Parsing Metafilter comments October 22, 2014 1:50 AM   Subscribe

I'm submitting this as a feature request, but I'm not sure that's the right category. I have difficulty parsing the comments in a metafilter thread. It's the way it's laid out, with the comment followed by the poster's name and other information:
Is there any way I could change it?
posted by Time To Sharpen Our Knives at 1:09 AM on October 22 [+] [!]
I'd rather see it parsed differently; prioritizing the name of the Mefite, followed by their post (in quotes, maybe?), then the remaining information. Something like this:
Time To Sharpen Our Knives posted:
"I'd rather see it parsed differently."
      1:10 AM on October 22 [+] [!]
Through some browser extension/hack/magic, is this possible?
posted by Time To Sharpen Our Knives to Feature Requests at 1:50 AM (52 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

From the admin end, this is not something that we have plans of changing in terms of site design, but maybe folks will have some ideas about hacks for you.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:56 AM on October 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Not prioritizing the poster's name is a feature, not a bug.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 2:32 AM on October 22, 2014 [115 favorites]


This can probably be sorted out on your end (the javascript peoples will chime in I am sure) - it's such an ingrained part of the site aesthetic and culture I doubt changing it would ever be seriously considered.

That being said, one feature of the current layout I really love is that it teaches you to recognize people's writing style: You're reading a multi-paragraph comment, and it's full of wrong/goodness, you find your blood pressure rising/a warm feeling of happiness, and think to yourself - this must be $BOZO / $COOL_PERSON. And then you get to the end, and the poster name says you were correct and you get this little bit of happiness for having figured it out. Very efficient for learning to keep track of unthreaded conversation and recognizing who is who in a text-only medium.
posted by Dr Dracator at 5:11 AM on October 22, 2014 [14 favorites]


Not prioritizing the poster's name is a feature, not a bug.

To expand on that, in case it's not clear:

Emphasizing who said something as opposed to what was said encourages the sort of discourse that is exactly opposite of what we're reminded to strive for above every 'Post' button on MetaFilter:
Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.
posted by carsonb at 5:12 AM on October 22, 2014 [19 favorites]


the quidnunc kid posted:

"We could all address the problem raised merely by changing the way we comment. It's such an elegant new style of commenting - a sleek, modern style that is fresh and "now" - that I can't see why the majority of MeFites won't immediately adopt it. We can also start "signing" our comments too, just to remove any troublesome ambiguity about who-said-what.

Write back to @quidnunc if you agree -

-- quidnunc kid.

#vote1quidnunckid"
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:54 AM on October 22, 2014 [34 favorites]


Hack:

Is there any way I could change it?
posted by Time To Sharpen Our Knives at 1:09 AM on October 22 [+] [!]


Say aloud: "It's Time To Sharpen Our Knives who wrote this." Do this every time you get confused when you experience difficulties analysing what's what in a mefi comment. Go to the poster's name and say it aloud.

Or write down the name.
posted by Namlit at 6:40 AM on October 22, 2014


I am not trying to be a dick here but I have no idea how the current way could be at all difficult to comprehend.

Comment
posted by soandso at time on date

It could literally not be more clear in any possible way.
posted by phunniemee at 6:44 AM on October 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


We can also start "signing" our comments too, just to remove any troublesome ambiguity about who-said-what.

Not necessarily a fool-proof plan.

(I'm me and I endorse this message.)
posted by octobersurprise at 6:53 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Todd Lokken
posted by From Bklyn at 6:54 AM on October 22, 2014 [16 favorites]


Guys, people can have different cognitive and neurological functioning and abilities and disabilities, as well as varying levels of sightedness. It's a thing. Maybe drop with the "You're just wrong" - flavored comments.
posted by jaguar at 7:00 AM on October 22, 2014 [56 favorites]


And the OP is specifically asking for a hack or an extension, not trying to tell everyone else to change their MetaFilter.
posted by jaguar at 7:01 AM on October 22, 2014 [29 favorites]


[Yeah. Signed by Im not trying to be a but. There's little reason to snark.]

So the hack I mentioned is to disassemble and re-order the elements of a confusing-looking comment off the screen, using other techniques than reading (namely speaking out loud, or writing) to tell your mind what's going on (and also to turn a passive construction "signed by Namlit" into an active one: "Namlit said this").
posted by Namlit at 7:12 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


And the OP is specifically asking for a hack or an extension, not trying to tell everyone else to change their MetaFilter.

True. I apologize for any offence I may have caused to "Our Knives", who is just asking for a computery-browsery thing or other hack.

Rest assured that the real target of my mockery is actually MetaFilter society, whose reactionary hate of any change to its precious commenting style is just disgusting prejudice. How do you people live with yourselves??? #URHitler

Yours,

quidnunc kid
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:43 AM on October 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


No, really. Stop making fun of someone for asking for a browser extension that will format Metafilter in a way that you personally have no use for. If you don't know of an extension that will do this, then shut up instead of snarking.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:52 AM on October 22, 2014 [17 favorites]


Oh, yeah ? Why I oughta...
posted by y2karl at 8:04 AM on October 22, 2014


Super basic 1 minute jQuery thing with the normal disclaimer*:

https://github.com/xqwzts/metafilter-reorder-signature

You can add the js file there to Greasemonkey and it should do stuff.

* only superficially tested, might not work, might break other extensions/greasemonkey scripts/modifications, might destroy your browser, os, pc ,slight chance of eating your soul.
posted by xqwzts at 8:15 AM on October 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Apparently if I put it as a gist you can do a 1-click install thing, so I've deleted the repo and made a gist instead: go here and click on "Raw" it should pop up the greasemonkey/install userscript dialog.

Enjoy.
posted by xqwzts at 8:37 AM on October 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Also, it might help if you install the mefi comment divider script, which I find absolutely 100% vital to reading mefi, without it my brain can't really parse where one comment ends and the next begins. It's not a weird problem, or a rare one. It's just an annoying one. The change of font size that otherwise denotes the difference between the comment and the comment info line only confuses me more. Reading mefi without this script is fucking agony.

there's one here but it hasnt been updated in ages, not sure if that means it will still work or not

this is a newer version but i'm not sure about the pastel colors, might be weird.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:13 AM on October 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh but I have no idea how or if it would work with xqwzts' script above.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:14 AM on October 22, 2014


If you can, I'd go with poffins script. xqwzts's script could destroy your PC, or worse, eat your soul.
posted by el io at 9:25 AM on October 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


I like playing the "Guess who wrote this comment" game before I get to the end of their comment. I think sonascope is probably responsible for my highest win %.

After visiting MetaFilter for so long I've started to turn off avatar images on other forum software.
posted by ODiV at 10:08 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I had forgotten about the comment divider script, but it may help you parse comments better. I recommend it as strongly as, and in conjunction with, poffin boffin's suggestion. It changes the background color of the byline, and is very easy to tweak so you can adjust the color and line height of the byline. In fact, you will likely have to tweak it just to make it play nice as I recall that it almost never works correctly directly after installing. But once you get it going, it's definitely awesome.

Oh, also, I think poffin boffin's a staunch Old-MeFi-design user, so you might have to extra mega tweak the script if you're using the modern design. It's not difficult to do.
posted by carsonb at 10:45 AM on October 22, 2014


Yeah, not sure how it works with the redo, unfortunately. FWIW I find that the new style makes telling comments apart even more hellishly confusing.

i will cling to the classic style with my last breath
posted by poffin boffin at 11:00 AM on October 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


anyway for reference purposes here is how it looks installed on the old style right here in metatalk

you have to manually add in the new subsites like fanfare and irl, but it is really simple. the hardest part was selecting the colors to use. i'm still not totally happy with how fanfare looks but i'm too lazy to really spend the time to sort it out.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:05 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Once more, with feeling.

Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:45 AM on October 22, 2014


What the OP is requesting neither harms nor inconveniences anyone on the site. This is no different than someone asking how to enlarge text on their own single screen for ease of reading.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:08 PM on October 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


destroy your PC, or worse, eat your soul.

Is that really worse though?
posted by xqwzts at 12:45 PM on October 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


woah. do i feel small.

Or maybe not. Still. That's an odd collection of vaguely dismissive responses. Weird.

Thanks for the suggestion poffin, I'll give it a shot.
posted by Time To Sharpen Our Knives at 1:09 PM on October 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


What the OP is requesting neither harms nor inconveniences anyone on the site. This is no different than someone asking how to enlarge text on their own single screen for ease of reading.

They need Flunkie's Embiggen the Smallest Metafilter Greasemonkey script.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 1:32 PM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just want to reiterate that I'm sorry for coming across as having a go at you, Time To Sharpen. Admittedly I was fucking around in your thread for no very good reason, but I wasn't trying to take a pop at you exactly (although that is very far from obvious). Anyway please accept my apologies for my rudeness.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 1:36 PM on October 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


quidnunc! No worries!
posted by Time To Sharpen Our Knives at 2:42 PM on October 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


It is possible to use CSS to display HTML elements out of order, and there are browser plugins that let you apply custom CSS to specific websites.

However, I was looking at the HTML used for comments here, and it doesn't look like the HTML gives those types of CSS tricks enough of a surface to latch onto.

With Javascript, you might be able to dynamically insert tags or reorder elements, but my Javascript skills are weak.
posted by adamrice at 3:04 PM on October 22, 2014


quidnunc! No worries!

Thanks! And with your kind words, I shall worry no more. Except about xqwxts, who provided swift and helpful advice, but also wants to eat our souls (as I understand it). And isn't that the real problem here - the fact that MeFi is a "safe space" for such psychophageous beings of profound horror? I call on the mods to ban everyone except for you and me. Sure, I may try to crawl up your nostril and suck the blood from your brain stem, but I would NEVER eat your soul.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:14 PM on October 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


Sure, I may try to crawl up your nostril and suck the blood from your brain stem, but I would NEVER eat your soul.

Suddenly feeling regretful about sending in that absentee ballot early with a quidnunc vote.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:16 PM on October 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


Oh ho! It's Celsius1414 - the exact temperature at which a soul should be cooked for maximum juiciness and a crispy skin. Co-incidence? I think not.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:24 PM on October 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


That's an odd collection of vaguely dismissive responses.

Apologies if I came off as dismissive. As with so many MetaTalk posts and site issues, this is something (the reformatting of comments, reordering of comments, general mucking about with the discussion format) that's been tossed about these parts over the course of several years and many different conversations, so what you're seeing as dismissiveness is actually just an extra-concentrated summary of/answer to everything akin to what you're asking that's come before.

I realize that this is increasingly ridiculous to insist upon, but read the archives, search the tags.
posted by carsonb at 3:31 PM on October 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


With Javascript, you might be able to dynamically insert tags or reorder elements, but my Javascript skills are weak.

Yup, that's pretty much what my userscript does. I haven't given much thought to optimizing it though, so I suspect it might have a tough time handling the mega-threads we get here, but it should handle regular ones just fine.

I'd just like to take a moment to clarify: I don't actually have any intention of eating anyone's soul. That said, it is a possibility when running javascript code, and I have no intention of being held liable for people unsatisfied with their new, soulless, existence, hence the industry-standard disclaimer.
posted by xqwzts at 3:59 PM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't actually have any intention of eating anyone's soul.

That is exactly what a soul eater would say!
posted by Lesser Shrew at 4:04 PM on October 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


The weird and dismissive comments spring from an important tenet of Metafilter culture. The posts are supposed to be more important than the comments and the comments are supposed to be more important than who wrote them (and by extension how you might feel about the commenter instead of the content of the comment.)

Personally, I don't completely agree with this. The comments are more important to me than the posts. But it is important for me to focus on what someone wrote instead of who wrote it. I might think that a certain mefite is a complete tool, but the current layout allows me to read their comments without prejudice. I have read a number of great comments over the years, only to be surprised that it was written by someone whom I thought was an asshole. I've read bad comments by people I like. Either way, each comment should stand on its own merits.

You're free to slice and dice your view of the site with browser extensions any way you'd like. In fact that's exactly what the OP asked for. I'm just trying to explain the knee-jerk reaction.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:21 PM on October 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


That being said, one feature of the current layout I really love is that it teaches you to recognize people's writing style: You're reading a multi-paragraph comment, and it's full of wrong/goodness, you find your blood pressure rising/a warm feeling of happiness, and think to yourself - this must be $BOZO / $COOL_PERSON. And then you get to the end, and the poster name says you were correct and you get this little bit of happiness for having figured it out.

I also love it when this works the other way around: I'll be reading along thinking "wow, this is interesting. This is really on point/a different perspective/humanely witty/mindblowingly brilliant." And then I page down and get to the end and what the heck? This was posted by $BOZO? Huh. How about that? Maybe I ought to cut them a little more slack (even when they're making me want to reach through the screen to smack them upside the head).

This is why I'm glad there are no official killfiles here, and why I haven't (and don't intend to) install any of the killfile scripts.
posted by Lexica at 7:06 PM on October 22, 2014 [8 favorites]


Thirding the experience of reading great comment by person I'd previously written off.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:43 PM on October 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's like why I keep dozens of blind hogs around my place - I just love it when one of them stumbles across an acorn.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:47 AM on October 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


My enjoyment of the site went way up after I installed Nancy.
posted by malocchio at 6:38 AM on October 23, 2014


Wait until you try Sluggo.
posted by y2karl at 7:55 AM on October 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


I say we do away with favorites, keep flags hidden, hide usernames, and ID posters only by their "clicked through to the links and was not back until they'd had time to read it" averages.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:48 AM on October 23, 2014


I'll throw my greasemonkey hat in the ring, too. I liked the idea of the favorite and flag links remaining last, so I put them there. Put a horizontal rule between entries to keep the division really obvious. Threw in a "[marked as best answer]" on relevant AskMe answers because I use a UserStyle that does away with the highlighting and so I don't see it.

Not happy about the appearance yet.
posted by Zed at 9:49 AM on October 23, 2014


I like playing the "Guess who wrote this comment" game before I get to the end of their comment.

I always like it when I read a great comment and then I see it's a "favourite" poster of mine. It's like - right, I knew I liked them for a reason. It's also nice to see a great comment from er, less-favourite posters - it forces you to see that even if people have crazy ideas about certain topics, they can still be really insightful in other areas. It's a good reminder that even if people have some opinions you find offensive, they are still people, and often pretty smart and decent people overall.
posted by randomnity at 10:25 AM on October 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


It's like why I keep dozens of blind hogs around my place - I just love it when one of them stumbles across an acorn.

More like breeding generations and generations of blind albino hogs in a subterranean cavern, and then using them for daring midnight acorn raids on moonless nights.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:07 AM on October 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought that was implicit.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:45 AM on October 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I like playing the "Guess who wrote this comment" game before I get to the end of their comment. I think sonascope is probably responsible for my highest win %.

I enjoy the implication that it's only possible to play this game because most of sonascope's comments don't fit on one screen (of any resolution).
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:33 PM on October 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I enjoy reading a brilliant spot-on comment and then realizing I posted it myself. Whatever is munching on my soul during my blackouts really brings out my best.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:48 AM on October 24, 2014 [7 favorites]


You're not supposed to focus on the poster, in order to maintain a respectful discussion. Now pay attention as I explain this to you in a dismissive way that ignores your innocuous question.
posted by spaltavian at 8:44 AM on October 27, 2014


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