My Little Pony: Mobiles Are Magic April 6, 2011 11:44 PM   Subscribe

Pony request: Would it be possible to have a 'new post' button on the Mobile site? It would be easier than switching to the full site.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn to Feature Requests at 11:44 PM (24 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

This has been covered.

I think the idea is that the mobile version is supposed to be bare bones for browsing and occasional commenting; to interact fully with the site you should use the full site.
posted by auto-correct at 11:49 PM on April 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

That, yes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:56 AM on April 7, 2011

If you find yourself needing to post a lot via the Mobile Site (we hope not) you could always add a bookmark to the new post page instead of switching back and forth. As auto-correct mentioned, we're ok with having a few easy hurdles to posting from mobile devices.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:15 AM on April 7, 2011

Why? There's no good reason to restrict mobile posting; more and more I do my idle web surfing on the bus from my phone, and, although I'm not a prolific poster, the inability to post from the mobile interface makes it less likely that the interesting things I find that way will make it onto the blue.

I'm not saying that there wasn't a reason for not having this, but I'd say that mobile-chauvinism is probably a bit unhelpful at this point. That ship has sailed; mobile access is going to become the norm rather than the exception pretty fast. Why not add a post link to the menu at the bottom of the page?
posted by ChrisR at 8:39 AM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

As mobile internet becomes the norm, surely mobile devices will be come better at viewing regular website, and "mobile" versions of website will be less necessary. That seems more likely than the entire internet converting to "mobile" websites because no-one uses computers any more.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:55 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

No matter what the smaller screen will result in design tradeoffs, so I think that's a bit misguided. I think the right approach is to provide the core functionality of a site in various display formats, including mobile.

In MeFi's case, that's posting, reading, and commenting. Two of those are implemented now, but posting remains unavailable without resorting to bookmark tricks and an awful editing experience.
posted by ChrisR at 9:00 AM on April 7, 2011

We're not restricting posting from a mobile device. You can always switch to the standard site to get the exact same view/features you get in a standard web browser. I don't think it's fair to characterize a few differences between the mobile version of the site and full version of the site as "mobile-chauvinism". If you want the full site, switch to that view.

Posts have a much larger audience here than comments. They start discussions. In our experience, people tend to be less careful when posting from mobile devices, and we're ok with people waiting until they're at a different device to compose posts, even if that means we don't break the story. If you do want to post via a mobile device, we're not stopping you.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:06 AM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

That ship has sailed

That ship is in the slow ocean-going process of sailing. I think a lot of the things that make mobile sort of a headache now won't be so much of an issue as the next few years peel off, but right now they're still relatively underpowered devices with clunky input methods and limited screen size that create thereby significant incentives to cut corners in inputting and managing significant amounts of text. Metafilter is composed pretty much entirely from significant amounts of text. Posts particularly so.

There is no time-sensitive nature to a good metafilter post, certainly not to the point that a post can't wait until someone gets to their laptop or desktop. If you really, really want to make a post and are going to bother to do it right from your phone, you can, but it's not something we specifically want to encourage at this point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:12 AM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

I was a bit sad/miffed when I was home sick and became obsessed with this question, because I was basically using my phone as a ersatz-paperback-book to keep myself entertained while sneezing my brains out, but I hear ya. (Yep, ended up posting the question from the phone switching away from the mobile interface briefly, because no-way-no-how did I have enough energy to actually Get Up from the recliner to (a) find and (b) turn on my laptop. And thus my random curiosity was satisfied.)
posted by epersonae at 9:16 AM on April 7, 2011

I can get behind that :)
posted by guptaxpn at 9:51 AM on April 7, 2011

Considering that there are entire sites dedicated to auto correct errors, I donut wont to see a munch of front pave pests with kittered with drilling errors.
posted by clearly at 10:12 AM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

Here at MetaFilter Posts LLC, we lovingly hand craft each post out of only the purest virginal zeros and ones. The electricity is sourced by using locally powered micro generators operated by Synesthesic monks peddling in a reclining position. It is then triple filtered in a patented trimosis process before running through solid gold hand spun cables to vaccuum tubes to create the zero and one. Once created, the vaccuum tubes are destroyed, to ensure they are never used again as we have found that multiple uses lead to degradation in the warmth and warbles needed for a true Posting Experience.

For those waiting on our mobile post submission application, we apologize for the delay, Gary (our mobile monk) got a cramp.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:25 AM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

Why not add a post link to the menu at the bottom of the page?

posting remains unavailable without resorting to bookmark tricks and an awful editing experience.

So do you want just a link to the regular posting page or do you want a special "made for mobile browsers" posting page? Switching to the regular site to make a post is pretty trivial, especially since you can post at most once a day (ish, I know, because of multiple subsites, but then Askme's allowed rate is much lower), so it's not some activity that you're doing over and over all the time.
posted by kmz at 11:24 AM on April 7, 2011

I'd like, ideally, something mobile-optimized, but failing that providing a link to the site's post page (for each subsite) would be fantastic.
posted by ChrisR at 11:54 AM on April 7, 2011

There already is a link to post from each site's page ... in standard mode. That view is only a couple scrolls down and one click away from the mobile view, on each subsite. Or two clicks and less scrolling, if you're closer to the top and click [skip to menu].

Perhaps I'm biased towards posts stuffed full with details and context, or I'm not as nimble on my smart phone, but posting to the front page on a mobile device seems like trouble. Copying and pasting text is a pain, so unless you remember URLs, it'll take you some maneuvering to get more than a link into a post from a mobile device.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:18 PM on April 7, 2011

Posting to the front page on a mobile device seems like trouble.

Yeah I sort of feel that we're seeing an uptick of people making post to AskMe (which are easier, because they're linkless) using mobile devices and there's a lot of ... I don't even know what you call it. People don't spell check, they don't use caps, they don't make HTML links if they include URLs. I've been there and I totally get that this sort of thing is a pain in the ass to do on a mobile device, even one that's tricked out with buttons that do the linking and some other stuff.

My personal feeling is that I'm okay having there be a small hurdle between interacting with the site on a mobile device for commenting/reading--and I think we've been decently cool about trying to get a good mobile site for those things--and actually making a post. I'm okay with fixing people's HTML but I don't want to go in and fix everyone's lower-cased everything or everyone's typos.

And you can make an argument, and people do, that we should just become more easygoing about typos and capitalization and unlinked HTML, but it's just not that sort of community. Some people make a ton of typos, other people bring it up in their responses to that person. People don't link HTML and other people flag it as "broken" until we go in and fix it. So I totally hear you that this seems like there's some sort of anti-posting predjudice going on with us not wanting to make posting any easier than it already is from the explicitly-mobile version, but at some level the normal non-mobile version of the website is, in most cases, workable on mobile devices as well.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:58 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Maybe making the mobile sites a little more user friendly would help cut down on stupid mistakes?

There are things I LOVE about the mobile site - like navigating to other parts of the site from the bottom of the page (I've found myself trying to do that on the computer). But other things are frustrating. Like commenting - which is the main way I interact with the site.

I don't have a computer set up at home, and I have Internet access intermittently. Outside of work (and I'm lucky that I can use my work computer for non-work purposes sometimes), my phone is how I use the Internet 75% or more of the time. It's not a supplement to a computer - if anything the reverse is more true now.

I'm curious what the numbers are for users visiting Metafilter from mobile browsers. I know I can't be alone. How many do we have to be before it's not normal site versus mobile site but 'stationary' site versus mobile site, both normal?
posted by Salamandrous at 5:06 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Maybe making the mobile sites a little more user friendly would help cut down on stupid mistakes?

I respect and appreciate where you're coming from, but I don't think we could make the mobile site any friendlier in a way that would encourage people to use capital letters or check their auto-correct settings/suggestions. I'll see if pb can run the numbers on what sort of access we're getting from mobile/non-mobile users.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:47 PM on April 7, 2011

We did some number crunching, and it looks like about 10-12% of our traffic is mobile, which is kind of higher than I thought. I don't know if that's enough yet to tailor the site more than we already have to mobile. I mean, for now we've done everything we can to streamline the reading of the site, to make it easy to follow threads on your phone.

Posting really feels like a sit-at-a-desk kind of thing, and why we're hesitant to go to great lengths to make it more mobile friendly. Making a post requires having several tabs open, writing a paragraph of text with tons of HTML. It's tough stuff on a mobile device.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:26 PM on April 7, 2011

Anecdata point: we've been internetless at home recently, and all my browsing and commenting, as well as posts to four of the subsites, has been done from my phone. Sure, it's not as quick or intuitive as working on a computer, but the slightly slower input makes me consider my words better, much as some people report happens when composing longhand. Being careless with spelling and HTML in posts while working on a mobile device seems like the kind of thing that social pressure will eliminate or discourage sooner rather than later, at least around here.

sidenote: I can comment just fine from the mobile site, yet the regular site, on my phone, refuses to accept presses of the Post Comment or Preview buttons... unless, that is, I'm making a post.
posted by jtron at 5:05 AM on April 8, 2011

First time long time, but I'd be anti a "post link" function on the mobile site. Is there really that level of time criticality on making posts? Is there a reason for it beyond wanting to get in before another post on the same topic? The only strict benefit case I can really see is if someone was in a police cordon, say, or a crisis-hit area, and wanted to start an as-it-happens thread from their mobile device - but that feels rare enough to make it OK to make them pan around the full site on a smartphone.

As mobile devices get larger, the need to use the mobile site on them recedes - I don't see a lot of difference between a 9.7" tablet and my 11" laptop in terms of the user experience, although multiple tabs was certainly useful for my one post so far. Then again, if I'd done it on an iPad, I would probably have just posted the link to Kathleen Hanna and had done with it, which might have been better.

As I see it, MetaFilter is supposed to be a curatorial experience, to some extent, and one of the characteristics of curatorship is reflection, which is something mobile interfaces aren't generally optimized for. At the moment, the MetaFilter mobile site is optimized to take into account the difficulty of making a good post on a mobile device by making it hard to do so. That feels right. Sort of Apple-ish? Cut out things that give the user freedom to mess things up?
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:18 AM on April 8, 2011

The best MeFi posts are the ones where someone's put some thought into it (!= multiple links), not the ones where they just post whatever random thing they've found while browsing. There's no benefit to having FPPs made quicker, or by someone who's out and about.

I did all my MeFi browsing and commenting on my iPhone for a week, because my modem fried itself. But I saved the post I intended to make until I had access to a laptop, because I wanted to do it right. I'm not saying my post was one of the best on MeFi, but I didn't want it to look careless if it was sitting next to something by Rhaomi or flapjax or whoever, or to start a flame war with unfortunate phrasing because I couldn't edit it properly on a tiny screen.

The 'filter' part of MetaFilter is still what makes it one of the best sites on the web.
posted by harriet vane at 8:27 AM on April 8, 2011

I think, in time, attitudes toward this will change. I love being able to post and comment on the go.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:07 PM on April 8, 2011

I love being able to read and participate in quality discussion. This is why I don't bother with YouTube comments or Fark. There are plenty of places on the internet for posting whatever thought bubble I've just had (Facebook, Twitter) and I love them, but there are so few places where you can get an in-depth conversation with people sharing their expertise. Not every website has to be the same.
posted by harriet vane at 9:57 PM on April 8, 2011

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