Recent Activity or Endless Quagmire? November 20, 2007 12:46 PM   Subscribe

It think it's been asked before, but I'm asking again: may we please have a mechanism for dropping a thread from our recent activity page? One comment, and you can be stuck with a thread for-seemingly-ever. And the longest-lived are often the ones you least want hanging around.

If I may describe my ideal for that page: I'd like the ability to "watch" any number of threads, and add or delete a thread from my watched list independently of whether I've even commented in it. A profile option along the lines of "Watch every thread I've commented in?" (default: "Yes, please!") would make it seamless for people who like it just the way it is now.
posted by Wolfdog to Feature Requests at 12:46 PM (59 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

seconded, thirded and please matt, PLEASE, fourthed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:52 PM on November 20, 2007


I can't begin to tell you how gnarly and difficult it is to extend the recent activity page to include all the things described here. Due to the weird nature of mefi's backend, I'm querying about 14 tables with oodles of UNIONs and JOINs to follow old stuff for up to a year which can include 100,000+ old threads in the full query (we grab just the top 20).

I patterned the feature after Flickr's recent activity page/comments you made pages and that always seemed fine to me even though it doesn't have a show/hide option nor does it track your favorites. MeFi is way more text and more comments than flickr, so I can see why people would want this.

I think it'd be possible to do a hide/no longer follow for stuff you've commented in, but throwing in the tracking of favorites or "watch" might be a bit much, given all the data we are querying to get the recent activity going. I'll talk to pb about it, and see how hard it is to do.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:57 PM on November 20, 2007


I think it'd be possible to do a hide/no longer follow for stuff you've commented in
That would be much appreciated. Maybe I just tucked the other bits inside so the original request would seem small by comparison.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:00 PM on November 20, 2007


Don't worry, we'll make a man out of your SQL queries. Have you thought about using indexed views?
posted by blue_beetle at 1:04 PM on November 20, 2007


I would love the ability to stop following certain threads, especially when they become discussions about whether the South was right in the Civil War.

Until it could actually be created, maybe someone could create something in greasemonkey that would let you hide things on your recent activity page.
posted by drezdn at 1:44 PM on November 20, 2007


sometimes I actually avoid commenting in threads so they don't show up in my recent activity.
posted by desjardins at 1:44 PM on November 20, 2007


Yes, this would be most useful for weeding out threads in which a couple of members (you know who you are) get into stupid bitch fests over some minor point in which each comment becomes a multi-paragraph screed. Since you haven't commented in the thread in ages you get ten full comments worth (thank God for the character limit in Recent Activity) of their nonsense.
posted by caddis at 1:56 PM on November 20, 2007


Plutor and greasemonkey to the rescue again. I resisted GM for a long time (for reasons I cannot now recall or defend), but it really makes the web (and Mefi in particular) a much snazzier place to hang out.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 2:01 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


And the longest-lived are often the ones you least want hanging around.

Sounds like Christmas dinner with my family.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 2:09 PM on November 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


Until this feature exists, I will never again contribute to another Ron Paul discussion.
posted by psmealey at 2:10 PM on November 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


for real, I cannot express how much I've been wanting to hide certain threads from my recent activity page recently. Some people are having amazing discussions and that's awesome, but I just can't keep up with 800+ comment threads from 2 weeks ago, and it'd be so nice to not have to deal with them on the page any more.

I don't even comment in so many threads specifically because i don't want them stalking my RA page forever. me not commenting... might be a good thing to a lot of people, but this is about me, not them. I'm more important.
posted by shmegegge at 2:15 PM on November 20, 2007


I really like the vBulletin implementation... where there is a watch-list, and then you can choose to add your new posts / comments to the watch-list automatically. Then you can manage your watch-list separately, and add threads you didn't post in, and delete ones that you did.
posted by smackfu at 2:18 PM on November 20, 2007


smackfu, we have watchlists too, only they're called favorites.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:30 PM on November 20, 2007


Yes please, whatever you can do, mathowie. I made one comment in that never-ending Australian election thread and it haunts me. Crikey.
posted by mumkin at 2:32 PM on November 20, 2007


we have watchlists too, only they're called favorites.

So if there was a Recent Favorites view that looked like Recent Activity, that would be cool. Unless it's hidden away somewhere.
posted by smackfu at 2:37 PM on November 20, 2007


caddis writes "Yes, this would be most useful for weeding out threads in which a couple of members (you know who you are) get into stupid bitch fests over some minor point in which each comment becomes a multi-paragraph screed."

You're talking about my contributions (detractions?) to the Jade Raymond thread, aren't you?

Personally, I use an RSS reader, and just add feeds for the threads I'm interested in, whether I've commented or not. Very handy.
posted by Bugbread at 2:39 PM on November 20, 2007


I can't begin to tell you how gnarly and difficult it is to extend the recent activity page to include all the things described here.

Would it really be that much more difficult to have a page based entirely on which threads you had favorited rather than which ones you had commented on? Then we'd get full manual control. I understand that mixing and matching would be complicated.

And I mean a new page, I don't want to take away anyone's precious Recent Activity page away from them.
posted by grouse at 2:56 PM on November 20, 2007


Yeah. All that we really need is just a kill button on each recent-ed thread. That's really enough, in my opinion. And thanks!

I always fall for the atheist threads even though it's the same damn arguments every time, and then regret it the next day, and then spend the next 3 weeks being reminded of my sin.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:32 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just jumped in to say what lazaruslong said. Forget all the rest, but being able to kill a thread from recent activity would be great. Users not commenting to avoid that problem is yucky.
posted by mediareport at 4:14 PM on November 20, 2007


All that we really need is just a kill button on each recent-ed thread.

Just add another column to the Comments DB table, called HIDE_RECENT or such. Then use that to filter in the gnarly s select, and have a little kill button to set that value.
posted by smackfu at 4:15 PM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


mediareport, I should probably apologize to you as well.
posted by Bugbread at 4:16 PM on November 20, 2007


smackfu writes "Just add another column to the Comments DB table, called HIDE_RECENT or such. Then use that to filter in the gnarly s select, and have a little kill button to set that value."

Exactly. Adding the ability to mark threads to watch where you haven't commented may be hard, but a single added column in the comments DB paired with a search of "SELECT whatever WHERE blahblahblahconditions AND hide_recent='N'" would be pretty easy.

Better yet would be "SELECT threadtitle WHERE blahblahblahconditions" and "SELECT alltheotherstuff WHERE blahblahblahconditions AND hide_recent='N'". That way you could have the thread title for every thread recently commented, but only the comments for the ones where hide_recent="N". The advantage of this is that you could have a button next to threads whose contents have been hidden to change the hide_recent value from "Y" back to "N", refresh the screen, and the comments would appear again. That avoids you hiding a thread and having it disappear irretrievably.
posted by Bugbread at 4:21 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I reckon Matt should just open the database and let us write our own Metafilter desktop client applications. Let a thousand flowers bloom!

[NOT SERIOUSIST]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:46 PM on November 20, 2007


Hey, IMDB does it.
posted by smackfu at 5:08 PM on November 20, 2007


IMDB goes the "We want to say we provide access, but we don't want an on-demand API. No one's going to download seven hundred gigs of tab-delimited text files!" route.
posted by Plutor at 5:30 PM on November 20, 2007


mediareport, I should probably apologize to you as well.

?!

Dude, are you apologizing for *commenting?* In a thread? What the fuck? As someone who's gotten into plenty of "stupid bitch fests over some minor point" myself, the *last* thing I want to see here is members hesitating to engage one another because some new functionality needs a little tweaking. Ugh.
posted by mediareport at 5:55 PM on November 20, 2007


Don't worry, mediareport, that apology is something along the lines of apologizing for disrupting a class by sneezing. It doesn't mean I'd hesitate to sneeze, it just means "I'm sorry that doing so inconvenienced you".

To put it in internet dick terms, "I'm sorry for the inconvenience. But not sorry enough to stop."
posted by Bugbread at 7:25 PM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Would the ability to just collapse a thread be something easy to do? Because that would take care of it for me. (If this has been suggested before, sorry)
posted by madamjujujive at 8:44 PM on November 20, 2007


There are all sorts of things that are easy to do now that they're loading the Prototype javascript library to power (I assume) the ajax-y favoriting, so yeah, it would be dead easy to make hide/show blocks happen. Persistence is the slightly harder thing to make happen, though -- you don't want to have to rehide the thread you don't want to see every time you load Recent Activity, though -- that'd be more work that just scrolling past it. Storing it in the db as suggested might be the best bet.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:03 PM on November 20, 2007


If the choice is nothing, or rehide every reload, I think rehiding isn't that terrible :P

Also, having everything collapsed by default might not be too bad. A line saying the time of the most recent comment in that thread would tell you if you need to open it up.
posted by Chuckles at 11:58 PM on November 20, 2007


Also, having everything collapsed by default might not be too bad.

Depends on what you mean by 'not to bad'. Me, I'd probably be forced to climb the nearest clocktower and start picking motherfuckers off.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:09 AM on November 21, 2007


+o
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:09 AM on November 21, 2007


I can't begin to tell you how gnarly and difficult it is to extend the recent activity page to include all the things described here.

It doesn't have to be an extension - it could easily end up being a simplification.

I'm guessing half the work is searching for threads the user has commented in. Replace that with a new table containing threads the user is watching, which [by default] is added to automatically each time they post a comment, and similarly have a cron job remove closed threads form everyone's list.

That way we get customisation and you do less work each time the page is loaded.
posted by cillit bang at 10:09 AM on November 21, 2007


Ya, I vote for this too.
Case in point: the YouTube/Being As How vortex I'm currently swirling in.
posted by chococat at 10:22 AM on November 21, 2007


is where I can ask for threaded conversations again, and be shot down as to how it would destroy mefi? no? ok, good.
posted by garlic at 10:57 AM on November 21, 2007


Threads suck.
posted by smackfu at 11:02 AM on November 21, 2007


No, no, smackfu: Vortices suck. Threads tangle.
posted by cgc373 at 11:50 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's a shiny new "remove from activity" link in the My Comments tab. Click that, and you'll remove that post from all future visits to your Recent Activity (as you'd expect).
posted by pb (staff) at 12:18 PM on November 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


and it does a snazzy fade! awesome!
posted by shmegegge at 12:22 PM on November 21, 2007


Bravo! I made laser-firing noises as I removed several persistent nuisances.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:43 PM on November 21, 2007


whoa! beautiful.
love the fade.
posted by chococat at 12:49 PM on November 21, 2007


...guess I should remove this thread now...
posted by chococat at 12:50 PM on November 21, 2007


Needs more ninjas.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:06 PM on November 21, 2007


so if I post to the thread again, does it reappear or is it lost forever, condemed to wander aimlessly around the interweb?
posted by blue_beetle at 1:07 PM on November 21, 2007


EXCELLENT QUESTION!!!!!!
posted by shmegegge at 1:33 PM on November 21, 2007


i am writing this just to test the functionality of the feature.
it contains nothing worth reading.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:00 PM on November 21, 2007


now i'm checking to see if it'll return with a second comment.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:01 PM on November 21, 2007


it doesn't: remove with care.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:01 PM on November 21, 2007


Can we have an "add to activity" link as well? Please, please, pretty please?
posted by grouse at 2:25 PM on November 21, 2007


Add to activity is tricky... it's actually the reverse of this feature, since it would be like a comment to the thread that wasn't shown in the thread, but only shown in the activity.
posted by smackfu at 5:02 PM on November 21, 2007


This feature is my favorite new feature ever.
posted by smackfu at 6:51 PM on November 21, 2007


Thanks, pb. I'm not sure if I'll use it, but it was good of you to whip it up so quickly.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:17 PM on November 21, 2007


awesome. thanks.
posted by philomathoholic at 12:09 AM on November 22, 2007


Any chance of modifying the query so that only threads with actual Recent Activity are shown? I know I can go through and hide all the six month old Ask posts, but that seems to defeat the point.
posted by cillit bang at 4:55 AM on November 22, 2007


What a great Thanksgiving present. Thank you. I probably won't use it much, but when I do I will be most grateful that it is there.
posted by caddis at 5:28 AM on November 22, 2007


cillit bang, as it works now Recent Activity shows you the last 25 threads you commented in that are still open for new activity. So if you haven't commented in 25 threads in the past month you'll get older stuff from Ask in there because those threads are open for one year. By removing threads, you'll just be shifting older Ask stuff up into the 25-thread-pile (if you see what I mean). You'd have to explicitly remove everything to get only two or three threads in your Recent Activity.
posted by pb (staff) at 10:15 AM on November 22, 2007


Thanks, pb.
posted by homunculus at 11:03 AM on November 22, 2007


Well I don't want to load 25 threads worth of threads every time I hit the page, but equally I don't want to permanently exclude every old Ask thread, not least because it completely defeats the object of having them included in the search in the first place.

So it'd be great if the default view was say, threads with new comments in the last 7 days, with a link through to a more comprehensive page (or maybe just have a popup like the My Posts page).
posted by cillit bang at 11:05 AM on November 22, 2007


THANK YOU PB.

*runs off to play with shiny new pony*
posted by desjardins at 11:39 AM on November 30, 2007


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