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Could we switch to "newest first" for comments in a user's activity?
March 26, 2013 11:02 AM   Subscribe

The activity pages for each user put the last thread commented in first on the page, but within each thread the comments are in chronological order. I think it would make more sense, and be more intuitive, to have both the thread and the comments in reverse chronological order. This would mean reading down the page would take you deeper into history until you came to the next thread.

I find myself using this page most closely when I am either trying to figure out what someone's last comment was on the site (e.g., if I just saw that their profile is disabled) or what their last contribution in an epic thread was. I am certain that everyone uses the page just as I do.

At least on the comment pages it is strange to see the threads in "newest first" but the comments in "newest last." Version notes, medical charts, etc, all use newest first. I know Recent Activity works differently, but it is meant to show all comments, not simply one user's comments. (Although I only ever reread my own comments again and again.)

(I tried to look through previous posts, but couldn't manipulate the search well enough to narrow this down. My apologies if it's already been discussed.)
posted by OmieWise to Feature Requests at 11:02 AM (24 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I am certain that everyone uses the page just as I do.

LOL
posted by desjardins at 11:04 AM on March 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


This is a thing that I never noticed but will now bug me forever. Or until it changes, which I agree should happen.
posted by Etrigan at 11:05 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's set up this way so you can read someone's progression through an individual thread. When you read comments on the site in the main thread, they're not in reverse chronological order. The comments on user activity pages are taken out of context and experted already, but we try to approximate the thread reading experience.

If your primary goal is finding the most recent comment possible, I understand that this view is not the quickest route. But it's not impossible to skim through the timestamps there and come up with the answer fairly quickly. I think the page works pretty well as it is.
posted by pb (staff) at 11:07 AM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


All the comments on this site are presented as "newest last." That's the standard on Metafilter. Changing the activity page would be confusing. Also, I don't know what medical charts or version notes have to do with Metafilter.
posted by mokin at 11:09 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree with pb and mokin that the current layout is preferable.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:15 AM on March 26, 2013


It's set up this way so you can read someone's progression through an individual thread.

Yeah, I know it wasn't without thought, I'm just asking it to be thought about this other way.

I don't know what medical charts or version notes have to do with Metafilter.

Me neither. I do have some idea that the way things work in the world in general are relevant to how they might work, or how we might want them to work, on Metafilter. Newest first is not an alien concept in the world, and is, in fact, the order that threads are presented in.
posted by OmieWise at 11:16 AM on March 26, 2013


I am certain that everyone uses the page just as I do.

That's funny. :)

I don't use the activity pages the same way you do. I've used them to help me track a person's narrative within a lengthy thread, to see what their specific contributions to a particular thread were, to see if they were indeed the person who made that cool (or for that matter obnoxious) comment I vaguely remember reading in a haze at 3am, etc., etc.

Anyway, that's just more data for you. I don't think this is a bad pony.
posted by zarq at 11:17 AM on March 26, 2013


> I am certain that everyone uses the page just as I do.

As a data point, I definitely don't use the page just as you do, and would find the changes you suggest confusing and counter-intuitive.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 11:19 AM on March 26, 2013


On reflection, I've changed my mind.
posted by Decani at 11:29 AM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is a terrible idea.
posted by Decani at 11:29 AM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah as much as I'd love a "what was the last thing this user said before they quit/flipped/went away/came back" option, this is probably not the way to get at it since a lot of people use it as is.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:42 AM on March 26, 2013


"I am certain that everyone uses the page just as I do."

HUGS

(I wonder if this is something that could be done in Greasemonkey, since it seems like it'd just be flipping the display.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:50 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, cool. It was worth a shot.

It has always struck me as strange, and it's weird to me that it does not strike other people as strange, but it's a wide and wonderful world. It's good to be reminded of that sometimes.

It's also true that I read clinical charts all the time, so and I'm always looking at last first and reconstructing the narrative in reverse chronological order.

Hyphen-guy, he is me.
posted by OmieWise at 11:52 AM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's also true that I read clinical charts all the time

I really hope that's job related, rather than some weird hobby thing.
posted by Brockles at 12:18 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really like seeing the comments in chronological oldest-first order and think it would be really weird to have to work backwards to get a sense of participation in an evolving discussion.
posted by sonika at 12:31 PM on March 26, 2013


I find myself using this page most closely when I am either trying to figure out what someone's last comment was on the site

I do this, too. More a whimper than a bang, usually.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:31 PM on March 26, 2013


I agree that this would be cool, but more importantly that it would be consistent, since in reading recent activity you're seeing posts newest-first but comments newest-last. I have noticed this.

Is there a technical solution to this, as when you're looking at the favorites page and can organize them by different categories (fuzzy, precise, popular) and clicking on each gives you different orderings?

Maybe it could be:

Posts (newest-first, oldest-first)
Comments (newest-first, oldest-first)

I hesitate to suggest a technical solution, but it does seem like a problem ripe for a technical fix.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:12 PM on March 26, 2013

I agree that this would be cool, but more importantly that it would be consistent, since in reading recent activity you're seeing posts newest-first but comments newest-last. I have noticed this.
The entire site is consistent -- posts are newest first, but comments within posts are newest last. The proposed change would, in fact, break with the way literally everything else on the site works.
posted by Lame_username at 1:24 PM on March 26, 2013


I agree that this would be cool, but more importantly that it would be consistent, since in reading recent activity you're seeing posts newest-first but comments newest-last.

I'm not sure I see the inconsistency. We always show posts in reverse chronological order and we show comments in chronological order. The request is to show comments on this one page in reverse chronological order. We don't do that anywhere else.

The main argument for breaking our convention is to make finding the most recent comment easier than it currently is. I'm not sure complicating the page with more options is worth the slight convenience gained in some specific instances.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:24 PM on March 26, 2013


Would it be possible to have some kind of manual bookmark point in a thread. I would like to be able to pause mid read through a conversation and come back up that point. I like the current single page conversation layout. However I often get pulled away reading longer ones and it would be nice to be able to return to that spot easily. Sometimes I right click and keep my stop point in a tab, but that's really hard on mobile.
posted by humanfont at 1:49 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


You could use a browser bookmark for that, humanfont. Just click the timestamp on the comment you're on. That will set the URL to that specific comment. Then add a bookmark on your phone and you can go back to that spot anytime.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:59 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


OmieWise: “I find myself using this page most closely when I am either trying to figure out what someone's last comment was on the site (e.g., if I just saw that their profile is disabled) or what their last contribution in an epic thread was. I am certain that everyone uses the page just as I do.”

As an ancillary point, while I too have gone looking for the last comment a person made on this site, I don't think that's necessarily the chief use we should have in mind in laying out the Recent Activity page. It just seems too much like planning for infamous failure to me.

Personally, though, I really prefer things the way they are. Comments are sequential; when you look at threads, you look at comments from first comment made to last comment made. Unlike many other sites on the internet, Metafilter doesn't fuck with that order at all in presenting threads to us. So I think it makes some internal sense to leave a user's comments in that order, even when they're presented on the Recent Activity page.
posted by koeselitz at 2:30 PM on March 26, 2013


I had no idea that people used "recent activity" like this. I only ever use my OWN recent activity, and I do it regularly in order to pick up a thread from where I left it. Usually after I leave a comment, I close the tab with the thread in it, and if I want to read later discussion when I come back, I go into my recent activity and read everything after my own comment. Since I always seem to come in late to everything (thanks, timezones!) there aren't usually more than 10 new comments anyway, so I don't even have to open the thread up again.

If the comment order were reversed it would be really odd for my use patterns, since the order would be the opposite for the threads I read that way from what they are for the threads I read in separate windows. Right now, it feels almost seamless.
posted by lollusc at 5:46 PM on March 26, 2013


charts!
posted by mullacc at 9:17 AM on March 27, 2013


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