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Curvy arrow pony
December 29, 2012 3:01 PM   Subscribe

I would like to nominate for Meta-institutionalization the very nifty little arrows (like this ) that Martijn put at the end of the blockquotes (of other comments) in this comment.

Problem being addressed: Right now, lots of comment quotes are posted without attribution, because anchorlinks are kind of a hassle. Without them, you need to scroll up and down the thread or Command-F to find out who said that and what the context was. And where attribution anchorlinks are used, there are multiple styles people employ. Those little arrows as built-in functionality would make anchorlinks to quoted comments happen consistently, uniformly, unobtrusively and elegantly.

Two ways to do it:

1. (Basic) Add an "insert anchorlink" option at the bottom of the edit window, which would place that curvy arrow where your cursor is and lets you enter a link to any comment in the thread.
(Problem: doesn't make it automatic and not everybody would use it.)

2. (Cooler and much preferred) Whenever you quote, in a comment, a portion of any other previous comment in the same thread, (a) those words are automatically italicized and (b) the curvy arrow anchorlink, to the first instance of their use, is automatically appended to the end of the quote.
(Problem: Requires a non-trivial dynamic text search function, I guess, on every single comment posting. So perhaps a compromise between 1 and 2 is: an anchorlink function button that automatically finds the first instance of the text you're quoting from upthread, italicizes and creates the link. If you want to quote a second instance, you'd have to edit the thing yourself.)
posted by beagle to Feature Requests at 3:01 PM (46 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Or you can just use Mefiquote.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:03 PM on December 29, 2012 [14 favorites]


Solution #2 seems kind of iffy to me - I don't want computers to guess what I want, I want them to do what I tell them. It also feels like implementing it in a way that works reasonably well (e.g. doesn't pick up tiny snippets of text in the wrong context) would be somewhat nontrivial. Overall I feel this is the kind of problem that is best pushed to the wetware - having readers keep track of who said what helps ensure a minimum amount of thread participation - but I'm a cranky asshole in technical matters so what do I know.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:11 PM on December 29, 2012


I disagree on the "unobtrusive" and "elegant" assertions. This style of quoting seems incredibly intrusive to me.
posted by grouse at 3:22 PM on December 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think my biggest question is: do we want to build one particular quoting style into the site? There are a couple different conventions people use when quoting and I think that's fine. If we build a particular quote style into the site tools, that will become the standard. Maybe there's a benefit to that, but I feel like the completely open style is nice as well. It lets conventions come and go.

And I also wonder if quoting without attribution is really a problem. If you're reading the entire thread and run into words you've already read it's fairly easy to know that's a quote. And those words are attributed in the byline upthread. It seems like attribution of quotes is more important if that quote doesn't already appear on the page.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:23 PM on December 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


All I see is a little yellow box. No nifty arrows at all.
posted by Curious Artificer at 3:46 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


We've talked about possible reply/quote buttons before for the site, and generally, the way we thought about going with them was having users highlight text on a page, like the sentence or two you want, then getting an option/button to reply/quote that, and basically wrapping the selected text with em tags in the comment box. Appending the little curvy arrow is a nice additional touch but as Curious Artificer makes it clear, it is subject to unicode characters not everyone might be able to display.

So I guess the bottom line is this is an interesting idea and add-on, but we're not quite ready to make a feature for it yet. In the meantime, you can do this with mefiquote and probably a bookmarklet too.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:50 PM on December 29, 2012


having readers keep track of who said what helps ensure a minimum amount of thread participation

i find Cmd+F works just fine either searching for usernames or quoted text.
posted by dubold at 3:50 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


MeFiQuote works really well and blends in to the existing site functionality perfectly, especially if you change the button text from quote to a " like I do. I really miss it when I am on my mobile devices, and I would love to see it officially incorporated into MeFi.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:55 PM on December 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


I actually think that we should leave things as is. Adding an automatic quotation function will inevitably increase the specific back and forth between users, and I am afraid that that will not always be a good thing (just as it is not now). I think it's fine for there to be a slight barrier to quoting other people on the site.

(The swoopy arrows look kind of neat, but if a whole thread looked like that it would be WAY too busy.)
posted by OmieWise at 5:27 PM on December 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


This really seems like a solution in search of a problem.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:45 PM on December 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think that's really annoying and I vote against.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:50 PM on December 29, 2012


(Assuming I get a vote, which I don't.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:50 PM on December 29, 2012


Without them, you need to scroll up and down the thread or Command-F to find out who said that and what the context was.

I think of it as a feature, not a bug. The unattributed italicized quoting of comments that has become the standard here forces people to pay closer attention to what has gone before in a thread. I think that has nothing but a positive effect on the quality of conversation, and I see no need to try and force a change.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:34 PM on December 29, 2012 [10 favorites]


Smacks of that curator's code shenanigans and I will not be a party to it!
posted by peacay at 7:42 PM on December 29, 2012


Distracting and unneccessary.
posted by Aquaman at 8:24 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a knee-jerk negative reaction to comments having reply/quote buttons because of all the abuse of the reply feature I've been subjected to in the email domain, on mailing lists & digests, where a quote is done lazily, copying everything into the quote & not just the relevant bits, followed by further quotes that become quotes of quotes of quotes nested in a big, giant scrolly mess as no one the conversation bothers to trim the chaff from their message (ask me about the guy on my neighborhood digest with the 10-line signature, including a verbose privacy disclaimer, who has it quoted & copied & nested 10-20 times a week)

Having to manually select the text you want to quote makes you much more conscious of exactly what you're quoting, and quoting will always be more concise that way. I for one would get frustrated quickly if the experience here degenerated into scrolling past 300 lines of unnecessarily copied text in quotes.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:51 PM on December 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Rock Steady: "MeFiQuote works really well and blends in to the existing site functionality perfectly. [...] I really miss it when I am on my mobile devices, and I would love to see it officially incorporated into MeFi."

I agree with this comment, and am using MeFiQuote to quote it in order to confirm my agreement with it.
posted by subbes at 9:04 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


P.S. I also miss the hedgehog, unicorn, and narwhal when I am on my mobile devices, but understand that those are less likely to be officially integrated.

Even though they're awesome.
posted by subbes at 9:05 PM on December 29, 2012


I would like to nominate for Meta-institutionalization yo momma.
posted by special-k at 10:36 PM on December 29, 2012


Well I think it looks cool.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:56 PM on December 29, 2012


Maybe it was the relatively short length of both the response and quote but I found that comment unusually hard to read.

And I like that Mefi doesn't have any sort of rigid quoting format.
posted by Mitheral at 11:47 PM on December 29, 2012


For the amusement and edification of one and all I present (some of) the arrow and arrow-related glyphs present in Unicode:


←↑→↓↔↕↖↗↘↙↚↛↜↝↞↟
↠↡↢↣↤↥↦↧↨↩↪↫↬↭↮↯
↰↱↲↳↴↵↶↷↸↹↺↻↼↽↾↿↿
⇀⇁⇂⇃⇄⇅⇆⇇⇈⇉⇊⇋⇌⇍⇎⇏
⇐⇑⇒⇓⇔⇕⇖⇗⇘⇙⇚⇛⇜⇝⇞⇟
⇠⇡⇢⇣⇤⇥⇦⇧⇨⇩⇪⇫⇬⇭⇮⇯
⇰⇱⇲⇳⇴⇵⇶⇷⇸⇹⇺⇻⇼⇽⇾⇿

⍇⍈⍐⍗⍼⎋

➔➘➙➚➛➜➝➞➟
➠➡➢➣➤➥➦➧➨➩➪➫➬➭➮➯
➱➲➳➴➵➶➷➸➹➺➻➼➽➾
⟰⟱⟲⟳⟴⟵⟶⟷⟸⟹⟺⟻⟼⟽⟾⟿
⤀⤁⤂⤃⤄⤅⤆⤇⤈⤉⤊⤋⤌⤍⤎⤏
⤐⤑⤒⤓⤔⤕⤖⤗⤘⤙⤚⤛⤜⤝⤞⤟
⤠⤡⤢⤣⤤⤥⤦⤧⤨⤩⤪⤫⤬⤭⤮⤯
⤰⤱⤲⤳⤴⤵⤶⤷⤸⤹⤺⤻⤼⤽⤾⤿
⥀⥁⥂⥃⥄⥅⥆⥇⥈⥉⥊⥋⥌⥍⥎⥏
⥐⥑⥒⥓⥔⥕⥖⥗⥘⥙⥚⥛⥜⥝⥞⥟
⥠⥡⥢⥣⥤⥥⥦⥧⥨⥩⥪⥫⥬⥭⥮⥯
⥰⥱⥲⥳⥴⥵⥶⥷⥸⥹⥺⥻⥼⥽⥾⥿
⦨⦩⦪⦫⦬⦭⦮⦯⦳⦴⦽
⧪⧬⧭⧴⨗
⬀⬁⬂⬃⬄⬅⬆⬇⬈⬉⬊⬋⬌⬍⬎⬏
⬐⬑←↑→↓

If you're unable to see any of those you may be able to solve the problem by installing these fonts and/or these fonts (shareware) on your computer, telephone, cranial implant, or other device. If they're too small to see clearly and you want a better look ctrl+ is your friend.
posted by XMLicious at 12:13 AM on December 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


I guesss this particular quoting style has its use in delivering argumentative broadsides from destroyer-class comments (or above).
posted by deo rei at 4:15 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does that Mefiquote joobie not work on Chrome, or is it something on my end that's messing everything up? 'Cause each time I click the little button, the yellow bar comes down to tell me that I can't add thingums from that website, and it's kind of a bummer.
posted by KChasm at 5:58 AM on December 30, 2012


KChasm: it works fine; Google just makes it hard for you to install it. You can either install it manually by downloading the file, then dragging it into Chrome's extension window (which you can open by clicking this link: chrome://chrome/extensions/), or you can install an extension called Tampermonkey from the Chrome Webstore and use that to install it.
posted by zsazsa at 8:03 AM on December 30, 2012


xmlicious that is great.

↰ actually makes far more sense than the arrow being discussed.

The one that kinda resembles electrical hazard is the one I am going to use though.
posted by bukvich at 8:14 AM on December 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have a knee-jerk negative reaction to comments having reply/quote buttons because of all the abuse of the reply feature I've been subjected to in the email domain, on mailing lists & digests, where a quote is done lazily, copying everything into the quote & not just the relevant bits, followed by further quotes that become quotes of quotes of quotes nested in a big, giant scrolly mess as no one the conversation bothers to trim the chaff from their message (ask me about the guy on my neighborhood digest with the 10-line signature, including a verbose privacy disclaimer, who has it quoted & copied & nested 10-20 times a week)

Having to manually select the text you want to quote makes you much more conscious of exactly what you're quoting, and quoting will always be more concise that way. I for one would get frustrated quickly if the experience here degenerated into scrolling past 300 lines of unnecessarily copied text in quotes.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:51 PM on December 29
Yes, exactly this. Having a quote button facilitates lazy quoting.
posted by ceribus peribus at 8:34 AM on December 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


0_o
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:43 AM on December 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Problem being addressed:

None, really. And count me with those who think this particular solution is visually noisy and worse than the problem. Even Mefiquote has always seemed unnecessary.

Having to manually select the text you want to quote makes you much more conscious of exactly what you're quoting, and quoting will always be more concise that way.

Yep, exactly. It has an odd and mostly beneficial effect on the site's culture.
posted by mediareport at 8:44 AM on December 30, 2012


subbes wrote: I agree with this comment, and am using MeFiQuote to quote it in order to confirm my agreement with it.

I find your agreement quite agreeable.

I don't really care one way or the other on the desktop site, as userscripts are easily available. Mobile is a different story. AFAIK, I'm just SOL if I want an easy way to quote on mobile. At least the major platforms all have copy/paste now...
posted by wierdo at 9:20 AM on December 30, 2012


Similar to the above arguments about how we receive the benefits of concision from the lack of automatic quoting, I think that lack of automatic attribution is also a feature, not a bug.

Leaving out attribution most of the time lets us focus on the discussion itself; on the words being quoted, rather than on the users who wrote them. Manual attribution is still available for those times when the commenter feels it's warranted, and having to do it manually imposes the hurdle that many people need in order to first consider whether a particular attribution would be worth the extra effort.
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:23 AM on December 30, 2012


I support the status quo.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 10:31 AM on December 30, 2012


No need for a change. I use MeFi quote on my desktop, but don't really feel the loss on my tablet/phone.
posted by arcticseal at 10:43 AM on December 30, 2012


I'm tempted to quote this whole thread! It makes my point most concisely.
posted by dhartung at 10:43 AM on December 30, 2012

the way we thought about going with them was having users highlight text on a page, like the sentence or two you want, then getting an option/button to reply/quote that, and basically wrapping the selected text with em tags [sic] in the comment box
With access to the best minds in Web standards, a decade later this is the best markup mathowie can come up with.
posted by joeclark at 2:11 PM on December 30, 2012


With access to the best minds in Web standards, a decade later this is the best markup mathowie can come up with.

And yet here you are.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:24 PM on December 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


the way we thought about going with them was having users highlight text on a page, like the sentence or two you want, then getting an option/button to reply/quote that (...)

Okay, I had misread or glossed over that part before I posted my first comment, then I went away and thought that up all by my self... (? the brain is an interesting place to live ?) and was thinking about suggesting the exact same thing, that the quote button not be active until you'd chosen the text to quote.

That makes a ton more sense than each comment just having a quote button, so sorry for the ill-informed rant.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:59 PM on December 30, 2012


My first reaction is "wow, how the hell do you type that arrow thing?" Clever uses of non-standard ASCII characters might be nice for the reader, once the message "arrow thing = link to quote in context" has circulated to the majority of MeFi users, but it doesn't work so well for new users or people just reading Metafilter comment threads linked from elsewhere, because ↩ has no inherent meaning beside what this community assigns to it.

Here's a thought experiment: What if you replace ↩ with "See context"? Still works, right? Plain English does the same thing as the glyph, but it's easier to type (no need to memorize some weird ASCII code or use charmaps) and is universally understood.
posted by deathpanels at 4:01 PM on December 30, 2012


need to memorize some weird ASCII code or use charmaps

In most situations you can just cut and paste, too.
posted by XMLicious at 4:09 PM on December 30, 2012


zsazsa: "KChasm: it works fine; Google just makes it hard for you to install it. You can either install it manually by downloading the file, then dragging it into Chrome's extension window (which you can open by clicking this link: chrome://chrome/extensions/), or you can install an extension called Tampermonkey from the Chrome Webstore and use that to install it."

Oh, that is mondo snazzy. Thanks kindly, zsazsa!
posted by KChasm at 6:28 PM on December 30, 2012


ceribus peribus: " Yes, exactly this. Having a quote button facilitates lazy quoting."

Actually, since you're in control of the formatting and backend storage, it's entirely possible to make a quote button that creates enough metadata to collapse the quote-geddon.
posted by pwnguin at 8:23 PM on December 30, 2012


joeclark: "With access to the best minds in Web standards, a decade later this is the best markup mathowie can come up with."

jessamyn: "And yet here you are."

Ohhh, it cuts like a kniiiiiife!


I vote for status quo/MefiQuote. And you're welcome for the earworm!
posted by deborah at 12:08 AM on December 31, 2012


There's definitely been an increase in MefiQuote in the last few days, which to me kind of highlights its imperfections - for one thing, it adds a lot of visual noise, particularly when folks include linked quotes from previous quotes in their quotes. Or something.
posted by mediareport at 10:15 AM on December 31, 2012


People do nested quotes even without MeFi quote when they seem necessary, so I don't think it's the script's fault.
posted by Lexica at 10:26 AM on December 31, 2012


It's all the extra yellow links, for no real purpose, that seem unnecessarily noisy in nested quotes with MefiQuote.
posted by mediareport at 10:50 AM on December 31, 2012


deborah wrote: jessamyn: "And yet here you are."

It's so horribly obtrusive, this quote of a quote.
posted by wierdo at 3:54 PM on December 31, 2012


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