Who's broken? Metafilter or me? November 3, 2008 5:53 PM   Subscribe

Why is it that sometimes Metafilter shows the correct number of posts and comments since my last visit and other times it's as if I hadn't ever clicked a thread?

I initially posted this in AskMefi, but was kindly corrected by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew.
posted by gman to Bugs at 5:53 PM (13 comments total)

cookies/cache issues
posted by desjardins at 6:08 PM on November 3, 2008


I can't find the link right now, but the problem probably isn't on your end. From what I remember, the "..since your last visit" indicator involves Big Medicineā„¢ to figure out the last time you actually visited was. Since websites don't really know when you leave, it uses a timer to guess if you left or not. This timer is reset basically every time you click a link or do something else on a MetaFilter page. This timer is also not always that accurate, and compromises between several factors.
posted by niles at 6:08 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yep, niles has it. The last visit time is a best guess at best, and doesn't factor in which threads you've read. Improving this has been on our to-do list for a while now.
posted by pb (staff) at 6:12 PM on November 3, 2008


what the heck? why do I keep answering this question, and why does it always involve something Big and Trademarked??
posted by niles at 6:21 PM on November 3, 2008


Wait, it goes by clock time? But the server *knows* the last page (for each post) it sent me and therefore the last comment I (could have) read.

I assumed it was just a cache + cronjobbed update script thing.
posted by DU at 6:39 PM on November 3, 2008


niles,

It is your fate to answer this question.

Hello Danny. Come and play with us. Come and play with us, Danny. Forever... and ever... and ever.
posted by lukemeister at 6:44 PM on November 3, 2008


But the server *knows* the last page (for each post) it sent me and therefore the last comment I (could have) read.

It's an idiot though and forgets it right away because it would take too much effort to remember it.
posted by smackfu at 7:28 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


The server is a lazy, fickle lout.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:10 PM on November 3, 2008


Palin/Server 2012
posted by DU at 4:42 AM on November 4, 2008


DU: "Wait, it goes by clock time? But the server *knows* the last page (for each post) it sent me and therefore the last comment I (could have) read."

70k users * 200k threads = lots of table rows for marginal feature improvement

Shameless plug: Can I suggest MetaFilter Scroll Tag, which munges the "new" links based on actual reading habits?
posted by Plutor at 4:53 AM on November 4, 2008


200k open threads? If so (and I have no idea) that would be pretty crazy. Clock time looks reasonable in that scenario.
posted by DU at 6:32 AM on November 4, 2008


Palin/Server 2012

Which is hotter?
posted by lukemeister at 6:42 AM on November 4, 2008


200k open threads?

No, but as askme threads stay open for a year, it's probably about twenty thousands in the rolling window of openness.

If we were inclined to tackle it sanely from the server side, we'd likely aim to restrict the server load further by only maintaining data for threads that were 48-72 hours old or so; that'd cover the front page and a click or two on "Older...", and reduce the scope further to just several hundred threads.

But let's call it 500, and say it's really only about 30K open-and-active accounts. That's still like 15M rows of data. And we'd have to do a constant add-and-purge process for the threads passing through the window, which would be annoying in its own right.

Aside from which, it's just not that much of a priority even setting the db number crunching aside. There are a few different ways to keep track of comments in a thread, and the current not-robust server-side implementation is nonetheless reasonably useful if you've actually been on a break from the site for a many hours or a day or whatever, so, heck.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:33 AM on November 4, 2008


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