Pagination and Alerts February 19, 2016 8:33 AM   Subscribe

The recent Malheur threads were huge, and my browser struggled to cope with them. I would like to propose pagination. And alerts to notify people of active threads.

On the Malheur threads I had this strange effect where, when I mouse-overed a link, it would move up a few pixels but also leave the bottom of the characters in place, giving them a strange doubling effect. It also took ages to load the page, even with the "load more comments" refresh. This didn't happen in the past, even though my current laptop has way more memory and power than my old computers. I know pagination has come up in the past, and would be interested to hear from staff and Mefites whether they feel this is an idea whose time has now come.

Also, in the second Malheur thread, it was quiet for a while, and then it all went crazy when the FBI moved in. I got lucky, I was reading the thread and just as I got to the end people were posting about how the FBI had moved in, and links to the phone streams with Fiore. Someone even commented about sending out alerts to people who had participated in the thread, but there was no way to do this. And then, the next day, someone else commented something like "why didn't you guys tell me this was going down?"

So is there any way we could institute an alert system? It wouldn't have to be in mefi, and I am not technical, so I don't know how this could work, but could we use twitter, or if this then that or something, so people can be alerted when a silent thread takes off again? I am not sure how this would work, and again, don't think this should be on mefi, but surely there would be a way to do this. Like, say, add $thread to my alerts, when there are more than x comments in a minute in $thread alert me?
posted by marienbad to Feature Requests at 8:33 AM (99 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Some quick initial thoughts:

- Pagination is more complicated on a mechanical and philosophical level than it sounds. It's not quite an over my dead body sort of deal, because the load-lightening argument is a really understandably straightforward one, but as a team we've been hashing out various frameworks and pros/cons the last fews in light of the recent spate of big threads and haven't landed on anything that's crossed over the "yes, this is a good idea, let's do it" threshold yet. As you say, pagination has come up before a few times, and there's been no substantial change to the territory since then, though I don't mind talking about it some more and people are welcome to brainstorm if they want.

Huuuge threads (just, you wouldn't believe these threads, amazing threads, the best most voluminous threads in the world, it's gonna be tremendous, they're—) remain a weird problem because they both get a lot of eyeballs and represent a wee fraction of threads on the site. So changing site functionality or community expectations for them is a weird bargain that we want to approach with a lot of caution, which is why "they can be a bear but that's how it goes" has remained the approach on this.

- The proposed alert system is a hard no. Folks can use Recent Activity to keep track of new activity in older threads—it's hugely useful for that—and beyond that if someone is really in "I love this shit and need to know about it immediately and want to be paged" territory on a topic the solution here is the organic make-friends-on-the-site-who-will-email-you approach I think.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:40 AM on February 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


"The last fews" is how kids today say "the last few days".
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:49 AM on February 19, 2016 [17 favorites]


On the Malheur threads I had this strange effect where, when I mouse-overed a link, it would move up a few pixels but also leave the bottom of the characters in place, giving them a strange doubling effect. It also took ages to load the page, even with the "load more comments" refresh.

This is nature's way of telling you that it's a tired old thread that needs to be left to die its natural, bloated death.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:54 AM on February 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


posted by cortex (staff) at 11:40 AM on February 19 [1 favorite +] [!]


"The last fews" is how kids today say "the last few days".
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:49 AM on February 19 [1 favorite +] [!]


We should really extend that edit window to 10 minutes.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:15 AM on February 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Worth noting that you can add a thread to your recent activity without commenting, if you wish. The link is next to the add to favorites link.

It's obvious to me now but I didn't notice it for ages.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:16 AM on February 19, 2016


It's obvious to me now but I didn't notice it for ages.

Not your fault; for ages, that wasn't there! We only added it (relatively) recently. And it's a good thing to remind folks about on that front: we totally added that a while back. You can for realsies just add a thread to your Recent Activity without commenting. (From the mod side, the fall off of "just commenting to get this into my RA" comments as a result has been nice.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:18 AM on February 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


So with the large threads (and even recent activity) all of the scrolling on mobile can sometimes become a big pain in the butt. I'm not totally opposed to pagination as long as the pages are really, really long. Metafilter would suck as a place where you have to turn the page regularly, but it is fine for the situations where threads become mega long IMO. I like the ability to quickly search those threads with CTRL-F though, would be more of a pain with multiple pages.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:18 AM on February 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have no idea how the technical side of this works, but - since MeFi keeps track (approximately) of the last comment viewed by each logged-in user, I wonder if it would be possible to collapse the previously viewed comments under a 'read more' kinda thing, and only display the new comments (unless that setting was turned off).
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:25 AM on February 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


I do more than 50% of my MetaFilter reading on my mobile device, and I'm not keen on pagination. With long threads, yes, it takes a moment to load - but then it's done. And I can search in the page if I need something. Pagination seems more trouble than it's worth.
posted by dotgirl at 9:26 AM on February 19, 2016 [13 favorites]


To hijack a pony (grand theft equus?), I've often thought I'd like it if there was some way of finding old threads that are still active, something like the water cooler bit on fanfare. I also think the 'recent comments' tab is kinda useless at the moment, but with a bit of tweaking it could be 'old posts with recent comments' (maybe with a snappier name). How does that sound?
posted by Ned G at 9:26 AM on February 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


I have nothing to add to this but I'm totally gonna start using "the last fews"
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:27 AM on February 19, 2016 [11 favorites]


Instead of pagination just make a profile option to show only the last 500 comments of long threads. You'd want link at the top of a thread to a page with the full thread to make it clear that the user is seeing a truncated thread. Also a bit of javascript to redirect to the full thread if someone clicks on a link to a comment before the cutoff (i.e. use js to check for the #fragment since the server can't see it). That keeps links working.

Basically, think of it as a display/rendering option, not actually splitting the thread. I think that avoids most of the UI issues the mods don't want to deal with.
posted by ryanrs at 9:29 AM on February 19, 2016 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I wouldn't really want an alert as proposed here, but I have been wishing for some sort of page (or other viewing mechanism) that shows older posts that are still active. Since I don't comment that much, it's really only been since "add to activity" came around that I realized just how long the conversation keeps going in some posts. But I only get to see these continuing conversations if I have the foresight to add them to my activity in the first place!
posted by gueneverey at 9:44 AM on February 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Just wanted to note that, while reloads of huge threads are slow for me, hitting the "load more comments" is really fast. I'm on classic theme and on a laptop, Win7 + FireFox.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:48 AM on February 19, 2016


Drinky Die: " I'm not totally opposed to pagination as long as the pages are really, really long."

We have that already. The cut off is somewhere around 4000 comments at which point someone posts a new FPP and we go on to page two (or three).

I'd like to see a little ribbon on the Add to activity pony that would consist of a link at the bottom of the post to add to activity. Maybe in between the older/newer navigation.
posted by Mitheral at 9:50 AM on February 19, 2016


My annoying software developer kibbitz/suggestion would be to look into making the live preview javascript somewhat aware of page size. I can read these massive threads on mobile but posting becomes impossible; it's one second per keypress. Perhaps it can be smart and toggle over to requiring a click to refresh (or just canning it in favor of Original Recipe Preview at a certain size). Or even just altering the handler so it's on idle vs keypress.
posted by phearlez at 10:00 AM on February 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm guessing that the challenge MeFi faces re: pagination has more to do with the legacy CF codebase than any fundamental challenges that pagination presents. Yes, there are the Qs of "do you paginate by # of comments vs total amount of text or somewhere in between" and "responsive or request-based" but this is more or less a solved problem.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:05 AM on February 19, 2016


No it is an intentional policy decision to have non paginated threads. In a similar vein we intentionally don't have avatars or sig lines or BB Code.
posted by Mitheral at 10:08 AM on February 19, 2016


(From the mod side, the fall off of "just commenting to get this into my RA" comments as a result has been nice.)

THANKS OBAMA
posted by Etrigan at 10:11 AM on February 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'd lean towards something that provided the option to opt-into a paginate type thing on a per thread basis. Or honestly just being able to 'hide' comments older than a certain point, if only for mobile functionality with regard to mega-threads... that would make a large difference to lil 'ole me reading mefi from... uh... places.

So, yea, a nice pony but I can easily understand where the functional (on the backend and spiritual side of the site) might well outweigh the form on this one.

Thanks for considering it though. Honestly one thing I'd say to consider strongly is if Mega-threads are getting more 'Mega' through the years. If they are... then this is a problem that will need a solution at some point or else it's just going to become so unwieldy as to drive down participation in said threads which sounds like a shitty thing to happen to threads that are obviously popular.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:12 AM on February 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


We should really extend that edit window to 10 minutes.

He's a mod. He can edit whatever and whenever the hell he wants.
posted by Melismata at 10:17 AM on February 19, 2016


I suspect your browser tech is going to increase faster than post counts.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:17 AM on February 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah but once the phones catch up, people will be complaining about how long it takes to render on their iwatch.
posted by ryanrs at 10:26 AM on February 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can manage all but the very longest pretty well on my original iPad. I have faith in Apple.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:30 AM on February 19, 2016


I suspect your browser tech

I can manage

Sure, my Nexus 6* loads things fine, even in the longest threads. I'm just saying that if there was a way to have it load down to the newest comment I haven't read in some reliable way that I could toggle on/off, I'd be thrilled because, and again this is a pretty small (but lively and cute) pony, it kinda takes more thumbswipes to get the comments blazing by at the speed of byte to get down to the not-quite-bottom of the thread than I'd prefer.

First world meta-filter problem? Sure, 100%. But a thing all the same.

*Not all folks have the raw processing speed of a trillion goblinhearts beating in unison in their mobile phones. I recall my DroidX choking and sputtering quite a bit but I kept that model for far longer than was reasonable in the mobile phone world. Anyway, those people are people too.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:39 AM on February 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeah, on my phone, long threads will load but often fail to jump me down to the last post I viewed - I'll just be at the top of a 2000 post thread and then I have to scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll until I find the last comment I actually saw. It's annoying.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:42 AM on February 19, 2016 [10 favorites]


I'd favor an approach that tends to make threads with thousands of comments less likely: no Breaking NewsFilter.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:49 AM on February 19, 2016


I'd rather have a button for reverse order sorted threads. Wait, do we have that already? Anyway whatever as long as it's optional.
posted by atoxyl at 10:53 AM on February 19, 2016


Anyway whatever as long as it's optional.

"The comfort you demanded is now mandatory."
posted by Chrysostom at 11:00 AM on February 19, 2016


Personally I'll be happy with any solution, as long as it's complicated and confusing.
posted by aubilenon at 11:02 AM on February 19, 2016 [13 favorites]


So is there any way we could institute an alert system? It wouldn't have to be in mefi, and I am not technical, so I don't know how this could work, but could we use twitter, or if this then that or something, so people can be alerted when a silent thread takes off again? I am not sure how this would work, and again, don't think this should be on mefi, but surely there would be a way to do this. Like, say, add $thread to my alerts, when there are more than x comments in a minute in $thread alert me?


Use the Add To Activity feature to add posts to your Recent Activity, follow posts you like in one convenient place.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:15 AM on February 19, 2016


Oh wow, Recent Activity is amazing. I can't believe I hadn't taken a look at it until today.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 11:27 AM on February 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Personally I'll be happy with any solution, as long as it's complicated and confusing.

Just update your preferences in the metadata repository and register your changes to the appropriate Metafilter metadata preference object. Then select Tools -> Metadata -> Preferences -> Metadata Preference Object Tools -> Register Update. Then fill in you preference registry object settings in the Update Metadata Wizard, and click "Finish".

Always make sure you make a complete backup before attempting any of this.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 11:46 AM on February 19, 2016 [9 favorites]


a strange doubling effect.
i saw that too. it should be a browser bug (it's very hard to see how it's metafilter's "fault"). are you using firefox (as i am)?
posted by andrewcooke at 12:01 PM on February 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Ned G: To hijack a pony (grand theft equus?), I've often thought I'd like it if there was some way of finding old threads that are still active, something like the water cooler bit on fanfare.

jjwiseman's "Secret MetaFiler" is what you want (MeTa previously), except it's dead, last active on/around September 24, 2014 . Luckily, it's posted to github, so someone can revive it.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:07 PM on February 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Whatsay pagination kicks in at about 5554 comments?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:29 PM on February 19, 2016


We were all supposed to be consuming website content as our personally tailored views of the DOM tree by now (remember all that "the web is its own API!" noise?) so if you're not paginated yet, it's yer own fault.
posted by scruss at 1:10 PM on February 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


No pagination, please.
posted by michaelh at 1:36 PM on February 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Noooooo....as someone without a data plan, I end up reading a fairly ridiculous proportion of metafilter because it's the only worthwhile site I know of where I can open a bunch of huge threads to read through when offline, to keep me entertained for hours on the bus and anywhere else I don't have wifi. So please don't take away my favourite offline entertainment strategy!

Opt-in pagination would be fine of course, but I'm not convinced the current system causes enough problems to be worth the effort. Maybe for the really long threads, someone sufficiently motivated could set up some kind of mirror with pagination for people who need an alternative option? The current system works fine for me even on very long threads, both on my desktop and my (really not very smart) phone. Adding the option to hide previously-read comments somehow would be an awesome pony though, if it's not an obscene amount of work (which I'm guessing it would be).
posted by randomnity at 2:00 PM on February 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


How can browsers that handle gigabytes of video balk at a few hundred thousand words of text?
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:34 PM on February 19, 2016


just commenting to get this into my RA
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:35 PM on February 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


How can browsers that handle gigabytes of video balk at a few hundred thousand words of text?

They don't tend to be managing all those gigabytes at once, is part of it. Displaying video is more about displaying wee bits of that video one after the next, and cueing up the next bits to keep playback slick, and Buffering... is what happens when that goes awry.

With a great big page of text, the browser's designed to manage the content of the page in part based on the current contents of the page, which means where stuff is and how its laid out below depends on how everything up the page is laid out. And partly it's just the sheer amount of text in play, all at once; partly it's the extra DOM elements in the layout (each comment isn't just the words in the comment but also all the links and other sub-objects that make up its total layout), which on a long thread gets up into the tens of thousands; partly it's probably that browser design isn't optimized for extremely long HTML pages because most pages aren't extremely long.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:42 PM on February 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Would it be possible for someone to roll their own pagination thing with the comments RSS feed?
posted by lucidium at 3:45 PM on February 19, 2016


For what it's worth, I've noticed that the js in the current version of the site (modern theme, at least) introduces quite a burden, most noticeable on longer threads, and on underpowered devices (like my ancient iPhone 3GS, which struggles a bit with the site these days, even on shortish pages).

I'm not sure exactly what the bottleneck is, there, but it appears to increase the processing load linearly as page length increases. If I were going to look at optimization, that's where I'd start.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:00 PM on February 19, 2016


Ooh, add to activity at the bottom of threads would be awesome. Currently, the way I follow long threads is to click the time stamp of the last comment, and then *never close the thread window* on my phone. (That is, leave it open in Safari and then switch to another window to browse snorting else. ) I kept up with the emotional labor thread like that for most of the month it was open. But adding it to recent activity is nice too, in case you forget or the window accidentally gets closed.

It would be the most awesome if recent activity knew where the last comment you'd read to was, not just serving you the last 10 comments, to avoid having to scroll up 200 comments if it's been a couple of days...but I suppose that's not very practical.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:07 PM on February 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Thanks stavros. A lot of nice extras in threads require looping through the DOM like keyboard shortcuts for navigation, the inline video player, handling secure vs. non-secure internal links based on your 'secure browsing' preference. We do disable some of those once a thread gets to be a certain size, but until that point that sort of processing will increase with more comments.
posted by pb (staff) at 4:49 PM on February 19, 2016


Can some of that be moved onto the backend?
posted by floam at 5:22 PM on February 19, 2016


No, that sort of processing typically deals with positions of things on the page in the client. Stuff we don't know on the backend.
posted by pb (staff) at 5:45 PM on February 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


ryanrs's suggestion of an option to only load the last 500 comments seems like the simplest thing that gets the job done.

Something that doesn't involve a user preference but is more complicated would be to use the API that powers the live updating "show new comments" feature to only fetch comments that are in a certain range (e.g. comments 0-499), then create DOM elements for those. When the user gets to the bottom and requests more comments, then the page can fetch comments 500-999 and replace the contents of the existing comment DOM elements with them. This way, you never have more than 500 (or n) comment DOM elements at a time.

It's a handy memory-saving strategy that's used by stuff like D3 and iOS's table views, among other things.
posted by ignignokt at 6:06 PM on February 19, 2016


Yep, I hate pagination, but having waded through a few mega-threads I wouldn't object to a light view that showed just the first few hundred and most recent few hundred posts on a thread. Similar to those mobile views you get on news sites with a "continue reading" link about four paragraphs in.
posted by bonaldi at 6:08 PM on February 19, 2016


Not really a solution, but in the recent election megathreads, someone usually leaves a pointer to the newest/next politithread. (I think the first Malheur thread had a pointer to the second too.) I really appreciate that. If practical, it might even be nice to institutionalize that a bit by having the mods make sure a pointer's been added. It'd be a pony if the pointer always floated to a position immediately following the last comment.
posted by klarck at 6:29 PM on February 19, 2016


Just what-if-ing, but for the scrolling/losing your place problem, what if at midnight an automatic invisible anchor were inserted with a known format. Or, parse the get request for a date-time group or comment number parameter and scroll to there if present (sounds harder.) That way you could edit the URL in the location bar to get within a day of where you wanted to be, but have the layout be unaffected. Kind of like the not-so-secret, now official, way to link to a youtube video in the middle.

Wouldn't help with the long load times, though.
posted by ctmf at 8:30 PM on February 19, 2016


Which, I guess you could already do by clicking the time on the last comment you read, and then bookmarking that for coming back to that same spot later. Never mind.
posted by ctmf at 8:34 PM on February 19, 2016


The long threads are unwieldy on my iphone and ipad, but what is worse is how copying text is, shall we say, quirky even in short threads and usually fails in long threads. My ipad is old so I can't complain, but my iphone is new and copying text works fine on other sites. There is something particular to Metafilter that doesn't agree with copy/pasting, at least with my inept fingers, and these long threads just make it worse.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:58 PM on February 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


We were all supposed to be consuming website content as our personally tailored views of the DOM tree by now (remember all that "the web is its own API!" noise?)…

Ain't that the truth. Plonking erodes real community.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:22 PM on February 19, 2016


I think we should have a hard limit on thread size. If someone hasn't solved the thread in 10 comments, it's pretty unlikely anyone will. MiniFilter, the next logical stage in MeFi evolution, will have a 10 comment limit per thread, and we can reduce the number of expensive electrons and mods needed to display the site correctly. The 10 comment rule will apply accross all subsites, e.g. miniAsk, miniMusic, miniTalk, etc. Users will also be resized downward, to better fit the ethos of the site - e.g., "two fresh fish", "stavros the wonder egg", "man of slight bend", "Sippy Die", etc. So vote #0.1 quidnunc fetus!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 11:55 PM on February 19, 2016 [21 favorites]


We do disable some of those once a thread gets to be a certain size, but until that point that sort of processing will increase with more comments.

So maybe this is the element to work on? Allow a preference about what size thread generates a simplified text version of the thread? Or turn more things off?

If those preferences were browser-specific the way theme selection is, folks might get other benefits too. (Not much use for inline video on mobile.... )
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:16 AM on February 20, 2016


So maybe this is the element to work on?

Unfortunately there's not much more to gain on this front. While you might save a second, maybe two on threads over 2,000+ comments, it's not the real problem. The real problem is simply the amount of text that needs to be rendered for display by the browser. You can test this theory by disabling JavaScript altogether and timing things.

Inline video is a display preference that you can set and it works per browser. If you don't use it on mobile it makes sense to disable it to save some processing.
posted by pb (staff) at 6:48 AM on February 20, 2016


As an aside, that bottom of the page arrow button on mobile is a nice feature. It's often faster to scroll up from there than down from wherever my phone decided to get stuck.
posted by knuckle tattoos at 9:29 AM on February 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Users will also be resized downward, to better fit the ethos of the site - e.g., "two fresh fish", "stavros the wonder egg", "man of slight bend", "Sippy Die", etc.

I approve of this. But then, Greg_Amateur obviously doesn't yet have a grasp of the larger picture.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:50 AM on February 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


> I approve of this. But then, Greg_Amateur obviously doesn't yet have a grasp of the larger picture.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:50 PM on February 20


And here all along I was thinking of you as the ace in a deck of cards!
posted by languagehat at 12:51 PM on February 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


But then what would I downsize to?

- Greg_King still sounds pretty big
- Greg_Queen...well, just no
- Greg_Jack merely looks like two names
- Trying to choose a number, to seem "smaller", is problematic
- And don't get me started on the implications of "Greg_Deuce"...
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:05 PM on February 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


And would you be "babytalkhat"? "languagebeanie"? "cuneiformcap"?
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:09 PM on February 20, 2016


I think "babblebeanie" would be pretty good.

Oh god, there's going to be a MeeFie Kidz series now, isn't there? cortex, sorry to tell you that you'd be named pons.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:18 PM on February 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's short for Arthur Ponsarelli.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:20 PM on February 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


cortex, sorry to tell you that you'd be named pons.

Or neuron.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:33 PM on February 20, 2016


Fleischmann and Pons?
posted by Confess, Fletch at 2:53 PM on February 20, 2016


He always wanted people to call him "The Fleisch."
posted by Wolfdog at 3:24 PM on February 20, 2016


Instead of pagination just make a profile option to show only the last 500 comments of long threads.

During the Scalia thread, people were dropping comments that repeated things people had posted fifty or a hundred comments earlier. It happened often enough that other people started to say something. It's the longboat version of "didn't read the article."

Your solution would likely encourage more couldn't-be-bothered-to-read-the-thread fly-by comments and add annoying noise to threads. It would inflate thread length, too. So would pagination.
posted by zarq at 3:31 PM on February 20, 2016


What if on large threads, say over 500 comments, we remove the vowels, to save space.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:30 PM on February 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


He always wanted people to call him "The Fleisch."

Stop trying to make Fleisch happen.
posted by Superplin at 4:36 PM on February 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Well, um, Facebook doesn't have pagination. Every thread just goes on forever. Can we do that here, or do they have it patented?
posted by beagle at 4:58 PM on February 20, 2016


What if on large threads, say over 500 comments, we remove the vowels, to save space.

Like that time?
posted by Kabanos at 5:34 PM on February 20, 2016


Greg_Ace: But then what would I downsize to?

Greg_Knave?
posted by Songdog at 7:26 PM on February 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


dammit.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:08 PM on February 20, 2016


Don't even fucking think it.
posted by Etrigan at 8:37 PM on February 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Pagination has been discussed several times before and my faulty memory tells me it's always ended in the suggestion going nowhere because of the believed-to-be-certain effect of even more people jumping in to comment without reading either the article or the gazillion people that already made the same comment. I still very much believe pagination is a bad idea, but the most interesting and most likely threads to retain my interest for any length of time are those most likely to be difficult or impossible to load on my iPad, where I do most of my reading of MeFi these days. Give the rise and rise of underpowered mobile devices, maybe there is a reasonable compromise? Is it possible/practical given the site keeps track of where a user last got to, to not load the comments above where that user last landed? I guess there may be issues with multiple devices and various other things, but it seems like a 'solution' that dispenses with the primary objection.

My usual way of dealing with these is to periodically click on the time stamp for a comment to re-load the page closer to where I've finished reading, saving me wearing out the skin on my finger scrolling back to where I left off after the most recent freezing of the page. A tiny number of threads, though, get to the point where they are simply impossible to load completely. Shutting down all other apps on the iPad seems to help there, but that's hardly a 2016 solution. It feels like using Windows 3 again.
posted by dg at 11:24 PM on February 20, 2016


Worth noting that you can add a thread to your recent activity without commenting, if you wish. The link is next to the add to favorites link.

It's obvious to me now but I didn't notice it for ages.


This is relevant to my interests.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:15 AM on February 21, 2016


I've been away, very far away... but I still stumbled over this "add the thread to your recent activity without leaving a comment" version

it works for smaller threads but without your own comment to hold your place in a bigger or faster thread, there's still the scrollwork

I'm not complaining, I really liked it

posted by infini at 2:12 PM on February 21, 2016


I have no idea why I wanted those fonts to shrink. *shrugs*
posted by infini at 2:13 PM on February 21, 2016


He always wanted people to call him "The Fleisch."

Stop trying to make Fleisch happen.
posted by Superplin at 7:36 PM on February 20 [1 favorite -] [!]


I'd like to lodge a complaint. This excellent comment has received no other favorites in TWO DAYS. It's an amazing piece of work: it successfully references the 2004 film, Mean Girls, in which Regina shuts down her friend Gretchen for trying to invent new slang. It resurrects a meme from a decade ago, but makes it relevant and interesting in this new context, using homophony!

AND IT ONLY HAS ONE FAVORITE. This, my friends, is what is wrong with Metafilter these days: no appreciation for craftsmanship. I call on all of you to favorite Superplin's excellent work, as I have done.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:58 AM on February 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Obligatory "favorites are not upvotes"
posted by phearlez at 10:04 AM on February 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


AND IT ONLY HAS ONE FAVORITE

Happens to the best of us.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:44 AM on February 22, 2016


Obligatory "favorites are not upvotes"

They're just a colorful, prominent number visible beside the comment so we know how many people "bookmarked" it.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:27 PM on February 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


And are collected in "Popular" sections.
posted by Etrigan at 12:32 PM on February 22, 2016


*weeps piteously*

At least that got ONE favourite...
posted by infini at 1:15 PM on February 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


They're just a colorful, prominent number visible beside the comment so we know how many people "bookmarked" it.

Not on my screen.
posted by phearlez at 1:15 PM on February 22, 2016


Quit ruining it, we're trying to save that one for the great reveal in the annual "under-appreciated masterpieces" thread.
posted by ctmf at 8:53 PM on February 22, 2016


Again we see a substantive discussion on the importance of favoriting Superplin's comment sidetracked by derailing discussion of the very meaning of the words in the topic. "Dude, have you ever really looked at a favorite? I mean, really looked at it?" Philosopher's Disease strikes again.

I'd like to congratulate the quidnunc kid for having the bravery to join this cause and adding his name to the favorites list petition. Vote #1 quidnunc kid by favoriting Superlin's comment here.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:14 AM on February 23, 2016


I don't like pagination and it'd potentially break hyperlinks which point to individual comments in a thread. But is there a reason that the browser can't fetch all comments in a thread but only render a subset of X comments (where X is, I dunno, 500) and add to/remove from that subset upon page scroll? Lightweight placeholders might have to be rendered for 'invisible' comments to help support hyperlinking, but I think DOM element count can be cut down without loss of functionality. I swear I've seen this trick used elsewhere but of course can't right now remember where.
posted by Old Kentucky Shark at 5:36 AM on February 23, 2016


A few years ago, I made a thing that paginates long threads for users on slow connections.

I need to fix it up to use SSL (and my little babby webserver can't actually fit the Malheur thread into RAM), but it might help some folks out.
posted by schmod at 1:03 PM on February 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


This has come up a bunch before and i swear i've made this suggestion before as an alternative, but i wish that there was just a "return to here" button on threads.

I know you can click the time and get a #number of that comment, and it's supposed to autoscroll to that, but it breaks for me ALL THE TIME. Sometimes refreshing the page takes me to the right spot, sometimes it doesn't. It's also really hard to tap on mobile and half the time i just load someones profile.

Maybe like the swipe to favorite(didn't we have that at one point?) there could be some kind of swipe to get a button(which could be next to report on the desktop site visible all the time) and bookmark function?

I just wish there was a robust method for saving and reloading my place, and then i wouldn't care much if the threads were 101238018301 comments long. Even my busted ass old iphone 5 could handle them, although you could smell the burnt clutch coming from it. One of the ferguson threads actually made it surprisingly burning hot, but it was still usable and smooth-ish. The scrolling/place finding is what really got to me.
posted by emptythought at 12:29 AM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


They don't tend to be managing all those gigabytes at once, is part of it. Displaying video is more about displaying wee bits of that video one after the next, and cueing up the next bits to keep playback slick, and Buffering... is what happens when that goes awry.

It's a highly nontrivial technical problem (especially given, I'm assuming, the sheer oldness of y'alls codebase), but you might try an infinite scroll two ways: lazy load comments while scrolling down (with some sort of acceleration), while simultaneously deleting DOM elements.
posted by hleehowon at 10:52 AM on February 24, 2016


That's worse than hard pages. Not only can't you search the whole thread at one go there also wouldn't be any way to step through each page and do your search because a page wouldn't be set.
posted by Mitheral at 11:16 AM on February 24, 2016


Boy do I hate infinite scroll! It turns a page viewing operation into a page navigation operation, but one that doesn't interoperate with other navigation functions like back buttons or bookmarks. It breaks the browser's find-in-page feature. It maximizes the intrusiveness of load times.
posted by aubilenon at 11:21 AM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Infinite scrolling is the absolute worst form of pagination and i really hope it dies soon. It SORT of makes sense on mobile apps where you can't search within a page, but on a desktop it's infuriating and seems to mostly exist to reduce server load(ok fair) and look futurey and slick.

The former could be handled by a "view whole page" button and just showing a couple screens at first if someone was really trying to achieve that, but as far as i'm concerned infinite scrolling is a huge design fail that will likely be laughed at in the future.
posted by emptythought at 5:41 PM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Infinite Scroll: The greatest evil, or the ultimate evil?
posted by Wolfdog at 5:50 PM on February 24, 2016




Infinite scroll can be done sort of right (respecting back buttons and surfacing pseudo-pagination for permalinks and so on), but it rarely is, and even at the best of times it's a massive pain in the ass for anyone who spends a lot of time on a site. It's fine for people who browse a bit and bail, for googlenauts and stuff, but it's a user-hostile solution for sites like Metafilter, where people (well, people like me) spend hours at a time, and where usability trumps, if not all, at least most other considerations.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:03 PM on February 24, 2016


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