HowlsOfOutrage lives again, expands July 1, 2013 3:17 PM   Subscribe

Due to a couple of recent MetaFilter user requests to return it to working status, I have updated the popular (6K+ downloads on userscripts, more elsewhere) HowlsOfOutrage Greasemonkey script. The script displays a popup window of all users favoriting a particular MetaFilter post or comment on mouse hover over the favorites text. In addition, I've updated the Chrome extension, and added a new Safari extension. Testing was successful, but not exhaustive. All completely free as always, natch.

Greasemonkey: https://userscripts.org/scripts/show/78047. The Chrome extension now lives in the Chrome web store at https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/howlsofoutrage/gijphcijapfhhmollbffjbghamllejbp, or at least that link has worked the past day or two. I can't tell if the Chrome web store will maintain the ugly direct link in perpetuity, but you can always search for the text "MetaFilter" in their web store as there are few extension matches. The Safari extension is hosted on one of my sites at http://www.devoresoftware.com/SafariExtensions/HowlsOfOutrage.safariextz, from where it can be downloaded and subsequently installed.

Minor enhancements were made to the script, and the two extensions also support modifying the size and appearance of the popup window through the built-in extensions options interface. (You can easily modify the text of the Greasemonkey script yourself for personalizations, or I or someone else semi-knowledgeable can do it for you. Takes seconds.) The two nonscript extensions will also work with unregistered or not logged in users. Greasemonkey script does not support unregistered users for comments; I may correct that someday.

I believe that should cover almost everyone actively using a browser with extensions on MetaFilter. If anyone needs a different browser version, finds a bug, or desires a new feature, I'm the guy to yell at. Any of the usual suspects of personal contact information should suffice for communication.
posted by mdevore to MetaFilter-Related at 3:17 PM (43 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

This is awesome! Thanks!
posted by lalex at 3:21 PM on July 1, 2013


I wondered why it was wonky lately. Thanks, mdevore.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:26 PM on July 1, 2013


If I don't understand a word does it mean I don't need it?
posted by billiebee at 4:03 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, you don't. Optional customizations are optional, customizationwise.
posted by mdevore at 4:10 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Uh...thanks?
posted by billiebee at 4:18 PM on July 1, 2013


Yup.
posted by mdevore at 4:29 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's been bugging me, but hadn't seen anyone else complain so I thought it was just me. Thanks so much for fixing it, mdevore!
posted by deborah at 4:45 PM on July 1, 2013


Question from the floor:

Why is it called HowlsOfOutrage?

Because that seems like the opposite thing of what it is.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:06 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


If I don't understand a word does it mean I don't need it?

That depends. Do you use a monkey for your greasing requirements? And, if so, does it have a tendency to go off-script? Of course, some people are happier with monkey ad-libs (or "mad-libs" as they're known) than others. You can avoid the whole issue if you've opted for a greasecat or, but this is considered unwise, a greasegrizzly. Although I understand the grizzlies are always word perfect.
posted by yoink at 5:14 PM on July 1, 2013


On the Chrome extension, I'm seeing the box flash red for a half-second before it settles on blue. This is apparently when it's reading "loading," but it looks jarring, IMO.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:17 PM on July 1, 2013


All versions have/had a loading message for when the server stalls or the browser decides to smoke a cigarette or garbage collect or whatever tardy browsers decide to do when they are tardy. This gives immediate feedback on a user interaction to show they aren't being ignored-- something many developer guidelines love to drone on about. So, yeah, it's there. I'm not sure what else could be done, but it's not like I'm in love with the loading message, and could change it, should reasonable alternative present itself.
posted by mdevore at 5:28 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Red sorta suggests a problem and it makes it flashy since it only stays up for a brief moment in most cases.
Maybe change it to a faded version of the color used when the list is displayed?

Otherwise I love it. Wasn't aware of this one until now. Very useful!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:31 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks, mdevore!
posted by runningwithscissors at 5:49 PM on July 1, 2013


Well, I have to rework the Chrome border width options to use thin, medium, and thick instead of the stupid pixel count I have in there now, so I guess while I'm rooting around its guts, I could change the loading message to a different, but non-default color scheme. Soonish.
posted by mdevore at 6:09 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why is it called HowlsOfOutrage?

A legit question. I, at possible threat to a few users' equanimity, will answer honestly. Unlike many goofy names I figuratively pull out of my butt, the reason for this name has layers: less than an onion, but more than two. It actually took me longer than the usual ten seconds to come up with the name, though not so much as ten minutes.

Prior to the original script's release, a utility of this sort was requested, re-requested, and re-re-requested by a user or three. In discussion, there was a smattering of hang-wringing and drama-queening by people over the hit to server loads from the increased overhead of looking up the favorited page whenever a user rolled over the trigger point. I won't go into more educated speculation of how many daily hits the server gets in normal use versus any expected increase coming via a microscopic percentage of people using a script or extension of this type, but let's just say the fears were, umm, overblown. Throw in a smidge of exaggeration of circumstance, the script is born into the howls of outrage, and voila! Layer 1.

Oh, to mention in passing, I later added a 1-second minimum bottleneck to ensure that even when popular, the script/extension wouldn't materially affect the load on MetaFilter's servers. Frankly, I don't think it's vital, you'd probably have to get many hundreds of users to constantly and maliciously roll over favorites for an extended period of time, without the built-in delay already present, to make a significant difference. If you're a bad guy who decided to attack the servers, you would certainly decide to flood them through far more effective means. But it makes for an amusing scenario: everybody on MetaFilter gets mad at mathowie, downloads the extension, and spends their entire day rolling over favorites as fast they possibly can. Hey, I could always change the delay to 2 seconds. 5. Whatever.

Moving on, MetaFilter's implementation of favorites is dumb. Always has been. Layers 2 and 3 here. First, the yottabytes of text typed by users supporting the current implementation, or scoffing at the opposing views, involves a fair amount of something rather akin to howling. The name is a silly stand against them. Not a finger, but perhaps a quick raspberry. Secondly, and relatedly, the 180 degree flip to a contrary position of what favorites is generally considered to stand for by the MetaFilter userbase, is the sort of thing which amuses my contrary self. Not greatly so, but I take my small amusements wherever I get them.

Also, it is a goofy name. Layer 4, I have a weakness for goofy names.

But I submit that after those four layers, the ultimate meaning of the name is given to you, the user, to decide. If you like the name because it reminds you of a story about coyotes your father once told you, then down deep, that's the real reason it's called HowlsOfOutrage. You own your experience.
posted by mdevore at 7:22 PM on July 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


This is a great extension, thanks for updating.

If you like the name because it reminds you of a story about coyotes your father once told you
As long as it's not zombie related, I'm good.
posted by arcticseal at 7:38 PM on July 1, 2013


This is awesome. Thanks, mdevore.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:46 PM on July 1, 2013


On the Chrome extension, I'm seeing the box flash red for a half-second before it settles on blue. This is apparently when it's reading "loading," but it looks jarring, IMO.

That's my only feedback, too. I would think that it doesn't even need to be a different color as long as it reads "loading...", as I think that would be sufficient.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:55 PM on July 1, 2013


Can't really use the exact same color scheme for a loading message though, because sure as eggs is eggs, somebody, somewhere, will grab the user name "loading...", go about MetaFilter favoriting random comments, and I'll get tech support requests from people who want to know why the favorites popup never stops loading. All while the perpetrator reclines large and smug in their parent's basement going "Warrr harrr harrr! I so rock! I Stuck It To The Old Man!"

Or it will get stuck waiting for a recalcitrant connection/browser/server and I'll get support inquiries about why it shows this "loading" person as having favorited everything in sight.

Nothing too fancy or involved, maybe I'll use a background color that's unique but not in the red tones.
posted by mdevore at 8:26 PM on July 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hey great. I love this extension, but I had to dump a while ago because it was screwing up in Chrome. I haven't tried this new version, but I'm inclined to think a color other than red would be better for the loading notice. Maybe MeFi Yellow?
posted by Rock Steady at 8:29 PM on July 1, 2013


excellent, thanks for this. i was one of the first two or three to request this, so the reasons for the extension name is now giving me a chuckle. Thanks mdevore.
posted by kev23f at 11:29 PM on July 1, 2013


I have a feeling this is a dumb question, but is the idea of this that you'd want to see if the people who favourited a post are users who have similar tastes to you? But how is that a 180 degree difference from what favourites are supposed to be ?
posted by Diablevert at 11:48 PM on July 1, 2013


Diablevert: "But how is that a 180 degree difference from what favourites are supposed to be ?"

Favourites are supposed to be everything and nothing. The mods and pb were just sitting around one unusual Friday, when there were no MetaTalk explosions in progress, and thought, "hey, let's just put a random-ass button on the end of every comment! Not for any specific reason, just for the heck of it. Some people could use it as a bookmark, which for some reason is public to everyone, and the comment would show how many people bookmarked the comment. Some people could use it to easily find a comment they hated, so 'favourite' would be a good name for that function. You could do anything with it, it's just a fun button with no specific purpose."

And here we are.
posted by Bugbread at 1:33 AM on July 2, 2013


I have a feeling this is a dumb question, but is the idea of this that you'd want to see if the people who favourited a post are users who have similar tastes to you?

You might want to use it to see what dimwitted fucknuts favourited a particularly useless piece of crowd-pandering? That might give rise to Howls of Outrage when you realize that people you'd previously respected are favouriting your mortal enemies.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:34 AM on July 2, 2013


is the idea of this that you'd want to see if the people who favourited a post are users who have similar tastes to you?

That appears to be one of the reasons. Or basic primate curiousity. Or to quickly see who is supporting what you or those you like post. Or who is supporting what those of an opposing view post. Or what people think sufficiently import to bookmark. At a fundamental level, the script simply avoids a lot of extra clicks if you're at least mildly interested in any of that sort of stuff.

Honestly, I don't know most of the motivations for using the script, I didn't write it for me. Several people requested the functionality on here multiple times, they presented sufficient reason for the request, no one else came forward, I had the time and capacity to write it, I did write it. I don't use it myself except to test and debug. Why did I write it then? That's a philosophical question, you're not here to read boring personal philosophies.

But how is that a 180 degree difference from what favourites are supposed to be ?

Favorites are most frequently used as a show of support, appreciation, or virtual high-five. Things of that nature. I do know a number people also use them for bookmarking purposes and a few other miscellaneous reasons, but I believe this to be a minority usage, established beyond reasonable doubt. You or others may not agree with that statement, but I'm not raising the point for debate, just as an explanation from my POV.

So why choose a 180 degrees difference? It has been said, by me if no other, that the perversity of the human animal is boundless. Any rumors to the contrary, I am human.

Ahh, while writing this I see a couple of motivations have been posted. There you go. Straight from sources.
posted by mdevore at 1:56 AM on July 2, 2013


You could do anything with it, it's just a fun button with no specific purpose.

My theory goes: the mods said: "I have to read so many MeFi posts and comments for work, I'll be fucked if I read any more than that for fun. If only there were some way to get users to point out the really great stuff, perhaps fueled by a warm fuzzy 'likes' economy, because dammit no one is remembering to flag as fantastic."
posted by fleacircus at 4:27 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


user "loading ..." has successfully screwed with me. Congratulations, sir.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:40 AM on July 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Nice - the chrome extension has a bug you might like to look at:
1. Hover over a favorites marker (either on a post or a comment), bask in the glory of the howls
2. Favorite the item
3. Hover over the favorites marker - no glory.
posted by plinth at 7:52 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


All in a day's work! ;)
posted by loading... at 10:39 AM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


That's neat, thanks. Now if you can make an extension that makes all of my comments get loads of favourites I can use this to look at them!
posted by Ned G at 11:57 AM on July 2, 2013


Something to note in terms of a bug fix. If you hit the plus (+) to add a favorite, the hover no longer works. If you hit the (-) to remove the favorite, it also no longer works. It resets appropriately if you refresh the page.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:38 PM on July 2, 2013


I had been missing this big time. Thank you!
posted by ifjuly at 7:06 PM on July 2, 2013


I changed the loading message to the MetaTalk color scheme, which would be unpatriotic to dislike.

Not sure what's going on with the like and unlike disabling the mouse hover yet. The dynamic updating of status appears to be eating my event listener somehow.

I'm only hearing from Chrome users, so if anyone wants a Greasemonkey mod, fix, or update, or a Safari extension change, they can let me know here or privately. Squeaky wheel, grease...

On a final note, userscripts has not been terribly stable for a long time, but seems to be even less so lately, throwing Bad Gateway a lot when you try to go there. If you're having problems downloading the Greasemonkey script, I can give a personal site link where it lives as well. I also miss the correct downloads count, which has been broken on userscripts for a few months, apparently. Oh well.
posted by mdevore at 11:54 AM on July 3, 2013


you're not here to read boring personal philosophies.

I'm amused by the notion that someone might actually think that's true about the crowd of users who spend their time on MetaTalk.
posted by SMPA at 7:54 PM on July 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK, if I did it right, the extension in the Chrome web store has been updated with the following changes:

"Version 4.1 fixes a problem with hover popup after favoriting or unfavoriting a post or comment. It changes the loading color scheme to not use a red background. It fixes border width to use thin, medium, and thick instead of pixel values."

You should be able to use the "Update extensions now" button on the extensions preference page to make it update immediately. I'm not sure if Chrome auto-updates extensions, it may that every so often. It surely should.

I'll fix and upload an updated Greasemonkey script to userscripts and the local site with a week. Probably. That schedule can be expedited to sometime this Friday, mostly likely, on request or feedback from script users.

I've not heard a peep from the Safari extension users, which I basically did just to see how Safari extensions work, so if nobody requests an update, I'll put it on the development whiteboard to-do list. That means anywhere from 2 weeks to 1 year. Probably. Speak up if you're interested.
posted by mdevore at 1:46 AM on July 4, 2013


Chrome constantly updates things for me without me doing a darned thing to provoke it, and I never turn that kind of setting on intentionally (I don't turn them off, either, I just don't look for that kind of thing to turn it on,) so I'm reasonably confident that's just how they do it.
posted by SMPA at 7:21 PM on July 4, 2013


I really like this script, which is why I'm bummed it's not working. It shows a red loading screen, then a Metafilter blue screen with no names on it, in a dash-lined border. The blue box is also half the height of the red one.

I was using Firefox 21; it's now Firefox 22, on Windows 7.
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:47 AM on July 6, 2013


Version 4.1 fixes a problem with hover popup after favoriting or unfavoriting a post or comment.

Okay, it looks like this now works great in Chrome, as long as there is a favorite there to begin with. If you add a favorite where there previously wasn't one, it's not possible to trigger the hover popup.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:10 AM on July 6, 2013


If you add a favorite where there previously wasn't one, it's not possible to trigger the hover popup.

Ehh, if there aren't any favorites and you add the first one, there isn't much mystery about who favorited the post, particularly since the site also adds sticky feedback text about it.

Basically, the problem is that the extension doesn't put an event trigger on status line text without favorites. I could either have the extension put a listener on all comment status lines, or hook into the DOM change events and figure it out from there, both of which are viable approaches though more complicated and with their own drawbacks, but since it's not a high-priority bug, it may wait until next feature version (i.e. I won''t release a new version for making this one work.)
posted by mdevore at 11:12 AM on July 6, 2013


then a Metafilter blue screen with no names on it, in a dash-lined border.

Well, that's a problem. And that's a problem because I typically use Firefox, the current version 22, including right now, and the script works.

Since you're getting the box, that means the extension is loading and firing on all cylinders. The empty box means there's been a fail while reading the favorites page or while processing it. If you haven't already, check a couple of the subsites, e.g. MetaFilter, MetaTalk, AskMe, along with a couple different favorited posts to see if it's broken everywhere. There's no need for an extensive test, a couple each is enough to be sure.

Also, if you can, check the Greasemonkey scripts through the browser pull down menus and make sure that it's showing HowlsOfOutrage version 4.0 and an older version didn't sneak in or conflict somehow (I don't completely trust userscripts anymore, too unstable on occasion). You might also check your Greasemonkey version to make sure it's recent, I think they released a couple of bugged versions along the way.

I'll fire up Windows 7 in the virtual box here to be sure that its pointy head isn't messing with the script somehow.

I should maybe think about writing a native Firefox extension and avoid the whole Greasemonkey thing, but I'm not sure it's worth the trouble for either me or users.
posted by mdevore at 11:32 AM on July 6, 2013


Ehh, if there aren't any favorites and you add the first one, there isn't much mystery about who favorited the post, particularly since the site also adds sticky feedback text about it.

Yep, it was a very minor thing, but I just thought I'd mention it.

Thanks for all the hard work on this!
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:41 PM on July 6, 2013


Updating GreaseMonkey did the trick! Thanks!
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:46 PM on July 6, 2013


Since this is still open, just a quick drive-by to say that I finally got around to updating the Greasemonkey script with the previous Chrome extension changes, i.e. fixed hover after favoriting or un-, works for unregistered/not logged-in users, and the cosmetic stuff.

Uploaded it to userscripts.org and the local site, same as usual. Safari extension update? I dunno, if anybody asks for it.

Any problems with, or questions about, script or extension, let me know. My work here is done.
posted by mdevore at 8:32 PM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


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