Can we get a "Remove from Activity" button on the Mobile site? December 18, 2013 7:19 AM   Subscribe

I was wondering if it would be possible to get the "Remove from Activity" link added to the Recent Activity page of the Mobile site. Is this something that people would like to have, and if so would it be feasible to implement this feature?

I often find that when I am browsing MeFi via the Mobile version of the site, I end up wishing that I could remove threads from my Recent Activity page without having to switch to the Standard interface. Recent Activity is often a very long page to scroll through on a mobile device, and when older threads that I no longer care to follow have popped up near the top of the page it can become rather cumbersome to skip past them. Currently, pruning my Recent Activity so that I don't have to see those threads requires a trip to the Standard site, which is also rather cumbersome as I then need to relocate the thread that I wanted to remove and (optionally) make my way back to Mobile and find my place again. If others in the community think it would be a good idea, and if there is no technical reason not to do so, I think it would be very nice to have the Remove from Activity functionality added to the Recent Activity page of the Mobile site. What does the community, and the mod team, think of this idea?

Note: I realize that the Standard interface works reasonably well on mobile devices and that using it all the time is an option. I also realize that Mobile is only intended to reproduce the core functionality of MeFi, and that many features are intentionally omitted in order to make that core functionality easier to use. However, I (and presumably many others) prefer Mobile over Standard when browsing on a mobile device, and to me the Remove from Activity function would be a significant enhancememt to that core functionality that Mobile is designed to provide. I will of course bow to the community and Mod consensus on this and have no intention of making a stink over this issue; I just thought I'd bring it up to see what people thought about the idea.
posted by Scientist to Feature Requests at 7:19 AM (44 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Currently, pruning my Recent Activity so that I don't have to see those threads requires a trip to the Standard site, which is also rather cumbersome as I then need to relocate the thread that I wanted to remove and (optionally) make my way back to Mobile and find my place again.

I hear ya, but that's the case for a bunch of other not-core-interaction things about the mobile site, since on phones in particular we're really pressed for space and adding more clutter to the mobile interface is something we're basically always loathe to do.

That goes a bit extra for something that's not just readable content but a potentially frustrating accidental-tap action, and the mobile interface doesn't really have the room (without eating up a bunch more vertical space per thread) to set the "remove from activity" link off from the thread content the way we can on the multi-column standard layout for RA.

My feeling is, it's a little bit of a runaround (but doesn't need to be a huge one; kick open a new tab, switch to Standard, go remove from activity, switch to Mobile, close tab and go back to the original one) but that's a better compromise for something that's not an every-visit function than adding a potentially frustrating source of error and some more vertical space to an already as you say pretty long page.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:29 AM on December 18, 2013


cortex: Yes, I assumed that was the main motivation for leaving it out, thank you for articulating it. I guess my position is that I think it would be well worth the additional clutter to have that link (perhaps it could just be a little [x] or similar up in the title/byline area of the thread on the RA page) and I wanted to see if perhaps I wasn't alone. If the idea seems popular enough among the community (and I leave defining "popular enough" up to Team Mod's judgment) do you think that adding this feature might come onto the table?
posted by Scientist at 7:38 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is this something that people would like to have, and if so would it be feasible to implement this feature?

Personally, I wouldn't be against it. But I wouldn't have much use for it. It's a feature I hardly ever use.

Now I'm kind of curious to know how many people actually use the feature. Should be interesting to see what kind of responses you get, Scientist.
posted by zarq at 7:42 AM on December 18, 2013


I would like to have it, but I agree with cortex's reasons that it should not be added, if that makes sense.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:54 AM on December 18, 2013


If the idea seems popular enough among the community (and I leave defining "popular enough" up to Team Mod's judgment) do you think that adding this feature might come onto the table?

Well, I'm not like Gandalfing it from across a Morian footbridge or anything, if that's what you mean. But sudden crazy community groundswell after several years of it basically not coming up more than maybe idly now and then doesn't seem all that likely, so I suspect it's a moot point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:57 AM on December 18, 2013


I love being able to remove threads from my recent activity because, Oh my God you guys, sometimes you really make me regret ever having participated in a thread.

But I'm willing to make the not-too-difficult effort to remove threads when I want to and would probably be more annoyed if I removed a thread accidentally, since I'm prone to mobile device misclicking.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:02 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


In related news, will it ever be possible to swipe to favorite on the mobile RA page?
posted by Rock Steady at 8:09 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


What Rock Steady said. I'd probably use this feature all the time, but hey, it's not my site to maintain.
posted by desjardins at 8:16 AM on December 18, 2013


I very rarely remove threads from recent activity, just to provide a different data point.
posted by languagehat at 9:00 AM on December 18, 2013


...will it ever be possible to swipe to favorite on the mobile RA page?

We discuss making swipe to favorite an official feature from time to time but it's always tabled to our next discussion. The test so far has been mostly positive. I'd say 95% of what we hear about swipe to favorite is positive. People have tried it and not liked it as well, so we need to consider that. Especially since the silent majority aren't aware of it and haven't even tried it out.

We've left the test running this long because people who like it seem to really like it.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:02 AM on December 18, 2013


As a further thought, it occurs to me that allowing users to remove items from the Recent Activity on Mobile might create a small reduction in the server load. It would save a page load or two over the current method (load Mobile RA > load Standard RA > refresh Standard RA after removal > reload Mobile RA vs load Mobile RA > refresh Mobile RA after removal) and since at least a little bit more RA-pruning would be going on it would also require the servers to serve slightly fewer RA threads. I know that Recent Activity is a major resource-hog on the server end, so perhaps this (admittedly small, in all probability) reduction in RA loading might count as a point in favor of my proposal.
posted by Scientist at 9:12 AM on December 18, 2013


The only issue I have with swipe to favorite is that when i try to scroll rapidly down a page on my phone, if I do so at any sort of an angle, the "Favorite this?" dialog comes up. I doubt that's something that can be controlled.

Otherwise, it's a fantastic feature.
posted by zarq at 9:18 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I use delete from RA infrequently so don't feel a pressing need to see this on the mobile version. Cortex just blew my mind with "open another tab", clearly I need more coffee.
posted by arcticseal at 9:58 AM on December 18, 2013


I mostly use the mobile site and while I might use this feature if it existed, I've never felt the need to have it. I never remove threads from recent activity. I just let them die a slow death. It seems rare that new comments appear after more than a few days. (Or maybe I'm not joining the good ones...)

Also I only just found out about about swipe to favourite the other day and it is my new bestest thing evah.
posted by billiebee at 10:44 AM on December 18, 2013


Now I'm kind of curious to know how many people actually use the feature.

I use it all the time. A lot of threads eventually move on from anything I'm interested in reading about.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:16 PM on December 18, 2013


I would like this feature.
posted by Artw at 3:21 PM on December 18, 2013


I use it a lot, and support this pony.
posted by smoke at 3:21 PM on December 18, 2013


I check my "Recent Activity" frequently. I've only deleted a thread from it once, though... and since I usually don't use the site on my mobile devices it's not a pony I'd missed.
posted by sm1tten at 4:43 PM on December 18, 2013


I would love to be able to remove threads from RA on mobile.

I use RA to read the site quite a lot. Personally, I find switching into standard mode and doing things on the site so fiddly and cumbersome on my phone that I will only do so if absolutely necessary, and you can easily scroll past something in RA. But then Bad Vibes Thread is on top of RA every time I open MeFi on my phone for the rest of the day, harshing my mellow.
posted by Diablevert at 5:00 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Could you do swipe right to favorite and swipe left to remove from RA?
posted by Rock Steady at 3:39 AM on December 19, 2013


I would LOVE this feature and asked about it last year and got pretty much the same response, along with the side discussion about slide right to favorite. Desjardins asked about it the year before. Maybe 2014 will be out year?

To me it's bizarre that the mobile site isn't as functional as the regular site, but people don't seem that bothered by it, so there you go.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:42 AM on December 19, 2013


In fact, I'm gonna remove this thread from my Recent Activity right now.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 6:31 AM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, personally I support the overall philosophy toward Mobile, limited functionality included. I think it's in keeping with MeFi's overall design aesthetic of beauty through simplicity, and while having it be intentionally desktop-focused is sort of controversial and I don't think it would be a good strategy for most sites, I think it works here. And the Standard site is pretty usable on a mobile device, if you need the functionality. (I wrote this MeTa from my phone, for instance.)

I don't think it will last though, in the long term. Mobile devices are here to stay, and at some point the increasing popularity of those devices will intersect with the increasing power and functionality of same, and limiting the functionality of Mobile MeFi will start to seem like an artificial distinction that makes mobile users into sort of second-class citizens. I don't think we're there yet, but I think we've already reached the point where reasonable people could disagree. In a few years, after a couple more generations of mobile devices (and their browsers, which let's face it still kind of suck especially in terms of standarization) I wouldn't be surprised if the dev team starts thinking about making Mobile a more full-featured experience, or about just having a unified interface and dropping Mobile entirely except as perhaps a semi-official legacy interface for people who prefer it or are using older devices.
posted by Scientist at 6:38 AM on December 19, 2013


The issue with the mobile view is that there is simply less screen space. That's it. All of the decisions flow from that.

So adding anything more to mobile starts to crowd the small screen and makes reading less engaging. Adding a (remove) or less helpfully (x) after every post title in Recent Activity on mobile makes the reading experience less friendly. It's repeating noise for a lot of people who simply wouldn't use the feature.

Adding a preference for remove links means more options for everyone to weigh and sort through when they're setting preferences. So we need to be able to make decisions about how the interface will work for a large number of people. That means more trade-offs and compromises.

Desktop browsers have many more pixels to work with. So it's much easier to have repeating controls tucked away—separated from the text. It's easier to differentiate control text and content with different font sizes. Things get very tiny very quickly on small screens, so the text tends to all be a similar size.

If we could bring the full desktop experience to small mobile screens we would. But our overriding goal is to make mobile a pleasant place to read text. Having repeating controls within the text throughout the site would quickly make it unpleasant to read text that way. We're not treating mobile users as second-class citizens. We're making what we feel are necessary compromises for the small screen.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:19 AM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Here's a quick mock up of what a "remove from activity" link could look like on the mobile version. It's doubtful it would throw people off or sour the reading experience. That doesn't mean it would be a trivial change, but it definitely appears that it would have minimal impact while adding a useful tool.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:08 PM on December 19, 2013


I don't think that's a fair screenshot. That's not how Recent Activity currently looks on mobile.

Each post title is prefaced with the site, like so: "MetaTalk: [Title]" and the followed by the comment totals like: "24 total comments. 5 since your most recent comment..."

By removing those things, you're giving a different impression of the level of noise that already exists in Recent Activity.
posted by pb (staff) at 12:17 PM on December 19, 2013


oh I see, you put the "Remove from activity" after a comment. That feature needs to be associated with posts.
posted by pb (staff) at 12:20 PM on December 19, 2013


That feature needs to be associated with posts.

Why not put it in the title preface, then? So from

Metafilter: Title

To

[X] Metafilter: Title

Akin to the [+] already in use for favoriting. Clicking the [X] would generate a confirmation box "remove from recent activity y/n" so the fat fingered would be saved from accidental deletions. The mobile screen is small, but three characters ain't exactly a billboard, and it would mimic existing mobile functionality with the favorites.

I dunno, seems do-able to me, but I ain't the one coding this behemoth.
posted by Diablevert at 1:00 PM on December 19, 2013


Valid point pb, here's a mock-up with your notes and the more traditional MeFi blue screen with the original screen on the left and mockup on right.

By putting the remove post link directly under the unlinked subsection text and above the unlinked comment count, hopefully this would minimize accidental clicks.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:05 PM on December 19, 2013


I still think it's way too visually important for such an edge-case use. I'd rather it be something tiny like MeFi: Title [x] but with a very small [x] to close it.

Even still at that smaller size, I suspect there would be a ton of accidental clickings just going by how clumsy it is to use your fingers to navigate mobile screens. We'd have to do a "are you sure y/n?" alert on any clicks but I think it could still be super annoying to hit those all the time.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:37 PM on December 19, 2013


Sorry for implying that y'all were treating mobile users as second-class citizens. I didn't mean that at all, just that in some hypothetical future where certain predictions of mine come true it might come to feel that way even though that's not the intent of the development team.

I get what the philosophy is toward Mobile MeFi, and the reasons behind it, and I support it in general even though I'd like to see this particular feature added. I was just speculating that if things develop as I expect they will out on the web, those reasons might become less important while users might simultaneously come to expect more from mobile sites, which would (again, hypothetically, in the future) shift the analysis somewhat.
posted by Scientist at 1:38 PM on December 19, 2013


Brandon's mockup is pretty close to what I was originally envisioning, and I for one would be happy with something like that. It doesn't look too cluttered to me, though I'd be just as happy with an [x] just to the left of the "MetaFilter", as in this mockup.

Also, there's already an "are you sure?" dialogue that comes up when you click "Remove from Activity" on the Standard site. I assumed that that part of the feature would carry over on Mobile as well, since there's not really a way as far as I know to get a thread back into your RA once it's been removed.
posted by Scientist at 2:00 PM on December 19, 2013


I read MetaFilter on a mobile device about 50% of the time. I very much do not want a little [x] to remove things from Recent Activity.

As it is, I often accidentally favourite things at least 2-3 times per day, which is only tolerable because it's so easy to undo.

At any rate, just wanted to add an opinion, as I do browse on mobile so often.
posted by dotgirl at 2:31 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


since there's not really a way as far as I know to get a thread back into your RA once it's been removed.

Scroll to the end of Recent Activity and click the manage posts removed from recent activity link. It'll change your life.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:49 PM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd be just as happy with an [x] just to the left of the "MetaFilter"

While it's easy to move pixels around on mockups, it's almost impossible to place that close there outside our normal margins to the point where off the top of my head we might have to re-engineer the entire layout just for that feature. I think after the title would be a lot easier but I still think mis-clicks would outnumber intended clicks by 100 to 1.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:48 PM on December 19, 2013


Well then, what about a voice interface instead?
posted by zarq at 6:35 PM on December 19, 2013


I'm sorry zarq, I can't let you do that.
posted by arcticseal at 7:09 PM on December 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well hey, no worries. Looks pretty certain that this particular pony is headed straight for the glue factory, so no need to keep this thread open on my account. Thanks for being willing to at least talk about it.
posted by Scientist at 8:38 PM on December 19, 2013


/takes stress pill.
posted by Artw at 10:05 PM on December 19, 2013


*whispers in Artw's ear about an Aliens reboot starring Taylor Swift as Ripley*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:45 AM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


RIPLEY, confronting the severed head of ASH: "I knew you were trouble when you walked in."
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:10 AM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Kyane West stars as Ash. "Yo Ripley, I'm really happy for you, I'mma let you finish but the Xenomorphy had one of the best videos of all time!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:44 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Get away from her, you BIEBER!"
posted by Rock Steady at 9:24 AM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I use the mobile version almost exclusively these days, and while I've wanted for this feature, I'm fine without it. Helps me work on commitment issues.

Really I'm just happy that so many of the users outing themselves as mobile users in this thread are cool peeps. MOBULL4LYFE
posted by dogwalker at 9:55 AM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


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