what about a footnote button? February 16, 2002 5:33 PM   Subscribe

What about a footnote button? [more inside]
posted by MiguelCardoso to Feature Requests at 5:33 PM (20 comments total)

Say you want to make an off-topic remark; point to some tangential aspect of the link; answer someone's direct query; elaborate on a detail mentioned in another comment; make a personal observation or joke; add vaguely related links or indeed post comments more relevant to MetaTalk...

Instead of derailing or interrupting a thread with what are essentially annotations or marginalia, would it help to have a possible "footnote button" in the posting box?

Footnotes are useful in other media for a very good reason: they don't break the flow and can be interesting in their own small way, if duly recognized and presented as such. ( Perhaps these could be could be automatically grouped at the end of every thread, in a smaller font.)

Perhaps each user's decision to either "post a comment"(as now)or "post a footnote" might create an opportunity for extra responsibility and remove the need for(or temptation of) annoying small-tag asides and off-topic apologies. I.e., you'd have to commit to your contribution as a legitimate comment or classify it as a potentially derailing tangent. Though the main advantage - if this is at all feasible or necessary - would be the general readability and dialectics of each thread.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:34 PM on February 16, 2002


Miguel -- Would it be acceptable just to include a direct link to a comment in MetaTalk which would contain the same information as the footnote?
posted by Hildago at 6:07 PM on February 16, 2002


(Just trying to think of a way to get what you're aiming for without Matt having to stitch something on to his code..)
posted by Hildago at 6:08 PM on February 16, 2002


Hildago - unfortunately my imagination doesn't stretch beyond the printed page. I just pictured a small block of small-font footnotes which would follow the thread, appearing after the most recent comment, in chronological order, with no need to be numbered or anything.

Though I gather - disheartened! - from your tactful comments that this would probably be too much work. And yet the labelling thread just below seems to point to the desirability of a footnote feature as it's way off topic right now and seems difficult to re-rail...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:50 PM on February 16, 2002


It was a lovely idea, miguel, don't give up on it ....
posted by bunnyfire at 7:24 PM on February 16, 2002


(Just trying to think of a way to get what you're aiming for without Matt having to stitch something on to his code..)

I think its pretty obvious that Matt isn't terribly interested in adding all sorts of features, regardless of how good they are.

Considering we're a community of mefi fanatics, I wonder if someone would be willing to write up a metafilter client. Matt could supply a MefiAPI and the client could be written and maintained by some willing coders. Footnotes and all that good stuff could be automated and served from your own webspace. Depending on how much the API lets you do anything is possible.

I know the API itself is going to be work, but its just going to be a one-off deal for Matt not including bug fixes. Coding duties for cool features wouldn't involve Matt at all.

I'm not a coder, so if the above sounds crazy feel free to correct me.
posted by skallas at 7:31 PM on February 16, 2002


Tailfins! That's what this place needs!
Seriously, Miguel, it's a lovely idea but too convoluted to add as a feature. Maybe you should introduce a traditon of blockquoted reduced fonts text, perhaps italicized, to identify your comment as a footnote of tangential interest?

posted by y2karl at 8:05 PM on February 16, 2002


I regularly just add tangential thoughts in a smaller font. I think that gets the idea across...
posted by mdn at 8:53 PM on February 16, 2002


Footnotes qua footnotes don't tend to work well on the web, anyway... you jump to the bottom of the page, then it's hard to find where you were in the first place. (Some of my clients are textbook publishers, so I'm constantly trying to get book people to realize the web isn't just a book with scrollbars ;) Sidebars or even popup windows would be better -- or for the full frilly pony with all bangles and spangles attached, little hidden DHTML layers that could be popped up with a mouseover would be nifty.

On the other hand, y2karl's and mdn's suggestions have the advantage of achieving 99% of the functionality with 0% of the work. Brevity, meet wit.
posted by ook at 8:58 PM on February 16, 2002


On the other hand you could do something like this : [*]

Hover your mouse pointer over the [*] to read my 'footnote'.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:45 PM on February 16, 2002


Does this achieve what? You got cut off...
posted by kindall at 9:49 PM on February 16, 2002


Really?

"..achieve what you were thinking?" was how I finished.

Hmm - character limit on title tag in other browsers (IE 6, me)?

Ah well. You couldn't really go on and on and on, then, but in Miguel's case, that might be a good thing!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:56 PM on February 16, 2002


Uh...title attribute, I mean.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:08 PM on February 16, 2002


stavros: There is/was a 1024 character limit for the tool tips.
posted by riffola at 10:56 PM on February 16, 2002


An idea, whatever its inherent merits, ripe for rampant abuse....
posted by rushmc at 12:51 AM on February 17, 2002


An idea, whatever its inherent merits, ripe for rampant abuse....

...should David Foster Wallace ever decide to post on MeFi...

posted by lizs at 1:28 AM on February 17, 2002


The idea was not to add footnotes to comments but to divide all threads into "main comments" and "footnote" or secondary comments". Each post, with or without actual footnotes, would be either central to the link and thread - or marginal and therefore better placed in a smaller font, subsequent block. You could read the main comments consecutively and then read all the off-topic and marginal comments in the same way.

But yes, after reading the reactions here, this is probably a bad idea as well. So better stick to good old fashioned skipping! ;)



posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:59 AM on February 17, 2002


Just a quick comment: I often find it slightly difficult and mildly irritating to read all this small-font stuff people write at the end of their posts. It's not as if anyone does it often enough to be annoying, but I have the Mefi font set at such a size so as to be optimally readable, and if someone goes and writes what is invariably an interesting or funny aside in small font, it doesn't help*.

*It doesn't help me, that is. Perhaps it helps others.
posted by adrianhon at 1:55 AM on February 18, 2002


Footnotes are annoying.
posted by kv at 7:00 AM on February 18, 2002


What about a footnote button?

Just get a cable long enough, and use your toes to type.

posted by ParisParamus at 2:41 PM on February 18, 2002


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