Because I am lazy. August 29, 2012 4:02 AM   Subscribe

PONY: (# New) links in Recent Activity

I think the idea is fairly self-explanatory, but just in case: it would be nice to have a link to the oldest "new" comment in each thread incorporated into the Recent Activity page, as there are in Ask and on the front page. I often find that an active thread might have many (e.g, 40) comments since my last comment. If I have already read 20 of them, then there are 10 comments that I haven't read but which are not displayed on the Recent Activity page, and no easy way to jump to the right point in the thread. Seems like an easy improvement.
posted by jon1270 to Feature Requests at 4:02 AM (18 comments total)

Not so sure it's an easy improvement in terms of processing demand, since I think pb has mentioned that RA is already a "process-intensive" functionality, but he can address that. However, I'm wondering if the existing "my comments" section doesn't already do what you want? If you click "my comments" from the tabs on the front page, you'll see a (X new) link for each post, the same as the front page, but only for threads you've commented in.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:18 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hadn't noticed the My Comments tab, because it doesn't exist in Ask, where I spend most of my time. Thanks for pointing it out, but:

If you click "my comments" from the tabs on the front page, you'll see a (X new) link for each post, the same as the front page, but only for threads you've commented in.

I just clicked on it from the front page, and none of the threads show the (X new) link.
posted by jon1270 at 4:26 AM on August 29, 2012


Yeah, I was thinking you were talking about Metafilter primarily, and that section is just for Metafilter comments. There have probably not been any new comments on the Metafilter threads you've participated in.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:36 AM on August 29, 2012


Also, it looks like the My Comments section doesn't cover Ask, so it unfortunately won't do what I want.

That aside, I think that what I'm envisioning may be more complicated than I at first guessed. I was hoping that the (X New) link would go to the oldest comment posted after the last time I loaded the thread, which isn't what other (X New) links seem to do anyhow.
posted by jon1270 at 4:37 AM on August 29, 2012


Sorry, failure to preview.

What does trigger the (X New) counter to reset?
posted by jon1270 at 4:39 AM on August 29, 2012


It's cookie-based, I believe, and updates... like every 20 minutes or so? But as I say, pb will be able to give real answers when he's up (still Dark O'Clock on the US West Coast).
posted by taz (staff) at 4:43 AM on August 29, 2012


What about the MetaFilter Scroll Tag script, does that do what you want?
posted by carsonb at 4:56 AM on August 29, 2012


Hey, that looks like it might work. I don't have to try it right now, but I'll give it a spin later. Thanks!
posted by jon1270 at 5:08 AM on August 29, 2012


I don't have *time* to try it right now...

(i.e. not 'you can't make me!')
posted by jon1270 at 5:09 AM on August 29, 2012


Yeah recent activity is a bear on the server, so probably this is something best suited to a Greasemonkey script if that solves the problem for you. Taz is right in that the "X news" thing is cookie-based and is based on a query every 20 min or so, iirc.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:53 AM on August 29, 2012


You guys have mentioned a number of times that Recent Activity is kind of an intense page to call up for the magic robots that make the site work. Well: thank you for implementing it, because I like it a lot.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:38 AM on August 29, 2012


Yeah we all use it all the time and it's super useful and helpful, it's just tricky to add something else to it. Glad you like it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:44 AM on August 29, 2012


jon1270: “If I have already read 20 of them, then there are 10 comments that I haven't read but which are not displayed on the Recent Activity page, and no easy way to jump to the right point in the thread.”

But that's not true at all. "Your most recent comment" is a link that jumps right to the last comment you made in the thread. This seems like it would be redundant.

“I was hoping that the (X New) link would go to the oldest comment posted after the last time I loaded the thread, which isn't what other (X New) links seem to do anyhow.”

Ah, I see. Yeah, that's a complicated thing that we don't really do anywhere else.
posted by koeselitz at 7:49 AM on August 29, 2012


I once suggested something similar (at least, I think). Not sure if anything has changed.
posted by Eideteker at 7:58 AM on August 29, 2012


Here's a more detailed explanation of how the (x new) feature works. They're basically a best a guess at what you might have read last, but it's not extremely accurate. It's a fairly good indication of where activity has been happening since you last visited, but it's not so great at knowing precisely where you've been. And without that precision, going to a specific comment based on those times isn't going to be worth the performance tradeoff as taz and jessamyn have mentioned. The Greasemonkey script is much better at being precise about what you've seen and where you've been.
posted by pb (staff) at 8:07 AM on August 29, 2012


Yeah, and part of the reason the Greasemonkey solution is a good one in this case is that it makes the recordkeeping involved something that happens for one account per computer (each script user stores data locally) instead of recording keeping for tens of thousands of accounts by our server. Distributing the work to local machines on an as-needed basis like that sidesteps one of the big load issues that'd otherwise be involved and helps keep mefi responsiveness up.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:49 AM on August 29, 2012


Question from a Greasemonkey total noob: is there any way to sync that kind of tracking from one computer to another? It would be great to be able to go to MeFi on the home computer and see "X new since you last checked" and have "since you last checked" mean "since you read MeFi at lunch (on a different PC)" rather than "since you last read MeFi from this particular PC".
posted by Lexica at 9:43 AM on August 29, 2012


Yeah, that's the downside the Greasemonkey approach—it doesn't remember you across browsers. I believe the MeFi Scroll Tag script uses cookies to store the data. If you can find a way to synchronize cookies across browsers it would probably work. You might look into Firefox Sync. Google Chrome has a sync feature too, but I can't find a good link describing it so I'm not sure cookies are supported.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:56 AM on August 29, 2012


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