Improving links to specific comments October 17, 2011 2:16 PM   Subscribe

Pony request: visual indicator of a linked comment or answer.

I often want to link to share specific Metafilter comments on Facebook, Twitter, etc. For someone who doesn't use the site regularly, an anchor-link alone might not make sense: the person might not recognize which comment they're supposed to be looking at, particularly if it's near the bottom of a thread.

I've also noticed that when I'm browsing Metafilter on my phone, anchor links don't always work correctly, which makes links between comments difficult to follow.

Would it be possible to have something like the "Best Answer" rectangle, to direct your eyes to the linked comment? I've seen this on other sites, so I assume it's not impossible.

posted by roll truck roll to Feature Requests at 2:16 PM (40 comments total)

I'm not sure there's any subtle style we could add that would be helpful to outsiders. I think it would need to be a label that says, "Linked Comment" but even that phrase isn't solid. I'm not sure how often someone sends non-metafilter folks to the end of a thread. I'm sure it's happened, but I'm not sure it's worth adding another visual element for.

I agree on the iPhone, and we've been testing a "manual scroll" internally for a few weeks that seems to fix it. I think we can probably release that soon.
posted by pb (staff) at 2:30 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like the way they do it on StackOverflow.

I think that many people are familiar with linking to the inside of pages now but it isn't always clear exactly what's being linked to. A fast highlight that fades back to the normal background would probably be clear enough.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:41 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, that fade effect is nice.
posted by pb (staff) at 2:43 PM on October 17, 2011

for those of you who can add some CSS on the side (with stylish/greasemonkey, etc):
#page a:target + .comments {
    background: rgba(255,255,255,.5);
you could dress this up some, but that's the general way to capture the hash-linked comment.
posted by potch at 2:44 PM on October 17, 2011

here's a cleaned up version of the above CSS to make it prettier:
    #page a:target + .comments {
        background: rgba(255,255,255,.2);
        padding: 15px 75px;
        margin: 0;
        position: relative;
    #page a:target + .comments:after {
        content: '';
        position: absolute;
        display: block;
        height: 0;
        width: 0;
        left: 15px;
        top: 50%;
        margin-top: -10px;;
        border: 10px solid transparent;
        border-left-color: #cc0;
posted by potch at 2:56 PM on October 17, 2011

Screams for a blink tag for the entire text of a linked comment.

Followed by actual screams.
posted by supercres at 3:07 PM on October 17, 2011

The linked comment is the one with the slightly faded (visited link color) timestamp.
posted by Eideteker at 3:07 PM on October 17, 2011

Last pestering- a preview of what the above style looks like.
posted by potch at 3:26 PM on October 17, 2011 [5 favorites]

potch's suggestion seems like an elegant solution.

If that happened everyone clicked a link to a specific comment from an outside site, it would be pretty nice.
posted by kavasa at 3:41 PM on October 17, 2011

I like potch's mockup. Whatever I'm supposed to be seeing on StackOverflow must be too subtle for me, because I can't find it.
posted by roll truck roll at 3:58 PM on October 17, 2011

Nice, I really like that potch. We'll start testing out some variant of this and see if we can work it in.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:19 PM on October 17, 2011

Unfortunately potch's code won't work in any flavors of IE—it doesn't support the :target pseudo class. So we'd still need to use JavaScript there.

On StackOverflow you should see a background color behind the entire comment when you initially load the page that fades away after a second or two.
posted by pb (staff) at 4:20 PM on October 17, 2011

There's definitely no background color appearing and fading or anything like that going on for me on Deathalicious' StackOverflow link, for what it's worth (XP, Chrome 14)... glad I'm not the only one?
posted by brainmouse at 4:48 PM on October 17, 2011

Me either (no fade except my haircut).
posted by cashman at 4:50 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Looks like only members get the fade on StackOverflow.
posted by pb (staff) at 5:02 PM on October 17, 2011

While we're talking about phones, there was a brief stretch when the footer menu on my iPhone showed links not only to My Recent Activity but also Recent Favorites and etc (the tabs on the Recent Activity page) and that was pretty cool. But then they disappeared. Sad face.

Or did I dream that?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:49 PM on October 17, 2011

I think you just misfiled it is all; those subs do in fact show up in the footer but only when you're actually on the RA page already.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:14 PM on October 17, 2011

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:23 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

A lighter background isn't ideal for the professional white background theme.
posted by aubilenon at 7:23 PM on October 17, 2011

Well gee, thanks, my brain, for truncating "everytime someone" into "everyone". God damn.
posted by kavasa at 9:45 PM on October 17, 2011

I've often found myself wanting to link whole tags, but unable to, given how they'll evolve over time. We should have a ?before=[date] option for[tag] urls.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:04 AM on October 18, 2011

I doubt we'll implement that tweak on the tag url strucutre specifically, but date-bounded searches are definitely high on the list of things we'd like to add for the eventual overhaul of the site search functionality, and that'd get you the same thing.

In the mean time, if you really have a specific use for date-bounded tag views you could put something together using the tag data in the Infodump.

It's worth noting that no matter what, you're not quite going to have reliably static views: tags can be added to or removed from a post after the fact, so the results for any specific bounded search will still potentially change over time. Unlike posts or comments, tags aren't given a permanent life-after-death home in the database.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:47 AM on October 18, 2011

We added a visual indicator of a linked comment today. We used potch's triangle idea. So linked comments will have a small triangle pointing to it in the margin. After trying it for a while we felt like the additional background color change was too much.

If you don't like the triangle and want to turn it off, you could use something like Stylish. Here's a simple style that will do it:


Thanks for the suggestion roll truck roll, and thanks potch for a good prototype.
posted by pb (staff) at 11:00 AM on October 20, 2011 [9 favorites]

Hey, there's the arrow! Thanks, code-y people!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:01 AM on October 20, 2011

Here's what the triangle looks like.
posted by pb (staff) at 11:03 AM on October 20, 2011

This is great!!
posted by Kimberly at 11:34 AM on October 20, 2011

That's great! Thanks!
posted by rmd1023 at 11:41 AM on October 20, 2011

Ooo that is cool! I really like that!
posted by strixus at 12:22 PM on October 20, 2011

Potch is good at what he does (worked with him for a time.)
posted by davejay at 12:27 PM on October 20, 2011

"Potch" is the sound metal lawn darts used to make when they pierced someone's skull. Or so I imagine.
posted by longsleeves at 3:42 PM on October 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's a Triforce!
posted by The Whelk at 5:14 PM on October 20, 2011

Well done! I like the triangle thing very muchly. And I really will get a lot of use out of this new pony.

I'm still kind "eh" on the yellow staff markers, though I understand the need for them. I liked crunchland's "mefi's own" solution.
posted by misha at 5:29 PM on October 21, 2011

Is really good!

Staff markers not so much. Suggest Clantags, as in

MeFi | Jessamyn
MeFi | Cortex
MeFi | Mathowie


posted by unSane at 8:34 PM on October 21, 2011

Excellent! I hadn't even thought about the need for this, but it is very helpful. Thank you!
posted by wiskunde at 1:46 PM on October 25, 2011

Alternative pony thought : How about some notion of 'informative comment' and maybe 'snarky comment', cuz snark rocks too.

As a rule, informative comments must contain links, not simply text, perhaps with exceptions. And snarky comments must be short.

I donno how one should verify these, obviously the mods won't want to deal with it. Yet, maybe the flags system might provide the information still. Any such tags would silently mark the comment, say by changing the or adding a css class, which people could then exploit using client side grease monkey scripts or whatever.

Just a thought.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:18 PM on October 28, 2011

No. Good god, no. I mean, people can build whatever nutty stuff they want with greasemonkey, sure, but man are we not going there internally.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:34 PM on October 28, 2011

Is there a way you can see what it is your comment is linked to?
posted by ian1977 at 5:42 PM on October 29, 2011

I don't know if I understand the question. If you want to know what it was that linked to the comment you're now viewing with the little arrow next to it, it's just literally whatever you clicked on a second ago to get to that comment.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:49 PM on October 29, 2011

I lack reading comprehension. I thought it was indicating that a comment was linked to on facebook or twitter by someone. I was confused. I fell off the pony.
posted by ian1977 at 5:55 PM on October 29, 2011

It's cool, it's an ornery pony.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:14 PM on October 29, 2011

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