A new preferences option to hide titles on Mefi
February 20, 2013 2:03 PM   Subscribe

We're putting together a new preferences option to toggle off titles on the front page of Mefi specifically, and we'd like some input on wording.

Based on a month or so of feedback on the change toward having post titles visible on the front pages of Mefi, AskMe and MetaTalk, we've seen two major positions emerge from folks not sold on having titles everywhere:

1. Some folks would like to just not see titles on the front page of any of Mefi, AskMe or MetaTalk. We have a solution for that in place already: set the title fontsize to 0.

2. Some folks find titles disruptive on Mefi but find them helpful on Ask (and mostly don't seem to mind them on MetaTalk either). That's what this new preference option is for: a compromise that gives that group the option of splitting the difference without having to use an external hack to accomplish it.

At this point we're mostly just not thrilled with any of the phrasing we've come up with for the preference option, since it's a really small footprint on that page for labels, so we'd like some feedback/suggestions specifically on that front. You can see a few possibilities (and get a sense of the space issue) in these examples:

- Hide titles on the www.metafilter.com front page?
- Hide titles on www.metafilter.com?
- Hide titles on www.metafilter?

The tricky part is that the intent is pretty clear in the context of a thread like this one, but we'd like it to not be mystifying to someone coming to that preference page pretty much cold. That "Mefi" and "Metafilter" can refer to both the site as a whole and specifically just the blue, and "front page" can likewise mean the front page of a given subsite or the front page of the blue, is also a little tricky here.

So, opinions? Ideas?
posted by cortex to MetaFilter-Related at 2:03 PM (133 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

-[NOT TITLEIST] Now watch me drive
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:09 PM on February 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Maybe after the first option, put in parentheses: "(the blue one)"
posted by Greg Nog at 2:09 PM on February 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think the first one is the best one. Maybe if you make it a link to the front page it'll reinforce what you're trying to say for people who might be confused.

I would also like to say: thank you for doing this. I love you all.
posted by phunniemee at 2:09 PM on February 20, 2013


> "(the blue one)"

I'm not comfortable with this kind of casual Professional Backgroundism.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:11 PM on February 20, 2013 [13 favorites]


Seriously, though, I'd go with:

- Hide titles on metafilter.com front page (only)?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:12 PM on February 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think your first option is the clearest wording of what you're trying to accomplish. And as phunniemee said, thank you for taking the time and work needed to do this.
posted by Lynsey at 2:12 PM on February 20, 2013


Metafilter main front page?
Metafilter Blue front page?

Members who care enough about titles on specific sub-sites can probably be relied upon to figure it out. But then, I have no real UI design experience.
posted by vidur at 2:12 PM on February 20, 2013


#1 is clearest. But I agree with IRFH above.
posted by unSane at 2:12 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the first one. Or:

[] Show titles everywhere?
[] Show titles everywhere but www.Metafilter.com?
[] Show titles everywhere but ask.metafilter.com?

On by default

Thank you for doing this!
posted by zarq at 2:13 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Weeniebutton
posted by y2karl at 2:13 PM on February 20, 2013


I'd combine the two plain language ways of referring to this: "Hide titles on Metafilter's front page."

That's transparent to new users who haven't explored the subsites, and because it's singular, also clear to folks who have. Meanwhile it avoids writing out the URL, which may seem weird to people who haven't noticed there are several.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 2:14 PM on February 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


Use this, checked "on" by default for all new users:

[ X ] Display titles on main page

Flipping it around like that ensures that it is discoverable, and when unchecked by the user, they won't expect titles to disappear elsewhere.
posted by davejay at 2:14 PM on February 20, 2013 [23 favorites]


I like "Hide titles only on Metafilter's front page? (the blue one)"

Some folks would like to just not see titles on the front page of any of Mefi, AskMe or MetaTalk. We have a solution for that in place already: set the title fontsize to 0.

This is not super obvious. I'f you're mucking around with preferences I'd add a note saying "setting font size to zero will hide titles on all subsites."

Also, thank you thank you!
posted by lalex at 2:16 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


or [ X ] Show titles on main page if space is tight, and note that when they uncheck it and surf the site, newer users will think "oh, I guess THAT one is the main page", and thus will have learned it.
posted by davejay at 2:16 PM on February 20, 2013


[ ] Hide titles on MetaFilter front page?
posted by Rock Steady at 2:19 PM on February 20, 2013


-[NOT TITLEIST] Now watch me drive

Heh heh heh. Titleist.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:19 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


One last option, mimicking the "Comment favorites style" control:

Post title style: [ foo ]

Where foo is defaulted to "Show everywhere" for new users, and other options are "Hide everywhere" and "Hide on main page"
posted by davejay at 2:20 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the thing we are concerned about is that for a lot of people their main page is ask.metafilter.com and they basically never go to MetaFilter which is why we're getting a little convoluted with the wording. We're afraid "front page" may mean ask.metafilter.com to many people. Whatever we go with will wind up having a link to the FAQ that explains this more generally, but we'd like something succinct but also clear.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:22 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually think you need to make it optional throughout, because otherwise you're going to see a subset of people saying 'Thanks for making this a setting for X. Now can you please also make it a setting for Y?'

I'd favour something like:

Display Post Titles for:
  [x] MetaFilter
  [x] Ask MeFi
  [x] MetaTalk
posted by pipeski at 2:23 PM on February 20, 2013 [49 favorites]


Then forget everything I said, and go with something like:

Post title style: [ foo ]

Where foo is defaulted to "Show everywhere" for new users, and other options are "Hide everywhere" and "Hide on www.metafilter.com only" -- because if you put that text in the dropdown, you no longer have label space concerns.

why yes I am working on unrelated wireframes at this very moment, why do you ask?
posted by davejay at 2:23 PM on February 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


I vote for this!

I actually think you need to make it optional throughout, because otherwise you're going to see a subset of people saying 'Thanks for making this a setting for X. Now can you please also make it a setting for Y?'

I'd favour something like:

Display Post Titles for:
[x] MetaFilter
[x] Ask MeFi
[x] MetaTalk
posted by pipeski at 4:23 PM on February 20 [+] [!]

posted by puritycontrol at 2:25 PM on February 20, 2013


jessamyn: We're afraid "front page" may mean ask.metafilter.com to many people.

What if the words "front page" were a link to www.metafilter.com?
posted by Rock Steady at 2:25 PM on February 20, 2013


or just Post titles, the word "style" is kind of pointless, I was just mimicking the other control
posted by davejay at 2:26 PM on February 20, 2013


I actually think you need to make it optional throughout

The feedback we've gotten indicates that people are either saying

- I want to see no titles at all, or
- I want to not see titles on www.metafilter.com but I'd like to have them visible for AskMe and other parts of the site

People who need something more granular than that can use scripts available to them.

We're okay with telling some people that they are just not going to get what they want re: titles. What we'd like is useful phrasing for this change we'd like to make to accommodate feedback that we've gotten. We were hesitant to post this at all because we know that for some people the titles thing is a bit of an open wound, but we'd really like to try to focus on this aspect of it if at all possible.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:27 PM on February 20, 2013


What we'd like is useful phrasing for this change we'd like to make to accommodate feedback that we've gotten.

I actually think the granular option is the most useful, since it forces users to distinguish between the 3 main subsites. Otherwise I'd go with something like:

"Hide titles only on Metafilter's front page? (titles will still be visible on Ask Metafilter and MetaTalk)"
posted by lalex at 2:32 PM on February 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ok then:

[x] Display Post Titles for MetaFilter ('The Blue')

Capitalisation of 'Post Titles' optional
posted by pipeski at 2:34 PM on February 20, 2013


"Hide titles only on Metafilter's front page? (titles will still be visible on Ask Metafilter and MetaTalk)"

I like it.

(DISCLAIMER: I will be leaving titles on, so possibly not the target audience)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:36 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree with IRFH and lalex that adding the word "only" helps clarify. And I think you need the "front page" words partly because you're not hiding titles on individual post pages regardless, correct? So "hide titles on the metafilter.com front page only".

Or maybe super wordy is more better in this case - "Hiding titles is an option for the front page of www.metafilter.com. Check the box if you'd like to do that"
posted by donnagirl at 2:38 PM on February 20, 2013


"(The one without the questions)" if you're really worried about subscribers who can't figure out which page is the front one.
posted by radwolf76 at 2:38 PM on February 20, 2013


I like a reduced version of zarq's idea:
[] Show titles everywhere?
[] Show titles everywhere but www.Metafilter.com?

...I actually need to suppress titles on AskMe because I like to browse at work, and those tend to be a bit more revealing than the question text but want them everywhere else, so I'm also not target demographic.
posted by batmonkey at 2:38 PM on February 20, 2013


Leave titles on by default site-wide. Allow users to tick them off as needed per pipeski.
posted by maggieb at 2:51 PM on February 20, 2013


pipeski almost has it. I like:
Display post titles on home pages of:
  [x] MetaFilter
  [x] Ask MetaFilter
  [x] MetaTalk
posted by nicwolff at 2:52 PM on February 20, 2013


Display Post Titles for:
[x] MetaFilter
[x] MetaTalk
[x] Ask MeFi
[x] Projects
[x] Music
[x] Jobs
[x] Podcast
[x] IRL
posted by unliteral at 2:55 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


You guys did see jessamyn's comment, right?
posted by Chrysostom at 2:55 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


So this is for the front page only? Then specify Front Page, "Turn titles off the blue" ..??..
posted by maggieb at 2:56 PM on February 20, 2013


"Turn titles off the blue" ..??..

What about those using the plain theme?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:59 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, to reiterate, we're aware there's a counter-argument for more granular preferences on this but that's not really what we're looking at here. Focus on clear and pithy phrasing for the actual option in question would be most helpful.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:59 PM on February 20, 2013


I think I'd argue that the wording, as long as it isn't wildly confusing, isn't critical - almost any of the above suggestions would be fine. This setting, like many of the preferences, is only really something you'd delve into as a regular visitor who wants to tweak something; at that point, you'd probably know the difference between MetaFilter and Ask. And it's not like you're going to break something by not knowing.
posted by pipeski at 3:14 PM on February 20, 2013


What about those using the plain theme?

Sent straight to bed with no dessert because you are wrong.
posted by phunniemee at 3:16 PM on February 20, 2013


[x] Show titles on metafilter.com (does not change titles on other subsites such as ask.metafilter.com)
posted by HuronBob at 3:25 PM on February 20, 2013


Also, once you make this an official option, I would suggest a warning next to the title field of the new post page that reminds folks that some users will NOT see the title.
posted by HuronBob at 3:26 PM on February 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


In case it's helpful to phrasemeisters:
When I was looking at this, it seemed that the space we have requires a phrase of about 31 characters or less, to fit on one line. Otherwise the text wraps and screws up the spacing of surrounding elements. So: 31 characters.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:29 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


HuronBob's comment makes me think this is just digging a deeper hole, and having people viewing posts with and without titles will only lead to confusion. You're having to explain this preference, and the consequences of this preference for other users, etc...

My vote: no customization. Let this blow over.
posted by zsazsa at 3:52 PM on February 20, 2013


Hide all post titles
Hide post titles only on MetaFilter
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:54 PM on February 20, 2013


Unrelated suggestions:

* Move this option to be adjacent to the Title Font/Title Font Size options.

* Incorporate a link to this thread (or somewhere), similar to what you did with 'comment updates' and 'share links'.

* There's some empty space on the right (in the desktop browser version, anyway) where you could have an example preview post rendered using the selected fonts/sizes/options.

(Unfortunately, at my work this would end up being labelled "Title suppression" and you'd have to uncheck the box to remove the titles)
posted by ceribus peribus at 3:54 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can run titles but you can't hide titles. No, wait, you can hide titles. I'm confused.

Well, I happen to like seeing titles on the blue, so it's a non-issue for me. Carry on!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:06 PM on February 20, 2013


Hide all post titles
Hide post titles only on MetaFilter


Cut and print.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:08 PM on February 20, 2013


How about 'Hide post titles only on the site's front page (www.metafilter.com).'?

Also, I had no puppy in the fight over post titles, but I do dearly love you all for being so committed to user experience.
posted by winna at 4:38 PM on February 20, 2013


Brandon Blatcher, heh, I use the plain theme too but still call it "the blue."
posted by maggieb at 4:44 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just so log as they don't expect any special treatment from FPP writers.
posted by Artw at 4:49 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Hide titles on www.metafilter.com only"

Alternatively, could you add a tooltip to for additional explanation? Like the little question mark beside the "Social Media Apps" at the bottom that links to a FAQ entry or something.
posted by Phire at 4:49 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm happy to see this is happening. Thanks!

In terms of wording, referring to the blue as 'www.' won't mean much to non-technical folks who don't really know about subdomains and stuff, I don't think. Although it's true that metafilter.com resolves to www.metafilter.com automatically, I think for a fair number of people, the www bit in general is poorly understood (and in fact, in this case, doesn't all that much subdomain sense, anyway).

Isn't it funny how the smallest things can be so knotty to figure out, in terms of terminology? Even calling it 'the blue', traditional as it is, doesn't signify very well when people are using the plain theme.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:53 PM on February 20, 2013


If I were doing it and I wanted people to understand perfectly, I'd maybe make a little indicator text that changed according to the radio button selection.

For example, if the radio button was unselected, there'd be a div off to the side saying 'Titles will be shown on MeFi, AskMe, and MeTa'. If the user selects the radio button, the text would change to 'Titles will be hidden on MeFi, and shown on AskMe and MeTa'. (Or whatever explanatory text is clearest.)

I think that would lower the rate of misunderstanding of the feature's function to zero, basically.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:57 PM on February 20, 2013


Title options:

[ ] Classic MetaFilter
[ ] More Titles than the Court of Louis XIV
[ ] What Fresh Hell Is This?
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:17 PM on February 20, 2013 [12 favorites]


So: 31 characters.

Lots of other preferences link to a FAQ entry that describes something in more detail. Would that be an option here?
posted by 23skidoo at 5:26 PM on February 20, 2013


- Hide titles on www.metafilter.com?

This sounds best, IMO.

I use the plain theme too but still call it "the blue."

Sure, but it sounds like the mods are thinking chiefly of people who just hang out on AskMe, so they may not be familiar with the nicknames for the sub-sites.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:37 PM on February 20, 2013


I think davejay's checkbox label and select box suggestions are both good ones.

A select box gives you a lot more flexibility on the wording of the option, and being able to name each state (instead of a statement that is true or false) makes it clearer what you're changing.

If a checkbox is the only option, I think "Hide titles on main page" is the clearest wording within the space limit. Since it looks like space to the left of the checkbox is what's limited, perhaps you could add hint text to the right of the checkbox. Less emphasized text (like "current server time" further down) that said "Titles will still be show on AskMeFi and MetaTalk" or similar to make sure the distinction between subsites is clear.

The mods certainly know better than me, but I would guess that people who only know about one subsite don't really get into things like tweaking which sites titles display one. It maybe possible to cover that with a faq link and not worry too much about whether the wording is obvious to more casual users.
posted by duien at 5:46 PM on February 20, 2013


Would you want to move this option up the page to the rest of the title options?

In fact thinking about it, while you have the hood up, you could probably shuffle a few things around, and maybe have some subtle delineation (divs?) of different customization categories, such as moving the link options together, moving the comment options together, and so on. So you could have font stuff, link stuff, then comment stuff.

Body font: [ ]
Body font size: [ ]
Byline font: [ ]
Byline font size: [ ]
Title font: [ ]
Title font size: [ ]
Hide titles on the Metafilter front page? [ ]*
---
Underline Links?: [ ]
Open links in new windows? : [ ]
Hide share links? : [ ]
YouTube & Vimeo video inline? : [ ]
---
Inline comment updates? : [ ]
Comment favorites style : [ ]

Hmm, you might think about losing the colons too, I don't think they work with the question marks.

Thanks for all your work on this.

* I think this is the best wording, you're not going to please everyone, so I think simple is best.
posted by carter at 6:03 PM on February 20, 2013


- Hide titles on www.metafilter.com?

I think this is pretty inscrutable for users who aren't aware that the subsites aren't, i.e. metafilter.com/ask and for people who are used to scripting type stuff where installing for metafilter.com applies to all the subsites.
posted by lalex at 6:04 PM on February 20, 2013


"Hide FPP titles"? Or is 'FPP' too obscure?

(Also I just noticed "Note: Everyone needs a hug." for the first time, so *HUGS EVERYONE*)
posted by capricorn at 7:08 PM on February 20, 2013


Display Post Titles for:
[x] MetaFilter
[x] MetaTalk
[x] Ask MeFi
[x] Projects
[x] Music
[x] Jobs
[x] Podcast
[x] IRL


The mods aren't interested in taking this option. This is a little disappointing to me, not because the implied functionality is important to many people (it's likely not), but because it is far and away the most understandable option presented so far. I now understand how answerers feel when I AskMe about something and pre-emptively rule out the seemingly best option.

I don't yet have a better option. My suggestion would be "Show titles on non-Ask posts"; it's shorter than 31 characters but it probably doesn't work, because I get the impression the mods don't want to allow the users to distinguish between Ask vs everything else, but between the blue and everything else.
posted by Jpfed at 7:37 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm confused. 31 characters is a fairly major limitation, and the first 2 options presented in this post exceed it. Is this a hard limit?
posted by lalex at 7:45 PM on February 20, 2013


How about:

Hide titles on Metafilter's front page?: [ ]
posted by samthemander at 8:13 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a little disappointing to me, not because the implied functionality is important to many people (it's likely not), but because it is far and away the most understandable option presented so far

Yeah, that's sort of what I felt. It feels like there's a straightforward solution to this that's being ruled out for reasons I don't fully understand. The 0 point thing is a horrible kludge.
posted by unSane at 8:19 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


thank you mods. thank you.

I trust others to help with the wording.

thank you!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:33 PM on February 20, 2013


[] Metafilter Classic
[] "New" Metafilter
posted by empath at 8:37 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


[] Ahhhh yeah!
[] Hell naw!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:39 PM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why do viewer preferences take precedence over creator preferences. Shouldn't an artist have some say over how the public experiences their work? I believe a poster should be able to say" the title is an integral part of the post, and you should not experience it piecemeal"
posted by Ad hominem at 8:45 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why do viewer preferences take precedence over creator preferences. Shouldn't an artist have some say over how the public experiences their work?

How does it feel, standing athwart the Internet, yelling Stop?
posted by benito.strauss at 8:48 PM on February 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


[_] Go BIG or
[_] Go NO
posted by maggieb at 9:09 PM on February 20, 2013


'hide titles on the front page?'
posted by dunkadunc at 9:11 PM on February 20, 2013


For god's sake, just make them mandatory and move on.
posted by malocchio at 9:23 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


For god's sake, just make them mandatory and move on.

This would make the blue unreadable for me and many others; I'm thrilled the mods are looking into different ideas.
posted by lalex at 9:28 PM on February 20, 2013


Ad hominem: "I believe a poster should be able to say" the title is an integral part of the post, and you should not experience it piecemeal""

Given Greasemonkey, this is impossible.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:33 PM on February 20, 2013


Kind of surprised "Get off my lawn" not floated as a possibility.
posted by Deathalicious at 9:45 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


This would make the blue unreadable for me and many others; I'm thrilled the mods are looking into different ideas.

Well, I find the titles useless at best and distracting at worst. But "unreadable?" That comes off as hyperbole.
posted by malocchio at 10:08 PM on February 20, 2013


Hide titles on the main site? : [ ]     On AskMe, MetaTalk, etc., too? : [ ]

For AskMe users who think AskMe is the main site (yet here they are on their Preference page reading this thing.. how big is this set of people?) it's an opportunity to educate.
posted by fleacircus at 10:10 PM on February 20, 2013


That comes off as hyperbole.

It's not, but I don't want to turn this into yet another thread about the benefits and drawbacks of titles.
posted by lalex at 10:33 PM on February 20, 2013


malocchio, until the option came to change titles, I seriously couldn't read MeFi. I found that I was skipping from title to title, and rather than reading through to find a post I wanted to check out, I skimmed the front page and, more often than not, didn't click on a single link. As lalex said, it's not hyperbole. As it is, I've gone ahead and left titles in (since people are now making posts with the title being a key piece of information) but made the titles much, much smaller. It's not ideal, but it's allowing me read the site much like I used to. With the giant titles, my eyes automatically jumped from headline to headline, and that was that.

That said, out of curiousity, are user preferences for title size still on the table? Or is this going to essentially be Title/No Title as the only options?
posted by Ghidorah at 10:40 PM on February 20, 2013


Title size will remain a user-defined option.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:44 PM on February 20, 2013


lalex, the character limit thing is just me counting how many characters seem to fit into the space, so I might be off by a little. As pb was working on this, he was aiming for a single line, since -- I gathered -- letting the text wrap messed up other elements. Or maybe just that it would be nice to keep it to one line since the other descriptors in that column are each one line?

But looking again, the middle option linked above looks to be 34 characters, counting the question mark. So I must have been misremembering my initial count - it's about 34.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:12 PM on February 20, 2013


34 characters? That changes everyt
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:19 PM on February 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


OK, well, let us know when you figure out what the actual parameters are. That way we can do what's been asked in this post - assist you with wording.
posted by lalex at 11:21 PM on February 20, 2013


Display Post Titles for:
[x] MetaFilter
[x] Ask MeFi
[x] MetaTalk

with the last two greyed out.
posted by flabdablet at 11:34 PM on February 20, 2013


Lalex, LobsterMitten was just offering an estimate of characters that would fit into the space without wrapping in case some people who are interested might find it helpful to think about it from that angle, but no one is required to participate. This is more "what are your thoughts, interested people?" and less "fulfill this purchase order, you!"
posted by taz (staff) at 12:42 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow. I just can't imagine how this matters to anyone. (Tip: if you put your hands over your eyes you won't see anything you don't want to see!) But of course I defer to the mods on how they need to spend their time.

(My further opinions are available via MeMail.)
posted by trip and a half at 1:47 AM on February 21, 2013


Hide titles:
[x] Hide titles

(I kid)
posted by panaceanot at 1:59 AM on February 21, 2013


"Hide titles on front page".

They can probably guess that they're not hiding titles on the Huffington Post, no need to mention metafilter.com specifically.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:36 AM on February 21, 2013


But more seriously... I'd set titles on by default for ask.metafilter.com and off for metafilter.com

then you have default settings:

[ ] Display titles on metafilter.com
[x] Display titles on ask.metafilter.com
posted by panaceanot at 2:51 AM on February 21, 2013


Which section do you want to see titles on:

[ ] The 'Cat video link' one
[ ] The 'Dumping your partner is the solution to everything' one
[ ] The 'I made a thing' one
[ ] The 'I made some noise' one
[ ] The 'I'll be your busboy' one
[ ] The 'It's not a date but y'know, just me and a cat gets kinda lonely after a while' one
[ ] The 'Monthly mod-speak bingo session: Drink one shot when Matt says 'awesome', two when he says 'fuck'...' one
[ ] The 'Why you delete my fantastic post, cruel mods?' one
posted by Wordshore at 3:06 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


[ ] The bidet is an MP3 player that plays Smashmouth at your face
posted by panaceanot at 4:06 AM on February 21, 2013


or in your face? sonic waves massage your face? whatever.
posted by panaceanot at 4:08 AM on February 21, 2013


Title preferences:
[x] Kill it with fire
posted by slogger at 4:15 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow. I just can't imagine how this matters to anyone. (Tip: if you put your hands over your eyes you won't see anything you don't want to see!)

Why am I hearing that in the voice of Rimmer from Red Dwarf?
posted by flabdablet at 4:34 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


[x] Double the amount of useful information displayed on the front page?
posted by DU at 4:59 AM on February 21, 2013


I really dislike negated options like "Do not hide titles", so please make it "[x] Display titles" rather than "[ ] Hide titles".
posted by flif at 5:25 AM on February 21, 2013


> Why do viewer preferences take precedence over creator preferences. Shouldn't an artist have some say over how the public experiences their work? I believe a poster should be able to say" the title is an integral part of the post, and you should not experience it piecemeal"

"I am the author. You are the audience. I outrank you!" --Franz Liebkind
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:30 AM on February 21, 2013


The last comment is fitting with my deeply held belief that we ought to phrase things in ways Mel Brooks would recognize, whenever possible.
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:33 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


[] Hide Titles
[X] Show titles

Popup from metafilter.com:

Excuse me while I whip this out!
posted by zarq at 5:45 AM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


[x] Whip your titles out and show metafilter who's boss
posted by gauche at 6:11 AM on February 21, 2013


Is it possible to have the following options:

Title preferences
[] Show titles
[] Show titles on all pages except www.Metafilter.com ("the blue")
[] Hide titles on all pages (This option sets font size on all titles to zero.)
If you choose to display titles, please set your preferred font size: [---]
posted by girlpublisher at 6:20 AM on February 21, 2013


[x] Show us your books
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:22 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


[] Show us your titles.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:41 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Titles ON -- OFF
Jennifer Love Hewitt HOT -- NOT
Indian for Lunch? AWESOME -- NO WAY MAN THAT SHIT’S NASTY
posted by timsteil at 7:06 AM on February 21, 2013


I have to admit that, having whined about this initially, I'm surprised about the continued complaints. Setting the title size as identical to the text (and setting it in bold) has eliminated every single one of my complaints. I rather like them now, actually. And I feel like it's kind of cruddy to introduce changes that alter posting styles, and then make it so that people essentially see two different versions of a post on their frontpage depending on user preference.

I honestly really feel like it was a design problem more than anything else.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:19 AM on February 21, 2013


People generally, myself included, think that their own level of complaining is appropriate and that other people's complaining is disproportionate. In many ways we're fortunate to have a detail-oriented and opinionated userbase that has a high level of feedback into any design or content or moderation decision. In other ways, it makes change incredibly difficult. We try to be responsive where appropriate and tell folks "well you'll need to learn to live with this" when appropriate but we are also looking for ways whereby the people who are dissatisfied can maybe get things set up a bit more as they would like it.

So we have the main issue: titles are now the default view and people who are not logged in will see them. That is true and will not be changing. I'm sorry if this is tough for people.

Then we had the hack for people who just could not abide by this at all [set titles to zero] and now we're trying to fold in a way for people to see titles on part of the site but not others. And I hear you, this means there are two "view" in some ways. And we've decided that that downside is the lesser of the other downsides we're dealing with.

And I don't know about the other mod team folks but for me it would be significantly easier to stop talking about this and just let people who weren't satisfied stay that way. But we're working on it and trying to find some compromise points and we're trying to do that in line with how we make and iterate changes here. What we heard loud and clear was "We wanted the opportunity for input before this was a done deal" so this is an opportunity for input before we make a change that people might care about.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:38 AM on February 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, to reiterate, we're aware there's a counter-argument for more granular preferences on this but that's not really what we're looking at here. Focus on clear and pithy phrasing for the actual option in question would be most helpful.

Take it to AskMe!
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:40 AM on February 21, 2013


If folks want to play with labels directly to see how long they can be, you can right-click on one of the existing labels (like "Comment favorites style :") in Chrome, choose "Inspect Element," double-click on the "Comment favorites style :" text in the Inspector and enter your new text. Apparently I am That Guy about the Inspect Element feature.

As far as substance, if you don't end up liking any of the pithy phrasing, is it such a bad thing for the label to wrap around? You can fix the display for wrapping labels by switching from float:left to display:inline-block. Here's what that looks like with a longer title. Not a disaster, if it makes the text clearer. (I'm not sure I quite nailed it with my label text, but you can see where I'm going.) (And the CSS should probably allow for wrapping anyway, in case people have weird font sizes or something.)

Also -- and apologies for going on about it, but if you lay down with design nerds you'll get up with opinionated obsessives -- I agree that "Show titles on homepage for : [ ] MetaFilter [ ] AskMefi [ ] MetaTalk" is the clearest option. Here's what that would look like. Aside from functionality, this way just requires less thinking to know exactly what the setting is going to do. A single checkbox that affects www but not ask will inevitably require more explanation, because it requires you to implicitly understand the concept of subsites rather than making the distinction obvious.
posted by jhc at 8:04 AM on February 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Show titles on homepage for : [ ] MetaFilter [ ] AskMefi [ ] MetaTalk"

Good idea, and you could probably get away with something like:

Show post titles on : [ ] MetaFilter [ ] AskMefi [ ] MetaTalk"

At some point you just have to assume that users will know at least something about the site. Given that they've been motivated to pay $5 to sign up for something they like, then I think that we can assume some background knowledge.
posted by carter at 8:14 AM on February 21, 2013


jessamyn: "People generally, myself included, think that their own level of complaining is appropriate and that other people's complaining is disproportionate."

I vote this goes on the next round of Metafilter t-shirts.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:19 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


#1 and with IRFH's version of wording works best for me.
posted by arcticseal at 8:21 AM on February 21, 2013


This is a little disappointing to me, not because the implied functionality is important to many people (it's likely not), but because it is far and away the most understandable option presented so far

Just a point: the functionality implied by the solution proposed (that you referenced) does not actually exist -- the ability to toggle titles on a per-site basis -- so the solution proposed isn't valid (even if it is understandable.)

From a UED perspective (it's one of the things I do, so I get to pretend I have some kind of grandiose knowledge on this subject, which I don't, but I seem to get paid anyway) the problem is a fixed one, which is paraphrased thusly:

"How can we best phrase this option's label to fit a limited space without being inscrutable to new users?"

The nature/availability of the option isn't in play. The space available to the option's label isn't in play. That leaves only two solutions, one of which is editorial -- work on the label text until the desired balance is achieved -- and the other of which is UED/IX -- move the label text to an existing affordance that is not constrained by size.

My two proposals address the problem from those two perspectives. I'm not saying that to make the case that my proposals are correct, but just to say that my proposals (even if ill-conceived) address the key question in play. Almost all of the other suggestions made above (even if brilliantly conceived) are answering a different question, or require changes to areas that aren't in play.

So: given the choice of limiting the label text to the space available (you can play with this using Firebug et al on the existing preferences page) or (maybe) moving the label text to a different location within an existing control style, show the mods your best stuff!
posted by davejay at 8:27 AM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, having played with Firebug myself just now forced me to take a harder look at the current nomenclature for other checkboxes, and I'd like to suggest this (other checkbox nomenclature included to support my position):


Underline Links? :
Open links in new windows? :
YouTube & Vimeo video inline? :
Inline comment updates? :
Hide share links? :
Titles on www.metafilter.com? :


And, presumably, "Titles" would be linked back to this very thread. :D

This works because it mimics existing verbless label nomenclature ("Inline comment updates?" and "YouTube & Vimeo video inline?") that works well in a limited space, allowing the full www.metafilter.com domain name to be displayed. I could still make a case for using "main page" instead, but why bother, when this works entirely within the stated constraints?

I could also make a case for rewriting all of them to either have or eschew verbs, but again, why bother?

This is a good example, by the way, of why tyrannical design gets things done, even if the tyrant designer isn't always popular. You can discuss little things like this late into the evening and back again on the other side, if one person isn't empowered to say "we are doing it this way, and we will fix it if it becomes a problem."
posted by davejay at 8:47 AM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not saying that to make the case that my proposals are correct, but just to say that my proposals (even if ill-conceived) address the key question in play.

Not to nitpick -- your stuff in this thread is great -- but at least one of your own proposals involved a "hide everywhere" option that isn't currently implemented. Which is cool. I'm just saying, MetaTalk's function of efficiently generating solutions to design briefs is maybe ancillary to -- or even dependent on -- its primary function of giving us all something to argue over. Drawing outside the lines (in a friendly way) is to some extent a feature.

Particularly here, where I'm not 100% sure the brief is solvable within its terms. Cortex points out the basic problem, that "'Mefi' and 'Metafilter' can refer to both the site as a whole and specifically just the blue, and 'front page' can likewise mean the front page of a given subsite or the front page of the blue." He also says they're not thrilled with "Hide titles on www.metafilter.com?" because the intent may not be clear to new users.

So if "Metafilter", "front page", and "www.metafilter.com" are all ambiguous, and the question is "how do we unambiguously refer to titles on mefi-the-subsite-front-page but not mefi-the-website in less than 34 characters," the answer may be "you can't." So then it's more like, "which aspect of the design brief would you like to bend?"

Your proposals so far bend the part that says "www.metafilter.com" is ambiguous, and I guess the part that says ambiguity is a negative thing. Others bend the part that says it has to fit in a certain space, or the part that says it has to be a single checkbox. I like your "Titles on www.metafilter.com?' for consistency, but all of them seem like decent solutions to the conundrum.
posted by jhc at 9:33 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


[] expose titles
[] just some cleavage
[] tucked away inside
posted by Kabanos at 9:34 AM on February 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hide titles (MetaFilter only)? : [ ]

I think using the subsite's proper name rather than the URL to distinguish MetaFilter from AskMeFi and MetaTalk is less ambiguous and saves characters.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 9:36 AM on February 21, 2013


Not to nitpick -- your stuff in this thread is great -- but at least one of your own proposals involved a "hide everywhere" option that isn't currently implemented.

Granted. That was actually bugging me, the contradiction I introduced in my own argument, but I decided it was okay for me to be hoisted on my own petard a bit. I am indeed as guilty as anyone on that score.

The remainder of your comment is also spot-on regarding the ambiguity problem; that's the core of it, and I'm in agreement that it is unsolvable...although there's 50/50 odds on it not actually being a problem at all, as there's no higher-level source of truth on how users term the delineation between sites any more than there's a higher-level source of truth on the site being called MetaFilter in the first place.
posted by davejay at 10:07 AM on February 21, 2013


Instead of a checkbox, use a radio button group.

(o) Show titles on front page
( ) Only on Ask and other subsites

Even if that wording isn't just right, it gives you more space for suggestive verbiage.
posted by Jpfed at 10:44 AM on February 21, 2013


If one of the goals here is to not make the preference too obscure for new users, I have to ask: is the preference even relevant to new users? It seems like peoples' objections to titles stem more from habituation than anything else -- this doesn't make those objections invalid, to be sure, but I have a difficult time imagining a new user coming to the front page and saying "Boy, this would be a great site if only it didn't have those titles on the posts!"

So for usernumbers greater than n, don't show the option at all. For usernumbers less than n, show it as "[ ] Hide titles on the blue" which will make perfect sense to anyone for whom the setting is at all relevant.

Or for a more consistent user experience, "[ ] Show title preference settings on preferences page"....
posted by ook at 11:38 AM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


So for usernumbers greater than n, don't show the option at all. For usernumbers less than n, show it as "[ ] Hide titles on the blue" which will make perfect sense to anyone for whom the setting is at all relevant.

Thereby dissuading any old users who dislike titles from a brand new day.
posted by .kobayashi. at 2:46 PM on February 21, 2013


jhc's mockup is screamingly obviously the right way to do this; it's absolutely the clearest, pithiest way to make it clear that "MetaFilter", within the context of this option, refers solely to the Blue rather than to the site as a whole. There is simply no better way to do that than to make it part of a list of subsites.

However, as davejay correctly points out, there are no current plans to allow for titles to be disabled on AskMe nor MeTa.

And this is exactly why I suggested above, in all seriousness, that a list of checkboxes and subsites with the non-operational checkboxes checked and greyed out is the appropriate UI choice. It makes the following things absolutely clear:

* the checkbox for MeFi does refer to MeFi the subsite, not MeFi the whole shebang
* the titles it's talking about are the front-page ones as displayed on AskMe and MeTa
* titles cannot be disabled on AskMe and MeTa as a matter of site policy

and it does all of the above with less verbiage than any other design choice.

What's not to like?
posted by flabdablet at 5:58 PM on February 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


The problem that y'all are having with the wording is more than a wording problem; it's an interface design problem, and it needs a more nuanced and complicated solution that shows the user what is actually going on. This is because Metafilter, www.metafilter.com, and www.metafilter can all be interpreted in different ways by different users. Metafilter is both the name of the entire site and all the subsites contained within it (Ask, Talk, Music, etc.) and is the name of the subsite that is the front page.

However, calling the Blue the front page in the options, as jessamyn noted above, could be confusing for some users who never read the Blue. www.metafilter.com has a similar problem: it sounds like you're talking about the entire site and all of the subsites to me. And www.metafilter is confusing, because it is incomplete. www.metafilter.what? is what I think when I see it; it's distracting and takes me away mentally from what I'm trying to do as a user.

Since it seems like a lot of users may read the site using the Professional White Background (which... I still can't quite figure out how to do, for some reason, but that's another problem for another time) saying something like "Hide titles on Metafilter ("The Blue") is not ideal.

Therefore, I completely agree with flabdablet, from a UI perspective. I think that it is the clearest way to show exactly what is going on to users. It's not exactly perfect, because greying out boxes could cause it's own problems (I envision a MetaTalk thread every year or so saying "Why can't I click this checkbox!?") but it is the clearest solution from a design perspective.
posted by k8lin at 7:48 PM on February 21, 2013


The title for the Preferences page is "Customize Metafilter", and then it reads

"If you'd like to change the way MetaFilter looks and functions, take a look at the following preferences and adjust as necessary."

If that sentence could be changed to mention the subsites (or just that there are subsites)

"If you'd like to change the way MetaFilter and the subsites AskMe, MetaTalk, etc. look and function, take a look at the following preferences and adjust as necessary."

or similar then any number of wording options for this title preferences checkbox would make more sense.

Titles on MetaFilter main page?
Show titles on MetaFilter (Blue)?

posted by mountmccabe at 8:06 PM on February 21, 2013


I envision a MetaTalk thread every year or so saying "Why can't I click this checkbox!?"

Seems to me that without the dead checkboxes you'd still get the same threads for the same reasons, only the question would be "Why can't I hide titles on the other subsites?" and come with a whole new rehash of the argument about how the options for that should look in the Preferences.

In the admittedly unlikely event that title-hiding policy for AskMe and MeTa ever is revisited, un-greying a couple of existing checkboxes would require no UI discussion at all because it would be the overwhelmingly natural thing to do.

On the other hand, I don't recall ever having seen dummy controls added to a UI purely for the purpose of establishing a clarifying context for live ones. Has anybody here seen a precedent for that pattern?
posted by flabdablet at 8:41 PM on February 21, 2013


In my professional opinion, this is black hat usability. If titles are certain to be the best user experience (which I definitely don't agree with, but I guess that argument has been lost already) then turn them on for all users with no possible customisation. If the option to hide titles is offered as a preference, then it should be presented as a real, equal option, transparent and obvious to all users (i.e. tickboxes for each subsite, "Show titles for ...", ticked by default, with its own titled section in the preferences page). This kind of hacky approach to customisation, where the site is trying to encourage a particular behaviour by making some preference options appear obscure or undesirable is really distasteful.
posted by iivix at 4:26 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


In my professional opinion, this is black hat usability.

Unless "black hat" means something else in UX circles, this is way out of line. In what way are the mods harming anyone with presenting people this additional choice?

This kind of hacky approach to customisation, where the site is trying to encourage a particular behaviour by making some preference options appear obscure or undesirable is really distasteful.

What is being made obscure or seemingly undesirable here? They are trying to present users with a choice- hide titles for the blue, or not. But they need to accommodate people who don't know what "the blue" is; this thread is about finding a way to express the option in an understandable way. It's specifically about communicating clearly.
posted by Jpfed at 6:13 AM on February 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I say "black hat", I don't mean malevolent, but I do mean that the best usability for all users is coming second to using the UI to encourage one behaviour over another.
posted by iivix at 6:44 AM on February 22, 2013


Communicating this option clearly, if it was a genuine free and transparent choice, would be to associate it with the titles themselves, on the front page. The issue is that a significant number of new users would choose to disable titles if they were presented with the option like that. This approach is essentially a concession to existing users while making it only incidentally discoverable to new users, mitigating the risk that title display is not widely adopted. Allowing titles to be turned off on Metafilter and not Ask is also part of this, encouraging the view that Metafilter titles are established and default, and suggesting that users have to opt in to hide them rather than opt out of showing them also contributes to this. Title-off is a legacy feature, but rather than having faith in the long run superiority of titles-on, using either a free choice or just universal roll-out, the migration period is seeing an uncomfortable mix of, how to put it? Biased concessions, maybe.
posted by iivix at 7:14 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Communicating this option clearly, if it was a genuine free and transparent choice, would be to associate it with the titles themselves, on the front page.

If you mean to suggest that they should, directly adjacent to titles on the front page, display some little page element users could click to affect title display preferences, maybe you should just say that.

Assuming some nefarious scheme to control the preferences of the userbase is so weird I don't know how to respond. I'm sorry you're made uncomfortable by repeated attempts to accommodate users by placing a new site-wide preference on the same page that all the other site-wide preferences are on...?
posted by Jpfed at 7:27 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


"If you mean to suggest that they should, directly adjacent to titles on the front page, display some little page element users could click to affect title display preferences, maybe you should just say that."


I just did. But I was suggesting a conceptual solution rather than implementation.

Also, I didn't say "nefarious". I certainly haven't framed it as that kind of issue, it's just that I don't think this is the correct approach, from my, as I said, professional experience. And if you think it is weird that sites would use their preference screens to guide the behaviour of their users, then that in itself is an odd point of view.
posted by iivix at 7:55 AM on February 22, 2013


[ ] Hide titles on Ask Metafilter questions
[ ] Hide titles on Metafilter web link posts
[ ] Hide all titles

posted by zamboni at 9:30 AM on February 22, 2013


I think flabdablet's basically got got it here. But rather than greying out boxes, you could present users with two options:
[ ] Hide titles on the MeFi front page.
[ ] Hide titles on AskMe, MeTa & MeFi.
However these options are phrased, users who understand what they mean will probably already know the nicknames of the main subsites. Even though I like titles, I don't see any reason why setting all titles to 0 should be a hidden option. Having the second option on the list makes it clear that the earlier one is different.
posted by nangar at 10:46 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


How lucky we are! How many other sites let users have so much typographic control? Thanks, metafilter. Also, this will make a great case study one day.

A few UX pros have chimed in on this thread, it seems to me with overlapping recommendations (though speaking as another pro, I may well have selection bias) which I'll attempt to summarise. Namely, that there is currently no way to concisely and unambiguously signify 'the blue' as opposed to the *.metafilter site as a whole, without either using the phrase 'the blue', or providing additional context to clarify meaning.

The UX pros seem to be generally indicating that showing related choices nearby provides context that eliminates the ambiguity about what 'www.metafilter.com' means. The benefit of providing extra context in terms of aiding comprehension outweighs the negatives of feature obscurity or redundancy.

(BTW, it's generally bad practice to make a checked box turn something off - instead, change the wording from 'hide' to 'show' and check by default.)

So, a minimal solution that provides necessary context would be:

Show titles on:
[x] Metafilter front page
[x] Ask Metafilter

Adding the AskMe option clarifies which meaning of 'Metafilter' we're referring to, as much as we can without using 'the blue'. (It would be useful to add 'the blue' in brackets at this point though, given that it's the general way of referring to that section)

These two options cover the vast majority of use cases (I'm guessing 95% at least) in a far more friendly way than 'set title-size to 0px'. Options for the other sub-sites are left out as being less crucial, and unnecessary solely for context. If a completist insisted on putting them in, I'd fold them away under a 'other Metafilter subsites...' toggle.

In my view the usability win is worth the trivial amount of extra development effort of providing the AskMe option (which I think is some of what iivix is getting at - providing 'patchy' preferences as a way to avoid design decisions or to please a subset of users without greater concern for the majority is a questionable strategy).
posted by cogat at 7:44 PM on February 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


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