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May 2, 2012 4:01 PM   Subscribe

Pony Request: Indicate in a thread which comment(s) have been sidebarred.

Some mention was made of this pony before, but nothing seems to have come of it. I was answering this askme and found myself wishing there was some sort of indicator of which comments had been sidebarred (because I'm too lazy to go digging through the sidebar archives). Whether it's just a little note added to the 'posted by' line or some kind of an icon/arrow, whatever, something to indicate that sidebarization has occurred would be a useful feature. And, I hope, not too much of a headache for pb.
posted by axiom to Feature Requests at 4:01 PM (48 comments total)

It seems like a neat idea. Implementation might be more of a sticking point, since as far as I know we don't currently maintain any kind of formal record of these linking relationships at a "this has been pointed to by sidebar entry x" level of granularity; what would need to happen there is more of a pb question, so I'm not going to guess.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:14 PM on May 2, 2012


I usually hate feature requests but I do not hate this feature request. I like it.
posted by item at 4:17 PM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would be in favor of this. Because sidebarred items aren't databased...ed does that mean someone would have to go back and manually tag all the previous sidebarred things?
posted by shakespeherian at 4:20 PM on May 2, 2012


does that mean someone would have to go back and manually tag all the previous sidebarred things?

I suspect it means a computer could do that because I can tell you right now that I won't be doing it. We already manually add the "featured in the podcast" link to songs that are in the podcast, it might be about time to find a way to do this sort of machine-linking thing there as well.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:22 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes. Though it might be possible to automate the vast majority of that work by having a little script be smart about reading sidebar link content for the comments/posts being referenced and work from there. Would maybe not be 100% but would be sane, if everything else were a solved problem.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:22 PM on May 2, 2012


does that mean someone would have to go back and manually tag all the previous sidebarred things?

Yes, or we'd write a script to search sidebar text for links and parse out the details. It's all technically possible, but I think there's a larger question of how highlighting comments like this would change conversations.
posted by pb (staff) at 4:23 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah the big issue to me is that there's already some noise about other metadata, namely favorites. Not a huge issue in and of itself but when people start talking about "Hey you favorited THAT comment..." or "I bet you favorited that snarky thing because you agree with it and that means you suck bla bla" it sort of derails the conversation. While it would be really nice to have a way to indicate "Hey we put this in the sideblog" especially for people who may not check it to know their own stuff has been in there, we'd like it to not turn into a topic of conversation in the thread itself and so figuring out a way to make both of those things happen would be good.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:26 PM on May 2, 2012


My god, it's full of mods!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:26 PM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, I for one would like to hear from taz and restless_nomad.
posted by box at 4:40 PM on May 2, 2012


It is 02:44:49 AM in Greece right now, I suspect taz would be less than enthusiastic to hear from us right this moment.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:46 PM on May 2, 2012


"Taz, taz, quick, wakeup, you're needed urgently: someone wants a pony."
posted by marienbad at 4:47 PM on May 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


MetaFilter: Would maybe not be 100% but would be sane, if everything else were a solved problem.
posted by hippybear at 5:07 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is the first pony request I have ever seconded. (Or N'th'ed to be more accurate.)
posted by bukvich at 5:09 PM on May 2, 2012


It would be awesome to at least have sidebarred stuff automatically get a "sidebarred" tag added so when you wanted to look at all those awesome posts with a quick tag type/search (pretty much always the first way I go seeking things on the site, before doing a real search) voila.
posted by ifjuly at 5:09 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was actually thinking of this pony last night, and how beautiful it would be, and how I would feed it and love it and always clean up after it, so please, mod, pretty please?
posted by Ghidorah at 5:15 PM on May 2, 2012


I think this is going to create even more of a tendency to regard favorites as a sort of upvote. Worse, it'll be broken upvoting, since this is not how things get sidebarred.

While it would be really nice to have a way to indicate "Hey we put this in the sideblog" especially for people who may not check it to know their own stuff has been in there, we'd like it to not turn into a topic of conversation in the thread itself and so figuring out a way to make both of those things happen would be good.

Set up an auto-message to the Mefite when their comment is sidebarred?

The RSS feed for the sidebar archive is kind of a secret, why not put it at the bottom of the sidebar? The RSS for the front page already lives in the footer anyway.
posted by desuetude at 5:32 PM on May 2, 2012


This pony has egs (and a swishy tail).
posted by arcticseal at 5:42 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Legs...
posted by arcticseal at 5:42 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think this pony would leave piles of dung all over the place and I'm glad I wouldn't have to clean them up. It would create a kind of 'super favourite', adding fuel to the already tinder-dry and unstable pile that is favourites generally.
posted by dg at 5:44 PM on May 2, 2012


I agree with dg and others. You'd be creating a super-favorite. Highlighting a specific comment in a thread would also likely focus the thread conversation on that one comment. Which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, but still, it might change the thread's dynamic.
posted by zarq at 5:54 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I has egs (and a swishy tail).
posted by cjorgensen at 5:57 PM on May 2, 2012


I agree with dg and others. You'd be creating a super-favorite. Highlighting a specific comment in a thread would also likely focus the thread conversation on that one comment. Which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, but still, it might change the thread's dynamic.

What if the indicator only appeared after the thread was closed to new comments, or after some other delay? I'm not convinced that highlighting the sidebarred comment (esp. if said highlight is not in neon, so to speak) will derail a discussion any more than favorites do, but if it would then a delay would certainly mitigate that effect.
posted by axiom at 6:11 PM on May 2, 2012


I agree with dg and others. You'd be creating a super-favorite.

I think it would be more like an 'editor's mod's choice' label.

I would feed this pony.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:22 PM on May 2, 2012


I agree with dg and others.

I agree with zarq and dg and others. THere's already a sidebar, once can just click on it and get all the comments. There's little purpose in highlighting a comment in a thread that that has nothing to do with the thread.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:26 PM on May 2, 2012


I was thinking I'd just love to know that I've been sidebarred before I get to the point where I'm like "why do I have an extra hundred favorites all of a sudden, and how hard will it be to figure this out while I'm at a Toastmasters conference (yes, really) and can only look at MetaFilter on my phone?"

I don't really need a big old highlight, personally. A MeMail would be OK, too. :)

(I would also worry about the super-favorite thing, but I mostly hang out in Ask, where sidebars are pretty rare and happen after the answering is mostly done.)
posted by SMPA at 6:30 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does the author of a sidebarred comment get notified that their comment got sidebarred?
posted by rtha at 6:31 PM on May 2, 2012


No. All we do is add something to the sidebar, there's no built in notification though I guess there could be. We'd like for the authors to know they've been sidebarred. Not as sure we need that information to be in a thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:37 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Could someone spell out what they think would be useful about indicating sidebarred comments in-thread? I understand Music's 'featured' indicator, since when skimming through recent songs it could be the difference between clicking to take a listen or missing out completely, but with what we're talking about here you'd never see such a 'sidebarred comment' indicator unless you were already reading the thread. Is the idea that you're skimming and so might not otherwise pause to read the excellent comment? I can see the downsides, but don't understand the potential upside at all.
posted by nobody at 6:45 PM on May 2, 2012


While it would be really nice to have a way to indicate "Hey we put this in the sideblog" especially for people who may not check it to know their own stuff has been in there, we'd like it to not turn into a topic of conversation in the thread itself and so figuring out a way to make both of those things happen would be good.

You'd be creating a super-favorite. Highlighting a specific comment in a thread would also likely focus the thread conversation on that one comment. Which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, but still, it might change the thread's dynamic.


Sidebarring is already creating super-favorites, because once a comment is sidebarred, it gets a lot of direct traffic and a lot more favorites than it already had. And if you arrive at that comment normally in the thread rather than via the sidebar, it jumps out at you as having a ton of favorites and downthread comments that refer to it.

So adding a little tiny slug to it that says "sidebarred" (sort of like those little mod "staff" tags) is not going to unduly draw attention to it or change or refocus the conversation in the thread more than is already happening.
posted by beagle at 6:51 PM on May 2, 2012


And if you arrive at that comment normally in the thread rather than via the sidebar, it jumps out at you as having a ton of favorites and downthread comments that refer to it.

Nope, not every user has favorites turned on and those that do may only have them turned on "halfway". They'll just see the phrase 'Has Favorites' with no indication of the number of favorites.

Putting a "sidebarred" slug would be jarring and odd.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:01 PM on May 2, 2012



I agree with dg and others. You'd be creating a super-favorite.

WE MUST NOT ALLOW A FAVORITES GAP
posted by The Whelk at 7:04 PM on May 2, 2012


I like axiom's suggestion to wait until the thread is closed before adding the flag. I'm not sure how you could program the pony to wait 30 days though.
posted by arcticseal at 7:37 PM on May 2, 2012


I think the author should be notified but it shouldn't be announced in the thread. It would be like the mods stepping in to say: "Hey, everyone, look at this comment — it's the best in the thread." The fact that the sidebar doesn't intrude into the things it links to is a feature, not a bug.
posted by John Cohen at 8:10 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree. Automated MeMail with generic 'hey, that's an exceptional comment!' message? Lets the person know, and minimizes the superfavorite thing.
posted by box at 8:43 PM on May 2, 2012


"Taz, taz, quick, wakeup, you're needed urgently: someone wants a pony."

I wondered why I woke up at 3 am this morning dreaming of eggs and squishy tails.
posted by taz (staff) at 9:59 PM on May 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


The whole point of the sidebar is to highlight particularly awesome bits. If you've already taken an interest in the post/question, you've read it and have been exposed to the awesomeness of the sidebarred comment/post already. So, it doesn't need highlighting within that thread.
posted by desuetude at 10:20 PM on May 2, 2012


taz: "3 am this morning"
As opposed to 3 am this afternoon? </pet peeve>

posted by dg at 10:40 PM on May 2, 2012


axiom: "What if the indicator only appeared after the thread was closed to new comments, or after some other delay? I'm not convinced that highlighting the sidebarred comment (esp. if said highlight is not in neon, so to speak) will derail a discussion any more than favorites do, but if it would then a delay would certainly mitigate that effect."

That seems like a nice compromise. I'd be okay with that.

SMPA: "I was thinking I'd just love to know that I've been sidebarred before I get to the point where I'm like "why do I have an extra hundred favorites all of a sudden, and how hard will it be to figure this out while I'm at a Toastmasters conference (yes, really) and can only look at MetaFilter on my phone?""

Understandable. A comment of mine was sidebarred last year. I don't really pay attention to my favorites count, and actually didn't even notice it had been linked there until a friend said 'congratulations' over email, days after I'd made the original comment.

beagle: " Sidebarring is already creating super-favorites, because once a comment is sidebarred, it gets a lot of direct traffic and a lot more favorites than it already had. And if you arrive at that comment normally in the thread rather than via the sidebar, it jumps out at you as having a ton of favorites and downthread comments that refer to it.

As Brandon mentions, some folks don't have favorites turned on. If a comment is flagged in thread as "Editor's Choice" (which is the way Salon.com handles that stuff) then it would immediately, visually, gain a higher priority than the rest of the comments in the thread.

So adding a little tiny slug to it that says "sidebarred" (sort of like those little mod "staff" tags) is not going to unduly draw attention to it or change or refocus the conversation in the thread more than is already happening."

I disagree. I think an overt sign of mod approval of a specific comment over others, highlighted within a thread during an ongoing discussion, would definitely focus the attention of the thread in a way that normal sidebarring does not.
posted by zarq at 10:55 PM on May 2, 2012


I think we are looking at a poster notification thing rather than an in-thread slug.

As opposed to 3 am this afternoon?

Ack! You're so right, dg! But I deserve leniency; it was 8 am in the morning and I hadn't yet had any coffee!

posted by taz (staff) at 11:11 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


No worries, then - I can excuse any action taken pre-coffee.
posted by dg at 11:17 PM on May 2, 2012


Isn't it as opposed to 3am yesterday morning? I'll allow it.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:01 AM on May 3, 2012


Sidebarred threads already get a favorite boost, because a lot of people follow that link and read that one comment in the post and favorite. I don't think adding a [sidebarred] slug would really have much more impact.
posted by smackfu at 6:26 AM on May 3, 2012


I think the mods should just mail the poster a thermos with a sidecar inside. The thermos could be engraved "Sidecar for the Sidebar," so the poster would know they had been sidebarred and they would get a sidecar.

Perhaps the same thing could be done for people who get banned, but the thermos could be full of angry wasps.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:42 AM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obligatory Paul F. Tompkins.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:02 AM on May 3, 2012


I want the slug pony as well as the notification pony. Can we have both? Please? Don't make me choose between ponies, they are like my children!

Also: slug pony!
posted by Scientist at 7:23 AM on May 3, 2012


We're looking at mechanisms to have some sort of a "Hey your post/comment was sidebarred" MeMail that can go out to folks who have opted in to receive MeMail. That seems like a way to let people know about the addition without making there be a mention of it in the thread which does seem to have good/bad sides to it. We'll let you know as we work out how it's going to work.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:21 AM on May 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


No one wants to muck out the stall of a slug pony.
posted by rtha at 12:13 PM on May 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Taz needs coffee.
posted by arcticseal at 6:37 PM on May 3, 2012


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