Pony request 7.0649.01: Thread markers February 20, 2008 1:25 AM   Subscribe

Simple proposition, but perhaps not a simple implementation. Or perhaps loathsome to the majority. Some sort of marker (and even the ability to disable it) to show where you left a thread after returning several hours, or even days, later. When it starts rapidly closing in on, say, 200, it's not so easy to find where you last were.

That's all.
No biggie if no.
But dern, it would be handy when bouncing from thread to thread, seems to me.
posted by dawson to Feature Requests at 1:25 AM (46 comments total)

uh, all the threads I come back to show something like this: 2 comments (1 new) + and if I click on the (1 new) bit, it takes me to the first comment I haven't read. The only time this doesn't work for me is when everybody is being really prolific, AND my son has used our entire month's download limit so we're reduced to dial-up speed.
posted by b33j at 1:40 AM on February 20, 2008


2 comments (1 new) + and if I click on the (1 new) bit, it takes me to the first comment I haven't read

That's true if you're looking at the main page (ie MeFi, AskMe, MeTa) but not once you're in the post. If you click the "2 comments" link or "[more inside]" link instead of the "1 new" link, either accidentally or because maybe you want to re-read the original post, there's no link to drop down to the new comments since you last visited. Since the site already tracks what happened since your last visit, this should be easy to do. Just put the "600 comments (356 new)" link at the end of the original post.

That would only work for when you've left the site (and I assume, your session cookie has expired), not for every time you change threads. It's only part way to what dawson suggests, since it wouldn't account for times when you decide to stop reading for some reason after the first 207 comments, even though 391 have already been posted.

But I think it could still be helpful.
posted by jewishbuddha at 1:55 AM on February 20, 2008


Metafilthy used to do this and it was awesome. It would pop you back at your first unread comment, regardless of how long you had been gone, and draw a horizontal rule at that point. Worked if you just refreshed the page too. I understand though it was non-trivial to implement which is why it hasn't been fixed since it stopped working a year or so ago.
posted by Mitheral at 2:20 AM on February 20, 2008


It's been talked asked before and Matt seems reluctant for reasons I can't remember and too sleepy to to look up.

But what I do to get around it is simply bookmark the last comment in thread and come back to that. Not as usual or easy as having it baked into the site, but it works.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:36 AM on February 20, 2008


I just leave threads open in Opera until I want to stop reading them. When you refresh the page it positions you at the last comment you read, no matter how many new ones have been added. It also positions you wherever you stopped reading after you have closed and reopened the browser the next day.

Opera is awesome.
posted by bent back tulips at 3:13 AM on February 20, 2008


You could just bookmark where you were, using the hyperlink on the last comment?
posted by triv at 3:37 AM on February 20, 2008


Sidenote: b33j... download limits? are you on the internets of 1990?
posted by disillusioned at 4:03 AM on February 20, 2008


Just favo(u)rite the last comment you read in a thread, and go back to it that way. You can always remove the fave afterwards if you don't feel like giving someone an undeserved ego boost.
posted by MrMustard at 5:53 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hello? Just do a "Find" search for your username.
posted by agregoli at 6:19 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


disillusioned, I see you're in the States. Not every country has the population and infrastructure to deliver the sorts of services you all take for granted. Or if they do, they cost a bundle. It's about $US70 a month for 7gigs transfer on ADSL (up and down) in Sydney (that was a very good deal when it commenced a couple of years ago and would be more expensive now). Wireless is a novel idea but not very widespread at all and again, costs a lot. It looks like b33j is outside of a major city (in Oz) and although we've had a strong uptake of broadband, it wouldn't be uncommon for people to be persisting with dialup away from urban centres.
posted by peacay at 6:30 AM on February 20, 2008


I would love tthis feature. I find the "395 comments (213 new)" count is usually wrong.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:43 AM on February 20, 2008


It's been talked asked before and Matt seems reluctant for reasons I can't remember and too sleepy to to look up.

It's a super-duper pain in the ass to track every thread for every person in the database (imagine 67k user accounts * 70k/60k/15k ask mefi/mefi/metatalk threads and you get a shitload of data)
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:22 AM on February 20, 2008


Using the time stamp of the last comment works very well in either of 3 ways: bookmark it, favorite it or leave it open in a new tab. No need for another gadget.
posted by bru at 7:23 AM on February 20, 2008


Ok, I think that settles it. There are workarounds, some of which I was aware of, but as I said in my initial post, if it's a hassle to implement, no biggie. I may just try using Opera for MeFi. I have no objection to this thread being closed as there is probably little left to add.
posted by dawson at 8:08 AM on February 20, 2008


It's a super-duper pain in the ass to track every thread for every person in the database (imagine 67k user accounts * 70k/60k/15k ask mefi/mefi/metatalk threads and you get a shitload of data)

You wouldn't need to do it in every thread, just the past week or so, or the most recent 100 threads looked at by a user. I don't think it would be too much worse then the favorite system.
posted by delmoi at 8:12 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd really like this feature too, but see how it's not practical.

And for what it's worth, the "395 comments (213 new)" never displays correctly for me. Even after I post a comment in a thread, when I return to the front page the count will remain unchanged. And counts on threads I'd never read will appear as if I'd already read half the thread. Mildly annoying.
posted by slogger at 8:42 AM on February 20, 2008


An idea: store the final comment # and thread id in a cookie, about two lines of javascript to scan the thread for the next-largest comment # and generate an anchor there. Zero server load, gets what you want.

It's probably possible in greasemonkey but I don't have the time today to hack it out.
posted by Skorgu at 9:24 AM on February 20, 2008


Firefox Find as You Type makes this a piece of cake.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:32 AM on February 20, 2008


(i) Skorgu's idea is kind of neat if technically possible.

(ii) If we have people knowledgeable about Firefox extension programming, and I think we do, is it possible for said people to update Metafilthy and the capabilities you describe?

(iii) Is this Greasemonkey-able?
posted by WCityMike at 10:00 AM on February 20, 2008


"It's a super-duper pain in the ass to track every thread for every person in the database (imagine 67k user accounts * 70k/60k/15k ask mefi/mefi/metatalk threads and you get a shitload of data)"

Yeah, but a browser-stored cookie should work. Also, the ILX system does this, and I'm not sure how (since they work across browsers, once you're logged in).
posted by klangklangston at 10:50 AM on February 20, 2008


Quick and dirty solution (until something is ultimately programmed):

1) Install Zotero on your Mozilla browser of choice

2) Save the thread(s) of particular interest.

3) After reloading the browser at a later time, open the Zotero archive of the MeFi thread.

4) Click the timestamp of the last comment in the thread; the browser will redirect to that comment's place in the updated Mefi thread.

Just remember to clear out the old MeFi archives from Zotero by the end of the day or week.
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:33 AM on February 20, 2008


WCityMike writes "If we have people knowledgeable about Firefox extension programming, and I think we do, is it possible for said people to update Metafilthy and the capabilities you describe?"

FYI Metafilthy isn't open source, the license specifically restricts distribution of modified copies. So the effort would need to start from scratch.
posted by Mitheral at 12:12 PM on February 20, 2008


Whosoever makes the greasemonkey equivalent of a automatic place-marker for every thread that the user of said script opens will get a homemade treat of gratitude from me.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:23 PM on February 20, 2008


I'd like to be able to jump to the end of a thread via a link or have a redisplay/refresh link (ala fark) that jumps to the end of the page after the refresh. I was trying to load konolia's 600+ comment thread on my iPhone and it took forever to scroll to the bottom.
posted by jeblis at 12:58 PM on February 20, 2008


Wouldn't you just put the info in a cookie? It's not critical info. I know fark does this and I doubt they store it in the database. I think it put the line above all new comments since last refresh.
posted by jeblis at 1:02 PM on February 20, 2008


disillusioned, peacay has it. We're on broadband but after some ridiculous figure (40 Gb peak, 80 gb offpeak, I think, don't quote me, I'm not sysadmin in this house), access to the intertubes is reduced as a punishment as a punishment to people who parent teenagers. Funny thing was, I remember reading (back when the web was still in black and white), that Australia had one of the quickest uptakes of new technologies - something to do with feeling isolated and wanting to connect (in the old fashioned way). Problem is the tyranny of distance - telecommunications companies here have little competition and a smaller population to draw their profits from.

Or, the short answer, yes.
posted by b33j at 2:03 PM on February 20, 2008


Seconding several above. Hasn't every browser since around 1995 come with a bookmarking feature? Just bookmark the last comment's timestamp (posted by b33j at 2:03 PM on February 20 [+] [!]) where you want to resume. How does that not work?
posted by meehawl at 2:18 PM on February 20, 2008


meehawl -- it's just kind of annoying to do it that way, because I would end up with a huge list of bookmarks. I check Metafilter a bazillion times a day but only for a minute or two each time, so there are a lot of current threads I'm interested in. If bookmarks work for you, great, but it's not the solution (to a very minor problem) for me.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:34 PM on February 20, 2008


I generally give MeFi its own Firefox window. In threads I want to follow up later, I click on the timestamp of the last comment and leave that tab open.

When I'm about to leave MeFi, I just do "Bookmarks->Bookmark all tabs" before closing its Firefox window. That makes a bookmarks folder containing all the threads I want. I use the same folder name ("mefi") each time, and delete the previous "mefi" folder (Firefox has no trouble creating multiple bookmarks or bookmark folders with the same name).

Next time I want MeFi, I just open a new Firefox window, and select Bookmarks->mefi->Open All in Tabs.

No muss, no fuss, no extra software required.
posted by flabdablet at 5:29 PM on February 20, 2008


I understand that flabdablet, and yes that works, but even rat poison is 99% corn, and if you visit fark, you'll see how handy and neato the auto thing is. You can refresh, and there it is, a bold red line...you can come back days later, and there it is, a bold red line, you can skip from (retardedLOL) thread to (ignorantLOL) thread and there it is, a bold red line

It's cool with the dawson if MeFi can't practically do that, or if it's just too big of a hassle, there are lots of work-arounds. But the auto/lazy way is what I was suggesting. Bookmarks are, for me, more of a bitch than just remembering the time stamp and scrolling there.
I love this site, I was just suggesting icing on the cake, it's a minor thing, but none of the 'tricks' are in the same league as 'the bold red line' type thing.

If anyone does a greasemonkey, pls post it here! Otherwise, this is bordering on a gripe thread, which was not my intention. I'm a lovable liberal lily livered libertarian when it comes to fluff like this.
posted by dawson at 7:01 PM on February 20, 2008


Well, my way gets me the top of the window instead of a bold red line, but apart from that it seems to do all the things you tell me the red line can do.

MeFi has always been rather more understated than Fark, no?
posted by flabdablet at 7:56 PM on February 20, 2008


nope, the difference is, no clicking on timestamps, no leaving tabs open, no particular browser, no "Bookmarks->Bookmark all tabs", no folder names, no deletions, no new Firefox window, no select Bookmarks->mefi->Open All in Tabs.

You just click on the thread and, violia, there it is, right where you last left it, automatically, hassle-free, every thread every time w/o giving it a thought.

However.

MeFi has always been rather more understated than Fark, no?

YES. And for this we give thanks. :)
posted by dawson at 8:08 PM on February 20, 2008


What if opening a thread, not just reloading the front page, updated the "(x new)" information that is already stored for that thread? and/or if that information were printed in the thread somewhere, not just on the front page? This seems like it would do some of what the OP is asking without consuming any more or less database resources than are already used. This would have the added benefit of making this feature non-pointless for anyone like me who primarily reads some part of the site through rss...
posted by advil at 2:48 PM on February 21, 2008


There's a Mefite named Plutor who's been able to create miracles for Metafilter with Greasemonkey. Might want to ask him.
posted by WCityMike at 2:49 PM on February 21, 2008


slogger: "And for what it's worth, the "395 comments (213 new)" never displays correctly for me. Even after I post a comment in a thread, when I return to the front page the count will remain unchanged."

Yeah it doesn't seem to work well for me either. I can't quite figure it out; sometimes it's like it chooses a random number about halfway through the thread, and decided that's what I've read to (and refuses to update), while other times it works the first time I view a thread, but doesn't update later. It's particularly odd when I comment in a thread and then go back later, only to pick up reading the thread above my earlier comment.

As a result I tend to use Recent Activity a lot, but unfortunately I rarely go back and re-read long threads that I didn't post in.

It'd be nice if this worked better, but I understand it's a pretty daunting technical issue. There are probably a lot better ways to use resources than a separate database server just so everyone can know exactly where they are in every thread they've read in the last month.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:13 PM on February 22, 2008


WCityMike, thanks... I popped a mefi mail to Plutor. I certainly don't expect him to do anything, as he's not obligated, but if he has time, that would be sweet. It appears this is not an easy thing to implement. Being me, I really had no idea it was such a challenge. I figured if Drew Curtis and the internet age equivalent of The Sun had it, Matt and the equivalent of the golden age of 'The Grey Lady' could too. :)
But there are way more important issues out there I know.
posted by dawson at 6:14 PM on February 22, 2008


I'm going to get started on a gm script to do this. Please send me a message if you're interesting in helping.
posted by tylermoody at 1:49 PM on February 24, 2008


Note to future requesters: Calling what I do "miracles" is a good way of getting things done.
posted by Plutor at 9:17 AM on February 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Plutor: Thank you so much! Yet another great feature added to Metafilter. I nominate Plutor for honorary adminhood. ;-)
posted by WCityMike at 9:48 AM on February 26, 2008


Yes! Installed this and it's beautiful. Thanks for the script, man.
posted by dawson at 10:19 AM on February 26, 2008


Excellent!
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:24 AM on February 26, 2008


You are a god Plutor.
posted by Skorgu at 11:13 AM on February 26, 2008


That is totally fucking rad, Plutor. And since I can't help myself when it comes to this whole web 3.0 customization stuff, here's a version with a slightly less obtrusive marker:

little-yellow-different metafilterscrolltag.
posted by team lowkey at 2:16 PM on February 26, 2008


I just uploaded an update. Fixes include:

* Dropping the tag above the first comment doesn't do wacky things anymore
* Dropping/following the tag below the last comment doesn't tag the next/previous thread links
* Eyecandy: The jumper fades in now
* Handle zero comments gracefully
* Replace the "mm new" links and text on the home pages, etc. with more accurate counts (threads read only with yesterday's version sadly won't do this properly).
posted by Plutor at 6:14 AM on February 27, 2008


Yo, Plutor, the "runs on" still includes your home system path from your testing... I think.
& thanks!
posted by loiseau at 12:03 PM on February 27, 2008


Heh, good point. Now everyone knows my home directory!
posted by Plutor at 12:33 PM on February 27, 2008


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