Pony Request: Re-promoting Threads with Notable News May 15, 2015 2:25 PM   Subscribe

With various open threads such as the Nepal Earthquake Thread and the UK Election thread, it makes me think that certain threads where significant events come up days or weeks later, that the moderators would be able to re-promote those existing open threads to the top of the front page, as though it were a new post.

I'm not advocating for pinned threads that have a permanent top-of-page position, just a "bump" to the top as though it were a new thread. The reason I think this would be a good idea is it might decrease the number of new-update posts that the mods have to close and redirect the poster to adding to the thread, but also simply to re-highlight things for general users where major developments have occurred.

The Recent Activity page shows more or less a list of all recent activity rather than notably-updated news event threads. The other alternative is the sidebar, but I think updating threads with notable news isn't quite in the spirit of the sidebar's "best and most interesting" curatorial angle. I can imagine that the updates required to the backend wouldn't be trivial, but they may not be onerous.
posted by chimaera to Feature Requests at 2:25 PM (21 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

The reason I think this would be a good idea is it might decrease the number of new-update posts that the mods have to close and redirect the poster to adding to the thread, but also simply to re-highlight things for general users where major developments have occurred.

I can as a reader appreciate the idea behind this, but I'm not convinced it's actually an overall good solution for Metafilter. My thinking:

1. We don't actually delete a ton of followup posts; certainly some, but not all that many in any given month. I'd say people mostly do a good job of assessing when a new post is justified vs. when stuff should go in a still-open thread, when there is one still open, and the cases where we see someone try an update that's not really merited are as often as not just someone having missed that the old one was there, in which case a mechanism for highlighting the old one wouldn't have worked.

2. It is okay to make a new post about something if it's a substantial update and/or if it's been a while, depending on the specific subject or situation. Sometimes someone feels like this is what they're doing and the mod on duty disagrees and nixes it with a pointer to something older, but I think more often folks generally get it right and we let the new post stand. And the edge cases get worked out in Metatalk, sometimes with a do-oer of a new post with mods totally onboard.

3. A couple downsides to bringing back around an older thread from a significant news story or event: (a) the highest profile ones are also the ones that tend to have relatively very long threads, which are the threads we least want to throw a ton of new traffic at in a lump since it's a strain on the server, and (b) an aging thread about an event is a thread getting closer to closure, which means we'd either be pointing people to a thread with a short shelf-life or have to upset really standardized it's-open-for-a-month standard we have on the blue to give it a second standard window for commenting.

4. Threads sometimes end up with really baked-in thread-specific dynamics or weirdness or even ugliness; bumping an old thread instead of just starting a new one if it's appropriate can mean starting from that weird place instead of starting from scratch, and setting an expectation that people will (or, kinda worse, that they shouldn't bother to) read a whole bunch of old conversation before they start engaging with a new-to-you discussion.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:36 PM on May 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm against this, because MetaFilter -- for as well as it often handles discussions of news -- is not a news discussion site at its base. It's trivially easy (particularly with the Add to Activity button) to follow a news thread and keep up with the discussion for the whole time a post is active.
posted by Etrigan at 2:46 PM on May 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm thinking that this would be used on a fairly rare basis for exceptional news. I think the Nepal quake thread is a good example, as there is almost literally no discussion after an aftershock that was substantial.
posted by chimaera at 2:52 PM on May 15, 2015


Etrigan: It's trivially easy (particularly with the Add to Activity button) to follow a news thread and keep up with the discussion for the whole time a post is active.

That function is only available to members/logged in users. Which means casual visitors won't see ongoing discussions about current topics that have been posted about previously unless they take the time to seek them out.

Some folks may consider that a feature, not a bug, though.
posted by zarq at 3:31 PM on May 15, 2015


I don't really use tags to navigate. I really appreciate when FPPs link to older FPPs with a "Previously". I tend to be the nerd that just comments in-site links, though.
posted by halifix at 3:51 PM on May 15, 2015


Opposed. I revisit several times a day. If it's the same post I go back to doing what I was doing. Something new I see if it's a topic of interest. If not I go back to what I was doing.

To have things disrupt this flow would break how I visit the site.

Also, this would change the way the site has fundamentally worked since its inception. In addition, it would create annoyances when people think something should be bumped, but it's not, or when people think it doesn't really deserve it, but does get it.

Lastly, when someone posts if already feels annoying when you get pushed down too quickly. Every new post deserves whatever time in the top spot is was destined to get.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:17 PM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't like this pony. Lets do to it what they did to that pony in Godfather.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:10 PM on May 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


" It's trivially easy (particularly with the Add to Activity button) to follow a news thread and keep up with the discussion for the whole time a post is active."

The problem is that posts don't tend to be active very long. For example, the recent Boston Bomber case.

Here's a thread regarding Judy Clarke, the anti-death-penalty attorney defending him. Tsarnaev got the death penalty today but since the thread is closed there's no way to update it with new info. Technically you can make another FPP but it won't have significant new info to contribute while people might want to discuss the situation in greater detail in light of the recent ruling.
posted by I-baLL at 5:22 PM on May 15, 2015


That seems to be a slightly different issue from what this MeTa is suggesting, though -- bumping them back to the front page while still within the 30 day period that posts on the Blue are open vs. lengthening that 30 days posts that have further developments after 30 days (and I am even more against the latter).
posted by Etrigan at 5:36 PM on May 15, 2015


#notthispony
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 7:27 PM on May 15, 2015


It was a little irritating when a second competing (unintentionally of course) UK election thread popped up. Maybe a candidate for "New & Noteworthy" / Sidebar?
posted by Nevin at 7:30 PM on May 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


How about a wiki page linking to the big post for each current event?
posted by michaelh at 8:22 PM on May 15, 2015


I don't have an account at reddit because reddit. But the few times I've been there I've noticed the same headline popping up numerous times on the first page (not having gone beyond the first page of results, I can't report on subsequent pages). Is this request for that?
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 10:17 PM on May 15, 2015


I don't like this idea. It becomes an implicit tiering by importance/popularity, as determined by the mods. Which is going to lead to MeTas of "Why isn't [issue] being bumped on the homepage? There's new news about it and it's important!"

Metafilter isn't a news site, and I don't think it has to be turned into one.

We already have a "Best Of" sidebar for calling out significant comments and Mefi-newsworthy posts. That's good enough.
posted by ardgedee at 2:08 AM on May 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd support a modified version of this, in which you could flag a post as "significant update to content of FPP" or something along those lines, and if more than N people flagged it like that it would get special placement in your recent activity with a different colored highlight.

I've thought about this before, and still really like that idea. Especially in really fast moving and gigantic ferguson/Martin/balloon boy/etc type threads where the recent activity comments will instantly be filled with not-the-important-update stuff, or in cases like that nepal thread where a big update happens but only a few responses after that so it would quickly drop down.

It'd be cool if it just stuck it at the top of your recent activity until you acknowledged it, sort of like how memail stays lit up until you read the message, not just check your inbox.
posted by emptythought at 3:37 AM on May 16, 2015


But the few times I've been there I've noticed the same headline popping up numerous times on the first page (not having gone beyond the first page of results, I can't report on subsequent pages).

For the most part Reddit doesn't police and delete double posts the way MetaFilter does. (To some extent depending on the subreddit, as they have different moderators and different moderation standards, but in my experience most don't.) chimaera does not appear to be advocating for allowing double posts here, so that's something different.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:07 AM on May 16, 2015


Nope from me.
posted by pompomtom at 12:12 PM on May 16, 2015


I would be in favour of an automated widget on the front page that listed those posts that, while not recent enough to be on the front page, continue to have significant comment activity. Perhaps above or below the sidebar. Basically, a "people are still talking about..." list.
posted by kickingtheground at 5:44 PM on May 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


We already have a "Best Of" sidebar for calling out significant comments and Mefi-newsworthy posts. That's good enough.

This.

Also, this would change the way the site has fundamentally worked since its inception. In addition, it would create annoyances when people think something should be bumped, but it's not, or when people think it doesn't really deserve it, but does get it.

And this.

So it's a no from me as well. Not something I'd be interested in.
posted by Fizz at 5:44 PM on May 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is the Recent Comments tab, which does something like that, kickingtheground.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:00 PM on May 16, 2015


I think that the community is generally somewhat hesitant to post updates about significant developments in stories that still have an open comments thread.

While I think that this is generally a good tendency to have, and don't want MetaFilter to turn into a 24-hour news network, I do think that we have a perfectly fine precedent for allowing new posts that describe significant new developments, particularly when an existing thread is becoming stale and unwieldy. When it comes to this stuff, I think that the mods have struck a good balance.

Similarly, there is also an established precedent for linking to previous threads. If you want to mention that your FPP is an update to a previous event, it is totally acceptable (and even preferable) to include a link to the MeFi discussion of that previous event.
posted by schmod at 9:59 PM on May 18, 2015


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