Skip

MeFi is adding titles January 7, 2013 8:55 AM   Subscribe

We're rolling out titles to the front pages of Ask, MetaTalk, and MeFi today (all the other subsites have titles on their front pages). In addition, we've revamped the posting pages on those subsites in order to make the title more obvious and prominent (along with improved helper text).

After our last discussion about this, we made an internal test front page of the subsites to see what it would look like, and the results were surprisingly good. In our testing, the most popular response was along the lines of "What?! Oh hey, that's actually pretty useful. I like it!"

For the longest time we've gone to great pains to ask for a title on posts, but buried the title field at the bottom of forms and constantly had to explain that they don't show up on the front page, and still we often had to edit Ask MeFi posts to get questions out of the titles so they made sense on the front page. Our last rewrite of the Ask MeFi posting page spent nearly half the text explaining this weird feature of the front page. The new posting pages are much more streamlined and obvious now.

The usability of the front pages improves with this change. It's much easier to tell where a post starts and ends. You get a big click target to jump into a thread, plus the front page of Ask MetaFilter is much quicker to scan looking for interesting questions you want to read and help out on.

Like I said, all the other subsites have titles, it feels like a feature that is many years overdue (default blog templates starting showing titles in the early 2000s) and you'll likely find this a helpful change. The only internal change we had to do for this besides revamp the posting pages was shorten title limits to 72 characters. We found this a happy medium where titles fit on one line of most desktop browsers, and only took up 1-2 lines on small mobile screens. Our stats show that less than 4% of posts have longer titles, most often people would copy/paste an entire quote, and you might find those in the new archive pages, but otherwise the change should have a minimal impact on writing new posts.

I know it's a big change, but give it a few days for the initial shock to wear off and I bet you'll find this a long overdue change too. We'll be rolling this out over the next hour or so, so you might spot some inconsistencies but let us know if you find a CSS bug or something like that.
posted by mathowie to Feature Requests at 8:55 AM (1923 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

Nice.
posted by Perplexity at 8:56 AM on January 7, 2013 [13 favorites]


Ahhh kill it with fire.
posted by Diskeater at 8:56 AM on January 7, 2013 [216 favorites]


Oh, and just to jumpstart any sort of ethics discussion -- we're not sure at the moment we launch it how people will use it, but our hope is that people continue using descriptive, helpful titles instead of playing games or using them for jokes. If you look at existing posts, they are all pretty dang helpful, people usually don't goof around with titles.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:56 AM on January 7, 2013


I just reloaded about four times to try to "fix" this.

Cool!
posted by purpleclover at 8:57 AM on January 7, 2013 [14 favorites]


i like it.
posted by sio42 at 8:58 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like this.
posted by jonnyploy at 8:59 AM on January 7, 2013


Was literally just coming in here to say AAAAAA ASK IS DIFFERENT! Oh, it's titles. actually that's pretty OK.
posted by KathrynT at 8:59 AM on January 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


Love this!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:59 AM on January 7, 2013


Mmm. Maybe an checkbox on the options for this?
posted by jaduncan at 9:00 AM on January 7, 2013 [43 favorites]


I was wondering why it just went all weird on me.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 9:00 AM on January 7, 2013


OH MY GOD.

Thank you for this MeTa. I thought I was losing my mind (yet again). Since you asked so nicely, I'll reserve judgement.

grudgingly
posted by cooker girl at 9:00 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh thank god. I just had about five minutes of 'Something is wrong with Metafilter - it looks different - what is it? What is it?' going around and around in my head in a sort of panic.

I had just about convinced myself that I was going nuts and nothing had changed at all.
posted by Acheman at 9:00 AM on January 7, 2013 [23 favorites]


It will take me a while to get used to this.
posted by gauche at 9:00 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Like all change, I find this scary and upsetting.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:01 AM on January 7, 2013 [108 favorites]


The VERY LARGE title font is a bit disconcerting, can it come down a size?
posted by leesh at 9:01 AM on January 7, 2013 [170 favorites]


I like this but I must admit when I first loaded the page and saw the BIG WORDS EVERYWHERE my first action was to hit cntrl+).
posted by dirtdirt at 9:01 AM on January 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


I often accidentally zoom in and out on webpages due to a sticky control key. I just spent 30 seconds zooming in and out to try and make the front page look right. I feel foolish now.
posted by mnfn at 9:01 AM on January 7, 2013 [16 favorites]


Oh my god, I just hit refresh and this happened and I am going to need someone to hold me for a while while I adjust...
posted by jph at 9:01 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'll have to retrain myself to recognize where one post ends and a new one begins, but I don't think it will take to long.

Have we lost the rounded graphic image thing in the upper left on purpose? I'm not seeing it in Chrome 23 on OSX.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:01 AM on January 7, 2013


Can we get some sort of subtle shading on the White theme to group a post and its content together? FPPs with lots of line-breaks on the front page look wacky with titles.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:01 AM on January 7, 2013


Big font not good! Big font not good! Big font not good!

Don't mind the titles being there, but font soup not good! Serious here.
posted by Trochanter at 9:02 AM on January 7, 2013 [44 favorites]


Makes more sense for Ask, where the title functioned as a sort of summary or lead in post. On the blue it just adds editorialized noise, and clutters up the page. You always knew where a new post started/ended, right after the "posted by" text.
posted by Big_B at 9:02 AM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is extremely terrible.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:02 AM on January 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


There's something magical about this change being rolled out (or at least noticed by me) with the title "Counterfeit Monkey" at the top.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:02 AM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Mmm. Maybe an checkbox on the options for this?

Co-signed. Please. I like jokey titles. :-/
posted by anderjen at 9:03 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Scrolled down the AskMe page and came to "WHY WON'T MY JUNK WORK."

Sold.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:03 AM on January 7, 2013 [26 favorites]


Hmm. It kinda breaks up the page a bit more with the font change. It's all lost that classic look.

Will have to see if I get used to this.
posted by Start with Dessert at 9:03 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh my God, that is the worst looking thing ever.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:04 AM on January 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


Can you please make this a feature that can be toggled on/off? I fear I'll stumble across HELP MY PENIS FELL OFF in text large enough for someone to see over my shoulder.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:04 AM on January 7, 2013 [51 favorites]


I actually really like it, though, like all change it will take some getting used to.

(Or a lot, depending on how much time you spend here. So yeah, a lot.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:04 AM on January 7, 2013


Hooray! The lack of titles on the front pages has always confused me.
posted by asterix at 9:04 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just another vote for please reduce the font size.
posted by Melismata at 9:04 AM on January 7, 2013 [13 favorites]



I'm glad you posted this.

For a moment, I thought the drinking was getting to me.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:05 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Will there be a "Preferences" setting to reduce the size of the title?
posted by janell at 9:05 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


These titles are very big.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:05 AM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you're not thrilled with the new look, you can use a browser extension like Stylish to hide the titles. Just create a Stylish rule like this:

.posttitle {display:none;}

But honestly, give it a couple days, I will admit that counterfeit monkey post is kind of ugly at the top with the weird breaks, but if you scroll down to yesterday's posts, you can see a more typical layout where it looks pretty normal.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:05 AM on January 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yes, what blue_beetle said. Indented and / or whitespace-heavy posts on the simple white theme are hard to delineate.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:06 AM on January 7, 2013


It's all pretty hideous looking, but in fairness, it was hideous looking before. Here's to more functional hideousness!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:06 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Another vote for please reduce the font size.
posted by HotToddy at 9:06 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another vote against. And a strong vote for reducing the font size.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 9:06 AM on January 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


Thank you for this nice feature. Another vote for reducing the font size, though.
posted by Happydaz at 9:06 AM on January 7, 2013


Just to be clear, the titles are the same size they are everywhere else on the site (comment pages, favorites pages, the popular page, search results, other subsites).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:06 AM on January 7, 2013


Change is stressful. Ahhh. But seriously, the font seems too big. Otherwise, I guess I can get used to it.

I would love to be able to turn it off, though.
posted by k8lin at 9:06 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd vote for either making it a togglable option or reducing the font size. It's kind of giving me a headache right now.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:07 AM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Will there be a "Preferences" setting to reduce the size of the title?

Not immediately. We're going to get this working here and make sure it's bug-free and people have a chance to get used to it and in a few weeks we can talk about whether we need to add something preference-wise for folks or if it's something that can get handled using Stylish or something else.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:07 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


mathowie: "Just to be clear, the titles are the same size they are everywhere else on the site (comment pages, favorites pages, the popular page, other subsites)."

The main page is so densely packed with them, though. There's a line between breaking up the smaller text and monopolizing the real estate.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:08 AM on January 7, 2013 [19 favorites]


Woah nuts.

I think it looks nice, maybe change the size down a bit, but other than that it's great. I no longer have to click on comments or a small [more inside] link to see the thread, which didn't make a whole lot of sense.
posted by hellojed at 9:08 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Will there be a "Preferences" setting to reduce the size of the title?

We don't have any immediate plans for preferences settings; we'd kind of like to let it settle a bit and see how people feel after the first blush has come off. But as Matt notes there's a dedicated style for the titles that one can use a bit of custom styling or a script to hide or modify if it's just driving you crazy.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:08 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the font size.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:08 AM on January 7, 2013


I have honestly wondered how long this would take. I would like it if the titles didn't take up so much vertical space, though- maybe bold them instead of making them the same size as they are in threads? In a thread, the title is the title of the page, really, and to have THE TITLE OF THE PAGE over and over on the frontpage looks... wrong. So I say bold the titles, and put them a point or two larger than the post text, and it'll still be perfectly distinct without taking up quite so much real estate and breaking up the flow so much.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:09 AM on January 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


I like it... the titles are a bit BIG, which makes the spacing look weird, but I like the idea.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:09 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The note for the Description field on the new post page says "line breaks will be stripped". I think this needs to be more vigorously enforced with the new format changes. No white-space, no line-breaks, carriage returns, hard breaks, new paragraphs, extra spaces, or shenanigans!
posted by blue_beetle at 9:09 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Great idea; I agree with some commenters that the title display font on the front pages would benefit from some tweaking. I think the new more prominent display of titles will lead to adoption of shorter title text by many posters, which will decrease the shoutiness of it.

The titles really look bad in ALLCAPS (sorry whelk!) so please take that into consideration – many people here like to EMPHASIZE things and I think you should allow for ALLCAPS titles in thinking about typography.

Anyway, good idea, I am sure you all will continue to tweak this in coming days.
posted by Mister_A at 9:09 AM on January 7, 2013


IT IS DIFFERENT AND I AM FEARFUL.
posted by Artw at 9:09 AM on January 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


Holy crap thats a huge font. My initial instinct was to ctrl- as well. Like the idea, but the 20px font is just too much; can we not tune it down a notch? Playing around with Chrome Inspector, I personally prefer 16px.
posted by cgg at 9:10 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is terrible. I can't believe there wasn't a vote on this before it was rolled out.
posted by codacorolla at 9:11 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe one good thing is it will encourage better post titles.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:11 AM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


HOW DARE YOU CHANGE ANYTHING EVER

(I actually quite like it though I am on board with those who wish the font was just a bit smaller.)
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:11 AM on January 7, 2013


ine breaks will be stripped

They are stripped. But people can manually add a <br> tag. That's what they're doing now to get line breaks within a post on the front page.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:11 AM on January 7, 2013


I like this very much.
posted by beandip at 9:11 AM on January 7, 2013


Yeah I too was freaked out and immediately came here hoping to find this very post. Looks wrong but maybe just because it's different and I am still a bit confused. As others have said, maybe reduce font size/change color a bit/toggle on or off option? Or else just relax and get used to it. Okay!
posted by zoinks at 9:11 AM on January 7, 2013


This is great -- one of my pet peeves is that titles are prominent in the RSS feed, but since users usually didn't see them, posters liked to make a pun or joke in the title. As a result, it often didn't make sense.

My only suggestion is that maybe the font could be a little smaller on the front page. The spacing and caps make it look a little out of place.
posted by cotterpin at 9:11 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love it on mobile, but it looks terrible on my laptop, the font is far too big.
posted by oulipian at 9:12 AM on January 7, 2013


The formatting might need to be tweaked, but overall I'm very happy with this change. In my first post on the Robert Bork obit thread, for example, I started by noting the conspicuous absence of Ted Kennedy's "Bork's America" speech from the conversation thus far... not realizing it had been invoked in its very title.
posted by The Confessor at 9:12 AM on January 7, 2013


It seems to make a lot more sense on AskMeFi than it does on the front page. The front page looks cluttered with the chunks of big text and it doesn't delineate the post breaks very well - to my eye the posts look kind of confusingly run together. But on AskMeFi it looks like a question header, and seems to fit better.

Part of that may be the difference between how titles have been used on MeFi vs. AskMeFi. AskMeFi titles have been more descriptive & MeFi titles more often a quote or humor related to the post.
posted by flex at 9:12 AM on January 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


Heck you're away for a phone call and on returning: THIS

Now, we ought to start collecting the funniest or well-phrasedst titles of 2012.
Here's my vote
posted by Namlit at 9:12 AM on January 7, 2013


Yes to change! No to font size!
posted by Rufus T. Firefly at 9:12 AM on January 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


And if it's a matter of not wanting to create two different text styles for titles, I think that the 'within post' title could now be safely reduced, because the title itself received a huge boost in prominence by its appearance on the front page.
posted by Mister_A at 9:13 AM on January 7, 2013


So are we going to, as a community, decide to put periods (or other terminating punctuation) at the end of title, or are we not going to do that?
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:13 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I finally figured out what changed. It's like I blinked and something went weird, but I could figure out what it was.

Way too big. It's like the front page started yelling at me. Made me want to leave quickly.
At least give us control over size, like we have for text.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:13 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really really alarming to have this huge font and all caps saying WHY WON'T MY JUNK WORK. Maybe make all caps not an option in titles?
posted by HotToddy at 9:14 AM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I agree that everybody needs to give it a little time. But I also agree with those suggesting the typography could be better. I'm not sure if that means smaller font (same as text but bold), a bit of indentation for the post itself, or something else.
posted by beagle at 9:14 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am a Professional Classy Person who uses the Professional White Background. Accordingly I prefer that my metafilter looks as much like a wall of innocuous text and links as possible. So yes, I would prefer an option to toggle this off, so there's not a panic about whether coworkers see a big title with "MY JUNK WON'T WORK", or just see large readable titles in general and realize I'm goofing off. Font size should be reduced too!
posted by naju at 9:14 AM on January 7, 2013 [24 favorites]


I just reloaded the askme front page and got all freaked out. So of course I headed straight to meTa and I feel better now. This is how that's supposed to work, right?

I don't know what I think of it yet. The titles seem too large, but I dunno.
posted by rtha at 9:14 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd think about a bottom border on the titles, something that says "this is a title and not part of the post" besides the typeface? And while I'm making suggestions for my own benefit, the people criticizing the size/placement of the titles are dead-on-- they're pretty rough.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:15 AM on January 7, 2013


It will take a while for title authorship to adapt from hidden jokey postscripts to actual introductory/explanatory titles. Which would probably be a change for the better.
posted by ceribus peribus at 9:15 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hated it for five minutes but I'm ok with it now.
posted by something something at 9:15 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't like it? Remove it with a userstyle (or stylebot if that's your cup of tea instead)
posted by schmod at 9:16 AM on January 7, 2013 [18 favorites]


Could they be made smaller on the Light theme at least? For people browsing at work there may be issues with NSFW titles.
posted by capricorn at 9:16 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like it, but it would be better if the font were larger.
posted by found missing at 9:16 AM on January 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


I do not dislike or fear change. The edit window, for example, was a major change that fundamentally altered the nature of the site in a good way. This is not a good change. The posts here are generally very short and to the point, they do not require a title because they are self explanatory. For longer posts, the more inside is the body and the front page portion acts as a title.

The titles are redundant and ugly.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:16 AM on January 7, 2013 [49 favorites]


I like this as an idea, and I think it works pretty well, but I wish the color was a bit more differentiated from the description color. I think that would make it more useful. The color is also not internally consistent with the color of other links. I would not have thought it was a click-target had I not read it in Matt's description.
posted by OmieWise at 9:16 AM on January 7, 2013


It's a big pile o' text now, difficult to see where one post ends and the next starts.

I don't really care, though, as I usually get here from Google Reader and rarely see the front page.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:16 AM on January 7, 2013


The titles do look much more reasonable (on desktop) when you have posts with more typical structure (no line breaks, ital, etc.). For example, if you scroll down until "State of America Print Series" is at the top of the page, it is not nearly so heinous.
posted by Mister_A at 9:16 AM on January 7, 2013


YES I NOTICED IT IS RATHER DISCONCERTING BUT I EXPECT TO GET USED TO IT AND IT WILL PROBABLY BE HELPFUL THANK YOU.

Of course this would happen when my most recent post has a pretty boring title.
posted by maudlin at 9:17 AM on January 7, 2013


THIS IS MY BIG FAT OPINION
Can we have titles in the comments too?

(dammit maudlin)
posted by Callicvol at 9:17 AM on January 7, 2013


HATE HATE HATEY HATE HATE
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:17 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


It is odd to me that they are clickable, but not Mefi-Link-Gold. If they were gold, however, they would be hideous. I humbly suggest a gold link-indicator along the lefthand side of some sort, perhaps?

Regardless, I'm normally on the "change is bad" side of camp, but this is a good change.
posted by Mizu at 9:17 AM on January 7, 2013


For example, if you scroll down until "State of America Print Series" is at the top of the page, it is not nearly so heinous.

That's because it's a great post!
posted by OmieWise at 9:18 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Chiming in to the chorus of people thinking they inadvertently zoomed in. If it's the same size as the titles at the top of a given page, I could actually stand those being slightly smaller too, but it's pretty different situations where you have one title at the top versus 60 or so separated by a few lines of smaller text. I think the gray coloring sets them apart a bit without needing a big font difference (note: using professional white background, your page render may vary).
posted by LionIndex at 9:19 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pay me in cash or money order, OmieWise.
posted by Mister_A at 9:19 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm always amazed by how people find it acceptable to be overwhelmingly and rudely negative in their comments about site changes, without feeling the need to articulate anything constructive or particularly human in their response. It makes me glad I'm not cooking dinner for this crowd.
posted by OmieWise at 9:19 AM on January 7, 2013 [21 favorites]


do not want
posted by elizardbits at 9:19 AM on January 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!
Yayyyyyyyyyyyy
posted by The Deej at 9:19 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like it, though it did make me blink for a minute to work out what the hell had happened to the front page before wandering this-a-way.

Looks noticeably more shouty on firefox for mac vs firefox in windows; different cleartype etc settings by the looks of it (both are set to allow site-override for fonts).

Definitely helps break up individual posts better though (sometimes they used to kinda run together), gives an actual use for titles, and cuts down on mystery meat post descriptions somewhat.

Thumbs up.
posted by ArkhanJG at 9:20 AM on January 7, 2013


The really old posts seem to have had titles added after the fact using a "the text of the link at the beginning" algorithm.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:20 AM on January 7, 2013


I would be ok with titles if they weren't so huge that now I only see two questions on the front page.
posted by Grither at 9:20 AM on January 7, 2013


The front page here being askme, obvs.
posted by Grither at 9:22 AM on January 7, 2013


The titles would be much more bearable if they were the same size as the body text. The current size is awful.
posted by enn at 9:22 AM on January 7, 2013


Once people get used to this and also start thinking about how their post titles will come across on the front page, this will be very good.
posted by brain_drain at 9:22 AM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is great. I like this as much as 17 people dislike it.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:22 AM on January 7, 2013


people usually don't goof around with titles.

I don't know if it happens "usually," but I do know it happens, and it seems to me that it becomes more significant if titles appear on the front page rather than just as (literally) window dressing. So personally I'd hope that this change will come with a policy shift of, "We used to allow goofing-off in titles, but we'd like that to stop." Because speaking for myself, I enjoy lulz and snark less than some others and this change strikes me as, at least potentially, promoting those to higher profile.

I'm not a fan of this change, and it strikes me as pretty substantial. The previous format forgave goofing-off in titles precisely because they didn't appear prominently; and because titles didn't appear prominently, (1) posters were somewhat pushed to write a clear, concise above-the-fold, and (2) readers and commenters, at bare minimum, needed to read that above-the-fold. My suspicion would be that this revision will change both of those things for the worse, but we'll see.
posted by cribcage at 9:23 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like the general idea very much and agree that, as posters get used to the idea that the title will be so prominent on the front page, they will hopefully be more consistent in case and quality.

As others have stated though, they do seem awfully large, although I know that may be just a function of it being NEW and DIFFERENT. I do think some kind of differentiator (is that a word?) would be nice, an underline, or a lefthand bullet or asterisk or some such. So,

Good idea, yes.
Smaller font, perhaps?
Some method of differentiating title, bullet or asterisk?

That is all.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 9:23 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


> So I say bold the titles, and put them a point or two larger than the post text, and it'll still be perfectly distinct without taking up quite so much real estate and breaking up the flow so much.

Seconded.
posted by languagehat at 9:23 AM on January 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


The problem for me at least is that there is nothing to denote that the larger font size is actually a clickable link aside from its largeness, so the front page looks weirdly cluttered with text. I hope someone makes a monkey/stylish thingy to differentiate between posts better, similar to the comment divider script.
posted by elizardbits at 9:24 AM on January 7, 2013


The posts here are generally very short and to the point, they do not require a title because they are self explanatory.

For the most part, yes. But there are numerous instances in Ask where a poster unfamiliar with how the site works will only place their question in the title, and nowhere else in the post, which then leads to the mods having to do some editing as Matt describes above. So, in fact, the posts you see are short and to the point and self-contained in part because the mods sometimes have to change things to make it that way. I think the functionality of this addition has been needed for a long time.

As an added bonus, it might help keep people from making a joke in comments that's made in the title.
posted by LionIndex at 9:24 AM on January 7, 2013


How large are these titles for other people? The titles looks totally normally-sized to me.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:24 AM on January 7, 2013


Yeah, the titles really eat up front page blue space.

To me, it's not as visually nice as the front page has always been - chunks of white text, links are yellow; basic & streamlined, a pleasant flow of content.

MeFi's front page simplicity (and yes, lack of change in the basic large text/posting area over more than a decade) has always been part of its appeal to me.
posted by flex at 9:24 AM on January 7, 2013 [24 favorites]


One suggestion: the font size used for post titles on our "Activity from [user]" page is ever so slightly smaller than what you're using now on the front page, but it seems less jarring, maybe because we are already used to seeing that font size in another context. Can you use that existing style instead?
posted by maudlin at 9:25 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't mind the titles -- I think probably I will like them eventually, once I get used to the change -- but they are so so enormous huge and it's really annoying. (If they were smaller, they'd probably need to be differentiated some other way. Small caps? Bold? Whatever. But it would be so much nicer if they weren't absolutely huge like they are now.
posted by jeather at 9:26 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hear you all on the font size issue, we'll consider adding a preference for the size across the site where we use it (front pages, comment pages, favorites page, popular page, archives, search, etc).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:26 AM on January 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


You moved my cheese! Why did you move my cheese?!

I think it's cool. BUT I would like you to increase the spacing between posts. It feels cramped right now. Otherwise... cool beans. I can dig it.
posted by sixohsix at 9:26 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like this.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:26 AM on January 7, 2013


Heh, I navigated to Metafilter from an un-logged on computer and the first thing the change made me do with verify I was in the right place and not some clone site looking to harvest passwords.

I am neutral about the change. Think the idea of resizing them downward is worth consideration.
posted by edgeways at 9:27 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


As an added bonus, it might help keep people from making a joke in comments that's made in the title.

But it kind of ruins the thing where the reveal of the title is the joke.

Still, on balance a good thing and removes the oddity where you have to craft your FPP not to need a title because it won't be there the first time anyone sees it.
posted by Artw at 9:28 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


the font size used for post titles on our "Activity from [user]" page is ever so slightly smaller

Whoa, yeah, that page is showing 18px titles, everywhere else is 20px. If we don't roll out user custom sizes, we might try that everywhere for now.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:28 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


My first thought was not "Huh, titles" but OMG, when did I change the view settings on my laptop, something is different, those are GIANT words!

I came here to see if anyone else was experiencing the same problem.

I think this is a good idea - I've always thought the titles were a little too separate from the post. It will take some getting used to but in a week or two I'm sure we'll all do that.

I do want to second the suggestion of maybe not having the titles quite so large. If I shrink my view so that it's at a comfortable size I then can't read the initial paragraph.

Anyway, it's sweet of you guys to always be thinking of the user experience and how you can make it better. That was a good $5.
posted by bunderful at 9:29 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


The size seems... moderate, for titles?
posted by Artw at 9:29 AM on January 7, 2013


SHIFT-REFRESH, SHIFT-REFRESH, SHIFT-REFRESH.

MAAAA, MEFI IS LOOKING AT ME FUNNY.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:29 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like it on AskMetafilter. It's useful and Ask is all about directness and maximizing utility to me.

I dislike it on Metafilter. Metafilter is about being unique and interesting, and the style here feels trademarked in my mind. It is the look and unique feel of it that resonates for me. Making this seem like everything else is not something I think adds value. It also feels more bloggy to me and less about conversation.

I vote "yes" on Ask and a sincere "no, please" on Metafilter.
posted by dios at 9:29 AM on January 7, 2013 [34 favorites]


I'm not a fan of this change, and it strikes me as pretty substantial.

I'm not really an active enough poster to have an opinion either way, but it does seem to change the title of a post from the least significant element of a post to the most. The one thing I do find unsettling in a nit-picking typographic sort of way is the difference in font face and size between the date and the title of a post directly below it.

Font rendering being what it is, I'd be curious to see images of what this looks like on various screens.
laptop
desktop
posted by Lorin at 9:29 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like I said above, I'm willing to give it a chance*, but I definitely second the concerns about how it will look when goofing around on Metafilter while at work. Smaller and/or a preference to turn off would be amazing.

* Which is not how I feel. I feel all like "kill it with fire, change is scarybad!" but in my heart I believe we can get through this if we stick together.
posted by gauche at 9:30 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always thought the way titles worked was some kind of membership worthy-to-post test. Now just any ol person will understand how their posts will come out! Sheesh.
posted by Bovine Love at 9:32 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hmm...I'm gonna have to say this is the most dubious decision you guys have made since 'faves.'
posted by mullingitover at 9:33 AM on January 7, 2013


I think it would be even better if they were BIGGER, BOLDER + FLASHING
posted by philip-random at 9:33 AM on January 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


I whole heartedly sign on for having titles. For me, it helps break the line between posts better visually.
posted by deezil at 9:33 AM on January 7, 2013


Yes, it looks pretty unremarkable on AskMe. I assume this is due to a general lack of fancy formatting/spacing/additional links.
posted by elizardbits at 9:33 AM on January 7, 2013


I think on balance this is going to lead to a better, clearer FPP. Also should help with readers that display the title and leave me wondering what the hell that post is, anyway? SRSLY I don't know how many times Google Reader has shown me a post titled "Does What It Says on the Tin".
posted by Mister_A at 9:33 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I vote "yes" on Ask and a sincere "no, please" on Metafilter.

I agree with that. At the very least put it to a vote, or make it an optional aspect beyond third party scripting.
posted by codacorolla at 9:34 AM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Oh thank God you announced this. It wasn't like this this morning and when it happened, I thought, "Did I do that thing on my laptop where I accidentally make everything bigger and then spend most of the day figuring out how to turn the fucking font size back to normal????"
posted by Kitteh at 9:34 AM on January 7, 2013


I agree that this doesn't really work on MeFi proper; it totally overshadows the links.
posted by lalex at 9:34 AM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


(in related news if anyone can tell me how to do that, it would be helpful, thanks)
posted by Kitteh at 9:35 AM on January 7, 2013


and now tumblr is down so i assume this is the apocalypse
posted by elizardbits at 9:35 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


THIS IS GREAT NOW I DON'T NEED BIFOCALS TO READ
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:35 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


As long as it's not something that I did to mess up my browser, which is what I initially thought.
posted by xingcat at 9:36 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would love an option to turn off titles entirely. And yes, the font size makes it harder to comfortably read the front pages now. I'm really sorry to see this change implemented. Especially on mobile platforms where MetaFilter was one of the very few sites that had a well designed, readable mobile version.
posted by moxiequz at 9:38 AM on January 7, 2013 [18 favorites]


nthing please please please make the titles smaller! It sort of defeats the purpose of the professional white background if someone can read "PENIS PENIS VAGINA POOP JOKE*" while standing four desks away.

*May not be an actual post title.
posted by SugarAndSass at 9:38 AM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Couldn't you just put it in small letters under the links i.e.
These titles are too big and make it hard to scan the page posted by BadPony at 6:66pm
posted by ennui.bz at 9:38 AM on January 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


Kitteh: cntrl + 0 (zero, not O)
posted by cooker girl at 9:38 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


nthing please please please make the titles smaller! It sort of defeats the purpose of the professional white background if someone can read "PENIS PENIS VAGINA POOP JOKE*" while standing four desks away.

*May not be an actual post title.


DO NOT TAUNT HAPPY FUN MEFITES.
posted by maudlin at 9:39 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is it just me or is the Mefi deleted posts extension not playing nice with this?
posted by Defenestrator at 9:39 AM on January 7, 2013


It's an interesting change. Please do consider making user options for titles to control size and visibility.
posted by boo_radley at 9:40 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The titles make me less inclined to read the post descriptions. I LIKED having to read the descriptions to figure out what a link was about. I feel confused with these titles, like a cat with a sock tied to its tail.
posted by daisystomper at 9:40 AM on January 7, 2013 [16 favorites]


Whoa, yeah, that page is showing 18px titles, everywhere else is 20px.

DOWN WITH PX! UP WITH EMS!

</recent_responsive_design_convert>
posted by asterix at 9:40 AM on January 7, 2013


The titles are too big.
posted by empath at 9:40 AM on January 7, 2013


I normally like the little tweaks and updates that come along on this site, but I'm hating this one. I realize that some folks are loving it, but I would appreciate having a toggle in my user preferences to turn it off. (A userscript would be fine, except that to my knowledge my mobile browser doesn't support userscripts.) Also the titles take up way too much of my phone's screen real estate, especially for a feature that I find totally useless and redundant.

What exactly was wrong with jokey titles that half of people forget to read? It's not as if people didn't have ample opportunity to describe their post elsewhere (that people on AskMe in particular occasionally fail to do so strikes me as more of an educational failing than anything else) and I always thought that it was kinda fun to have a small space for optional goofiness in the form of the title field. Losing that feels lame to me, and feels like the kind of "technological solution to a social (non-)problem" that this site normally (and commendably) avoids.

Respectfully, I think this change is a rare mis-step on the part of the development team and if it is going to remain permanent then I would really appreciate at least being able to turn it off in my preferences. However now that titles are so much more prominent I fear people will start using them for vital descriptive information (rather than putting the description in the post body, where it belongs) thus rendering the page unintentionally cryptic for those who have titles turned off either in preferences or through a userscript.

I really think this is a change for the worse and that in the long run it will make MeFi slightly uglier and more boring on the whole. It's not the end of the world, but I definitely think it's a mistake.
posted by Scientist at 9:40 AM on January 7, 2013 [61 favorites]


I just stared at the blue for a solid three minutes before figuring out what had changed. I guess I must be cool with it.
posted by troika at 9:40 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't like it on Ask, but that's because I keep reading the titles and then I go to read the question and it's the exact same thing as the title.
posted by Autumn at 9:40 AM on January 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


I think Autumn nailed it... once you have the title, you don't even need the question there anymore.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:42 AM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ahhh, change. *hugs teddy bear*

Actually, I quite like it.
posted by arcticseal at 9:42 AM on January 7, 2013


DO NOT WANT
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:42 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like the addition of the titles on the blue. They are kinda redundant on short Ask questions. Either way, the font is way too big and makes the front pages look choppy. A toggle for user pref would be awesome.
posted by jamaro at 9:43 AM on January 7, 2013


That's a good point about Ask - I think people will get used to it there too. It'll be more like a Head/Subhead thing eventually.

Like so:
PENIS PENIS VAGINA BUTT

Help me stop shouting about anatomy
[more inside]
posted by Mister_A at 9:43 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Worse than the size difference, it mixes Arial and Verdana. Two fonts with different weighting, different capital I... uck - they're too close to each other but still different. Hits my uncomfortable valley really hard.
posted by scrowdid at 9:43 AM on January 7, 2013 [26 favorites]


Gross!
posted by mean cheez at 9:43 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


One of the classic Metafilter type posts is a short link to something that is just awesome, offered with no additional commentary. It is just offered simply and directly.

An example of this style on the front page is something from fungible, but we all know other examples. So fungible's post now reads:

Trombone + GoPro
Trombone + GoPro (slyt)
posted by fungible at 2:45 PM


That just looks odd and redundant.

So the only solution is to provide some other commentary so the title and the post can be different. But doing so eliminates a classic category of posts.

I really don't think this works on the Blue. Or, at least, it changes the uniqueness that makes the Blue so great. It reads less like a weblog as conversation and becomes more like a standard issue blog: "This is the my subject, and here is what I want to say about that subject." I really do not care for this on Metafilter proper. Please consider exempting the Blue from this.
posted by dios at 9:44 AM on January 7, 2013 [38 favorites]


I go away for lunch and suddenly when I get back there are new Metafilter features. I trust this trend will continue tomorrow?
posted by xbonesgt at 9:44 AM on January 7, 2013


deep breaths, deep breaths.

opens front page again

hmmmm....

deep breaths, deep breaths.

Pretty major change here folks, really changes the meaning of the information...
posted by jonbro at 9:44 AM on January 7, 2013


I don't like it on Ask, but that's because I keep reading the titles and then I go to read the question and it's the exact same thing as the title.

I think Autumn nailed it... once you have the title, you don't even need the question there anymore.


I think this is a temporary thing until people realize that their titles show up on the page.
posted by LionIndex at 9:45 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


at first I was like: AHHHHHHHHH WHAT IS THIS?!

but I think it's a good idea. It think others have suggested that they're too large, but I guess I'll adjust.
posted by royalsong at 9:45 AM on January 7, 2013


I really don't think this works on the Blue.

I think we're judging a feature before it has had a chance to take hold. The GoPro/Trombone post has a boring title because the person writing it at the time didn't know it would show up on the front page, but the new posting page makes that clear. I suspect if it were posted right now, it would have something different.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:45 AM on January 7, 2013


For those of us bemoaning the loss of title japery occasioned by this change, just remember that there are also like 12 new unlockable snark achievements presented by the very same change!
posted by Mister_A at 9:46 AM on January 7, 2013


It's surprising how much of a change it makes to the feel of the Blue. Even after we learn to make the appropriate cultural changes — don't make the title a jokey toss-off, and NO ALL-CAPS TITLES, it will feel different. It used to feel like the front page was like a whole bunch of simultaneous conversations happening at a party, and I could choose to step into this one or that one. Now it feels more like an organized body of knowledge.

Changephobic as I am I think it's worth seeing how this will affect things. But in the mean time please reduce the font — it feels like a large man is yelling at me and taking up all of my vertical real estate.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:47 AM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is this going to impact the number of posts on a front page?
posted by Toekneesan at 9:47 AM on January 7, 2013


Thanks for the info on Stylish. I've installed that on the work computer and it's back to the old look. How would I accomplish this on my phone (Android v4.0.3)?

Now if I could just install a toggle to turn off my deskmate's constant knuckle-cracking...
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 9:48 AM on January 7, 2013


I suspect if it were posted right now, it would have something different.

I dunno, you yourself just made a post with a totally redundant title.
posted by lalex at 9:48 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would very much like a preference to turn it off. The title gives me no information that I am interested in and thus in my case serves only to add unnecessary clutter to the front page.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:48 AM on January 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


Maybe titles bolded instead of huge font?

(Sorry if this was already suggested, there are a lot of comments here already!)
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:48 AM on January 7, 2013


I think we're judging a feature before it has had a chance to take hold.

And who could ever have predicted that people would do that?
posted by jeather at 9:48 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


1. This is absolutely an improvement. Good job Matt et al.

2. A couple weeks ago there was an article on the wall street journal that claimed if you are logged into your facebook account and you load a page in your browser that has a facebook like button on it then facebook knows you loaded that page even if you do not click the facebook like button. i . e. any website with like buttons that you load the facebook corporation is watching over your shoulder.

Do those facebook share buttons on metafilter have the same feature? If a person is logged into facebook and they load an askme question about felching (say) does the facebook corporation get the datum you have done that?

2b. Any metafilter and facebook members bitch about this?
posted by bukvich at 9:49 AM on January 7, 2013


One recommendation is to put more space between articles for iPads. It's way too easy to tap on the title below the article you're interested in. More of a larger usability issue than an aesthetic one, in that a lot of Mefi controls are squeezed into a small place, which doesn't work too well for touch devices.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:49 AM on January 7, 2013


Not suitable on Metafilter's main page, in my opinion. I personally find it harder to read somehow - visually it's jarring and somehow harder to skim efficiently. I generally think most changes to Metafilter have been useful and I've liked them. In this case, I don't like this particular change and I don't find it useful.
Maybe it would be a little better if the titles were smaller in font and more meaningful in content. But I would rather not see these titles on the front page.
posted by aielen at 9:49 AM on January 7, 2013


you yourself just made a post with a totally redundant title.

Yeah, that was sub-optimal. It was auto-added from the Projects post to mefi button, and I didn't edit it before I hit post.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:50 AM on January 7, 2013


The GoPro/Trombone post has a boring title because the person writing it at the time didn't know it would show up on the front page, but the new posting page makes that clear. I suspect if it were posted right now, it would have something different.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:45 AM on January 7


I agree Matt: people will feel compelled to give a different title to avoid the redundancy. But in so doing, the user is forced to say something about the link other than just to provide it. Maybe you consider that a virtue, but I think one of the great things about certain posts is that they are offered with no commentary from the creator. This seems to compel some effort to offer commentary.
posted by dios at 9:50 AM on January 7, 2013 [21 favorites]


1) You don't start a story at the end
2) You don't start a joke with the punch line
3) A post that NEEDS a title on top is poorly written
4) Posts that have a bit of mystery to them are more interesting, for when you're in the mood for that...this REMOVES ALL RANDOMNESS
5) Titles are pretty much only USEFUL in the URL and page title
6) Takes up WAY too much space and serves no REAL or USEFUL purpose
7) Please please please kill it with fire
posted by sexyrobot at 9:50 AM on January 7, 2013 [39 favorites]


Do those facebook share buttons on metafilter have the same feature? If a person is logged into facebook and they load an askme question about felching (say) does the facebook corporation get the datum you have done that?

No, not at all. We don't load anything from facebook itself, so they have no knowledge of what you looked at or read.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:51 AM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Do those facebook share buttons on metafilter have the same feature? If a person is logged into facebook and they load an askme question about felching (say) does the facebook corporation get the datum you have done that?

No. We rolled our own Facebook button. It's served off our servers. Facebook doesn't get any information about you from this site.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:51 AM on January 7, 2013 [14 favorites]


Pony request: All titles with Marquee tag.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:51 AM on January 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yeah, that was sub-optimal. It was auto-added from the Projects post to mefi button, and I didn't edit it before I hit post.

It was a perfectly appropriate title for what it was describing.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:52 AM on January 7, 2013


Love it!
posted by Captain_Science at 9:53 AM on January 7, 2013


I wasn't a fan of this change at first. However, in just the time it took to read this thread and go back to the blue I find the idea is (slowly) warming up to me. So I'm going to give this an honest chance.

(also, I keep seeing the word titles with an I replacing the L and it makes this post extremely entertaining. I highly recommend it)
posted by Twain Device at 9:53 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is like when Diet Coke tried to change their product's taste after like 20 years and people were like "I DON'T CARE IF YOU MADE IT BETTER, I ONLY CARE THAT YOU MADE IT DIFFERENT DO NOT WANT BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO"
posted by 23skidoo at 9:53 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think we're judging a feature before it has had a chance to take hold.


We're all familiar with post titles.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:53 AM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Matt's post could have been very nicely titled like so:

Houndton Tabby

An Etsy store filled with amazing portraits of the Downton Abbey cast, but as cats and dogs.

See? It's not that hard! People will figure it out.
posted by Mister_A at 9:54 AM on January 7, 2013


Not against it, but the posts need more margin between them now.
posted by cellphone at 9:54 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Neophobes.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:54 AM on January 7, 2013


I am reminded yet again that you could not pay me to manage this website.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:55 AM on January 7, 2013 [20 favorites]


I really don't like the font size of these titles.
posted by sperose at 9:55 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Today I learned that I dislike change.
posted by asnider at 9:56 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The slightly-larger, bolded, hyperlinked titles on Recent Activity also aren't 20px.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:56 AM on January 7, 2013


I have no opinion on this change. Rather, I have SO MANY OPINIONS about change in general that I've imposed a rule on myself. I live with the change for a few days before I start grousing about it. In a few days, I may have an opinion about this change, but there's really no telling what it will be.

Thanks for posting the news, because YIKES and ahahahaha, you've got me pretty well click-trained by now. I reloaded AskMe, sat there for a split second thinking "Um. Um. Did I... just never notice that before? Because if so, UH-OH, time for a doctor," then immediately clicked over here to confirm that the titles were new. To sum up: PHEW, I am not losing it.

(Or at least, this is not further evidence of Me Losing It.)
posted by Elsa at 9:56 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the idea of titles, but I hate the size of the titles (both on a mobile device and on a desktop.) Hatred is maybe too strong a word, but for me it's like the visual version of hearing "moist"-- oddly off-putting and causing the averting of eyes.

Ps: yes I also thought the world had gone mad but no, meta was there to save me
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:56 AM on January 7, 2013


Feels very reddit-y to me right now. It will take a not-insignificant culture shift to convince people to use truly useful titles instead of being too clever by half.

Also, the size of the titles on other pages isn't bad, but as a post title this is too large. Needs a new class.
posted by moviehawk at 9:57 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Even after having removed the titles with schmod's userstyle gadget, the fact that they are there behind my veil of ignorance makes me sad. I agree with the people saying this is a bad change culturally, not just aesthetically.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 9:57 AM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


In all seriousness, I find that I'm now just skimming titles and not really even looking at the descriptions. I suppose this is kind of the point -- making it easier to scan for posts that you'll probably want to read -- but I'm finding it kind of distracting. I do think the font is a bit too big, but I'll give it a few days. Maybe it'll grow on me.
posted by asnider at 9:58 AM on January 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


what is this i can't even
posted by scratch at 9:58 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I asked this question earlier, though it may not have been clear, or the answer's on the page here somewhere and I'm missing it, but will this result in longer front pages, or fewer posts on any given front page iteration?
posted by Toekneesan at 9:58 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


It will take a not-insignificant culture shift to convince people to use truly useful titles instead of being too clever by half.

I'd give it a day or too of titles actually being visible before announcing that.
posted by Artw at 9:59 AM on January 7, 2013


I've only seen it on the mobile site so far, but I like it.
posted by Etrigan at 9:59 AM on January 7, 2013


Nthing the DO NOT LIKE for reasons like Scientist and dios and sexyrobot said.

I feel like this was solving a problem that did not exist.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 9:59 AM on January 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


Can we just use the same text formating as recent activity for this?
posted by empath at 10:00 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


quin's post on the football juggler works great in this setup. What doesn't work well are things like iridic's post. However, one way to improve that is to remove "Counterfeit Monkey" from the title and replace with one of the "command line" things. And then the 'post text' can pick up from there.

We're going to be OK, you guys!
posted by Mister_A at 10:00 AM on January 7, 2013


AHHH I KNEW SOMETHING WAS INEXPLICABLY WRONG
posted by The Whelk at 10:00 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I gotta say that the more I think about this change the more it seems like whimsy. I've been following MetaTalk fairly closely since 2004 and never once have I seen this requested. The fact that two months ago a person asked if they could have it on hovering doesn't really sound like the masses clamoring to be released from the chains of untitledness.

IMHO the front page of Metafilter is about links. Titles do not contain links. Ergo, titles do not belong on the front page of Metafilter.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:00 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a previous UX designer I empathise with the dramatic reactions from everyone the minute you make a change. That said,

- I think they are useful for AskMe. But on the blue I can already feel myself glazing over the post details and that makes me sad.

- This is how it always was in Favorites right? So that's another thing for me, I was confused and thought I was in favorites instead of the normal page when I first saw it. So there's that too.

- Been said a lot but I'll chime in, the titles are just way too big. In terms of visual hierarchy, Mefi has traditionally placed importance in the post itself. Now you are placing importance on the title, which is too short and context-less to be useful.
posted by like_neon at 10:01 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


This will all be better on the blue once everyone makes new FPPs with titles in mind.
posted by dobi at 10:01 AM on January 7, 2013


will this result in longer front pages, or fewer posts on any given front page iteration?

Nope, everything is the same on the number of posts, the titles do take up some vertical space, so you'll just have to scroll a little bit more.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:02 AM on January 7, 2013


the masses clamoring to be released from the chains of untitledness.

On the other hand, I've seen (although could not now link to) requests that there be better differentiation of posts from one another.
posted by OmieWise at 10:03 AM on January 7, 2013


I'm neutral. As with most changes, I'll probably end up liking it, and I'm unwilling to demonize it until I've used it for a few days. (that said, in the end I would also like a preference setting to chance the size and font. My mobile browser doesn't support userscripts)

However, as has been pointed out this is going to change things. Titles just went from "joke / afterthought" to "must summarize post without giving away my clever [more inside] joke." I will miss those funny, irreverent titles which are likely to all but disappear.
posted by Tehhund at 10:03 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ugh. This change make the front page harder to read.

1) Would it be possible to make the Post Title field optional now? This would prevent titles from being redundant to a post's content.

2) I nthing the request to make the font for titles smaller. PLEASE. Their presence on the page is pretty jarring at their current height.

3) Please keep in mind that Stylish is not an option for those of us who surf the site on the mobile stylesheet. This change creates more text on small screen real estate.
posted by zarq at 10:05 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why? What problem are you solving?
posted by Mick at 10:05 AM on January 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


anyway, I don't like it.

We fear change.

*hiss*
posted by The Whelk at 10:05 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Totally with asnider's point just now. I find my eyes are only focusing on the large titles and it somehow makes reading the descriptions underneath less natural, as your gaze is constantly drawn away. Bolding and reduction of font size seems like an aesthetic that would be easier on the eye?
posted by Rufus T. Firefly at 10:06 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I use the white background and it looks good there, but on the blue style sheet I can see why people are complaining that it looks too big, even if I don't completely agree.

Keep the titles at the size they are and bump up the text size by 2-4 points and possibly add a thin line above the titles to further emphasis the separation between posts.

Still, I suspect this is going to end up like the "favorites experiment" where what is perceived as a small change radically messes with users interaction with the site.

What I look about the post titles is the ability to quickly scan a page to find posts of interest to me. But that seems to conflict with Metafilter's philosophy of reading the entire post or comment.

We should give the feature a few weeks to see how it goes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:06 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


In all seriousness, I find that I'm now just skimming titles and not really even looking at the descriptions. I suppose this is kind of the point -- making it easier to scan for posts that you'll probably want to read -- but I'm finding it kind of distracting.

This is something worth discussing.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:06 AM on January 7, 2013 [16 favorites]


Feels very reddit-y to me right now.

You know, if the tags of the last couple of hundred FPPs were scraped they could totally be used to build a nice category navigation bar at the top of the front page.
posted by Artw at 10:07 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


needs a <blink> tag

ok, maybe not
posted by lampshade at 10:07 AM on January 7, 2013


Yeah, it definitely involves a lot more scrolling and it's much more time consuming to come up with a title. I bet most of us will just make redundant titles anyway.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:07 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will miss those funny, irreverent titles which are likely to all but disappear.

Can't speak for anyone but myself, but I have no intention of changing the way I create titles on posts.
posted by zarq at 10:07 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is awesome. I like it. Thanks.
posted by batmonkey at 10:08 AM on January 7, 2013


In all seriousness, I find that I'm now just skimming titles and not really even looking at the descriptions. I suppose this is kind of the point -- making it easier to scan for posts that you'll probably want to read -- but I'm finding it kind of distracting.

What asnider said - even on AskMeFi, where I figured it would be more useful to have a simple, direct title to a post, I'm barely glancing at the descriptions as I scan down the page, and I'm definitely not catching the details.

I feel myself mentally rejecting reading something based on a few words (the title) and this is not how I normally interact with MeFi - I am always drawn in by small details, and the (visual and descriptive) weight of the title is shutting out the details.

The formatting in "view all activity" (from each user's profile) seems to work better - the titles are smaller and there is more space between posts. If you're going to keep it this way then I think it would make more sense to adopt the "view all activity" page style for the front page.
posted by flex at 10:09 AM on January 7, 2013 [22 favorites]


I definitely prefer the way that the titles on Mefi Projects look (and have always looked).
posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:11 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I use the white background and it looks good there

I use the white background while at work, and I still find it jarring and distracting. As I said earlier, I'm reading titles and mostly skipping over the content of the posts. The post descriptions used to be what drew me in -- sometimes causing me to read very random posts that I probably wouldn't have bothered with if I'd just seen the title; I worry that this will be lost.

This isn't intentional, either. It is happening quite naturally and feels like a design fault as a result (i.e., I'm not looking away from the descriptions so much as my eye is naturally being drawn away from them).

Still, I'll give it a day or two before I outright condemn it. I may just need to get used to it.

On preview: What flex said.
posted by asnider at 10:11 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


1) Would it be possible to make the Post Title field optional now? This would prevent titles from being redundant to a post's content.

That would look pretty awful.

Might be time to rethink or remove the link title and link URL fields though.
posted by Artw at 10:11 AM on January 7, 2013


I've been following MetaTalk fairly closely since 2004 and never once have I seen this requested.

It has come up a number of times, and in feedback channels other than Metatalk discussion. It's something we never really took as far as testing on our staging server and spending time adjusting to, but it's very much come up before and there are some concrete title-related difficulties with the site that Matt mentioned that inform the idea of finally tackling this.

I totally understand not liking it as a change and obviously we're listening to feedback in here, but it's not a stray whimsy.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:11 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here is a FPP with a redundant title that works great:

Mildly Interesting
/r/mildlyinteresting is where to go if you want things which are, you know, neat. Or pretty cool. Or something else which is better than boring but not quite as intense as fascinating. Things like snow meeting high tide, or uniformly-sized bubbles. A bear face or a llama face on a piece of wood. An observation about Tic Tac containers. A poorly-designed drawer. A belligerent tree. An amusing Google trend. Cross-product branding on cereal boxes. Caution: weirdly effective as a time sink.

See? Redundant ≠ bad in all cases.
posted by Mister_A at 10:11 AM on January 7, 2013


Also, was there any consideration of how this affects the archives? I can't imagine that all previous posts weren't constructed without paying attention to the fact that the title was below-the-fold, and now they are auto-re-edited without that consideration.

Yeah, and on ASK it's nothing more than a useless echo...nthing 'kill it with fire'

Titles are great for a page that you've already decided to click through to, and make a nice header and a way to identify it in bookmarks and searches (as well as add a touch of humor), but on top of every post on the main page is just wasting space and spoilerizing.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:11 AM on January 7, 2013


Can you make it so that it gives me candy every time I look at it?
posted by angrycat at 10:12 AM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I said, 1) Would it be possible to make the Post Title field optional now? This would prevent titles from being redundant to a post's content.

And I just realized that this wouldn't work either. The mobile stylesheet's Recent Activity page only lists Subsite: Post Title. So if the post title is eliminated, it would break things.
posted by zarq at 10:12 AM on January 7, 2013


Seems like a good change to me.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:12 AM on January 7, 2013


The usability of the front pages improves with this change.

Some of the comments above suggest that's debatable, at the least. The previous thread wasn't really about adding titles on the front page - the closest to that is pb saying "If the root problem is that titles are important and need to be on the front page, we should discuss that" - but unless there was another thread I missed, we never did, so this kind of feels like a major change that was never really floated by the user base before being implemented.

That's not usually the ideal way to do things like this, regardless of one's fear or lack of fear of change.
posted by mediareport at 10:12 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ooh good point, artw. The post setup has been kind of kooky to me since forever.
posted by Mister_A at 10:12 AM on January 7, 2013


The titles are a bit large, but otherwise I guess titles are the wave of the future...
posted by nutate at 10:13 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


What asnider said - even on AskMeFi, where I figured it would be more useful to have a simple, direct title to a post, I'm barely glancing at the descriptions as I scan down the page, and I'm definitely not catching the details.

Yep, I'm skimming like a mofo and find I'm adopting that attitude that if a title is too obtuse, then why bother reading the description?

Can you make it so that it gives me candy every time I look at it?

No, because you're not eating your vegetables or getting enough sunlight.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:14 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Count me as another who is really concerned about skimming. Reading the question on ask or the description on the blue requires a little of my attention and interaction. Skimming the titles and making snap decisions to go on or stop makes me feel less engaged with the site. If the lack of substantive information in the titles is a problem (the problem? idk) then remove it from the submission form and generate the titles from category and tags instead or something.

Using my words: I think this is a potential culture changer and decidedly not to my taste.
posted by Iteki at 10:14 AM on January 7, 2013 [27 favorites]


Might be time to rethink or remove the link title and link URL fields though.

I always thought those were added to make it easier for people to include a link in their posts. (Which of course is now mandatory.)
posted by zarq at 10:14 AM on January 7, 2013


Ugly, takes up a lot of room, and distracts from the meaning of the post: the post body. Now everyone will think up clever headlines to get people to read their posts, and Metafilter just became more and more like Reddit.

Some people will like it; they will be wrong. For the rest of us, give us an option to turn it off.

Also: if you a spending time to explain what the problem with the headlines are on the posting form, you need to re-do the form with the headline first with "Shown only when post is viewed, not on front page" - anything else is beanplating.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 10:16 AM on January 7, 2013 [18 favorites]


If this stays, maybe it's time to implement character limits on the front page part of posts. I can currently see only 3 AskMe questions on a 13-inch display.
posted by lalex at 10:16 AM on January 7, 2013


Having read this thread and I have decided I hate it filthy.
posted by The Whelk at 10:17 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


It would be great to have a way to turn this off for mobile devices with which third-party scripts don't work. Otherwise I am perfectly satisfied with the linked stylish fix upthread, thanks schmod you are the bestest.
posted by elizardbits at 10:17 AM on January 7, 2013


I think it better for FPP to attract readers on the strength of their content rather than through a title. It completely changes the way posts are constructed.

Right now, titles are IN YOUR FACE and clutter things up.

I don't like that.
posted by Fruny at 10:17 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The post setup has been kind of kooky to me since forever.

THATS WHAT MAKES IT WORK! Srsly. Most other sites have a big box you dump stuff in then click 'post' ...the extra odd fields and layout options are what makes people really think about what they are posting, how, and why.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:18 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Forgot to add, it also, especially in Ask now requires me to be able to "sell" my post in 8 words or less.

I understand that on the blue we can perhaps have an expectation that if you can't make your post engaging enough, you shouldn't make posts, but on the green I already have a terrible time getting the right eyes on my question. I suspect this may make that worse (although I am open to the possibility of it improving it).
posted by Iteki at 10:18 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Metafilter just became more and more like Reddit.

My immediate thought. (After coming here after pressing command + and - a couple times)
posted by saul wright at 10:18 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


What? Am I the *only* one who thinks the post titles should be bigger?



(just kidding)

Please make them smaller.

smaller

much smaller

almost there smaller

not this small, but I think you see where I'm going with this.

posted by iamkimiam at 10:19 AM on January 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


I can currently see only 3 AskMe questions on a 13-inch display.

That is due to a single and fairly rare incidence of Huge Wall Of Text Syndrome. Compared to the rest of the front page of askme it is very clearly an anomaly.
posted by elizardbits at 10:19 AM on January 7, 2013


People, elections have consequences! This is just one more part of Obamacare.
posted by found missing at 10:19 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've always thought titles were pretty useless. You basically have two choices for the title : (1) re-state something you've already said in the post text or (2) make some kind of stupid joke. I feel most strongly about this on AskMe, where I already try to distill my question down to something brief, saving the extended explanation for the [more inside]. Half the time, I just wind up re-using the post text for the title, since it was only one sentence to begin with.

I guess the 11 people who consume MeFi through an RSS reader appreciate titles?
posted by Afroblanco at 10:20 AM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ahhh, I thought my pupils had elongsploded or something.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:20 AM on January 7, 2013


Really, really, really not liking the titles. It completely changes the site dynamic. I no longer have to read the paragraph below the title to decide whether I want to read the paragraph below the title or not.

Make it stop.
posted by Aquaman at 10:21 AM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I apologize for this in advance, because I'm trying to not be reflexively negative. But the titles just aren't working. They don't look good at all.

I love the old style, where you need to read the front page to figure out what the posts are about.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:21 AM on January 7, 2013 [16 favorites]


a preference to turn the titles off would be great :/
posted by yeoz at 10:21 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I browsed with it for awhile before getting to Metatalk and this post. I'm fine with it. Not sure if it'll help with site indexing but if so, that's a bonus.
posted by empyrean at 10:23 AM on January 7, 2013


I'm firmly in the "give it a chance" group. I think a lot of people are reacting to "OH NO CHANGE" rather than whether it is really beneficial or not. I think it is potentially really handy -- I find titles interesting, even if they're jokey/snarky titles, and they actually are the first thing that'll pique my interest in a post. It's also bugged me for some time that they didn't appear on Ask.

That said, I tried to zoom out about 8 times before thinking it must be the new pair of contacts that I just put in.

Please, please, the titles need to be smaller. I like the way the page usually flows down, and it's easy to jump from one post to the next to the next. Having the BIG title size makes it straining on the eyes to read. I'm really on board with the same-size-as-post-text-but-bolded idea. I think that would work really, really well.
posted by DoubleLune at 10:23 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


That is due to a single and fairly rare incidence of Huge Wall Of Text Syndrome. Compared to the rest of the front page of askme it is very clearly an anomaly.

And tend to be (and ought to be) flagged as display error, which it was, and now with a quick mod fix it's much better.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:23 AM on January 7, 2013


Ewww
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:23 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dunno. With tagging, I think you should do away with post titles entirely - it feels dated and awkward. The least interesting thing about any given post or question is the title. People are generally very good about doing concise summaries of their question/post "above the fold" - what does the title do to augment that? Nothing, as far as I can tell. Less than nothing, because it interrupts the flow of the site with BIGHUGE letters that are summarizing a summarization.

I'm usually a proponent of new and nifty things, but this one detracts by addition.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:23 AM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Another vote for smaller.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 10:23 AM on January 7, 2013


The usability of the front pages improves with this change.

Except, it doesn't. The titles overwhelm the text, and it's the text that really provides the needed data. The titles are acting like a barrier.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:24 AM on January 7, 2013 [16 favorites]


If it becomes part of the culture to include important info in the title, but yet we have the option to turn titles off, that's going to be a problem.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 10:24 AM on January 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


The people who are posting positive opinions just reflexively like change and need to give it a few weeks so they can realize it is awful.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:25 AM on January 7, 2013 [47 favorites]


This looks much better to me on Safari for the iPhone than Firefox for the Desktop.

I too would love an opt-out checkbox, preferably one specific to browsers. And a pony, please.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:26 AM on January 7, 2013


Now that I think about it, this title change is great. I hope your next move will be to remove the post body from the page, and add up/down vote arrows next to each post. Remove the signup fee. Add some threaded comments, allow inline images, and baby you've got a stew reddit going.

Could this change be related to the rumors of reddit's $400 million valuation?
posted by mullingitover at 10:26 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


It'd be interesting to see a poll of opinions including screen size and resolution. On a 19" screen at 1280x1024 the title size is barely discernibly larger than the rest of the text, so it's very confusing to see people acting like it's jarringly big.
posted by empyrean at 10:26 AM on January 7, 2013


Whoa. I hadn't previewed what everyone else was saying.

Really?! This much churn? People are so strange.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who has been annoyed repeatedly by having to carefully hover in order to see the vital information that the poster had thought everyone would see before jumping into the meat of their post, since that's how titles normally work.

I spend time on lots of places online, including Reddit, and really don't see how this makes MeFi "more like Reddit". The similarity is so shallow as to be a laughable comparison. And kind of insulting, really.

Okay, maybe the titles could be somewhat smaller. But all of this vitriol and terror...? Boggling.

Is no one else reading that there were non-aesthetic reasons for the change?
posted by batmonkey at 10:26 AM on January 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


I feel myself mentally rejecting reading something based on a few words (the title) and this is not how I normally interact with MeFi - I am always drawn in by small details, and the (visual and descriptive) weight of the title is shutting out the details.

Interesting. I suppose in a way then, it's favoring a simpler link-centric style of post rather than ones that tell a more complex story. Which is really more Reddit's strength than ours: single link posts by volume.
posted by zarq at 10:26 AM on January 7, 2013


SweetTeaAndABiscuit: "If it becomes part of the culture to include important info in the title, but yet we have the option to turn titles off, that's going to be a problem."

I think this is more "Option to turn titles off on the index page" and not "turn titles off everywhere".
posted by boo_radley at 10:26 AM on January 7, 2013


Would it be possible to have the titles show up only for posts from the point of this feature launch and not for all the posts prior to it? It somehow feels wrong and inauthentic to me to see those titles, as we've all written and designed them under the assumption that they wouldn't be blaring at the top of the content we shared on the front pages of the subsites.

In other words, just as we know that people will be writing their post titles differently here on out (with the new awareness of where/how it will be visible), we will now be reading them with that awareness. And I'd like to be able to go back in time and read those pages as they were, no different from how people imagined they'd appear when they wrote them then.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:27 AM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I like it when things stay the same forever :(

Sadly, I'm mostly not joking.
posted by Justinian at 10:27 AM on January 7, 2013


They're too big given how many of them are on each page. I'll give it a few days to get used to, but only because trying to figure out how to use new browser extensions and stuff on all the various computers and phones I use to look at metafilter is really annoying.
posted by shelleycat at 10:27 AM on January 7, 2013


Yeah, I am another one who isn't immediately fond of this change, but I will give it a try. I do agree with SweetTeaAndABiscuit in that I don't think having it be an option will work either, as it means very different views of the front page, depending on your settings.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:27 AM on January 7, 2013


It seems like to guys are really attached to this change regardless of any opposition, my only request:
Could we ask you guys to commit to revisiting it with a critical eye in a month to see how it has affected the site?
posted by Blasdelb at 10:28 AM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


I love it, but I would like them to be much smaller. Perhaps even the same size at the post text, but styled different (color, bold, etc. - or even a different font).
posted by amaire at 10:28 AM on January 7, 2013


Just making it optional wouldn't be a good way to go. As many have noted, users will adapt. They will be forced to make the Title important. The Title will have to work with the actual post in some meaningful or useful way. As such, content from posts will be moved to titles. In that world, those with "titles off" will lose content and value of posts. They will be compelled to have them on to deal with the new way content is delivered.

I think this is an all or nothing proposition because it does fundamentally change how posts are made. Maybe that is a good thing. I'm just in the camp that the uniqueness of Metafilter added to the strength of posts and an ethos that a lot of thought should be given to crafting a post. That craftsmanship added to the post and value of the site. With Titles, I guess the goal is that you define your topic in some way to let the reader know what it is, and then your post is for those who already chose the topic. It de-emphasizes the craftsmanship of the posts and the unique flow and dialogue on the front page. I do not consider it a virtue in this instance to fall in line with convention when the uniqueness of this place is what has made it great.
posted by dios at 10:28 AM on January 7, 2013 [23 favorites]


Another nope vote. Unnecessary and redundant.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:28 AM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


and now with a quick mod fix it's much better.

yeah that was some freaky ninja shit right there.
posted by elizardbits at 10:29 AM on January 7, 2013


batmonkey: "I'm sure I'm not the only person who has been annoyed repeatedly by having to carefully hover in order to see the vital information that the poster had thought everyone would see before jumping into the meat of their post, since that's how titles normally work."

Except everyone knew how this site actually worked and nobody expected it to work this way when they were crafting their post titles. That's the biggest problem with this change.
posted by mullingitover at 10:29 AM on January 7, 2013


Afroblanco: "I guess the 11 people who consume MeFi through an RSS reader appreciate titles?"

I DO use an RSS reader for all of my MeFi consumption, so this didn't bother me a bit-I've always been seeing titles. And yet, I seem to enjoy and read the site the same as other folks. Odd that.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:29 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm on the record as someone who usually snarks at people complaining about minor website changes, but I really don't like this for reasons that Scientist already articulated better than I could.
posted by theodolite at 10:29 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


dios, if adapting is considered using the word "Title" in the title from now on, consider me adapted.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:30 AM on January 7, 2013


I just posted a question (not as a stunt to test this feature), and my title is redundant. I would have skipped it altogether if it were an optional field, but now that it's juxtaposed above my question I feel like it's just poor writing/text presentation.

Looking through my previous questions, I see similar behavior. I use titles redundantly, or as shortened, Twitterized versions of my above-the-fold question. I think I've done a good job of keeping my questions within reasonable text limits—not hogging front-page space and keeping my prose quick-readable—but when I've used two or three sentences, I felt like they were necessary. If one sentence will suffice, I do that and I shouldn't need to do so twice. And I don't like the idea that now X percent of readers will be answering my 72-character title, having skipped over my actual question.

MetaFilter is a community of readers. People here write better than on most other websites, and I think they read more. The small ways in which MetaFilter's layout has "constrained" that to be the case are quirky, I agree, but I think they are good-quirky and worth keeping.
posted by cribcage at 10:30 AM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


And they are way way way too big on my phone. Way way too big.

Please please give us a user preference to let us change their size from within metafilter. I don't even know what browser my phone runs, let alone how to mess around with custom css or whatever, and I shouldn't have to learn how to do fancy crap like that just to look at a supposedly straight forward text-based webpage. I can make everything else usable from within the website, this should be the same.
posted by shelleycat at 10:31 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Initially I wondered why Mefi had gotten all shouty, then I checked metatalk... I'm good now.
posted by NiteMayr at 10:32 AM on January 7, 2013


If you look at today's front page right now, all the titles for today's posts are completely worthless/duplicative, and they take up half the screen. It is a bad change.
posted by crayz at 10:32 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've changed my mind. This like so many other modern UI redesigns uses MORE SPACE to show LESS INFORMATION and thus I hate it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:34 AM on January 7, 2013 [32 favorites]


As many have noted, users will adapt. They will be forced to make the Title important. The Title will have to work with the actual post in some meaningful or useful way. As such, content from posts will be moved to titles.

Again, there are OVER TEN YEARS(!) OF POSTS in which THIS HAS NOT BEEN DONE...archive fail.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:34 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


At first i thought what the fuck is this, it looks AWFUL WHY ALL BIG TEXT IN MY FRONT PAGE? But then I fear the new, and I'll be used to it in a while.

However, I think that the points raised above by flex, asnider, Iteki et al are much more important: it's not that it looks ugly (though I think it does); it's that it fundamentally changes the way you visually interact with the front page.

And that is indeed a huge change in site culture. I'm struggling to think of something else so fundamental to MeFi that's been so radically instantly altered over the years.
posted by Len at 10:34 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


There seem to be enough people who like seeing the titles that it should be retained as a user setting, but the default should be off, or else it will fundamentally change the way posts are composed.
posted by theodolite at 10:35 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've changed my mind. This like so many other modern UI redesigns uses MORE SPACE to show LESS INFORMATION and thus I hate it.

Hello fellow Something Awful reader. :P
posted by Drinky Die at 10:35 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's a good idea, just the styling needs to be tweaked some more; it doesn't feel like it quite fits in yet (almost like seeing two fonts in a single paragraph, feels a little jarring...but it's a good start!)
posted by samsara at 10:35 AM on January 7, 2013


If you look at today's front page right now, all the titles for today's posts are completely worthless/duplicative, and they take up half the screen.

It's probably because the posters didn't realize titles now display on the front page. As people get used to the change, the titles will become more useful.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:36 AM on January 7, 2013


I can't find the downvote arrow on this post, please hope me?
posted by mediated self at 10:36 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Is it just me or is the Mefi deleted posts extension not playing nice with this"
Defenestrator


The title of the previous post appears above the deleted post now. Paging Plutor!

[Here's a link to the script in case any of you are interested; it really adds to the whole MeFi experience, seeing which posts are axed and why.]
posted by not_on_display at 10:36 AM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Guys guys - I have an idea! Lets put the favorite count in 20x font instead of the post titles. That would make this metatalk thread really fun.
posted by Think_Long at 10:36 AM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Starting a post with a block quote really leaves a massive icky space under the title on the front page.
posted by jamaro at 10:37 AM on January 7, 2013


Hello fellow Something Awful reader. :P

Oh my god, I know, the new SA is awful! Gradients and rounded rectangles and inconsistent fonts and dropdowns everywhere! YES, CHOOCH, YOU OWN PHOTOSHOP, WE KNOW.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:38 AM on January 7, 2013


Again, there are OVER TEN YEARS(!) OF POSTS in which THIS HAS NOT BEEN DONE...archive fail.

I'm not sure of the context where this would be a problem - everywhere you might see an old post you already see a title.
posted by Artw at 10:38 AM on January 7, 2013


Is something different?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:38 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah most of my scripts are not happy at the moment. I'm giving them lots of pats and baking fresh cookies in hopes they cheer up soon.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:39 AM on January 7, 2013


Ha, I didn't even notice. I just read the front page for about 15 minutes, then came here & saw this post. Seems like a reasonable change to me.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:39 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


"smaller font (same as text but bold),"

I also like this idea. But yeah, smaller titles on the front pages, in whatever style, would be good.

I caught it first reading on my phone this morning, and they are HUUUUUGE, they take up half the screen on the mobile site on my phone. When you get it a little more settled in, please take a look at the mobile site, it really eats up real estate because the font is so large.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:40 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


This sucks a lot of ass.
posted by repoman at 10:40 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I came in here to say that I think the font size for the titles is too large. I guess I'm not the only one.
posted by christie at 10:40 AM on January 7, 2013


Len: And that is indeed a huge change in site culture. I'm struggling to think of something else so fundamental to MeFi that's been so radically instantly altered over the years.

Probably the Great Favorite Enchangening, which was also quite controversial.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:42 AM on January 7, 2013


I was just looking at Recent Activity and the size/boldness of the titles there is really nice. Plus, many of us are already used to that style.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:42 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Again, there are OVER TEN YEARS(!) OF POSTS in which THIS HAS NOT BEEN DONE...archive fail.

I'm not sure of the context where this would be a problem - everywhere you might see an old post you already see a title.


actually, if you search via the archives themselves (ie: January-2012), there are no titles on the main page. In other words, it's the old look, and thus it's keeping things in context.
posted by philip-random at 10:42 AM on January 7, 2013


The only thing I can think to add to the discussion (and i'm still not sure how i feel about the actual issue) is that it seems like it's brought the following to the forefront:

The line between the purpose "Your Question" field and the "Extended Explanation" field (and now the "title" field) in terms of what types of information need to go where in order to provide the most useful layout are incredibly broad, and every question seems to use them in a different way.

Personally I think this is a good thing in that it doesn't give your brain enough time to adapt to a 'structure' of how posts lay out and therefore you need to focus and pay attention to each question for a few milliseconds longer than you would have on, say, Reddit (which i am also a member of).

This feels like a move away from organized focused structural chaos and toward a more orderly, explicit definition of the purposes of each field and how questions are to be laid out.

Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is what I think a lot of us (especially those of us who have been around for a decade or more) are understandably uncomfortable about.
posted by softlord at 10:43 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


sexyrobot: "Again, there are OVER TEN YEARS(!) OF POSTS in which THIS HAS NOT BEEN DONE...archive fail."

Maybe put a few more words around what you're trying to express rather than just "archive fail"? I'm interested to know how this change will make the archives fail. Thanks!
posted by boo_radley at 10:43 AM on January 7, 2013


Whatevs.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:43 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


mullingitover - No, everyone didn't and yes, people did. Otherwise, I wouldn't have the experience of having to hover to see missing info, as referenced.

Still can't believe how much people are freaking out about this. It just seems wildly immature to me for some reason.
posted by batmonkey at 10:44 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I readily admit that I'm one of those people who dislikes it when websites' formats change. That said, I have one really big, non-knee-jerky reaction for disliking this.

Presentation of posts is supposed to exclude editorializing. But the titles are, and always have been, more of a way for people to frame their posts than to describe them. And if someone frames a post in a way that is off-putting to me (and there are a few on the front page that are right now), or by using an in-joke that I don't get, I'm likely to skip it. That means less content for me, and it means that what has been, for me, the historical value of Metafilter -- the "hey, look what I found on the web" aspect -- is diminished.

For me, the title is an extraneous part of the information that's presented, but this change makes it a very big part of the whole package. That's more than a user interface/design change -- it's a cultural one.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:44 AM on January 7, 2013 [41 favorites]


Might despise it a little less if font were smaller and/or if there were an option to keep the Old Feel. But yeah, yuck. Somehow (to me) having huge title lines with the posts trashes something ineffable that was metafilter and makes it a much uglier, or at least a much more humdrum, website. McMetafilter?
posted by blucevalo at 10:44 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not against titles of some sort, but right now on the blue it looks like a classic crazy person on the internet conspiracy theory site--big font, normal font, bold, italic, bold italic, italic block quote, blue hyperlinks, all caps. Total visual cacaphony.
posted by HotToddy at 10:44 AM on January 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm not a fan of this.
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:45 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


It just seems wildly immature to me for some reason.

I don't see anyone here being immature. I see the vast majority of people saying the site is hard to read now, for no good reason.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:47 AM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Still can't believe how much people are freaking out about this. It just seems wildly immature to me for some reason. - batmonkey

A lot of people have some really valid and well-stated criticisms. So... this just seems kind of rude to me.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:47 AM on January 7, 2013 [19 favorites]


Also, as someone pointed out above: Arial titles right on top of Verdana body copy? Gross.
posted by Scientist at 10:47 AM on January 7, 2013


Also worth pointing out: At least on my screen & with my (mostly default, professional white) setup, the date headers that break up the various front pages of the site are of a slightly smaller size than the post titles, which seems incorrect if they're a hierarchical nesting thing.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:47 AM on January 7, 2013


These are overly large. I think same size/type of font but bolded would be preferable.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:48 AM on January 7, 2013


I don't see anyone here being immature.

If anything, we're a bit overripe.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:50 AM on January 7, 2013


I feel like having a title makes sense on blog posts, which are usually large chunks of text and therefore need something pithy to draw you into reading that large chunk of text. You also don't have a high expectation of actively interacting with the content beyond reading it - the question you're mentally weighing is your investment of time to read that large chunk of text, so you use the title to decide whether you'll spend some time reading.

Titles don't make sense in the culture of MeFi posts, which are short (it is very rare to have a long chunk of text on the front page - anything more than a paragraph - even if there's a lot more text inside) and can be full of links. The framing of the post itself is what draws you into clicking on the links, or clicking through to read the comment thread.

Some links are just showing you something quickly, which is not a large investment of time. And on MeFi, you're more likely to interact with the post as well - discussing the content; a post's thread can be not very firmly attached to the topic of a post, and yet be more interesting than the post itself.

The point has been made earlier as well that posts here sometimes draw you in through being slightly or quite mysterious, and this is not a bad thing. But it is definitely a cultural difference from most blogs, and part of the appeal of MeFi is that it is NOT like most blogs, so why make it MORE like most blogs?
posted by flex at 10:50 AM on January 7, 2013 [21 favorites]


Rock Steady: Probably the Great Favorite Enchangening, which was also quite controversial.

Oh yeah, that was huge, but even then, favourites hadn't been part of the site and its culture from the very beginning; MeFi had been going for what, 7 or 8 years before they first arrived.

On preview: what mudpuppie said.
posted by Len at 10:51 AM on January 7, 2013


I will totally give it a couple of days but I liked the elegance of the previous design where the text above the fold spoke for the fpp.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:51 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wait, did the font size just get a smidge smaller or am I just used to it already?
posted by leesh at 10:51 AM on January 7, 2013


Yep, we adjusted the font size down a bit.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:52 AM on January 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


It looks like they are making it smaller, which is good.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:52 AM on January 7, 2013


There seems to be a strong consensus that the current font/size is ugly and less readable, and that a change should be made to that straightaway.

There seems to be a less strong consensus that visible titles change the essential MeFi experience. I think this one is worth the mod team considering for a few days.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:52 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the font just shrank. Are we doing this live?
posted by boo_radley at 10:52 AM on January 7, 2013


mudpuppie: "Presentation of posts is supposed to exclude editorializing. But the titles are, and always have been, more of a way for people to frame their posts than to describe them."

Agreed, which is why I think retroactive application of the post titles really messes with the integrity of how people wrote their posts and how they expected them to look when they wrote them. This should only apply on posts moving forward, where people can frame their post in a way that makes sense with the presentation constraints.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:52 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like it much more now, thanks for listening to our comments!
posted by leesh at 10:52 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Arial titles right on top of Verdana body copy? Gross.

Yeah, this. Dropping the font size was a good step, thank you. Matching the fonts would be a great second step, though. The clash is pretty jarring.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:53 AM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I suspect that the issue with mobile devices might be very browser dependent. For example, I actually find the titles less jarring on my phone because they don't look so comparatively huge compared to the normal text. Others are claiming that the titles are taking up half of their screens.
posted by asnider at 10:54 AM on January 7, 2013


That does make a difference. Personally I'd have it at 14, but I appreciate this is probably a minority view and it's now livable.
posted by jaduncan at 10:54 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just dropping in to register my disapproval. mudpuppie's above comment hits the nail on the head - this change pushes the "title" text-writing outlet to the forefront and I prefer my MeFi experience with as few "headlines" as possible. Maybe this would be mitigated somewhat by a smaller font size but in general I don't like this.

All that said, I appreciate the effort to keep up with the times, but I think this clashes with what I like about MeFi.
posted by antonymous at 10:54 AM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


You guys made it super big so you could adjust it down after the initial outcry didn't you. Smart move.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:55 AM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is exactly what Carson and the Duchess were discussing last night. The America rush to disregard standards is destroying civilization.

Just you wait until Mr. Bates is out of jail.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:55 AM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


sorry...i assumed this affected the 1,5,10 yrs ago (which i like to click on sometimes)...it doesn't seem to...and yes, right, the title DO appear in searches, which is why, i now realize, why i find them (searches on mefi) a little disconcerting and off-putting...the posts start with different words (the title) than they did when they were on the main page, making it harder to parse...can we remove/reduce the titles there too? I can't count the number of times i have searched for something on mefi, been obstrusted by the titles and resorted to just using google to find it (which, tho it does have page titles, has done so since one)
posted by sexyrobot at 10:55 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's more than a user interface/design change -- it's a cultural one.

Yeah, I agree with that.
posted by mediareport at 10:55 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I appreciate that the font is slightly smaller, but it's still too big for me on my laptop and way too big on the phone. If we could change title size in preferences that would be excellent.
posted by jeather at 10:56 AM on January 7, 2013


Oooo that's better, smaller...still think the disparate fonts issue needs attention though (/moaning sod).
posted by Rufus T. Firefly at 10:56 AM on January 7, 2013


This makes metafilter look like a newspaper. I don't like that.

Without the headlines, the posts were often a sort of puzzle, where you had to spend a few seconds reading and thinking about the text before you could really figure out why the post existed and what it was saying. Which was great, because every other site on the internet is battling to grab your attention in three words or less, "REPUBLICANS BLOCK DEMS", "12 CUTE THINGS", "WHY X IS ALL WRONG". And I'm pretty tired of having everything categorized and systematized and sorted; I don't want to scan the front page for titles that align with what I already think is interesting. I don't want to know what I'm getting into when I start reading, because I don't want to reject it as a "topic I don't care about" the very start.

Overall I'm just afraid that systematizing posts will make them boring. If I wanted reddit, I'd go to reddit.
posted by kiltedtaco at 10:56 AM on January 7, 2013 [22 favorites]


Loving it on the green, hating it on the blue.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:56 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I guess this mostly annoys me in AskMe. I mean, if you can make your question text short, there's absolutely no need for a title. When titles weren't visible on the front page, I could just re-use the question text for the title and be done with it. Now I've got to hunt around for something to say in the title field, even when there's nothing to say and no reason to say it.

I mean, sure, I could just come up with some stupid joke/pun, which seems to be what most people do, but what if my question is about something serious and I don't feel like joking about it?

I'll probably just continue to use the question text as the title. Sure, it'll look ugly and redundant, but this whole change is ugly and redundant.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:56 AM on January 7, 2013


Yeah, this. Dropping the font size was a good step, thank you. Matching the fonts would be a great second step, though. The clash is pretty jarring.

Yes, this. Also, smaller yet. Please? The titles are still quite large in comparison to the posts. I actually like the idea of having the titles on the front page, I just really don't like this implementation. One step up in size, same font, maybe bold? Call it good.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:56 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is exactly what Carson and the Duchess were discussing last night. The America rush to disregard standards is destroying civilization.

Wait, Carson was concerned about declining standards? Can we get a spoiler alert before this kind of news, please?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:57 AM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


On my phone, my reaction was "gee, this is nice! So useful!"

On my computer, my reaction was "Ahhh kill it with fire."

Just my two cents.
posted by phunniemee at 10:58 AM on January 7, 2013


OK that is a million times better on my phone and computer, thanks. It actually looks quite good on my phone now. I don't know if I like the utility of it or not, but at least now that I'm not so irritated by it using up all the space I can see if I get used to it or not.

I hadn't noticed the difference in font until a couple of people up there pointed it out. Now it's all I can see (and so ugly). So, uh, thanks?
posted by shelleycat at 10:59 AM on January 7, 2013


I understand the need for a succinct summary of the topic of the post (for SEO reasons if nothing else). My vote wouldve been to dump the title field altogether, character-limit the "your question" field and rely more heavily on the "extended explanation" field which is otherwise redundant to the "your question" field if not for the posters sole discretion.
posted by softlord at 10:59 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The smaller font definitely looks a bit better (and is it just me or is it Verdana now?) But I still am not happy with the fact that titles are now the most prominent part of a post. I feel strongly that the above-the-fold body text is is the part of a post that should have the greatest prominence, and I can't think of a convincing argument against that.
posted by Scientist at 10:59 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Looks much better now. This is almost right. Just one more change, please:

Can we please make every paragraph break start a new page, so that every FPP and comment takes pages and pages to click through? Having all of that content available in just one click is so disorienting after the rest of the Internet.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:00 AM on January 7, 2013


As an example (now that the font size of titles on the front page has been shrunk slightly) here is the "view all activity" page on my profile, to quickly compare to the MeFi front page - on the blue, the titles look as though they're hovering, but on the "view all activity" they're tighter to the post; on the blue, there is not as much space between posts as on the "view all activity" page.

I think it would look better, if we have to have titles, if the MeFi front page looked more like the "view all activity" page.
posted by flex at 11:00 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


batmonkey: " Still can't believe how much people are freaking out about this. It just seems wildly immature to me for some reason."

I made 150+ posts to the Blue last year. This change is important to me because it will probably affect the way I construct them. Making the title so visible shifts a reader's attention away from the content of the post.
posted by zarq at 11:00 AM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Boo - tried the stylish fix and it also hides them on the actual post instead of just the front page. Would like to be able to hide them just on the front page - if anyone is a stylish wizard, please hope me? (or greasmonkey?)
posted by stoneweaver at 11:00 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Without the headlines, the posts were often a sort of puzzle, where you had to spend a few seconds reading and thinking about the text before you could really figure out why the post existed and what it was saying.

You can do all that even with an extra line of text that appears above the post. If you don't want Headline Style titles, then make posts with titles that are sort of a puzzle, where you have to spend a few seconds reading and thinking about the text before you could really figure out why the person chose that as the title and what the title was saying.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:01 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


There seem to be enough people who like seeing the titles that it should be retained as a user setting, but the default should be off, or else it will fundamentally change the way posts are composed.
posted by theodolite at 12:35 PM on January 7


This is exactly correct. Make it an option for some group of people who prefer to see titles, whoever they are. Like the professional white background option for those people.

The default should remain what made Metafilter what it is. What gave it it's uniqueness. People should construct their posts as they always have done instead of being forced to introduce the need for some non-duplicative commentary. But for those who like it for whatever reason, they can turn the titles on.
posted by dios at 11:01 AM on January 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


I just noticed...the titles are ever so slightly grayer than the white text, aren't they? dddddd.
That's a nice touch. I would suggest, perhaps, insetting the text a bit, so that the titles stand more apart, rather than adding to the bulk of the text.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:02 AM on January 7, 2013


but our hope is that people continue using descriptive, helpful titles instead of playing games or using them for jokes.

I must raise my hand hesitantly and shamefully here: up until now, the simple fact that the titles were not visible has led me to treat them with less reverence than mathowie seems to prefer. I always figured that once people read the above-the-fold section and click through, the title is not all that crucial, so I have at least once posted a joke title in Latin (for a Roman Google Maps knockoff), written insert humorous Klingon title here (for an FPP about a Klingon opera premiere), and written one in onomatopoeia (for an FPP about the drum part in In The Air Tonight) -- curiously, this last one was the first time mathowie ever favorited an FPP of mine.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:05 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Still fascinated by peoples' different browsing experiences and impressions. This is how titles appear on my screen. Are people still thinking titles look too big on their screen? Do they look much larger on their screen?
posted by empyrean at 11:05 AM on January 7, 2013


I'm anti-title in that people over use them generally. If you've above and below the fold then you shouldn't need titles at all.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:06 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


If this were permanently enshrined, presumably there would be a Preferences item to specify the Title font/size, just as there now are entries for Body font/size and Byline font/size? Would that make it better for people?
posted by Rock Steady at 11:06 AM on January 7, 2013


Here's a summary of the thing.
And here's the thing itself. It's not much longer, but still, why read it?
posted by sexyrobot at 11:07 AM on January 7, 2013 [23 favorites]


It's really hard to read. I'm sure a lot of that is expecting things to be one way and the site suddenly changing without warning. Maybe it isn't that difficult for a person who has just wandered in to Metafilter for the first time ever. I think a tiny part of what I love about this site has been its mostly unchanging format so it's going to be a bit of an adjustment. (My vote is for a smaller font!).
posted by marimeko at 11:07 AM on January 7, 2013


If you don't want Headline Style titles, then make posts with titles that are sort of a puzzle,

That's what most titles are now, they're pull-quotes or a joke or something that would appear as gibberish to someone who hasn't read the links. But there's a difference of effect between putting a big gibberish title on top of a post and having a paragraph of text with links to figure out.
posted by kiltedtaco at 11:08 AM on January 7, 2013


Remember, folks, everything on Metafilter that you know and love that wasn't here since the original Cat Scan post was something that you freaked out about initially.

Embrace change.
posted by bondcliff at 11:08 AM on January 7, 2013


I'd love to have an option to turn these on or off depending on user preference.
posted by reptile at 11:10 AM on January 7, 2013


was something that you freaked out about initially.

No, not really.
posted by zarq at 11:10 AM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


That's what most titles are now, they're pull-quotes or a joke or something that would appear as gibberish to someone who hasn't read the links. But there's a difference of effect between putting a big gibberish title on top of a post and having a paragraph of text with links to figure out.

You PREDICT there will be a difference of effect. I predict nothing of the sort. But both are predictions.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:11 AM on January 7, 2013


tried the stylish fix and it also hides them on the actual post instead of just the front page.

I also have it installed and the titles are appearing correctly on each individual post's page. Maybe something else you have installed is interfering?
posted by elizardbits at 11:11 AM on January 7, 2013


With this title thing, what I do with this post? How do I re-write it with a title that doesn't detract from the post?
posted by dios at 11:11 AM on January 7, 2013


Remember, folks, everything on Metafilter that you know and love that wasn't here since the original Cat Scan post was something that you freaked out about initially.

Embrace change.


Change for change's sake because past changes turned out to be good is a silly position. If I knew that this change would make the site better, then the initial freakout would be worth ignoring. I haven't seen a convincing argument that this will make the site better beyond encouraging people to write better titles, which I don't see as any kind of a net good.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:12 AM on January 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


One point of entry (# of comments) into the post is rather enough for me, but now there are two. For a link-heavy front page, I've always valued those occasionally non-hyperlinked words on MetaFilter's front page, especially by virtue of their non-yellowness. Now, there are non-yellow words that link somewhere, of a slightly different size. The front page now resembles a big tree with roadsigns nailed to it, not somewhere to stay (at least temporarily).

Titles are good and all, but they rarely comprise a major step in my composition of posts, so it's bound to be a pull-quote from one of my FPP links, etc. I feel like if I do a post right, the words plus the links I've provided should be more than enough for the front page, obviating a title. Guess I'll keep ....including titles in my posts.

∴ Boo.
posted by obscurator at 11:12 AM on January 7, 2013


Embrace change.

Can't. Restraining order.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:12 AM on January 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


flex: on the blue, the titles look as though they're hovering, but on the "view all activity" they're tighter to the post

This goes double for posts which begin with a block quote, such as the current FPP entitled "Defaced Money". The blockquote html inserts a return before as well as after, which means the title is just floating there, linked to ... what? It's hard to tell.
posted by Len at 11:12 AM on January 7, 2013


I can see where the titles could be helpful, but I would also like them to be smaller.
posted by blurker at 11:13 AM on January 7, 2013


When I write titles, I usually think of them more as epigraphs than as titles.

So, along these lines, what if the titles were incorporated into the beginning of the FPP text in the same way that "Link URLs/Text" are, but as simple italicized text or similar? I think it would read much more smoothly then, and also discourage repetitive titling.

(This is only assuming that front page titles are here to stay forever, though. I agree with everyone who's pointing out that this constitutes a significant cultural change to the site, so I am hoping for a re-evaluation of this whole thing).
posted by bubukaba at 11:14 AM on January 7, 2013


I would be A-OK with this if it were a user preference that defaulted to off . People who wanted more prominent titles could have that, people who prefer the status quo could keep it, and site culture hopefully wouldn't change too much. That would seem like a win-win to me.
posted by Scientist at 11:14 AM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


It seems like it should be h3 and not div class=posttitle. Also I think some font-family: Papyrus might be in order
posted by moift at 11:15 AM on January 7, 2013


Unaware of the change, I loaded up AskMe, felt like the font was trying to put its hand down my throat, got stressed out, and left for another timesink. :'(
posted by threeants at 11:15 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks for making the font size smaller! Looks fantastic now. I've always wanted this pony so I have nothing to complain about anymore (how boring).
posted by capricorn at 11:15 AM on January 7, 2013


empyrean, your default font for the post text looks pretty big compared to mine. This is what my home page looks like (with the professional white background - Win7/Chrome with standard font/DPI settings)
posted by reptile at 11:15 AM on January 7, 2013


Reading the title before reading the post is like reading the alt-text on xkcd before reading the comic. I find myself instinctively trying not to read the title before I read the content so as not to spoil it.

This is a profound change in how the site works. I know prudence would suggest that I give it time and see how the site evolves in response, but I'm unable to resist installing schmod's userstyle (thank you, schmod!), because I find it painful to read.
posted by beryllium at 11:17 AM on January 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm not against this but I won't feel bad should it disappear.
posted by tommasz at 11:17 AM on January 7, 2013


Hey, what are the default font/size settings? I changed them yonks ago, but I'd like to go back to bog standard, just to see what I've been missing.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:17 AM on January 7, 2013


The all caps thing needs helped now. The "IT IS EXACTLY WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE" post is really loud. Can we punish all caps titles someway?
posted by Bovine Love at 11:18 AM on January 7, 2013


Embrace change
Protip: "Change" is neutral. change ≠ always positive
posted by Thorzdad at 11:18 AM on January 7, 2013


Oh! Font size looks great!
posted by marimeko at 11:18 AM on January 7, 2013


Hey, what are the default font/size settings?

Isn't there a "return setting to default" button already there?
posted by elizardbits at 11:19 AM on January 7, 2013


DOWN WITH THE LANDED GENTRY.

Oh, not those kind of titles? Nevermind, then.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:19 AM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't like it right now, but that's because most of the titles are either redundant or confusing. Maybe I'll like it better as people adjust their posting habits.
posted by diogenes at 11:19 AM on January 7, 2013


With this title thing, what I do with this post? How do I re-write it with a title that doesn't detract from the post?

Lots of ways? I mean, we can workshop different approaches to marrying title to text if you want to, though I take your question to be more like "how do I have a two word post with no visible title if the title is visible" and the short answer may just be that you don't and you rewrite it a little bit?

In your shoes and having as a priority "fuck law" as an eye-catching standalone, I'd title the post "Fuck law" and make the body text and a link a very short subtitle, maybe "An exploration of the legal implications of the word fuck." to closely paraphrase the abstract of the linked article. But that's just me, there's a lot of stylistic options there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:19 AM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Now that the font is smaller, I'm just reading the titles and ignoring whatever someone wrote below it, which seems to be fine.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:20 AM on January 7, 2013


elizardbits: "Isn't there a "return setting to default" button already there?"

No.
posted by zarq at 11:21 AM on January 7, 2013


Hey, what are the default font/size settings?

Body Font - Verdana
Body Font Size - 10
Byline Font - Verdana
Byline Font Size - 8
posted by pb (staff) at 11:21 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hey, what are the default font/size settings? I changed them yonks ago, but I'd like to go back to bog standard, just to see what I've been missing.
Body Font: verdana
Body Font Size: 10
Byline Font: verdana
Byline Font Size: 8

Or, on preview, what pb said.
posted by reptile at 11:22 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


OH MY GOD YOU CAN CHANGE THE DEFAULT FONT SETTING TO PAPYRUS

OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD

WHAT ROUGH BEAST ITS HOUR COME AT LAST SLOUCHES TOWARDS MY BROWSER TO BE BORN
posted by elizardbits at 11:26 AM on January 7, 2013 [20 favorites]


i think i have just summoned the eldritch horrors of the deep
posted by elizardbits at 11:27 AM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


zarq - but your titles are just fine. why would having them on top make things so different? if I look back in your history, they do a great job of inviting/informing/amusing.

Really, this is most useful to me in AskMe. Sure, there are a couple of redundant things, but that happened with above-the-fold and "more inside" sometimes, too. Being able to scan in AskMe is fantastic.

And being able to identify MeTa posts with the simple mnemonic of a title is lovely.

I can see how it makes MeFi different, I do, but I guess I'm just more adaptable when it comes to absorbing input, so it's an enhancement rather than a hindrance to me.
posted by batmonkey at 11:27 AM on January 7, 2013

empyrean, your default font for the post text looks pretty big compared to mine.
Yep, checked my settings and had bumped the font sizes up 2 each at some point. I must've done that a while back because I sit pretty far back from the monitor. With Body Font Size at 12 and Byline Font Size at 10, the title size is much less bothersome. I didn't like it at all when I changed the other font sizes back to default, so I can see where people are coming from.
posted by empyrean at 11:28 AM on January 7, 2013


Upon further consideration I think the titles would look best in Comic Sans.
posted by jeather at 11:29 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


i think i have just summoned the eldritch horrors of the deep

Hello!
posted by shakespeherian at 11:30 AM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]

Now that the font is smaller, I'm just reading the titles and ignoring whatever someone wrote below it, which seems to be fine.
This is one of the reasons I don't think I like the titles on the site. If I read the title of a post I may think to myself "this isn't interesting" and skip to the next post without reading the actual post text - when without the title, it may have been a post I clicked on and enjoyed. No titles means that it's easier to be exposed to unfamiliar things.
posted by reptile at 11:31 AM on January 7, 2013 [12 favorites]




elizardbits: "i think i have just summoned the eldritch horrors of the deep"

Blackadder ITC.

Parchment.

Edwardian Script ITC.
posted by boo_radley at 11:31 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


dios: "With this title thing, what I do with this post? How do I re-write it with a title that doesn't detract from the post?"

Fuck Law
as simple and provocative as its title suggests
posted by Mister_A at 11:32 AM on January 7, 2013


Trajan
posted by shakespeherian at 11:32 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I dislike this, on first blush it seems to waste a lot of screen real estate, though I'll give it a chance. However I see the major problem with it is it is conflating Titles with heading and in AskMe it will inevitably result in content appearing in title space (identified as one of the inverse goals of this Meta).

Also because titles are on their own line a short title has a disproportionate effect on the page real estate usage.

mathowie writes "I hear you all on the font size issue, we'll consider adding a preference for the size across the site where we use it (front pages, comment pages, favorites page, popular page, archives, search, etc)."

Better include the font selector for the title too; right now they don't match and it looks like crap having that weird font out there.
posted by Mitheral at 11:32 AM on January 7, 2013


Can I propose an alternate style? (Also on stylebot)

A bit less jarring, IMO
posted by schmod at 11:32 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now pardon me while I get back to work and forget about this just in time to get home and be confused about the whole thing.
posted by boo_radley at 11:32 AM on January 7, 2013


elizardbits, you're reminding me of the time I set the main font to 50 pt. Wingdings and the byline to 25 pt. Comic Sans. Aaa, good times.
posted by beryllium at 11:34 AM on January 7, 2013


On the professional white background, for increased bizarreness.
posted by beryllium at 11:34 AM on January 7, 2013


Please let me turn this off. The formatting doesn't look right, it's distracting and adds no value for me.
posted by NerdcoreRising at 11:37 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


In related news I am a little embarrassed about how many font names I can recall off the top of my head.
posted by elizardbits at 11:38 AM on January 7, 2013


Please god tell me this is just an elaborate troll.
posted by downing street memo at 11:38 AM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


HATE. It's very distracting.
posted by juniper at 11:39 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The upshot of all this is that the headlines look much less terrifying now that I have beheld the horrors of the entire site in Papyrus. I suggest everyone try this immediately to gain a most welcome sense of perspective.
posted by elizardbits at 11:40 AM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


schmod, I am still not sold on the titles, but if they do end up staying and becoming a necessary part of the site, that is more like what I would like them to look like. Thank you again!
posted by beryllium at 11:40 AM on January 7, 2013


Ha, now I"ll be like one of the old-timers who refers to the image tag. I'll say, something like, 'Remember when there were no titles on metafilter? Then there were titles....that change went down shortly before the Final Apocalypse....we ate raw potatoes and wept in the Final Thread before all the power went out.." and then I'll stare bleakly through eyes clouded by cataracts at the sunset made especially colorful by gamma rays.
posted by angrycat at 11:41 AM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Everyone, everyone calm down. I've made a new post, armed with the full knowledge that the title of the post would appear on the front page. It was different, but luckily my years of making posts left me with the strength and wisdom to carry though on this ridiculously easy task.

It's gonna be alright.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:44 AM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Whatever losers, I just deleted every font from my computer except Curlz
posted by theodolite at 11:44 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The upshot of all this is that the headlines look much less terrifying now that I have beheld the horrors of the entire site in Papyrus.

Plus now you can take out the extra step and just start directly printing off Mefi posts to use as 7th grade social studies reports.
posted by threeants at 11:46 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The problem with titles is they add yet another line of confusion to...creatively...formatted posts. Like the Counterfeit Monkey post currently on the front page. That thing's a trainwreck, format-wise, as it is, without the title adding to the pile-on.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:47 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait, so. The title font on the individual post pages is now different than it used to be, yes? No? Is this some sort of papyrus-induced hallucination? (All my view settings are now back to default.)
posted by elizardbits at 11:47 AM on January 7, 2013


but luckily my years of making posts left me with the strength and wisdom

We're currently seeking applicants with 3-5 years of experience in title-included posting.
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:47 AM on January 7, 2013


As I said earlier about "Counterfeit Monkey", it's fun to read the titles on the Blue as actually relating to this change. Especially now:

"One small clarification for a man, one giant scene of drama for mankind"


As for the change itself:

I liked it before but with the slight nudge in font size, I'm totally used to it. I can't even remember what it was like before. (I know for some this is the equivalent of saying "We've always been at war with Eastasia." but I mean it.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:48 AM on January 7, 2013


I'm headed from mild dislike to outright hate. It's dramatically interfering with the way I interact with the site - the eye jumps from title to title, and skims over the meat. I have to force myself to go back and ignore the titles just to really get an idea of what's going on in a post... I need to re-read and re-re-read the front page, otherwise I'm breezing through the page, engaging with none of the usual depth of content and typical sterling presentation the posters put their effort into. Unless I actively change how I read the new site, I will miss stuff I'd otherwise be interested in. It's really terrible. I suspect the effort put into above-the-fold post content will wither as users try to come up with pithier, more eye-catching titles.

And as I've said, titles are redundant. They're pointless in an environment that does a good job of summarizing the content on offer, and has tags to make searching easier.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:49 AM on January 7, 2013 [42 favorites]


Useless clutter. I personally don't care what people title their posts.

Please, please consider making this something we can turn-off.
posted by mannequito at 11:51 AM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, at least so far the post titles are adding literally nothing to the posts while being the most prominent visuals on the page. And they're taking up tons of space on my mobile browser.
posted by lalex at 11:51 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


All these knee jerk reactions and rationales. Give it time.
posted by Callicvol at 11:52 AM on January 7, 2013


Folks, let's get that "IT IS EXACTLY WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE" title un-uppercased, because it's making it impossible to fairly evaluate the new look. I flagged it as a display error, and I hope The Whelk will consent to changing it.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:52 AM on January 7, 2013


As always, I'm strongly for anything that encourages posters to say what their post is about. Hurray for functional titles!
posted by zamboni at 11:53 AM on January 7, 2013


Yes, Brandon, you did create a post with a title, and I'm sure it was an easy task.

I'm also sure that the title you gave it add absolutely nothing for me and is, in my opinion, distracting. I'm not criticizing your post; I'm not sure what a good title would read or what its purpose is. But I know that the front page would be better without that title there.
posted by dios at 11:54 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, I'm still advocating putting a thin rule between posts. As it is now, if a handsome and witty user just happens to put a paragraph space in a front page post, that space can easily be confused with space between actual posts instead of a paragraph space.

Let's say 'space' one more time.

Yeah, you dirty little astronaut.

Prepare for docking.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:54 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Everyone, everyone calm down. I've made a new post, armed with the full knowledge that the title of the post would appear on the front page."

That's a good illustration of why the titles are unnecessary. Your post is well-written and based on an interesting subject, but the title doesn't really add anything. (And it's a good title!) Even in a best case scenario, all the title can do is sort of make a comment on the content that follows it, like a bow on a package.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:55 AM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


> look on my works ye mighty and despair

And now I'm hungry for Thai food.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:55 AM on January 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


The big thing for me is that when workmates come over to talk to me, they can now read what is on my screen -- before, it just looked like Something Important with Lots of Words.

Now they can see that I'm enjoying reading about other people's plumbing problems (personal and household) instead of working.
posted by vickyverky at 11:56 AM on January 7, 2013 [17 favorites]


Ok I gave it a couple hours and some thought. I'm all calm and rational now.

This is the worst change since the Burning Man organizers foisted their ticket auction on us last year over loud protests.

You win some (ability to edit posts for five minutes after publishing!), you lose some (this).
posted by mullingitover at 11:57 AM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Callicvol writes "All these knee jerk reactions and rationales. Give it time."

You might find this change easier than most.
posted by Mitheral at 11:58 AM on January 7, 2013


Wow, I'm so used to re-styling the front page that I forget how Mefi usually looks. The additional whitespace, line-height and Calibri makes it so much easier for me to read the front page (ymmv!).
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:58 AM on January 7, 2013


Heh. You know it would have taken me a while to notice if you hadn't pointed out. I'm one of those users that have embarrassed himself by leaving some clever reply ina thread only to find it to be part of the title of the post.

So thanks! Looks good and it is a nice addition to all the other features of MetaFilter that make the site awesome.
posted by Sailormom at 11:59 AM on January 7, 2013


Yeah, I'm sure I'll get used to it but this detracts rather than adds. I'd really love an option to set the title font size.
posted by pointystick at 11:59 AM on January 7, 2013


*clasps hands together *. Progress for the sake of progress must be discouraged. * adjusts pink hat*
posted by The Whelk at 12:00 PM on January 7, 2013


Mitheral, I've been reading Metafilter since 2004.
posted by Callicvol at 12:00 PM on January 7, 2013


Just tossing my $0.02 in here, but I agree that the titles draw the eye away from the content of a post.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 12:00 PM on January 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


If we get the ability to set font size on the title we wouldn't need a check box for enabling; we could just set the font to 0 or .1
posted by Mitheral at 12:00 PM on January 7, 2013


The size is improved. I am noticing now as I look at the main page though that it's the more cryptic titles that have me reading the description. That sounds a little counterproductive from what I think you guys are going for? It looks like it's falling in nicely enough on Ask though.
posted by Iteki at 12:01 PM on January 7, 2013


The upshot of all this is that the headlines look much less terrifying now that I have beheld the horrors of the entire site in Papyrus. I suggest everyone try this immediately to gain a most welcome sense of perspective.

I have also enabled this and it is truly excellent. Since everyone agrees that change is a good thing, I definitely think this should be the new default.
posted by kiltedtaco at 12:01 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Worse than the size difference, it mixes Arial and Verdana.

This. Can we maybe have it set up so that the Post Title uses the same font as the user's chosen body font? Or, that the user can also set the font-face of the title font the same we we can set body copy and byline fonts? I have had my fonts set to Lucida Grande for years, and Arial looks like absolute crap next to Lucida Grande.
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:05 PM on January 7, 2013


Best April Fool's Gag Evar
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:06 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


The upshot of all this is that the headlines look much less terrifying now that I have beheld the horrors of the entire site in Papyrus. I suggest everyone try this immediately to gain a most welcome sense of perspective.

Isn't this the "The poor in America are rich compared to the poor in Africa" argument?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:07 PM on January 7, 2013


I would like a tickybox to change the sitewide font to illuminated manuscript please.
posted by elizardbits at 12:08 PM on January 7, 2013


Question for people disturbed by the titles: Would you advocate eliminating titles altogether? They do show up when you go into the post itself, after all.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:08 PM on January 7, 2013


...this is not necessarily related but I just noticed it and now it's making me batty...

Why on earth are the dates (separating one day's posts from another's) in Times New Roman when everything else is in a sans serif font?
posted by SugarAndSass at 12:08 PM on January 7, 2013


So, has the blue even been changed? I mean the actual blue.
posted by Bovine Love at 12:08 PM on January 7, 2013


glitter.gif is an acceptable substitute for the gold leaf.
posted by elizardbits at 12:09 PM on January 7, 2013


May I make a suggestion?

If we're going to keep this format, I think it should more like the format used on the "Posts by User" page.

This is how the front page looks now.

Note the difference in formats. On the first image, the headline is underlined, giving it a clear delineation from the rest of the post. There's more space between posts. The title also seems slightly closer to the text of the post. Makes the presentation clearer and a little more legible.
posted by zarq at 12:09 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Right now I'm thinking the title of any new post I make will be exactly the same as the first sentence in the description, to minimize the distraction and emphasize the redundancy.
posted by daisystomper at 12:10 PM on January 7, 2013


I know it's a separate issue, but I find it ironic that trying to have a conversation about this change requires tripping over so many self-indulgent lulz comments. It's really tiring. If we're going to celebrate most prolific commenters then okay, maybe I'm the only one who feels this way, but I think this site is ceding its ability to look down its nose at YouTube comments.
posted by cribcage at 12:11 PM on January 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


ok here's a userscript
posted by czytm at 12:11 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought I'd gone insane (and it's probably for the best).
posted by opsin at 12:11 PM on January 7, 2013


> Yep, we adjusted the font size down a bit.

Thanks. That made a lot of difference. It looks OK now.

Generally, I'm OK with this. I think having visible titles will make constructing posts easier.
posted by nangar at 12:12 PM on January 7, 2013


the post titles are adding literally nothing to the posts

They are literally adding titles to the posts.
posted by brain_drain at 12:14 PM on January 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


This really has got to be the most unasked-for feature in the history of MeFi. Where were the overwhelming hordes clamoring for titles on the front page? "You know, I love MeFi, but it's missing just one thing. You know that annoying, confusing blank on the post form? The one people typically reserve for dumb jokes? Let's elevate it to prominence and feature it on the front page!"
posted by Afroblanco at 12:15 PM on January 7, 2013 [16 favorites]

Defenestrator: Is it just me or is the Mefi deleted posts extension not playing nice with this?
No, it's not just you. It looks to me like this is because the Deleted Post script is inserting the div it will replace with the contents of the deleted post before the div with class "post copy". Until now that was fine, but since the title is in a separate div deleted posts are winding up between the title and the post.

No luck so far in trying to convince it to get the thread IDs from the "posttitle" div instead of the "post copy" div.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:16 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Question for people disturbed by the titles: Would you advocate eliminating titles altogether? They do show up when you go into the post itself, after all."

I never thought too much about titles before, but when you only see them "under the fold" they don't take away from the post or frame an issue before you've had a chance to consider it. So I guess they were fine the way they were originally presented.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:17 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a person who wastes entirely too much time here, my very important opinion is that the change is hideous, unnecessary, takes vast amounts of real estate on my mobile browser and greasemonkey (although awesome) doesn't entirely eliminate the titles on the blue.

Whoever called it 'visual cacophony' upthread was entirely correct.

In sum, grump.

(Sorry, mods - thankless task, etc etc.)
posted by Space Kitty at 12:18 PM on January 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


Personally, I'm good with this (which should totally doom it).

I think you should roll out customization of titles fairly quickly though, since I think most of the complaints about their appearance or size came from users who already tweaked the body font/font size. (Maybe one reason it looks better for me is that I changed the body text to a serif font... Arial and Verdana aren't great right next to each other) But maybe lose another point or two on the space between title and body.

Good luck, we're all counting on you.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:18 PM on January 7, 2013


I meant to ask: please make this optional.
posted by Space Kitty at 12:20 PM on January 7, 2013


Question for people disturbed by the titles: Would you advocate eliminating titles altogether?

From what I can see, eliminating them completely would adversely affect other aspects of the site, particularly on the mobile stylesheet and presumably the RSS thingy.
posted by elizardbits at 12:20 PM on January 7, 2013


I don't like it but whatever. The best thread titles are jokey anyway so it's just distracting.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:23 PM on January 7, 2013


Titles are mandatory because they increase SEO because they appear in the link text.
posted by Mitheral at 12:24 PM on January 7, 2013


Another vote against, echoing what Iteki, Len, mudpuppie, flex, and Slap*Happy said: this changes the way I interact with the front page in a way that I don't like.

I too find myself involuntarily skimming the headlines rather than the description text, which is a pity b/c the descriptions often contain tidbits that suck me in. Worse, when I try to read everything, I find it physically tiring to switch my focus from small to large to small. It's tiring enough that it's actually easier for me to skip the large titles and just read the brief descriptions than it is to read both, though invariably I end up back at the titles again. Most likely this means I need new glasses ;-P  But still, I'm not alone in feeling that my focus is being stolen by soundbitey titles which add little in the way of content.

[If we have to have titles, a settable fontsize would be nice. Or just use the same font & bold it, as other have said. I would not be a fan of a binary "show titles y/n" preference setting as a fix, however; the preference settings should be aesthetic options that have no bearing on the content, otherwise it raises questions about how to design FPPs.]
posted by Westringia F. at 12:25 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Useless clutter. I personally don't care what people title their posts.

Titles are the primary way to see what has been added to the site when using an RSS reader. Keeping that in mind (when I remember to do so) I have started to try to make the titles of my posts somewhat informative.

But I always wondered, if you can't see the titles of posts until you click on the post, what is the purpose of having a title at all?

I think this is a good feature and makes it a lot easier to use the site.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:25 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Titles are mandatory because they increase SEO because they appear in the link text.

MetaFilter needs absolutely no help with SEO, IMHO - MetaFilter is a force of nature. Besides, the titles people add to posts are generally not particularly descriptive, and don't really mesh with the content of the post itself, which means they don't really help SEO. If anything, the titles people add to their posts make SEO more difficult.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:27 PM on January 7, 2013


For what it's worth, I'm not a reflexive hater of change, but I feel that adding the titles encourages users to simply read the titles and move onto the next one, and I got caught up in that myself.

I skipped the "Beatles of Comedy" thread entirely the first several times I read it because I wasn't interested. Only once I looked AGAIN at the content did I see it was a Monty Python thread, and found the content fun to read.

I almost didn't read it several times specifically because of the title. My vote is to remove them.
posted by chimaera at 12:28 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


vickyverky made the point that may have shifted my opinion over the line to "make viewing on front page of site/subsites optional".

Damn good point, that.
posted by batmonkey at 12:29 PM on January 7, 2013


: "Question for people disturbed by the titles: Would you advocate eliminating titles altogether? They do show up when you go into the post itself, after all."

If we were designing MeFi from scratch today, sure. But they're already a legacy feature, removing them would break the posts that they're already part of.

People wrote the titles expecting them to work one way, and this change betrays their trust in the site to present their work as they intended. It's arguable that people would've crafted their titles differently if they were expecting them to be a prominent feature on the front page.
posted by mullingitover at 12:29 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The "this makes me skim without actually reading" thing asnider mentioned above is a HUGE problem for me. And Metafilter is worse than useless to me if I can't comprehend the content.

Installing the mod helped, but if this is the direction this site's interface is taking, I'm going to seriously consider not visiting MeFi as much anymore. Which makes me really sad.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 12:32 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think this thread announcing the change should be highlighted in the sidebar, and/or with a temporary header notification.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:33 PM on January 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


KokuRyu writes "MetaFilter needs absolutely no help with SEO, IMHO"

I'd tend to agree, but SEO was one of the reasons given when the URL format changed. Also something about defeating site scraper spammers.
posted by Mitheral at 12:35 PM on January 7, 2013


Reviewing a bit more, seems like thread titles are almost entirely noise and no signal. I'm guessing that will change over time.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:35 PM on January 7, 2013


Titles are hard to write. No, seriously, a one line summary is challenging. That's why people put jokes in the titles instead. We're about to see a lot of bad titles lowering the quality of otherwise good posts.
posted by grog at 12:36 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, there's a reason copy editors get paid to write headlines. It's a common misconception that reporters title their own copy -- the vast, vast majority of them don't know how to.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 12:38 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Oh, you fucking people.

It's fine, it's fine.
posted by ersatzkat at 12:39 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


The way titles were, I almost always read them after having gone through the main post. The sequence of my MeFi experience being:

"see blurb on front page" --> "hmm, seems interesting" --> *click* --> "read post" --> "notice title that, with or without a pun, usually provides a quirky, mildly opaque summary of post and ties everything together."

They played the role more of a caption of a photograph, then that of a title... It was kind of unique.

I think I'll miss them, but I'll give it a chance.

On AskMefi though, its a no-brainer.
posted by cacofonie at 12:39 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


This was not the kind of pony I had wanted for my birthday, alas.

I will give it some time, but I would also appreciate the ability to turn it off like we can do with favorites. FWIW, I enjoy the mystery of the posts/links on the blue- it sets Metafilter apart from other sites.
posted by Mouse Army at 12:40 PM on January 7, 2013


Titles are hard to write. No, seriously, a one line summary is challenging. That's why people put jokes in the titles instead.

Hey! I have an idea! Can we have all of the titles start with "MetaFilter:"

So the front page right now would read...

MetaFilter: Overthinking a Plate of Beans

MetaFilter: Japanese Woodblock Print Database | Ukiyo-e Search

MetaFilter: Boil the Frog

MetaFilter: Mobiliario Humano

MetaFilter: You are Muhammed Ali! Wanna meet my sister?

MetaFilter: Etc.

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:40 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


>I'd tend to agree, but SEO was one of the reasons given when the URL format changed. Also something about defeating site scraper spammers.

Ah - you're right. I had forgotten about Ask. Not to be presumptuous, but adding titles to Ask does indeed make a lot of sense for SEO.

As I recall, AskMe sends a lot of traffic to the site and is a major revenue source (ads), and very generally people who create AskMe posts also create relevant titles.

Once again, titles on AskMe are one heck of a good idea. Makes for easier scanning.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:41 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


batmonkey: "zarq - but your titles are just fine. why would having them on top make things so different?"

It's a different point of entry for the reader.

I don't know how other folks think about it, but currently, while they're on the front page, the titles of my posts are intended to be seen after the part of the post that's above the fold. They're not intended to be read first. Folks are (theoretically) supposed to read the post, then click through and read the title. That's why I usually use a quote from a linked article as a title, rather summarize the post's contents.

Consider this post. I wrote it so that the reader would be drawn in by something they may not have known about the early history of televised animation, and then learn at the end of the first graph that someone who'd arguably been a big part of that history had died. Why? I was trying to create a more compelling story than "RIP Lucille 'Smurfette' Blass."

In a way, this new format creates a different dynamic between the poster and the reader. It visually emphasizes summary over content. Title over story.
posted by zarq at 12:43 PM on January 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


" Once again, titles on AskMe are one heck of a good idea. Makes for easier scanning."

This is not how many people most enjoy reading AskMe, and adding a title to the post listing is a neurohack people are not enjoying.
posted by softlord at 12:43 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Guys I found this tool called Link Bait Title Generator:
the most boring article about titles you'll ever read
6 reasons to be addicted to titles
13 amazing facts about titles
why titles suck/s
11 ways investing in titles can make you a millionaire
what the government doesn't want you to know about titles
guns don't kill people -- titles kills people
7 things lady gaga has in common with titles
titles die/s every minute you don't read this article
10 ways marketers are making you addicted to titles
8 deadly uses for titles
why you should forget everything you learned about titles
10 ways titles can suck the life out of you
the rise of titles and how to make it stop
9 reasons you can blame the recession on titles
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:43 PM on January 7, 2013


It's weird, but probably due to the ways I interact with the site as a mod being somewhat different than an average user but titles are the first thing I see when anything gets posted for the last four years or so, because we have them automatically emailed to a moderator list, so I see a new email as "metafilter: post title" and then I read the post in email.

So I've been reading posts via titles first for a long time, and when testing this out, I was mostly concerned with how much space on a page was being used up by long titles, which wasn't much of a problem in testing.

The titles being an easier way to scan and click into threads is something I've heard lots of feedback about from non-members, who ask what the deal is with the front page just being paragraph after paragraph of text with tiny link indicators of more information. Seriously, I've gotten the chance to interact with the site with hundreds of people over the years that have never seen it, and every time I show them the front page of MetaFilter, the first response is usually "What the hell is this? How do I even use this?" But I understand that outside non-members of the site have very different needs than existing longtime members.

We're mocking up a feature to let you customize the title font like the other font customizations, which would also let you hide it if you wanted. We may deploy that after a few days if the titles still prove to be distracting for a lot of users.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:44 PM on January 7, 2013 [28 favorites]


Is there any way to determine the percentage of people reading posts via RSS? Since the RSS-style is title first, then post?
posted by Chrysostom at 12:45 PM on January 7, 2013


We're mocking up a feature to let you customize the title font like the other font customizations, which would also let you hide it if you wanted.

Thank you!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:45 PM on January 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


As a poster the absolute worst case would be titles on the homepage for some users but not for others, do here's hoping it doesn't go that way.
posted by Artw at 12:46 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thanks, mathowie. I'm willing to give it a bit of time, maybe this is a knee jerk reaction, but in my 5 years here (more counting lurking) this is the first change to the site to inspire any such reaction in me. Like others, it's discouraging me from reloading the front page.
posted by mannequito at 12:46 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a reader for over 10 years, I'm echoing the concerns above about this change in functionality potentially (adversely) changing the culture of MetaFilter. One major reason MeFi (as a whole, not just the Blue) is my favourite place on the internet is because of its culture. I really hope this doesn't change it for the worse, but I'm already noticing that how I interact with the site has quickly changed, and I'm skipping much more than I normally would. I also really enjoyed the humourous titles.

I'm usually pretty good about accepting change but I think this one is a misstep, particularly for the Blue. I could get used to it on AskMe.
posted by mayurasana at 12:47 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


We're mocking up a feature to let you customize the title font like the other font customizations, which would also let you hide it if you wanted. We may deploy that after a few days if the titles still prove to be distracting for a lot of users.

Thank you!!
posted by zarq at 12:47 PM on January 7, 2013


mathowie: "We're mocking up a feature to let you customize the title font like the other font customizations, which would also let you hide it if you wanted. We may deploy that after a few days if the titles still prove to be distracting for a lot of users."

Yay! I thought it was just the size, but I really find it very distracting to have the titles on the main page. This may change in time when people get used to crafting proper titles for posts, but even then, I like the information dense pages better. Which is part of why I think we have such a great userbase up in here. I can definitely understand your motivation for wanting to make the site more accessible for non-members though. Gotta retire someday, right?
posted by Grither at 12:47 PM on January 7, 2013


MetaFilter: What the hell is this? How do I even use this?
posted by brain_drain at 12:47 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Making it an option would be really helpful. The title-as-distraction problem is more of a disability-accessibility problem for me (and as such it hurts a little to have people here react to a reasonable need for neuroatypical accomodation with "oh for fuck's sake it's fine").
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 12:48 PM on January 7, 2013


I'm also hearing that 'title' in ask me at least is used to mean 'summary'. if we call it 'summary' instead of 'title', that might help with the outrage. Then you could even put it below the "Your Question"

I still think it's about the confusion about the delineation of what goes in each field, though.
posted by softlord at 12:48 PM on January 7, 2013


zarq - ah. hm. well, that makes sense. I think it just means reversing the puzzle, but I do see what that means to your style of post-building.
posted by batmonkey at 12:50 PM on January 7, 2013


I really appreciate how you have listened to the feedback and are working on something. It's interesting to note that this may have been a result of planning for people who aren't your users rather than your current members. As someone involved with a number of membership organizations, this is always a challenge. It's sometimes hard to keep in mind that the needs of current members do not perfectly overlap with potential members, and that the weight should (in my opinion) be given to current member needs. This is a case study in that dichotomy, as I see it.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:50 PM on January 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


"What the hell is this? How do I even use this?"

Yes, see, this is when I clutch my metafilter to my chest, curl down into a corner, intermittently thrust out a foot to keep you at bay, and hiss at you.

As it should be.
posted by phunniemee at 12:50 PM on January 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


As a poster the absolute worst case would be titles on the homepage for some users but not for others, do here's hoping it doesn't go that way.

A couple of folks have said this but I don't get it. I see no problem with non-members seeing titles and members not seeing them, and very little problem with some members choosing not to have titles on the front page because it changes their longtime reading experience in negative ways, and other members saying "ah, it's ok."

Can you explain why you think making the presence of titles an optional toggle for members would be a worst-case situation?
posted by mediareport at 12:52 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there's a reason copy editors get paid to write headlines. It's a common misconception that reporters title their own copy -- the vast, vast majority of them don't know how to.

Except that nobody employs copy editors anymore.
posted by Melismata at 12:52 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can you explain why you think making the presence of titles an optional toggle for members would be a worst-case situation?

I don't think it's a worst-case scenario but I can see how it could be an area from which many derails will likely spring, at least in the beginning.
posted by elizardbits at 12:53 PM on January 7, 2013


Except that nobody employs copy editors anymore.

Untrue. The Pacific Northwest employs thousands of coffee editors.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:54 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think one thing members need to keep in mind is that non-members pay for the site. So if this helps the crew here keep the doors open, I'm for it. I would like the preference to change the font size to my liking, though I think hiding it as an option would be fraught given that people are going to change their posting style to accommodate the headline.
posted by maxwelton at 12:55 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Non members via Google pay for the site and Google isn't serving those non members the front pages.
posted by Mitheral at 12:57 PM on January 7, 2013


Love it. Love it love it love it.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:02 PM on January 7, 2013


I think hiding it as an option would be fraught given that people are going to change their posting style to accommodate the headline.

I get that some folks might change their posting style to, say, eliminate direct redundancies in the title and first sentence of a post, but I really don't see how folks who'd turn off titles but continue to post as they have in the past would result in anything...what? terrible?...appearing on the front page. Can you give an example of how you think a toggle might adversely affect the front page?
posted by mediareport at 1:02 PM on January 7, 2013


I really appreciate how you have listened to the feedback and are working on something.

Same here. Sincere thanks.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:02 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


There may be a small "how do I even use this" period for non-members, but what sets Metafilter apart from the "usual way of doing things" is what makes it so refreshing and amazing: the design choices encourage you to dive into the text, to explore the links like a playground. No other site I've seen does this so well.
posted by naju at 1:04 PM on January 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


"The titles being an easier way to scan and click into threads is something I've heard lots of feedback about from non-members, who ask what the deal is with the front page just being paragraph after paragraph of text with tiny link indicators of more information. Seriously, I've gotten the chance to interact with the site with hundreds of people over the years that have never seen it, and every time I show them the front page of MetaFilter, the first response is usually "What the hell is this? How do I even use this?" But I understand that outside non-members of the site have very different needs than existing longtime members."

I guess you have to keep the site attractive to newcomers, which means accommodating changing styles to some extent. But I don't know, part of what made Metafilter so originally fascinating for me was the way it made me focus on the written word. No pictures, four colors, where do I start reading? Oh, here at the top. Hmm... Each day of posts is like a world of its own.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:04 PM on January 7, 2013 [26 favorites]


It's not really a non-member problem with regards to revenue, that doesn't really have anything to do with it. It started when we mocked up some front pages, and I was astounded by how much more readable/scannable/helpful Ask MeFi's front page looked, and I was surprised by how much it didn't seem like a drastic change on main MeFi. It was just a bit more helpful text, sometimes jokes, but usually short summaries that let me know more about a post.

Going through Ask MeFi posts to find which ones you can help out on felt tons easier to me and I liked the summaries of what each question was about. It makes going through archives easier.

Really, it's that the site pre-dated titles being a thing in blogging. It wasn't until 2003 or so that most blogging engines had titles and default templates started showing them a couple years later. Ideally, I think we should have made this change in 2007 or 2008, to bring features more inline with most blogs. But it has been this way for so long that it has become one of this site's little quirks so I'm ok with adding a feature to turn it off if you please (like favorites, which you can turn off).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:06 PM on January 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


Can you give an example of how you think a toggle might adversely affect the front page?

Someone uses a mildly inflammatory pull quote as their title. Users who see it on the front page get offended, users who don't wonder why everyone else is getting all heated up over a single line from the linked article. It's not the worst thing in the world, but I think it is something to consider.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:06 PM on January 7, 2013


I think it is interesting how the titles on MeFi's front page now take the focus away from the post and put it on the title. For me, anyway. Whereas I'd spend three seconds scanning the above-the-fold text to determine if I'd read it, I now spend .5 seconds reading the title to determine if I'd read it.

I think that really is a fundamental change for the front page of MeFi.

I'm not saying that is good or bad. But it is definitely a change in how I interact with it.
posted by jillithd at 1:07 PM on January 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


Hmm couple more thoughts having logged out - I appreciate the title being clickable - this will make it easier for non-members/new members to get to the interior of the post. Right now you either click "x comments" or "more inside" if it's there, but these are not super-bright signals as the site is laid out.

The concern I have is that you've introduced a new active color, but it's not as vividly 'live' as the other active color (gold). Will people get that it's live? I dunno. You guys should test this on friends and family, see if they can find their way around, let 'em talk you through what their process is.
posted by Mister_A at 1:08 PM on January 7, 2013


so I'm ok with adding a feature to turn it off if you please

Yay! Thanks!
posted by lalex at 1:09 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


There may be a small "how do I even use this" period for non-members

One bit of feedback I got many years ago and I could never really respond to was that the link from the front page to comment pages was hard to find and/or confusing, and really if you can take yourself out of knowing how the site runs and operates, perhaps think of a another big site like kottke.org or boingboing.net, and now imagine you see only the first paragraph of a post and you have to find a link that is 10pt type by default that uncovers the rest.

That was a major stumbling block to participation for many (lots of people also tell me "I just read the front page of your sites, I never dive in") and this wasn't a direct way to solve that, but I felt like apart from an improvement of getting a little extra info on the front page and making it clearer where posts started and stopped, this could help solve the "how do I even dive in" problem.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:10 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's funny that the site's liberal membership gets all conservative and reactionary when it comes to the site itself.

That said - kill titles with fire. I think that letting members turn the titles off is going to be bad for the reason that Rock Steady stated. Just do away with titles altogether; they don't add any demonstrable value. The URL and RSS readers can pull the first n characters of the post.
posted by desjardins at 1:10 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can you explain why you think making the presence of titles an optional toggle for members would be a worst-case situation?

I'm not ArtW, but I agree that having them consistently on or off is a must. Otherwise you'll have new users putting essential information into the title, and members who have disabled titles will then miss the information and be confused. Askers putting the short question itself into the title, with a brief explanation in the main post, for example. On the Blue, people might start crafting posts where the title contains the subject, with a pull quote being placed into the post body.

In short, having optional titles enforces an expectation that the titles will only contain redundant summary information which can be selectively ignored. Making them mandatory and more prominent encourages the opposite -- meaningful titles that provide an introductory context. Either way could work, but we can't do both [well] at the same time.
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:10 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Rock Steady: "Someone uses a mildly inflammatory pull quote as their title. Users who see it on the front page get offended, users who don't wonder why everyone else is getting all heated up over a single line from the linked article. "

Won't this depend on if the new option is "titles are/aren't visible on the front page" or "titles are/aren't visible ANYWHERE"? You can post an inflammatory quote now, and if you are seeing people's heated comments, you see the title, even though it wasn't on the main page.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:11 PM on January 7, 2013


it has become one of this site's little quirks

Some folks are saying it actually runs deeper than that, claiming the lack of titles on the front page is one of the things working to deepen reader engagement with the site, with positive ramifications for the quality of discussion coming from that.
posted by mediareport at 1:11 PM on January 7, 2013 [28 favorites]


If you turn off titles but people get used to the titles being there then we will get posts where the title becomes merely the first 72 characters of the post.

For users that turn the titles off the post will be gibberish like what happens now when ask me questions only put the question in the title.

Not to say Ixnay on the title turn off option. I'll still probably turn them off and just end up flagging those now nonsensical posts.
posted by Mitheral at 1:12 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


That was a major stumbling block to participation for many

Good. I'd rather not have drive-bys. I'd rather have people who want to figure out how this thing works.
posted by desjardins at 1:12 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Won't this depend on if the new option is "titles are/aren't visible on the front page" or "titles are/aren't visible ANYWHERE"?

Yeah, the option would be just to turn them off from the front page, not everywhere. Basically the point of an option for this is "let me return the front page to how it was yesterday" status. Everything else would be the same.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:13 PM on January 7, 2013


I've given it some time and I've changed my mind. I am against this. I'd love to see it made optional.
posted by tommasz at 1:14 PM on January 7, 2013


And the Mefites become the Redditors.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:14 PM on January 7, 2013


This change was targeted at non-members. So even though we do pay, we're still not really the customer? I feel so dirty.

/hamburger
posted by Mick at 1:14 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some folks are saying it actually runs deeper than that

Yeah, I didn't mean to discount it, there is definitely way more cultural norms than I thought about previously. Again, I've been staring at a front page of MetaFilter with titles on since November, and months later I still find it more useful to have them around, but then I liked them immediately when we first tested it. I can't guarantee people that hate them at first will come around, or what impacts this will have on the site. We'll have to wait and see on that.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:15 PM on January 7, 2013


Seriously, I've gotten the chance to interact with the site with hundreds of people over the years that have never seen it, and every time I show them the front page of MetaFilter, the first response is usually "What the hell is this? How do I even use this?"

Yes, but do people have this reaction to AskMe? I would suspect not, since the purpose of AskMe is straightforward : people ask questions. In fact, I think the very concept of giving a question a "title" is pretty foreign and doesn't really work. Especially since the question we're asking is stated in the post text.

Could you maybe roll back this change on AskMe, but leave it in place for the rest of the site?
posted by Afroblanco at 1:16 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


So far, I find the titles sufficiently uninformative that I (try to) just skip over them with my eyes. Titles are fine things, but they aren't (yet) a useful basis for choosing which article to click on. But I recognize that this will probably change as posters adapt to the new system. However, the huge size of the titles and increased white space means that the information content per screenfull is much less, which is too bad. And to my personal aesthetics, it looks kind of messy with clashing fonts and ill-balanced white space.

I'm sure I'll get used to it, but I also got used to the hideous GAP store across the street. People getting used to something and the complaints dying down is not actually a signal that the change was an improvement, contrary to what every give-change-a-chance web developer tells us.
posted by chortly at 1:16 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The size adjustment from earlier today is an improvement. But the font mismatch is more obvious now. Try using same font as text, and make the titles either bold or gray. Or both.
posted by beagle at 1:16 PM on January 7, 2013


If we keep titles anchored to the post body, maybe we can unlink the "x comments" text?

Or put more space between posts?

Unless using the site on a desktop computer, it is easy to tap the title of the post below the "x comments" link that one is accustomed to tapping.

So, instead of going to the post of interest, one is sent to the post below it.

I thought this might be down to clumsiness, but I don't have big fingers and am usually accurate in where I tap the screen.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:17 PM on January 7, 2013


After several hours of sober reflection and several attempts to read down the page with "unprejudiced eyes", I still think this is a terrible, terrible idea on multiple levels.
posted by Aquaman at 1:18 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


This change was targeted at non-members

Nope, really the change was targeted at making Ask MeFi's front page easier to read, scan, and help out on, to encourage more participation from members because it should be easier to spot words describing things you are interested in. For MetaFilter it was kind of a side benefit of bringing the site more inline with typical blogs, showing the titles we've had since 2005 or so in a way most other sites do as well, and hopefully make the front page easier to scan for cool posts on things you are interested in.

There's definitely a lag period in that regard to how people write titles and how they display and are used on the front page, which is what we're asking people to wait out a while to see how this teases out in the end.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:18 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can you explain why you think making the presence of titles an optional toggle for members would be a worst-case situation?

Because up till this morning you knew the title would not be part of the front page and could write accordingly, and now you know it will be part of the front page and can write accordingly, but if it's neither then ??????????.
posted by Artw at 1:19 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I dislike this quite a lot; it changes the article summaries from being beautiful little honed paragraphs that draw you in to a mere adjunct to a title that it's hard not to draw a conclusion about immediately.

I don't come to mefi for instant gratification.
posted by jaduncan at 1:20 PM on January 7, 2013 [14 favorites]


One thing I liked about not having titles was that I did less scanning. I hate my tendency to scan instead of read, and I think part of what I liked about the front page was I did much more reading than elsewhere on the internet.
posted by czytm at 1:20 PM on January 7, 2013 [22 favorites]


My objection has nothing to do with "look and feel", and everything to do with the way paragraphs encourage you read them and titles encourage you to NOT read them.
posted by Aquaman at 1:20 PM on January 7, 2013 [22 favorites]


I'm pro-titles because of how it breaks up the front page. For example this recent post. FPPs that included a line break -- or really any formatting -- above the fold used to mess with how I scanned the front page. Titles solve that problem.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 1:21 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really, it's that the site pre-dated titles being a thing in blogging.

I'm not as frequent a blog reader as some others so maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like one major difference in presentation between MetaFilter and blogs is that blog content doesn't generally consist of one short paragraph. MetaFilter FPPs do.

In legal writing, I advocate headings (titles). They are a fantastic way to break up large blocks of text. We know that most of our readers are pressed for time and not independently interested in what we're writing, so smart use of headings can increase the comprehension a casual skimmer will get. In the right context, headings/titles are invauable. Based on the way I have used MetaFilter, and based on how I use headings outside of MetaFilter, I don't think prominent titles will add value here. I think the opposite. But maybe in a week or two I'll feel differently.
posted by cribcage at 1:21 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can you explain why you think making the presence of titles an optional toggle for members would be a worst-case situation?

I can't speak for Artw, but I spend a LOT of time framing posts. An element of that framing that works one way for some people and another way for other people is crazy-making in trying to figure out what to highlight that's most likely to draw people in without putting other people off.

Even just repeating what it is in simplest form will put some people off because it's repetitive which is boring and ignorable - I'm noticing repeating elements (from title to body text on the front page right now) are making me automatically skim over the text instead of process it.

The titles are very visually distracting to me; they change how I read the site - and other people have said the same. That means in making a post I have to consider the weight of a title on drawing people's attention. But if it were optional then I'd have to consider how to draw people's attention that aren't seeing the title on the front page but without repeating what I've already said in the title that other people will be seeing. I already try to make my posts' titles somewhat relevant to the post in consideration of how they show up in the URL of the post, but "as part of the URL" is not nearly the same weight as "for most people it will be the biggest thing about my post, but for some deeply-invested MeFi members, it won't be".

For MetaFilter it was kind of a side benefit of bringing the site more inline with typical blogs, showing the titles we've had since 2005 or so in a way most other sites do as well, and hopefully make the front page easier to scan for cool posts on things you are interested in.

Again, I'd like to make the point that the appeal of MeF is that it's NOT like other blogs, therefore the argument "but most other blogs do this, so MeFi should too" has no draw for me whatsoever - in fact the opposite.

I like that you have to involve yourself a little to discover something new. Reducing carefully-framed posts to pithy headlines goes against the point & the long-established culture of MeFi, IMO.
posted by flex at 1:22 PM on January 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


no regrets, coyote writes "FPPs that included a line break -- or really any formatting -- above the fold used to mess with how I scanned the front page."

I've mostly always hated multiparagraph posts. A much better way to handle this would be to stick the more inside at the first page break.
posted by Mitheral at 1:24 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Really, it's that the site pre-dated titles being a thing in blogging. It wasn't until 2003 or so that most blogging engines had titles and default templates started showing them a couple years later.

We're ten years on from 2003 - and I think the site has evolved way far away from "a blog anyone can post to" and into the realm of its own thing. Fark, Reddit, Digg, Slashdot, HNN - they demand the one-sentence summary. Their content is... lacking. Titles are used to troll people, or trick users into reading on those sites... just as they are here. You will be increasing your moderator load dramatically if you insist that titles be the primary way your userbase interacts with the site. Suddenly, linking and presentation of the post itself doesn't matter. It won't be read unless the reader is "sold" on the title alone.

I don't think you need to play the "catch up with Slashdot circa 2003" game.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:28 PM on January 7, 2013 [24 favorites]


Afroblanco: "Yes, but do people have this reaction to AskMe? I would suspect not, since the purpose of AskMe is straightforward : people ask questions. In fact, I think the very concept of giving a question a "title" is pretty foreign and doesn't really work. Especially since the question we're asking is stated in the post text. "

AskMe posts started getting titles in February 2005.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:28 PM on January 7, 2013


Thanks, mathowie, for taking in all the feedback; much appreciated, as ever.

If I could say one thing to kind of back up what flex, asnider, Iteki, myself and others have said here about how fundamental the lack of titles is to the front page, and why changing it to make them appear is a huge change in site culture: I remember years back you said in an interview that the reason all our names go after what we've posted on here was a decision that was as much about functionality and the primacy of what was being said, rather than by accident or pure aesthetics. It was, if I remember right, a statement that what matters was content, other blogs and forums and how they operated be damned. The lack of titles on the front page seems, to me, to come from a similar line of reasoning; what matters isn't the pithy 72 character summary, but the content itself, and if other blogs do things differently, well, that's their choice; what sets MeFi apart is that we're not them.

Anyway, done grouching, and thanks again for listening.
posted by Len at 1:32 PM on January 7, 2013 [26 favorites]


But if it were optional then I'd have to consider how to draw people's attention that aren't seeing the title on the front page but without repeating what I've already said in the title that other people will be seeing.

Scrolling through your recent posts, flex, I can't see a single one that you would have had to dramatically change, except for a long quote that might have gone over the new character limit for titles. The rest would be fine with titles displayed for users on the front page or not. So, just keep doing what you already do, maybe?
posted by mediareport at 1:34 PM on January 7, 2013


(I should add that I'm assuming Matt's not going to drop titles entirely from the front page of the blue. Given that, I'd rather see a toggle option than no toggle option.)
posted by mediareport at 1:36 PM on January 7, 2013


that might have gone over the new character limit for titles.

What new character limit?
posted by zarq at 1:36 PM on January 7, 2013


We're mocking up a feature to let you customize the title font like the other font customizations, which would also let you hide it if you wanted.

Yay! Personally, the titles disrupt the site's legibility for me so much that I'd probably spend a lot less time on MeFi. That's not a fist-shakey threat, that's just what the likely effect would be-- and I imagine for others. Original flavor MeFi is immensely legible owing to its fluidity and utter lack of useless cruft; with titles the screen is chopped up and occupied by like 20% gunk.
posted by threeants at 1:37 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Len, that quote was about why I put usernames at the bottom of posts, and it was to make it so you didn't pre-judge a comment based on knowing who said it -- that it's easy in a community to recognize usernames and eventually guess what they'll say, and I liked being surprised by people I thought were zealots about a subject post something I never expected and I only figured it out when I got to the bottom of their comment to see they wrote it.

It's a bit of a stretch to say that Titles can do the same thing in my opinion, but I get what you are saying about the importance of making people read and figure things out.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:38 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


"The only internal change we had to do for this besides revamp the posting pages was shorten title limits to 72 characters. "
posted by Chrysostom at 1:38 PM on January 7, 2013


I get the blue in Google Reader, so no worries there either way. But I would prefer to turn titles off in AskMe to avoid their visibility on my screen to others.

Unfortunately I suspect this change will increase the (previously uncommon) tendency for Askers to put their problem statement in the title. So the user preference mainly offers me a dilemma, albeit a mild one--probably not a solution.

Incidentally, I'm very familiar with the "what is that wall of text, I can't read that" reaction. I just considered it a (minor) feature rather than a bug.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 1:39 PM on January 7, 2013


What new character limit?

I said in the original post up top that we truncated them to 72 characters to keep them from running over multiple lines, especially in mobile. We tested several limits and this was the best happy medium, and posts with longer titles were less than 4% of the total posts.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:39 PM on January 7, 2013


For MetaFilter it was kind of a side benefit of bringing the site more inline with typical blogs

But this site isn't a typical blog. This is the point, at the very beginning of your consideration of upfronting titles, that things went off the rails. Metafilter being unskimmable is the feature. It is certainly not a bug.

We read the front page, from top to bottom. All of the things, not just the ones with the headlines that we are already familiar with, not just the ones with the things we know we want. Anyone can post these things, and we read them, because there are no cues to tell us not to. And so we get to discover and be surprised and be challenged by all of those things. That's why we are here.

We go to other websites and other media to read what we want to read. We go to metafilter to read what we don't yet know we want to read.

I am utterly baffled by the decision to do this.
posted by waterunderground at 1:44 PM on January 7, 2013 [65 favorites]


mathowie: Len, that quote was about why I put usernames at the bottom of posts, and it was to make it so you didn't pre-judge a comment based on knowing who said it -- that it's easy in a community to recognize usernames and eventually guess what they'll say, and I liked being surprised by people I thought were zealots about a subject post something I never expected and I only figured it out when I got to the bottom of their comment to see they wrote it.

It's a bit of a stretch to say that Titles can do the same thing in my opinion, but I get what you are saying about the importance of making people read and figure things out.


Oh yeah, I didn't mean to imply anything else, and I didn't want to stringently hold you to some half-remembered quote from a decade ago; it just struck me as an interesting parallel in the sense that both the name-after-comment thing and the no-titles-on-the-front-page thing seemed (to me) come from a similar place, not that they were explicitly designed to have the same function
posted by Len at 1:44 PM on January 7, 2013


I hate this. Part of what attracted me to mefi in the beginning was trying to figure out what each post is about by reading the description, and the neat ways some people lay out the descriptions. A title at the top detracts from this.
posted by Joe Chip at 1:45 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been reviewing the current site and the archives with the titles now displayed and even allowing for the possibility that some members will adapt their posting style, it does feel clunky. In the old layout, I liked the way a well-composed post with one or multiple links could be inviting without spelling out or summarizing everything, but also without becoming mystery meat. The title inside could often be like a Kinder Surprise or Cracker Jack prize, but now that it's the first thing we see, we don't get that little extra delight.

I do tech writing and eLearning for a living, and I know the value of a good header in a page full of information. When I go to a conference, it's helpful to have signage pointing to the seminar rooms and banners over the booths. But MeFi isn't a tech manual or a professional conference: it's a cloud of conversations at a party. You can walk by, hang around and eavesdrop, or join in any single conversation.

Starting each burst of conversation with banner titles might be useful if you read this site as if it's your job, but most of us don't approach it that way. A well-written title may bring someone into a post they may otherwise miss, but it can also turn them away (see "Beatles of Comedy") because the new design encourages functional scanning of titles and makes it more likely that many readers will skip the carefully written blurb. And repetitive titles, or dull titles, work against the fluidity and charm of a well-composed post.

I'm willing to keep trying this out, but I don't think it works now, and I don't think it will work if the display of titles can be turned off by each user. Up until yesterday, the mods had to deal with posts where important information has been put into the title and I think they're probably facing at least as much work in the new system if user expectations about what they are communicating aren't consistent throughout the site.
posted by maudlin at 1:46 PM on January 7, 2013 [19 favorites]


But it has been this way for so long that it has become one of this site's little quirks so I'm ok with adding a feature to turn it off if you please (like favorites, which you can turn off).

Terrific - many thanks! MetaFilter's quirks are more part of its idiosyncratic character than mere "look and feel" elements. (For what it's worth, the change definitely makes a positive difference in skimming the site on my iPhone.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:48 PM on January 7, 2013


You will be increasing your moderator load dramatically if you insist that titles be the primary way your userbase interacts with the site.

This, and similar pronouncements that TITLES WILL DRIVE ME AWAY, all seems very THE SKY IS FALLING to me.

I read MeFi and AskMe via their RSS feeds, coming to the site itself only for posts that interest me. So I've been exposed to post titles for years; and yet I still normally read both the title and the before-the-fold content before deciding to click through. My sky remains unfallen.

(Aside: I'm against the proliferation of user preferences, particularly for legacy preservation; they fossilize old design and drag against new design, they segment the userbase, and they increase support and testing load.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:48 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I hope this doesn't come off as threat-y or rant-y or rock kicking tantrum but my first reaction to the titles was " this would cause me to post and read a lot less." because of everything said before, and because of how big of a change it is to fundamental FPP writing and cause I think it looks awful. I see how I feel in a few days but I have a pretty...big reaction to this which is odd for me cause I usually don't care cause it's your site not mine but this, for whatever reason, really grates.

If it was AskMe driven maybe it can stay on AskMe?
posted by The Whelk at 1:50 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


mathowie: " I said in the original post up top that we truncated them to 72 characters to keep them from running over multiple lines, especially in mobile. We tested several limits and this was the best happy medium, and posts with longer titles were less than 4% of the total posts."

Ah. Sorry. I saw the percentage but missed the new limit.

At a glance, this would have affected 10 of my last 50 posts. That sucks.
posted by zarq at 1:52 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


As many other people say above, adding titles fundamentally changes the way I interact with the site. I purposefully don't go to Reddit or Slashdot anymore, because they are bad for the way I interact with information. I don't want to skim titles, I want to read information.

Call it knee jerk if you want, but the addition of titles makes this site just another Reddit clone to me. And I don't go to Reddit for a reason, so I doubt I'll use this site anymore with the current layout.

Having it as an option I can turn off is better than nothing, but still not a good option to me. I visit from home computers, work computers, cell phones, friend's computers, etc. Having to log in for the site to be legible and usable is not ideal.
posted by NerdcoreRising at 1:55 PM on January 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is the point, at the very beginning of your consideration of upfronting titles, that things went off the rails. Metafilter being unskimmable is the feature. It is certainly not a bug.

I get this argument, and I have made arguments like this myself in the past; I am historically pretty seriously conservative about mefi design issues, from even well before I started working here several years ago. I don't think it's unworthy of consideration.

But at the same time one of the things I have come to feel over time is that it's easy for us as folks who know and love this site as a familiar place to mistake the details of e.g. the presentation or featureset of the site for what is responsible for the core community spirit of the site; that Metafilter is a unique place as web cmmunity, and that Metafilter does x, means that doing x is essential to Metafilter being and continuing to be unique and interesting. I think that's a really understandable feeling but I think it can also be misleading or given far too much weight sometimes.

It's a bit like, I dunno, putting a lot of weight on the particular shape and size and coloration and faceting of the stone used to make the stone soup. Yes, it's our soup; yes, we've used that stone before; but that's not what the soup is about, and is not what is fundamentally at the core of why and how we have the excellent soup we have.

I'm not trying to be dismissive about concerns here because, again, I really really feel where folks are coming on from that and was for a long time skeptical about this change myself. But (a) I don't think it's likely to have a major cultural impact on the site in practice and (b) I feel like it's worth letting it stew for a bit to see what it feels like after the initial shock comes off. I think it's easy to over-estimate the actual effect of something in the early moments of reaction. And that's a matter of days or weeks, not hours, I think.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:56 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


... the appeal of MeF is that it's NOT like other blogs, therefore the argument "but most other blogs do this, so MeFi should too" has no draw for me whatsoever - in fact the opposite.

Mefi most certainly is like most other blogs. It ranges from great to good to horrible at times and can cover a wide range of topics.


We read the front page, from top to bottom.

We do not. I've always skimmed the front page. Where before it might be several sentences before deciding a specific post wasn't interesting, now it might be just one.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:56 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I said in the original post up top that we truncated them to 72 characters to keep them from running over multiple lines, especially in mobile. We tested several limits and this was the best happy medium, and posts with longer titles were less than 4% of the total posts.

Huh - it's 13% in my own case. I can live with shorter headlines, though others may feel differently.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:57 PM on January 7, 2013


My problem with the title addition on the front page is that it creates certain stylistic issues that us post writers, in an attempt to fine tune what exact impression a reader will get upon first sight of our worlds, will have to account for.

Most posts as currently written are done so in a way so that the primary link doubles as a title. The "Link text" box on the new post form in fact encourages this. Now we have another title there as well, and it creates a redundancy that posting styles will have to change to reflect. Which, well okay, change happens and the world turns on, but it'd have been nice to have some advance warning.
posted by JHarris at 1:57 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I guess if I were to sum up the way this reformatting changes my interaction with the site--

Before: So much work to do...must step away from computer...wait, just oooooooone more minute on MeFi...

Now: MeFi...want to browse MeFi...want to read post...hrrrrrrrrrrrg valiant attempt to penetrate format...hrm, I guess that Excel spreadsheet doesn't look so bad after all...

So I guess this will probably be a net gain in productivity for me!

(Despite the razzing and quibbling, much love to the awesome management of this site...y'all still rock.)
posted by threeants at 1:58 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


We read the front page, from top to bottom.

No.
posted by Artw at 1:59 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will say though that after a few hours, even with the smaller titles, the front page is incomprehensible. Trying to figure out what's the clever title versus where the link is, etc... I just don't have the patience for it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:59 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


While it seems like an abrupt, weird change given the current practice of jokey/cryptic post titles, I think the composition of post titles will evolve appropriately over the next couple months and it will end up a change for the better.
posted by klarck at 2:00 PM on January 7, 2013


are they gone yet?
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:00 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


I will likely browse AskMe less during the workday because of the change. Titles like "How to hire a stripper" and "Help me find a video game" really leap out now whereas it used to be more subtle.

I'm also afraid that the above type of titles becoming headlines will cause the metafilter domain to eventually be blocked by my work's firewall/security software, especially when NSFW/trigger warnings are present.
posted by kimberussell at 2:00 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


(Aside: I'm against the proliferation of user preferences, particularly for legacy preservation; they fossilize old design and drag against new design, they segment the userbase, and they increase support and testing load.)

Adding titles to the many things that allow font and size customization doesn't really seem like a huge addition of preferences. I can add some kind of add-on for my computer, but each time I log in to a new computer I need to do the same, and I'm not even sure I can do that for my phone.

I don't really like the titles, but I might grow to like them or I might grow to not mind them, but right now they're big and they're ugly and I would like to be able to choose their size and font. Sure, maybe they're the same size on my recent activity page -- but they're off to the side there, not part of how I interact with that page. I don't regularly peruse any of the other pages that have titles on them. I also agree that having the titles so large makes them more important and makes the post content less important, which isn't how I think Metafilter should be, but if I could change it for my own usage, that would work, because I don't think The Spirit Of Metafilter will be broken by having titles appear on the main page.
posted by jeather at 2:00 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel I need to point this out:

We tested several limits and this was the best happy medium, and posts with longer titles were less than 4% of the total posts.

That's the same as saying up to 1 in 25 posts. Basically, on the average one or two posts that are on the front page on a given day will be affected. That's not insignificant.
posted by JHarris at 2:02 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Siding, VERY politely and respectfully because I love the moderators and think they are wonderful people, with the Kill It With Fire crowd.

The formal construction of a MetaFilter post is fairly unique as far as web posts go. They aren't constrained by size or by number of links or by anything, really, so every post has the potential to look like anything. Every user have a voice all to themselves. I can recognize The User Formerly Known As Joe Beese no matter what user name he comes back as, because his posting style is all his own. Ditto flapjax at midnite. I have a lot of fun coming up with ways to creatively shape my FPPs, finding a delivery that'll somehow fit the content. The post delivery is one of the
things that makes MetaFilter a truly unique community online.

Titles diminish that substantially. They add a big weighted element to EVERY post, regardless of creator intent. That destroys the flow between different posts, separates them in a way that has nothing to do with the content of the posts themselves. That sucks. They also add an element that adds jack shit to the posts other than a permalink, making each post more about metadata and less about actual content. That sucks too.

The style reminds me a lot of Jason Kottke's blog, which is a bad thing. I know Kottke is a Friend of MetaFilter, so forgive me for saying this, but as an occasional reader of his blog who isn't familiar with Kottke as a person, I find that the amount of fluff surrounding each of his posts helps to kill his authorial voice and also kill some of the interestingness of his content; each post becomes less a doorway into some weird and rare part of the Internet and more a Blog Post On A Blog, more about the blog itself in other words than about where the link points to. MetaFilter is my gateway to strange territories in a way that no other site is, and yes, I think that part of that has to do with its visual design.

Sites like Reddit and Facebook feel like they want me lurking there, participating within their walls, leaving only briefly to get material to come back and participate with. MetaFilter, meanwhile, has a glorious balance between outside content and inside, where sometimes I come in because I want new places to go, and other times I come in because something wonderful is happening on the site itself. But this redesign makes the posts much more about the "site itself" and much less about where the site is taking you; the links become fodder for the posts, rather than how I feel MetaFilter ought to behave, which is where the posts only exist because a given link or set of links is truly worth exploring.

I feel, for that reason, that this might impact comments negatively as well. Maybe that's a dumb thing to feel but it seems as though if you change the way readers interact with the posts, you'll also affect which people come back to comment on which threads, somehow make comments more community-focused and less link-focused. And I love the MetaFilter community precisely because the site functions to prevent users from disappearing up their own assholes; the site is first and foremost about site function and community comes second, meaning if people start posting crap on the front page/in the comments, moderators take care of it, even if the people being taken care of aren't happy that that's happening. I've gotten in stupid pissy selfish fights on MeFi and gotten talked to about my bad behavior, and it pissed me off when it happened, but it was absolutely what was right for the site. Similarly I've had posts deleted that I thought were good for MetaFilter, and in retrospect the deletions were part of a very good aim on the mods' parts: to promote a certain quality in FPPs that makes MetaFilter such a good resource. And I feel the titles will dilute that, to the detriment not only of the front page but of the community that congregates around its links.

This might be unnecessary worry, but I find the change unsettling. I actually came into this thread ready to say the titles looked nice – and they do, I like them a lot visually – but the more I thought about how the visual design affects the post format and the front page layout, the more it really, really squicks me out. I don't even want a toggle for this, I want it gone period. If it doesn't go away I won't, like, keep complaining about it, but while we're discussing this as a community I'd like to register one more user's opinion that this is not a good change.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:03 PM on January 7, 2013 [45 favorites]


Whoa!

My World <---- Rocked.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 2:03 PM on January 7, 2013


The Whelk: "If it was AskMe driven maybe it can stay on AskMe?"

Yeah, although the titles bother me a lot less than others (again, I read in RSS, so they are old news to me), I could see a strong argument for restricting them to AskMe/MeTa, which are qualitatively different than MeFi proper.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:04 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


AskMe is by far the most formal and popular of the sites, titles make sense there, not so much on the blue.
posted by The Whelk at 2:05 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is an ugly mess and I hate it and I refuse to spend the rest of my day reading a 600 comment thread to find out if there's a reason why I shouldn't or if there's a way to turn it off, so just get rid of the fucking things already.

I have spoken, now go do my bidding.
posted by item at 2:07 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


it just struck me as an interesting parallel

I had thought about that quote, too.

I don't plan to stop using the site. I'll give it a shot. Mostly this site is moderated well and I take the mods' word that plenty of thought went into this revision, so I'll try it for awhile and maybe I will change my mind. But my feeling of opposition to it isn't just, "OMG NEW," and it has nothing to do with Reddit because I don't read Reddit. There are concrete reasons why I think this is unwise.
posted by cribcage at 2:07 PM on January 7, 2013


We go to metafilter to read what we don't yet know we want to read.

This is as perfect a description of the site as I have ever read.
posted by desjardins at 2:07 PM on January 7, 2013 [42 favorites]


Also, the titles in Music and Projects and IRL reinforce my perception of those subfilters as MEFI USER ONLY domain – that is, those are the avenues that exist precisely for community members to take the spotlight, and therefore the posts should be formatted to put emphasis on the individual member contribution.

By that logic, titles in MetaTalk might make sense, but titles on MeFi and AskMe are hugely disruptive and add a user/site-centric component that diminishes them. MeFi more than AskMe, since at least the latter is about individuals asking questions, but I think it hurts AskMe too.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:07 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Titles wrong to all MeFi writing styles.

.
posted by lipsum at 2:08 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really like them less on AskMe, not only for the aforementioned shoulder-surfing reason, but also because we have a big enough problem there as-is with people not reading the whole question (especially when the intro seems self-contained as titles tend to be).

Anything that encourages breezier reading on AskMe is probably a bad idea.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 2:09 PM on January 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm also afraid that the above type of titles becoming headlines will cause the metafilter domain to eventually be blocked by my work's firewall/security software, especially when NSFW/trigger warnings are present.

To be clear, this is not change in situation on that front. We have had no rules about the permissible content of above-the-fold question text separate from the expectation for title text, and one could be as blue or filthy or potentially filter-baiting as they liked outside of their titles already.

That's the same as saying up to 1 in 25 posts. Basically, on the average one or two posts that are on the front page on a given day will be affected. That's not insignificant.

It's saying that for 1 in 25 posts the post author would have to rewrite their title, in most of those cases only very slightly, in the name of concision. It's not nothing but it's also really, really not a lot to ask and I have full faith in the ability of mefites to do good work inside of a constraint like that and consider reworking the balance of their title vs. post text accordingly if they want to lead with a long sentence/quote/whatever.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:10 PM on January 7, 2013


I think the titles are great on AskMe, but I think they're terrible on the Blue.

I don't know quite how to describe this, or whether it will make any sense, but I'll just try.

Metafilter has a voice. It has prosody. Front Pge Posts have rhythm. They are small orations. They are tiny mystery novels with clues dotted here and there. They have literary tension and resolution.

All of this comes from the way Front Page Posts introduce their subjects. They are dramatic. They announce something and then explain it (classic) or they put forward a question or teaser and then answer it (modern).

A good short FPP is like a haiku. A great long FPP can be sculptural.

That's the voice, that's why it's fun just reading the front page of Metafilter even if I don't click through to anything. Because I hear the voice and I know it's all there.

The titles just ruin all of this to me. I literally can't bring myself to read them when I look at the front page of Metafilter. It feels like breaking glass in my head. My eyes, actually, just skip over them because I want to get right to the poetry.

Metafilter isn't Wikipedia and it's an index of links. Titles would work there. But Metafilter's not that. It's a conversation. And the titles just show up like a cheap game show announcer saying, "Now he's about to say this...", "Now she's about to say that...". We don't need to be told someone's about to say something. Just let them say it.

I'll turn the feature off if I'm allowed to, but I'm worried that even so it will change the site for the worse, because suddenly people making Front Page Posts won't just be stepping up to the open mike and doing their thing. Instead they'll be busy clearing their throats, sanitizing their words, setting up a title, and, turning their in their five paragraph essay.

Sigh. We don't need any more five paragraph essays. We need more voices.
posted by alms at 2:14 PM on January 7, 2013 [26 favorites]


Challenge mode: titles
in proper haiku only.
Concise, beautiful.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:15 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ha, haiku reference jinx!
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:16 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm curious if any of the mods hate these things as much as a not-small percentage of the community does. After doing a CTRL-F for "(staff)", I noticed that about half of the employees haven't yet weighed in on the matter.
posted by item at 2:16 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, inasmuch as usability goes, couldn't you just insert a couple more pixels of margin space between posts? I'm pretty sure the space between comments is twice as large as the space between posts, two em versus one. I don't have much of a problem differentiating between posts, but adding an extra .25em might be enough to visually distinguish different posts without adding what feels like a noticeable and blatant break in between entries.
posted by Rory Marinich at 2:16 PM on January 7, 2013


I say this with great admiration and respect for Matt Haughey : I think the titles are a way to compete with reddit.

It's an instant flash of dopamine, the click-click instant satisfaction that a site like reddit gives the user. One glance, click it, another glance, click it.

Metafilter historically is known for its "essay-like posts." This removes that, in a way, by hanging the good "post of the month" stuff beneath the instant endorphin-release title.

Maybe this is what Matt wants - expand the audience, make it less bookish.

I suppose then my only input is - much like the very nice white background option - please allow us to toggle the new title feature off.

Thanks and title on.
posted by four panels at 2:18 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


for item:
I'm finding that I like them on Ask and MeTa, and it's more mixed on the blue. But that may just be people's titling habits on the blue.

I generally scan the blue looking for link text anyway, to get a sense of what a post is about, so I don't think it will affect my way of reading the front page in a negative way, and might be positive for me if people make informative titles.

I can understand what people are saying about culture changes, and the worry about having a mixed-preference scenario where some people see titles on front pages and some don't. But I also think waiting a few days is a good approach.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:19 PM on January 7, 2013


Let's take a look at the last few post titles that have been used since this decision was made, and see if they add any important information whatsoever to the front page, instead of just some visual distraction:

Huell Howser, a fine example of California Gold, passed away
(Informative, but repeated almost verbatim in the post body)

This is the first time that we use this way to do stuffs
(about an animated Chinese cooking show)

The Red and the Black
(an essay about economic theory)

Overthinking a Plate of Beans
(theories about food and culture)

Japanese Woodblock Print Database | Ukiyo-e Search
(actually informative)

Boil the Frog
(the name of a website dedicated to music, repeated in the post body)

Mobiliario Humano
(a Spanish photographer's site)
posted by lalex at 2:19 PM on January 7, 2013


Nah, reddit is EASIER to use now.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:19 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am a big fan, personally (although I have been pleased to see the tweaking going on - that's how it's supposed to work.) I am particularly curious to see how the reaction changes over the course of the next week or so, as everyone gets past the initial "oh God it's different!" reflex and people figure out the trick of writing posts with the new format in mind. We mods have all had a month or so to get used to the idea, so our reactions are going to be a little bit different.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:20 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Just to report the status of my experiment after a few hours, I'm having a much easier time adjusting to metafilter in the Papyrus font than I am adjusting to the post titles. So that can serve as a control sample to calibrate out my own reticence towards change.
posted by kiltedtaco at 2:23 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


That idea that adding titles, limited to 72 characters, will destroy someone's unique writing style is, well, silly. If anything, people will start creatively using titles. Any number of formatting options are available and it wouldn't surprise me if people start a sentence in the title and continue it in the first line of the post. I await the first instance of someone writing a dramatic title and then the exact opposite in the post, just for effect.

Frankly, if MeFi dies because of adding titles (and you known it won't), it was never very much to begin with.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:26 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I noticed that about half of the employees haven't yet weighed in on the matter.

We've already had numerous discussions about this feature and we've watched it evolve internally for quite a while. I personally like the titles. There isn't any internal strife that I'm aware of over this feature if that's what you mean.
posted by pb (staff) at 2:26 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Given the option, I will leave them on. I don't notice it really changing the way I read new FPPs, but it makes a big difference in how I am able to scan the front page for older FPPs I was wanting to check back in on (but hadn't bothered to comment in or bookmark, yet). It's possible I'll change my mind on this, but less probable than if I was really bothered by it, I suspect.

one more data point
distrusting me is smartest
winter is coming
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:27 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I noticed that about half of the employees haven't yet weighed in on the matter.

Well two of them are likely asleep and the rest of them aren't working today, as much as it's nice for everyone to chime in, this isn't an "all hands on deck!" sort of situation really. I'm shruggo on them personally. Don't love, don't hate, figure I'll get used to it and/or find a Greasemonkey/Stylish way to deal with it if it doesn't click with me. I'm a twitchy design person in a lot of ways and I find that to be an unuseful personality trait in the world of facebook and Twitter and perpetual beta. Not saying that should be true for everyone, but it's definitely true for me. MeFi is about more than how it looks and while I totally understand that people feel that this affects the way it works as well, I think it's too early to tell and we'll be keeping an eye on that sort of thing.

One of the things about being a mod here is the absolute certainty that my own personal preferences are actually not the ones that keep this website running, I just try to help it along. We did put an awful lot of thought into this and we appreciate your patience as we work through some of this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:27 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't think the mods are up to anything nefarious, and this isn't a plot to turn this site into Reddit. I think this change comes from a genuine desire to help us out, and probably also reflects the fact that most of the mods read this site most of the time as part of their job. Even if several mods also enjoy the change when they're reading the site while off-duty, they're a pretty tiny sample of MeFi users.

I think (ADHDer bias here, I know) that many users scan the blue in such a way that a title that would be helpful in many other contexts is actually a roadblack, a distraction, redundant, or a spoiler when used in front of a well-written MeFi post.

I thought the titles were cool when I was bouncing in during the middle of my work day and wearing my tech writer brain. Now that I'm settling in to scan and read the site, they're driving me crazy because I can't get into the flow of the site.
posted by maudlin at 2:28 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


MeFi isn't a tech manual or a professional conference: it's a cloud of conversations at a party. You can walk by, hang around and eavesdrop, or join in any single conversation.

This. It's not a hill I'll die on or anything, but I think format is pretty vital to community function and sometimes the minor things are really major things to our cultural architecture.
posted by Think_Long at 2:28 PM on January 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


YUK.

As far as I am concerned, this is a giant step backwards. As others have said above, it is redundant, obtrusive, and gobbles screenspace for no added value (IMHO).

If you can't/won't reverse this change, give us the ability to turn it off. Please.
posted by GeeEmm at 2:28 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


An interesting side effect is that, for example, this post appears to be a specific question about the Greek language when skimmed on the AskMe page, when it's really much broader. The people who answered that question didn't seem to be confused, but I was (for a second, at least).
posted by theodolite at 2:29 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another thing that's interesting about this thread is that it makes crystal clear that there are at least three distinct communities affected and responding

1) AskMeFi community members. That is, those that spend most of their overall MetaFilter time on the green, although they may occasionally check out the blue or the gray.
2) Metafilter proper members. Like #1 but with the blue
3) Those with no particular focus, who most likely consume both sites in a way in which changes to the home page don't affect them (i.e. rss)

Each have different needs, all have valid points, and we would do well in keeping in mind that 'a change to metafilter' is not the same as 'i redesigned my blog'.

To continue the Reddit thing, each subreddit is allowed a certain level of customization (header banners, sidebar content, link colors) but core functionality is consistent throughout them. then again, their community needs (link-based) are very different than ours.
posted by softlord at 2:29 PM on January 7, 2013


I find them rather jarring and unhelpful. I would prefer if the "title" were in a smaller font that the normal text and placed at the bottom of the paragraph.

Or maybe just make it completely customisable if you want them or not and in what colours, blinking or not, etc.
posted by cx at 2:29 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


You know when you're trying to read a book that uses a slightly odd font-- not some wacky shit like Papyrus or Comic Sans, but just something slightly non-standard-- and that makes it kind of hard to focus? I mean, you'd probably get used to it by page 50, but why would you ever get that far if it subtly repels concentration and there are so many other books out there in more legible fonts?

Personally I see this as more a design issue than a community issue (though I get the latter, too)-- I do know I'm more susceptible to concentration problems than the average person, so do with this what you will, but the new format makes my eye slip all kinds of around and ultimately makes me feel overwhelmed. I love how the old MeFi lulled you into sort of a quiet, fluid reading trance.

I think there is some inherent value in continuity when it comes to legibility.
posted by threeants at 2:32 PM on January 7, 2013


ok here's a userscript
posted by czytm at 3:11 PM on January 7


Works great, thanks!
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 2:35 PM on January 7, 2013


Went out and took my dog for a long walk. Came back. Was not thinking about this. Was not doing a test or anything.

My eye 100% fell from headline to headline to headline. Is that what you want? 'Cause that's what you're getting. I'm not even making a judgment about it. Just saying that's what's happening.


I think this is a way bigger change than you suppose.
posted by Trochanter at 2:37 PM on January 7, 2013 [19 favorites]


I, for one, like them. I think they are a good addition to easily see and understand the overall tone of the question or the post.... and I appreciate the mods for always trying to implement improvements.... Thanks y'all!!
posted by pearlybob at 2:39 PM on January 7, 2013


I usually see titles first from getting new posts in email, so I'm accustomed to that in the same way that people who are reading from rss, are, I imagine, and it's not weird for me. I really like the fact that it's easy to see where one post ends and a new post begins, which has always been my personal difficulty with the metafilter front page... and is almost exactly the opposite of what some of you are saying. I've always had to sort of stare and blink, and kind of shake my head and try to visually sort out the front page, so I personally like it a lot, and I guess I'm just not someone who is dissuaded from reading the posts if there is a title.

I'm very interested in all the different user cases described here, though, and feel like customization is probably a good idea... but it's after midnight here, so I'm not going to be weighing in much more right now.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:40 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's take a look at the last few post titles that have been used since this decision was made, and see if they add any important information whatsoever to the front page

It's worth asking if that's their goal. In the writing contexts where I typically use titles or headings, if you find yourself writing a title that includes important information that doesn't appear in the text, then you need to add that information to the text. Titles/headings are intended to be redundant, if distilled.

What's the goal of titles on MetaFilter? I always viewed them as (1) browser-page captions that appear at the top of tabs, which are not especially important, and (2) RSS functions, which I don't use but have always tried to be considerate of. If titles are going to become a prominent feature on MetaFilter, it's worth asking what their goal is. And how does that goal interact with the function of the site that divides FPPs and questions into a short above-the-fold and a longer area for "more inside"?

Demarcating posts and providing a click target are valid goals and maybe worth discussing, but they don't require text.
posted by cribcage at 2:41 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I say this with great admiration and respect for Matt Haughey : I think the titles are a way to compete with reddit.

I can say with confidence that there has been more discussion of reddit by non-mods in this thread so far today than there has been in maybe the last year of mod-side discussions. The idea that we are courting the reddit demo or chasing some sort of reddit juice is honestly just weird and laughable to me, all else about this discussion aside. We're very different sites, and if Mefi wanted to change that to not be so there are far more substantial changes we'd make before we started worrying about adding titles to the front page views.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:41 PM on January 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


I like them in Ask since askers often put useful information in the titles. On 'the blue' I find them slightly annoying since they seem redundant with the actual content. In some cases they are actually a repeat of the content.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 2:41 PM on January 7, 2013


I think I like the old format better. I'm willing to give it some time (already have), but I think that even if I were used to it, I'd prefer the old layout.
posted by AwkwardPause at 2:41 PM on January 7, 2013


RE: AskMeFi: Nope, really the change was targeted at making Ask MeFi's front page easier to read, scan, and help out on, to encourage more participation from members because it should be easier to spot words describing things you are interested in.

But it doesn't.
Except that it doesn't...it makes it harder to read and scan.
Because of all the repetiveness.
Because most titles for questions are just repeating the question itself...like a longer, more verbose 'tag'
It makes it take twice as long to read.
It now takes twice as long to read, because the same information is just doubled in most cases...same amount of information, twice as many words.
But not everybody is going to do that!
Which really just makes the problem worse, because it trips you up... for example:
Why is the sky blue?
why is the sky blue?
Why is the grass green?
why is the grass green?
I have a question about cows...
why do they moo?
See how that's a total disconnect?
when it repeats (useless) and then doesn't (distracting)
And when the title doesn't just repeat the question, it becomes useless as a PAGE title
because it becomes no longer the question itself: "why do cows moo" is a much better page title than "I have a question about cows"
Your entire user base isn't going to change their habits.
not everybody is going to embrace this, which is just going to make it look like a mess (hint: it already does)
It just makes the pages longer
By doubling all this extra info, it just makes all the front pages longer...isn't that going to affect your bandwidth? won't this end up costing a bunch? has it affected your bandwidth already?
posted by sexyrobot at 2:41 PM on January 7, 2013 [51 favorites]


I think the titles are a way to compete with reddit.

Is this because of that recent Matt interview that was helpfully titled 'MATT HAUGHEY TO REDDIT: FUCK YOU IN THE EAR'
posted by shakespeherian at 2:47 PM on January 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


This is so much better on my phone, wow.
posted by zinful at 2:50 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know I've said this before, but "wait and see what people think in a week" is not a method for determining whether a modification is ok. If the presumption is that people like what already exists due to habit, then that directly implies that they will come to like what it has been changed to out of habit. So the fact that people come to prefer a modification tells us nothing, in and of itself, about the population's deeper preferences.

For each of these changes (titles, edits, getting rid of favorite counts, etc), you need a baseline model: day 1, X% will hate it, and on day 7, Y% will hate it, where Y is almost always less than X. To evaluate whether a change has has genuine approval, you need to then see whether X and Y for a given change are above or below the baseline. Merely showing that Y is less than X proves nothing.

To do this, you need to poll folks on day 1 and day 7 (or whatever) to establish that baseline. Failing that, advocating a "wait and see" approach is not actually empirical, and often seems to function as a way for admins to justify top-down decisions (see, for instance, Gawker's many recent changes).
posted by chortly at 2:51 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Dislike, on day one anyway. I'll let you know in a week.
posted by Lynsey at 2:52 PM on January 7, 2013


I'm not saying it's wrong or it's right, and I can certainly get used to it, but it does feel a lot less intimate. It feels shouty. I like being drawn into a thread by someone's description, and often see the title as an afterthought. Also, seeing a title without a date and time stamp does take some getting used to. Clicking on a title: easier to get used to.

Not sure if it's the format or what; for example, see the formatting at the The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. There are titles, but each entry is clearly set off by color and block quoting.

Not suggesting you change up the color like that, but from the complaints, it's obvious the large text and the running together of the post beneath is problematic for a lot of people. There has to be a happy medium, perhaps making the title font a bit smaller and/or different, or an offset/indentation?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:53 PM on January 7, 2013


My two cents: initially (~4 hours ago) I found the titles somewhat distracting; now (~4 hours later) I don't even really notice them.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 2:54 PM on January 7, 2013


(To be clear, when I brought up Reddit in this thread earlier, I was mocking fellow users reaction to change, not the new titles themselves.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:55 PM on January 7, 2013


You shoud've saved this for April Fools day.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:56 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Not noticing them anymore" is not the same as "this was a good change". Adopting new habits quickly is what our brain is designed for. That does not mean that the new habit, once adjusted for, is superior, more intuitive or will lead to a better result than the original one.
posted by softlord at 2:57 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't understand why people are getting upset about this. It is a relatively minor formatting change that brings the main site in line with MeTa and AskMe and clears up previous confusion about titles on the posting form. Thanks for trying to make the site look nicer!
posted by onlyconnect at 2:59 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Don't like titles.
posted by davebush at 3:00 PM on January 7, 2013


It sounds like there is a divide between how mobile users like the titles and how computer users like the titles.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:01 PM on January 7, 2013


In my case there's an issue in that I'm using 12pt Georgia as my body font so the headers look out of place, not quite big enough contrast with the preferences I'm using. I mean that's sort of my personal problem but sort of not since the preferences already do give me the choice to change the font and weight of body and byline text.

One solution I suppose would be to add a preference for title font and weight as well.
posted by Doleful Creature at 3:01 PM on January 7, 2013


I don't understand why people are getting upset about this.
posted by onlyconnect at 4:59 PM on January 7


Did you try reading this thread? Because there have been quite a few people who have made a concerted effort to explain their problems and concerns about a cultural shift.

Or were you just "skimming"?
posted by dios at 3:02 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I like them.

I was missing titles because I'd continue reading inside where I left off and forget to glance up.

And I was always seeing people embarrassed about making comments that looked silly because they hadn't noticed the title.
posted by jamjam at 3:02 PM on January 7, 2013


Probably wouldn't have noticed a difference if I hadn't read metatalk. It seems fine, and will probably be useful to me in the future, so thanks for your efforts, guys.
posted by Lina Lamont at 3:02 PM on January 7, 2013


It would be super easy to enable this for mobile users only.... Just sayin...
posted by softlord at 3:03 PM on January 7, 2013


Who was it that did not have enough to do and invented titles after all these years the site has managed without them?
posted by Cranberry at 3:03 PM on January 7, 2013


Just writing this comment to register that I really like the titles and hope that you keep them! Very helpful to me: further delineates one post from another (which the "posted by" tag doesn't always), and keeps me from making an obvious joke in the thread because it's usually already part of the title.
posted by not_on_display at 3:05 PM on January 7, 2013


Who was it that did not have enough to do and invented titles after all these years the site has managed without them?

They've been in place since 2005, we just added them to the www, ask, and metatalk front pages today.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:07 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


So maybe one of you pro-title people can explain this to me : what are we expected to do in AskMe now?

When I ask a question, I try to distill the "question text" (the part above to fold) down to its barest essentials, saving the extended descriptions for the [more inside]. Often my question text is a single sentence. What can I possibly put in the title that isn't totally redundant?
posted by Afroblanco at 3:08 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Some redundancy is fine IMO.

Title: iPod and car stereo
Question: How do I get my iPod to work with my car stereo?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:10 PM on January 7, 2013


Your PIN.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:10 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Afroblanco, check out the Ask MeFi new post form.

We re-wrote this over the course of weeks, trying to make it as clear as possible what to put where. If you have any suggestions to make it clearer, feel free to post them and we'll consider them.

I'm dead serious when I say that almost half of the new post page's text was describing how we don't show titles on the front page and how they need to be ignored except as the last step to finish off your post. The new approach seemed way more streamlined and obvious.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:10 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh man, not to be a negative nancy and I can sort of understand the reasons-for but I *really* do not like it, especially on the main page.
posted by ominous_paws at 3:10 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


On April Fool's Day, there will be a "+bookmark" link beside every post and comment, plus a one-use-only user preference to convert old favorites to bookmarks.

But none of it will work.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 3:11 PM on January 7, 2013


Well, I like it. Makes sense to me. It's never made much sense that the titles were hidden inside. Sometimes, of course, it is fun to see what the title is after reading the post because posters often put clever/jokey titles to summarise.

That said, a lot of times people didn't read the post title and something similar became an early comment. And people LOL'd because they clearly hadn't read the title either. No big deal, but it proved to me that titles while important (they do form the URL after all!), were often skipped.

I like the way it separates posts on the front page. I like that it's a snapshot of the content. I have no problem with the font size.

And I think people sometimes should try getting used to a thing without freaking the hell out.
posted by crossoverman at 3:14 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Title: iPod and car stereo

With all due respect, this is an awful title. It's a one-line question, why not make that the title?

From the AskMe new question page:

Give a short, descriptive title. Please boil your question down to a single sentence. (Example: "How to get an iPod to work in my car?")
posted by desjardins at 3:15 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like it. Please keep it.
posted by Renoroc at 3:17 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also think it's fine to have a one sentence title that is the same as the question, but I was trying to show how you could construct a title that was shorter if you felt you needed to avoid redundancy. In any case, looking at the AskMe front page right now shows a lot of good examples of how to make a title that works non-redundantly with a shortish question text.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:17 PM on January 7, 2013


The post form should have hidden the title input completely and defaulted to pulling 72 characters from the intro. If a form has advanced but in many cases redundant options that require a lot of explanation, that's what an advanced options panel is for.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 3:17 PM on January 7, 2013


This is what the front of metafilter looks like for me. (Thanks for prompting me to use stylish, folks.) For me, this allows the headlines to be present, but also allows me to visually scan just the text if that's what I want to do, including getting rid of line breaks and bringing block quotes back to align with the rest of the text. If anyone wants this, I can put it on userstyles, I guess.
posted by maxwelton at 3:17 PM on January 7, 2013 [46 favorites]


onlyconnect writes "I don't understand why people are getting upset about this. It is a relatively minor formatting change that brings the main site in line with MeTa and AskMe and clears up previous confusion about titles on the posting form. "

This is brand new behaviour on all three sites.
posted by Mitheral at 3:18 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just came here after staring at AskMe for a full five minutes trying to figure out what the hell was different and wondering if I was going crazy.

It's alright. I preferred it without titles though.
posted by stillnocturnal at 3:20 PM on January 7, 2013


I'm far more traumatized at the threat of the mods to start swearing less in the podcasts.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:21 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


maxwelton: "This is what the front of metafilter looks like for me. "

Hey, mathowie! Take a look at this. It's pretty attractive.
posted by boo_radley at 3:21 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I agree that maxwelton's layout is nice looking.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:22 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like maxwelton's Mefi layout but please do not make me use his Firefox skin.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:23 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


second that (or third, or whatever) Much better.
posted by Trochanter at 3:24 PM on January 7, 2013


maxwelton's version looks good.
posted by Cranberry at 3:24 PM on January 7, 2013


Afroblanco, check out the Ask MeFi new post form.

I will -- in 3 days, 21 hours, 4 minutes, and 50 seconds, when I have access to it again ;)

Yeah, I dunno. I'll try to phrase my questions in a way that jibes with the new format. But outside of making my "question text" longer, I don't really see how to avoid redundancy.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:25 PM on January 7, 2013


the threat of the mods to start swearing less in the podcasts.

I will fucking do it!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:25 PM on January 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


maxwelton's version would look better if it were on a professional white background.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:25 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fuck you will!
posted by boo_radley at 3:26 PM on January 7, 2013


google: phase of the moon
posted by boo_radley at 3:26 PM on January 7, 2013


I will fucking do it!

Stand back everyone! She's crazy enough...
posted by Trochanter at 3:28 PM on January 7, 2013


Another worry is that this might be the first step towards the death of the post body itself. Will we eventually be left with a page of 72 character titles, that interested people can click on to read the actual posts? Maybe the "above the fold" post description will become a user selectable optional preview on the front page?

(It's your site, not mine, and Matt and the mods have demonstrated that they know more about community running than I'll ever learn, but since meta exists I'm just adding my bit so that this opinion gets heard.)
posted by ceribus peribus at 3:28 PM on January 7, 2013


Maxwelton's image is hugely superior to the FPP as it is now. If you must keep the titles PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE look at his style.
posted by Justinian at 3:30 PM on January 7, 2013


No this isn't the first step towards anything ceribus peribus. We don't have plans for ever removing any other fields or shortening things further to scannable links.

We were just trying to make the front pages easier to use.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:31 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I really like how maxwelton's layout looks. It's a way bigger visual change in my opinion, but I like it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:31 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm far more traumatized at the threat of the mods to start swearing less in the podcasts.

I'm pretty sure for my part the real threat is to my pocketbook, not my vocabulary.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:32 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, maxwelton, I also like that. Can you make it available for the rest of us? Right now I installed the "remove titles" script, but I think I'd prefer that.
posted by jeather at 3:33 PM on January 7, 2013


...almost half of the new post page's text was describing how we don't show titles on the front page and how they need to be ignored except as the last step to finish off your post. The new approach seemed way more streamlined and obvious.

I appreciate that this was a constant thorn for the mods, but I only needed to read and understand the boilerplate once; I haven't looked back since 2006. The Entitlement is a pretty intrusive fix for something that doesn't seem to have ever been an actual problem with the vast majority of the user base.
posted by Iridic at 3:35 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thing I like about maxwelton's layout as opposed to the front page as it now exists is that it seems like a good balance between having the titles present (which is obviously the goal of this change, right?) and having them not THE MOST PROMINENT THING EVER for each post. The indentation and the muted color for the title makes it obvious to read as a title but it doesn't pull my eye away from the post body itself the way the current titles are doing (and which seems to be the overriding complaint/concern in this thread -- that the titles are making the post bodies difficult to focus on).
posted by shakespeherian at 3:35 PM on January 7, 2013 [14 favorites]


Maxwelton's layout is a bigger change superficially but it preserves the feel of the old layout better. You can read the page the same way you used to, whereas the way it is right now the titles are a barrier, as others have said.
posted by Justinian at 3:36 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I made my way over here after being very confused as to why I was having a hard time reading MeFi today. Before I realized how the formatting had changed, I kept thinking I was inside a post reading a big paragraph of text. For some reason, the change in font sizes was not jumping out much to my poor eyes, and I guess the spacing between posts weren't enough to make the visual breaks jump out to me. I don't mind that titles are there, but the whole thing just looks like a giant wall of text for some reason to me. However, when I looked at maxwelton's version above, it was super clear. I think some bumping out of the title like that really helps break thing up for me for some reason between posts.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 3:36 PM on January 7, 2013


maxwelton's design works really well.
posted by thisclickableme at 3:37 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maxwelton's layout also obliterates the blockquote tag, line breaks, and any gaps. It looks nice because it did a forced reformatting of all posts so they fit into a neat and tidy paragraph below the title.

It's funny to hear people really enjoying that layout and at the same time earlier in the thread openly wondering if we're trying to overtake reddit, how cutting down title lengths will make them reconsider using the site, etc, and this layout with half of a post's HTML stripped out is getting rave reviews.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:39 PM on January 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


mat, this is an emotionally charged change for a lot of people. You and the mods are doing a great job responding (as everyone has said), and I think what people are connecting to with max_welton's design is that it leaves the title in which addresses your concerns but it de-emphasizes it relative to the content, which is what we're worried about losing.

Surely there's a middle ground that does not also strip all the formatting and utility you're talking about.
posted by softlord at 3:41 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


maxwelton format wastes, IMO, even more screen real estate than the current title layout. Both vertically and horizontally.

Does no one have their browsers windowed anymore?
posted by Mitheral at 3:42 PM on January 7, 2013


The primary thing I like about it is that the post titles don't block the ability to scan the FPPs. If the other stuff gets preserved, hey even better.
posted by Justinian at 3:42 PM on January 7, 2013


I think I'd prefer that the front page only showed titles. But in that case, maybe with a bit more formatting -- say, remove the length requirement, and allow multi-sentence titles with different segments of text linking to different stuff.
posted by chortly at 3:42 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


maxwelton's design addresses what for me is the key drawback of the current implementation, which is that I find it extremely difficult to skim the page.
posted by thisclickableme at 3:43 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


(My FF skin is crap, I will give you that, shakes.)

This might possibly be the link to my style sheet. I'm not really that familiar with userstyles.org and may have got something wrong. I promise to never maintain it and to completely forget it's there in about a week.
posted by maxwelton at 3:43 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


mathowie writes "It's funny to hear people really enjoying that layout and at the same time earlier in the thread openly wondering if we're trying to overtake reddit, "

These aren't necessarily the same people.
posted by Mitheral at 3:43 PM on January 7, 2013


Yeah FWIW I'm only looking at the title treatment (heh) in maxwelton's screengrab; I didn't even look at how the post bodies themselves are formatted. I'd be all for preserving the current post body formatting free-for-all.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:44 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


mathowie: "
It's funny to hear people really enjoying that layout and at the same time earlier in the thread openly wondering if we're trying to overtake reddit, how cutting down title lengths will make them reconsider using the site, etc, and this layout with half of a post's HTML stripped out is getting rave reviews.
"
I just looked at it for titles and spacing.
posted by boo_radley at 3:45 PM on January 7, 2013


I think I'd prefer that the front page only showed titles.

That's not MetaFilter. That's not even Mexico.

Even after reading everyone's points here, I still feel strongly that titles are the actual embodied antithesis of what makes the blue so unique and distinct. No formatting can fix that.
posted by Aquaman at 3:46 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think the people who like them are the ones who are not going to be interested in most posts. They are good for filtering people away. Perhaps that's why they seem fine in AskMe, where you want to filter users away quickly, or for people who skim the blue and don't read most posts.

That's not how I read posts on the blue. It's not like a newspaper, where its goal is to include everything and expect that most people will not read most articles. It's general interest, and MetaFilter is a site for people who are generally interested. I don't know who Huell Howser was by name, and the fact of his death doesn't interest me just sitting there by itself on the page. When I read posts on the blue my attitude is that I'm willing to be shown the interesting thing in every post, and I don't think titles are actually good at doing that.

I think that's why to me (and maybe others) they seem okay on AskMe but on the front page they're annoying and not useful.
posted by fleacircus at 3:46 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm sorry, I just really dislike these. I love Metafilter and I love you guys, but these just stick out too much, and they just look wrong to me.
posted by Slinga at 3:48 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does no one have their browsers windowed anymore?

I do, but I have a huge monitor, relatively speaking. Horizontal space is at a premium because I have a million windows open, but vertical space is (for me) not an issue. It's just ten minutes CSS wankery, not meant to be the Best Ever. I eliminated the blockquote and line break stuff because, for me, they're distracting on the front page. I don't carry this over to the inside pages.
posted by maxwelton at 3:49 PM on January 7, 2013


I just looked at it for titles and spacing.

Yeah, exactly. I don't want to strip out the other stuff, I just like the titles not making it impossible to skim the front page for stuff I'm interested in.
posted by Justinian at 3:50 PM on January 7, 2013


.
posted by Stynxno at 3:52 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


also, just as a data point, I visit the blue and the green at about a 66/33 ratio with the additional 1% being to check in occasionally on projects and to weigh in on metatalk when the changes are bad (usually they're good...thanks ya'll! but this one is bad, yes)
I think the idea of making all the separate pages consistent is a great concept, but ultimately doesn't work as they are, actually, quite separate entities.
The title/link combo on 'projects' works because it is the NAME of that project (usually) as does having titles on 'music' because songs and albums DO have titles, and are not text, so it's not just repeating itself.
However, one of the mods pointed out earlier that 'most blogs have been doing this for years now'...and that's kind of nagging me...It reminds me of the (and oh god I'm so sorry to drag this up again) BoingBoing debacle a few years back and X. Jardin's claim about BB being their 'personal blog' and decisions to excise chunks of it being totally 'above board'...the point being that BB is, in actuality, fundamentally a news site, with the occasional post of personal projects. Now, I get that there a bunch of grey areas even today about 'what constitutes a 'blog'' vs 'what is a news site' and that's a big part of what makes the internet so great, this variety of formats, but to call a horse a horse, the Blue is no more a 'Blog' (using the vaugely standard definition of 'a page of MY thoughts and MY projects' where yes, each post quite often is benefitted by titling) than BB. A much clearer definition of MeFi would be 'A (community-edited) news aggregator and commentary forum'. (Especially since it is Expressly Forbidden to post your own personal content on the blue) What this entails, though is that FPPs on MeFi are more often than not (and this is in NO WAY meant to discredit or minimize any of the really well-crafted posts here), just the titles of news items from elsewhere...adding another title on top of that is little more than redundant.

I'm dead serious when I say that almost half of the new post page's text was describing how we don't show titles on the front page and how they need to be ignored except as the last step to finish off your post. The new approach seemed way more streamlined and obvious.

Ok, I get your motivation here, but I think the reasoning might be flawed...I think it's AWESOME that the process of making your first post/question on MeFi/Ask ISN'T 'streamlined and obvious'. I think it's GREAT that first time users have a bit of FAQ reading to do before posting. I think THAT, probably more than ANYTHING ELSE, is what keeps this site from becoming the cultural cesspool that Reddit/Fark/YouTube comments/BB comments often are. (Also, all that text becomes mentally invisible after your first post or two...why bother changing it?)
Also, I get that you guys, as a result, probably field a LOT of questions (still) about 'how does this work?' 'why this?' 'WTF title field?' and etc. And I get that that's probably really annoying after a while. But this isn't a solution, it's a mess. If anything I would suggest MORE text on the 'new post' page along the lines of 'GODDAMMIT JUST READ THE GODDAMN FAQ AND STOP BOTHERING US!'...or something polite, whatevs.

(aaaand now I have to get to work...someone let me know when the titles are gone)
posted by sexyrobot at 3:55 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


But in that case, maybe with a bit more formatting -- say, remove the length requirement, and allow multi-sentence titles with different segments of text linking to different stuff.

Sure, and then put a [more inside] at the end of these "titles".
posted by ceribus peribus at 3:56 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Dilute the Bullshit with Noise Dept.
New Coke? Classic Coke? You decide.
posted by Ardiril at 3:56 PM on January 7, 2013


It's funny to hear people really enjoying that layout and at the same time earlier in the thread openly wondering if we're trying to overtake reddit, how cutting down title lengths will make them reconsider using the site, etc, and this layout with half of a post's HTML stripped out is getting rave reviews.

Many years ago, part of my job was to run user testing on multimedia interfaces, and from that experience I found that it is generally useless to try to get any kind of consensus from large groups of users on large scale interface issues because most users want genies with unlimited wishes. They want something that meets all of their needs, but can't seem to see how many of their needs may actually have conflicting solutions. That is where designers and PMs come in. Prioritizing issues and finding the compromises that solve the largest percentage first. Somebody has to make a call and run with it, knowing full well that few will ever be entirely satisfied with your decisions.

Pick the thing you want to do. Trust yourself and your staff. Let it percolate for awhile. If it fails, then you can try again.

Thanks for the open forum and taking our feedback seriously, but try not to take that feedback too much to heart. Even if we all knew exactly what we wanted, and what we wanted was exactly internally consistant, we'd still disagree amongst ourselves.

And frankly, that's part of what makes us interesting.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:57 PM on January 7, 2013 [17 favorites]


I find them rather jarring and unhelpful. I would prefer if the "title" were in a smaller font that the normal text and placed at the bottom of the paragraph.

Actually, that's an intersting idea... retains the functionality of a title while drastically reducing its obtrusiveness - an inverse title, if you would.
posted by Slap*Happy at 3:58 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like the titles. But I like maxwelton's version even more betterer. I'm all for banning blockquotes on the front page. Love 'em inside and within comments, hate 'em on the front page.

Of course, now that titles are a Group of Visible Elements To Be Considered As A Whole, discontinuity of capitalization between them is going to irritate me like an unscratched itch, but I'm sure someone already addressed that in the 500 or so comments I skipped.

PS. I am a precious flower whose every whim must be catered to.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:58 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


5 hours later and I still hate hate them on the blue. Less hateful of them on the green.
Maxwelton's proposal is somewhat better for de-emphasising the titles but they still take up far too much space and if given the choice I would still turn them off completely.
posted by like_neon at 4:02 PM on January 7, 2013


Man, I thought the Whelk was posting something super- YELLY. I can deal with the titles.
posted by annsunny at 4:02 PM on January 7, 2013


Sure, and then put a [more inside] at the end of these "titles".

Perhaps if I had added that, that would indeed have made the joke a bit more obvious.
posted by chortly at 4:04 PM on January 7, 2013


Oh one of those flowers that orders catering.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:04 PM on January 7, 2013


Unreal, so now we're discussing eliminating even more formatting options? Seriously? In favor of some godforsaken reddit clone layout?

Wake me when the fucking nightmare is over.
posted by zarq at 4:06 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sorry, chortly, I should have granted more credit on that one.
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:07 PM on January 7, 2013


While we're at it, the thing I don't get about Reddit is that like 80% of the posts are single links to single images and yet the site has no shadowboxing feature.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:08 PM on January 7, 2013


It feels like it works against the Metafilter brand and makes it more generically content-aggregationish.

I always thought part of the feel of Metafilter was that it had roots in early, title-less link blogs like Memepool or Cursor.org.
posted by steinsaltz at 4:08 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Thanks for being open to people's reactions. Mine, after trying it out for a while

- smaller font good, thanks again
- it works well when an FPP is a single paragraph, of at least two lines
- it doesn't work well when the FPP has blank line. For instance, "The Costs and Solutions to American Health Care" post really doesn't hang together as a unit, and dropping down through it to the next post is visually difficult for me.

Of course, I don't know why it was easier the old way. Maybe I just learned really well how to pick out the "posted by ...", and I'll do the same with the new layout. But if I'm spending this much time thinking about it, I should probably go install Stylish.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:12 PM on January 7, 2013


I didn't knee-jerk hate this (more like "wow, that's different"), and as a connoisseur of fine titling you'd think I'd love featuring pithy headlines more prominently. But I'm troubled by a number of concerns people have raised and find myself not liking it, on the whole.

- it reduces the amount of visible FPP content on the homepage, especially in the mobile version, while not adding enough useful information to justify it

- it encourages skimming and makes it easier to overlook the above-the-fold stuff. As someone who puts lot of thought into crafting information-dense yet readable intros, I hate the thought of it being skipped over because the title didn't grab.

- on a related note, the elevating of the headline hobbles a lot of what I liked about them. When they only appear on the discussion page, they often serve as fun bonus jokes to reward readers or as mild editorial comments without drawing too much attention away from the post itself. A lot like alt-text on an image, or the tag list, or a smalltext comment. By appearing on the homepage, there will be more pressure to make titles straightforward descriptions or Reddit-style sensationalism, which takes away some of the quiet cleverness that made them fun to write. (And as somebody mentioned upthread, it kind of kills the one-sentence mystery meat post.)

Like others said, this mainly applies to Mefi proper. AskMe is better served by matter-of-fact titles and isn't harmed as much. But I do much prefer the old style of keeping titles in the background on the blue.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:15 PM on January 7, 2013 [14 favorites]


My spoon is too big.
posted by madamjujujive at 4:16 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd really like to be able to turn these off.
posted by Miko at 4:17 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tried it out for the day, really not big on the titles (at least as-is.) Installed Stylish title remover, much happier.
posted by pahalial at 4:20 PM on January 7, 2013


...if not, maxwelton's layout is a lot easier on the eyes.
posted by Miko at 4:22 PM on January 7, 2013


maxwelton: This is what the front of metafilter looks like for me.

I clicked on that and it was a giraffe wearing a top hat with a row of kittens on its back and I was slightly puzzled that there was some MeFi in-joke that I was not understanding until I realized it was an "Imgur is over capacity" error message.
posted by oulipian at 4:22 PM on January 7, 2013 [14 favorites]


The changes to the blue make me flinch in a way that isn't occurring on the other subsites. I think it's a color/contrast issue (which may be affected by my use of f.lux), but I'm finding the front page noticeably more difficult to look at right now, let alone attempt to read.

This may be a good thing in the short term, as work is starting to get rather beastly.
posted by EvaDestruction at 4:24 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eat your own dog food =/> Your employees are a sufficient test market for dog food.
posted by fleacircus at 4:27 PM on January 7, 2013


If we're going to have titles that stand out on the front page, like the one currently on the top of the front page ("The Science of Sex Abuse"), I'm not going to be able to browse MetaFilter at work.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:27 PM on January 7, 2013


I'm not going to be able to browse MetaFilter at work.

I sympathize, however this has actually nothing to do with the new title situation. The post text could just as easily be "The science of sex abuse."
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:35 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's more about the size - someone walking behind your chair can actually read the title size, but not the normal body text.
posted by Miko at 4:38 PM on January 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm not sure how I feel about this. I think I'll need a few days before I can decide whether this is marginally tolerable or the greatest outrage ever perpetrated in the history of ever.
posted by dersins at 4:39 PM on January 7, 2013


Does anyone have a screenshot of how the page is looking for them now? I see titles, but they're the same size as the post content, just in bold, so I don't really understand the comments about the titles being too big.
posted by Bugbread at 4:41 PM on January 7, 2013


I don't care for this at all.
posted by blaneyphoto at 4:41 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing is, it does have to do with the new title. The title stands out, much, much clearer than the rest of the text. It's readable at distance. Before, it would just be more text on a field of similar text, and pretty hard to make out from all the others.

I honestly feel bad about reacting so negatively to changes that happen on the site. I understand that these changes aren't something you throw against the wall to see what sticks, and that you put a lot of planning into it. At the same time, I, and a lot of users come here, and continue to come here because we like what the site is, as it is. When changes happen, it changes the thing that we like, and, for good or bad, happens to be a pretty hefty part of our lives. I'm not crazy about the change, and I know I pretty much say that every time there is a change. I feel bad about that, because I've seen the mod responses, and I feel like you're doing this with the utmost best of intentions, and we're all shitting on you in response. I don't mean to do that, but the titles, especially, in this instance, that title make it much, much harder for me to use this site at work, which is where I spend the majority of my time.

Would it be at all possible to adapt the white background into a non-title/reduced-size title version?
posted by Ghidorah at 4:42 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I saw it last night and shut down the computer and went away. I'm with Rhaomi and languagehat and everyone else on this change.

Also - AskMe and MetaFilter are conjoined twins, to be sure, but entirely different personalities with overlapping but separate groups of friends. What's good for one may not always be good for the other, Mom and Dad.
posted by infini at 4:43 PM on January 7, 2013


Profoundly dislike.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 4:45 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Theoretically, how many of us have to express hatred for this change before you change it back?

If you want to add a new feature, may I suggest a system where the long-standing membership can vote on the rollout of such fundamental changes?
posted by beukeboom at 4:47 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Metafilter titles: about as warmly received as Windows 8.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 4:48 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have skipped to the end of this thread simply to say that I profoundly do not like this a lot, but give it a couple months and I probably won't even notice anymore. So, yeah.
posted by kbanas at 4:48 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe its a joke or a stunt post
posted by infini at 4:49 PM on January 7, 2013


Oh thank god. I thought I had just been really unobservant and just never noticed the titles until this morning. I was beginning to question myself: "wait, have the posts always been like that?", "why the hell haven't I noticed it before??", "what is going on with my brain?". All I know is that I was thinking I really disliked this thing-I-never-noticed-before.
posted by littlesq at 4:49 PM on January 7, 2013


Using the Stylish remover and all is as it was. Thanks, mathowie.

For me it's an irritating change, but not nearly as irritating as the who-moved-my-cheese mockery chorus that seems to accompany every discussion of UI change anywhere.

Seriously, people. Responses to UI are not markers of moral or aesthetic superiority, and objection to change is not fear of change. Could we check that shit at the door?
posted by flabdablet at 4:51 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Saw the titles on my phone this afternoon and soothed myself with the idea that it was something that was only going to show up on a phone, because reading on a phone is hard (somehow?) and it was decided that a sort of dummies' version was a good idea for the mobile layout. If not broken, do not fix, I thought, but, okay, just skip to other sites when out and about...

And now it's on my computer too! My reaction that it looks dumbed down still stands.

It is hard to read the site properly and the titles I am reading are generally sort of stupid and I don't think everybody's secretly hiding mad title-writing skillz that they will toggle on in a month or something. It is a big change of flavour, and my request here would not be to just have an option for me to get rid of it but for it to just go away entirely, because it isn't the same flavour of site that I have so enjoyed recommending to people in the past. The titles are making me not want to click on anything at all, which is entirely the opposite of how the stuff under the titles works.

(I do not mean to insult the authors of the currently visible titles; I don't know that good composition for these things is even possible. I am contemplating my own next Ask with terror because I have no idea how to compose a good title for a request for help with a toilet that doesn't dig the bog standard {get it! HA} hardware store replacement toilet parts. Rationally I am aware that "Help with replacing toilet part" or similar is the correct title. But who wants to be associated with something so dull? But I don't want to lose an afternoon trying to MAKE FUNNY TOILET TEXT that I'm happy about having show up all emphatic-like. I feel like I've been asked to compose titles for my tweets or Facebook updates; there's an incompatibility issue.)
posted by kmennie at 4:53 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bugbread: Does anyone have a screenshot of how the page is looking for them now? I see titles, but they're the same size as the post content, just in bold, so I don't really understand the comments about the titles being too big.

When you click either screenshot they will display slightly larger.
*screenshot of the front page from the top
*screenshot of the front page from mid-page
posted by flex at 4:55 PM on January 7, 2013


Guys, I hate to say this but those extra titles make it much harder to read the front page. I was wondering what was different, then I remembered this post here at Meta...


Do. Not. Want.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:55 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think the current titles, and the use of a titling system in general, make the site easier to read and use, for me as a user. It makes me more likely to look at a post that I might have previously ignored. I think these titles are a good thing that make the site better, and I bet that most people would agree with me.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:57 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


For me it's an irritating change, but not nearly as irritating as the who-moved-my-cheese mockery chorus that seems to accompany every discussion of UI change anywhere.

I would be embarrassed by those ninnies if I ran this site. It stinks and embarrasses everyone. At least a farting dog can't help itself.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 4:57 PM on January 7, 2013


This is a really good usability change! Thanks for implementing it, I'm very happy with it.
posted by flatluigi at 4:57 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thanks, flex. I don't know what kind of weird settings I've got on my Firefox, but it looks different than that.
posted by Bugbread at 4:58 PM on January 7, 2013


so far I hate it
posted by Wolfdog at 4:58 PM on January 7, 2013


Just chiming in with a vote for "it's fine and probably something I won't even notice five days from now" (and given the natural resistance to change, I'm guessing a month from now I'd be more likely to freak out if it suddenly went away). For all the fretting every time a new change is introduced, I'm wondering how many of the dire consequences that get predicted have ever come to light. We seem to have survived the Great Edit Link Addition, at least ...
posted by DingoMutt at 4:59 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have made a Greasemonkey script, Subdue Metafilter Titles, that keeps the titles visible but makes them less (in my opinion, and no offense) obtrusive. It moves them down to after the main body, and just before the "posted by" line, in italics and the same font size as "posted by".

It works on the blue, the green, and the gray.

Here's a screenshot.
posted by Flunkie at 5:02 PM on January 7, 2013 [27 favorites]


I always hated that a title was necessary for a question (no problem, I can boil down my question to one sentence) but then that one short question was never displayed (on the front page). Hooray. Thank you. You're the best. Etc.
posted by Brian Puccio at 5:04 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]




I like including titles but don't love this execution. I like maxwelton's version better - I would be fine with smoothing out the rough edges like that - I am not a fan of "creative" formatting on the front page, although I am more than fine with it inside. Whee. (You may recall I am one of the diehard "bring back the img tag whiners - I like my mefi mullet style: business in the front party in the back.)

I can live with it the old way, the way it is now, or maxwelton style - I am OK with whatever way this goes it will become "the way it is" after awhile. I am curious to see the editorial change this will spawn.

As others have noted, I appreciate the sandbox you give us to have our say.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:09 PM on January 7, 2013


Okay, I went back and looked at the front page again.

That is a crapfest of graphic design disaster.


I don't care whether or not you use titles, really. But I do care when you make the reading experience more uncomfortable.

And that is what happened.


Matt, mods, I love you, I really do, but that front page literally hurts my eyes. Please either fix it or get rid of the titles.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:10 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


objection to change is not fear of change

Yes; but still I question how much of the vehemently entitled HOW DARE YOU IT IS UNREADABLE NOW objections is simply because there was a change to a familiar design, and how much of it is because of the substance of the change.

As an RSS reader, I visit the MeFi/AskMe front pages only occasionally ("I'm bored, did I miss anything interesting?") so i don't have much built-in familiarity. To me the titles rather help, especially on AskMe which always did tend towards wall-of-text.

Also: it always was weirdly unintuitive that the main way into the post's page was by the "N comments" link. An obvious title link that goes directly to the post page -- the same behavior as most other blogs -- is a good thing for usability for new or inexperienced users.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:13 PM on January 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


If you want to add a new feature, may I suggest a system where the long-standing membership can vote on the rollout of such fundamental changes?

I'm not sure who would qualify as a "long-standing" member but I've been a paying member for several years and a lurker since almost the beginning of Metafilter and I would not be in favor of this. Sometimes it already feels like a certain handful of users are disproportionately represented to the detriment of a more inclusive experience. While I get what you're going for and can appreciate that more frequent users have potentially a bigger investment in the site experience (and I'm actually a big proponent of "user testing" and the like, and conduct much of that in my day job) -- I cringe at anything that could end up with Metafilter feeling like an old boy's club than it already does (sometimes).
posted by hapax_legomenon at 5:14 PM on January 7, 2013 [16 favorites]


OK I'll chime in to flesh out my immediate "yayyyyy" vote. MeFi reader for over 10 years, member for 8 years as of this month.

It's often hard for me to see where one post ends and another begins, especially when posts have multiple paragraphs on the front page. The titles make it much more obvious. I have often thought that something needed to be done to better divide the posts. (A one pixel line? Subtle alternating colors?) the titles do this, as well as adding more info about the post.

Yes, moving the title to the front page changes the "punch line" aspect of how many people have used titles in the past. But people will learn to use this style as well, with just as much wit and cleverness.

The titles are especially welcome on AskMe. As Matt alluded to above, it was difficult for some people to grasp that the title they entered with the question would not show up. This resulted in opaque questions, where the asker seemed to use the front page text as a sort of part 2 of their question. I for one don't like having to click into the question to even see what it's about. Maybe this new format will result in more people giving useful answers.
posted by The Deej at 5:15 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


It seems like a major motivation for this change was to do away witht the occasional problem of unintentionally-cryptic AskMes made by new users who from time to time bury important infornation in the titles of their questions, not realizing that said titles will not be very prominently displayed. This has indeed been an intractable (if minor) problem and a lot of the Question Form was indeed taken up by warnings trying to tell users that their title was not going to be displayed as a major part of their question. This change solves that problem.

However, we now have the problem of AskMes and FPPs whose titles are exactly the same as (or near enough) the above-the-fold body text of the question/post. I fully expect that if this dubious new feature is retained, title redundancy will continue to be a problem at least as common as the old one, except now we have it on two subsites instead of one.

That alone, to me, seems like reason enough to nix this feature.
posted by Scientist at 5:15 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you look at the AskMe front page right now, title redundancy does not seem to be occurring in most questions.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:18 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have seen it over and over again, year after year, yet I will never understand this apparent law of the internets that user interfaces must continually devolve in the name of improvement.

Maybe it's just me, but I find it difficult to read titles AND blurbs. And my default is to look at titles and move on if they don't appeal to me.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:20 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Well sure, but unintentional crypsis happened what, once every few days on average? Yet it was still a motivation for significant effort in terms of user education, interface design, mod intervention, and now this significant restructuring of the front page of two subsites. It doesn't have to happen a majority of the time for it to be a noticeable nuisance.
posted by Scientist at 5:21 PM on January 7, 2013


I do think the point that Ghidoreh and others have made about the title being a tad too prominent for those who read at work has merit tho - but something that bringing it down in size a bit might fix.

hapax_legomenon, as a long-standing member, I am with you on that nix the special privilege thing. That being said, I did go check how old and realize that I passed my 10 year mark last September and if there was a party (which I am sure there was) y'all forgot to invite me. Bad form, I bet taz was wearing my tiara and eating my cake.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:22 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Naw - that was me.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:23 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't like the titles, but I suppose I'd get used to them if they were mandatory.
What I'm torn about is the option of turning them off. On the one hand, for my reading experience, I'd go and turn them off right away, but when crafting a post, I feel like the problem artw mentions is a legitimate issue.
posted by juv3nal at 5:24 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


and this layout with half of a post's HTML stripped out is getting rave reviews.

maxwelton's version prioritizes the post content instead of the title. Surely changing the title color to that much less intrusive light blue is at least one thing worth doing? Indentation would be great as a visual cue as well, but maybe there's a way to move the title to the left a few pixels and leave the post body as it is, so it doesn't break blockquote, etc? Offsetting the title even a little bit would probably help with readability a lot.

For instance, "The Costs and Solutions to American Health Care" post really doesn't hang together as a unit, and dropping down through it to the next post is visually difficult for me.

Yeah, that's a perfect example of a post where the extra line breaks are awful on the front page (particularly confusing with the new titles) and should be stripped out.
posted by mediareport at 5:27 PM on January 7, 2013


Oh, and Ariel and Verdana go together like milk and gasoline.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:27 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The latest AskMe post:

How do you get over perfectionism?
How do you get over perfectionism?


This needs to be

I have OCD, help.
I have OCD, help.

Then I would laugh like a drain.
posted by jaduncan at 5:27 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've never heard the phrase "laugh like a drain" before, but it is my new favorite thing. Thank you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:31 PM on January 7, 2013


Oh, and Ariel and Verdana go together like milk and gasoline.
*cough*
posted by juv3nal at 5:32 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is.
posted by davejay at 5:33 PM on January 7, 2013


OK, holy fucking shit, I was making a good faith effort to read all the comments here and try to see where all the Drama Queens were coming from, but this is ridiculous and I give up. You people. *shakes head*

It looks great mods, thanks for un-kinking a part of the site that had been kinked for so long.

In fact, I didn't even notice the difference as I was reading the front page this morning (jealously guarding against anyone posting that awesome Project I saw last night) until I came to MeTa to catch up here. Then I went back and looked again (I guess the font sizes had been changed by then) and liked it. Good job!
posted by carsonb at 5:35 PM on January 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


I have made a Greasemonkey script, Subdue Metafilter Titles, that keeps the titles visible but makes them less (in my opinion, and no offense) obtrusive. It moves them down to after the main body, and just before the "posted by" line, in italics and the same font size as "posted by".

It works on the blue, the green, and the gray.

Here's a screenshot.


Thank you thank you thank you.

Literally the first thing I did after seeing this change was pop over to MetaTalk and CTRL+F for "greasemonkey" in this thread. These are absolutely terrible.
posted by odinsdream at 5:35 PM on January 7, 2013


I like the titles. I always thought it was confusing, weird, and pointless that they didn’t appear until you clicked on the post.

Just yesterday I was looking at the Goodreads feedback forum, which is tough to do, but also hilarious and kind of sad because they can debate the fuck out of any change at a level that is stunning. I was just thinking how metafilter seems to not have the same level of drama that other sites do about this kind of stuff. Obviously I was very high.

People need to step up a bit though if you want to match 2200+ pages of vitriol about the changing of color and one word on a button that they have.
posted by bongo_x at 5:36 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


*orders out*
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:38 PM on January 7, 2013


This is another vote for "oh dear god no".
The field of web user experience and usability is specifically not driven by ideas like "But I like it, so therefore my users will like it too! And if they don't, they will! Or should!" It's more like "Well, I like this, so let's find out if others like it too, then implement in a way that makes sense for lots of people."

Previously I've been very impressed with the way site changes have been introduced around here so this episode (and the fact that UX101 needs to be trotted out) is very surprising. I'll be interested to see how it pans out. (But please let that panning out include something different than what's up there now...)
posted by bleep at 5:42 PM on January 7, 2013


So, I saw this change as it rolled out, and I've been checking back over and over to try to read the front page. I think it looks much better with the tweaks made today, and it's much easier to tell the posts apart, which is something I wanted. I do remember being confused when I first encountered the site over a decade ago (geez!). But I am surprised to find that now interfering with my reading, because my eyes slide down the page from title to title. I'm finding it more difficult to scan for content. It kind of feels like reading search engine results. Which, um, I kind of loathe reading and mostly skim for confirmatory keywords.

> I find them rather jarring and unhelpful. I would prefer if the "title" were in a smaller font that the normal text and placed at the bottom of the paragraph.

>> Actually, that's an intersting idea...


I thought it was interesting too and wanted to see what it might look like, so I made this up.

On preview, not terribly different from the Subdue greasemonkey thinger I guess.
posted by zennie at 5:42 PM on January 7, 2013 [18 favorites]


You know it kind of irritates me the lack of good faith from a small but not insignificant number of commenters towards many of the 'do not like' group (phrases like "good god you people" and all of this stuff).

This change genuinely makes it harder for me to read metafilter the way I like to, and yes, I'm going to mention that, because this is the place for me to do so. I have been trying to get used to it since it was implemented. I'm still having trouble.

I'm very happy that it doesn't bother you but please don't essentially call myself and others with similar complaints drama queens for stating it.

Thanks.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 5:44 PM on January 7, 2013 [38 favorites]


Wow, that looks really good, Zennie... I like the little title icon.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:45 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


zennie, I really like your version. Doesn't quite get the titles back where they belong, but it's close enough.
posted by mediated self at 5:46 PM on January 7, 2013


Curious--do you folks hire UI designers to consult on stuff like this?

I don't like it much at all. I constantly use mefi's mobile site as an example of a great mobile site and it has kept me sane through many computer-less jobs. It's really not good on my phone now. It looks horrible for one-line posts.

At the same time, I get the desire for a more transparent and easier to read site. My ex was always looking at it confused, and the whole askme thing is a bit opaque. The posts kinda blend together sometimes. I talked about it a bit here.

I don't know. Mefi is pretty important to me and I do visit every day. It's sort of like having your quirky but cozy old church building replaced with something new construction that is not so familiar or historic, but might be easier to get around in. Disquieting, but maybe it ought to happen anyway. The effect such a change has on the community remains to be seen, but just like architecture has an effect on how people interact with each other, I am sure that it will affect the community.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:47 PM on January 7, 2013


You know it kind of irritates me the lack of good faith from a small but not insignificant number of commenters towards many of the 'do not like' group (phrases like "good god you people" and all of this stuff).

This change genuinely makes it harder for me to read metafilter the way I like to, and yes, I'm going to mention that, because this is the place for me to do so. I have been trying to get used to it since it was implemented. I'm still having trouble.

I'm very happy that it doesn't bother you but please don't essentially call myself and others with similar complaints drama queens for stating it.

Thanks.


Reposted for emphasis.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:48 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, six-or-six-thirty, thanks for not being so dramatic about it. There are those who feel similarly to you who are not exercising such restraint in their feedback, and it is from them that my frustration generated.

If you are not being dramatic about this issue, then I thank you for that. Everyone else who is, I deride with extreme prejudice.

Oh, but an afternoon of reading on the web isn't, in my honest opinion, a sufficient period of time to get used to it. So, take your time, please, and in the meantime again, I appreciate your measured feedback.
posted by carsonb at 5:49 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing is... were this new design on a website linked to in a FPP, it would be roundly thrashed for poor readability and crazy font salad. Rightly so. Whether or not the title should be on the front pages of the subsites is a legitimate question. Perhaps they should be. But the way it is being done is just plain ugly

Posts on the blue are now composed of, what, four different font sizes?
posted by Justinian at 5:52 PM on January 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


This is interesting. The Title field was formerly, in practice at least, a piece of metadata -- metadata so low on the information hierarchy that it was routinely used for summary puns. The new IA suddenly places that afterthought at the visual core of each discreet information packet. First in the hierarchy, it is now the hero of the post.

But step back for a moment: are titles even necessary for a community linkblog? Posts on AskMe, MeTa, MePro (whatever): these are packets of information given to summary because they are, for the most part, original compositions. There is a summary question at the core of of an AskMe post, a summary complaint or suggestion at the core of a MeTa post, and so on. But the core of a MeFi post is de facto summary in and of itself. It is not, by definition, an original composition; rather, it summarizes, abstracts, and simplifies some other content beyond its hyperlinks.

As such, it seems strange or awkward to attach a measure of descriptive summary metadata to a piece of content which is, itself, a measure of descriptive summary. I think that's what I'm getting at.

If we were putting motions on the table, mine would be to remove the titles from the page, rename the field "Syndication Summary" in the back-end, and instruct the user to provide a concise teaser for feed aggregators. Just some thoughts, no big whoop.
posted by milquetoast at 5:53 PM on January 7, 2013 [17 favorites]


carsonb: The irony is of course that your first wording was exactly the kind of pointlessly inflammatory statement you're complaining about.
posted by jaduncan at 5:54 PM on January 7, 2013 [13 favorites]


True. Mea culpa.
posted by carsonb at 5:58 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


milquetoast writes " rename the field "Syndication Summary" in the back-end, and instruct the user to provide a concise teaser for feed aggregators."

I realize no one web programs on the bare metal anymore but the title field is called that because it maps to the title field for the page which determines what appears in the bar at the top of your browser and on your tab.
posted by Mitheral at 6:05 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I give it 5 stars
posted by growabrain at 6:10 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have made a Greasemonkey script, Subdue Metafilter Titles

This is pretty helpful, thanks Flunkie.
posted by naju at 6:15 PM on January 7, 2013


OMG We're arguing about font size.
posted by infini at 6:17 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


In terms of reading flow, a brighter and proportionally larger font makes a huge difference. See all advertising ever and 'the fine print'.
posted by jaduncan at 6:21 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Curious--do you folks hire UI designers to consult on stuff like this?

I suspect titles would have been added a long time ago if they did.
posted by Artw at 6:28 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you look at the AskMe front page right now, title redundancy does not seem to be occurring in most questions.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:18 PM on January 7 [+] [!]


um. ok. Are you high?
every. single. title. on that page is a re-hash or direct copy of the question that follows. The only way you could possibly be missing this FACT is if you are either high, or blind.
(personally, i find the titles on Ask MUCH worse than the ones on the blue...there just flatly is NO reason for them.)
posted by sexyrobot at 6:29 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pony wants a toggle option.
posted by Neale at 6:30 PM on January 7, 2013


The only way you could possibly be missing this FACT is if you are either high, or blind.

This is sort of not cool. We'd like to talk about this with people but not like this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:30 PM on January 7, 2013 [17 favorites]


I'm not a fan as I think on Askme it will lead to people not reading the question which is already a problem. Now I can just scan through them and see the title and not bother reading the question. People already do this. It is hard enough to get people to read the question clearly so now those who like to jump in with an answer will probably do it even more.
posted by kanata at 6:33 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know it kind of irritates me the lack of good faith from a small but not insignificant number of commenters towards many of the 'do not like' group (phrases like "good god you people" and all of this stuff).

We could all be nicer to each other - I'm all for that. While I am pretty neutral on this matter, I have had my nose out of joint on occasion with the "if you don't like it go somewhere else" dismissal of my concerns, so I get it. But sheesh, doesn't that go for mathowie too? He didn't strangle any kittens, he just made a site change and opened the floor to discussion. Some people are voicing their displeasure in pretty unkind and mean-spirited ways, so I would bemoan the lack of good faith in that direction too.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:33 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


sorry, but i honestly cant think of any other explanation. not facing the computer?
posted by sexyrobot at 6:34 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


My objections to it are not about fear of change, but from a design and readability angle. I agree with those who note that chaotic typography is nobody's friend. It's become much less comfortable to scan or to read.

It's not the fact that the title is shown that I dislike. I would just request that someone with professional design training be brought in to organize the pages in such a way that the titles appear naturally integrated and not so herky-jerky.
posted by Miko at 6:36 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think it looks great, but I'd actually like the titles bigger (or possibly just a little darker) not smaller. I'm not sure how big they are for everyone else, but I use a very large font to read MeFi, because I have a very large screen, and they end up being just barely bigger than the main text.

It's perfectly useful as it is, I'd call it a clear improvement over the old system, but I think it would be ideal if we could have a preference item that let us change the headline text the same way we can change body and byline text. That way, I could tweak it until it looked just exactly right, without annoying anyone else with my total lack of taste and elegance. (Comic Sans! Comic Sans! :) )

Maybe I'd just boldface it or something. I can't be sure until actually trying out a few ideas.

I realize that you're not eager to do this, but it seems kind of silly to allow control over body text, but not headline text.

Anyway, whether or you do anything with preferences, I'd say it's already better than the old way. Two thumbs up from this user.
posted by Malor at 6:36 PM on January 7, 2013


not facing the computer?

Different definitions of redundant. You know, to some people a groundhog is a woodchuck and to some people it isn't. In only one post, I think, is there a flat out title/question repetition. In many cases there's some overlap and in many other cases there's barely any at all. LM works here and like all of us has been participating in a good faith discussion about how people are feeling about this feature. Insulting her repeatedly and wantonly instead of having a conversation with her about why you and she have differing perspectives on this is, as I said, not cool.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:37 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


sexyrobot: "sorry, but i honestly cant think of any other explanation."

If you can't, then you should probably step away from this thread instead of voicing your lack of understanding in the form of insults.
posted by Bugbread at 6:39 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


sexyrobot, you are being a crankyrobot.
posted by Scientist at 6:41 PM on January 7, 2013


How do you get over perfectionism?
How do you get over perfectionism?

Pad sleeve that will work with an attached keyboard
I am looking to get my Mom and iPad sleeve or carrier

Getting hired as an adjunct after a break?
I have written a ton of cover letters applying to tenure track jobs, but every adjunct class I ever taught I obtained through referrals and word of mouth. I now find myself wanting to ONLY adjunct...

Naturalistic Post-Apocalypse Worldbuilding
What elements are needed to write a frighteningly plausible post-apocalyptic story...

Do changes in US tax law make permanent life insurance attractive?
Do the new US investment taxes and increasing rates on dividends and capital gains make permanent life insurance attractive for high income individuals?



Maybe you should all back off of sexyrobot and go take a look for yourselves.
posted by Big_B at 6:42 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


With some CSS tweaking, I think this will work well for new visitors who may have been stumped as to how to access comments and [more inside]. A hotlinked title makes it easy. When the on/off toggle arrives, all will be well once again in MetaTown.

That said, I turned them off in Greasemonkey on my desktop and I'm waiting to turn them off on mobile.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:42 PM on January 7, 2013


sorry again, but i usually follow the rule of 'would i say this in person?' and yes, i would. to claim there is no repetition there is just obstinate. And there really shouldn't be ANY overlap...who asks the same question twice in a row? It's like trying to read an echo. It's ANNOYING. (thank you big b!)
posted by sexyrobot at 6:44 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Interestingly having the title text go to the comments and not the site being linked is a pretty drastic change to post formatting. I hadn't noticed it before because I first saw the change on ask where that makes sense.

But on the front page we've gone from the posting page strongly encouraging the first link being the first word(s) to the first link being an internal link.
posted by Mitheral at 6:46 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


is there a script for zennie's mock-up? I like that even better than the subdue script.
posted by mannequito at 6:49 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


sexyrobot: "sorry again, but i usually follow the rule of 'would i say this in person?' and yes, i would."

Wow. You'd really say that in person?
posted by Bugbread at 6:51 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


I was referring to verbatim redundancy.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:54 PM on January 7, 2013


mudpuppie: Presentation of posts is supposed to exclude editorializing. But the titles are, and always have been, more of a way for people to frame their posts than to describe them. And if someone frames a post in a way that is off-putting to me (and there are a few on the front page that are right now), or by using an in-joke that I don't get, I'm likely to skip it.

maudlin: In the old layout, I liked the way a well-composed post with one or multiple links could be inviting without spelling out or summarizing everything, but also without becoming mystery meat. The title inside could often be like a Kinder Surprise or Cracker Jack prize, but now that it's the first thing we see, we don't get that little extra delight.

I agree with mudpuppie and maudlin and a few other people above. I've always liked the fortune cookie aspect of titles. I tend to think that with concerns about editorializing in posts and on the front page that titles are just going to be a reductive, uninteresting summary. That seems frankly extraneous when you have a post right there that is the introduction, tease, summary, hook, or whatever anyone wants it to be. I find myself skipping people's words to read titles, and the titles aren't as interesting. It's difficult to write a good title and now it adds to the difficulty of making a post that will grab someone's attention and creates a bit more of a sticky place in which editorializing must be avoided.

I appreciate that this solves a few problems in AskMe with people using the title to ask the question, but as was pointed out to me when I brought that up in a MeTa post this is something easily fixed by mods.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:01 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not that anyone cares, but, I liked it the way it was....
posted by HuronBob at 7:01 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Woah, just saw this for the first time. I think it will take me a little while to get used to this but I like it. Thanks!
posted by latch24 at 7:01 PM on January 7, 2013


Hate.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:02 PM on January 7, 2013


I like that, zennie. Thanks for the mockup.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:06 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was wondering why my eyes seemed to be glazing over while looking at both ask and mefi. I could tell something was different, uglier, and yet conveying information in a way that instinctively made me stop reading as closely but I wasn't 100% sure what. I am solidly in the thumbs-down camp for the reason that I really don't like changes that cause me to immediately start to get less value from the site without being fully aware of why. And I don't understand what problem this was solving.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:22 PM on January 7, 2013 [20 favorites]


I do find it interesting that so much of the community thinks that the way I've read the site for years is actively harmful to good usage.

Not arguing pro title visibility, just saying that I've always seen them, and that the site still works fine for me.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:23 PM on January 7, 2013


I like the idea of putting the title under the post before the "posted by", as in zennie's mockup.

XXXX XXXX XXXXXXXXXX posted by name at 7:28PM on January 7 [+]

and so on.
posted by Justinian at 7:27 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


On the subject of being able to turn it off:

I'm surprised that anyone thinks this is a solution.

Good FPPs are put together carefully. People take care as they choose what order to put links, what to put in the Description, and what to put in the Extended Description. They construct the things.

Now that Titles appear on the front page, they are structurally part of the FPP in a way that they weren't previously. People will use them to build the posts. They'll use them to create irony. They'll use them to add another layer of introduction or another element of metacommentary.

This is good. If people didn't do that, the Title would be redundant chaff. And good posters, not wanting to fill the world with redundant chaff will use the Title to add to the meaning of the FPP, because they'll know that everyone will be reading the Title before they read the Description.

Oh, wait. Lots of people, lots of the most active users of the site are going to turn the Titles off. So some people will see it, and some won't. So I guess we should just think of the title as sort of a mechanical indexing function: hopefully not too redundant, but nothing essential that isn't repeated elsewhere.

But still, different users could enter the discussion with very different impressions of what the post is about, depending on whether they saw the Title or not.
posted by alms at 7:29 PM on January 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


Uglier. Less information on the page. Do not want. Seems silly that on a typical post, I can now click on three separate links to arrive at the same page (the title, "more inside" and "X comments").
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:29 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


With the titles added I reflexively read MeFi the way I read the front page of reddit. Instead of glancing at the links in a post I look at the titles. As when I would normally take two or three minutes to look over the text on the front page and select which links I want to read, now I scan the titles in 30 seconds and move on.
posted by banal evil at 7:31 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


alms: "Oh, wait. Lots of people, lots of the most active users of the site are going to turn the Titles off. So some people will see it, and some won't. So I guess we should just think of the title as sort of a mechanical indexing function: hopefully not too redundant, but nothing essential that isn't repeated elsewhere."

People who've been here for a long time may turn off titles, but it's doubtful that new mefites will. Eventually, most of the old guard will be gone (though not all), and the new guard will largely by title-readers.
posted by Bugbread at 7:33 PM on January 7, 2013


Me: Curious--do you folks hire UI designers to consult on stuff like this?

Artw: I suspect titles would have been added a long time ago if they did.

Me too, although I don't know if it would be for the better.

My feeling is that a lot of the pushback here is not so much the idea of titles but the fact that the implementation is clunky and poorly designed, and was even more so when it first was rolled out. I'm not trying to be insulting, but I think that the concept is getting a lot more criticism than it otherwise would because the aesthetics are poor.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:33 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I personally am happy with it. It makes it easier to find things I might be interested in. I'm a fairly rapid reader, and I visit the site daily or more frequently, and I find that when I sort AskMe by category that there are still questions I have missed, even though I scan through backwards to the last post I had previously read on most occasions that I visit. I suspect that now I will very rarely miss an interesting question.

I was momentarily taken aback by it but I would already miss it if it was taken away. I hope others may give it more than just a few hours to trial and get used to it before they disable the feature.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:34 PM on January 7, 2013


Opinions:
AskMe: I think it will be helpful
MetaFilter: I'll have to see how it shakes out
MetaTalk: I'm ambivalent
Conclusion: the option to opt out of or change the size of the titles seems to be the way to go

I really like maxwelton's version.

Shameful admission: I'd been looking at MetaTalk's front page for quite a while and didn't notice the change until I opened this thread
posted by deborah at 7:35 PM on January 7, 2013


Maybe you should all back off of sexyrobot and go take a look for yourselves.

I did. The majority of those are summaries (or "rehashes" as sexyrobot uncharitably put it), not redundancies. Here's the thing, though: a summary ("rehash", fine) is what a headline is supposed to be.
posted by dersins at 7:37 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, toggling it to "off" wont solve the problem of posters trying to game the read-the-title-ignore-the-summary condition the new layout creates. This may be an issue where the mod tools have blinded the site designers as to how people actually see and interract with the site, and how it's better, and not worse, for the difference.

I also want to reiterate, this is not a character judgement of matthowie or the genial gnomes who make the clockwork tick... The site would be stinking manure pit without you guys, and even your most vocal critics know it. We're annoying because we love what you've built for us.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:39 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Holy shit, just glancing through some folks who used to be prolific who I thought just went silent, I was startled to see that jonmc and wendell aren't just quiet, they've actually disabled their accounts. What the hell? And why did it take me over three years to notice that?!
posted by Bugbread at 7:40 PM on January 7, 2013


One of those is still here I'm pretty sure...
posted by Big_B at 7:43 PM on January 7, 2013


wendell is super active under a new account though
posted by elizardbits at 7:44 PM on January 7, 2013


Yeah, toggling it to "off" wont solve the problem of posters trying to game the read-the-title-ignore-the-summary condition the new layout creates.

Title: "THIS IS A GOOD POST. YOU SHOULD READ IT."
posted by zarq at 7:46 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wendell's new account, oneswellfoop is no secret.
posted by carsonb at 7:46 PM on January 7, 2013


I just came here to comment that the deleted posts script is not working well with the titles; I see that's been discussed above. I am guessing that this is something that needs to be fixed on the extension end, not the metafilter end, yeah?
posted by insectosaurus at 7:47 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please count me in the "thanks but no" school. A lot of other users have made much more cogent arguments against the change, and I will refer only to the "more space for the same info" reasoning.

I always appreciate learning new computery things, but having to install a script on all four of the devices on which I read MeFi seems a bit much in terms of effort even for a junkie user such as myself.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:50 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I like these titles a lot. I think expecting a preference for that built in as a site feature is kind of nuts. What I don't quite understand is why the hell are there so many preferences already for subtle little things?

How on earth did it come to be that the font families for example would be configurable, versus expecting Greasemonkey or user CSS or using generic sans-serif, serif, etc. labels or some such?

I don't think it harms the essay-enabling nature of MeFi either. Essays have titles.
posted by floam at 7:51 PM on January 7, 2013


I just don't understand how something that was added to help RSS feed functionality somehow made it onto the front of posts. Mathowie even says right there that (at the time, sure, 10 years ago) they would clutter up the page. Well the page hasn't changed that much in those 10 years, and it still clutters it up.

Part of the explanation above is something about "having to explain to people why it doesn't show up," so the solution is to just put it out there? That makes no sense at all.
The solution is to say "Put something here that describes your post. If you don't it will autofill with the first 72 characters," not force a bad UI change on the users that don't even use RSS.
posted by Big_B at 7:52 PM on January 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yes, it's me! And I have an opinion that is distinctly in the minority of the user feedback here! (totally consistent with my 12-year history)

I have always quietly disliked MetaFilter's practice of putting the only link to the discussion of a post in the small print under the text (unless there's a "more inside", of course). It always seemed to be discouraging those unfamiliar with the site from ever seeing what's in there. Made the whole site seem a little too "private clubby"... maybe that's what's putting the bee into a lot of bonnets. Putting a link in the title ABOVE the text is a big positive for me.

I've kept at least one browser tab on MeFi for many years but more recently added the RSS feed to its own category in Google Reader and have since drifted toward having it be my way into the site. Yes, the titles show, and so does all the "more inside" (even for epic posts - an epic post that doesn't interest me? That's why there are scroll bars.)

Is this making MeFi's front pages more easily 'skimmable'? Definitely. Or should I say 'accessible'? There's that "private clubby" thing again. We dare not dumb it down for the intarweb hoi polloi.

By the sexyrobot definition of Redundancy, newspapers should never say the same thing in the title and the first paragraph. Well, sometimes they absolutely should and sometimes they absolutely should not. There are plenty of mistakes made on the Front Page every day (I've made many of them) and if there is more redundancy and less 'mystery meat' links, I think that's a very positive tradeoff.

And yes, I will write posts a little differently knowing the title will be visible on the front page, and, considering how I've treated the title field in the past, that will probably be an improvement.

There is some visual discord with the titles that the tweaks already made have partly addressed and which maxweldon's indentation scheme seems to completely fix (a lot better than the 'hide the title under the text' tweaks).

As I stated earlier, I'm agreeing with Matt on this (so he must be wrong).
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:54 PM on January 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


In for a, "No, no, no, god no," with extreme prejudice. Until I saw this thread I thought maybe I had been accidentally clicking on Recent Comments without realizing it, or that something had gotten botched in the code somewhere. I find it a simply awful change.

Especially for The Blue, I think this is a solution in need of a problem. Maybe it works better elsewhere on the site, but as I spend about 95% of my time here reading the front page, it is extremely jarring. What does it accomplish? Who comes to MeFi looking for quick, 72-character summaries of posts?

I don't agree with the argument that new users find MeFi hard to use due to lack of titles, either. We all here came along and figured it out just fine without visible titles, for one; and two, if non-users are being put off because of a lack of titles then possibly this isn't the site for them. Curated, detailed posts in all manner of lengths, link-densities, and formats without an obvious title-summary are more than just a quirk of the site; to me, they are what make MetaFilter, MetaFilter.

Honestly, not trying to be histrionic here, but it does rather change the tone of The Blue to me. There are plenty of other websites I could go to read titles and/or witty summaries of their link's content, but I come to MetaFilter because here I don't want to.

And yes, I don't have to read the titles, but as they're positioned on top of the posts and are differentiated enough so as to intentionally draw the eye, I find them irritatingly distracting and a very, very sad change to how the front page of MetaFilter scans for me.
posted by m0nm0n at 7:55 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


> And I was always seeing people embarrassed about making comments that looked silly because they hadn't noticed the title.

I remember clearly in the Marshall amp guy obit thread the title was "he has gone to 11." I did not see the title when I clicked on the thread and I posted as my comment "he has gone to 11". And I got like 4 favorites from people whom I presume also missed the thread title so I can tell you right out that jamjam ain't lyin.
posted by bukvich at 7:56 PM on January 7, 2013


The titles seem to read like bad grammar or half sentences; and use up space in a way that has overtones of inline horizontal ads. I'd prefer it be a optional item.
posted by buzzman at 7:59 PM on January 7, 2013


carsonb: "Wendell's new account, oneswellfoop is no secret."

Oh, thank goodness.

Hi, oneswellfoop!
posted by Bugbread at 8:01 PM on January 7, 2013

I just don't understand how something that was added to help RSS feed functionality somehow made it onto the front of posts. Mathowie even says right there that (at the time, sure, 10 years ago) they would clutter up the page. Well the page hasn't changed that much in those 10 years, and it still clutters it up.
That's not what he said.

He said that the reason he hadn't (to that point) added titles was that he didn't want to clutter up the posting page -- i.e. the page you fill out when you're creating a post. He didn't say anything about the front page.
posted by Flunkie at 8:02 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think that the concept is getting a lot more criticism than it otherwise would because the aesthetics are poor

I'm a little surprised we're inching towards 1,000 comments and we've only seen what, two mockups of what a different version might look like? I'm open to new ideas, I like maxwelton's take and could consider using some ideas from it, but if anyone can mock something up that improves upon what we have, I'd be grateful to see it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:02 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


floam writes "How on earth did it come to be that the font families for example would be configurable, versus expecting Greasemonkey or user CSS or using generic sans-serif, serif, etc. labels or some such?"

Most of those things were put in place before user control of those features within browsers was as easy as it is now. Greasemonkey for example only got started in 2004/11 and it took quite a while to become known and widely available.
posted by Mitheral at 8:02 PM on January 7, 2013


Here's what it looks like on my old-ass borrowed Kindle that I just started using and loving to read MeFi: http://i.imgur.com/RPOij.jpg Before the titles were added it could fit about twice as many FPPs per page, which I personally found preferable. Not mad. I appreciate Matt and pb's efforts to improve the site.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 8:04 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Summary thus far:

Nice.
posted by Perplexity at 16:56 on January 7 [6 favorites +] [!]


Ahhh kill it with fire.
posted by Diskeater at 16:56 on January 7 [126 favorites +] [!]


Mmm. Maybe an checkbox on the options for this?
posted by jaduncan at 17:00 on January 7 [33 favorites +] [!]
posted by jaduncan at 8:04 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like oneswellfoop, I'm thinking that the reason it doesn't put me off is that I usually read MeFi via RSS feed on Google Reader, so I already see the titles every time.
posted by Bugbread at 8:06 PM on January 7, 2013


Here's what it looks like on my old-ass borrowed Kindle

huh, weird, it seems the Kindle doesn't honor too much of CSS, the title fonts should be smaller.

Also, I'm curious if you find reading MeFi on a Kindle is useful, I've tried it but most off-site links go to sites that render poorly, making it hard to read articles, view videos, etc.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:07 PM on January 7, 2013


still I question how much of the vehemently entitled HOW DARE YOU IT IS UNREADABLE NOW objections is simply because there was a change to a familiar design, and how much of it is because of the substance of the change.

Familiarity is a good thing in a user interface. An ideal UI should just get out of your way and let you do your work, and familiarity is a big part of letting that happen. Changes to a UI need to make enough of a usability improvement to be worth a loss of familiarity, even a temporary one. Typically, people who object to a UI change are those for whom this balance falls the wrong way.

My own experience of the change under discussion here is that for me there is no increase in usability at all. On the other hand, the new look doesn't much disrupt my muscle memory of how to use the site. So on balance, for me, the change is merely irritating (yes, because is is a change) rather than something I'd devote time and effort to attempting to revert. And because it is irritating, I truly appreciate the fact that Matt posted a Stylish snippet that undoes it.

I have seen it over and over again, year after year, yet I will never understand this apparent law of the internets that user interfaces must continually devolve in the name of improvement.

Good UI change is hard. Pursuit of innovation for its own sake is not improvement, but fashion. At the moment, all the UI (sorry, beg their tiny pardons, UX) designers seem to have hard-ons for full-screen applications (possibly with tabbed windows) and gesture-based controls. Next year it will be - oh, I dunno, maybe Spatial Browsing will come around again, like flares and big pointy collars.

I am every bit as irritated by UI fashions as by any other kind (seriously, why can I no longer buy comfortable cotton Y-front underpants?) That doesn't make me a Luddite, or a change-fearer, or a crusty old reactionary: just because I know what I like, it's unfair to assume I know nothing about Art.

One of the main things that distinguished the then-new (Lisa, Mac, others) GUIs from earlier, more conversational interactive interfaces was the move away from having step-by-step usage patterns baked into the application code. Event-driven programming was the Bold New Thing, where instead of having a program that Did Stuff with an occasional need to give the user some limited set of choices, you had a program that did nothing at all except in response to some user-generated input event. Modes were bad, flexibility was good. Even modal dialogs were reckoned to be a UI flaw and avoided whenever possible.

This shift of behavioral control away from the application designer and toward the user means that we are all pretty much forced to develop our own patterns for working with any given app. It takes a while, but a lot of that stuff ends up locked in as muscle memory and we just stop being aware of it.

This applies to UI designers as much as it does to the rest of us, and just like the rest of us, UI designers come to see their own usage patterns as The Way This Works. So when a UI designer starts trying to improve any given UI, they will do things that improve it for them or at most for some small group of test users.

Howls of outrage from those whose usage patterns get horribly disrupted by any given change are easily discounted and ignored; after all, if that ignorant rabble were only using the thing properly they would surely see the change as the vast improvement it so clearly is.

But there is no "properly". That's the whole point of an event-driven UI, especially one with multiple ways of doing the same thing (e.g. menus, keyboard shortcuts, toolbar buttons, gestures). So if you truly have no better basis for moving the window controls to a different corner than that your lead designer likes the look of the result, you're going to piss people off.

One of the things I truly appreciate about MeFi is the fact that its designers do pay attention to the opinions of the user base. That, at least, is something I hope will never change.
posted by flabdablet at 8:08 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm a little surprised we're inching towards 1,000 comments and we've only seen what, two mockups of what a different version might look like?

I dunno, Matt; I can't help thinking that maybe if you'd given folks a little more warning you might have gotten more useful suggestions, including mockups. Seems a bit much to expect many mockups just 11 hours after you've unilaterally implemented a major change to the site.
posted by mediareport at 8:09 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


People, Joss Whedon fans not withstanding, opposed to things tend to be more vocal than those in favour.

Also favourite counts shouldn't be seen as score keeping.
posted by Mitheral at 8:09 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I too find that having the titles is encouraging my eye to skip from one to the next without looking at the text of the post. Others have said this better, but I wanted to speak up with the people who are saying that this isn't simply resistance to change or anything like that.

It feels like somebody took away the New Yorker (or Outside Magazine, or whatever your favorite source of really chunky, interesting, valuable longform writing may be) and replaced it with Reader's Digest.
posted by Lexica at 8:10 PM on January 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


(I guess what I'm trying to say is making a call for mockups should be a bit more explicit, if that's what you're doing.)
posted by mediareport at 8:12 PM on January 7, 2013


Mmm, maybe. It's a very striking split though. Maybe a site polling system would actually be a good idea?
posted by jaduncan at 8:12 PM on January 7, 2013


Flunkie:"blockquoteI just don't understand how something that was added to help RSS feed functionality somehow made it onto the front of posts. Mathowie even says right there that (at the time, sure, 10 years ago) they would clutter up the page. Well the page hasn't changed that much in those 10 years, and it still clutters it up.That's not what he said.

He said that the reason he hadn't (to that point) added titles was that he didn't want to clutter up the posting page -- i.e. the page you fill out when you're creating a post. He didn't say anything about the front page.
"

Ah yes, you are correct. But going through all the meta posts about titles is pretty hilarious. Lots of the same comments that have been said here are echos of past comments. And there is a LOT of commentary relating the utility of this to RSS, so the rest of my points stand.

edit: ah forget it, I can't fix the quote. Why isn't there a preview in the edit window? /different thread

It would be interesting to see a query of those who love this and those who use RSS and see what how heavy the overlap is.
posted by Big_B at 8:17 PM on January 7, 2013


I'm not expert on Kindle vintage yet as this one I'm using is and old borrowed one. The web browser can only be accessed through the "experimental" subheading on the menu. So I feel like this particular Kindle is an edge case but I wanted to share what it looked like.

I'm curious if you find reading MeFi on a Kindle is useful

Too early to say but that was the first thing I tried to do with it. :) I have it set in my mind that if I'm using the Kindle I'm just going to be reading the MeFi comment threads and not participating in the consumption of the linked content. But, as of day 2 of messing around with it, I enjoy reading long threads with it, with the caveat that I can't RTFA.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 8:17 PM on January 7, 2013


I too find that having the titles is encouraging my eye to skip from one to the next without looking at the text of the post.

Lexica I'm not picking on you specifically, yours is just the most recent comment of several in this thread that reflects this viewpoint.

So many people here fall into the category of "Self-aware enough to notice when you're not reading something but oblivious enough to not actually read it when you notice that."

If the titles make you realize you're skimming, isn't that a good thing? If you think to yourself 'I'm skimming these titles' and then don't go back and read the posts deliberately then you're doing it wrong. The fact that you didn't read them deliberately in the first place has very, very little to do with the site design and nearly everything to do with you and your brain-eyeball connection.
posted by carsonb at 8:18 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Site polls don't pick up a lot of the casual or new users that mathowie is concerned about (and rightfully so).
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:19 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The change makes me sad.

My friend who doesn't like pickles described them as "unpleasant surprises" in her burgers. The large font titles sprinkled randomly throughout the page feel like that.

I see this issue as something akin to the clientele effect in dividend payout theory. Objectively, having titles is probably a good thing, say 70% of randomly selected people on the internet will say titles are good. But Metafilter may be subject to a clientele effect where the userbase has been self selected and also trained to prefer posts without titles.

(In regards to dividend payouts, the Modigliani-Miller says that overall, investors as a whole are indifferent to companies that pay more or less dividends. However, a change in policy in a company is likely to generate dissatisfaction among its current investors, since they were there in the first place because of their prior policies.)
posted by xdvesper at 8:21 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


the young rope-rider: "casual or new users that mathowie is concerned about (and rightfully so)."

What is that supposed to mean?
posted by Big_B at 8:21 PM on January 7, 2013


If you think to yourself 'I'm skimming these titles' and then don't go back and read the posts deliberately then you're doing it wrong. The fact that you didn't read them deliberately in the first place has very, very little to do with the site design and nearly everything to do with you and your brain-eyeball connection.

.
posted by zennie at 8:21 PM on January 7, 2013


The post texts read like a summary on a journal article; and most of the readers here do just fine with that level of comprehension. Titles aren't bad; they just use up ?valuable? space on the front page.

"Audiogon" used to have a format like "Videogon" has now... plain, simple; maybe even boring. Growing page views. Somebody bought Audiogon and the page views chunked due to an idea that didn't work out well. MeFi is not profit per se; but wooooo... smooth is smooth; hard to improve on what already works so well.
posted by buzzman at 8:23 PM on January 7, 2013


zennie: .

POINT CONCEDED.
posted by carsonb at 8:23 PM on January 7, 2013


> What is that supposed to mean?

It probably means that no community can remain healthy without a steady stream of new users to at least replace old users who fall away.
posted by gilrain at 8:25 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


In terms of mockups, I think that a jobs post looking for a designer and a small but reasonable budget would be a worthwhile investment of time and money.There are a dozen reasons why I might be wrong about this as a viable or desirable option.

A general call for mockups does not strike me as a great idea. For one, it gets political and heated to have a lot of work up for public criticism. For two, asking people to do significant design work on a volunteer basis and then picking whatever looks best is not as good as having a designer talk through options, discuss pros and cons of different choices, and/or give feedback about proposed changes. For three, it puts a lot of pressure on the mods to pick a design or a change that they might not feel comfortable or happy with.

And again, I'm not trying to insult or denigrate the work that the mods have already done. It's just that it seems inefficient and unnecessarily stressful to do a major design/UI change on a large site without input from someone who specializes in making these kinds of changes work.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:25 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Big_B: "What is that supposed to mean?"

Probably that Matt does have an interest in a flow of new users. If no new users ever come on board, the site eventually dies.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:25 PM on January 7, 2013


I'm open to new ideas, I like maxwelton's take and could consider using some ideas from it, but if anyone can mock something up that improves upon what we have, I'd be grateful to see it.

Just toying around with the CSS, I think it looks a little nicer with a margin for the copy and serif fonts for the titles, here's what I'm looking at.
posted by floam at 8:25 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Incidentally, I love the titles.
posted by gilrain at 8:25 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


People, Joss Whedon fans not withstanding, opposed to things tend to be more vocal than those in favour.

In general, when a majority of members like something, they are pretty effusive about it. Many of us asked for an edit window on a regular basis. When we got one we were pretty darn thankful and said so.
posted by zarq at 8:26 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also there was the guy in the elevator with the Kindle so probably that helped to cement the Kindle-MeFi relationship concept in my head.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 8:26 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm a little surprised we're inching towards 1,000 comments and we've only seen what, two mockups of what a different version might look like?

I think that's because maxwelton nailed it so hard there's no point trying to compete.

Switching to that layout would definitely change my stance from "NEED PREFERENCE TO SHUT DAMN THING OFF NOW" to "You know, it would be nice to have an option to not see those."

-----

Most of the mods have weighed in at this point mentioning that the way they encounter new posts, etc. is fundamentally different than the way that users do. I'd like to suggest that in the future when new interface changes are being made some regular users are given an ultra-super-secret preview, if for no other reason than you'll know what all the complaints will be up front. Unless of course you already do that and nobody knows because it's ultra-super-secret.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:27 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


(Although in theory, I think it probably should be sans-serif titles and serif body text.)
posted by floam at 8:27 PM on January 7, 2013


making a call for mockups should be a bit more explicit, if that's what you're doing

I only mention it because the tools are getting better all the time, lots of browser extensions let you tweak CSS right in the browser, changing things as you see fit, and one doesn't even need a copy of Photoshop to change the fonts to any size/face you like, play with margins, and take a screenshot.

A lot of people have said the fonts are too big (and a few say too small), a lot of people said they don't like Arial and Verdana together (I don't like Verdana at the title size), and these are simple tweaks anyone can make and screenshot like maxwelton did upthread, which was super helpful.

I'm just saying I'm open to other takes on this, I don't claim to be an amazing designer anymore.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:31 PM on January 7, 2013


I know, floam, I was probably less shocked than most with the titles' first appearance because I already customized the body text in a serif font. (I think I mentioned before Arial/Verdana not good neighbors) But any little indentation helps a lot.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:32 PM on January 7, 2013


I think that's because maxwelton nailed it so hard there's no point trying to compete.

He's further limiting the way posts can be constructed by eliminating some of the better things about posting, including blockquote. Terrible idea.

I'd like to suggest that in the future when new interface changes are being made some regular users are given an ultra-super-secret preview, if for no other reason than you'll know what all the complaints will be up front.

If Team Mod does so, may I humbly suggest opening up the preview to someone who creates posts on a regular basis? The folks who consistently post content to the Blue and/or each subsite can probably offer some insights which wouldn't necessarily occur to someone who simply reads and comments on the site. Or who only posts casually -- once in a blue moon.
posted by zarq at 8:32 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I made my mockup in Word.
posted by zennie at 8:32 PM on January 7, 2013


I'm a little surprised we're inching towards 1,000 comments and we've only seen what, two mockups of what a different version might look like? I'm open to new ideas, I like maxwelton's take and could consider using some ideas from it, but if anyone can mock something up that improves upon what we have, I'd be grateful to see it.

Honestly, I doubt more mockups will get you anywhere. I didn't particularly like maxwelton's mockup, for instance, while lots of other people did. People's preferences are subjective... which is why I think your best bet is just to make the titles configurable in the preferences like other types of text. Whatever you pick as the default isn't going to work for many people who have changed the body text from the default, anyway.
posted by christie at 8:32 PM on January 7, 2013


I'm a little surprised we're inching towards 1,000 comments and we've only seen what, two mockups of what a different version might look like?

Umm. You've had three, unpaid, less than twelve hours after rolling out the change. One of them is not only good, because all three were good, but holy-crap-that-looks-professional good.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:35 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Say, would putting titles in the byline on the front page be all right?

[content of post above the fold]
[post title] posted by [username] at [time and date]

I don't know, just throwing this out there. It's something I thought of when I read some peoples' concerns about the shift in how the front page is processed. I don't know if this is coming out right, but here it is.
posted by aroweofshale at 8:37 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm a little surprised we're inching towards 1,000 comments and we've only seen what, two mockups of what a different version might look like?

This comes off as really tone-deaf to me. You make a unilateral change to the site which you know will be controversial, and then you're surprised that more people haven't offered alternatives? Maybe it's just me but this change to how the site operates doesn't come across as all that crowd-sourced.
posted by m0nm0n at 8:38 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


In pretty well any metric you can think of (number of active users, post volume, comment volume, favourite volume) current differential rates are well above replacement.
posted by Mitheral at 8:38 PM on January 7, 2013


I kinda like 'em. I'm not seeing any problem to skimming, myself -- if anything, the titles are helping me better differentiate where one post stops and another begins. I've always hated building titles for posts because I figured no one ever reads them, so it seemed like a bit of a waste of time. Now the post framing can be made a bit clearer to everyone.

I understand why some people don't like it, as some folks have made very clear and cogent statements, but overall, it seems like a neat little bit of evolution.
posted by barnacles at 8:39 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's just me but this change to how the site operates doesn't come across as all that crowd-sourced.

Mockups are useful to help frame the discussion - talking about visual stuff is always easier with visual aids. We're not actually trying to crowd-source it or anything at the moment. As we've said, we're going to roll with this for a little while and see how things shake out.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:40 PM on January 7, 2013


Jesus Christ I am happy I don't run something like this.
posted by floam at 8:40 PM on January 7, 2013 [22 favorites]


I love MetaFilter, it's in my top 3 most useful sites i've ever been a part of. At this point however, were it my site, i'd be firmly leaning toward "Folks, we're going to roll this back, have a think based on all of your feedback and try again to implement this in a smart way that meets our needs and doesn't cause a fundamental shift in how a large subset of users experience the unique value of the site"
posted by softlord at 8:41 PM on January 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm a little surprised we're inching towards 1,000 comments and we've only seen what, two mockups of what a different version might look like?

Mhmm. It might be reasonable to suppose most of the web designers / developers reading the thread so far either like it as-is or dislike it so much it's hopeless, probably in proportion to the like / hate comments so far.

I only mention it because the tools are getting better all the time, lots of browser extensions let you tweak CSS right in the browser, changing things as you see fit, and one doesn't even need a copy of Photoshop to change the fonts to any size/face you like, play with margins, and take a screenshot.

Indeed, I've gone into the Web Inspector in Chrome a half-dozen times this evening toying with ideas, but I can't get past the UX issues--nothing fixes it.

You could go further in making it more banal, more of an ordinary news page, but what you're doing is evolving away from the interestingly quirky UX you had.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:41 PM on January 7, 2013


Perhaps we should use favorites to decide all site changes going forward.

Every blog I can think of uses titles (an H1 header) to differentiate between posts. Why is this such a revolutionary concept?
posted by KokuRyu at 8:44 PM on January 7, 2013


I like the titles the way that they are now, never really understood why they were hidden before. I'm not really understanding all the outrage.
posted by octothorpe at 8:44 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, my criticisms and dislike of this change aside, I do really want to say thanks, mods, for at least listening to all of the feedback and taking it into account. And you know. For generally being so amazing and running such a lovely website.

Note: everyone needs a hug.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:45 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


If writers are clever enough to learn to craft titles that aren't redundant with their posts, they are probably clever enough to learn to craft titles that augment but are not necessary to their posts. So I don't think making a user option for titles would be nearly so chaos-producing as some seem to fear.
posted by chortly at 8:45 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I prefer the site without the titles. Thank you.
posted by Pudhoho at 8:47 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


carsonb: "If the titles make you realize you're skimming, isn't that a good thing? If you think to yourself 'I'm skimming these titles' and then don't go back and read the posts deliberately then you're doing it wrong. "

I can't speak for Lexica, and it's possible I'm misunderstanding you (and zennie's made you CONCEDE already), but it feels weird, bumpy, redundant and frustrating to find your brain skimming off titles and making it harder to focus on the post text.

I'm running out of metaphors, but the title at the beginning of each short post feels like a surly bouncer, not a helpful librarian. What I WANT to read is the post, not the title. This new format isn't allowing me to do that easily any more. I used to be able to skim, skip and catch all down the front page. Now it's speed bumps all the way down as I get more and more annoyed with fairly redundant, showy and not terribly useful text written by people with varying styles and intent.

Look, I find titles and headers incredibly useful when I'm reading a long piece of text that has been written by one person using a consistent style. But you don't see a super-frequent mish-mash of headers like this used in any type of writing people read for pleasure. Detailed instructions on assembling something, maybe, but not the kind of writing we find here.

How about this?

1) Titles OFF by default.
2) In the posting instructions, tell the poster to provide a useful title or else they get the first 72 characters auto-filled for them (as suggested above).
3) Let us know that we can use our profile settings to either:

a) Turn titles ON if we appreciate the added content and visual breaks in the page

OR

b) Insert a line at the beginning of the post (spaced appropriately) if we prefer a consistent, non-verbal demarcaration between posts.

Most people would continue to compose in the old way (self contained posts, [more inside] if needed, some kind of title as they please) and we would avoid the big potential problem of the opt-out method the mods are suggesting, where some people would leave really useful info in the title because they assume that everyone else can see it from the front page.
posted by maudlin at 8:49 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


m0nm0n: "You make a unilateral change to the site which you know will be controversial, and then you're surprised that more people haven't offered alternatives?"

How did he know it would be controversial? Matt liked it, the mod team liked it, and it's notable that although the weight of opinion here has been strongly against, several long time/high volume posters have liked it, too.

Also, I know what you are getting at with "unilateral" but to some extent all changes are unilateral, because Matt owns the site.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:49 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]




Zennie's edit gets my vote, though I would do it without any bullets or fancy formatting and just make it a plain small link flush against the left. On preview, something like what aroweofshale proposed. So something like this:
"The lofty vision of a stateless, marketless world faces obstacles that are not moral but technical, and it’s important to grasp exactly what they are." Seth Ackerman for Jacobin Magazine on "thinking concretely and practically about how we can free ourselves from social institutions that place such confining limits on the kind of society we are able to have. Because of one thing we can be certain: the present system will either be replaced or it will go on forever."
The Red and the Black posted by davidjmcgee at 12:42 PM - 21 comments +

The Dualities of Taylor Swift: Furries, Bo Diddley, and Country Bears in “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” [more inside]
America's Postmodern Sweetheart(?) posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:38 PM - 45 comments +
On Ask it would look like:
"I'm shooting a large amount of products on a white background for an electronics company, and they are wanting every item to be shot solo at the exact same angle/degree, to be composited seamlessly at a later time in various group shots. [more inside]
What is the best way to get consistent angles in product photography? posted by theperfectcrime to media & arts at 8:30 PM - 0 answers +

I'm almost done with the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett. They've been perfect companions for the past nine months or so, and I need something to take their place. What series, with wit and a world to get lost in, should I read next?
Where should I go once I leave Discworld? posted by ocherdraco to media & arts at 8:26 PM - 6 answers (6 new) +

I'm officially a supervisor. My first-ever subordinate starts tomorrow. What are some of the best things that great bosses have done or said on your first day? Specifics inside. [more inside]
Great first-day things for a new employee? posted by wjm to work & money at 8:25 PM - 2 answers (2 new) +
I like maxwelton's edit too but I think this would be much less drastic, while still both displaying titles and retaining a "skimmable" front page. It would also take up virtually no more space than the current taglines, which seems like it would be nice for mobile users and those who were concerned about screen clutter/real estate.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:51 PM on January 7, 2013 [82 favorites]


I still hate the large font. PLEASE at least let us set a preference for it. I don't know if this has been discussed at length (I don't have time to wade through a 800 comment thread at the moment, and I haven't been on the site all day) but it really looks amateurish and garish with the different font sizes. It's distracting instead of helpful.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:52 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not really understanding all the outrage.

Could we please try to stop with comments like these?

1) If you're not understanding I find it very hard to believe you've tried--there have been plenty of posts very clearly outlining why this isn't universally liked. I get not agreeing with it but understanding at this point should be fairly simple. And if you don't understand, it'd be helpful to specify what part, exactly, you don't understand. I'm sure people would be willing to enlighten.

2) Calling it outrage doesn't help anyone as you're reducing criticisms against the change to what is implied as nothing but an emotional response/attitude. It sounds incredibly dismissive. And although emotional responses aren't inherently bad, they have a stigma as not being as valid as conclusions reached through reason. Many posters who could be argued to have an outraged tone have still explained themselves and their underlying reasons for dissatisfaction entirely sufficiently.

I just get really tired of this stuff, sorry. I'm going to go to bed I guess; I could use a break. Let's all just play nice please.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:54 PM on January 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


"Summary" (not "title") at the bottom of the post (in the meta) accomplishes everything you're trying to do

- It keeps the requirement for a short text field for RSS and SEO
- It moves this previously-hidden element to the home page
- It does not emphasize this aspect of the post enough to change reading habits or make MeFi more blog-like
- It does not add any more vertical space, for those with mobile connections.
posted by softlord at 8:54 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


The inside title, in hindsight; seemed to have a unique 'fortune cookie' quality to it.
posted by buzzman at 8:55 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


But if the site ends up settling on "title first" I think floam's latest version is a beaut.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:56 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


This long-time reader severely dislikes the FPP titles - they add little and detract from the unique post styles that keep me coming back. Please reconsider or at least make it opt-in. Thank you.
posted by postagepaid at 8:58 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


And after posting all that, I like en forme de poire's adaptation of zennie's approach. It respects individual formatting choices, provides useful info and/or the little ping! of pleasure from a good title at the end, not the beginning, and it keeps things skimmable. It also means none of us have to fuss with yet another set of preferences to code or select. You code it once and it's consistent for everybody.

Floam's layout is attractive, but it doesn't solve the skimming and high rate of interruption problems. Title in the small text area, please!
posted by maudlin at 8:59 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


If "the way things were" is no longer an option, I find zennie's/en forme de poire's mockup the most tolerable of the versions presented thus far.
posted by mediated self at 8:59 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh dear. I didn't notice that I got pre-empted. Yikes. (Though, to be fair, I did search for "byline" on this page to see if-- well, nevermind, not important.)

Yeah, what en forme de poire posted looks good to me. The problem is when titles get longer than a certain length; they'll probably increase the byline by a ... line. Or two.
posted by aroweofshale at 8:59 PM on January 7, 2013


softlord: ""Summary" (not "title") at the bottom of the post (in the meta) accomplishes everything you're trying to do

- It keeps the requirement for a short text field for RSS and SEO
- It moves this previously-hidden element to the home page
- It does not emphasize this aspect of the post enough to change reading habits or make MeFi more blog-like
- It does not add any more vertical space, for those with mobile connections.
"

Not that my opinion matters muchat all, but I agree with your assessment here, provided the summary text is limited in length to prevent summaries that are long enough to make the bottom-of-the-post text wrap on small screens -- it is hard enough to touch the flagging/favorites links on phones without having to compete with a link-wrapped summary directly above it.
posted by davejay at 9:00 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't even notice the titles until I saw this thread.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:00 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


...not pre-empted, umm, I mean, well, someone else got there first...

/hangs head
posted by aroweofshale at 9:01 PM on January 7, 2013


I really like the title beneath the post as Zennie mocked up. Rather than tricking the brain into summarizing the topic before engaging with it at all, it associates the summary of the topic with the author of the post only after allowing the reader's brain to encapsulate it however they would.

This may just be resistance to a change in one of my daily comforts, but how it is now strikes me like the punchline preceding the story. What yesterday may have led me like a story into something I didn't know I cared about, now seems like a wordy justification for the punchline. Immediately, I either care or I don't.

I'm working on approaching it differently, but I do hope some bit of that magic makes its way back onto the front page.
posted by droomoord at 9:04 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't like these titles. I liked the way people just launched into what they had to say... I don't need an advertising marquee, speedbumps, or varied font densities. Voting No.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 9:06 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Count me in the "hate it" camp. Sorry. Please let me turn the titles off.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:07 PM on January 7, 2013


The first version of my Greasemonkey script (before I published it) actually had the title and the "posted by" on the same line, as several are suggesting. Playing around with it for a while, though, I found that I preferred the consistency of the placement of the "posted by" (and so forth, with the various links that you'd actually want to click) that's afforded by splitting it off into its own line. Especially for titles that are very long.

I also actually do like the title (or, as softlord appropriately puts it, "summary") being easily visually distinguishable at a glance, rather than just melting into the "posted by" stuff.

I didn't think that the extra line really takes up that much vertical space, given the small font that it's in, although I guess I wasn't thinking of mobile devices.
posted by Flunkie at 9:07 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is what happens on my laptop. Just for reference from another device. I can easily go and put in RSS into Reader and just not come home anymore, tbh, because I can't "see" anything except those three titles overwhelming all other data. I've been avoiding the front page and coming in directly to recent activity for now.
posted by infini at 9:09 PM on January 7, 2013


I worry sometimes that I am too much of a "Change is bad!" type of person, but...well...I don't really like the way the titles look. It's repetitive and intrusive, and there's not enough of a visual difference between the title and post text.

However, I could get used to zennie/en forme de poire's version. If we had to have titles, I'd prefer the layout to look like this.

In conclusion, I guess I am just a "Some changes are worse than others!" type of person.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:09 PM on January 7, 2013


"I don't understand all the outrage."
[...] It sounds incredibly dismissive [...]


I've always assumed that was the point of such statements. Not just to disagree but to state that opposition was literally unimaginable.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:10 PM on January 7, 2013


It should be worth noting that pretty much all of these mockups are applied upon posts where the poster was unaccustomed to the final presentation and not savvy to the new format. Inevitably over time we should expect wiser use of the medium as we adapt. The "punchline in the wrong spot" thing should not last long.
posted by floam at 9:13 PM on January 7, 2013


If we have to have titles on the front page, I like en forme de poire's vision the best. Titles are visible, but they seem more like a preview of what you will get on the inside and don't upstage the post itself. En forme's mockup also hews to existing style conventions and doesn't signoficantly alter the format of the page. If titles get long enough to cause a linebreak, they could be truncated with an elipsis on the outside and displayed in full on the inside of the post.

I'd still much rather we go back to the way things were before, but en forme's scheme would be livable to me. I too have noticed a worrying tendency to skim from title to title, ignoring body text. This is not my preferred way of interacting with MeFi, yet my eyes don't seem to agree.
posted by Scientist at 9:16 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think maxwelton's version is best. It offers the best of both worlds:

By setting the title so far to the left, if you dislike titles, it's really easy to skip them by just reading the right block (in the same way as how on many other forums, you don't read the date and time of a comment, unless you specifically intend to, because they're set further so much further left than the comment itself). If you like them, likewise, they're off there at left and easy to see.

Floam's version is good if you want to read the titles, but the offset is so small you end out reading them even if you don't like reading the titles. And zenni's is good if you don't like reading the titles, but if you do, it's a big pain in the butt of "jump to end of post, read part of line, jump back to start of post, read rest".
posted by Bugbread at 9:19 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, maxwelton's use of a font color closer to the page background also makes it easier to ignore titles if you so wish.

Now, as has been pointed out, there are problems with blockquote, etc. I'm not saying maxwelton's should be used as-is, just that the idea of "title just a little larger, set way off left, and in a color close to background" seems like the best of both worlds.
posted by Bugbread at 9:21 PM on January 7, 2013


WHO GIVES A SHIT IT IS A WEBBBLOG!!!1!
posted by Jimbob at 9:26 PM on January 7, 2013


Chrysostom: OK, I suppose it's fair to say that mathowie didn't know it would be controversial, but I find it hard to believe he didn't at least have an inkling. I've been reading this site for well on a decade now and it seems in my fallible and all-too-human memory that any hint of a site change tends to unleash a torrent of displeasure upon MetaTalk. But maybe I'm wrong? I think at the very least he should have expected controversy.

In any case, I think a MeTa thread along the lines of, "Hey guys, we're thinking about having the oft-neglected post titles be included on the main page when posts are made on any subsite. Here is a working prototype we've got going, what do you think?" would have been a better idea to engender constructive feedback. Making the change to the site without consulting the userbase first and then being surprised by the lack of constructive feedback is about how I'd expect things to go. But restless_nomad makes a good point.

That being said I like the look presented by en forme de poire but I have a feeling that mathowie will not. One of the things he mentioned is the lack of a clear link to the discussion side of posts, and unfortunately I don't think including the title at the bottom, the same size as the post-post "posted by" line, sufficiently meets that criteria. But I could be wrong; I'd love it if I were.
posted by m0nm0n at 9:29 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay seriously, though. I can understand people not liking it. I don't like it. But the world is full of thing I don't like. I don't like cafes charging $4.50 for a bloody coffee. I don't like it when it rains just as soon as I've hung the clothes on the line. I don't like Brendan Fraser. I don't like the kid next door who egged my house.

I'm sure I'll survive.
posted by Jimbob at 9:31 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a process for making changes to user interfaces that meet user needs, it's a process that works pretty well. This really isn't it.
posted by bleep at 9:31 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


And matt, the reason you weren't seeing more mockups was that you hadn't given any real indication that you were interested in them. Respectfully, your comments in this thread have seemed unusually tone-deaf and sort of slightly condescending to me. I normally see you as a pretty astute and thoughtful person and all-around nice guy, but I have been getting kind of a different vibe from you in this particular thread and it's a little irritating. Your affectation of bemused incredulity is not really welcome.

I realize that you have to put up with a lot of crap and I'm sure that's taxing and I get that you weren't expecting such a strong reaction (although, really? Hello I'm on MetaFilter and I could overthink a plate of beans) but you and the mods are supposed to be the voices of reason around here and not make little sotto voce jabs at those who disagree with you. I have no issue with the tone of any of the other mods, and I know that this is your site and you can do what you like with it at the end of the day, but you're rubbing me ever-so-slightly the wrong way here.

Maybe I'm just oversensitive and nobody else has been feeling it, in which case I will go away and recalibrate my snarkometer, but then again maybe you should make just slightly more effort to seem like you are listening and trying to understand the feedback you are getting rather than acting like you couldn't possibly have expected this and you just can't imagine what could possibly be bothering us so much.

I am saying this with love because I love you and I love MeFi and I love this community, and I'm not trying to pick a fight, but I've been feeling a little off about the way that you've been interacting with the community today and I wanted to make my feelings known in case anyone else shares them so that you can perhaps re-assess and adjust your tone if necessary in the interests of more genial relations all around. For my part I will make extra effort to do the same.
posted by Scientist at 9:38 PM on January 7, 2013 [20 favorites]


One of the things he mentioned is the lack of a clear link to the discussion side of posts, and unfortunately I don't think including the title at the bottom, the same size as the post-post "posted by" line, sufficiently meets that criteria.

Link --> Oh, I think that's easy enough to solve. <-- Link
posted by zennie at 9:40 PM on January 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


I think en forme de poire's mockup looks amazing. The changes as they exist now discourage reading of the post text in favour of reading the headlines, and the headlines aren't as informative as the post text. This is basically the opposite of what you want to do with UI.
posted by Jairus at 9:40 PM on January 7, 2013


What I find most unfortunate about the change is that the previous Metafilter front page was seriously one of the cleanest, calmest, most beautiful interfaces of any website I can even think of. It's actually beautiful to look at, and for me it's due to, in order of importance: 1) lack of images, 2) soothing background colors, and 3) clean, crisp blocks of text.

The headlines really disrupt the smooth, clean flow of the text that the previous look had. The larger font size, and being alone on a separate line from the rest of the above-the-fold material, both destroy the appearance of those crisp text blocks. Before it was like scanning paragraphs in a book and quite easy to move the eye from post to post. Now there are at least two eye movements required per post, one for the headline, and one for the rest of the above-fold content, which seems more effortful. Two websites that I would compare the old front page to are Arts & Letters Daily and McSweeney's-- these two websites are gorgeous to look at, IMO, because they preserve the crisp-looking blocks of text, using alignment and just the right amount of white space and/or subtle separators to distinguish between items, without the need for different font sizes or a separate headline row. I really think the previous look was much less cluttered.

That said, if headlines are here to stay, I'd be happiest seeing MeFi, AskMe, and MeTa all copy the Projects headline format. I really like that it uses the same font size for headline and body text, and that it obeys the convention of bold-type MeFi gold to indicate the presence of link text.

I think this change only truly deeply gets under my skin on the blue-- for all the other subsites it does strike me as helpful to have a quick one-liner that gives the gist and helps me decide whether to read the rest. (The IRL headline format is actually pretty awesome-- giant font makes total sense there.) But on the blue it's nice to have the option for some storytelling or setting-the-scene, which I think a mandatory headline can sometimes diminish-- for all the other sites a headline mostly enhances.

Finally, prior to now, the first link in a post on the blue was always to outside content, the meat of the post. The current format means that first link in a post is the headline itself, which always points inward, not out. That makes sense on every subsite but the blue, since those feature original content generated by users, whereas the whole purpose of posts on the blue is to point out. Crazy idea, but what if headlines on the blue were non-clickable?
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 9:43 PM on January 7, 2013 [23 favorites]


Repeating myself in a separate comment so it gets seen: If headlines are here to stay, I'd be happiest seeing MeFi, AskMe, and MeTa all copy the Projects headline format. I really like that it uses the same font size for headline and body text, and that it obeys the convention of bold-type MeFi gold to indicate the presence of link text.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 9:46 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


In pretty well any metric you can think of (number of active users, post volume, comment volume, favourite volume) current differential rates are well above replacement.

Hmm; that speaks to something I'd wondered idly but not strongly enough to go looking for infodump stats on.

1. What's so bad about skimming anyway? Isn't skimming another form of, well, filtering?

and

2. As MetaFilter continues to grow, aren't we going to need better skimmability? At some point the post rate is going to get high enough that there's no longer any hope of drinking the whole firehose.

(The "title summary link at the bottom" mockups are kinda nice, mind. Are they going to wrap strangely in narrow viewports?)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:48 PM on January 7, 2013


I normally see you as a pretty astute and thoughtful person and all-around nice guy, but I have been getting kind of a different vibe from you in this particular thread and it's a little irritating.

He also spent a considerable amount of time and effort politely taking suggestions, answering questions, and discussing people's various concerns. He does seem a bit irritated, disappointed, and frustrated, and considering that the mods worked on this for a long time and it's going poorly and he expected people to like it, that's really understandable and not something I'd really choose to make a Thing about, myself.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:48 PM on January 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


OK, I suppose it's fair to say that mathowie didn't know it would be controversial, but I find it hard to believe he didn't at least have an inkling.

I dunno. I agree with somebody far above who pointed out that there may be a blind spot of sorts created by the way mods use and view MetaFilter.

Titles are a fine solution to several meta-y concerns about the site and its further development, I'm sure, but obviously somehow something very crucial and important to a lot of users was eliminated (or at least grossly altered) in the process, or we wouldn't all be having this conversation.

It's easy for me to believe that the very manner in which mods interact with this site may have obscured the value of this particular user experience from their consideration.

(n.b. all of my comments on this topic are specific to the blue, not to ask or talk; those seem fine with titles.)
posted by Aquaman at 9:51 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think this is a straight-up bad thing for the blue, adds no value in Metatalk, but is probably a small win for AskMe.

If given a preference switch, I'll be turning the titles off. If not, I'll use Stylish or whatever.

I think it kind of makes the front page feel like a half-assed, out of the box Wordpress theme, for what little my opinion is worth, which is a shocker -- that reaction has nothing to do with 'fearing change' -- and I am, even after the patient explanations, kind of taken aback that this made it out of the wontfix box.

Dixon Ticonderoga sums up my thoughts about the change pretty well.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:53 PM on January 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


I like the script posted upthread that turns the front page titles off. I don't really like the titles above the front page summaries, but the scripts and mock-ups showing the titles in the more appropriate position beneath the summary all look much better on the blue background than they do on the white, which is what I use. Until there's a fix that makes this change worthwhile, I'll skip it entirely.

In my manner of enjoying Meffy, the titles are and should be an afterthought, a quick summary to appear in the browser title bar and at the top of the page, most effectively a pithy quote or a pun or occasionally some form of extremely oblique editorial. I'm sure by sticking with the old way I'll open myself to title policing as people who depend on titles to indicate whether the front page summaries are worth reading are disenchanted with my jokey, obscure, and pushy titles, but I'll keep that leaf dry until my ass needs wiping.

In truth, I don't post enough for my imagined offending titles to become an issue. It's easy enough to work around this new thing if you don't like it, and I don't think it imperils much either way.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 9:54 PM on January 7, 2013


Scientist, I'm pretty sure Matt has stepped away from this thread for the night, and I can't speak for him. But I am also pretty sure he's not "affecting" incredulity, which is a weird accusation; he's just surprised.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:54 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I believe the "mods" thought "Here's a new thing, there's going to be serious fucking blowback but let's give it a try and have a fun 48 hours!".

I remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth when "favourites" were added.

I remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth when $5 sign-ups were introduced.

I remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth when sign-ups were disabled.

It's all part of the Circle Of Metafilter.
posted by Jimbob at 9:55 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


the Projects headline format

Is nice. But Projects enforces single-paragraph posts, doesn't it? So the Projects page doesn't have to tangle with the whole "linebreaks within posts look similar to whitespace between posts" difficulty.

It's all part of the Circle Of Metafilter.

Circlejerk of Metafilter, more like.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:56 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's all part of the Circle Of Metafilter.

We were due for an overcorrection after that feel good meta from a couple of days ago.
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:02 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow. You'd really say that in person?

absolutely. anyone who stands 3 inches from a brick wall claiming not to see it gets the same reaction from me as someone wanting to wear a rainbow-striped clown wig to a job interview...i'm gonna ask you if you're on something. but i'm pretty catty when it comes down to it. i'm sorry if i hurt anyone's feelings, but considering all the 'free passes' being handed out to those who stop by here with a simple 'HATE!', i'm gonna take any backlash with a BIG grain of salt.

(also, lol scientist, 'crankyrobot' tooootally needs a sockpuppet)

I was referring to verbatim redundancy.
nice version: that would matter how, exactly?...it's still just repeating the exact same question.

By the sexyrobot definition of Redundancy, newspapers should never say the same thing in the title and the first paragraph.
(hi wendell!) Hey, I was just talking about AskMe...the point being that QUESTIONS are not ARTICLES...they really really really are not benefitted in any way by having a title (I could argue that they don't even need them when you click through, but SEO/makes a nice header/the page needs a title/fine the way it was/etc)

as far as the Blue goes, I think zennie's mock-up with the titles AFTER the post works much better than having them on top...but i still VASTLY prefer them inside. someone mentioned 'fortune cookie' and 'package bow' upthread and i think that REALLY sums up their place within a post. I find that most posters use them (despite all reccomendations) for editorializing (or as a way to include a quick comment/joke/summary without threadsitting...though of course many titles simply repeat the first line/link of the post or a pull quote from said link (and in that case they really don't need to be on the front page)), and I dont really mind that, as their position on the top of the page makes them (somewhat counter-intuitively) LESS obtrusive in that sense (IIRC, eye-tracking experiments have shown that most/almost all people start veiwing a webpage starting an inch or two from the top, as the top part is usually header stuff that never really changes)

mr. swellfoop also makes the comparison to newspaper articles, but I think that analogy is a little flawed, if only because most news articles are longer than one line or one paragraph (as most FPPs are)...a SLYT doesn't really need to be 'sold' to the reader. Any longer than a paragraph or two and they usually get a 'more inside' and it's really only then that a title becomes useful...ie "oh, this is a lot of stuff here...what's all this about then? (checks title) ok, i'm in (or out, depending on interest level)
And the kind of newspaper articles under three paragraphs that DO have titles are usually the kind of wire-service column filler of the 'Milwaukee woman finds potato in garage' variety that get title-scanned and little else...is that really the kind of website that you want MetaFilter to become?
posted by sexyrobot at 10:09 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Look, I'm not going to take the hour it will need to read this entire thread. I did read mathowie's comment about non-members versus long-time members, and that kind of stung a little. But hey, I think that's been the modus operandi behind a lot of changes here. Besides, if you listen to only the old frogs, nothing would ever change.

Having said that, here's my issue with post titles. It opens up the front page to stupidity and/or flat-out editorializing. The post title as it was previously, was like a potted plant on the porch, or better yet, behind the front door. Harmless, maybe off-color, but not essential and easily ignored. You now introduce a huge flag waving in the front lawn, and therefore a new reason for posts to be deleted.

Worse yet, commenters will take greater issue on the way post titles are worded. The subject of conversation will move away from the linked content and be directed towards the user.

I definitely used the post title as an opportunity to share a thought or make a joke. If these post-titles prove non-controversial, and my speculation is incorrect, well then, I probably have no use for them, so why the big change, I don't know. But I do think that some kind of etiquette will have to be established due to user abuse. And I will be severely annoyed if users starting posting ASCII of a guy upending a table when something upsetting happens to them, like their favorite politician losing an election. That will piss me off.
posted by phaedon at 10:09 PM on January 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yeah, LobsterMitten that was a little harsh and I apologize. So was the line about sotto voce jabs. I would rewrite that if I could, I was trying to be gentle and respectful and to not give the impression that I was presuming bad faith on matt's part, but I missed my own mark there. It's a good thing that I'm not a mod, because I know that I'm not cut out for it. Matt & co are usually really good at that sort of thing though and I do feel like matt has been slightly off-the-mark today.

I guess what it comes down to is just that I'm sort of surprised that he's surprised, given that the community reaction to this has seemed completely and utterly predictable to me and given that he has more experience with this community than literally anyone else in the world. I just am having a hard time believing that his surprise is totally genuine given the predictability of the community's reaction to having a major formatting change made to the two most prominent pages of the site without any warning or discussion beforehand and without any obvious pre-existing desire on the part of the community for such a change.

If he says his surprise is genuine then I'm prepared to believe that it's genuine, but I just have a difficult time accepting that matt of all people really didn't expect a major uproar to result from this. Again I apologize if my comment above makes it seem like I was accusing matt of acting in bad faith. I am just surprised that he didn't anticipate this reaction, because to me it seems completely unsurprising.
posted by Scientist at 10:11 PM on January 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also I'm sorry for calling out matt just as he was going to bed. If I had known that, I would've saved it.
posted by Scientist at 10:25 PM on January 7, 2013


I remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth when "favourites" were added.

I remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth when $5 sign-ups were introduced.

I remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth when sign-ups were disabled.


I remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth when the AskMe limit post interval was pushed to two weeks. And I remember it getting changed back

I remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth over a professional white background.

Most of all I remember the total lack of wailing and gnashing of teeth over any number of new features that have been added. "Thanks pb, this rocks!" gets said a lot actually.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:28 PM on January 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've changed my mind, I'm used to it. Bring on the new.
posted by steinsaltz at 10:38 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm another one that's a little confused by the strength of the negative reaction by some. I know it's honest, but this particular change just doesn't seem that bad. I'd like to be able to tweak it, and it sounds like it could use some design fixes, but it doesn't seem like an irrevocably terrible idea or anything. It feels like a good change, in need of some refinement.

The last time I remember getting really annoyed with changes was when they redid the comment history interface, which still bugs the crap out of me. I maintain profile links to the old UI, because I feel it works so much better, in so much less space. And, oddly enough, my reaction back then was much like the reaction here, that so much space was being wasted. Yet, for whatever reason, this particular change doesn't bother me, where that one really did.

Consistency, it would appear, is not my strong suit.
posted by Malor at 10:41 PM on January 7, 2013


I care enough to find this thread and say I would check a box to turn them off. That's about it though.
posted by grizzly at 10:49 PM on January 7, 2013


I think the admins are underestimating how much the design of a front page affects the way the community interacts. In 2010, Digg redesigned their homepage and lost an incredible number of subscribers. Not saying that would happen here, but there are hundreds of people saying that they don't like the new design... wouldn't that indicate that maybe this new design should be opt-in instead of opt-out?
posted by shotintoeternity at 10:49 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Count me among those who really really hate this. The titles are redundant, the large font size is incredibly annoying, and not as much stuff fits on a page. If the titles were the same size as everything else, just bold or something, that would be better--although they'd still be redundant.

If this was made into a preference that would be fantastic. Or I guess I'll try this Stylish thing--thanks for the example.

The mockups with the title on the same line as the "posted by" are nice. Got no issue with those.
posted by equalpants at 10:55 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


So I've been following this thread relatively closely, at least as closely as I can manage given the volume of posts, and it seems to me that it's about a 10 to 1 ratio of hate to like. So really, is there a point when this change gets yanked?

Or, alternatively instead of implementing an opt out, how about opting in? If it was by default off but you could turn it on, isn't everyone happy? All the concerns about titles changing the dynamic of the community would not be valid anymore since they aren't by default part of a post, but everyone who wants them to break up the front page, etc, could have them.
posted by NerdcoreRising at 10:57 PM on January 7, 2013


Not that I really care, I guess, but since it keeps getting brought up, the changes I made in my style sheet to eliminate line breaks and indenting within the body text on the front page only work for me; I don't like to see blockquotes and multi-paragraph blocks of text on the front page. My sheet keeps all formatting intact on the actual post page itself.

I definitely didn't present my sheet to say THIS IS THE WAY IT SHOULD BE DONE NOW, ALSO PLEASE SEND ME MONEY OR COOKIES. I don't think anyone else is using it, so clearly the choices I made were a pretty personal preference.

(I would be very, very mildly curious to learn what folks feel that Balkanization of each post's body text on the front page (via blockquote and multiple paragraphs) gains the site user, but, really, it's not that big a deal.)
posted by maxwelton at 11:01 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


An idea for posters who don't like the new layout: Just use Title as the title of your post.
posted by WalkingAround at 11:04 PM on January 7, 2013


I just am having a hard time believing that his surprise is totally genuine

How hard is it to believe that someone with a long-standing reputation for being honest and forthright with the community he built from scratch isn't suddenly lying? I mean, really? I don't expect people to agree with us all the time or approve of every decision we make around here, but I'll never understand folks who manage to come up with one or another variant of "I bet they're lying for some reason" as an explanation for anything that goes on in Metatalk.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:09 PM on January 7, 2013 [31 favorites]


holy moses this is odd.
posted by zennish at 11:15 PM on January 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


tl;dr

People hate change. Wait a few months. Everyone will love it and be fighty if you mess with it.
posted by mazola at 11:20 PM on January 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


NerdcoreRising: "it seems to me that it's about a 10 to 1 ratio of hate to like."

Actually, I just grabbed all the comments in here, threw them into Excel, and manually checked through 28% (because that's where I got tired of manually tallying comments) I had them sorted by name, not by posting order, so there shouldn't be any bias towards 'people hated at the start, but liked later on' or vice versa, and so 28% should be a representative sample. Also, I only registered one vote per person, not one vote per comment. Also, I didn't count neutral comments either way. The percentages I got were:
Yay= 40.8%
Nay= 59.2%

That's a 1.45 to 1 ratio. It seemed like a lot more to me, too, but actually going through and tallying the numbers, I noticed that quite a few people dropped in to say "I like it", and then never posted anything else, while people who dislike it tended to comment multiple times, giving the impression that their majority was even larger than it actually was.
posted by Bugbread at 11:23 PM on January 7, 2013 [13 favorites]


Pony request: After threads are closed, we should add end credits.
posted by mazola at 11:36 PM on January 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


I like it.
It is fine.
Change is good.
It is a refreshing update.
There is no conspiracy.
Nobody is being dishonest.
Maxwelton's tweeks are really nice.
Well done, Matt & Co.

I am not going to wail and gnash about it anymore other than to my reiterate my call for the <blink> tag and maybe some cowbell.
posted by lampshade at 11:40 PM on January 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kudos to you, Bugbread, for actually doing some investigation. I'm honestly surprised at how close that ratio is.

I still stand by opting in being a better choice for everyone involved. But mainly I just want the titles to go away as quickly as possible so I can go back to reading the frontpage like I used to. I would prefer them going away by default but I'll take an opt out, after all it's not my site and not my decision, etc.
posted by NerdcoreRising at 11:53 PM on January 7, 2013

People hate change. Wait a few months. Everyone will love it and be fighty if you mess with it.
I expect the issue will be considered as closed and a done deal and pushed through by sheer inertia. That's the way it usually is done, with the response evolving from "give it more time" to "give it up, we're not changing it back, there are people who like it that way, stop complaining".

Today, I still think Ars Technica lost something when they switched from "title + summary" to "tagline + title + subtitle" in their article structure, along with the layout and section changes but there can be no fighting against it. I've mostly stopped reading them.

The idea if making title display optional for users who choose it is a red herring. It wont change the fact that what the readers are expected to see is fundamentally changed, and therefore so is the way posts are constructed, shifting the emphasis from the contents to the title. Hiding those titles may "break" the posts, so there will be an incentive not to hide them.

So titles are here to stay regardless of what people think. Too bad.
posted by Fruny at 11:55 PM on January 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


Okay, I'd like to go on record as someone who likes the titles.

I'm a newish user and find them helpful. They make it easier to see where each post starts and ends, and make the front page look less like an impenetrable Wall Of Text.

I also like the proposed ideas of putting the titles a bit more to the left and the text a bit to the right, and making the titles a colour that's closer to the background. It seems like a good compromise.

I dislike Arial titles on Verdana posts, though.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:00 AM on January 8, 2013


I don't think I've ever seen the mod team say "stop complaining" Fruny.
posted by ODiV at 12:00 AM on January 8, 2013


I am really not enjoying the titles so far, but I am willing to give it a shot and see if I get used to it.
posted by pemberkins at 12:01 AM on January 8, 2013


Look, I never thought that he was lying, I just thought that maybe he was sort of playing up his incredulity for dramatic effect a little bit and it was rubbing me the wrong way since it seemed like he was sort of suggesting that the strong community reaction was a bit unreasonable and uncharacteristic when in fact it's exactly the sort of reaction that this community has historically had to changes of this kind. I thought that he was coming off as a little bit out of touch and condescending, probably unintentionally but we've all had our moments when we've let ourselves be a bit too snarky out of frustration without really realizing that that is what we were doing.

I never meant to accuse matt of acting in bad faith, as I have said more than once now. I do not think he was lying, I think that his surprise at the community reaction was genuine though I am surprised that he was surprised. I did think though that the way in which he expressed that surprise felt a little bit hyperbolic and snarky and while that is understandable given the situation (I fully realize that the degree of restraint that Team Mod displays around here is little short of superhuman) I did't feel like it was appropriate.

However as I'm not seeing any real indication that my feelings are shared by the community, I am writing this off as oversensitivity on my part and I am henceforth dropping the issue. I apologize for any offense that I have given and I would like to unequivocally state that at no point did I think matt was lying to the userbase about his surprise at the community's reaction to this change -- I can see where my words above could be read as implying such an accusation, and I assure you that that was a matter of poor phrasing on my part rather than any genuine feeling that matt was acting in bad faith. I felt at the time that perhaps matt was being ever-so-slightly snarky out of frustration at the community's reaction, and I was feeling a bit annoyed at this since I feel that the community's reaction has been both predictable and understandable.

That being said, I would like to repeat that I retract that feeling since apparently my experience is not one commonly shared by my peers and therefore I am writing it off as being "just me". I apologize for any offense I have given, I retract my concerns, and I will make the necessary adjustments to my snarkometer. I apologize as well for adding unnecessary drama to an already somewhat-fraught thread, and will refrain from pursing this line of discourse in the future except perhaps to offer an apology directly to matt should he feel he has something to say about this in the morning.

If there's one thing that I really respect about Team Mod it's the fact that they have the patience of saints and the coolheadedness of generals. I thought in this case that I detected a slip in this area and I wanted to try to gently point out my concern in the interest of optimal community-administratior dialogue and general relations, but since my concern does not seem to be shared by others in the community I am retracting it. I am sorry for causing trouble, that was never my intent.
posted by Scientist at 12:16 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Another vote for titles, but I think they need to be de-emphasized visually. Maybe aligned on the right? This way they will be easier for old users to ignore.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:18 AM on January 8, 2013


Upon coming back to the site hours later, the titles are really jarring. They make it hard to do the sort of unhealthy late-night read-through that I'm fond of doing. The titles are just so, so, so dominant. They're so damn close to the first line of text that even if there's a big green link first thing underneath, it's overpowered by the double-size grey font right above it.

I actually like maxwelton's design quite a bit. The titles being blue help, but their being skewed to the right make them easier to ignore, add some spacing between posts, and help to frame the posts in a way that make it evident they're the most important thing on the page.

At first the prospect of a title in the "posted by" line seemed appealing, but that adds a long extra green bit to every single post and I feel that would be overwhelming. There's also something nice and simple about the uniform "posted by" flush against the left side of every line that I feel a ragged set of titles might ruin.

Just spent half an hour trying to find an eloquent way of saying this, but it would be nice if my fellow critics could try to be less confrontational/vehement/nasty towards the various mods. Too tired to explain why that would be a good idea but hopefully the why is self-evident. Night all.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:40 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Actually, I just grabbed all the comments in here, threw them into Excel, and manually checked through 28% (because that's where I got tired of manually tallying comments) I had them sorted by name, not by posting order, so there shouldn't be any bias towards 'people hated at the start, but liked later on' or vice versa, and so 28% should be a representative sample.

Wait, did you take into account the fact that the first positive comment got 6 likes, and the first negative comment got 139?
posted by phaedon at 12:43 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Visible titles on the front page will change how posts are constructed. Today I used what I thought was a less-apt quote from the article due to the size constraint.

Creating a large link to the comments will further encourage people to jump right there and start commenting without reading the links.

sexyrobot, your claim was that "every. single. title. on that page is a re-hash or direct copy of the question that follows." As Big_B so helpfully showed, this is not the case. Being a jerk is a problem - being a wrong jerk even more so.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:46 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe we make it so that the titles (training wheels?) only show up when logged out? Then the non-MeFites have what they need to understand the site better and we can have our old-school MetaFilter.

(It's odd to me how MetaFilter of literally yesterday is now old school to me. The future comes up fast, yet still always ahead of me.)
posted by iamkimiam at 1:02 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


phaedon: Wait, did you take into account the fact that the first positive comment got 6 likes, and the first negative comment got 139?

Man, people really want to read that second comment later.
posted by flatluigi at 1:05 AM on January 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


I'm not against it (and I'm usually in the change: no thanks camp.)
I'll probably run the Stylish app, because I find MaxWelton's layout more attractive, although I did notice that it looks weird comparing winecork's title-less post and hopeless romantique's widely spaced Obamacare post.

So, it's not on the level of a Facebook/Gawker design clusterfuck, which is nice.
posted by Mezentian at 1:09 AM on January 8, 2013


If I had mockup skills my mockup would be how it used to be without the titles. I get the impression this is not an option and titles are here to stay on the frontpage.

I actually agree with the problems raised with lack of titles but to me it was a net gain - they were embedded into the culture and personality of Metafilter that made it unique on the internet. In its long line up of eccentricities and quirks, this is just another thing to go. Probably just a tiny bit but still, it makes me sad. I completely agree with the comparison with The New Yorker turning into Reader's Digest.

Whatever the final design is, I've decided I'm going to just live with it. I don't like using scripts and I don't like tweaking too much with options (except for the professional white background) because I want to interact with Metafilter the way it is intended. When favorites became optional, I kept them even though it also has changed the way I engage with the site. And you know what, they have now become part of the personality of Metafilter and I like and use them all the time.

Time will tell how titles will effect me even if my doomsday opinion is that it will make me less engaged, superficially skim the site, and overall spend less time here in the future. Whatever, I hang out here too much at work anyway so it might turn out to be good for my career.
posted by like_neon at 1:13 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks for trying this out, matt and the mods. I can really understand how the titles would be helpful to people arriving to the site for the first time.

But I've decided I prefer the front page of the Blue without them so I'll be disabling for now. It's really rare for an interface to be optimal for both first time users and long time users.

Anyone else who wants to be able to disable the titles for themselves (and is on Firefox), it's pretty easy:

1) Install the Stylish add-on for Firefox.

2) Re-start Firefox.

3) Go to the front page of metafilter, click on the Stylish icon ("S" in a box) in the lower right-hand corner of the window. If the Stylish icon's not there, try hitting Ctrl+/ to make it show up.

4) Choose "Write new style..." > "For this URL". Type something like "no titles" in the name section and then paste the following into the big box, on line 4, just below the @-moz-document line:

.posttitle {display:none;}

(as recommended by matt)

5) Hit "Save" and you're done.

6) You can always re-enable/disable the style later using the Stylish icon. And if you're like me and don't like having the Stylish icon sitting there at the bottom of your window, Ctrl+/ makes it disappear/re-appear. Stylish seems to also be available for Chrome, if you know how to install add-ons there.

(I'm sure many of you know how to do this already, and some of you don't feel comfortable doing this, but I thought I'd provide the instructions for those who are willing but a little uncertain. Enjoy!)
posted by benito.strauss at 1:19 AM on January 8, 2013 [25 favorites]


Whatever, I hang out here too much at work anyway so it might turn out to be good for my career.
posted by like_neon


Maybe you'll get promoted and they'll give you a new title.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:22 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can we use Stylish to make the Blue the Black?

I feel that would accurately reflect the pit of despair I have been plunged into.
THIS IS THE DARKEST TIMELINE!

Black is how I feel on the inside. BLACK! WOE! SADNESS.
This mild change (and I think we will get used to it) has ruined everything.
posted by Mezentian at 1:30 AM on January 8, 2013


The titles are not sufficiently distinct from the post text. Either the font needs to be adjusted to fix this or maybe underlining would do. But right now it's not good, in my view.
posted by Decani at 1:30 AM on January 8, 2013


I don't think underlining would work. It would, I feel, make the pages look heavier.
I suspect they'll stand out more when people stop repeating the title of the post and the first words of the post/using the same phrase in links.
posted by Mezentian at 1:34 AM on January 8, 2013


so...any hope of a script for the zennie/en forme de poire mock-up? I started out in the Kill Titles With Fire camp, but like it enough that even if I wake up tomorrow to a revert to the old-school, I'd opt for that.
posted by mannequito at 1:42 AM on January 8, 2013


Didn't even notice this till I finally checked Metatalk after going through everything of interest on the Blue and the Green.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:02 AM on January 8, 2013


I think it's clear that a lot of people have impassioned opinions based on how they personally use the site, which I completely understand, and I think it's fine for anyone to make their own reasoned argument for how they see it. (But, of course, insulting people because opinions/experiences differ is bad way to discuss it.)

My personal experience: I always had a lot of trouble with the wall-of-text presentation, so I would have been voting "for" even if I weren't a moderator. As a moderator, I look at and read the site all day, nearly every day. The first few months I did this job, my eyes were constantly watering and tearing, like a LOT. Hm. Love the job. Now, am I going to go blind?

I embiggened the font, switched to Georgia for body text, and switched to the plain white background, all of which has helped me, personally. Still, the front page was a pain because I couldn't easily scan the page to get back to a particular post, and trying to visually unscramble all that to pick out one post I wanted to click through on was time-consuming and fairly painful. So, I've been having around 20 tabs open for individual posts, plus using recent history to try to avoid navigating from the front page as much as possible.

On mobile devices, for me, trying to click through from the tiny comments count link has also been uncomfortable and time-consuming, so up to now, I've had the font size on those smaller screens bumped up really big so I can easily click through. With titles, I can finally ease back to a much more pleasing size on the body font, because clicking from the title is so much easier.

In addition to making it easier to view and use, for me, the titles are welcome information that leads me into the post instead of away from it upon first viewing, and then super handy as easily accessible tags to locate that post again when I want to return to it. So in my personal experience, which is basically the opposite of what someone said about titles are for people who don't want to read posts, titles are great for me as someone who reads pretty much the whole site. (Also, not just a moderator thing; for years until the post frequency grew too overwhelming, I could usually tell instantly if something was a double, because I read nearly every post, nearly every day.)

I would like the option for personal preference settings of size/font since I preference the hell out of my view, different for different devices.
_______________

Also, just a quick comment about Ask Metafilter: what is probably not obvious to most people is that we edited a bunch of posts every day to add the actual question to the part that showed on the front page. We'd see a lot of posts like:

I'm also open to other possibilities, but these are the two that I've narrowed it down to so far. Your recommendations?

and the title (not seen on the front page) would be something like, Which toaster should I buy: Acme or MomCorp?

Just mentioning this because there has been some discussion of how the title field in Ask Me is just repeated information, which is the case in some instance, but we also saw a ton of instances where people were expecting it to be visible on the front page, despite our post submission page note that it wouldn't be.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:03 AM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I like en forme de poire's mock-up the best so far. But I suspect that this defeats Matt's reasons for wanting to add titles. Having the title at the bottom comes closest to keeping things as they are, but I don't think it satisfies Matt's desire to make the site more generic for new users.

If having the link at the bottom is off the table, then I would go with a modified version of maxwelton's suggested mock-up.

What I like about maxwelton's: a) The muted color of the title; and b) the indented FPP under the title.

What I don't like about maxwelton's: a) I don't like removing blockquote tags and line breaks. The posters should be allowed to format their FPP as they think best. I disapprove of taking this away. AND with the FPP indented under the title, I don't think it's necessary to re-format the FPP.

Apologies that I lack the tech skills to do a mock-up myself, but I'd like to see a revised version of maxwelton's with block quote tags and line breaks preserved.
posted by marsha56 at 2:05 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holy guacamole, the Hyperbole Police need a new warrant book on account o' this thread.

I confess, reading some of the responses is like reading a cross between an Anne Rice blog post and Evanescence lyrics book. Have some of you guys ever had jobs, like real jobs, where you need to voice your opinion in ways that people might actually respond to in a constructive fashion? Christ.
posted by smoke at 2:14 AM on January 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


i really like the change. i didn't like it when the font was all huge, but a little adjustment in my preferences and the adjustments the mods have made have made it totally awesome. i'm a long time user, i don't use rss, i use the three main subsites. i'm not an occasional user. i'm here hours a day. i hope the titles stay. i hope it doesn't become a toggle option.
posted by nadawi at 2:21 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Change
A Short Tragedy of Sweeping Scope and Cosmic Importance
by fleacipides the bald

THE GODS:
Surprise, here's a change!
We gave it a lot of thought, without discussing it with you.
We like it, and that's enough.
We're sure it's good.
So you should just accept it and like it.
No, there's no way to opt out.
We thought about this a lot, in private, as much as we wanted, before we forced it on you.
 Now you guys get to start thinking about it, but only in the context of a fait accompli.
  In the context of you being powerless to change it (or not, as it pleases us).
   And we're going to be engaged in the conversation as well, wielding our influence.
    And we will probably formulate our opinions of your opinions quickly.
     Speak now, if you must.

MORTALS:
Oh man, we don't like it.
Ultimately they have the power.
We don't want to make waves do we?
We'll get used to it. We shouldn't whine, it makes us look bad.
We want them to like us, we should do what they want.
It's not a big deal; come the fuck on you fucking bunch of fucks.
One doesn't always get what one wants in life.
Let us distract ourselves with japes, there is more to life than this, la la.
Should we be thinking about arguing for a veto, or focussing on ways to mitigate the damage?
We have to guess what changes are even possible.
How many are just avoiding the change personally and not caring how it goes for everyone else?
Should we even bother stating our opinions?

THE GODS:
So... pretty awesome, huh?
Well okay there do seem to be some problems.
Why are people against this?
Why would you think your opinions weren't valued?
Offer them up pronto and maybe we'll value them.
Mortals are so frustrating.
posted by fleacircus at 2:24 AM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Why do people think this makes the site more generic (for new users or otherwise)?
I'm not seeing it.
posted by Mezentian at 2:26 AM on January 8, 2013


I’m a long-term user in favour of the change—it seems like a natural forward step to me, and in line with previous changes.
posted by misteraitch at 2:31 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think there may be a division of opinion here between people who read Metafilter on high rez displays, and those who use older monitors and/or lower resolutions, going all the way down to that Kindle. At a higher resolution all the type seems smaller and the change isn't as apparent, but at my 1024x768 the titles are really big and intrusive. (Even after the font was shrunk down a bit earlier today.)
posted by Kevin Street at 2:43 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


@marsha56: I don't have a Userstyles account so I can't post a modification of maxwelton's style there, but what you could do to meet your specifications is... Well, I'll post a picture first to see what you think of it. [the picture]

What I did was keep the start and the end and removed the tags in the middle.

It looks like this:
#posts .copy {
        padding-left: 30px;
    }

#posts .posttitle.front a {
        color: #8bd1f4 !important;
        font-size: 15px;
    }
If you follow the steps benito.strauss wrote above, then replace .posttitle {display:none;} with the bit of code above, it should do the trick.

Just for the record, I thought the front page looked all right with titles, though I did run into my old nemesis ... well, the habit of skimming titles. It just means I need to remind myself to slow down to read everything, just like on other sites. (Mind you, I mostly read Metafilter on an RSS feed because prior to registering it was a way to avoid seeing favourites.)
posted by aroweofshale at 2:47 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Harumpf, I've slept on it, I'm gonna try making a post with it to see how it feels....
posted by The Whelk at 2:53 AM on January 8, 2013


Sorry -- in the image I linked to, that strange light-blue rectangle to the far right is my scrollbar and I have images disabled in my browser so some of the site textures aren't showing up. (Aaahhhh so embarrassing)
posted by aroweofshale at 3:20 AM on January 8, 2013


All I have to say as a visual designer is that the fonts are all wack.

Metafilter used to be an oasis of Verdana with a juxtoposition of a serif for the date.

This looks, frankly, shite. Two sans-serif fonts with completely different characteristics competing, look at the different C's!

Keep the titles if you must, but please get a typographer or designer's input into how to display them. Please?
posted by panaceanot at 3:23 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Something that comes to mind for me is that previously, you'd read the MeFi post and the first link you could click on would be (one of) the link(s) that the post was about. Now, the first link you can click on is the title, linked to the MeFi discussion page. It seems like the focus is now on the discussion page instead of the links. I thought one of the points of MeFi was that it was links first, discussion second.

On Ask and MeTa though, I think it makes sense, since the discussion is actually the point of the post, not the links.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:31 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I design UIs for a living so I know how frustrating it can be to have deployed something that absolutely should work, but then doesn't. If I was designing Metafilter from scratch, I would have totally have gone with page titles as is now live, as they facilitate skimming the page as is basic best practice usability. But, as we've seen upthread, which I agree with, although it looks like a collection of links, Metafilter isn't really that kind of site for many (the majority of?) users - it's actually a page of text to be digested somewhat slower than skimming, the more thorough reading of which in turn facilitates discussion built around links rather simply chucking people out to other sites.

Ultimately I'd say this is a solution looking for a problem, given that a) FPP posts contain all the relevant information needed already (deliberate mystery meat posts aside of course), b) page titles are essentially just metadata, c) elevating metadata over key content isn't a good idea, and d) it adds more noise to the front page.

Personally I've already installed Flunkie's Greasemonkey script Subdue Metafilter Titles, which works fine in terms of reprioritisation. For what it's worth, I'm also using MefiNavigator, Mefiquote, Howls of Outrage, Metafilter Multifavorited Multiwidth, and the MetaFilter hedgehog comment pointer scripts, so clearly there are features that the out the box site doesn't provide that make the experience more usable for me (well, and a hedgehog).

There definitely was an issue with scanning and noise on the old front page, but the solution to that I think should be a) no line breaks in FPP, b) no block quotes in FPP, and c) subtle keyline between posts. That would be enough to clean up the page and improve scanning without using titles. Ultimately though, Metafilter is always going to need some congitive unpacking - it's a page of nothing but text. But that's fine, that's a feature, not a flaw.
posted by iivix at 3:32 AM on January 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


"Ultimately I'd say this is a solution looking for a problem"

I gather that this change might be really beneficial for the mods... ie. the previous format *was* a problem? [ see Taz's comment ]

I'd have made a mod mode, rather than change the site for everyone.

Change is scary, and users often complain, but in every instance where I've seen internet backlash about change, it's been because the change was poorly implemented and communicated. If you want to change something... hype it up... get everyone counting down and cheering when it happens. Don't foist it up the flagpole and shrug off people's aversion to change as being luddites.

Metafilter has a tiny banner strip they use for stuff... this could have been announced earlier and brought everyone along for the ride.

As it stands, I'm really worried that puffer fish might leave the oceans and fight with porcupines and then there will be gore and spikes and who knows what.
posted by panaceanot at 3:43 AM on January 8, 2013


I'm a little surprised we're inching towards 1,000 comments and we've only seen what, two mockups of what a different version might look like?

Well, yeah. Most of the people objecting to the use of titles already have a mockup: MeFi as it was until yesterday.

Incidently, I do not understand why new/casual users would need titles. Wouldn't most of those come in through google, straight to single posts? Yes, I can understand why people unfamiliar with the site would be startled the first time looking at the front page, but how many people come in that way cold?

Or are you more concerned about people making the step up from casual reader sent from google to more regular reader?
posted by MartinWisse at 4:01 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yesterday, I was pretty neutral on this issue.

However, I do my hard-core, non-multitasking MeFiing first thing in the morning. I can now say that I truly hate the titles and look forward to the option to turn them off. I scan them and skip over items I previously would have read (and would still, ideally, like to read).

So the titles make me read less MeFi, and that can't be a good thing.
posted by cranberry_nut at 4:12 AM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


panaceanot: Change is scary, and users often complain, but in every instance where I've seen internet backlash about change, it's been because the change was poorly implemented and communicated. If you want to change something... hype it up... get everyone counting down and cheering when it happens. Don't foist it up the flagpole and shrug off people's aversion to change as being luddites.


I would have absolutely loved seeing a countdown and long-organized hype for making post titles visible. Maybe banners and a parade, too.
posted by flatluigi at 4:12 AM on January 8, 2013


I love the titles.

I love the titles.

that's how much I love them. I said it twice.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:19 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I would have absolutely loved seeing a countdown and long-organized hype for making post titles visible. Maybe banners and a parade, too."

If only to stave of the inevitable puffer fish and porcupine showdown that you conveniently excluded from the full transcript of my comment! (shudder)

(would a worldwide Metafilter not-quite-green and not-quite-blue ticker tape parade have been undesirable?)
posted by panaceanot at 4:19 AM on January 8, 2013


I do not like the titles as currently implemented, though I am not adverse to some of the proposed mockups, in particular, I like Zennie's.
posted by ApathyGirl at 4:37 AM on January 8, 2013


I do not like the titles. I would like a preference setting to turn them off.
posted by killdevil at 4:38 AM on January 8, 2013


Also, I'm curious if you find reading MeFi on a Kindle is useful

I totally do this, but only for long comment threads where I'm interested in the discussion, because MeFi is basically the only site that is usable on a Kindle. The thing about (some models of) the Kindle is it gives you free 3G internet access, so if I'm traveling I can follow comment threads without having to pay for internet or find free wi-fi. It is very slow compared to reading it on a computer. But if I'm stuck at an airport with nothing else to read, a good thousand-comment MeTa post will do.
posted by Daily Alice at 4:39 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Many a delayed flight has been made bearable thanks to MeFi's Kindle-friendliness.

I'm awake now and yep, still like the titles, particularly on AskMe where their appendix-like lack of utility constantly bugged me, still wish that they somehow utilized a touch of link-gold so it was consistent with the site scheme, and further: love that you've made them smaller, hate that they aren't the same font as the body text.

I'm okay with some redundancy; redundancy can be a very powerful tool. And if a title is a bit of a fortune cookie, then its obtuse meaning being made clear by reading the content of a post remains something that happens; it's just that everybody reads the fortune now instead of a special club of title-readers. Nobody's forcing you to make the titles straightforward. Although perhaps we should judge harshly those who opt for the all-caps.
posted by Mizu at 4:48 AM on January 8, 2013


I have just repeatedly tried to read the Blue. Weird thing: I haven't clicked on any of the links, I haven't read much beyond the first sentence of the posts. I know why.

Without titles, you're gently led into the subject matter. You gradually begin to understand what a post is about, and even if it's something you're not immediately interested in, the in medias res introduction often seduces you. It tickles.

Now everything is a bald statement. It screams. It concludes before any discussion is had. It turns me off. There's a time and a place for a quickie, oh yes. News updates. Headlines. The scroll banner. But not the Blue, at least not for me.
posted by likeso at 4:56 AM on January 8, 2013 [36 favorites]


I like the quirk.
posted by likeso at 5:00 AM on January 8, 2013


The Change
A Short Tragedy of Sweeping Scope and Cosmic Importance
by fleacipides the bald


Doing this was not helpful.
posted by zennie at 5:11 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the titles. That is all. Back to lurking...
posted by melt away at 5:16 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Unhelpful, and very much untrue. Lots of people like this change. Suggesting that everyone hates it is totally and completely false.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:16 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Without titles, you're gently led into the subject matter. You gradually begin to understand what a post is about, and even if it's something you're not immediately interested in, the in medias res introduction often seduces you. It tickles.

ON the contrary, as people get more used to the overt presence (and sudden usefulness of titles - I always thought they were a waste of time before) their style will evolve, I think. And it will allow more informed reading, is my take from this.

I find it much easier to see posts that I am potentially interested in, now. I can see how someone who enjoys the mystery meat style posts will be less intrigued, but I'm not sure that is a core or important use of the site.

Visually, the change is jarring, but I do hope the mods leave it up for long enough that people get over the change and still have time to decide if they like it after that. Not a knee jerk switch to turn it off without giving it a chance. Maybe a month? After all, if this change is bad enough that a month is enough to make you quit the site over some titles, then you're a bit on the petulant side. It gives more people the chance to learn to like it.
posted by Brockles at 5:23 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just tried again to look at Mefi and - I'll keep checking back but I just think it's unattractive and makes reading the page less pleasant. I think zennie's suggestion (or one like it) is great - that shows the titles but is much less obtrusive.

Thanks to the mods for engaging on this; you do a wonderful job with the site.
posted by pointystick at 5:31 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


After a day of adjusting, I'm neutral leaning towards positive regarding the titles.
posted by Fig at 5:35 AM on January 8, 2013


Still liking the titles. Noticed they make it easier to skim if you want to skim, but also can provided a little extra info when reading.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:36 AM on January 8, 2013


Day 2 of the new titles: Still not liking them.
posted by tommasz at 5:41 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Day 2 for me: Getting used to them, beginning to like them. I still find them more visually disruptive on the blue than on the green, but less so than I did yesterday.
posted by rtha at 5:48 AM on January 8, 2013


I wonder how they'd look right justified....
posted by samsara at 5:50 AM on January 8, 2013


Still don't like on day two. Will probably get used to it. Doesn't mean it's better.
posted by smackfu at 5:52 AM on January 8, 2013


Still do not like. I'm glad to have Stylish installed so that I don't have to deal with this, although the lack of that will make mefiing on iProducts even more vexatious.
posted by elizardbits at 5:56 AM on January 8, 2013


Day 2: We had a rough night staring at each other across the fire, splashing my face with water to force myself to stay awake. "I'll bet you 105,000 dollars that you go to sleep before I do, " the titles told me. I know what titles do to men's souls.
posted by Think_Long at 6:03 AM on January 8, 2013


Thanks aroweofshale. I'm going to try that out for awhile.

So far, the titles just aren't working for me. No matter how hard I try, I can't keep my eyes from just skimming through the titles and gliding right by the text. New Yorker -> Reader's Digest indeed.
posted by marsha56 at 6:10 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


How Metafilter looked 10 years ago

Until yesterday, the only change to the main list of posts over that whole time was to add a tiny linked +.

So yeah, this is a dramatic change.
posted by smackfu at 6:11 AM on January 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


Drama, anyway.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:14 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love the titles.

I love the titles.

that's how much I love them. I said it twice.


Well sure, if you like the redundancy of saying the same thing twice the titles are perfect fot you. Perfect for you.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:16 AM on January 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


Day two: Additional, unwanted text added, causing dissension in the ranks. Morale is low.
posted by .kobayashi. at 6:19 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm a little surprised we're inching towards 1,000 comments and we've only seen what, two mockups of what a different version might look like?

I would gladly mock-up an alternative. However, that mock-up would simply be a screenshot of the site two seconds before the titles were turned on. Asking for mock-ups seems to imply that the titles must be preserved, no matter what, and returning to the prior version is not on the table.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:23 AM on January 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


I like being able to see the titles on the front page, and I don't sense that I'm skimming through new posts. I think they're very useful on the main "Recent Comments" page (which I do skim).
posted by gladly at 6:24 AM on January 8, 2013


Until yesterday, the only change to the main list of posts over that whole time was to add a tiny linked +.


Well, that's cherry-picking a bit. (It's also wrong, since the flag button was also added.) You can't say that's the only change to the front page, because it's not, and the front page looks significantly different now than it did then. More to the point, even though this might be a dramatic change, that does not make it bad. And the argument that the design of "the main list of posts" hasn't been changed in 10 years is only an argument for not changing it if you think that it was perfect before. One might argue that 10 years is a long long time in Internet years and updating the layout is overdue.

(I'm not sure this is exactly what I would call an updated layout, but my point is that your comment is not as rhetorically powerful as it might seem to you.)
posted by OmieWise at 6:24 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


(It's also wrong, since the flag button was also added.)

Actually, I meant the much larger (x new) comments flag.
posted by OmieWise at 6:27 AM on January 8, 2013


I know I'm a relative newcomer amongst mefites, but no, this isn't working for me. I'm off to start playing with Greasemonkey to get rid of them.

The reason I dislike them on the blue is that they encourage the reader to read the titles, rather than the text. Earlier, one or more people made the point that we read Metafilter to find out things we didn't know we wanted to know before we found them. Giving prominence to the titles - however they may be used - risks making it easier to filter, for me anyway. I can see their use on Ask perhaps; but on the blue, no thanks.

It's not a big deal, this is something I can fix on my end, but it is an inconvenience and I don't think it agrees with my gut feeling on How Metafilter Should Look.
posted by Talkie Toaster at 6:28 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


smackfu: How Metafilter looked 10 years ago

Reminds me that I miss the user count.

I'm still not in favor of adding titles to the Blue, though I think they are fine, if not helpful, on Ask and Meta. I do think that with some options for customization (size and font) and maybe with a slight change in formatting (I really like the mockups that have the title above the post and the post indented slightly) they would be fine. I still don't think that they should be totally optional, but I would understand if that is the route the mods decide to take due to the backlash.

A couple of people have mentioned having them right-aligned, which at first blush seems deeply weird to me, but maybe someone could do a mockup of it?
posted by Rock Steady at 6:29 AM on January 8, 2013


Actually, I meant the much larger (x new) comments flag.

Not sure how old that is, since the wayback machine is obviously not showing how the page looks for a logged in user.

But I stand by my point. When I go to Metafilter, I only look at the list of posts. The other cruft that has been added around that box over the year is irrelevant since it unchanged and unused most of the time. Changing the list of posts is a big deal, much bigger than any visual other changes.
posted by smackfu at 6:31 AM on January 8, 2013


I don't want to tell anyone how to run the site, but it seems to me the overwhelming consensus is: this needs to be rolled back. And I don't mind them (although I will Greasemonkey asap)

Now, stodgy, stick-in-the-mud websites like Facebook, LiveJournal and Gawker have gone: FUCK YOU. And, also, we can't go backwards.

I suspect this will be gone in 24 hours, for a while. I mean, the idea isn't awful. Nothing I have seen, ever, suggests this is a cynical reddit-click hunt-for-cash or whatever.

MefI listens to its community because it is a community, unlike other websites.
posted by Mezentian at 6:33 AM on January 8, 2013


Reminds me that I miss the user count.

Me too. I think that was just removed one day, because it wasn't accurate (although I'm sure pb could make it accurate in about 10 seconds nowadays) . Made it feel more like a community somehow.
posted by smackfu at 6:38 AM on January 8, 2013


I don't want to tell anyone how to run the site, but it seems to me the overwhelming consensus is: this needs to be rolled back.

I'm not sure that's accurate. I think the people who have said they like it, or for whom it is not objectionable, have been significantly more understated than those who dislike it. And overall we're talking about just a few users who show up in MetaTalk.

(I'm not sure how to say this next part without seeming too fighty, which I'm not feeling, but the whole: "since we're a community you're gonna have to roll this back" thing sounds vaguely threatening to me, especially given the other comparisons. If this is a community, such a comment does not need to be stated. This is a relatively small change to the visual presentation of Metafilter. It is shocking in some ways, to some people, and it may have some impact on how the site functions, but Metafilter is not less of a community if it stands as rolled out.)
posted by OmieWise at 6:45 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't like the titles at all. They destroy the look of the front page, and directly clash with the way I interact with the site. I'd like a preference to turn them off site-wide.
posted by werkzeuger at 6:45 AM on January 8, 2013


I don't like this. It breaks up the page with different font sizes; the homogeneous, smooth look makes (or, made) Metafilter distinctive.

Fixing unbroken things... Please, please, please give me the ability to turn this off and go back to classic style.

New Metafilter is too sweet, I prefer Metafilter Classic.
posted by Appropriate Username at 6:49 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


And overall we're talking about just a few users who show up in MetaTalk.

Also not accurate. I'm usually a lurker on this site, but I've come out to voice my dislike of how titles are affecting my ability to read this site, because it's important to me.

If titles stay, I will stop coming here. I say that without hyperbole or exaggeration. I don't really want to go (and I doubt the decision is going to hinge on any one user's participation, I doubt I'd be missed) but if I can't read the content, I'm going to do something else with my time on the internet.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 6:51 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Day 2 and my eyes are still just jumping from title to title and skipping all the content. I, for one, am out. It was a nice 13 years. So long, and thanks for all the fish.
posted by stopgap at 6:54 AM on January 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm a little surprised we're inching towards 1,000 comments and we've only seen what, two mockups of what a different version might look like? I'm open to new ideas, I like maxwelton's take and could consider using some ideas from it, but if anyone can mock something up that improves upon what we have, I'd be grateful to see it.

I hope this doesn't sound snarky-- because I mean it in full good faith-- but how about MetaFilter circa three days ago? I think that's what a lot of people here are indicating is their strong preference.
posted by threeants at 6:55 AM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Apologies for not reading the over 1000 comments. I read a few hundred. Just wanted to add my vote for smaller titles, or options or instructions to make them smaller.
posted by Glinn at 6:56 AM on January 8, 2013


Coming back to this a day later, I still hate it.

I thought maybe I just hated it on my phone. But I also hate it on my tablet. And I also hate it on my laptop. And I hate it on my desktop.

I hate it in all the places.

I go to these pages and instead of reading them, I feel like I'm assaulted by a bunch of bullet points that break up the page in a weird way and it's super turning me off.

I would be very, very thankful if there was an option in my profile to turn this off, and I would be very, very thankful if it was added soon, because every time I come back it makes me sad.
posted by kbanas at 6:57 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm a little surprised we're inching towards 1,000 comments and we've only seen what, two mockups of what a different version might look like?

For me it is not about the layout, it is about the content. When I'm reading a book I don't want a cliff notes summary at the head of each chapter. Putting in a different font or a narrower column doesn't change that.

It seems like for the mods this is all about formatting, separating the posts and making it clear where to click to get into the discussion. There are lots of ways to fix those problems without using post titles.

Can we explore some non-post-title options?
posted by alms at 6:59 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


(As a data point, so far today how I've interacted with the site is only going into my recent comments and reading how those threads have transpired, because trying to browse the front page of the blue or the green feels kind of overwhelming. As I mentioned before, this isn't some sort of "Grar! I'm moving to Canada!" thing-- I strongly prefer to waste more than less time on this site, much to my own productivity's detriment.)
posted by threeants at 6:59 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


People are actually leaving because of this? Really? Some of you guys need to go outside and throw a ball against the garage or something, Jeez Louise!!
posted by pearlybob at 7:00 AM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Also not accurate. I'm usually a lurker on this site, but I've come out to voice my dislike of how titles are affecting my ability to read this site, because it's important to me.

I don't doubt that, but it does not make my statement inaccurate. A tiny minority of Metafilter users use MetaTalk, and that's true for this thread as well. There are only ~1000 comments, if every single comment were by a unique user it would be a tiny fraction of the userbase, and many many comments are by repeat commenters.

I personally have a hard time seeing how someone who liked Metafilter would leave the site because of this change. The site is still radically more readable than 99% of the internet. I'm not trying to be uncharitable, and I know this is tough for folks, but these kinds of statements just seem like pique. I'd love a list of sites that folks will start visiting instead, because my guess is that they are difficult to read on first crack too. My experience with most internet sites is that they look horrible (because strange) on first site and then, as one gets their bearings, the layout issues mostly receded into the background.
posted by OmieWise at 7:01 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a data point, I still don't like the size or font of them, on phone, laptop, or large monitor. I don't particularly like or dislike the fact that we have titles: I see some positives, some negatives, and will be fine either way assuming that the font and size can be customised in your profile like other things can be.
posted by jeather at 7:04 AM on January 8, 2013


"since we're a community you're gonna have to roll this back" thing sounds vaguely threatening to me,

Not my intent. But as a veteran of other sites, where they proclaim: "It cannot be undone", which is usually a lie, I might have come off more strident.
I can live with (or around) the new format, but I feel that rolling this back and having a think about it based on the response is a good idea.

Did anyone complain about the edit window?
posted by Mezentian at 7:06 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not going to leave, and usually when things change people say, "Oh, here's a work around with a script or an extension or something" and because I'm lazy I usually never pursue it and I just learn to live with the new behavior and eventually I don't even notice it anymore.

However, this change is so egregious that I am most definitely going to go through this thread and comb for some kind of 3rd party ability to turn it off, and that is the first time I have ever done that for a readability issue on a website, and I think that's bad.
posted by kbanas at 7:06 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


People are actually leaving because of this? Really? Some of you guys need to go outside and throw a ball against the garage or something, Jeez Louise!!

For me it's on the level of a disability accommodation. If Metafilter's content feeds into my brain's tendency to skim without reading and comprehending, then Mefi stops being a useful site to me.

I'm not sure why people are being so dismissive of this -- this is the second time a "geez lighten up already" post has shown up right after I've tried to articulate this. Am I really explaining my position that badly, or do people not think my neurodiversity is, ah, "all in my head?"
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 7:06 AM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


alms: " When I'm reading a book I don't want a cliff notes summary at the head of each chapter."

Stay away from 19th century novels.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:06 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would greatly prefer it if the titles were the same size as body text, but bold, like links are. That would help get the main point across upfront and avoid the need for the mods to edit as many posts, while not bumping everything down with spindly huge text. That would feel more like MetaFilter, too. Please, please consider changing the titles to the same font size as regular text, just bold.

And as a data point re: "all the blogs" using post titles, when I was creating my current blog template a few years ago, I actually took some style cues from MetaFilter and decided not to use post titles at all (and I had to use some workarounds with my CMS to do that, too). It felt like a more friendly style to me—I didn't have the pressure to come up with a clever title, I didn't feel the need to artificially sum up "the point" of it all with a single line, and as I was reading back through it, I had to actually read a little bit of the posts to know what they were about. I felt like those were all features, not bugs, of a blogging style without post titles.

Obviously here, we have post titles on all posts, but I definitely liked it better when they didn't break into the stream of things like Big Announcements all over the place. I would skim everything, looking for the bits that interested me, and I felt like I got something out of that experience.

Anyway, again, I understand the usefulness to the mods of having post titles visible on the various landing pages of the site, but if they could be toned down a bit, put in a more subtle bold text the size of the rest of the body text, that would be greatly preferable to me. Or at very least, give us the option to style them that way as a preference, rather than by having to use some third-party userscript.
posted by limeonaire at 7:08 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ugh, I still hate this. Just because you CAN do something doesn't mean it needs to be done. It looks horrible on my phone. It looks horrible in the blue. It looks even worse on the pro white background, which is how I mostly view Metafilter. It completely changes the way I am reading the site...my eye is drawn to the titles.

I don't dislike change...I've been here for over 12 years, I've seen it all and adapted just fine. This changes the entire experience for me in a way that leaves me feeling I am not engaging with Metafilter in the way that makes Metafilter what it is.
posted by Windigo at 7:08 AM on January 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Huh. Maybe I'm weird, but after a day of living with this, I find that, rather than skipping the text of posts, I'm skipping past the titles--well, glancing at them, but still focusing on the text of posts. I do like the titles as a way of more clearly demarcating one post from another, as I've always disliked trying to quickly distinguish a post with paragraph breaks and a series of separate posts. I do see that it might change how people compose and present posts--though as someone who's never been a fan of the cryptic link-only mystery-meat posts, I'd overall be happy to have a little more info about the contents. Overall, I'm perfectly fine with the change and really don't find it makes any difference in how I interact with the site.
posted by Kat Allison at 7:09 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, I've been playing around with Stylish. Many, many thanks to both aroweofshale and benito.strauss.

I used the script from aroweofshale as a baseline and have been continually tweaking the font size and color. My best results so far have come from setting the title font color even closer to the blue background for much more fade than maxwelton's example. I've been using HTML Color Picker. The color family closest to MeFi blue seems to be the center tile in the 3rd row from the top.

This extra fade makes it much easier to ignore the title and focus on the FPP text. But if I really want/need to see the title I can just squint a little harder.

So, if titles are going to stay and if they are going to stay at the top of the post rather than at the bottom (like the preferred en forme de poire's example), I think this will be my solution.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that I removed the lines that do the indentation because, due to other GreaseMonkey scripts that I use, the indentation wasn't being applied consistently.
posted by marsha56 at 7:12 AM on January 8, 2013


If Metafilter's content feeds into my brain's tendency to skim without reading and comprehending, then Mefi stops being a useful site to me.

I'm not sure why people are being so dismissive of this -- this is the second time a "geez lighten up already" post has shown up right after I've tried to articulate this. Am I really explaining my position that badly, or do people not think my neurodiversity is, ah, "all in my head?"


You didn't articulate this in terms of "neurodiversity" when I saw it. If you actually can't use the site, then you can't use it. The internet in general must be very tough for you. If this is a "disability rights" issue then there isn't much of a conversation to be had, is there? (Although I would suspect that screen readers might do better with titles on the front page.)
posted by OmieWise at 7:13 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Title font size is fine. But can you make the logo bigger?
posted by Kabanos at 7:14 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think I would like it better (than the current mess) if only titles displayed. I might have to figure out how to use RSS.

I've never really thought of Metafilter like a blog, it's more a link directory with comments like Reddit or Fark, just with multiple links and longer descriptions. If you look at Reddit or Fark or the moderator e-mail system, you do not have a title+content, just a title and then you click through for more. Clean and simple.

This isn't a one size fits all thing, Slashdot looks fine with titles, but it's always had that more traditional bloggy look. Making changes to look more like that would ease the title issues here but the design would have to be more drastically changed which would annoy people for other reasons.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:15 AM on January 8, 2013


Since people seem to be taking this thread as a referendum, I approve of the addition of titles, and have no significant problem with their current visual design.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 7:17 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sure I will adjust and get over it -- and probably soon. I'm not going anywhere. This is still The Best Website. But I don't think I'm being KRAYZEE or overreacting to say that this change means that a basic working assumption I had about MeFi proper was incorrect: big links took you elsewhere on the web, little links took you deeper into MetaFilter, therefore it seemed to me that the site's emphasis was on taking you elsewhere to see cool things.

Now there are medium-size links that take you elsewhere, but there are substantially bigger links that take you inside. That's in and of itself fine -- I'm here at least as much for the discussion as for the curated links to other places -- but I feel like I've seen Matt and the mods emphasize more than once that posts are intended to point to stuff worth reading or seeing, not to engender good discussion.

That can still be true, of course, but making the biggest clickable thing on each post a link to the post itself doesn't seem to me to emphasize that aspect of the site culture. Again, I'm sure I'll get over it, but for me it's less an issue of site readability as it is a sort of reversal of assumed site intent.
posted by davidjmcgee at 7:18 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Did anyone complain about the edit window?

I did. Well, I didn't complain so much as predict confusion, mayhem, weirdness.

On Day 2 of this, my prime observation would be that I don't think I like the look of it ... on my laptop, which is how I tend to interact with the site.

But it ain't the end of the world. I'm way more concerned about the Call Me Maybe x 147 fpp. It's just wrong.
posted by philip-random at 7:18 AM on January 8, 2013


The internet in general must be very tough for you.

I don't want to make this into a derail -- I was just trying to explain my position in words that would allow me to be taken seriously. But I guess you can't make people take you seriously, no matter how well spoken your position.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 7:18 AM on January 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


It's dramatically interfering with the way I interact with the site - the eye jumps from title to title, and skims over the meat. I have to force myself to go back and ignore the titles just to really get an idea of what's going on in a post... I need to re-read and re-re-read the front page, otherwise I'm breezing through the page, engaging with none of the usual depth of content and typical sterling presentation the posters put their effort into.

This. Even with the changed font size, my brain can still only read 'all titles' or 'all posts'.

Given that choice, I want to read 'all posts', and so having to skip the titles just breaks up what was previously a very pleasant experience (I enjoyed reading the front page, even though I wouldn't click a link or open the thread for the vast majority of posts).
posted by Isn't in each artist (7) at 7:20 AM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


And really, because it can't be said enough, THANK YOU, Matt, for giving us a place where we can hash all this out with you. It's part of what makes this The Best Website.
posted by davidjmcgee at 7:21 AM on January 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


I don't want to make this into a derail -- I was just trying to explain my position in words that would allow me to be taken seriously. But I guess you can't make people take you seriously, no matter how well spoken your position.

I'm absolutely taking you seriously. I'm not sure why you think I'm not.
posted by OmieWise at 7:24 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't comment much but I feel like I need to add my two cents. I don't like the titles, not one bit. And like kbanas I am a lazy user that has never used a greasemonkey/stylish thing but the titles are so jarring and bad(to me)that I will be shortly figuring that out. I really don't understand taking up more screen space for information that was already there.
posted by shmurley at 7:24 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Day two, still hating it for reasons I articulated previously. I'll probably adapt, but as others said, that's not necessarily a vote in favor of the change. What I am certain of, though, is that my dislike is not just a reactionary outburst; there are title-showing changes that I would have actively embraced & celebrated! Namely:

I absolutely LOVE the mockups proposed by en forme de poire, Flunkie, and zennie. In fact, I like them more than I liked the previous title-free layout.

These layouts show the titles clearly, and the titles are offset enough by color & font that they could be title-skimmable in a hurry. They also present a more intuitive permalink than the time or comments links do. But the titles are not "grabby," aren't a drive-by-boss-reading risk, don't consume gobs of screen space, and -- most importantly -- are given the appropriate level of prominence* for MeFi's compositional style.

I think a default title-in-byline style (like that proposed by en forme de poire, with or without Flunkie's CRLF), plus maudlin's suggestion for a pref setting that can optionally elevate the title to prominence (or switch them off altogether), would be ideal.

This would address all the problems of readability raised by the current design. More crucially, it would clarify the role of titles in FPPs without challenging the existing compositional culture (or the reasoning behind the title field's existence). At the same time, the pref option would respect the desires of members who knowingly want to use the titles for demarkation/skimming, and because the titles would not be by default given large prominence, title-opposed users could take the option to turn them off altogether (like we can with Favorites) without risking the loss of high-importance content. The only thing this solution wouldn't do is have prominent titles as a "draw" for new users, but I'm in the camp that thinks that this may change the culture in a way that would not be good for MetaFilter.

* Echoing what Afroblanco said.
posted by Westringia F. at 7:24 AM on January 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


And also -- a huge THANK YOU to Matt and all the mods for facilitating this discussion and hearing us out. I've read MetaFilter for years because I fell in love with being able to "read what [I] don't yet know [I] want to read," but I became a member because of the community. It's a rare website that solicits user opinion the way MeFi does, and part of the reason I love this site like no other.
posted by Westringia F. at 7:29 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


These layouts show the titles clearly, and the titles are offset enough by color & font that they could be title-skimmable in a hurry. They also present a more intuitive permalink than the time or comments links do. But the titles are not "grabby," aren't a drive-by-boss-reading risk, don't consume gobs of screen space, and -- most importantly -- are given the appropriate level of prominence* for MeFi's compositional style.

Honestly, I think they're distracting as hell in all three examples.

The thing is, the titles aren't actually necessary in any of those formats. They're an afterthought that breaks the compositional style, rather than enhancing it.
posted by zarq at 7:30 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh argh...

Titles on top is causing a problem with the Mefi deleted posts GreaseMonkey script. The title for the next post is getting displayed just before the deleted post.

Once this change all shakes out, I hope that someone can post a fix to the GM script.
posted by marsha56 at 7:31 AM on January 8, 2013


Also, I'd like to chime in and say thank you to mathowie and the mod team for speaking with us and eliciting feedback about this change. On most other sites, this would have been a unilateral change to the way the site works, with no opportunity for dissent.

The culture you've created on mefi is one where the opinions of the userbase are treated with respect, warts and all. That's deeply appreciated. Thank you.
posted by zarq at 7:33 AM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Throwing in my vote of "meh". It doesn't change my enjoyment of MetaFilter any more or less. Especially since I use the professional white background and the light title text is barely visible.
posted by charred husk at 7:33 AM on January 8, 2013


I feel that at the end of the day Metafilter is about pure functionality. Are the titles enhancing the experience or hindering it? If so many people have to 'train' themselves to ignore them (or aren't successful at all, even) when reading, then that's not added functionality. It's bloat.
posted by Windigo at 7:33 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


The thing is, the titles aren't actually necessary in any of those formats. They're an afterthought that breaks the compositional style, rather than enhancing it.

Yes, but, if we must keep the titles, the option proposed by en forme de poire beats the current model hands-down. Lesser of the evils.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:34 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Matt has said before that the site is primarily about the links, not the discussions. Adding titles that link directly to the discussion puts the focus on the comments and not the links. I would rather encourage people to read the links first before clicking "more inside" or "# comments."
posted by desjardins at 7:34 AM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Not that this is a democracy, but I'm also in the voting bloc that finds the change makes the front pages uglier and clunkier and general stumbling-blocky for the eye.

Also, another aye to the motion that, if the titles are a done deal, that en forme de poire's mockup is far less ugly than what's going on in the front page now.
posted by Drastic at 7:37 AM on January 8, 2013


After spending a day mulling it over before saying anything, here are my feelings.

I used to hate reading Metafilter on my iPad Mini, but now it's somehow easier on the eyes. I think it may be because the wall of text on something so small is kind of jarring, and this actually separates the text out on that medium. Here's a screenshot, but I don't think it does a good job of illustrating how it actually feels.

I agree with others that it looks pretty damn good on Ask Metafilter, too. I don't care about the repetitiveness because half of the time I would skip over questions that had descriptions that were too long. This is interestingly the opposite of my behavior on the Blue.

I am still struggling to get used to it on the Blue on my laptop. Although I was one of the (supposedly few?) people who use RSS to read MeFi for a while, I had to take it off my RSS reader because of the amount of posts per day. Back then, I probably would have liked it a lot. Now, not so much. As others have said, it is really really messing with the way I have adjusted to reading the site since I switched off RSS. But notice the word I used there: adjusted. I think that I (and hopefully the community as a whole) will adjust to reading the site rather than counting this as The Downfall of Metafilter.

The way you read Metafilter isn't the way everyone reads Metafilter, and the way that the staff designs Metafilter doesn't have to be the way that you read Metafilter. There are some settings in your profile (which were also outlined in a MetaTalk comment that was sidebarred last week), and as we've seen above, there are browser extensions to do whatever else you want. Looking at some of the other suggestions, I think I might be happiest with a Greasemonkey script that does what Zennie/en forme de poire suggested, but only for the Blue. On AskMe, I'm probably good with the new changes.

Anyway, I'd like to thank the mathowie and mod team for continually trying to make Metafilter better, and for being such good sports and making small edits through the course of the last day. I can't imagine dealing with this monster of a thread.
posted by azarbayejani at 7:40 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


And if people really want to, let's do an eye tracking experiment to see how this changes things, I'd be interested in seeing that.
posted by azarbayejani at 7:40 AM on January 8, 2013


If you think to yourself 'I'm skimming these titles' and then don't go back and read the posts deliberately then you're doing it wrong.

This is precisely the "my way is THE way" attitude I alluded to earlier. It's very irritating. If you find yourself about to post something along these lines again, please don't.

You didn't articulate this in terms of "neurodiversity" when I saw it. If you actually can't use the site, then you can't use it.

And there we go again.

The way you perceive a site and the way I perceive a site are not the same. This is because you and I are not the same. Your brain and my brain work differently. This is neurodiversity.

The internet in general must be very tough for you.

This is a complete nonsequitur.

There are sites I like to use, and as a result I use them frequently.

There are sites I don't like to use, and as a result I use them only when necessary.

"The internet in general", from where I sit, is therefore mostly enjoyable.

If this is a "disability rights" issue then there isn't much of a conversation to be had, is there?

Neurodiversity does not imply dysfunction. The fact that your brain and my brain work differently does not, in and of itself, mean that either of us is disabled.

I am not required to like the same things you like.
posted by flabdablet at 7:41 AM on January 8, 2013 [22 favorites]


One of the trends that bothers me a little is that when changes happen, people who don't like are encouraged to use a browser tweak or script to fix it so they don't have to see the change. While I understand that this works, it's sort of a super-user solution. I am not a big tweaker and tend to just take my sites the way they're served up, not doing anything beyond the built-in preferences. I just don't like spending my time maximizing. It's a solution that works for a lot of people, but it's also sort of a shame that "don't like it? There's a script for that!" can become sort of a fallback position that justifies any structural changes.
posted by Miko at 7:41 AM on January 8, 2013 [23 favorites]


There are some settings in your profile (which were also outlined in a MetaTalk comment that was sidebarred last week), and as we've seen above, there are browser extensions to do whatever else you want.

This keeps being mentioned, and it's simply not a solution for many of us who use mobile devices to access the site. (iPads don't count. They don't use the mobile stylesheet.)

Perhaps in the future, but not now.
posted by zarq at 7:47 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Miko: it's also sort of a shame that "don't like it? There's a script for that!" can become sort of a fallback position that justifies any structural changes.

I totally agree with you. That said, I don't think that is what is happening here. The scripts that have been written and suggested so far are, I think, being presented as options for people who can't stand the change for even one minute. It sounds like mathowie and the mods are taking the opinions of the users and are willing to consider some changes and/or site-based customization, they just want to give it a little time before making a decision.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:47 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh argh...

Titles on top is causing a problem with the Mefi deleted posts GreaseMonkey script. The title for the next post is getting displayed just before the deleted post.
An unintended side benefit to my Subdue Metafilter Titles Greasemonkey script is that this doesn't happen. Titles are associated with their posts, regardless of whether or not you're using Plutor's Mefi Deleted Posts Greasemonkey script.

Well, the titles of deleted posts don't show up at all, but that's to be expected. I mean the titles of non-deleted posts will show up with their appropriate posts.
posted by Flunkie at 7:47 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The way you perceive a site and the way I perceive a site are not the same. This is because you and I are not the same. Your brain and my brain work differently. This is neurodiversity.

Yes. I'm not sure why you think I don't understand that.

If this is a "disability rights" issue then there isn't much of a conversation to be had, is there?

Neurodiversity does not imply dysfunction. The fact that your brain and my brain work differently does not, in and of itself, mean that either of us is disabled.

I am not required to like the same things you like.


Yeah, why don't you stop yelling at me. I haven't said whatever it is you think I've said. I never suggested that neurodiversity implied dysfunction. I said: If the site doesn't work for you (which is different from you not liking it, as I now understand) then it does not work for you. There is an issue with actual "not working" though, which is that all sites cannot work for all people. This is neurodiversity.
posted by OmieWise at 7:48 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


it's also sort of a shame that "don't like it? There's a script for that!" can become sort of a fallback position that justifies any structural changes.

So, I guess I kind of agree with you here despite the tone of my previous comment. I didn't mean to say that we shouldn't be having this discussion here, but that I'm happy with this going either way, and I'll continue to use my own extensions/stylesheets regardless.
posted by azarbayejani at 7:49 AM on January 8, 2013


In other words, what Rock Steady said.
posted by azarbayejani at 7:49 AM on January 8, 2013


I definitely hear you, zarq, but the reason I think it works better is that because the titles are an afterthought in those designs, a title-hiding pref setting would be more reasonable. With the current version, the option to hide them becomes problematic because the prominence turns them into content rather than metadata (ie this dilemma).

My major complaint with the current design is that it elevates an historically unimportant FPP field to headline status, so that those of us who are going "ow my eyes" have to compromise in a way that will influence how we read and write on MeFi: either we live with the attention-grab or we potentially throw away an "important" piece. If this issue can be fixed, then the presence/placement/size of the title becomes more flexible for everyone to set (via their profile rather than a browser extension) as desired.
posted by Westringia F. at 7:51 AM on January 8, 2013


It sounds like mathowie and the mods are taking the opinions of the users and are willing to consider some changes and/or site-based customization, they just want to give it a little time before making a decision.

Is that what's happening? In that case:

I think that every design that puts titles anywhere but the first line of the post is worse than any design where the title is the first line of the post. Those designs purposefully bury information that I would prefer be easier to read, and diminish my ability to read and interact with the site.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:53 AM on January 8, 2013


it's also sort of a shame that "don't like it? There's a script for that!" can become sort of a fallback position that justifies any structural changes.

For the people who are superuser enough that they are here discussing this change in MeTa who say that looking at the site right now as it is causes them eye pain or other distress, they should know that this is a problem with a possible solution.

We've stated that we plan to roll with this and collect feedback for a while. People who need a more immediate change to this right now will have to either come back in a few days or avail themselves of other off-site options. At some level people who like the site exactly the way it is--any website, this one, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr--are going to have to either tolerate some changes or take the reigns of making the site display the way they want it to. We have a lot of superusers here who use a variety of Greasemonkey scripts to change the way the site looks and functions to them. We know these people are around so we're letting them know there are options for them and when we designed this change we did it in such a way so that people who write Greasemoneky/Stylish scripts could do so easily.

We're aware that this doesn't work on mobile as well as the other concerns people have with it. At the same time, realistically, people who feel so strongly about this change that they can't look at the site (as some people have said) are going to have to find workarounds and we're trying to help them do it. We're not offering Greasemonkey as the preferred general remedy, but we're telling people that it's available and that we're here to help them with it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:57 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


23skidoo: Is that what's happening?

It seems like it to me. They've already adjusted the font size, and mathowie has certainly left the door open to adding Preferences options for the titles, even so far as to allow turning them on or off.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:58 AM on January 8, 2013


For desktop users of Apple's Safari browser, there's a Stylish extension.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:58 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not a big fan of the current implementation, but I love en forme de poire's concept of titles in the byline. Rather than turning MeFi into a stuffy documentary with titles before the film, it gives each post one of those trendy cold opens - here's the dead body, and hey, you're watching Bones! It's about the content, not the title.

(I do agree 100% that previously not having titles made it confusing about where you're supposed to click to load a post, especially on FPPs without a [more inside])
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:01 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


...so that those of us who are going "ow my eyes" have to compromise in a way that will influence how we read and write on MeFi...

Can you articulate what changes you'll have to make in how you write on Metafilter? Because I don't understand this point of view. One can make the verbiage of the title a large part of the post or make it an afterthought. It's entirely up to the writer of the post.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:02 AM on January 8, 2013


We're aware that this doesn't work on mobile as well as the other concerns people have with it.

But, see, that doesn't mesh well with the other shoe that has to drop there, which is, "We're aware that this doesn't work on mobile as well as other concerns people have with it, which is why we didn't introduce any way to turn it off on mobile or in any other environment, or discuss people's concerns - we just turned it on, MAHAHA HAHA HAHA."
posted by kbanas at 8:07 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


After sitting on it for a day & an evening, and reading most of the comments, here's where I'm at. I like the idea of titles.

1. Previously, the link to the inside content & comments was obscure. Having the title link to the post itself is good UI & will actually promote participation, I hope.

2. For me, I get overwhelmed easily, and the front page becomes a blur of text with no end and no beginning after a bit of scrolling. I actually like that there's more space between posts and fewer posts on the front page as a result. I can differentiate better. Empty space is actually a good thing to me, as it helps separate discrete pieces of content. This was especially a problem for me in the past as I tried to scroll down to find posts from two or three days back & my eyes would glaze over before I could find what I was looking for. This will make scanning for a previous entry I want to find again much easier.

3. If the stylesheet is going to change, I really like maxwelton's indented style. I don't care about the blockquotes, etc. Just the way it differentiates the titles from the content. Very clean, & I think I would prefer it to the current scheme.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:10 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I honestly don't understand why the change can't be rolled back until the planned option to turn it off is devised. Also I think it's weird to assume that people who use metatalk are "superusers" in the same sense that people who use style sheets or browser plug-ins are "superusers."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:10 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


MAHAHA HAHA HAHA

Seriously?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:10 AM on January 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Can you articulate what changes you'll have to make in how you write on Metafilter?

I actually think this change is fine, but I just had quite a bit of trouble trying to avoid simply repeating the title to a short post that's neat but does not have much content. I tried out probably five different ways of writing a one sentence post to avoid the repetition.

"We're aware that this doesn't work on mobile as well as other concerns people have with it, which is why we didn't introduce any way to turn it off on mobile or in any other environment, or discuss people's concerns - we just turned it on, MAHAHA HAHA HAHA."

That's a profoundly uncharitable reading.
posted by OmieWise at 8:11 AM on January 8, 2013


Seriously?

That was, like, a super villain laugh? Like kind of an Austin Powers pinky-finger to mouth kind of a thing? It was supposed to be funny. I don't think you're a super villain. You're an awesome moderator, and a librarian.
posted by kbanas at 8:12 AM on January 8, 2013


By the way, if you speak a little CSS and want to play around with mockups, the easy way in Chrome is to right-click on one of the titles, choose "Inspect element," and edit the ".posttitle a" section under "Matched CSS Rules" in the lower right. It's not permanent (won't survive a refresh), but it lets you very quickly mess with a page you have open. If you want to keep it, you can then copy what you added and paste it into Stylish or whatever as described above.

Right now I like this version, where the titles are the same font and size as the text but are a little grayed out.
posted by jhc at 8:13 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Gave it a day, but nay.
posted by deo rei at 8:14 AM on January 8, 2013


what is probably not obvious to most people is that we edited a bunch of posts every day to add the actual question to the part that showed on the front page.

Fair enough. But in many of these explanations of the change, I see this theme repeated: "Titles weren't being used well." Did you consider whether a solution to that problem might be, "Let's drop titles"?

Someone upthread cited a comment where Matt apparently said that titles were implemented as an RSS feature. That's how I've always understood them. I don't post FPPs but I do post questions on AskMe, and I have zero use for the title field but I always try to script something simple and considerate for the RSS users. (Disclosure: I wouldn't know how to use RSS if you put a gun to my head.) If titles have some value for RSS then I'm happy to accommodate people who read the site that way, but it seems bizarre to say, "We implemented titles for RSS, but now they are sometimes misused, so let's convert them into a primary feature of the site."

One of the trends that bothers me a little is that when changes happen, people who don't like are encouraged to use a browser tweak or script to fix it so they don't have to see the change.

I agree with this. I recognize that I'm in a minority here on MetaFilter in that I don't read blogs, I don't know what RSS is, I don't know how to use browser extensions, etc. Most of you are more IT literate than I am. I am fine with that and genuinely think it's neat to see screenshots of all the cool things y'all can do with your browser-scripts. But speaking for the dummies, I find it obnoxious that these superuser tricks are touted as actual solutions as opposed to basically "wheelies" that are neat to perform, and it's hard for me to read some of those comments without visualizing the SNL "Nick Burns" character.
posted by cribcage at 8:16 AM on January 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


1. We *need* titles for AskMe questions in feed readers.
2. This is very confusing to people because it's not used as a title everywhere and people just don't get it.
3. So the solution is to use that title everywhere. Not even just on AskMe.

I just wonder why more examination wasn't done of premise #1 that kicked this whole thing off.

aka the same thing cribcage just said.
posted by smackfu at 8:16 AM on January 8, 2013


Side question about Stylish: Can one use it to radically redesign Mefi, say make it three columns with tabs on the navigation bar? Or is it limited to font and color tweaks?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:19 AM on January 8, 2013

I find it obnoxious that these superuser tricks are touted as actual solutions as opposed to basically "wheelies" that are neat to perform
But that seems to me to be exactly the opposite of how the mods are referring to them. For example, Jessamyn just a few minutes ago wrote, "We're not offering Greasemonkey as the preferred general remedy, but we're telling people that it's available and that we're here to help them with it."

That's not "touting as an actual solution". That's "here's a workaround that you might want to try".
posted by Flunkie at 8:20 AM on January 8, 2013


Someone upthread cited a comment where Matt apparently said that titles were implemented as an RSS feature.

I assume they are also pretty useful for SEO purposes too.
posted by smackfu at 8:21 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was reading the site earlier this morning on my phone.

Having the titles was awesome, because it was so much easier to open a particular post by tapping on the larger title. The previous method of having to tap "more inside" was a little annoying on a mobile device.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:22 AM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher, what I meant was that as it stood before, the layout (RSS excepted) suggested that the title was essentially a tag, not a headline; the new layout changes that. Before, there wasn't any pressure to invest much thought into making the title an enticing advertisement for the content or ensuring that it wouldn't be redundant with the above-the-fold text. With the new format, I feel there is that pressure -- the title's role has changed. As an author, I would compose with that in mind (ie, I would expect that I need to write a title that enables the reader to assess their interest in the post based on a 72-char string); as a reader, I would think twice about turning titles off (even though I hate the way they draw my eyes and encourage me to make snap judgements), just as I would never consider stripping the headlines from a newspaper.
posted by Westringia F. at 8:23 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: "Side question about Stylish: Can one use it to radically redesign Mefi, say make it three columns with tabs on the navigation bar? Or is it limited to font and color tweaks?"

Depends on what you want to do. Stylish can only rearrange content that's already on the page -- you couldn't make a Metafilter/Ask/MeTa amalgam.

It also depends on how granular the markup is on the site. Fortunately, Metafilter's pretty good in this repsect.
posted by schmod at 8:23 AM on January 8, 2013


Side question about Stylish: Can one use it to radically redesign Mefi, say make it three columns with tabs on the navigation bar? Or is it limited to font and color tweaks?

As far as I know, you can use it to override every style directive on a page if you're so inclined. Whether radical reflowing or whatever will work or not probably comes down to whether your ambitions for an alternate layout exceed the structural tagging the site provides, and you'll be generally limited to working with the content that is actually served for a given page request, but with some chops and determination you can probably pull off some pretty significant stuff in terms of look and positioning.

I assume they are also pretty useful for SEO purposes too.

They're also just plain useful as semantic content in general; they give us a human-generated title/summary reference for every post (better in a whole variety of cases than e.g. autograbbing the first n characters of post text) and give us more options for presenting content in a variety of contexts.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:27 AM on January 8, 2013


But that seems to me to be exactly the opposite of how the mods are referring to them.

It's probably because Matt started off saying:

"If you're not thrilled with the new look, you can use a browser extension like Stylish to hide the titles."
posted by smackfu at 8:27 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


For my 5 bucks' worth of preference, en forme de poire's revision of zennie's has supplanted Maxwelton's, although I can see how the latter would be better for smartphones. And many thanks to the mod team for its consideration of these crowd-sourced design tweaks.

Rather than turning MeFi into a stuffy documentary with titles before the film, it gives each post one of those trendy cold opens - here's the dead body, and hey, you're watching Bones!

Great analogy for the serendipity that's the heart of a really good FPP. Perhaps if MeFites start composing for the new headline display with this in mind, that will return to the Blue. Currently, though, it's lost with the new layout.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:27 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Still hate it and it only confirms for me that this fundamentally alters in a negative way the qualia that made Metafilter great and special.

It is so very depressing me to see people proclaim as a virtue that the headings facilitate easier skimming. Of course that is what they do, and my tendency upon looking at the front page this morning was to skim. That is a bad thing. There are enough reed thin websites to skim, if that's what you want. What makes Metafilter great and so long lasting is the quality of the substance provided here. Unlike other websites, Metafilter isn't for skimming or drive-by pithy comments. We require people to become a paying member to participate, we moderate comments for quality, and we have strong community feedback for conduct outside our guidelines. These are all things that promote the virtue of user engagement and commitment. We have always patted ourselves on our backs about how Metafilter users are smarter than the average bear.

I firmly believe that the post structure as it was contributed to this environment and was as important . It was a wall of conversation. Posters spend time crafting posts in interesting ways to make their posts compelling (now they have to compete for skimming eyeballs by trying to make catchy headings). Readers read through posts in order to grasp them (instead of skimming). This all compelled a more substantial dialogue than the average website.

I see some concern articulated about Metafilter being hard for new users or drive-by people and I see that as a virtue. It should require some effort; quality always does. There should be some burden on the user to want to engage. And if the minimal effort required by the old interface was too much for someone, then I suspect that person was not the type of quality user this site needs, wants or would fit in. And it's not like there is a shortage of users or we need to do something to bring in more people.

Metafilter is different and different in meaningful ways that created the community that thrives here. I firmly believes promoting skimming and changing the way the front page works undermines an important difference and that Metafilter is worse off for it.
posted by dios at 8:28 AM on January 8, 2013 [41 favorites]


It's strange how the post titles went from being a complete afterthought to being the largest and most important text on the front page. It comes across as being far more than a simple cosmetic change...it's changing the character of the entire site.
posted by malocchio at 8:29 AM on January 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


Another solution might have been to relabel the title field on the AskMe posting form, "RSS Title," maybe along with a sentence like, "This line will display your question to people who visit using RSS readers." (I posted a question this week so I can't view the form to see exactly what it says now.)

If moderators were really editing several questions per day because people were confused about how to use the title field, that's definitely something that would need a fix. Taz is right that I wouldn't have known that was happening. But it seems like that problem could be fixed in a number of ways that would be apparent only to those people who were confused, and not everybody else.
posted by cribcage at 8:30 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rather incidental to the overall discussion here, but is there any way that anyone can see from the server side of things how many users are employing third party scripts for things like this? (or the deleted posts script, etc)
posted by elizardbits at 8:33 AM on January 8, 2013


Question maybe "superusers" can help me with--I use Chrome; will the stylish/greasemonkey title-hiding fixes work with Chrome? I can't even look at the site with the titles without getting a headache.
posted by millipede at 8:33 AM on January 8, 2013


AskMe has always had some people writing a summary of a long question for the main page, and then putting all the details in the more inside. Then the title was another single line summary.

The new design just shows the two summaries next to each other, which is pretty bad looking. There are two examples on the Green right now, post-change, so I'm not sure how to get people to stop that. Or if there is even a good solution.
posted by smackfu at 8:35 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love en forme de poire's concept of titles in the byline. Rather than turning MeFi into a stuffy documentary with titles before the film, it gives each post one of those trendy cold opens

Functionally, I can't see titles changing the way I use metafilter much one way or another. Aesthetically, I wholly agree with Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug's take on en forme de poire's design. (Also, I just really wanted to write that sentence.)

(And speaking of cold opens, last night I watched an episode of Happy Days and holy hell, I thought the minute/minute ½ long opening credits would never end!)
posted by octobersurprise at 8:36 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's probably because Matt started off saying:

"If you're not thrilled with the new look, you can use a browser extension like Stylish to hide the titles."


This thread has all the markers of a conversation except when people fail to read the evolving positions of the people commenting. The titles themselves have changed even since the start of this thread, and in response to this thread.

It's strange how the post titles went from being a complete afterthought to being the largest and most important text on the front page.

Is this true? They don't look larger than the link text to me, but this might be because I've tweaked my settings over the years.
posted by OmieWise at 8:36 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Despite looking at the MeFi homepage daily for well over a decade, I did not notice that this change had been made until I saw the MeTa threads about it.

Either this means that the change is subtle and well-integrated, or it means I am profoundly unobservant. Possibly both.
posted by ook at 8:37 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


To expand on Bugbread's thoughtful analysis a bit: If you're here in this thread, you are by definition not a typical MeFi user. Don't get defensive - that's not to say you don't matter or that you're not the beating heart of the sure or that your opinion isn't important.

But Matt and all the other mods have to represent and serve all users. Those who don't know MetaTalk exists. Those who know it exists but didn't notice a change. Those who noticed the change but don't know about this thread. Those who know about this thread but didn't add their two cents.

And you know what? The vast majority of them, if they even noticed, don't care about this change that merely makes the site work like, well, damn near every other site in the web.

I know what you're gonna say. "But every other site on the web is terrible and awful and MeFi was special and now it's ruined forever!" Having been around here since damn near the beginning, I can tell you: MeFi isn't special because of its visual design.

Yep, Mr. Plain White Background doesn't think MeFi's visual design is what distinguishes it. But bear with me. Arguing that the content and culture of the site will be significantly diminished by a minor visual change disrespects what the community and moderators have built here with such careful effort.

Just as importantly, the overwhelming majority if those opposed to this change have been profoundly ineffective in responding to the change. (The great mockups are a notable exception.) "I hate it" actually isn't useful feedback, because it ends the conversation. And getting rid of titles is nonsensical unless you want to delete content from the last 8 years of the site.

Instead, let's come up with a list of requirements to solve together.

* Have a big, clear, accessible click target on each post that takes you to the full content of the post.
* Display the information that's often hidden away on in the title of a post.
* Preserve the site's visual simplicity and skimmability.
* Improve the comprehensibility of the site for more casual users.
* Work across the incredibly broad set of devices, platforms, browsers and connections that current users use to access the site.
* Be flexible enough to support iteration based on community feedback.

The current implementation does a very good job on all if these counts. And the last point is perhaps most important, as Matt and the team have already shown their willingness to iterate and improve on this design.

I say we owe it to them, and each other, to help them. If you don't like every part of this change, explain how you could better solve all if these requirements.
posted by anildash at 8:37 AM on January 8, 2013 [29 favorites]


Is this true? They don't look larger than the link text to me, but this might be because I've tweaked my settings over the years.

Here is the default look in Firefox: pic
posted by smackfu at 8:40 AM on January 8, 2013


Here is the default look in Firefox: pic

That is bigger than it is on my screen. On the other hand, that's such a handsome post that it wears it well.
posted by OmieWise at 8:42 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


To expand on Bugbread's thoughtful analysis a bit: If you're here in this thread, you are by definition not a typical MeFi user. Don't get defensive - that's not to say you don't matter or that you're not the beating heart of the sure or that your opinion isn't important.

FWIW, this is the first thing that has ever induced me to post on MeTa.

Just as importantly, the overwhelming majority if those opposed to this change have been profoundly ineffective in responding to the change. (The great mockups are a notable exception.) "I hate it" actually isn't useful feedback, because it ends the conversation.


Most of the highly favourited negative comments explain why they dislike the change.
posted by Isn't in each artist (7) at 8:42 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think a problem there, anil, is that the requirements you've stated are not all accepted by all members. So, you've framed the situation in a pro-title display fashion to start.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:42 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


taz: " Also, just a quick comment about Ask Metafilter: what is probably not obvious to most people is that we edited a bunch of posts every day to add the actual question to the part that showed on the front page. We'd see a lot of posts like:"

In my first couple of posts to Ask, I ran into this problem. I couldn't figure out what to do about the title. I still have difficulty figuring out how to categorize my questions. (Choosing which category to use, because they don't map perfectly onto all possibilities.) For example, if I have a question to post about my kids kicking the seats in front of them on an airplane, do I post it in human relations? travel and technology? grab bag? Since MyAsk exists, I know that some folks who could give awesome answers might not even read my question if I don't categorize it properly.

So I can see why titles could work and be helpful on AskMe. More so if you're editing / fixing multiple posts a day for us. Anything that reduces that is a good thing, imo. I can also see where titles might be helpful on MeTa. Titles change the way a reader prioritizes/focuses on presented content. They can help increase answerer comprehension.

On both subsites, a question is being asked or a request is being made. A summary that distills the post to a few words is in most cases going to be quite helpful to those looking to give helpful answers. Assuming of course that people don't simply read the title alone, and skip the post's details.

But on the Blue, people are not asking questions when they create posts. They're pointing something out to the community: "Look at this (cool) thing!" A discussion might ensue. The interactive dynamic is completely different from AskMe and mostly different than on MeTa.

If a change is needed on the subsites to increase comprehension and diminish the mod workload, that's fine. But it seems quite jarring and unnecessary on the Blue.
posted by zarq at 8:45 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry but I don't like it. Certainly the font is too big and the all caps thing isn't to my liking either.
posted by quarsan at 8:46 AM on January 8, 2013


I think a problem there, anil, is that the requirements you've stated are not all accepted by all members.

Yeah, it seems like the main requirement Matt had was "Make the AskMe posting instructions simpler" which isn't even in Anil's list.
posted by smackfu at 8:47 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I asked my friend (a lurker) if he noticed the change and he asked if something changed about the sidebar. Sounds like it worked.
posted by azarbayejani at 8:47 AM on January 8, 2013

Rather incidental to the overall discussion here, but is there any way that anyone can see from the server side of things how many users are employing third party scripts for things like this? (or the deleted posts script, etc)
That very much depends on the script. For my Subdue Metafilter Titles script: As far as I'm aware, it doesn't send any information to the server; it's all done locally. I'd be extremely surprised to find out that I'm wrong about that. So the answer is no, I think not. For Plutor's Mefi Deleted Posts script, it must be sending a request off to the server to look up those deleted posts, so the answer is somewhere from "Yes" to "Probably, if the server side people tried to figure it out".
Question maybe "superusers" can help me with--I use Chrome; will the stylish/greasemonkey title-hiding fixes work with Chrome? I can't even look at the site with the titles without getting a headache.
Speaking only for my script: I don't know, I've only tried it with Firefox. I don't even have Chrome installed. However, I think that Chrome does support Greasemonkey. If you try it out and find a problem, please let me know, and I'd be happy to take a look at it.
posted by Flunkie at 8:47 AM on January 8, 2013


I think a problem there, anil, is that the requirements you've stated are not all accepted by all members.

Yep, I'm happy to cede authority over the site's priorities to the people who've successfully run it for so long. But I'm sure if you had a strong reason one of those goals should be omitted, the mods would listen. I actually think that few people here have indicated disagreement with them, implementation aside.
posted by anildash at 8:48 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having been around here since damn near the beginning, I can tell you: MeFi isn't special because of its visual design.

Actually, yes, design affects usability. Design directs how a website is read and interacted with to a HUGE degree.

If you don't like every part of this change, explain how you could better solve all if these requirements.

Go back to how it was, or at the very least push the titles down to being a very very minor piece of info displayed, instead of suddenly being the focus of every post.
posted by Windigo at 8:49 AM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


And you know what? The vast majority of them, if they even noticed, don't care

I think it's wise to asterisk this conversation with a reminder that there are myriad users who don't visit MetaTalk, or who don't pay five dollars to join and just read through ads. That's true and it's probably useful to keep in mind. But if we're going to acknowledge that they aren't participating in our conversation, let's not pretend to mind-read.

I still have difficulty figuring out how to categorize my questions.

I have trouble with this also. Like titles, the category drop-down is a field that I have paid attention to only as a courtesy for other members who browse the site using categories.
posted by cribcage at 8:49 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why does the title HAVE to be the focus of the post? People keep saying that like it's a fact, when really it's closer to something they made up than a fact.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:50 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Day 2: Haven't read a FPP in 48 hours. Mods have made it clear that titles are here to stay. Must seek entertainment elsewhere.
posted by mediated self at 8:51 AM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yep, I'm happy to cede authority over the site's priorities to the people who've successfully run it for so long.

It sure does seem like Matt discovered the benefits after he made the change, not the other way around like your list of requirements premises.
posted by smackfu at 8:51 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I gave it a chance and read this whole thread (do I get a prize?) and agree with those who like the zennie/en forme du poire layout best.

At first, reading on my iPad, I loved the titles and the clarity. Then, on my phone, the real estate they took up was just too huge. On the computer, I could take or leave them.

After reading this thread, I understand the need to have a better entry point into the posts and I think that would be a good change. When I try to encourage my friends and family to start reading and participating here, that is the number one stumbling block.

But giving the titles primacy is a total overhaul of the way people have been writing their posts and using the fields. I think that it could work on the blue if people adapt to creating their fpps in a different way, but I don't think it works on the green at all because of the redundancy. If I was a new user looking at the fields and trying to post a question, I wouldn't understand the point of having a field for a short summary (title), another short but maybe a little longer thing (the post), and then a big paragraph field (more inside). Summarize then expand, those are the fields that make sense to me. Adding the third has always been confusing, at best, and ow making that third visible on the front page and having that extra summary and text is making it hard for me to read.

Like others have said, I have noticed myself skimming more and reading less of the front pages, which I am not sure is a bad thing, but it means that I personally have not been enjoying or reading as much as I usually do. it is certainly a change that is worth noting and seeing if overall participation in discussions is dwindling over the next week or so as a result of the new format.

Tldr: a better entry point is a good idea but there is probably a better way to build that which doesn't change the way old users interact with the site as much.
posted by rmless at 8:52 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why does the title HAVE to be the focus of the post? People keep saying that like it's a fact, when really it's closer to something they made up than a fact.

It's the first thing a reader sees. It's larger and more prominent than the rest of the post. For the moment, it's in a different font than the rest of the post, so that makes it stand out as well. It's purpose is to summarize the post for the reader, so they can choose to read on or not.
posted by zarq at 8:52 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Is this true? They don't look larger than the link text to me, but this might be because I've tweaked my settings over the years.

Yeah, I logged out just to check, and the front page looks like smackfu's screencap. Maybe this is something that will evolve over time, but all the titles seem rather "lulzy" to me, and I feel like I've stumbled over to Fark or something.
posted by malocchio at 8:53 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't read anil's comment without immediately recalling how badly SixApart snarfed up making changes with LiveJournal - and the dismissive reactions from SixApart that essentially boiled down to "we know better than you, the users who have been using this all the time for years - so accept our changes to this site you're so invested in & quit complaining already".
posted by flex at 8:55 AM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I use Chrome; will the stylish/greasemonkey title-hiding fixes work with Chrome? I can't even look at the site with the titles without getting a headache.

Stylish is available for Chrome, and Matt's one-line reversion style is simple enough that I would expect no compatibility issues. Should work just fine.
posted by flabdablet at 8:56 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Made a post with it, tired to read the front page over lunch, seeing if i could get used to it...nope hate hate hate hate. It's ugly and adds nothing, makes sense in AskMe but not Mefi.

I may have to finally break down and get greasemonkey then.
posted by The Whelk at 8:56 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


anildash: "Yep, Mr. Plain White Background doesn't think MeFi's visual design is what distinguishes it."

This has become such a zing! punchline for the site that it's a surprise to remember there's an actual person behind it. It's good to see you've got a sense of humor about it.

Chrysostom: "I think a problem there, anil, is that the requirements you've stated are not all accepted by all members. So, you've framed the situation in a pro-title display fashion to start."

Which, I dunno, seems ok to me. People are broadly going to be for it or against it (with a minority ehh as always). There's never going to be a requirement for a non-trivial change accepted by all members in any case. Take a position, state your case, etc.
posted by boo_radley at 8:57 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm with the folks who like the subdued title below the post. Titles now are a sort of "accent" to a post, because only some people see them, so it seems to match the content.

Mind, I do most of my reading via RSS (and then the post page, rather than the main page), so I have less of a stake in this than some other members.
posted by Karmakaze at 8:58 AM on January 8, 2013


Well, one of those requirement is "Display the information that's often hidden away on in the title of a post." Was that something people wanted? I think that's what Chrysostom is getting at. Not that we're opposed to that list, but that it's pretty meh.
posted by smackfu at 8:58 AM on January 8, 2013


Why does the title HAVE to be the focus of the post? People keep saying that like it's a fact, when really it's closer to something they made up than a fact.

It's the first thing a reader sees. It's larger and more prominent than the rest of the post. For the moment, it's in a different font than the rest of the post, so that makes it stand out as well. It's purpose is to summarize the post for the reader, so they can choose to read on or not.

The cover of a book is the first thing that people see, but it's not the focus of the book. I don't think that the purpose of a title HAS to be "summarize the post for a reader".
posted by 23skidoo at 9:00 AM on January 8, 2013


For those who have decided to toss the titles, the stylish fix flabdablet mentioned above is easy and works great for this user, on a chrome browser.

So yeah. I gave up. All I wanted to do was browse MeFi on my lunchbreak and it was really irritating with titles so now they're gone, poof! Thanks for the stylish help.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 9:05 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The cover of a book is the first thing that people, but it's not the focus of the book.

That's not what I mean by focus. Let me explain using your analogy:

If you pick up a book while knowing nothing about it or the author in advance, its title, subject category and cover will be the first things you see. They will help you decide whether to bother to continue and read the summary on the back or page flap. By the same token, the title of a post helps us decide whether to continue reading, or skip to the next entry on a page.

I don't think that the purpose of a title HAS to be "summarize the post for a reader"

We are now being encouraged to do so:

mathowie: "Oh, and just to jumpstart any sort of ethics discussion -- we're not sure at the moment we launch it how people will use it, but our hope is that people continue using descriptive, helpful titles instead of playing games or using them for jokes. If you look at existing posts, they are all pretty dang helpful, people usually don't goof around with titles." (Emphasis mine.)
posted by zarq at 9:08 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are there any updates to include how to revise this on my phone? The titles are really getting in the way. This thread is really fast moving, and I can't keep up with all the posts. (Work, & cet.)
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 9:08 AM on January 8, 2013


For some reason I can get the stylish fix to work in Chrome and Firefox, but not Safari.
posted by lalex at 9:08 AM on January 8, 2013


"If you look at existing posts, they are all pretty dang helpful, people usually don't goof around with titles."

What an odd thing to say. Unless he's only talking about AskMe.
posted by smackfu at 9:09 AM on January 8, 2013


I don't think that the purpose of a title HAS to be "summarize the post for a reader".
posted by 23skidoo at 11:00 AM on January 8


Then it is useless noise. "We need headings to promote skimming, make posts more accessible, and work for RSS readers" makes analytical sense, even though I disagree with the goal and think it is a deleterious one. But to accomplish those goals, the Title needs to somehow be a summary of what the post is about. Obscure titles defeat all of those goals. If Titles are being used purely to augment a post, there is no need for that and it is noise.
posted by dios at 9:11 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


boo_radley: "Which, I dunno, seems ok to me. People are broadly going to be for it or against it (with a minority ehh as always). "

Yeah, my issue was that Anil set things up as, "Here are the conditions we must satisfy, how would you do so?" When those conditions, in my opinion, were a) not accepted by all users, and b) were set up to pre-suppose something like visible titles. The framing-consciously or not-set up the answer.

Specifically:

Have a big, clear, accessible click target on each post that takes you to the full content of the post. Many people feel that such a target is not needed or desirable. That this is a requirement has not been demonstrated.

Display the information that's often hidden away on in the title of a post. That there is value in showing this information is not clear to many. Again, demonstrate that there is value.

Personally, I don't have much of a dog in this fight, as I don't use the front page to access the site. My two cents is that the en forme du poire style fixes most of what people don't seem to like. But my disagreement with Anil was that his initial thesis was problematic.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:12 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


A quiet 'Yop' for 'titles change the site usabilty for me in a negative way'. Other people have explained my feelings better than I can, I think, but another metaphor might be looking at a wall of books and seeing the titles on the spines - I feel like the titles for me are an aid to weeding things out/reading less of what's on offer than the non-title version, which defaulted to drawing me in to each post and the effort on my part was to not be drawn in. Pre-titles-Blue was like if a wall of books was faced instead of spined and the covers all had just the first paragraph or two on them. The titles make it feel functionally like the front page is a job I need to get through as efficiently as possible, whereas before it was like a good meal (or a good nonfic book, or a party full of interesting conversations), something I could pootle around and enjoy at my own pace and discover stuff. The way it was before worked blissfully perfectly for me, and made it an ideal site (for me), and metafilter is maybe 90% of what I do online because it was a really perfect fit for how I think or behave or consume novelty or information or whatever. As an individual human who is not more important than any other individual human.

I get that we're all different and different users have different needs and preferences, and the site itself has needs and the mods have needs and the technology has needs. I love en forme de poire's solution (I didn't look at the zennie and other/similar links, sorry for not giving correct credit), if titles need to be added to the front page. If titles stay as-is, I'm super-grateful for the workarounds that will let me switch them off - because I can't not-see the titles if they are there, they draw my eye - this is what they're designed to do - and it's a non-relaxing, squinty effort to read the words under the titles while ignoring the titles, and my eyes don't flow down the page the way they did before and I'm not taking in information the same way because of the presence of the titles the way they are now. I'll happily learn to do browser tweaks or whatever because metafilter is really an irreplaceable Good Thing in my life, and my problems aren't everyone's problems, etc.

I have been slightly puzzled (or something) by the motivation to address the 'How does this thing even work???' issue - a) I found my way here through Ask, for which google does plonk you down on a discussion page for a question and you can work out the rest pretty easily, and b) we did all find our way here (to metafilter/subsites, to the point of joining) in spite of the lack of obvious links into posts. I'm crossing the asshole threshhold here, obviously, and I don't want to be an exclusive old boys club person, but... if we all figured it out, it doesn't seem like life without a title linking you to the post page is that high a barrier?

Either way, en forme de poire's titles provide that link and are visually distinct enough for people who want the efficiency of title skimming without interfering with the visual flow of the front page (and it doesn't necessitate any change to how titles are currently written by posters), so I think it's the least-change solution to the issues that needed to be addressed, and I think that makes it ideal.

Apologies for anything I've duplicated someone else saying - on preview there were a shit-ton of comments to catch up on.

(A big thanks/many hugs to the mods and Matt for everything they do and the way they do it.)
posted by you must supply a verb at 9:12 AM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


cortex: "How hard is it to believe that someone with a long-standing reputation for being honest and forthright with the community he built from scratch isn't suddenly lying?"

*snort*
posted by Blasdelb at 9:13 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm disappointed in a lot of us. To me, this is a small tweak that I didn't notice until reading this thread. I admit that I am not sensitive to fonts or other design elements, and usually feel that discussions about them are as relevant as those about numbers of angels able to dance on the head of a pin. But this thread goes beyond the realm of reality in places. Accusations and insinuations of evil intent are over the top and insulting to the mods who built and maintain this place we love.
And if you "hate change", you are sure gonna have a tough time in this world that never, ever, stands still. This change is OK by me.
posted by Hobgoblin at 9:16 AM on January 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


*snort*

Here, have a kleenex.

I like the titles, because I've always been bothered by the disconnect between the titles on Ask and the main question. I think maxwelton's version is a little prettier, though.
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:17 AM on January 8, 2013


I can't read anil's comment without immediately recalling how badly SixApart snarfed up making changes with LiveJournal - and the dismissive reactions from SixApart that essentially boiled down to "we know better than you, the users who have been using this all the time for years - so accept our changes to this site you're so invested in & quit complaining already".

Eh, don't want to make this thread about me, but suffice to say, the reason I was a public face of many of those screwups is precisely because I had argued against them within the company, unsuccessfully, and thus felt more of an obligation to try to make sure people were heard while objecting to them.

But in the particular case of LiveJournal, I'd argue that the site's largely died off in the U.S. precisely because of the conservatism of its community, which doomed it to irrelevance when most of them started spending more time on Facebook despite swearing up and down that they'd never do so. I'm happy to see MeFi evolve in a responsible way in order to avoid the fate that befalls any web site that fails to adapt sufficiently to the way the medium changes over a period of a decade and a half.

So yes, my having been part of mistakes in community management in the past is my credential here. In fact, I might argue there's no better way to learn.
posted by anildash at 9:18 AM on January 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


So after a day with the titles, I opened up Metafilter this morning and had totally forgotten that they are a new thing. Yesterday I was neutral about them, today I think I actually like them; either way, I appreciate you guys working to improve MF. It must be hard not to take an "if it ain't broke don't fix it" approach when any sort of change inevitably (and not without being somewhat understandable) leads to a fair bit of uproar.

Please don't let this discourage further (incremental, equally-thought-out) tinkering!
posted by DingoMutt at 9:19 AM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


We are now being encouraged to do so:

mathowie: "Oh, and just to jumpstart any sort of ethics discussion -- we're not sure at the moment we launch it how people will use it, but our hope is that people continue using descriptive, helpful titles instead of playing games or using them for jokes. If you look at existing posts, they are all pretty dang helpful, people usually don't goof around with titles."


I interpret the last sentence to mean "The way that people have been using titles so far is acceptable. Let's continue to use titles in the way that we've already been using them."
posted by 23skidoo at 9:20 AM on January 8, 2013


It would be great if people would stop reprimanding those who are voicing criticisms. It would be great if criticisms did not become, be characterized, or be read as an attack on the moderators. And it would be fantastic if people would stop perceiving or suggesting there are "teams" here in need of being defended or attacked.

We can discuss this issue critically and constructively; many are doing so. If you only want to comment on the nature, motivations or reasonableness of the various interlocutors on either side, then you are derailing this topic. Let's keep the focus on the Titles.
posted by dios at 9:21 AM on January 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


I quite like them (mostly because of the big target to click through to the specific post). But then I mostly read posts first via RSS so see titles all the time.
posted by Gilgongo at 9:21 AM on January 8, 2013


I don't think that the purpose of a title HAS to be "summarize the post for a reader".

Then it is useless noise.

The same could be said of everything besides the link in each person's post.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:24 AM on January 8, 2013


I also think a lot of people are taking a weirdly reductive approach to AskMe. Personally, for me, it's not just a functional question/answer site, but an entertaining way to read about things I didn't think I cared about. I get sucked in all the time by questions that otherwise wouldn't concern me. Now I see the titles and I'm more inclined to be like, "Rentals in Alaska," Nope! Never been there; next!
posted by threeants at 9:25 AM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Can I humbly suggest another possible design? This de-emphasizes the titles by moving them after the content but before the byline, and also uses a subtle border and background image to make individual posts more visually distinct. It's not perfect, but it might help the front page fit in more at the workplace, and maybe other folks playing with mockups will find it motivational ...
posted by jhc at 9:26 AM on January 8, 2013 [18 favorites]


I say this with no intent of being threatening or any other emotion, but rather because I think that the people involved should have an accurate idea of the ramifications.

I've been coming here every day for years, and I'm going to stop because of this change. I refuse to use a script or otherwise, I access this on so many devices and browsers that it's just not feasible to do. And even if it were, I shouldn't have to install browser addons to make a site work.

This change should have been introduced with either warning or already having the option to turn it off. The front page is unreadable to me now.

The only reason I've been coming here is to follow this discussion with the hope that it would be announced that this was being rolled back. Unfortunately its been announced that its going to stay for a while at least.

I'm not going to keep reading this gargantuan thread or checking the site everyday to see if I can turn it off, I just have better things to do with my time. So that pretty much means I'm leaving and won't be back unless I find out through some other means that its changed.

I really do mean this without confrontation or drama. I just want the reasons to be out there.
posted by NerdcoreRising at 9:26 AM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


dios: It would be great if people would stop reprimanding those who are voicing criticisms.

I think it is perfectly OK to reprimand people who are being jerks to other MeFites, even if those other MeFites are the mods.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:26 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I interpret the last sentence to mean "The way that people have been using titles so far is acceptable. Let's continue to use titles in the way that we've already been using them."

We disagree. It seems rather obvious to me that mathowie is stating a preference for one type of title over another.
posted by zarq at 9:27 AM on January 8, 2013


I don't mind the titles at all, but I really dislike these mockups people are posting. Title in small italics after the question? What? Weird.
posted by sweetkid at 9:27 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure you can fully gauge the impact of the change positively or negatively until people start writing their posts keeping in mind how the titles are now implemented. I think it could very well be a good thing if people have more tools at their disposal and ways to express what their post is about. With deliberate use, it could be great.

I'll never buy into the doom and gloom "YOU'RE RUINING WHAT'S SPECIAL ABOUT METAFILTER!" stuff.
posted by inturnaround at 9:28 AM on January 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Well, one of those requirement is "Display the information that's often hidden away on in the title of a post." Was that something people wanted?

I did. It was odd to have a title field but not display said title on the front page.

As things stand now, the front page with the titles looks good, imo. The titles smaller than the body text and dimmer. No idea why people are getting that upset and say it destroys their Metafilter experience.

Many people feel that such a target is not needed or desirable.

If we're going by the people commenting in this thread, then 'many' isn't much. MetaTalk is among the least populated sections of the site, though perhaps the most vocal. That doesn't mean concerns raised here don't matter, but it also isn't indicative of any sort of majority among all users.

I don't think that the purpose of a title HAS to be "summarize the post for a reader"

We are now being encouraged to do so:

mathowie: "Oh, and just to jumpstart any sort of ethics discussion -- we're not sure at the moment we launch it how people will use it, but our hope is that people continue using descriptive, helpful titles instead of playing games or using them for jokes. If you look at existing posts, they are all pretty dang helpful, people usually don't goof around with titles."


"Descriptive, helpful titles" is not synonymous with "summarize the post for a reader". After looking at your previous posts, all of your titles seem perfectly fine because they're more of the former than the latter.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:29 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


If Titles are being used purely to augment a post, there is no need for that and it is noise.

Well, except that the title provides a consistent entry into the post, rather than having to hunt around for the "more inside"/"comments" tag, which I totally agree can be annoying (unlike the byline they aren't always in a consistent location) and a little obscure/nonintuitive for a new reader. I do think that having the titles so large overpowers the actual post text and makes the front page harder to read, though.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:29 AM on January 8, 2013


Yep, Mr. Plain White Background doesn't think MeFi's visual design is what distinguishes it. But bear with me. Arguing that the content and culture of the site will be significantly diminished by a minor visual change disrespects what the community and moderators have built here with such careful effort.

With all due respect, that example is one of a graphical element, not content design. I use plain white mainly so I can look at MetaFilter on any given monitor without worrying about brightness or tinting. That's not the kind of medium that defines the MeFi message substantially. I appreciate how "The Blue" brands the site, but that doesn't extend down to the level of FPPs. (Since I don't use AskMe at all, green or otherwise, I can't speak to that section, although I can see a utilitarian argument for titles on its main page.)

The introduction of headlines to the Front Page modifies the presented content of an FPP in a new and substantial way. The addition of a completely new informational element cannot help but alter the perception of both the individual entries and the aggregate, even if it's practically subliminal to some readers. Browsing the Blue is now a different mental task. That will in turn change how MeFites compose FPPs, even if the composition of the audience hasn't changed.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:29 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


We disagree. It seems rather obvious to me that mathowie is stating a preference for one type of title over another.

We do disagree. I see absolutely no reason for him to mention how well users have already been using titles if he really hated the way that users were currently using titles.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:30 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The same could be said of everything besides the link in each person's post.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:24 AM on January 8


We have had through the entire history of this site posts which include the link and other information that the poster added for clarity, substance, artistry, emphasis, and/or effect.

The question on the table is taking that concept and adding titles to it accomplished what? I perceive 3 things it could add:
1. If it adds a summary, then it can accomplish the claimed goals.
2. If it is just moving content that would otherwise be in the post to a Title, then the Title itself adds nothing and has no value.
3. If it is adding additional content that would otherwise not be in the post, then it is useless noise.

(1) can accomplish the goals claimed, though I disagree with those goals and think they are damaging.
(2) does not accomplish the goals as much, and is a weird change that adds no value to the content of posts.
(3) accomplishes no goals and is pointless damage to the front page.
posted by dios at 9:33 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, except that the title provides a consistent entry into the post, rather than having to hunt around for the "more inside"/"comments" tag, which I totally agree can be annoying.

There are plenty of ways to fix this problem that don't involve adding the title text above every post.
posted by alms at 9:34 AM on January 8, 2013


Dearest MetaFilter:

1. There's certainly nothing wrong with you -- we are a great match in a lot of ways -- you publish great content, have a a terrific community, nice and responsive mods, etc.
2. But for whatever reason, I'm feeling like this change strongly affects my ability to comfortably read the site, and I know that that's an important function of a site for me.
3. You deserve real engaged, focus readers and for whatever reason I can't deliver it right now.
4. I don't want to be in your way and prevent you experiencing the fabulous readership you will soon be experiencing when you are attracting users who are ready for you right now, and knowing that's not me I think it's best to free your bandwidth up.
6. I really really really really struggled with this decision because I am addicted to you and don't want to hurt you. I didn't make it lightly but I feel sure it's the right thing.
7. Do you have any questions for me?

/mostly tongue in cheek!
posted by threeants at 9:34 AM on January 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


Oh my god Anil I love you about ninety-five percent of the time but your company ruined LiveJournal and you thought MetaFilter should be white. You are the last person whose thoughts on "making changes to a web site with a tight-knit community of users" are going to be helpful. Also,

And getting rid of titles is nonsensical unless you want to delete content from the last 8 years of the site.

misses the most obvious solution, which is, don't get RID of titles, just don't put them on the front page of the site.

For the people who are superuser enough that they are here discussing this change in MeTa who say that looking at the site right now as it is causes them eye pain or other distress, they should know that this is a problem with a possible solution.

Jessamyn, I am a superuser to the extent that I design web sites for money, and I can't use Stylish, because I browse the web on an iPad 90% of the time. I'm actually looking forward to there being a day when I can get rid of my laptop because the iPad is such an enjoyable web access device – but it doesn't work with Greasemonkey or Stylish, and I'd bet money on it not being able to in the near future.

Lastly, this is totally Person Who Studied Graphic Design In College Privilege, but it doesn't seem like moderators are responding to the many users who are pointing out usability flaws with anything like a measured response. Look I made a pretty diagram of the front page now. The important content is sandwiched between two bits of irrelevant data. In the case of SLYTs and other short posts, the title takes up twice the space of the actual content. Since both the metadata above and below the post is visually distracting – the top due to size, the bottom due to green links – the actual content is harder to see than ever. Look at those one-link posts down at the bottom. When you don't have a title, the link is the very first thing you see, and the content has prominence. When you do have a title, the link looks like so much more metadata, barely more important than the information about who posted it. Repeating for emphasis: The title takes up twice the space of the actual content.

The new design ruins short posts and SLYTs. Of course it seems ideal for the famous guy who idealizes blogs: it encourages long posts and big blocks of relevant "information". But MetaFilter's not a fucking "community weblog", no matter how fun that catchphrase is: it's a medium not accurately defined by the word "blog", whose post format is almost wholly unique. And redesigning MetaFilter to make it look arbitrarily more like the "1999 called" blog format gets rid of what it did in 1999 that made it better than those other blogs.

You know what, Anil? Your little snarky comment about how none of the naysayers are giving useful feedback really fucking bothers me. We had three proposed redesigns offered by users who disliked the current presentation. We had thousands and thousands of words worth of thoughtful criticism, some offered by users who went out of their way to make sure their wording was reasonable and considerate, to make up for the knee-jerkiness of some of the critics. Don't you dare fucking loop all the critical comments together and suggest that the grariness from some of us (myself included now, it seems) invalidates the thoughtful, reasonable comments which make the obvious point that titles are just not fucking needed.

Probably you missed Dixon Ticonderoga's citation of another old classic, Arts & Letters Daily, which manages to do without titles because it adds a dotted line between each of its posts. Have we considered doing that to separate out MetaFilter posts?

Oh look at me I did a crowdsource!

It took a total of one line of code: you change the br's between posts to hr's, and you add something like "hr {width: 85%; border-top:none; border-bottom: 1px dotted #789bd9; border-left: none; border-right: none; margin-top: 1.5em; margin-bottom: 1.5em;}". It even rescales based on browser width! Zomg!

There are other ways to do what Matt wants done and users have suggested it. And it's so smug and condescending of you to say otherwise, to walk in like the Creating Web Communities Expert and talk down to us because we're doing something wrong. Maybe it's because you never had to deal with an actual community, Anil, but every time you deign to address the plebes of MetaFilter you end up doing it horribly, horribly wrong.

(Moderators, I hope you like my proposed "hr" mock-up, and would like to propose this as an alternative, tasteful way of separating posts. Not my specific design, of course, but something similar and better-reasoned.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:34 AM on January 8, 2013 [35 favorites]


It sure does seem like Matt discovered the benefits after he made the change, not the other way around like your list of requirements premises.

Mr Haughey's requirements as stated in the OP:
  1. Unhide the title field on the post page
  2. Streamline the post page in general
  3. Improve the clarity of post page instructions, particularly with respect to the use and funtion of the title, with goal of reducing mod workload
  4. Make it easier to distinguish posts from one another on the FP
  5. Make it easier to click and enter a post and it's discussion from the FP
  6. Bring the affected FPs into alignment with the rest of the subsites
  7. Bring the affected FPs into alignment with standard post titling practice across the interblogwebs
Others may have been added to the list in the comments above. There are hundreds of them to search through, however, which, see below:

I think if a little more care had been taken to present the expected benefits and design requirements of the change (in a numbered or bulleted list at the beginning of the discussion, for clarity and usability), rather than piecemeal and ad hoc across a thousand plus comments, negative response may have been ameliorated, the commenters better able to understand needs and goals and therefore better equipped to offer suggestions for improvements and alternatives.

I'm not in favor of the change. I'll get over it.
posted by notyou at 9:34 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


*snort*

Elaborate? I have no idea what your intent here is.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:35 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


We have had through the entire history of this site posts which include the link and other information that the poster added for clarity, substance, artistry, emphasis, and/or effect.

Right. Why can't clarity, substance, artistry, emphasis and/or effect be things that are applied to titles as well?
posted by 23skidoo at 9:35 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually like the titles on Ask Me, for whatever that's worth. I kind of hate it on the blue. I think it works on Ask Me, because I often skim looking for stuff I can answer and the rest of the questions don't interest me. I read the blue for different reasons, and the titles just get in the way.
posted by empath at 9:36 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rory Marinich: Oh look at me I did a crowdsource!

(Ooh, while it doesn't really seem to address what Matt et al were trying to change, that's really pretty.)
posted by threeants at 9:39 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good lord, I don't have time to digest this whole discussion right now, but let me add one more voice to the chorus of "I don't think the old MeFi layout was at all suffering from a lack of post titles."
posted by mubba at 9:40 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why can't clarity, substance, artistry, emphasis and/or effect be things that are applied to titles as well?
posted by 23skidoo at 11:35 AM on January 8


I never said it couldn't. I was talking about what the effect of the Title is. Is is summarizing, moving content that would otherwise be in the post from the post to title, or adding content that would not otherwise be in the post. I'm not sure what else a Title could accomplish. Each of those distinct effects have their own merits/demerits.
posted by dios at 9:42 AM on January 8, 2013


Rory's is my favorite redesign so far, I think.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:42 AM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Jessamyn, I am a superuser to the extent that I design web sites for money, and I can't use Stylish, because I browse the web on an iPad 90% of the time.

I understand that and I said so in my comment. If the site right now, today, gives you eye pain or other unmanageable grief and you can't use other options you are going to have to manage that yourself for a few days. I'm really sorry this is a crappy outcome for you, but we're trying to set expectations accurately and be communicative and reasonable.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:43 AM on January 8, 2013


Ugh, I'm going to have stop reading the site on my iPad aren't I? The titles are really glaring on a safari iPad setup, just uuuugh.
posted by The Whelk at 9:45 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd argue that the site's largely died off in the U.S. precisely because of the conservatism of its community, which doomed it to irrelevance when most of them started spending more time on Facebook despite swearing up and down that they'd never do so.

When I joined, in 2010, MetaFilter was already a dinosaur. Hacker News was the place where all the cool kids wound up, Reddit was where all the kids who wanted to be cool went and stole all their content, and Tumblr was clearly becoming the new social hub of the entire planet. (By the way, one of the reasons Tumblr was appealing to younger users when it launched in 2007? You could make posts without titles. Just sayin'.)

MetaFilter will not become "relevant" until it does something that truly kills the heart and soul of the web site. But, like LiveJournal, it will remain used, though certain choices it makes risk losing it parts of its community that it probably does not want to lose. LiveJournal is still active, yes? Not as active as it once was, but it's still a functional part of the web. And it's still "relevant" too, in the form of Oh No They Didn't!, which is an Internet Thing that people know even if they don't use the rest of LJ. Similarly, MetaFilter is "relevant" because of AskMe, because of the Russian newsthing, because of the occasional brilliant comment that gets news attention, and none of these relevancies have a good damn thing to do with MetaFilter "keeping up with the times".

You write in one breath about "rebuilding the web we lost" and in another you defend losing a little bit more of what we once had. Let me suggest to you that you take a moment and ask yourself whether you might be missing something here, because you seem to be blindly assuming that your expertise renders all criticism moot and it fucking doesn't, Anil, it doesn't.

(I really liked your blog post I just linked, by the way, and I think I defended it on the MetaFilter thread where people were criticizing it and you. [/fanboy])
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:45 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't wait until we're able to turn these off.

The titles are so huge they can easily be read over my shoulder. I live in a super conservative town. We've had two titles re: Abortion on AskMe in the past two days. Regardless of how I feel about this issue, I now have weird people staring at me over their chai. While, no, people should not be looking over my shoulder, I'd rather my Mefi browsing habits didn't invite such attention.
posted by mochapickle at 9:46 AM on January 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


Sorry, I'm being heated and rude and making things worse. I'd edit out all the nastiness if that was what the edit window was for. Sorry, mods and Anil. I'll give myself a walk and come back when I can behave like a grown-up again.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:46 AM on January 8, 2013 [18 favorites]


I don't mind the titles. Rather like them. I find no issue with reading MeFi in Firefox, Chrome, or Safari on the iOS. Don't use any scripts, though I understand I'm missing out on some fancy hedgehogs and fish because of that.

I admit that my reading style is not reflective of a great many of you, so I understand that my feelings on this new update may not hold much weight compared with your experiences. I do know that in the past, there were some posts that could have used a nice title, while others perhaps didn't. Helps to add context, I think.
posted by CancerMan at 9:47 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I realize this is related to absolutely nothing, but, um, this is the first time I've managed to read Rory Marinich's username as it really is, and not as Rory Manrich.

Sorry you are not rich in men, Rory. And here I was feeling all jealous.
posted by phunniemee at 9:47 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


You know what, Anil? Your little snarky comment about how none of the naysayers are giving useful feedback really fucking bothers me.

Then I hope you find some respite in the fact that I didn't say that, and that I specifically praised the mockups. This does sort of demonstrate the meta-issue of people responding to straw men here. I actually agree with much of the criticism about the relative weight and styling of the font choices, but I see on preview that you're already into a second post arguing against things I've never said, "assuming that [my] expertise renders all criticism moot".

This thread's not about me, and the LiveJournal conversation's a distraction. Feel free to email me if you'd like to continue it; I feel I've been as helpful to this thread as I can be.
posted by anildash at 9:48 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I read it as Rory Manwich.
posted by boo_radley at 9:48 AM on January 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


I realize this is related to absolutely nothing, but, um, this is the first time I've managed to read Rory Marinich's username as it really is, and not as Rory Manrich.

See, this is why usernames should be displayed huge and on top of comments.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:49 AM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Rorgy Manwich.
posted by elizardbits at 9:49 AM on January 8, 2013


Rory Marinich: " I'll give myself a walk and come back when I can behave like a grown-up again."

A good call.
posted by boo_radley at 9:49 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


But in the particular case of LiveJournal, I'd argue that the site's largely died off in the U.S. precisely because of the conservatism of its community, which doomed it to irrelevance when most of them started spending more time on Facebook despite swearing up and down that they'd never do so.

This is clueless and beyond incorrect, but I did not expect otherwise - this is not the place to get into the gory details of The Fall of LiveJournal, but yeah, given the history I know & experienced, this is wrong.

So yes, my having been part of mistakes in community management in the past is my credential here.

...Wow. Speechless. This does not read as I think you intend.
posted by flex at 9:50 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rawr Man.
posted by mochapickle at 9:50 AM on January 8, 2013



Just as importantly, the overwhelming majority if those opposed to this change have been profoundly ineffective in responding to the change. (The great mockups are a notable exception.) "I hate it" actually isn't useful feedback, because it ends the conversation. And getting rid of titles is nonsensical unless you want to delete content from the last 8 years of the site.

I am so very sorry if the fact that the site as it is now really does hurt my eyes and makes it unpleasant is not specific enough for you, Anil. As someone who DOES have graphic design experience (I went to Ringling School of Art back in the day and did work for a sign company briefly) I may not be a total expert but I know when something isn't working.

It's not that bad when I access metafilter on my phone. There is no REASON that adding titles has to hurt my eyes when I use a regular computer, but if y'all keep it this way, I for one will probably curtail my reading here.

(For a few of you that's not a bug but a feature-but extrapolate that there may be many that feel as I do. Readability in a website is important. I am not looking forward to seeing this place mocked for the lack of it, and I can almost guarantee that will happen. )

This place has changed in so many ways since I have been here. This is the first time a change has honestly made me reconsider being here. And a stupid, stupid reason it is.

: (
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:51 AM on January 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


Another vote for Please allow us to turn this off.
posted by waraw at 9:52 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rory's is my favorite redesign so far, I think.

I think those dots are just more clutter; the "posted by Gary at 11:36 AM - 3 comments (3 new) +" already functions as a divider.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:52 AM on January 8, 2013


> The important content is sandwiched between two bits of irrelevant data.

As someone who also designs websites for money, but did not go to school for that, I am genuinely curious: do they really teach that headings are irrelevant data?
posted by gilrain at 9:53 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The important content is sandwiched between two bits of irrelevant data.

You're making a lot of assumptions with that statement. That importance of that data varies from person to person.

Oh look at me I did a crowdsource!

I had advocated think rules for the blue, but that implementation doesn't work for me, because it leaves out the titles and the rules don't extend the width of the text block.

If we're pulling out graphic design cred*, hell I've been doing it for over a decade and note that MetaFilter has been god awful color wise since the beginning, but that hasn't stop it from growing or causing people to form deep emotional attachments to it.

There's a time and place for deeply art directed design. Metafitler isn't either, in my opinion. It's always been a bit ad hoc and that's part of the charm.

* I'm not putting a lot of importance on anyone's schooling or experience here. Having education doesn't always make one correct in their view of the world.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:54 AM on January 8, 2013


Brandon Blatcher: "* I'm not putting a lot of importance on anyone's schooling or experience here. Having education doesn't always make one correct in their view of the world. "

Geez, next you'll tell us we can't use the "no true Scotsman" argument.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:56 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


gilrain, it depends on what the header is appended to. If it's above a large chunk of material that needs a summary or label, it's often very relevant and useful.

If a header is placed above a small bit of text capable of standing on its own, many people will find it irrelevant and useless. And a subset of those people will find it terribly distracting and a net negative.
posted by maudlin at 9:58 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Arguing that the content and culture of the site will be significantly diminished by a minor visual change disrespects what the community and moderators have built here with such careful effort. ... MeFi isn't special because of its visual design.

anildash, I completely respect your work and what you do, but I completely disagree with you on this point. I and a number of other users above have laid out in detail how the addition of titles on the landing pages changes the way we read and interact with the site, which does have an effect on the content and culture of the site. We can take issue with the change, just as I'm taking issue with your stance on it, without it being a matter of disrespect. This is a matter of the change significantly impacting—and yes, diminishing—the way I and clearly a number of other people read and digest the content here.

A site as text-heavy and simple as MetaFilter is really can be impacted by a "minor visual change" like this, as people are relating. While perhaps MetaFilter's visual design isn't special as in "cutting-edge," one of the things that is so special about its design is that there are no image tags, so text and how we interact with it takes on huge importance. It's not the only site out there without images, but I think the way it has been structured has made more of a difference in the site's culture than you might think.
posted by limeonaire at 9:58 AM on January 8, 2013 [18 favorites]


jhc, your mockup made me lol.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:58 AM on January 8, 2013


> I like en forme de poire's mock-up the best so far.

Same here. Please do something that will provide comparable subtlety/minimization, or at least let us turn 'em off.

Still hate 'em.
posted by languagehat at 10:00 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


jhc's mockup wins the thread. we can close this now.
posted by desjardins at 10:02 AM on January 8, 2013

MetaFilter is "relevant" because of AskMe, because of the Russian newsthing, because of the occasional brilliant comment that gets news attention, and none of these relevancies have a good damn thing to do with MetaFilter "keeping up with the times".
What is "the Russian newsthing"?
posted by Flunkie at 10:05 AM on January 8, 2013


maudlin: I can agree with that. However, not all Metafilter posts are small bits of text which stand on their own. And those that are longer do benefit from a heading, at least in my opinion -- especially those with multiple paragraphs, which are allowed and not uncommon. If Metafilter were solely a microblog-style site, I would agree with you.

I guess this particular facet may come down to whether it's more important to tailor the front page for single-line style posts or for longer content. I think that the title (with some style tweaks, which I agree are needed) doesn't distract much from the shorter posts, whereas it helps the longer posts immensely, and so is a net win.
posted by gilrain at 10:06 AM on January 8, 2013


smackfu writes " I think that was just removed one day, because it wasn't accurate (although I'm sure pb could make it accurate in about 10 seconds nowadays) . Made it feel more like a community somehow."

People were also constantly use it to talk about how much money Matt was making off the $5 noobs which was both annoying and mostly incorrect.
posted by Mitheral at 10:08 AM on January 8, 2013


gilrain: But the front page is microblog style because longer posts are encouraged to use "more inside", aren't they? And titles have always been visible on the actual thread.
posted by Isn't in each artist (7) at 10:10 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly:

I think Metafilter changes very slowly overall. We're used to things changing only very rarely. So when a change does happen, we obsess over it. But these weird little shitstorms then make the mods additionally reluctant to make changes, even when they might be needed. (And I say this as one of the louder clamorers back when favorite counts were removed for a month.)

My biggest problem with adding titles, as mentioned above, is that as an unheralded change it affects how people initially perceive our posts, sometimes I personally obsess over, and has the potential to create redundancy. I'll have to change my posting style to account for it, but that's nothing huge really; it might really be better I haven't thought through the implications yet. I can see immediately that it will make me a bit less verbose in before-the-fold text.

(And actually, it's only since this whole matter erupted that I've even realized how much I think about how I write posts here. Weird.)
posted by JHarris at 10:11 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


> But the front page is microblog style because longer posts are encouraged to use "more inside", aren't they?

A quick scan of the front page right now reveals a roughly even mixture of very short, medium, and long FPPs. I'd say about a third stand alone without a title, whereas the rest are helped by one. I realize it's a matter of opinion, though.
posted by gilrain at 10:13 AM on January 8, 2013


Don't know if anyone already suggested that, but have we considered allowing the poster to choose whether to display the title on their post?
posted by empath at 10:16 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


A lack of consistency like that would probably hurt usability more than either all titles or no titles, regardless of which of those two you prefer.
posted by gilrain at 10:17 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ugh. I do not like these. Longtime (decade?) lurker, recent subscriber (about time!) and this was coincidentally timed enough that I tried logging the hell out so that it would revert to some secret "you don't subscribe" behavior WITHOUT the giant title text.

The text is too large, for starters. I've also long thought the sometimes-jokey titles were a feature, not a defect; a hidden easter-egg/meta-comment-#0. It's true that it's sometimes hard to tell where one post ends and another begins, but... <hr> maybe ?

I vote for reverting this, or at least a preferences checkbox to undo it, so I don't have to get all up in my browser's internal business to strip them on this end. Please?
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 10:17 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Those doubled up AskMe title / questions are pretty terrible looking on the front page. And now there is no way for the mods to fix it.
posted by smackfu at 10:19 AM on January 8, 2013


24 hours and several site revisits later and I don't abhor the titles one iota less than I did yesterday.

Just to be clear:

a) it's not "hurting my eyes";
b) I'm not "upset by change";
c) the sturm und drang over title formatting is an utter canard.

The titles replace the job of the posted text. They pre-set the reader's perception of what the text is going to be about. It is impossible to read the posted text without the tenor of the title affecting it. It is a fundamental change in how content is processed by the reader, and in how content is presented by the poster.

My opinion remains that this is a very unfortunate mis-step, and one that clashes against the very heart of MetaFilter's appeal.
posted by Aquaman at 10:20 AM on January 8, 2013 [35 favorites]


What concerns me is that on any of the pages affected, there's no mention in the sidebar saying "hey, this change has been made. Discussion of it here" with a link to this thread.

That *is* the place for "site news", right?
posted by Lucinda at 10:21 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


After a day (and the resizing, which could still be done a notch more), the titles aren't AWFUL, but I do think they work against the philosophy that makes MetaFilter different from other communities: that thoughtful reading makes a difference. I still worry that writing a "grabby" headline might come to trump the importance of good content.

Another note: will titles be mandatory if they stay displayed? If there is no title on a post now, it blends too easily with others. All or nothing.
posted by moviehawk at 10:22 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


empath: Don't know if anyone already suggested that, but have we considered allowing the poster to choose whether to display the title on their post?

For those of us who are having trouble even reading or skimming the page --honestly, it is giving me a headache so I installed Stylish-- and have unconsciously (or not) been skipping more FPPs than usual due to not been enticed by the titles or sheer unreadability, this would likely mean I and these others would be more likely to skip over FPPs by people who chose to use a title. It wouldn't be fair to those posts, but I don't doubt that it would happen.
posted by mayurasana at 10:23 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hmm... I like the idea of unhiding the title, but this particular way kind of bugs me, it's kind of ugly. Maybe as a mouseover for a bulletpoint, or put it in a sidebar? Or give the post author the ability to turn the front page title off?
posted by JHarris at 10:25 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone above asked for a mock up of post titles on the right. On a 1280 x 800 screen it was sometimes hard to tell what title belonged to what text so I added a faint "underline". Picture here. It looks decent on the blue and the grey, but not on the green, where the sidebar overlaps the title.
posted by aroweofshale at 10:27 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


...and one that clashes against the very heart of MetaFilter's appeal.

Can you articulate why you believe this to be so? I ask because I don't understand. To me, it's just another potentially useful tool to mark up a post. How does adding a title clash against the appeal of the site?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:28 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


> A quick scan of the front page right now reveals a roughly even mixture of very short, medium, and long FPPs. I'd say about a third stand alone without a title, whereas the rest are helped by one. I realize it's a matter of opinion, though.

Thanks for the measured response!

To me, only the longer posts look 'right' with a title (which fits with your point about microblog vs blog style) and generally those would look just as good with the title as the main link, e.g. the art/banking post.

Out of interest, which do you think are helped?
posted by Isn't in each artist (7) at 10:30 AM on January 8, 2013


i know i'm very late to this because my body acquired some bad code and horribly malfunctioned for a few days.. but i'm not really liking it so far.

it's hard to say something at this point that hasn't already been said, but i guess personally i feel like it interrupts the flow. since i don't use RSS or any scripts or whatever and I just go to the site and read the page, the titles never seemed that significant to me anyways. and sometimes it would be a jokey comment or a quote from the link or whatever, but it was never something i used to gauge whether or not i was going to get involved with the post by reading it, commenting, whatever.

maybe now, if it stays this way, more attention will be paid to the structure, content, and relevancy of the title. and maybe that way it will improve and become more familiar.

oh and no way should it be a post option. having title - no title - title - title would be very barfy. if it becomes an option it should be in preferences. but see, again.. if the title changes the way the text of the head of the post is written to frame the post, it will still have some weird effects.
posted by ninjew at 10:32 AM on January 8, 2013


In my ideal world, the title would be in 4-point Zapf Dingbats, and would only be visible as letters once you click through. I imagine I am in the minority with this viewpoint, but I think it would be just swell!
posted by Greg Nog at 10:32 AM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


The titles replace the job of the posted text. They pre-set the reader's perception of what the text is going to be about. It is impossible to read the posted text without the tenor of the title affecting it. It is a fundamental change in how content is processed by the reader, and in how content is presented by the poster.

What makes the title, for you, more important than the first sentence of a title-less post? I mean, doesn't the first sentence of a title-less post affect how readers perceive the rest of the post?
posted by 23skidoo at 10:32 AM on January 8, 2013


I've read Metafilter almost every single day since December 2001. I really, really like the titles. Thanks Matt! I hope they stay.
posted by ericthegardener at 10:32 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Can you articulate why you believe this to be so?

I have done so in five previous posts, along with several other well-spoken commenters. If you are unclear on exactly why this is so inflammatory, I'm not sure there's anything else I could say to clarify it for you.
posted by Aquaman at 10:32 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


What makes the title, for you, more important than the first sentence of a title-less post? I mean, doesn't the first sentence of a title-less post affect how readers perceive the rest of the post?

YES THAT'S THE POINT.

The title supplants the text below it. It's a fundamental shift in context. I have to go to work right this second, but I'm sure smarter people than me can explain this more clearly.
posted by Aquaman at 10:34 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you're here in this thread, you are by definition not a typical MeFi user.

It's been a while since I ran the numbers but when I did I came up with 1/3 of Metafilter commenters also commenting in MetaTalk. So in terms of registered users you are not typical, but you're not particularly atypical either. You have as much claim on being in touch with what the common horde of Metafilter users experience as anyone else.

"Users" unfortunately being the key word. When it comes to the blue at least the fact that you have an account means that you are in a tiny minority of readers. And let's be honest, it's those ad-viewing readers that keep the lights on around here.

What *they* want is anyone's guess. I can see an argument for modernizing ala USA Today or establishing a timeless look and sticking to it ala The New York Times. A usability issue like post separation can be addressed much more subtly and integrated into yesterday's look.

Anyway, for my personal use of Metafilter I'm looking forward to having a way to turn these off. If having them turned on for non-users attracts more people and keeps 'em coming back that sounds good too.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:35 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Day two: still hating it. I guess there are two things that bother me most:

1. This is just adding vertical clutter to the front page. I now see fewer posts on my screen as a result of titles. It's not simple or efficient like the previous design. Perhaps over time this will get better, but, for the most part, the titles barely relate to the content.

2. The font doesn't match the rest of the site. I'm reading everything in Georgia, and it's just visually jarring to have all of these Arial titles in the middle of everything. It looks terrible and half-assed.

I'm hoping that, if the titles must stay, we'll get the option to turn them off or style them in preferences. I'm not downloading some special web extension to view Metafilter. No other site I browse would require it.
posted by MegoSteve at 10:35 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let me just note that saying which posts I think are helped by the titles would be much more difficult without the titles! I'd have to describe them in my own words, or link to the full post and make you cross-reference that with the front page. Just a thought.

I think "The uncanny beauty of decayed Daguerreotypes" and anything that long or longer begins to look better with the title than without. However, with better styling, I think even the shorter posts would look decent.

In particular:

"The original shark, it turns out, rotted."
The Costs and Solutions to American Health Care
This is the first time that we use this way to do stuffs
Japanese Woodblock Print Database | Ukiyo-e Search
One small clarification for a man, one giant scene of drama for mankind
Counterfeit Monkey
Defaced Money
posted by gilrain at 10:36 AM on January 8, 2013


YES THAT'S THE POINT.

The title supplants the text below it. It's a fundamental shift in context. I have to go to work right this second, but I'm sure smarter people than me can explain this more clearly.


Yep. That's it. That's it, right there. It's a contextual shift from nuance to a blunt hammer.
posted by kbanas at 10:36 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't mind them if they were less intrusive.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:39 AM on January 8, 2013


Someone above asked for a mock up of post titles on the right.

No offense but that's even more awful, since it forces you to look to the right to read the title and then look to the left to read the post. I can't just not read the titles; my eyes are drawn to them whether I like it or not.
posted by desjardins at 10:40 AM on January 8, 2013


What makes the title, for you, more important than the first sentence of a title-less post? I mean, doesn't the first sentence of a title-less post affect how readers perceive the rest of the post?

YES THAT'S THE POINT.

The title supplants the text below it. It's a fundamental shift in context. I have to go to work right this second, but I'm sure smarter people than me can explain this more clearly.


"YES THAT'S THE POINT"?

Re-read what I non-rhetorically asked. If the first sentence of a title-less post doesn't bother you, then why does a title?
posted by 23skidoo at 10:40 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's a contextual shift from nuance to a blunt hammer.

No it isn't. Or at least I don't think it is. I think it's a shift from one nuance to another.

It's hard to talk about this without smuggling our preconceptions into the conversation, I understand that. But a lot of people seem to be making claims about what titles ARE and what titles DO that are really claims about how they interpret titles*. There will be some talking past each other if you keep asserting that titles are this way and I keep asserting that they are not.

*And they are totally fine interpretations, they just aren't "better" than other interpretations.
posted by OmieWise at 10:41 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Who just called the titles of my posts a blunt hammer!? I will fucking nuance you to death!
posted by carsonb at 10:42 AM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I liked the idea on first sight, but I've had a day to mull and use the site, and have decided I don't care for it either. I, like probably 90% of people on the internet, am a skimmer and instead of the focus of my skimming being the links (and perforce the text around them) it was the titles. This, as others have said, changes the site experience and was particularly detrimental to the main subsite.

It didn't work especially well on Ask either (granted I should probably not be reading Ask for entertainment, but I do). Also, with the perpetual fear of words like BALLS and HERPES appearing in large letters on my screen, the likelihood of a quick check of Ask at work, but also when others are passing behind at home, has already fallen.

So: repeating what others have no doubt said endlessly in the 1000+ comments above, but if there were a referendum I'd vote no, thank you.
posted by tavegyl at 10:45 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I've looked at the front page maybe twice today. It's still confusing and frustrating, and I find myself following older threads I'm already invested in rather than engaging with the new stuff, because it's hard to pick out what to engage with: a cheeky title doesn't cut it, and now titles dominate the design. Ah, well, Camelot never lasts forever.

Users who are good at finding links to interesting stuff and who are good at summarizing it also have to develop a heretofore unneeded skill - the ability to write a single sentence to sell the summarization and the link. Actually, the summarizations will probably going away. What's the point? People will follow the link or not based on what the title says; it's there twice the size. Additionally, readers of the site will need to develop the ability to read the title and the summary - which the current design discourages. There is such a thing as too much metadata.

I'm happy the change works for some users. It's becoming a deal-breaker for me. If I had never engaged with how the site used to work, it may not have been that big a deal - new users and a significant chunk of the userbase will just keep on keeping on, I suppose.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:46 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, I know this has been raised already, and it's a secondary concern for me, but I also agree about the titles being more visible for over-the-shoulder readers and that's a negative for me for work and other public reading.

Also, just philosophically/esthetically (least concern for me, but still a thing) - 'it feels like a feature that is many years overdue (default blog templates starting showing titles in the early 2000s)' - the front page now looks like mom jeans (I'm in my 40s, fwiw), and it seems odd to be chasing a style from a decade ago (unless we're bleeding-edge retro), and the front page/s was/were so clean before, and metafilter is its own thing (customs curtsy to great kings) so the idea that a motivation for this is trying to be like the other kids is puzzling to me.
posted by you must supply a verb at 10:47 AM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


@desjardins: None taken -- just went ahead and gave it a shot because I had some extra time. To be fair, it might be a different story if the line was removed, but that could cause other issues (which led me to putting in a line in the first place).
posted by aroweofshale at 10:48 AM on January 8, 2013


aroweofshale: Someone above asked for a mock up of post titles on the right.

Thanks for doing that. It does look pretty bad, in my opinion.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:49 AM on January 8, 2013


I will add my voice to the dissenters. This change elevates an element that used to be an afterthought into a position of prominence, and manages to make an already kind of homely design even more so in the process. It definitely affects the way I read both the blue and the green.

I will also second whoever it was who gently suggested that this has not been an ideal example of change management for a site that depends so much on community engagement.

On the 'plus' side, it probably will make it a little easier for me to skim back through previous posts to find something again.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 10:49 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


honestly, it is giving me a headache

Well, I kind of call bullshit on this. Which is not to say it isn't happening. Maybe you have a special condition that causes this, maybe you are filled with a burning hate that makes reading regularly impossible. But reading text on a page is a learned activity, and that learning includes learning to read selections of text formatted differently in all kinds of venues. There have always been a bunch of differently formatted types of text on the front page.

The problem with this kind of comment (made at least three times in this thread) is that it's utterly impossible to respond to, and yet it's fairly idiosyncratic (and unlikely). It carries a huge amount of rhetorical weight without the writer having the responsibility of engaging in a legitimate discussion about it. Even if you have a condition that promotes headache in the face of text change such as this, such conditions are rare enough that surely they can't be used to actually argue about the overall worth of a change like this.
posted by OmieWise at 10:50 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm sure this change has been done with the best intentions, but it's made the front page a bit of a mess. I don't want to sound like the voice of ornery conservatism - thanks very much for trying to implement changes that improve the site. For me, this makes Metafilter considerably worse. Hopefully it will be quietly dropped.
posted by RokkitNite at 10:51 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can you articulate why you believe this to be so?

I have done so in five previous posts, along with several other well-spoken commenters. If you are unclear on exactly why this is so inflammatory, I'm not sure there's anything else I could say to clarify it for you.


Your first comment said it changes the site dynamic and is terrible. Not explanation given as to what you mean.

Your second just continued with the "it's terrible" theme, but on "multiple levels" which you don't clarify.

The third comment says paragraphs encourage reading, while titles don't. Which sounds odd to me, because doesn't that mean people will skip the titles and read the paragraphs underneath?

Your fourth comment says "...I still feel strongly that titles are the actual embodied antithesis of what makes the blue so unique and distinct" but doesn't articulate what that distinction is.

The fifth comment of yours notes that "...but obviously somehow something very crucial and important to a lot of users was eliminated (or at least grossly altered) in the process" but again doesn't say what was so crucial.

Your sixth comment finally gets to the point, saying "The titles replace the job of the posted text." Which strikes me as a very narrow view of that capacity of the title and I wonder why anyone would think it can be "X" and not X, Y or a red truck.

For instance, if I were to make a single like post about a cosplaying woman, I'd probably do it like so:

Playing (title)
Dress-up (single list post)

Simple and to the point. The title isn't a completely separate aspect of the post, but a vital piece of information to understanding what the post is about. It's still a bit of mystery meat, but playfully so and doesn't seem to break any standard.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:57 AM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


If the first sentence of a title-less post doesn't bother you, then why does a title?

The first sentence of a title-less post isn't a different font or color (excepting links, where the color difference is functional) and is contiguous with the rest of the post. It hasn't grabbed more of my attention than the rest of the post body, and it flows into the next sentence of the post body (if that exists/is above the fold). It also isn't bigger/different than the body of the post before it or after it, so my eyes' progress down the page isn't constantly arrested by speed bumps that interrupt my skimming flow of content.

Not speaking for anyone else, here, and I probably missed a few things.
posted by you must supply a verb at 10:58 AM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Returning to say: thank you, Flunkie!
posted by tavegyl at 10:59 AM on January 8, 2013


Thanks for trying to improve metafilter for all of us.
I'm not a fan of the new titles.
I appreciate that there are a lot of different opinions about the change.

I would love the ability in my preferences to change whether titles are shown or not.
posted by mnfn at 11:00 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The first sentence of a title-less post isn't a different font or color (excepting links, where the color difference is functional) and is contiguous with the rest of the post.

Boing Boing sometimes makes the title of the post be the first part of a paragraph, would that work?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:01 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


jessamyn: We're aware that this doesn't work on mobile as well as the other concerns people have with it. At the same time, realistically, people who feel so strongly about this change that they can't look at the site (as some people have said) are going to have to find workarounds and we're trying to help them do it.

You know, I'm generally in favor of this change, but I have rarely been as repelled by anything on Metafilter as the tone of that post.

Basically, that's a "you use MeFi too much, fuck off." And it makes me very angry.
posted by Malor at 11:02 AM on January 8, 2013


Basically, that's a "you use MeFi too much, fuck off." And it makes me very angry.

What? No it isn't remotely like that. It's a statement that this is here to stay for at least a few days, and users will either have to find a workaround (with which the mods WILL HELP YOU) or find some other way to deal with that fact in the interim. I have no idea how you could read it as you did without a huge amount of either general anger about this clouding your comprehension or a real attempt to read the worst into jessamyn's comment.
posted by OmieWise at 11:06 AM on January 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


I think it might be time for metafilter to either implement a/b testing or a betatesting program.
posted by empath at 11:08 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


When people mention how the font is different, is it a browser-specific issue? To me it seems the font is the same, but like I mentioned before, I pretty much use the default settings.

If it's a browser thing, maybe the titles could be coded to use the same font? Granted, I don't know what's being done mechanically, but if this might help alleviate one aspect of concern, perhaps pb or others could try, and then we could focus on other things.
posted by CancerMan at 11:08 AM on January 8, 2013


Basically, that's a "you use MeFi too much, fuck off." And it makes me very angry.

My guess is that you took my comment in a way that I wasn't intending, since all I was trying to get across was that if this change causes an immediate and unavoidable problem for you (eye pain, headaches, uncontrollable rage) such that you can't interact with the site at all at this moment, we're here to find workarounds. If the short term workarounds we have available don't work for you, we're asking folks to be patient while we shake out how to deal with this and that may mean waiting a few days.

I really don't understand how you got "fuck off" out of my comment.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:08 AM on January 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


Basically, that's a "you use MeFi too much, fuck off."

Sorry, Malor, I can't see any way to pull that message from what Jessamyn said.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:08 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thanks, gilrain.

By and large, those were the ones that I picked up on as well (though of course I differ in that I don't think that they're representative of the majority of posts).

However, of those, only 'The Costs and Solutions to American Health Care' and 'Defaced Money' seem to benefit unambiguously from the title - I mean, they are better and yet it's not obvious how the title could become the first line of the post.

As for the others, I'd personally drop 'This is the first time that we use this way to do stuffs' and 'Counterfeit Monkey' as unnecessary. The rest could have their titles as a separate, first link without major rewriting.

Does that make sense? I reckon that in most cases longer posts can use a first line on a separate line (often an arresting quote) in lieu of a title.
posted by Isn't in each artist (7) at 11:09 AM on January 8, 2013


In general, I mind changes that are applied to older content.

In specific, the titles make the page longer, which is not my preference. But this is minor. It could be fixed by having the title inline. I suspect you tried different layouts.
posted by theora55 at 11:09 AM on January 8, 2013


For instance, if I were to make a single like post about a cosplaying woman, I'd probably do it like so:

Playing (title)
Dress-up (single list post)


which ruins it for both camps - the RSS crowd only get "Playing," which gives them no indication what it's about, and the title-hider crowd gets "Dress-Up" which is also too mystery-meat for my taste. "Playing Dress Up" is a complete idea and it's all that's needed in the post. No title, no separation.

I mean, how does your version improve the site in any way?
posted by desjardins at 11:09 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I gave it a day before I wanted to come in and comment.

I hate it. I now skim the website. My eyes don't really know where to focus but on the bigger headline titles. I liked that the old site made me read more than 5-10 words to really get what something was about. That gave things an opportunity to catch my attention that just wouldn't be possible in a short title.

If titles must be on the page - I like it in the line with posted by at X on X like others have proposed.
posted by quodlibet at 11:11 AM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


which is also too mystery-meat for my taste...

how does your version improve the site in any way?

A single post doesn't make or break the site, especially if we're getting into subjective taste.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:12 AM on January 8, 2013


Hate the new titles, they encourage the lightest of surfing and don't appeal to me at all. Please give an option to remove them, or is there a greasemonkey script already available that I passed over in this thread??
posted by Cycloptichorn at 11:14 AM on January 8, 2013


Playing Dress-up (title)
Jennica, a cosplayer whose favorite costume is Baby Sinclair (TV's Dinosaurs), has a [a href='http://playingdressup.blogger.com']blog[/a]. (post text)

Now I really want to make this post.
posted by carsonb at 11:15 AM on January 8, 2013


> The third comment says paragraphs encourage reading, while titles don't. Which sounds odd to me, because doesn't that mean people will skip the titles and read the paragraphs underneath?

Don't be ridiculous. There's no way to "skip the titles"; as many people have said, one winds up skimming the titles and skipping what's underneath. I was just at AskMe and while it was a smoother experience, because I hardly looked at any posts and it was much quicker, I don't really think that's a desideratum. Try to discuss this in good faith.
posted by languagehat at 11:16 AM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


The deleted thread script seems to break this a bit (or, the other way around, depending how you look at it)... this is what I'm seeing in Chrome with osx.

There's a deleted thread notation BETWEEN a title and it's post....
posted by HuronBob at 11:16 AM on January 8, 2013


The repeated "(Username), explain to me *again* why you think (xyz)???" questioning by a handful of our vocal regulars is tiring.

I see this tactic often on the Blue. Certain people call out others by name and wear them out by repeating the same question over and over again until the questionee just leaves due to frustration or time constraint. It really sours the thread.

Can we dial back the crusading and let people express their opinions, even if you disagree? There are a few hundred well-thought-out postings above as to why members do or don't like the rollout. No need to turn on the interrogation lamp or put on your high school forensics team shirt.
posted by kimberussell at 11:17 AM on January 8, 2013 [21 favorites]


I now skim the website. My eyes don't really know where to focus but on the bigger headline titles.

I appreciate your measured evaluation, but again, if you're cognizant of this happening then you are fully in control of changing it. The titles being visible on the site are not actively preventing you from skipping the link text.

And if the complaint is as it seems to me in these cases, that people don't want to be more actively aware of the input they're taking through their various screens, I just don't know what to tell them. Close your eyes?
posted by carsonb at 11:19 AM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's no way to "skip the titles"; as many people have said, one winds up skimming the titles and skipping what's underneath.

Skimming means you don't read all the words. Since the titles are a different size, it's easy to find them and skip over them. I just tried it. It's totally possible.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:20 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


> No need to turn on the interrogation lamp or put on your high school forensics team shirt.

I'm all for skinning the self-appointed hall monitors alive.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:21 AM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mods, I sincerely appreciate your efforts in this, and your nearly infinite patience.

I've read the entire thread (silly of me I know), and I wasn't going to comment on this change but am now in hopes of being another small voice to be counted. I'm not generally opposed to change, and most changes to Metafilter over the years have been beneficial or at least neutral to my experience of the site. However, the addition of post titles.... is really just not working for me on a PC. Redundant information is as annoying to me as being told the same thing repeatedly, and I also dislike visual clutter. I've used benito's instructions (and thank you, benito) to edit the Stylish file to remove titles completely. It's personally a relief to have them gone, and I'll hope along for others that this can either become a user controlled setting here or are displayed only to RSS readers.

Thanks, as always.
posted by vers at 11:21 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just because I can work harder to fix something I see problematic in the design doesn't negate the fact that the design is causing the problem.
posted by quodlibet at 11:22 AM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Redundant information is as annoying to me as being told the same thing repeatedly, and I also dislike visual clutter.

Have you considered the fact that most of what is (still being) posted to the site isn't taking the new display feature into account, yeah? So what you're seeing these past two days isn't ideal. But as posters/askers adapt to the (now much, much more intuitive) posting style it will become less redundant and more useful. And I have faith that even maybe some people will figure out a way, any way, to be as clever with the titles now as they were before.

Not saying your feelings are wrong or your opinions invalid, but this logical argument being presented about redundancy has a huge gaping hole in it.
posted by carsonb at 11:24 AM on January 8, 2013


It just occurred to me (as I was waiting for Recent Activity to load) that this probably isn't about titles at all and things'll revert back to normal in a few days— It could totally just be a stress test on the new server configuration.
posted by carsonb at 11:28 AM on January 8, 2013


I liked that the old site made me read more than 5-10 words to really get what something was about.

Yeah, I feel the same way, and I'm curious if the addition of titles as a way of providing link-summary will, over the long run, increase the kind of threadshitting I find the most irritating: early-thread comments complaining about the lack of context or explanation.

For the record, I don't really like the titles, and would prefer they disappear, though I don't find them as off-putting as I found/find the Edit Window, as far as unwanted new features go.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:29 AM on January 8, 2013


Try to discuss this in good faith.

It helps if one doesn't start their comment with "Don't be ridiculous".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:30 AM on January 8, 2013


That's such bad advice anyway!
posted by carsonb at 11:31 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Don't be ridiculous. There's no way to "skip the titles"; as many people have said, one winds up skimming the titles and skipping what's underneath. I was just at AskMe and while it was a smoother experience, because I hardly looked at any posts and it was much quicker, I don't really think that's a desideratum. Try to discuss this in good faith.

As I mentioned above, my text size settings are something I tweaked back a long time ago, but the titles look a bit smaller then the post-text to me, and I honestly have been just skimming right by them. I just had to make myself try to read them.

This is part of why I think this conversation is frustrating for the people who either support them or think of them as not that big a deal: we are being asked to give credence to the utterly transformative nature of the titles, with the understanding that there is no way for them to not be transformative, and yet many of us do not find them transformative at all. I am trying to discuss this in good faith, but I look at the front page as I see it, script free, and I have a really really hard time understanding what the fuss is about. If I can have settings that make these things not a big deal, just from my user profile, I have a hard time understanding why they are a deal breaker for other people. I am trying to accept that they are, but the heated rhetoric makes it hard.
posted by OmieWise at 11:31 AM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


And it makes me very angry.

For me, the tip off there was the way you put very and angry in bold.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:32 AM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


There are a lot of opinions about what the purpose of a post title is, as opposed to maybe what some of its incidental functions are. I have the sense that prior to this change, they were a handle on which to hang a link to that post, and while they served that function they could also (incidentally) carry some information about the post - a summary or joke or whatever.

While titles are on the front page over the post text, it seems like the primary function is still more or less the same - it's the handle on which to hang a link to the post, just now the handle is over the post it links to while it's still on the front page, which makes two or more points of access from the post-on-the-front-page into the post's individual page - but this link necessarily carries information, which (more inside) and the comments link don't. It still means 'take me to the post/comments page', but it has to have words in it, and these words are now the first thing a user sees, and the most prominant words of the post. It changes the way people will read the front page and therefore it is likely to change the way people write titles. The title is now the 'tell me why I should read your post' opportunity, and because some people will only ever read the title and (having read) move on if they're not grabbed by it, it has the potential to change how people write posts as well as read them.

The new/additional position of the title alters the way the post title's incidental funtions are approached by some posters as well as altering the appearance and functionality for some users (members or not) - for some positively, for others negatively.

I think maybe it would be helpful to specifically identify what the goal is (seems to me it's 'make an easier way for people to find their way into the post'?) and see how that goal can be achieved while leaving unbroken things unaltered. People saying 'hey! this makes it so much easier for me to see where one post ends and the other begins! Cool! or 'This makes it easier to see what's relevant to my interests and saves me a lot of clicking!' - those seem to me to be side effects that are positive for some people (just as there are negative side effects for some people) - but they might be derails from the primary goal, and it might be possible to address the primary goal without inducing (as many of those) side effects, and then the feedback from the side effects can be taken on board as separate issues where it seems useful.

I don't think the goal of the change was to address the question 'What is this post about?' but rather 'How do I get into this thing?' - obviously I could be really wrong - but I think it's possible to address that need without this many side effects.

Matt seems to indicate that the goal in making this change was ' to see what it would look like', and that 'In our testing, the most popular response was along the lines of "What?! Oh hey, that's actually pretty useful. I like it!"' and that the EFFECTS of the change were 'The usability of the front pages improves with this change. It's much easier to tell where a post starts and ends. You get a big click target to jump into a thread, plus the front page of Ask MetaFilter is much