Using a Recently Visited Threads page instead of short-term favorites (plus Preview page side-pony) February 22, 2011 1:31 AM   Subscribe

Do you think a "Recently visited threads" page would be a good idea?

I'd like to see a page listing current activity on the last 5-10 threads I have visited - sort of like a transient "Recent Favorites" page, but without the favorites. Similar functionality can obviously be provided using browser history, client-side javascript, strategic favoriting or pen and paper, but I think a server-side solution would be a good addition to the site.

It seems a similar idea has come up in the past without much success. What I am suggesting would be a much more streamlined / lightweight mechanism - no adding/removing stuff for example, favorites already work great for this.

On preview, I can't find the entire post title on the MeTa Preview page - could it possibly be added /made more prominent? Most of my worst typos are in post titles.
posted by Dr Dracator to Feature Requests at 1:31 AM (29 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

It would definitely be convenient. I currently use some combination of my recent activity via comments and favorited posts, but I don't always favorite or comment in the ones I'd like to keep up with.
posted by taz at 1:57 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Curious to know why you want this feature. Is it to be able to use it like a Recent Activity page except without having to comment on the post first? Or just when you think "Hmm, where's that post I was reading yesterday about X?"?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:00 AM on February 22, 2011


Both of these actually - I think it would provide a clean, easy way to follow discussions longer, even when posts fall off the front page in heavy traffic days.

Content-free placemarker comments are Bad, having less of them would be Good. Mostly however I often dive into an interesting thread, spend more time on it than I should then close the tab without remembering to favorite. This happens to me a lot in threads were the post material is not exceptional but the comments are; by the time I've read all the comments, the favorite button is way up at the top of the page, which means I often forget about it.

Another example is were something from the blue pops up elsewhere, e.g. a new development turns a limited interest post into headline news. I know I have seen something related recently, but have to search through the last X pages of posts to find it.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:19 AM on February 22, 2011


I would definitely like an Add This Thread To My Recent Activity function for threads that I'd still like to follow after the initial reading, but have nothing to add to myself. I find for the "where was that post...?" thing though that my browser history is good enough.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:56 AM on February 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would like this too. I know, I know, we can just favorite a thread we want to keep an eye on to add it to Recent Activity, but I mostly prefer to save my favorites for things that I think are really awesome rather than using them as bookmarks. And no matter how many times we have the "people use favorites for different reasons" conversation, they're still widely viewed as upvotes/karma points.

Reddit does this, by the way -- an unobtrusive "recently viewed links" block in the sidebar showing the last five threads you've visited.
posted by Gator at 4:20 AM on February 22, 2011


I'd like to see a page listing current activity on the last 5-10 threads I have visited...

Not me. I visit a lot of threads, fine them not very interesting or to my taste and don't revisit them. Having this just seems like adding another level of complexity that isn't needed because a user can already favorite a thread and follow it that way.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:18 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just use my browser history? I don't know, unless we're given some sort of distinct control over this afforded to us by it being browser-side, this would just be sort of a waste for me.
posted by Mizu at 5:32 AM on February 22, 2011


And if the site kept track of individual thread visits, then the new comment count could finally be correct!
posted by smackfu at 6:06 AM on February 22, 2011


Yes!
posted by futz at 6:22 AM on February 22, 2011


Add my vote as another person who'd like a feature like this.
posted by royalsong at 6:51 AM on February 22, 2011


I agree with many of the above. I don't comment too often on the blue, but I read a lot of it and often I'd like to keep reading particular threads. Which I guess means I'd prefer an "add to recent activity" button at the bottom of a thread rather than just including them all, because I at least glance at many threads (most threads?) but not all of them interest me enough to keep up.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:13 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is something that I've often thought would be helpful. I especially like Eyebrows McGee's suggestion of being able to add threads to recent activity without comment.
posted by kimdog at 7:15 AM on February 22, 2011


I worry that this would either need to allow explicit pruning by the user or would be close to useless for anyone who is more of a browser than a one-thread-at-a-time reader, since clicking into a few threads would completely annihilate the "what was that thing from yesterday" usefulness of a small history.

And if it needs pruning controls, then implementation is more work and managing it server-side for all users may be even more of a resource hit. We'd done a lot of tuning to the front page just to keep it reasonably fast, and the Contact Activity sidebar is one of the biggest problems there as something that is generated per-user dynamically, as a point of comparison.

That said, pb would know better what the practical implications would be on that front. But it does certainly seem like something that would be hard to make a one-size-fits-all solution without some configurational options.

There's also a mild privacy angle that at this point we'd be casually tracking on the server, and displaying on the front page, what threads people even look at, and making that list available to any over-the-shoulder or computer-sharing other folks. Which in common cases is not really a big deal but for the folks it might be a big deal to it could be a real son of a bitch to suddenly have their roommate/spouse/boss/kid seeing with zero effort that they've been reading a thread about drugs or sex or divorce or a surprise party or or or. I characterize the issue as mild because it's more a matter of degree than anything and there's no fundamental privacy on this front from someone else who has access to your computer who knows what a visited link looks like compared to an unvisited one, but presenting that information front and center on the page does put a pretty fine point on it.

I would definitely like an Add This Thread To My Recent Activity function for threads that I'd still like to follow after the initial reading, but have nothing to add to myself.

As far as this sort of thing goes, that remains high on my wishlist as well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:21 AM on February 22, 2011


Couple follow-on points:

- The My Favorites tab on the Recent Activity page lets you follow something that you've favorited as if you were following it on the normal Recent Activity tab. It's not as slick because it's not integrated into that one holy view, but it's something and is often overlooked.

- My experience with the sidebar thingy on Reddit has been precisely the sort of "I clicked on a bunch of stuff that I turned out not to give a shit about" thing a couple other folks have mentioned as well. Which may just be a matter of differing reading style and volume, but again with why the one-size-fits-all vs. implementation complexity thing is on my mind.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:25 AM on February 22, 2011


MetaFilter: I clicked on a bunch of stuff that I turned out not to give a shit about
posted by desjardins at 7:45 AM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Something like a "follow" button that would add a thread to recent activity, would really be awesome. "Remove from recent activity" is already there to act as an "unfollow," so this would be totally manual. I also hate making place-marker comments, and my favorite posts are actually favorites. There's more click-through to access favorites, as opposed to Recent Activity, which is right there at the top.

A way to follow threads without it appearing (to some people) that "I <3 this!" would really be great.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:01 AM on February 22, 2011


I, too, would like a way to follow a thread in recent activity.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:12 AM on February 22, 2011


Whatever this feature would be, I do wish for it not to be tracked by any other visitors to the website.

Every so often there will be an interesting topic about [coin-collecting] but I don't favorite it because I don't want my name attached to any [coin-collecting] discussions.
posted by royalsong at 8:40 AM on February 22, 2011


Never figured you for a numismaniac.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:47 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ctrl-Shift-H works for me!
posted by Roger Dodger at 9:08 AM on February 22, 2011


There's also a mild privacy angle that at this point we'd be casually tracking on the server, and displaying on the front page, what threads people even look at, and making that list available to any over-the-shoulder or computer-sharing other folks.

On both the privacy and resources front, I don't think this is something that needs to be on the front page - I was thinking more of something like a tab on the Recent Activity page. This way you don't see it if you don't want it, server load is mostly generated when people actually want to use it and it's easier to keep away from prying eyes.
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:39 AM on February 22, 2011


Firefox: Open History (Ctrl+Shift+H) > Search History "metafilter.com" > Save
Chrome: Open History (Ctrl+H) > Search History "metafilter.com" > Save Bookmark (click the star, or Ctrl+D)
posted by zamboni at 12:34 PM on February 22, 2011


I would definitely like an Add This Thread To My Recent Activity function for threads that I'd still like to follow after the initial reading, but have nothing to add to myself.

I would definitely like this, also.
posted by dg at 2:20 PM on February 22, 2011


The threads that I follow are hardly ever the threads that I favorite.

I tend to favorite posts that are cute, cool, amusing or entertaining in some way. I may read the thread when I initially look at the links, but beyond that I'm not that interested in the thread itself.

The threads that I follow are generally about an ongoing real world event so that if I follow the thread, I can keep up to date with news that I'm interested in. I guess I should favorite these and sometimes later on, I do, but often it just doesn't occur to me.

Yeah, I'd prefer manually selecting threads to be added to recent activity, rather than automatically selecting them based on what I've favorited or commented in. Although really for me, I just keep those threads open in multiple tabs, and what with pb's fabulous new pony, I can tell in an instant which ones have new comments.
posted by marsha56 at 2:34 PM on February 22, 2011


I would definitely like an Add This Thread To My Recent Activity function for threads that I'd still like to follow after the initial reading, but have nothing to add to myself.

This is a great way to get at the request without the pitfalls mentioned above and would also be awesome.
posted by Kimberly at 2:56 PM on February 22, 2011


I really, really want this feature. The "Add to Recent Activity" button would be perfect.
posted by vorfeed at 3:27 PM on February 22, 2011


Something like a "follow" button that would add a thread to recent activity, would really be awesome.

++good
posted by doctor_negative at 3:42 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another vote for an "Add to recent activity" button here. The existing Recent Activity logic does stuff that a simple Firefox history search can't do, like bumping threads to the top of the list when people comment in them.

Because Recent Activity contains logic that depends on the position of your last comment in each thread, perhaps the "Add to recent activity" button could in fact simply add an empty comment with a DIV class that CSS renders invisible?
posted by flabdablet at 4:12 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


You've all been using favourites wrong.

There's an obvious functional difference. In my favorites, they're sorted chronologically by when I favorited them and the page is static until I add another favorite, but in Recent Activity, posts float/sort via newest comments.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:56 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


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