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Pony Request: This Link Has Been Posted Before - Comments Version
July 17, 2013 2:12 PM   Subscribe

When you post a FPP to the Blue, your links are automatically run through some sort of search function to see if they have been posted before. This might be, if not too site-intensive, a useful thing for comments as well, so that people don't find themselves posting the same links, with different flavor text.

Currently, as it stands, there is no such mechanism, and since people rarely post links under the specific link itself, but rather a flavor text referent, the same links are often posted multiple times, particularly in long threads or series of long threads. I don't want to link to any examples, because I don't think it's anything anyone should be embarrassed about - there's no good system for fixing it currently - but it is something that does come up, meaning the same link is posted again and again, unknowing.

This could also be useful as someone wanting to post a link in the comments would be able to see where the link has been posted before, and reference some of the commentary that arose in response to said link. I'm not sure how others feel about it, but I think it would be a net positive to the site.
posted by corb to Feature Requests at 2:12 PM (56 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

This would probably be pretty resource-intensive indeed; it'd both involve a much larger search space than the post mechanism does and require invocation far more often. Given that we don't have a big practical problem with reoccurring links in comments—when it does happen it's generally fine—there doesn't feel like a big upside to the potential resource cost involved.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:17 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the suggestion. Since comments with duplicate links aren't removed, I don't think there's a big penalty involved with posting a duplicate link in a comment. Worst case it's a bit tedious for the careful reader.

Searching through past links is a fairly server-intensive process. So I'm not sure we'd want to do that with every comment posted. Adding posts is rare in comparison, and the process naturally takes quite a bit longer. So adding a bit of time to that process isn't a big deal. But adding even a few seconds to commenting could get old quickly. Not to mention the extra friction that would be involved on the front end. We'd need to stop the commenting process, list the duplicates, and then say "Are you sure?". It just adds a lot of weight to the system for not much benefit.
posted by pb (staff) at 2:18 PM on July 17, 2013


In threads that get long, I've often noticed that a link that someone posts to article x in the middle of the comments will pick up, say, 20 favorites, and then the exact same link to article x another 50 comments down will pick up, say, 15 favorites. This suggests to me that a different audience of people has read these, and someone who may have missed it earlier in the thread gets a chance to see it again. This doesn't have any detrimental impact to the thread, and I'd actually probably count it as a net good.

Now, if pb could figure out a way to magic up something that immediately vaporizes comments in Ask for questions like "please recommend some books about wizards, I am already aware of harry potter" and the first three people are all like, "have you heard of harry potter?" Well...then we'd be onto something.
posted by phunniemee at 2:18 PM on July 17, 2013 [15 favorites]

Now, if pb could figure out a way to magic up something that immediately vaporizes comments in Ask for questions like "please recommend some books about wizards, I am already aware of harry potter" and the first three people are all like, "have you heard of harry potter?" Well...then we'd be onto something.
As someone who does this from time to time, I would ride the hell out of that pony.
posted by usonian at 2:30 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


The horror I feel upon doing that in askme is bad enough, thanks.
posted by elizardbits at 2:35 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Now, if pb could figure out a way to magic up something that immediately vaporizes comments in Ask for questions like "please recommend some books about wizards, I am already aware of harry potter" and the first three people are all like, "have you heard of harry potter?" Well...then we'd be onto something.

There was a post recently in Ask looking for some product, specifying that the vendors listed on the company's website no longer stocked the product. There were at least two comments linking to the vendor search! This is almost, but not quite as frustrating, as not being allowed to say that obviously wrong answers are wrong.
posted by hoyland at 2:37 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've done this in long threads by viewing the page source and searching the html for the link I want to post.
posted by rtha at 2:40 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


This suggests to me that a different audience of people has read these, and someone who may have missed it earlier in the thread gets a chance to see it again. This doesn't have any detrimental impact to the thread, and I'd actually probably count it as a net good.

I came into this thread to make this same argument, in a less clear & concise manner. Repeated links in a thread are, generally, a nonbad-bordering-on-good thing.
posted by ibmcginty at 2:40 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've done this in long threads by viewing the page source and searching the html for the link I want to post.

I think we've just learned rtha is far more conscientious than many of us.
posted by hoyland at 2:41 PM on July 17, 2013 [14 favorites]


You could say she watches the threads like a bird of prey of some sort.
posted by Aizkolari at 2:44 PM on July 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Or actually, it'd be sweet if we could get some kind of service that pops up this face ಠ_ಠ whenever someone puts a clear budget in their ask and someone is all "here is a link to a product that is literally six times what you said your maximum price was."
posted by phunniemee at 2:45 PM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh, it's not like I do it all the time. Just when I remember.

/shrieks, flies off
posted by rtha at 2:47 PM on July 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


if pb could figure out a way to magic up something that immediately vaporizes comments in Ask

Flag them and we'll delete them if it's that straightforward. But heck I've done it. Who hasn't occasionally done this?

I, too, view source to see if my links have been posted in megathreads. I'm very pleased to know that I am not the only one.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:47 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Flag them and we'll delete them if it's that straightforward. But heck I've done it. Who hasn't occasionally done this?

What's the appropriate flag? Or does it not really matter because someone's going to look at it anyway, so it makes no difference if some people picked 'noise', some 'derail' and some 'it breaks the guidelines'?

(Why I have such difficulty with flagging, I don't know. I'm always worried about picking the wrong one. I've got display error figured out, though!)
posted by hoyland at 2:49 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah we look at all the flags in AskMe, so anything is fine. If it's helpful you can imagine them as three categories

- look at this quickly
- look at this when you have a chance
- fix this

So noise or derail would be what I'd pick. If someone includes a pre-excluded answer but then adds some other answers or explains "I know you said no to this but here's why I think you should say yes..." that's a different issue.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:57 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The search function does not return any results for html strings that only differ in http vs. https

Can it be made to do so, now that https is being implemented on MetaFilter itself?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:06 PM on July 17, 2013


Can it be made to do so, now that https is being implemented on MetaFilter itself?

Sure, I can take a look at that. Can you send me an example?
posted by pb (staff) at 3:08 PM on July 17, 2013


In post 129916, there are three youtube links. Each is https. A search for one of the contained html addressed returns that post, while a search for the same html address in plain http like so is a good link but does not return that post.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:11 PM on July 17, 2013


Now, if pb could figure out a way to magic up something that immediately vaporizes comments in Ask for questions like "please recommend some books about wizards, I am already aware of harry potter" and the first three people are all like, "have you heard of harry potter?" Well...then we'd be onto something.

But pb is more of a technological person and this seems to call for magic -- perhaps a "Turn Unread" spell would do the trick.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:11 PM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


"But pb is more of a technological person and this seems to call for magic..."

Is there not a magician or wizard on staff?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:15 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've done this in long threads by viewing the page source and searching the html for the link I want to post

Oh, that's a really cool idea that I hadn't thought of, rtha. Thanks, I'm going to try to use this myself at least.
posted by corb at 3:21 PM on July 17, 2013


Who hasn't occasionally done this?

THAT IS THE WORST PART because once you have done it your Smugly Condemning Other People For Doing It privileges are reduced by at least half.

i love those privileges they are like delicious cake
posted by elizardbits at 3:34 PM on July 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Smugly Condemning Other People For Doing It privileges are reduced by at least half.

I have to go to commenting school just to get my privileges back.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:38 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


It should be handling those a little better, the man of twists and turns.
posted by pb (staff) at 4:31 PM on July 17, 2013


"Is there not a magician or wizard on staff?"

Have you heard of harry potter?
posted by klangklangston at 4:33 PM on July 17, 2013 [15 favorites]


>"Is there not a magician or wizard on staff?"

Have you heard of harry potter?


Technically, wizard-on-staff is a kind of potter slash fiction, not canon at all.

Or so I've heard.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:36 PM on July 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Those askme answers ("I am looking for more stuff that's not X" "Have you tried X?") make me want the option to mark something as a "worst answer" to make a red ✘ show up next to it where the green ✔ goes for the best answers.
posted by aubilenon at 4:45 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Now, if pb could figure out a way to magic up something that immediately vaporizes comments in Ask for questions like "please recommend some books about wizards, I am already aware of harry potter" and the first three people are all like, "have you heard of harry potter?"

I believe we agreed to call this Fosbury Flopping.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:02 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah we look at all the flags in AskMe, so anything is fine. If it's helpful you can imagine them as three categories

- look at this quickly
- look at this when you have a chance
- fix this




Can we just have the flags changed to say that then?
posted by sweetkid at 5:08 PM on July 17, 2013


Can we just have the flags changed to say that then?

The flags serve sort of a dual purpose.

1. alerting the mods to something that needs attention
2. educating users about the sorts of things that we feel merit mod attention

We've only changed the flags once, to add the "offensive..." flag and that was specifically to point out "Hey it's really okay to flag stuff you find offensive here." Some users suffer from various sorts of flag paralysis but it seems like the feature works more or less okay and gets across both of those points decently well. It's not perfect, but I'm fairly certain there's no way to make a totally perfect flagging system when you have a userbase as broad and as nitpicky as ours is.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:12 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


You could have a 'search comment links' that is only invoked on demand, as a third button next to Post and Preview. That would be a lot less resource-consuming, AND give us the opportunity to do Nelson-esque "HA Has" at those who fail to search and get dupes.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:59 PM on July 17, 2013


Cool, thanks pb!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:00 PM on July 17, 2013


Could we get pb to magic up something that immediately vaporizes Harry Potter?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:37 PM on July 17, 2013


can I get a PB&VHP sandwich plz
posted by lordaych at 8:31 PM on July 17, 2013


other flags we really need:

- oh look it's this asshole again
- i can't tell if this is a joke or not plz advise
- this is funny and i am flagging this so the mod on duty can lol (i use "other" for this currently)
posted by elizardbits at 8:52 PM on July 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


- This is annoying me so I need to do something, but you totally don't need to look at it.
posted by ODiV at 9:30 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Whenever someone is on the receiving end of a pileon or posts a useless answer to an ask mefi question, they should be awarded this.
posted by tservo at 9:31 PM on July 17, 2013


I use a specific flag if I know exactly which one is appropriate, and otherwise use the other flag. It's a convenient catch all.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:32 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I use Flunkie's metalinks script that gives me a little sidebar of all the links posted in the thread. I'll hover over the links to see the url's posted. This is not quite as precise as control F'ing the page source, because I'm still relying on my eyes to not miss something, but it works to get an idea of what's there at least as a first pass. (I did both just now to see if Flunkie's script had been posted yet). (I hope I did this successfully, otherwise I will be really embarrassed.)
posted by gubenuj at 10:23 PM on July 17, 2013


I get very anguished about using the right flag and then once I've used one I worry it's wrong. It's as nerve-wracking as the 'better? or worse?' test at the eye doctor.

I imagine there's a big scoreboard with all our names on it somewhere on the backend and whenever I guess wrong my percentage drops and everyone looks at it mournfully and shakes their heads in sorrow.
posted by winna at 11:02 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


- this is funny and i am flagging this so the mod on duty can lol (i use "other" for this currently)

Isn't that what the fantastic flag is for? That's what I use it for anyway, things deserving of mod attention because they are so good (so it has to be, like, really funny, but still).
posted by shelleycat at 2:36 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Right-click, View Source
Ctrl-F to search for your link

That's if you don't want to read the whole thread.

I don't think this should be an issue across different threads; each is its own conversation and I doubt we expect anyone to read every single comment on the site.
posted by Eideteker at 3:52 AM on July 18, 2013


jacquilynne: "I believe we agreed to call this Fosbury Flopping."

But that doesn't make sense... the Fosbury Flop improved the sport!
posted by Grither at 3:52 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


As long as it's not "this comment has been posted before" as I'm a big believer in recycling.
posted by arcticseal at 6:50 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


hoyland: This is almost, but not quite as frustrating, as not being allowed to say that obviously wrong answers are wrong.

Just wanted to point out, you totally can say that other answers are wrong, if you are constructive and helpful about it, and your answer also includes an actual answer to the question.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:59 AM on July 18, 2013


In threads that get long, I've often noticed that a link that someone posts to article x in the middle of the comments will pick up, say, 20 favorites, and then the exact same link to article x another 50 comments down will pick up, say, 15 favorites. This suggests to me that a different audience of people has read these, and someone who may have missed it earlier in the thread gets a chance to see it again. This doesn't have any detrimental impact to the thread, and I'd actually probably count it as a net good.

The thing is, people can post the same link 5 times, but by linking it different ways, it'll get different attention. For example, a vague reference to the linked material requires people to be interested in the topic enough to click on the link. A second user, even upon closely reading the thread but not clicking on all the links in the comments, assumes something hasn't been covered, and re-posts that same link, and posts with the title of the article which makes it a bit more clear about the linked content, but doesn't give anything away. Then a bit later, a third user posts a pullquote from that same article, and because it's a lively thread, few people have actually clicked (or even glanced to check the URL of) the prior two links. Because this third version is more obvious, it gets a ton of favorites, where the first two got a few each.

In short: how you link to content matters as much as what you're linking to.

I have also checked the source code of long threads to see if a link has been posted before, and I've entered URLs and YouTube video IDs in the site-wide search, to see where the content has been posted before.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:33 AM on July 18, 2013


Isn't that what the fantastic flag is for?

Hm, yes, I think you are right. Normally I use "fantastic" for "has a lot of relevance to the subject of the thread and is awesome" but since I also fairly regularly use "other" for "idk wtf to flag this but it's bad" clearly I need to change my confusing ways. THANK YOU WISE CAT.
posted by elizardbits at 7:38 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree that often people describe or contextualize the same link in different ways, which often brings something I may have missed from an article to my attention, which I think is a good thing. Also I read a lot of fast, long threads through Recent Activity so sometimes I miss things and sometimes to be honest if it's been three days I forget what I have seen.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:40 AM on July 18, 2013


what I really kind of want is a pony that neighs to let me know that I've suggested the exact same thing in a previously linked AskMe, like, "Neiiiiigh, Amnesiac, the poster knows you love those shoes, get over it"
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:42 AM on July 18, 2013


The thing is, people can post the same link 5 times, but by linking it different ways, it'll get different attention.

I've posted the same link more than once in the same thread, more than once. Because sometimes, folks really do need to get a bit better informed ...

Or like the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince once put it, there's joy in repetition.
posted by philip-random at 7:57 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's joy in repetition?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:03 AM on July 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


shelleycat: "- this is funny and i am flagging this so the mod on duty can lol (i use "other" for this currently)

Isn't that what the fantastic flag is for? That's what I use it for anyway, things deserving of mod attention because they are so good (so it has to be, like, really funny, but still).
"

The obvious solution here being a *fist bump* flag.
posted by invitapriore at 8:10 AM on July 18, 2013


Or like the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince once put it, there's joy in repetition.

Prince was just repeating Warhol.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:10 AM on July 18, 2013


Yes I said yes there is yes.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:10 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


just a little bit behind the beat
i mean just enough to turn you on
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:15 AM on July 18, 2013


There's joy in repetition.
posted by Night_owl at 5:19 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


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