 PM on January 4, 2011


How difficult would it be to implement a "follow" button that makes the post show up on recent activity as if you'd posted in it?
posted by cmoj at 1:27 PM on January 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I suggest tabbed browsing, with each thread you want to follow in a separate tab. Refresh each as needed, click the X to make it go away when you're done with it.

Personally, I keep a separate tabbed window each for MetaFilter and MetaTalk, and when I feel like dipping my toe into AskMe, I spawn a new window for that.

But then, I organize ALL my web browsing this way. Others say "why don't you use bookmarks?", and I have to explain that I use my bookmarks for those pages I want to find later as references, and don't want to clutter things up with a bunch of bookmarks I'll later have to go in and delete.

Currently I have 12 windows and 41 tabs running. It works for me. YMMV.
posted by hippybear at 2:29 PM on January 4, 2011


How difficult would it be to implement a "follow" button that makes the post show up on recent activity as if you'd posted in it? ~ cmoj

This would be awesome.
posted by saveyoursanity at 2:36 PM on January 4, 2011


Favorite it and move on.
posted by maryr at 3:00 PM on January 4, 2011


I do something similar to A Terrible Llama. I use a Firefox extension called Email This. It lets you quickly email a page with a quick couple or three keys. RSS for the set up you want would be messy. But usually I am doing this with AskMe threads and will probably want to come back to it on several occasions (travel things [damn you Matt, where's my TravelMe!?!] and purchase suggestions).
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 3:34 PM on January 4, 2011


Currently I have 12 windows and 41 tabs running.

Only 41? Sheesh, that's not even trying! (Currently at 63 after making a concentrated effort to close about 30 of them. That's the work computer. The home computer... probably still around 90ish. Different ones, of course.)
posted by Lexica at 3:52 PM on January 4, 2011


Well, I admit that I posted that comment after doing my daily weeding out of all the tabs I'm done with since yesterday, for whatever reason. A typical day for me runs between 40-60 tabs, with about 1/3 of them being closed during any 24-hour period.

But yeah, 41... That is pretty amateurish. I'll strive to do better in the future.
posted by hippybear at 4:04 PM on January 4, 2011


I was thinking about this. RSS doesn't work well if you want to be right up to the minute, and I don't like refreshing pages and going to the bottom of them each time I get a bit jumpy. How do people use Recent Activity? I refresh and then scroll down and have to read stuff to know whether I've read it before?

It would be really really awesome to have something more like the feature an RSS reader gives - disappearing stuff that I've read - but that's as up to the minute as Recent Activity.

So my pony request for Recent Activity would be the ability to hide comments I've seen/read (I wouldn't mind clicking an "x" on them). There's already remove-from-activity on threads, and having it on individual comments (plus a mark-all-as-seen button on a thread) would be Amazing.
posted by squishles at 4:18 PM on January 4, 2011


A seen-it-all button would come in handy in threads about popular music, movies and television.
posted by box at 6:16 PM on January 4, 2011


soelo: "pb has said before that Recent Activity is already pretty hard on the servers"

Oh, hey, I never thought about that, and now I'm trying to design Mefi's database schema.

a table of users
a table of favorites with users and thread/comment id as foreign keys
a table of comments with thread and user as foreign keys, and a timestamp
a table of threads with the timestamp of the most recent comment

and then you'd have to select...

Yeah, there's a reason I'm still required to take databases next quarter.
posted by d. z. wang at 8:04 PM on January 4, 2011


Throw away but barely on topic comments FTW! Though, I think this scheme isn't approved by the mods. And by think, I mean I know.
posted by chunking express at 8:20 PM on January 4, 2011


I gave up on my MeFi RSS feeds for precisely the reason squishies gave, it's too slow to update. Once I figured out Recent Activity, I was sorted.
posted by arcticseal at 2:58 AM on January 5, 2011


Oh, hey, I never thought about that, and now I'm trying to design Mefi's database schema.

Oh yeah, let's do some off-the-cuff analysis of a nontrivial software system, with zero concern for budgets, deadlines, manpower available or backwards compatibility.

Doing this in front of your DBA / DB developer is a great way to make a grown man cry.
posted by Dr Dracator at 5:18 AM on January 5, 2011


Doing this in front of your DBA / DB developer is a great way to make a grown man cry.

Pfft. Like I don't know enough ways to do that.
posted by maryr at 1:13 PM on January 5, 2011


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