Pony: A way of tracking replies in a thread June 8, 2011 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Is there some way we could track when we are mentioned in a thread?

For example, I post my opinion in a fast-moving thread. Hours later, I look at my recent activity and there are 300 comments since mine. Some of them are responding to what I've said, but it's hard to tell without reading every comment. What I'd like is some way to pick out the ones who mentioned my name or quoted my comment, so that I can respond to those.

Perhaps this can be implemented with a "reply to" link at the end of each comment, but the comments would appear in line. I am NOT asking for threaded comments as I know that's a non-starter.

For example:

Here is my comment.
posted by desjardins at 8:45 AM on June 8 [+][!][Reply]

Wow, that is a wonderful insight! You are so smart!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:47 AM on June 8 in reply to desjardins [+][!][Reply]

And my recent activity page would look like this:

114 total comments. 50 since your most recent comment, 1 reply to you, last 10 comments shown below...
posted by desjardins to Feature Requests at 7:14 AM (162 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I don't know how practical this is, but I would love it.
posted by amro at 7:15 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Most people when they quote include the username of the person they're replying to. Using ctrl+f works to find those.
posted by Kattullus at 7:17 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Most people when they quote include the username of the person they're replying to.

I don't think that's true.
posted by enn at 7:19 AM on June 8, 2011 [33 favorites]


This would be a lot of work to accomplish not a whole lot, is the feeling I've gotten from thinking about this in the past. Scanning a thread for your username or quotations of something you've written is reasonably quick to do and doing it manually has the flexibility of accounting for all those cases where someone misspells your handle, uses a nickname, replies without direct quotation, etc.

That's aside from the questions of e.g. (a) people declining to use any nominal reply-to features, leaving you right where you are now, (b) people replying to multiple comments in one comment requiring either that they not "reply-to" everything or that the reply-to feature get more complex under the hood, (c) stepping stone pressure of moving on from reply-to tracking to full-on threaded display management for comments, etc.

It's a fair amount of work and asking for a fair amount of upheaval (intentional or not) to the flow of conversation around here in service of a pretty minor gain.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:22 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


We don't have any mechanized way of tracking replies generally on MeFi [the way we would if there were, say, threaded discussions] and while I can totally see how this would be terrific, it would also be sort of horrible for people with usernames that are also common words if it were just word recognition the way, say, facebook does this.

While there are good Greasemonkey quoting scripts, this isn't really something that we've seen fit to implement on the site proper--i.e. a real way to quote people, we figure people who want the functionality can either do it themselves or use one of the add-ons--and without setting up a process, there's no way to put this together. And, of course, there's the standard peanut gallery disclaimer which is that people would use it to goof with other people which would also decrease its utility.

So, I can see how something like this would be neat, but I can also see how a feature like this would require a bunch of new back-end coding but also "Hey everyone on MeFi, start doing replies this way instead of that way" for a thing that's only really useful in super-long threads [and not great on AskMe where starting chatty conversations is really not where we want ot be going].
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:23 AM on June 8, 2011


Threads would solve this problem.
posted by DU at 7:26 AM on June 8, 2011


Ctrl+F would solve this problem.
posted by hermitosis at 7:28 AM on June 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


it's hard to tell without reading every comment

A feature, imo.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:30 AM on June 8, 2011 [30 favorites]


A while back someone wrote a bookmarklet called GraphFi that can help with this. (Sorry, I don't have the link on my phone but a quick search will find it)

It isn't perfect, but it does a decent job of sorting and linking replies in a thread.
posted by m@f at 7:33 AM on June 8, 2011


Threads would solve this problem.

Some people, when confronted with a problem, think "I know, I'll use regular expressions threaded discussions." Now they have two an intractable rats' nest of problems that have been argued to death.
posted by jedicus at 7:33 AM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


What about GraphFi?

I can't find the previous MeTa thread for it.
posted by zarq at 7:33 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Isn't this just a round about way of asking for threaded comments?
posted by empath at 7:33 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah ha! Here you go: GraphFi MeTa
posted by zarq at 7:34 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is there some way we could track when we are mentioned in a thread?

I know what you mean. Whenever I open a new book, I flip to the index first to see if I'm mentioned.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:34 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


BeerFilter - yeah, I get that, and 99% of the time I do read all of the comments before I post. But sometimes I will not come back to a thread unless someone has replied to me.
posted by desjardins at 7:34 AM on June 8, 2011


"Replies to" has always seemed like a nasty thing to code, both from the P.O.V. of the backend, but also in terms of UI.

However - I think Twitter seem to have nailed it down. As a pattern, Twitter reply is unobtrusive, it works well with established commenting interfaces, and it's not so complicated on the backend.

Normally I'd be on the "It's too hard to do technically" side, but this may be something that's now straying into the arena of "solved problem we can copy from that other site."

(Though - I do have a feeling it may be one of those things that's easy to do if you have a small database or a lot of database resource. There's a reason we see a lot of the twitter fail whale.)
posted by seanyboy at 7:34 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


GMTA, m@f :D
posted by zarq at 7:35 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Isn't this just a round about way of asking for threaded comments?

No. They'd appear inline. You wouldn't have the option of collapsing a thread.
posted by desjardins at 7:35 AM on June 8, 2011


The only problem with threads is cultural. You cannot on the one hand say "we should all be in a big room talking together" and then complain "I can't hear when someone is talking to me". One is the direct result of the other.
posted by DU at 7:36 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think this request is the same as threads.
posted by seanyboy at 7:39 AM on June 8, 2011


One issue with having a "reply to" link next to a comment would be that it may promote a behaviour where I ...

1) Read the threads up until the point someone says something I want to comment on.

2) Hit the "reply to" button and reply to that individual comment.

3) Continue reading the thread.

In this situation, I'm going to miss a whole set of comments which may be the same as mine, or which may provide an answer to what I've posted. Without actually disabling "reply to" until a person has scrolled all the way down the page, you may be encouraging a lot of duplication / noise.
posted by seanyboy at 7:43 AM on June 8, 2011


Reading every comment would solve this problem and also be very polite, since we tend to expect people to read our comments.
posted by Gator at 7:44 AM on June 8, 2011


desjardins desjardins desjardins desjardins desjardins desjardins desjardins desjardins desjardins

You have 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 replyies.


your mama so fat....

Fatal error: Who's mom?
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 7:46 AM on June 8, 2011


Something I just noticed: GraphFi doesn't seem to be working perfectly with the Mac version of FireFox 4. It seems to cut off the left side of the page at the very top. I thought this was an issue with the Tree-Style Tabs Add-On, but it's still there after the add-on was disabled.
posted by zarq at 7:46 AM on June 8, 2011


desjardins: “No. They'd appear inline. You wouldn't have the option of collapsing a thread.”

"Threaded" doesn't mean "collapsible." It means "comments are in response to other comments."
posted by koeselitz at 7:50 AM on June 8, 2011


zarq: What about GraphFi?

This is what you want. If you have not tried, do so now. This is a screenshot of the bookmarklet in action on the standard MeFi blue. See all those weird arcs on the left side? They connect conversations. This is a screenshot of the professional white option, showing the [x replies] link feature, and this is a screenshot, depicting the magic of GraphFi in action, depicting inline replies to Potomic Avenue's comment. Note that neither reply uses Potomac Avenue's nick in the reply, just the greater than symbol.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:50 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Most people when they quote include the username of the person they're replying to.

I don't think that's true.


I think it's very far from true. I also think that's a feature, not a bug - responding to thoughts is usually preferable to responding to thinkers, IMO.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:52 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I understand the desire for this, but I think it subtly breaks thread flow in a big way. For instance, what happens when someone chooses to reply to message that wasn't intended for them? Is that allowable, since it's a direct reply but in the thread where everyone can see?

Also, I recently participated in a thread where lots of comments were directed at me. The number was so large that it was impossible to answer them all unless I did nothing else all day, including sleep probably. If all of those has been direct replies as dejardins described, would there be a change in social dynamics? If they're direct replies to a single individual, how does that change the social dynamic of replying, is it now mandated? Will the person who posted the reply get offended if their special snowflake comment isn't replied to? What happens when there's multiple replies, how are they listed to in recent activity and in the thread?

This was not a wonderful insight, d.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:52 AM on June 8, 2011


I disagree koeselitz.
"Threaded" doesn't mean "comments are in response to other comments." It means "comments are displayed in such a way as to optimise the viewing of individual threads of conversation."
posted by seanyboy at 7:53 AM on June 8, 2011


Kattullus: "Most people when they quote include the username of the person they're replying to. Using ctrl+f works to find those."

Kirth Gerson: " I think it's very far from true. I also think that's a feature, not a bug - responding to thoughts is usually preferable to responding to thinkers, IMO."

Maybe. But I use Plutor's MeFiQuote script to quote other people's comments in my replies. It's cut down on the number of times I've had to say something along the lines of "You're misattributing that quote to me. I didn't say that. ___ did."
posted by zarq at 7:57 AM on June 8, 2011


seanyboy: ‘Threaded’ doesn't mean ‘comments are in response to other comments.’ It means ‘comments are displayed in such a way as to optimise the viewing of individual threads of conversation.’”

Well, I agree, that's sort of what I meant. I also don't necessarily think this proposal is asking for fully-threaded comments. It's sort of asking for an optional way for users to implement threading on their own, if they want. Most "threading" generally means the threads are mandated.

I don't think this would be terrible, frankly, although yeah, I think Greasemonkey already does it well enough that it doesn't really matter, and I like the simplicity of the interface as it is.
posted by koeselitz at 7:59 AM on June 8, 2011


This is something that I'd like to see in an offsite utility, just so I could use to see if I have indeed missed any replies or quotes. I wouldn't want it implemented in the site itself for the reason already mentioned.

As for the offsite utility you'd basically want it to:
- know what you've written in the thread
- be able to figure out when someone has quoted you (and isn't just putting a few of the same words together) with enough of a margin of error that you don't miss anything, but you're not overwhelmed with false positives
- let you know about it, either by popping up, highlighting, or otherwise (and hey, why not do the same with your username, just for the hell of it

Or you could really go all out and keep a database of your comments and have a script check the site periodically for any quote of them or link to them or mention of your name. That sounds like it could be taxing though.
posted by ODiV at 8:00 AM on June 8, 2011


If the "in reply to..." is a link to a specific comment, then in essence, it's threading. The site may not support anything but the flat display format with that information, but someone could (and probably would) come along and write a GM script to reformat pages as a collapsible tree thread format or something similar.

However if the "in reply to..." link was just a link to the profile of the person you're replying to (or maybe not even a link at all), then it's not theading, even behind the scenes in the database, where just 'replytouserid' would be stored.
posted by FishBike at 8:01 AM on June 8, 2011


someone misspells your handle

Does this ever happen?

posted by shakespherian
posted by shakespeherian at 8:03 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Include svirfneblin a distinctive word in each of your posts so you can find quotes by searching for the word. If you think people renarium might quote you out of context, intersperse chum-bucket the unique polymorphism words more CLASS D LASER densely.
posted by Jpfed at 8:13 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sometimes people misspell my name as desuetude.
posted by desjardins at 8:16 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or dersins.
posted by desjardins at 8:16 AM on June 8, 2011


shakespeherian: " Does this ever happen?"

"ZARG" LOL
posted by zarq at 8:17 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


That must get annoying, zerg.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:18 AM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


My solution to this problem is to never say anything especially interesting or memorable, that way nobody ever feels compelled to reply.
posted by jbickers at 8:18 AM on June 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


@cortex, paging @cortex to the white courtesy phone.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:19 AM on June 8, 2011


what happens when someone chooses to reply to message that wasn't intended for them?

The reply-to suggestion posted would actually help by making that mistake (which occurs now) explicit, allowing faster clarifications. But it could cause confusion when people inevitably reply to a message that they didn't intend to reply to because they fingers so fat.
posted by Jpfed at 8:22 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know I'm not all tech-cool like I should be, but I still parse @ as 'at,' rather than as an abstract concept meant to transform names into hyperlinks or whatever. So I get confused when people write 'atcortex' and the like.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:22 AM on June 8, 2011


shakespearian: "That must get annoying, zerg."

Only on Hydralisk Rush Day.
posted by zarq at 8:25 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The reply-to suggestion posted would actually help by making that mistake (which occurs now) explicit, allowing faster clarifications.

No, what I meant was is anyone other than the designated receiver allowed to respond to the message? If yes, then what's the point of the reply feature? If no, it's in a public thread, so why not? And how to the mod police that?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:27 AM on June 8, 2011


zarque: 'Only on Hydralisk Rush Day.'

As Bill Gates once said, 640 hydralisks ought to be enough for anybody.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:30 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


snookispherian: "As Bill Gates once said, 640 hydralisks ought to be enough for anybody."

Overmind: Where do you want to go today?
posted by zarq at 8:38 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, what I meant was is anyone other than the designated receiver allowed to respond to the message?

Yes. If you say, in reply to me, "Your comments are life affirming" then zarq can reply to you saying "Actually, Brandon, desjardins has her head up her ass." You and I each see one reply to our comments.
posted by desjardins at 8:40 AM on June 8, 2011


I didn't interpret the request as specifying a designated receiver. It sounds like you're trying to figure out whether it would be admissible under the proposed scheme for B to reply to A, and then C to reply to B. But that would be, as you state, needlessly restrictive.

If yes, then what's the point of the reply feature?

desjardin's explicitly stated motivation for the implementation of the feature was to enable users to quickly find the people that have replied to them, so that they might reply back. That doesn't militate against C replying to B.
posted by Jpfed at 8:44 AM on June 8, 2011


I also use GraphFi for this, it works really quite well. My only complaint is that I started using it just as I switched over from a netbook to an iPad, and while it sorta works in iOS' Safari, it isn't perfect and weirdness with the bar on the right happens when you scroll down.

Still, the fact that it works at all is pretty awesome.
posted by quin at 8:44 AM on June 8, 2011


My solution to this problem is to never say anything especially interesting or memorable, that way nobody ever feels compelled to reply.

SHHH!

Did you guys just hear something?

*shrugs*

Just the wind, I guess.
posted by quin at 8:46 AM on June 8, 2011


zink: 'Overmind: Where do you want to go today?'

Evolution complete: Be what's next.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:55 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Be the thread you want to tap and die in the world.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:59 AM on June 8, 2011


hmm. this also seems like something that could be used nefariously in particularly fighty threads. In addition to promoting chatty derails in askmefi, that is.
posted by lonefrontranger at 9:00 AM on June 8, 2011


Without forcing users (how?) to specifically cite someone else and use their username in some kind of <username>adipocere</username> format (and people largely are, to be kind about it, indifferent to markup), not only would you have to scan for instances of your username (and the abbreviations, truncations, and misspellings thereof), a program would also have to scan for phrases (how long?) used again by a different user, username2, that username1 has previously used.

You'd have to filter based on some kind of memorability. I just said "some kind of," which is a short phrase, but within the range of what people would quote, yet that is a very common phrase, so you would also have to weight a phrase by ... unusualness? Voice? Notability? Faze, who uses unlikely combinations of interesting words, would score highly on those markers, making him relatively easy to track in a programmatic fashion, but other users would not. You would need something a bit like a tf-idf algorithm just as a very basic "relevance" criterion.

You could probably bump the phrase scores a bit by use of quotation marks (a few kinds there), italics, the trusty <em> tag used in place of italics, and <blockquote>: "Oh," said the Greasemonkey Script, "that looks like that might be a quote."

I'm not saying it isn't doable, but it is something of a high bar for coding and would be prone to positive and negative errors.
posted by adipocere at 9:03 AM on June 8, 2011


it would also be sort of horrible for people with usernames that are also common words if it were just word recognition the way, say, facebook does this.3

About 10 years ago I signed up for Fark with the username TOO. It is for this reason that I can tell you that they've started e-mailing people whenever their username is mentioned in a discussion. Luckily, it only registers when the username is in italics or bold, so I only get a couple of these e-mails a week instead of one every time someone uses the word "too" on Fark. I haven't visited the site in years and should probably disable the notification, but I sort of like being reminded occasionally that Fark is still trucking along out there.
posted by Copronymus at 9:05 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree that Twitter has essentially solved this. You may hate the @_USERNAME_ thing but it enables a huge amount of functionality in a very compact form.
posted by unSane at 9:08 AM on June 8, 2011


I agree that Twitter has essentially solved this. You may hate the @_USERNAME_ thing but it enables a huge amount of functionality in a very compact form.

And if you really hate the @username thing, you could go the Facebook way and have the functionality rely on @username, but the actual post just display the linked username.
posted by litnerd at 9:18 AM on June 8, 2011


This would be a lot of work to accomplish not a whole lot, is the feeling I've gotten from thinking about this in the past. Scanning a thread for your username or quotations of something you've written is reasonably quick to do and doing it manually has the flexibility of accounting for all those cases where someone misspells your handle, uses a nickname, replies without direct quotation, etc.

the flamewar possibilities are endless. This is like the H-bomb for that. Not sure we need it.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:26 AM on June 8, 2011


I can also see how a feature like this would require a bunch of new back-end coding but also "Hey everyone on MeFi, start doing replies this way instead of that way"

I don't know, it could take the form of a "reply to this comment" link with an icon or something. Then it could be completely transparent and optional and those who want to adopt it can simply adopt it. You could still just reply the old way, mentioning a username or not.

Yes, just like Twitter.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:26 AM on June 8, 2011


Browser Toolbar/Edit/Find/
[MeFiUserName]

I think the Mods can close this thread now...
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:27 AM on June 8, 2011


@ShakesHynerian: "Evolution complete: Be what's next."

HURF DURF THREAD DEFILER
posted by zarq at 9:35 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also use GraphFi for this in long/fast-moving threads. Very useful.
posted by rtha at 9:35 AM on June 8, 2011


What's neat about this is the MeFiQuote script actually complements the GraphFi plotter because you're quoting someone accurately by name in your reply.
posted by zarq at 9:38 AM on June 8, 2011


Then it could be completely transparent and optional and those who want to adopt it can simply adopt it.

Not disagreeing here, but want to point out that if there is a reply feature that is completely transparent and optional, it doesn't actually solve the problem of figuring out when people are talking to you in a thread, it only gives you a subset of the people who use the reply feature and reply to you. So while there are definitely sites where reply features are super useful, and I've definitely seen it trending in a lot of places I've been clicking around lately, I think MeFi's general philosophy of "you have to talk to everyone" [see: why there are no killfiles] makes considering coding this on the site, as opposed to people using add-ons, a radical change in site philosophy and not just a minor thing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:39 AM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Dalek, as was mentioned already in this thread, many times people don't include the user name when they are quoting something.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 9:40 AM on June 8, 2011


Is this the part where I pout, push the big red button, and storm off? Or do I have to wait a bit?
posted by desjardins at 9:42 AM on June 8, 2011


*disables desjardins' big red button
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:47 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this the part where I pout, push the big red button, and storm off? Or do I have to wait a bit?

You're early. Your dramatic departure isn't until Scene II, Act I, page 45.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:47 AM on June 8, 2011


Is this the part where I pout, push the big red button, and storm off? Or do I have to wait a bit?

I would like a feature whereby people I like on this site are somehow blocked from pushing the big red button and storming off. I am not certain how this could be implemented, but mathowie has people to figure out minor details like that.
posted by FishBike at 9:50 AM on June 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


The only problem with threads is cultural. You cannot on the one hand say "we should all be in a big room talking together" and then complain "I can't hear when someone is talking to me". One is the direct result of the other.

I think this is an excellent observation. If MeFi has core values "all in a big room talking together" is one of them, and it's that one that dictates "no threads, we prefer to maintain a single linear conversation."

I do think the request does have a focus that is different from threading itself, basically a way to filter easily for direct replies, but it would functionally become threadlike as users put it into play. People will use it to filter and read only their direct replies and would utterly lose track of the thread as a whole, derailing left and right, etc. etc. I think if you're interested enough to comment in the thread, and then to subsequently respond to people who are conversing with you about it, it's reasonable to expect you to read the thread itself to get all those contributions into context.

So ultimately, if we maintain that core value "MeFites prefer everyone to read /scan threads as a single, linear conversation" it seems this would still diverge from the value.

However, I thought initially this was asking for something different: the ability to be alerted when you are mentioned in a thread you are not in. Every now and then I pop into my profile and find that someone favorited a comment of mine from ages ago, because it was brought up again in some new thread. Often they are threads I would have liked to have been in (because clearly it's a topic I have some interest in, and might even have some update to the original comment someone linked to in order to say "hey, Miko found a similar recipe, here's her comment on it") but their time has passed. It would be nice to know when someone randomly invokes your name around the site but you aren't around to notice. Nice, but not essential. [I suppose the manual solution is to obsessively search on your username....]
posted by Miko at 9:57 AM on June 8, 2011


I would like a feature whereby the big red button was randomized. Pushing it would remove someone from the site, but there'd be no telling who. It would be like a Meta rapture, if God were Shirley Jackson.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:57 AM on June 8, 2011 [11 favorites]


Is this the part where I pout, push the big red button, and storm off? Or do I have to wait a bit?

Exit desjardins, pursued by a bear.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:58 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


FishBike: " I would like a feature whereby people I like on this site are somehow blocked from pushing the big red button and storming off. I am not certain how this could be implemented, but mathowie has people to figure out minor details like that."

Speaking from experience, sometimes a break is a healthy necessity. It can help us catch our breath, calm down and see the bigger picture. It's a more drastic, self-imposed version of going for a walk.

I tend to think that the big red button is an important feature, not a bug to be fixed. Even if pushing it may makes waves for some of those who remain active in the community.
posted by zarq at 10:00 AM on June 8, 2011


You can't obsessively self-search like other people?
posted by The Whelk at 10:02 AM on June 8, 2011


The person who could solve this soft context problem is already working at Google on problems much more trenchant.
posted by klangklangston at 10:03 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would also love this feature, but for a different reason - sometimes i'm "paged" to a bra-fitting thread but only realise it later on if i remember to do a self-search or happen to see the thread (or someone is kind enough to MeMail me).
posted by ukdanae at 10:04 AM on June 8, 2011


Threads would solve this problem.

If there is one thing that comforts me every night as I drift off to sleep, it is the sure knowledge that Matt and Co. will never implement the abomination that are threaded discussions on Metafilter.
posted by ericost at 10:06 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


sometimes i'm "paged" to a bra-fitting

Hey ... how ...


What?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:08 AM on June 8, 2011


You can't obsessively self-search like other people?

That only works if people use your name in their reply, and if your name is not something that will otherwise occur in comments. And if you want to find out about this relatively promptly, that turns into an awful lot of self-searching.

I would also love this feature, but for a different reason - sometimes i'm "paged" to a bra-fitting thread but only realise it later on if i remember to do a self-search or happen to see the thread (or someone is kind enough to MeMail me).

I think that would be neat. Maybe a little "alert a user to this comment" button that takes you to a place to type in a user name. Behind the scenes, this checks if the user name has been previously alerted to the same comment, and if not, fires off a mefi mail with a link.
posted by FishBike at 10:10 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am not certain how this could be implemented, but mathowie has people to figure out minor details like that.

Preemptively taking hostages would sort that out right quick.
posted by elizardbits at 10:17 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thing is that no one misspells The Whelk. It would take me about half an hour to do vanity googling for shakespeherian/shakespherian/shapespean/etc.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:17 AM on June 8, 2011


ukdanae: "sometimes i'm "paged" to a bra-fitting thread"

We have a Bra Signal?
posted by zarq at 10:18 AM on June 8, 2011


Pretty much the correct way to "page" someone according to loose mefi site policy is to drop them a line directly to say "hey, i think you might be interested in this". "Paging" someone by mentioning them in a thread they aren't in is actually not great and the sort of thing we'll often remove if we see it in an otherwise null context.

The downside of any notional paging system is that it presumes someone wants to be paged, which may not be so at all. Adding the friction of having to decide whether or not you're comfortable emailing them leads to an okay filtering of this: instead of being a sort of impersonal button-press, it's you making a decision on a personal level whether to volunteer someone else's attention to something.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:19 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


shakespeherian: "The thing is that no one misspells The Whelk."

*cough*
posted by zarq at 10:19 AM on June 8, 2011


Once again I have put too much faith in literacy.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:26 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem with a "reply to" feature is that some people will obsessively track how often other people reply to them, while others will insist that they use "reply to" as a bookmark.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:27 AM on June 8, 2011


Lawrence Whelk?
posted by Kwine at 10:27 AM on June 8, 2011


Kwine: "Lawrence Whelk?"

Ours is better.
posted by zarq at 10:32 AM on June 8, 2011


Your downfall is always your respect for literacy, shakes.
posted by The Whelk at 10:34 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am looking for the Bon Mot.
posted by clavdivs at 10:36 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your downfall is always your respect for literacy, shakes.

I don't even know how we get along, you and I.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:38 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Literacy is strictly for people with poor telepathy skills.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:45 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


The forces must be balanced shakes Weismann.
posted by The Whelk at 10:47 AM on June 8, 2011


Your downfall is always your respect for literacy, shakes.

But I loved him in the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown films. Oh, wrong shakes.
posted by heyho at 10:48 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lawrence Whelk?

From now on I'm calling ours Larry.
posted by hippybear at 11:02 AM on June 8, 2011


We have a Bra Signal?

Yeah i guess so! it doesn't happen often but a few times i'll find a "paging ukdanae" when people are talking about bras, and i hate missing out when the conversation has long passed.
posted by ukdanae at 11:07 AM on June 8, 2011


I'm gonna give you all the shakes what does that even mean
posted by shakespeherian at 11:08 AM on June 8, 2011


Without cows there would be no milkshakes

In the inland empire.
posted by The Whelk at 11:10 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I applaud your willingness to make a joke that make you vulnerable to my liking you.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:27 AM on June 8, 2011


desjardins: " Yes. If you say, in reply to me, "Your comments are life affirming" then zarq can reply to you saying "Actually, Brandon, desjardins has her head up her ass." You and I each see one reply to our comments."

You're one of the least likely MeFites for me to ever say that about, btw.
posted by zarq at 11:33 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


ukdanae, that is entirely awesome. :)
posted by zarq at 11:34 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


heyho: “But I loved him in the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown films.”

"Rosebud" was actually the name of the tiny clown car he was driving when he got pulled over and charged with a DUI.
posted by koeselitz at 11:35 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there some way I could track when desjardins is mentioned in a thread?
posted by Curious Artificer at 11:36 AM on June 8, 2011


If you sign up for the desardins fan club, you can get hourly updates and a commemorative pen.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:59 AM on June 8, 2011


People tend to call me AZ. They also call Arizona AZ. I would hate to think they were calling me racist all the time.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:07 PM on June 8, 2011


Notifications would be nice. People keep missing me.
posted by Memo at 12:07 PM on June 8, 2011


I would hate to think they were calling me racist all the time.

Well,
posted by shakespeherian at 12:12 PM on June 8, 2011


We have a Bra Signal?

It's right next to the big red button, duh!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:13 PM on June 8, 2011


I would like a feature whereby the big red button was big. And red. And a button.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:16 PM on June 8, 2011


Ending a sentence with a comma is really annoying,
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:19 PM on June 8, 2011


Notifications would be nice. People keep missing me.
posted by Memo


I am always missing Kate's TPS reports.
posted by The Whelk at 12:19 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never like to completely feel as though I have made my poin
posted by shakespeherian at 12:21 PM on June 8, 2011


That's just completel,
posted by unSane at 12:23 PM on June 8, 2011


Man, I have the weirdest sense of deja vu right now.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:25 PM on June 8, 2011


It's like deja vu combined with an out-of-body experience.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:27 PM on June 8, 2011


Man, I have the weirdest sense of deja vu right now.

If I've heard that once, I've heard it a thousand times.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:28 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jamis Vu is where it's at.
posted by The Whelk at 12:30 PM on June 8, 2011


It's like deja vu combined with an out-of-body experience.

That signals a glitch in the MatrixOHSHITSOMEBODY'SPULLINGMYBRAINSTEMCORDOUTOFMYHEA
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:33 PM on June 8, 2011


Hell, lets go whole hog and make Metafilter NNTP.
posted by Justinian at 12:40 PM on June 8, 2011


DU writes "Threads would solve this problem."

By ruining Metafilter forever.

seanyboy writes "However - I think Twitter seem to have nailed it down. As a pattern, Twitter reply is unobtrusive, it works well with established commenting interfaces, and it's not so complicated on the backend. "Normally I'd be on the 'It's too hard to do technically' side, but this may be something that's now straying into the arena of 'solved problem we can copy from that other site.'"

I think this works for twitter because of their short maximum comment length. The obtrusive way they deliniate usernames is acceptable because all their conversations are jarring, ungrammatical and often poorly spelt.

"someone misspells your handle
"Does this ever happen?"


Users misspell my username as Mithreal on a pretty regular basis. Never Mithril (that's a google annoyance) or MythReal though.
posted by Mitheral at 12:44 PM on June 8, 2011


Given the number of users on the site and the relative ease of misspelling usernames, probably the best name-tagging feature to copy would be Facebook's, wherein you type @ and then start tying a name and it provides suggestions until you've narrowed it down to the person you meant. If you can't spell, there are no suggestions.

Implementing this on the site would be an enormous headache and I'm not suggesting it, I just think it's a nice mechanism.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:50 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've got an enormous headache.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:51 PM on June 8, 2011


The pain is coming from inside the room!!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:53 PM on June 8, 2011


Okay maybe AZ is Balthazar Getty and I'm Bill Pullman. That would explain a few things.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:56 PM on June 8, 2011


Given the number of users on the site and the relative ease of misspelling usernames, probably the best name-tagging feature to copy would be Facebook's, wherein you type @ and then start tying a name and it provides suggestions until you've narrowed it down to the person you meant. If you can't spell, there are no suggestions.
> @j
(list of 4000 names)

>@je
(list of 3800 names)

>@jes
(list of 3100 names)

>@jess
(list of 2500 names) 

>@jessa
(list of 1100 names)

Metafilter's Own Clippy™: "Hello.  You appear to be referencing a member of Metafilter. Would you like assistance?



This is where I wake up screaming.
posted by zarq at 12:56 PM on June 8, 2011


Well presumably when you type
@j
it lists everyone in the thread whose username starts with j, or possibly it doesn't even show a list until you narrow it down to a certain point. You would still have the option to tag someone not in the thread but you'd have to type to the point where you'd eliminated most or all of the people already in the thread.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:00 PM on June 8, 2011


Also, maybe your contacts would get priority list positioning.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:00 PM on June 8, 2011


I would like to be personally notified by carrier pidgeon every time someone replies to one of my comments.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:02 PM on June 8, 2011


Either read the thread or don't. This whole idea is just a tad ridiculous. If you can't be bothered to read the thread on the off-chance that someone has quoted something you've said or has mentioned your username, then why should you suddenly be summoned back to respond? Either be part of the discussion or let those mentions slide on by without response.

It's like being at a party and leaving the patio to go to the kitchen to help prepare food. People might mention you while you're gone, they might even talk about things you've said, but there is no reason to assume someone on the patio is going to text you in the kitchen to let you know you came up in conversation, and installing a baby monitor so you can listen in while you're gone is just plain creepy.
posted by hippybear at 1:03 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pffft.

Logic. Ha!

Pffft.
posted by zarq at 1:04 PM on June 8, 2011


this is why I maintain a network of spies and informants.
posted by The Whelk at 1:05 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


hippybear: "It's like being at a party and leaving the patio to go to the kitchen to help prepare food. People might mention you while you're gone, they might even talk about things you've said, but there is no reason to assume someone on the patio is going to text you in the kitchen to let you know you came up in conversation, and installing a baby monitor so you can listen in while you're gone is just plain creepy."

*watches hippybear exit the thread*

OK, who wants to start talking about him now?
posted by zarq at 1:06 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man that hippybear is the worst. Remember when he was all like 'It's like being at a party and leaving the patio blah blah blah'? Hey guys! Look at me! I'm hippybear! Blah blah blah.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:10 PM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Threads would solve this problem.

So would world thermonuclear war.
posted by philip-random at 1:12 PM on June 8, 2011


Wow, this baby monitor really works! I can hear everything!
posted by hippybear at 1:18 PM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I always associate hippybear with those Grateful Dead dancing bear stickers that used to be ubiquitous on cars in college towns.
posted by desjardins at 1:27 PM on June 8, 2011


If I had a baby monitor, I would put the speaker in the baby's room and the mic in my room, and every so often I would say "I'm still watching you."

I suspect I would have a very quiet, freaked out baby.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:58 PM on June 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


The trick is to keep that up with more numerous, smaller, well-hidden speakers as the child grows up.
posted by The Whelk at 2:01 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you're a really skilled manipulating parent, you don't even need the speakers. You just use every opportunity to install that voice directly into the kid's head.
posted by Miko at 2:23 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


.....nanobots! Of course!
posted by The Whelk at 2:26 PM on June 8, 2011


If I had a baby monitor, I would put the speaker in the baby's room and the mic in my room, and every so often I would say "I'm still watching you."

And just like that, I got the idea to scare the wits out of my 5-year-old tonight.

One haunted closet, coming right up.

Bwah hah ha ...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:34 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Astro Zombie: "If I had a baby monitor, I would put the speaker in the baby's room and the mic in my room, and every so often I would say "I'm still watching you."

I suspect I would have a very quiet, freaked out baby.
"

Heh. More fun to do it in reverse. Have a friend disguise their voice and yell, "MILK! I WANT MILK! BRING ME MILK!" into the baby monitor in the nursery in a demonic voice at 2am.
posted by zarq at 2:40 PM on June 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


And just like that MetaTalk turned into a Shirley Jackson novel.
posted by The Whelk at 2:41 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Papa Bell, said desjardins
Would you like a cup of tea?
Oh no! Said Papa Bell,
You'll poison me!
posted by shakespeherian at 2:44 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


My kids were about three months old when this happened:

It was about 1:30 in the morning and my daughter was plugged into a bottle. I'd been up for 20+ hours. Sitting in the rocking chair in their room in the dark, listening to her slurp in my arms. Very peaceful. With her common-to-preemies gastroesophageal reflux, she was supposed to be fed while in a semi-upright position. So, I tended to slump into the chair and perch her sitting upright on my chest while I fed her. One hand around her chest and a finger holding the bottle in place. Another supporting her back. Peaceful. So Peaceful. Very sleepy....

I started to doze off.

I snapped awake, jostling the baby. She didn't care: "Can't cry. Eating."

*whew*

When it happened again moments later, I apparently tilted her about 90º on her side, until the bottle popped out of her mouth, fell on my foot and rolled under the crib.

*thunk*

"Aaaahhhh... crap"

*tilt*

Little Miss stared at me, yawned and smacked her lips. Her look said, "Hey, I was drinking that!"

Put her back in the crib. Must move quickly, before she starts crying. Got on my hands and knees and went searching for the bottle in the dark. No joy. I can't see a bloody thing. I can't turn on the light, because the last thing I need is *two* awake kids right now. My flashlight is in our bedroom, and I know that if I leave the room, someone's going to start screaming because Daddy isn't done giving her that late night meal.

However, there *is* a light in the room. Eureka.

Right next to the crib, on a small shelf , is our Sound Soother machine from Sharper Image. We bought it a couple of years ago to drown out the neighbors upstairs. Best $150 I've ever spent. When the kids were born, we moved it into their room and found a sound they like: rain that makes a sort of swooshing noise.

The machine had two blue lights on top. My wife and I agreed when we bought the thing that those two blue lights were an incredibly stupid thing for the manufacturer to have put on the Sound Soother. You can't sleep, so you turn on the machine to help you and these bright electric blue lights go on that can't be turned off while the machine is running. Although Sharper Image did sell sleep masks, too. So perhaps there was a method to their madness.

Anyway, I got up, grabbed the machine and pointed it under the crib. There's the bottle. Ha! I'm a genius! Who's yo' daddy? I am, baby!!

I had about three happy seconds. Enough time to grab the bottle.

Now, the Sound Soother (this model) had a ton of little buttons across the top. And I have big hands with long fingers. So when I grabbed the machine, I accidentally held down the "volume up" button. And suddenly, there's a loud storm inside the room. Both kids start to fuss and make noise.

I flipped the machine around and held down the volume down button. Except....

So, in my defense, we never, ever changed sounds on the bloody thing and when we did we used the handy dandy foolproof, zarqproof remote control. Yes, that wasn't the volume button. It was instead the button to select the next sound in the machine's repertoire. So, suddenly it's no longer raining loudly in the room. We've now all been whisked onto a train, complete with train whistle. At top volume. And the situation really only merits one type of expletive:

"Oh, fuck."

"WAAAAAH!"
"WAAAAAH!"


"No! Aw hell! No!" I yanked the plug on the Sound Soother. Too late. My children are apparently not fans of loud trains. Screaming children at 1:45am. There are moments in life when you just know that the universe is having a big ol' laugh at your expense.

Why am I bringing this up? Well....

I hadn't turned off the baby monitor. Where was the portable speaker, you may ask? On my wife's night table. My lovely wife was having a very nice dream before the Orient Express ran it over. She was not amused. SO not amused. Not even a little bit. She then took great, exasperated pains to point out the little flashlight sitting on the shelf under the one holding the Sound Soother.
posted by zarq at 2:52 PM on June 8, 2011 [21 favorites]


And just like that MetaTalk turned into a Shirley Jackson novel.

We have always lived in the MetaTalk
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:54 PM on June 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Jessamyn, can we somehow just have a forever-ongoing open thread somewhere about We Have Always Lived in the Castle please please pretty please?
posted by shakespeherian at 3:01 PM on June 8, 2011


And just like that MetaTalk turned into a Shirley Jackson novel.

That reminds me, we've talked it over on Team Mod and we've decided to change the name of "favorites" finally.

They will henceforth be known as "lottery tickets".
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:01 PM on June 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


"My children are apparently not fans of loud trains."

But you had such hopes for the hobo life!
posted by klangklangston at 3:03 PM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just want my cup full of faves.
posted by The Whelk at 3:06 PM on June 8, 2011


klangklangston: " But you had such hopes for the hobo life!"

Ironically, they've grown up to like Thomas.
posted by zarq at 3:06 PM on June 8, 2011


zarq, I just bellylaughed at your story. Great stuff. And aptly, I woke the sleeping mr.likeso next to me. (12.49am over here, using the iPad with the volume turned down)
posted by likeso at 3:50 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't need this. Nobody anywhere ever takes my name in vain and I don't know about it. It's a trick God and I learned from kibo.
posted by jfuller at 4:28 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kibo never taught God that trick. Spot ran off with the blueprints and God declined to return them.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:46 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hm, I've never thought about Googling this before:

'username -"posted by username" -"posts tagged with" site:www.metafilter.com'

(And then one for MeTa and one for Ask.)

I missed a good pun on my name.
posted by painquale at 5:10 PM on June 8, 2011


I know I'm mentioned in a thread if the title contains the word "favorite"
posted by tehloki at 6:10 PM on June 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


My solution to this problem is to never say anything especially interesting or memorable, that way nobody ever feels compelled to reply.
Works for me, too.
posted by dg at 6:50 PM on June 8, 2011


My solution to this problem is to never say anything especially interesting or memorable, that way nobody ever feels compelled to reply.
Works for me, too.
posted by dg at 6:50 PM on June 8 [+] [!]


You're both wrong.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:51 PM on June 8, 2011


Most people when they quote include the username of the person they're replying to. Using ctrl+f works to find those.

Yeah, I do that too. Only I usually only use the first part of my username, which confuses me sometimes since half the threads I read turn into a Lovecraft derail.

'Wait, my horrible racism is mitigated by my social powerlessness? That's TRUE, but a bit mean'.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:14 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


No-one talks to me either.
posted by h00py at 6:53 AM on June 9, 2011


One haunted closet, coming right up.

I cannot wait until my kids are old enough to scare at Halloween!
posted by nickmark at 11:30 AM on June 9, 2011


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