Dynamic threading April 24, 2002 5:53 PM   Subscribe

Kuro5hin's implementation of dynamic threading almost makes threading easy to follow and use. Impressive use of technology to solve a usability problem (reading deeply threaded conversations online is a real bear, requiring many page loads).
posted by mathowie (staff) to General Weblog-Related at 5:53 PM (8 comments total)

Wow, that is pretty slick... however, I have to say that I like MeFi's system better Matt. I think that threading tends to throw the conversation out of whack and encourage off-topic and trollish posts. MeFi's flat mode on the other hand makes everybody conscious of their contribution to the discussion (thread "hijacking" anyone?) and keeps the thread more or less to the point. Well, sometimes...
posted by costas at 6:53 PM on April 24, 2002

the thing i don't like about threaded comments is that in a non-linear conversation with ratings, if people think they can say something a little better than that other guy, they do. they are then rewarded for it, so you get a lot of people saying almost the same thing, trying to say it in the best way. in a linear conversation (like mefi) people don't do that because it's more like a real conversation and repeating someone else would be more obvious, since the comments are in chronological order rather than rating order.

if we did threading without ratings though, that might be interesting. i'd still vote no though, i like mefi because every FPP is one conversation, people are nearly forced to respond to the people before them, on k5 commenting before reading all the other comments seems to be the norm. on slashdot is is nearly required. i like having to read through all the other comments first, even the ones i disagree with.
posted by rhyax at 6:55 PM on April 24, 2002

Yeah, it's 'well cool tech' in action isn't it. And yes, it makes k5 about 6000% more usable and readable to me. I still prefer the linear goodness though, for most of the reasons outlined above. Nice one guys.
posted by nedrichards at 3:55 AM on April 25, 2002

And it just keeps getting better, too. :-)

I have patches on the way later today to make it only load from the server on the first expand/collapse. Thereafter it'll write the comment data in from a cache on the browser, thus further lowering server load, and speeding up load time infinitely. There's also a "collapse" button at the bottom of expanded comments, so when you've scrolled down to the end of a long comment, your lazy ass can fold it right up without scrolling back to the top. The bottom "collapse" button will also pop the page to the parent comment of the one you just collapsed, cueing up the next comment.

In the near future we should be adding an "always expand new comments" option, so when you load a page in any mode that has "collapsed" comments (dynamic or non) it'll automatically expand all the new comments on the initial load. And also we'll be adding "expand/collapse whole thread" links for the dynamic modes.

I normally hate Javascript stuff, but this is really cool, and works in a pretty impressively wide range of browsers. So far we have confirmed that it works in Mozilla & Mozilla-based variants, IE 4.5+ (probably IE 4+, but I'm not sure), Konqueror 2+ (but not 3+, bizarrely enough-- we think it's a Konqueror bug), and a couple of the more obscure browsers that have working DOM implementations.

About the eternal threaded vs. non-threaded debate, I tend to come down on the side of user choice. Yeah, threads do let conversations get offtopic, but really, who cares that much? Life is offtopic. I'd rather have people communicating than staying ontopic all the time. I think the drawback to flat-mode-only systems is they discourage conversation. Threads on MeFi tend to be a list of people expressing their opinion, and that's it. I know, there are conversations, but you have to admit it's awkward and they're very hard to follow.

Actually, all we need in Scoop is a "flat, non-threaded" mode for it to be able to simulate MeFi-style comments accurately. There's a flat mode right now, but it's flat-threaded-- basically, it's nested mode without the indentation. Which is not all that useful.

Someday, I predict, MeFi will end up on Scoop. It really would be the best of both worlds -- purists could easily arrange everything to work exactly like old-skool MeFi, while thread-geeks like me could have our fine threaded discussions. :-)
posted by rusty at 2:09 PM on April 26, 2002

Someday, I predict, MeFi will end up on Scoop. It really would be the best of both worlds -- purists could easily arrange everything to work exactly like old-skool MeFi, while thread-geeks like me could have our fine threaded discussions. :-)

Someday, I would like to have someone else do all the programming so I wouldn't have to worry about new features. :)

Rusty, just say when and we can create some sort of mefi out of a scoop hybrid. Seriously, I would love to do that (I'd probably want interface changes more than feature changes)
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:33 PM on April 26, 2002

Matt: The glory that is open source. I have other people write most of the code. They volunteer to do it. I don't get it either, but there's tons of them out there. ;-)

Hmmm. Scoofi, eh? That would be pretty fun. Course, we'd need to get a linux box... some bandwidth... some time to fool with it...

Lemme get back to you on that. I have a few other things in the works at the moment. Think about what would have to be changed though, so at least we can suggest projects if people ask for stuff to work on. Which they do, mysteriously. See above, re open source.

Any Mefites know some perl and wanna help?
posted by rusty at 10:46 PM on April 26, 2002

PS: The server's nice and fast right now. Rock.
posted by rusty at 10:47 PM on April 26, 2002

Don't know perl, but I'd love to help somehow, if I could.

The dynamic threading thing rocks <voice style="ed grimley">quite a lot, I must say</voice>, and may help me get into kur05hin again - it was always the threading of the comments that threw me off before.

MeFi as anything but flat in the comments might break my brain, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:20 AM on April 27, 2002

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