Pony: remote new comment notification July 31, 2002 9:35 PM   Subscribe

Let me preface this by saying that I am not looking to give mathowie more work to do. Having said that, I was wondering if there is a non-labor-intensive way by which I can be notified when new comments have been added to threads I've commented in without visiting the site and sorting by my comments?
posted by EatenByAGrue to Feature Requests at 9:35 PM (24 comments total)

Perhaps by making use of some combination of the RSS feed already provided by mathowie and Perl or another scripting language? I'm envisioning something like the web service APIs google.com and Amazon.com provide, although that may be overkill for what I'm envisioning (as well as opening ways in which the Metafilter server could be taxed even more). Heck, I could probably use the google metafilter.com cache to do it, if it was updated often enough for my tastes (which I don't believe it currently is).

The reason why I ask for the pony is that sometimes it seems that threads will no longer be checked if no one has responded to anything in it within a reasonable length of time, so I want to be able to respond promptly to responsive comments such that the original replier will still be looking for responses and thus will respond herself, keeping the dialogue flowing.

If it seems that I'm merely being lazy by not coming to the site and sorting by my comments on a more regular basis, perhaps I am. But it is difficult for me to check metafilter 50 times a day, whereas my e-mail is always checking and notifying me when I've gotten something.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 9:35 PM on July 31, 2002

MetaFilter would be listed a spammer faster than you can type it out. :)
posted by riffola at 9:52 PM on July 31, 2002

Getting here is half the fun.

Plus, if you were to always post inflammatory comments people would email you directly to tell you how much they hate you, so maybe that's an option.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:54 PM on July 31, 2002

skallas, I think implementing something such as you suggest might unreasonably tax the meager resources of the metafilter server. Maybe not if only one person did it, but I don't want to contribute to the burden any more than I have to. So yes, I could probably do this, but I don't know if it is wise to. But I'm not asking Matt to do anything extra, just wondering if something already exists that could be adapted for my purposes. That way, no additional metafilter resources used, just resources on my end. Although come to think of it, virtually anything I request will have be generated in real-time, so perhaps this is a quest with no good end.

Oh, but thanks for the tip, mr_crash_davis. But unfortunately, my metafilter e-mail goes to an account that is only used for sign-ups, so I infrequently check it.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 10:12 PM on July 31, 2002

so you want an email every time someone comments in your thread?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:40 PM on July 31, 2002

With perhaps a detailed evaluation by Matt of how he thinks the thread is going and whether your comment is being paid the attention it deserves? ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:57 PM on July 31, 2002

No, he wants an e-mail every time someone comments in any thread that he has commented in.

And a pony, possibly. :)

(s/he/she as necessary, EBAG)
posted by cortex at 11:05 PM on July 31, 2002

Actually, I wouldn't mind having a pony, but not from metafilter, cortex. It would probably just end up walking in circles and neighing to itself. But yes, you are essentially correct that that is what I want, except maybe only the first time someone comments after I comment in a thread would be sufficient. But cause I want to be clear that I'm not asking mathowie to do any work, I reiterate that I was only wondering if existing metafilter technology could be adapted for this use, not that new technology be created. In other words, mathowie, please spend no efforts on my behalf.

Sorry if my post makes me seem unreasonably lazy. Probably cause I am.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 11:53 PM on July 31, 2002

Speaking of taxing the server -- given that threads older than 30 days can no longer get new comments, would requesting the My Comments page be made less demanding on resources if you were to remove such threads (older than 30 days) from the query?
posted by mattpfeff at 4:21 AM on August 1, 2002

Disclaimer: I know nothing about php.

With that said, my favorite "forum" software, wwwthreads v.5.4.2, does a really nifty thing. Using cookies, it remembers where you left off reading in a thread, and when you revisit that thread, it drops you down the thread to the first unread message. I love that feature and think it would be absolutely fantastic to incorporate something like it here.

It also has little icons next to threads that have new comments since your last visit, but I don't really care for that feature as much.

The wwwthreads website appears to be down at the moment ... I hope my explanation is clear enough for now.
posted by acridrabbit at 4:24 AM on August 1, 2002

so you want an email every time someone comments in your thread?

I'd subscribe to threads from time to time. I like to automate my obsessions whenever possible.
posted by sudama at 4:27 AM on August 1, 2002

acridrabbit, how much do you know about ColdFusion? (It's what MeFi uses :-)

You should see a "( x new )" note on the front page that tells how many new threads there are. That note is a link to the newest post in the thread.

I'd subscribe to threads from time to time.

Having a "subscribe to this thread" feature that only sends notification when the user specifically requests it, rather than every thread a user's commented in, would be pretty neat.
posted by cCranium at 7:08 AM on August 1, 2002

That note is a link to the newest post in the thread.

You should say 'the oldest new post' or something else true.
posted by sudama at 7:34 AM on August 1, 2002

That note is a link to the newest post in the thread.

Most of the time, though, that number is out of date for me, since I usually have MeFi up in a separate window for hours at a time. Even when I browse off somewhere elese for awhile, when I come back the comment count is often still the same. So maybe that's not the easiest way to determine whether new comments have been posted.
posted by me3dia at 8:26 AM on August 1, 2002

There's a feature in pMachine that lets you toggle a check box to determine wether or not you receive an email when there are new comments on a thread you commented on. It's pretty handy if you want to stay involved in a thread without constantly going back to the site. I use it at LABlogs.com but the comment frequency is much much lower compared to MeFi.
posted by jonah at 9:13 AM on August 1, 2002

Wasn't there an AIM bot for MeFi that would im you with new threads (or was it new comments?)? I remember having it for a while, but removing it because it was im'ing me so often, so I can't remember the name.
posted by thatothrgirl at 9:29 AM on August 1, 2002

memepusher used to be that AIM bot. memepusher is sleeping now.
posted by anildash at 10:21 AM on August 1, 2002

EAB, it's not a question of workload for me, I just don't think I want the send out that much email.

I don't know what the average number of comments per post is right now, but I'm gonna guess it's about 30 or so. If you make the 12th comment, that would mean the server would be sending out 18 emails to you that day, for that post. If you watched another post, you'd get more. If more than one person was using this feature, the server could very easily be sending out hundreds of messages each day.

Now, I don't know about you, but I'd find getting 18 emails in a day about some post to be somewhat annoying. Evolt.org does this on their system by default and I've always found it only marginally useful. I'm wondering if instead you'd want an hourly check, then an email if new comments came in? I'm sure there should also be an instant unsubscribe, especially if the post gets to be popular (over 100 comments, which happens once every couple of days).

My biggest fear is abuse. I could easily see getting the server and subnetwork I'm hosted on reported to spamcop when someone puts their friend's (or enemy's) email address in their profile and starts a flamefest that quickly nabs 50+ comments. If/when that happens, those types of things are often blacklist first, ask questions later, and other people using that network would quickly find their email bouncing as some email systems refuse messages from blacklisted domains. That's a big risk to take for a feature like this, and I'm hesitant to do it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:31 AM on August 1, 2002

me3dia, want to reset your last visit to mefi properly? close your browser before revisiting.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:32 AM on August 1, 2002

Will do, Matt. I wasn't complaining, just pointing out that the the new link counter isn't necessarily an effective way of monitoring threads.
posted by me3dia at 12:21 PM on August 1, 2002

right, and I'm not mad at you and didn't think it was complaining, just that if you really want it to work, close your browser before revisits and your session variables will definitely be reset. It works perfectly for me, when I do it this way on both my mac and my pc, with both IE and mozilla.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:19 PM on August 1, 2002

OK, thanks all for your help. mathowie, like I said before, I'm not looking for notification of every comment, just that commenting has occurred. So in your example, if I was the 12th poster, I would receive an e-mail after the 13th post, and then no more (unless I posted to the thread again, in which case I'd receive another e-mail if someone comments after me again). Mail volume in this case would be much lower, since you'd only be getting an e-mail per (your) comment per thread commented in, instead of per (everyone's) comment per thread commented in. So for a person like me that may only make one or two comments a week, mail volume would be very low, regardless of the size of the threads I commented in. I think even someone like MiguelCardoso doesn't comment in more than a (perhaps large) handful of threads a day. Perhaps some workable variation of the ideas you describe in the last two sentences of the second paragraph of your comment?

sudama and cCranium, I like your idea of subscribing to threads, which is very similar to what I am looking for, except I'd probably subscribe to every thread I commented in.

skallas or anyone, do you know how often the front page is generated? If it is pretty infrequent, then I probably wouldn't get what I wanted by sorting by my comments either.

Anyway, thanks for not flaming me for a quite possibly unreasonable and unworkable idea.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 12:38 AM on August 2, 2002

I like the idea of subscribing to threads I don't comment in. They're even harder to keep a handle on. If I could hit a button to subscribe and then sort by my subscribed threads, that would be handy. But it's just an idea, not a request for a pony.
posted by walrus at 2:10 AM on August 2, 2002

am i missing something here - doesn't internet explorer (mac and pc) provide this functionality?

i'm pretty sure you can set it up to check bookmarked pages and see if they have changed
posted by sawks at 8:15 AM on August 3, 2002

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