Am I the only one having trouble finding active threads? June 24, 2016 7:19 AM   Subscribe

So, this happened with the primary thread, and then with the gun thread, and now with the Brexit thread, which I only found by entering in missing thread numbers to find a deleted Brexit thread which pointed to the active thread. Am I the only one who has trouble finding these extremely active threads in a site that's set up purely in date order and whose Popular page seems to just list threads/comments that are heavily favorited, not threads getting heavy activity?

I'm normally mostly an Ask person, but there's been so much interesting political activity lately that I'm spending more time on the main page... but it can take some detective work to find the big threads on big topics, because they get buried by newer posts and the Popular page doesn't seem to highlight very active threads. Am I missing something, or can this be fixed? Maybe add a "heavy activity" or "current events" section of links, with the top five or so most active/longest threads from the last week or two?
posted by rabbitrabbit to MetaFilter-Related at 7:19 AM (55 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

A couple of things that can be useful if it's a "I know there must be a thread about this, but I don't know where situation:

1. Do quick search. Hit the search bar from somewhere on the blue (or from elsewhere but set the site selection dropdown to MetaFilter) and throw in e.g. "election" (or, god help us, "trump"), or "brexit" or "referendum", or "gun", etc. If it's a big topic that'll probably get you there in the first couple hits; if by quirk of post formatting it doesn't, popping over to the comments tab on the search results likely will.

2. For anything currently being actively discussed, you can check the Recent Comments link on the front page; that'll give you a list of threads by whichever has most recently had commenting activity, and may be the quickest way to track something down in this context.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:26 AM on June 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


I just wanted to thank you for linking to the Brexit thread because I've been looking for it all morning!

I have long but idly wished for some sort of feature that would allow me to find active threads - not necessarily current events, but threads getting lots of discussion.
posted by lunasol at 7:27 AM on June 24, 2016 [18 favorites]


No. You're not the only one.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:38 AM on June 24, 2016 [23 favorites]


Yes, I'd like a postcount option on the "Popular" page.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 7:43 AM on June 24, 2016 [8 favorites]


I found the Brexit thread by just going to metafilter.com/tags/brexit. I couldn't seem to find it by scrolling the main page.
posted by bondcliff at 7:54 AM on June 24, 2016


I found the Brexit thread by just going to metafilter.com/tags/brexit. I couldn't seem to find it by scrolling the main page.

This is what I do when I'm looking for something popular that surely must have an FPP.
posted by odinsdream at 8:01 AM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


1. Do quick search. Hit the search bar from somewhere on the blue (or from elsewhere but set the site selection dropdown to MetaFilter) and throw in e.g. "election" (or, god help us, "trump"), or "brexit" or "referendum", or "gun", etc. If it's a big topic that'll probably get you there in the first couple hits; if by quirk of post formatting it doesn't, popping over to the comments tab on the search results likely will.

Just as a data point: I did search "brexit", "exit", and "British" this morning and didn't find the thread that way - not sure what was going on there.
posted by lunasol at 8:02 AM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Quirk of framing, yeah; if the text of the post manages to use none of those terms, it won't show up on a search of posts. That's where I'll often hop over to the comments tab, since there's a ton more text to work with in the comments of a post and so any given term is more likely to have come up.

So e.g. a search for "brexit" doesn't turn up the current post because that word doesn't appear in the post text, but the comments tab is chock full of comments from today using the term, basically all from the current thread. Can take a little poking around like that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:05 AM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


The current post shows up if you search the tags for "brexit". That's how I find stuff a lot of the time.
posted by Etrigan at 8:18 AM on June 24, 2016


I'm honestly confused why there hasn't been annoyed to be a new thread about the Brexit results. For other major elections, my memory at least, is that once the results are known a new thread is normally posted and remains. I know "UK Goes To Polls In EU Referendum" is still on the default front page, but it has more than 1,400 comments now. And until one stays, there's just going to be more deleted threads.
posted by skynxnex at 8:18 AM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


New thread a couple days after the previous one isn't the best outcome (we've been e.g. far more aggressive about trying to keep the US election threads to one every week or two the last several months), though it may end up making sense for sheer scale in this case, yeah. Having a new one yesterday, literally one day after the previous one that went up specifically for the discussion of the vote, didn't make much sense so we were corralling those into just the one.

As stuff starts to shake out a little bit here, putting a new post-vote roundup thread together would be okay, basically. But it's also something where if the symptom is A Ton Of Commenting That Fills Up The Thread, putting up a new thread quickly doesn't really treat the issue so much as just start everything over and set the timer back a day or so, so folks should have their expectations set accordingly. We could be having the exact same discussion tomorrow or Sunday, just one more thread along the chain.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:23 AM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


and then with the gun thread,

I kinda just posted some links I thought were interesting, it chugged along for two days, then petered out .... and then after another 2 days of silence, got picked as the target for the gun control 'discussion'. It's an ad hoc process.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:45 AM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm honestly confused why there hasn't been ... a new thread about the Brexit results

We didn't wanna Brexit, so we couldn't bear to Threxit.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:53 AM on June 24, 2016


I actually went to MetaTalk to see if anyone had posted a reason for why there's no Brexit thread. So, no, you're most definitely not alone.
posted by monospace at 9:11 AM on June 24, 2016 [10 favorites]


The "Recent Comments" tab on the right does seem to work well. I tend to forget about the tabs on the right, and only see the links on the upper left which do not change by subsite (unlike the tabs) so, at least for me personally (the OP), thanks cortex for reminding me that that exists.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:19 AM on June 24, 2016


Am I the only person who still uses the "Recent Comments" tab? If you click on it, you see the most recently-commented threads right on top, just where you would be looking for them if you wanted to find, say, a breaking news story or a in-depth and ongoing discussion.
posted by yhbc at 9:20 AM on June 24, 2016


Or, what cortex said in the very first response. But then, that's his job.
posted by yhbc at 9:21 AM on June 24, 2016


I found Brexit thread by using search and it was top of the results. Then CMD+F for June 23, and read from there.
posted by terrapin at 9:21 AM on June 24, 2016


I had also failed to find the brexit thread.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:56 AM on June 24, 2016


Quirk of framing, yeah; if the text of the post manages to use none of those terms, it won't show up on a search of posts.

Would it be possible to add tags to the post text for search purposes?
posted by advil at 11:24 AM on June 24, 2016


I searched for 'brexit' and found it right away. I don't really understand the problem.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:25 AM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I couldn't find it at first either, and I'm generally good at searches. When I searched for Brexit by Metafilter post, none of the seven post results was the current Brexit thread linked above. The tip to search by tag is a good one.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:44 AM on June 24, 2016


I searched for 'brexit' and found it right away. I don't really understand the problem.

Well, let me quantify a little bit. Here is my weak-sauce search process:
  1. scroll down front-page, see nothing.
  2. Command-F “brexit”, see nothing.
  3. Type “brexit” into search box. Seven posts show up, none of which are current.
  4. Throw up my hands and surrender: this post isn’t for me.
I’m not particularly hurt by this, and my naive assumption was that there just wasn’t a brexit thread. If I were a smidge less lazy and clicked over to comments, I’d have seen a bunch of current comments about brexit. But I didn’t so I didn’t. Blame Google, but I don’t think about selecting types of results. (From a selfish design perspective, I would argue that tag and comment content should be used as weighing functions to bring in more post results, but perhaps that’s a pain.)
posted by Going To Maine at 11:45 AM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


How I found the Brexit thread was to search on Google for "Brexit Metafilter."

The top result was the *deleted* thread (http://www.metafilter.com/160551/Brexit-stage-left). Restless_nomad's comment on why it was being deleted had a link to the other thread, which I was able to follow.

It seems odd that the deleted thread would show up as the top result.
posted by jasper411 at 12:31 PM on June 24, 2016


i didn't realize deleted threads were still indexed and searchable like that. it seems to defeat the purpose of having askmes deleted for containing too much personal information or similar.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:41 PM on June 24, 2016


That deleted thread does have <meta name="ROBOTS" content="NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW"> it its source now. Whenever Google tries to reindex it, it should disappear from results.
posted by skynxnex at 12:58 PM on June 24, 2016


They aren't but google takes time to churn and posts get added to the index practically immediately from the RSS feed but don't get removed by the no index until google revisits the front page.
posted by Mitheral at 1:00 PM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


ah, so just an incident of oddly (im)perfect timing then.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:10 PM on June 24, 2016


I can find the Brexit thread, I just can't load it.
posted by malocchio at 1:11 PM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Well, let me quantify a little bit. Here is my weak-sauce search process:
scroll down front-page, see nothing.
Command-F “brexit”, see nothing.
Type “brexit” into search box. Seven posts show up, none of which are current.
Throw up my hands and surrender: this post isn’t for me.

That was my weak-sauce process as well!
posted by lunasol at 1:48 PM on June 24, 2016


The whole concept of an "active thread on subject x" is a pretty nebulous one on Metafilter for a casual user as there is basically no way to know what is considered active or not unless one happens to see a mod comment about it. Therefore I propose sticking whatever is currently considered to be an active thread on a sidebar on the front page.
posted by Soi-hah at 3:12 PM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


cortex: "For anything currently being actively discussed, you can check the Recent Comments link on the front page; that'll give you a list of threads by whichever has most recently had commenting activity, and may be the quickest way to track something down in this context."

How about a tab for this on the recent activity page? I realize it's not individual related but it would seem to fit there.

PS: the filter box on the My Contacts tab of Recent Activity has two check boxes for Metafilter. Not sure if they do the same thing or two separate things but if separate it's not obvious what they do.
posted by Mitheral at 3:50 PM on June 24, 2016


for what it's worth I found the thread by searching for 'remain' which is kind of ironic now
posted by freethefeet at 3:52 PM on June 24, 2016


two check boxes for Metafilter

Nah, one is for MetaFilter Projects, it just wraps and the color is pretty close as well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:22 PM on June 24, 2016


Between the desktop not-logged-in view, and the mobile logged-in view, I'm not seeing a Recent Comments button...

(was also looking for brexit thread)
posted by fragmede at 5:13 PM on June 24, 2016


Circled.
posted by Mitheral at 5:47 PM on June 24, 2016


I understand that strict reverse-chronological order of posts is one of the quintessential features of Metafilter (and distinguishes it from e.g. Reddit), but the current system of having very popular posts be somewhat hidden is not ideal. Multiple people here recounted trouble finding the Brexit thread.

Maybe a smaller version of the Recent Comments page could appear on the sidebar, with maybe the five most recently commented posts (titles only)?
posted by crazy with stars at 6:06 PM on June 24, 2016


Most days those five items are going to be found on the front page already. It's only mega threads that persist past that.
posted by Mitheral at 6:32 PM on June 24, 2016


There already is a Popular Threads tab on the blue, of which the Brexit thread is #1. Are people not looking there?
posted by bleep at 8:40 PM on June 24, 2016


This morning it was not there.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:54 PM on June 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


New thread a couple days after the previous one isn't the best outcome

On November 9th, I'll be thinking of this statement while reading the post about Donald Trump's Dog.
posted by Chuckles at 9:11 PM on June 24, 2016


I couldn't find the Brexit thread, made my own post, found it by the link from my deleted post to the thread by the mods. And also, that Brexit thread is from June 22nd, when voting was on June 23rd - I wouldn't have thought to look for current events in posts from the day before polling started (I know that this will be due to time differences).

The other side effect of this is that, since I only found the thread because I had time to write my own post, if I hadn't had the time to do that, I might have made the assumption that Metafilter was so massively USA-focused that there wouldn't be a Brexit thread until there was a financial impact on the USA. Which is both uncharitable and wrong in this case, but seeing no mention of this massive thing for Europe on the blue on either polling day or results day does create that impression.
posted by Vortisaur at 11:04 PM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I couldn't find the Brexit post either.

Since this seems to have been an issue for a number of people, would it be possible to have some sort of subsection, either on the sidebar or on the popular posts page, for massive, active threads? Needs a catchier name than that. But basically I'm imagining that when the number of comments goes over 500, the thread would appear in the sidebar section and/or subsection of the popular posts page.
posted by Diablevert at 6:57 AM on June 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's a certain paradoxical aspect to making a point of aggressively highlighting already very busy and large threads that gives me a little pause there.

That said, it may be something where the occasional manual sidebarring of a notable but also by whatever quirk not totally trivially searchable thread is something we get back to doing; we've done it a few times in the past, though I can't specifically remember the last time it came up. I'm not really inclined to build an actual automated feature for it, since what exists already with e.g. Recent Comments does get most of the way there already, but the oddball exception cases are worth thinking about.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:25 AM on June 25, 2016


I can find the Brexit thread, I just can't load it.

I can find it and load it fine, but I'm wondering if maybe there is some weird spyware on my computer that's inserting randomly generated text because there keep being actual comments like

europe might be over

the UK might be over

the Troubles might be back

and other nonsensical things of that sort

so, I dunno if MeFi was hacked or what
posted by tivalasvegas at 9:58 AM on June 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


I was kind of annoyed that a new Brexit thread was posted and no-one put a link to it in the previous Brexit thread until today. I assumed that the old thread would be "the" Brexit thread. In retrospect I should have wondered why it was so quiet.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:05 PM on June 25, 2016


I have never found the "Popular" feature to be particularly interesting because it ranks on the basis of the number of favorites. I would be more interested if it ALSO included the number of comments as a parallel measure of popularity. Favorites and comments can be inversely proportional.
posted by Sir Rinse at 4:59 AM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hmmm

I mostly use mobile these days, and only just now figured out how to find the Recent Comments feature (which I had forgotten existed) in a drop-down I didn't realize was even there.

I knew there was a thread from before Brexit, so I found it by scrolling back, but I was confused why it didn't come up in search because surely it was tagged and I thought tags were included in search. Which they are. But in a menu. I hadn't twigged to the little down arrow after "Search Results" indicating a menu vs. a graphic pointing to the results below.

Go fgure. Thanks for the thread!
posted by zennie at 5:53 AM on June 26, 2016


fwiw, I have found (on mobile) that having a tab dedicated to mega threads, such as the main Brexit, is my best shot at keeping current with comment updates.. I may also have another tab to keep an eye on the home page, Ask, or whatever else.
posted by bird internet at 7:54 PM on June 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


due to my own frustration in post hanging on several devices (laptops, tablets, phones), I have made a new Brexit thread, which incorporated "Brexit" in title, body and tags, and is now the first result when searching 'Brexit'.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:20 AM on June 27, 2016


If a mod says that there's already an active thread or two for some topic, can you guys link to that thread? If you guys say no then that's okay but I think it will be beneficial to the people whose comments get removed for not posting in the currently active thread for x topic.
posted by I-baLL at 8:15 AM on June 28, 2016


Sure, and I think we generally do. In cases where we don't, often it's because like in the election threads, we've already left a bunch of comments further up in the thread linking to it, and/or, the active thread is the first thing that comes up if you search for the most obvious term like "brexit" or "election."
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:36 AM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not having any problems myself, but then finding more about Brexit is not a thing I'd want to do.
posted by Segundus at 12:24 PM on June 28, 2016


Another related issue. With the most recent brexit thread, since "brexit" is in the URL I can just type "brex" in the browser search field and that thread pops up.

However, if I load the link, I have no idea where the new posts start.

Would it be possible for every thread to have, at the top of the page, the "(XXX New)" link, just like is seen on the main page that links into the thread?
posted by soylent00FF00 at 3:43 PM on June 29, 2016


The whole concept of an "active thread on subject x" is a pretty nebulous one on Metafilter for a casual user as there is basically no way to know what is considered active or not unless one happens to see a mod comment about it.

It seems like a comments/hour measurement would be useful here, perhaps weighed in with favorites to give the popular posts list.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:27 PM on July 3, 2016


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