Reader View works differently on different subsites January 21, 2023 12:36 AM   Subscribe

The discussion in this Meta about reader-friendly Mefi pages had a side discussion about reader view and how it's not very consistent across sites. I suspect that Matter (an iOS read-it-later app) uses reader view and I've noticed a discrepancy: posts from Mefi Blue are saved with both the post and the comments, but posts from AskMefi only have the original question, no comments. I haven't tried it on other subsites yet, nor do I know how this works with other read-it-later apps, so if others can chime it that'd be great!
posted by creatrixtiara to Bugs at 12:36 AM (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

On further experimentation, updating what I wrote in the previous thread:

The difference in how Firefox's reader mode works may or may not depend on which subsite a thread is from, whether there's a [more inside] section or not, how many comments there are, or the whims of the gods. It's really quite thrilling.

My results on a very small sample:
1. MetaTalk with [more inside] - post but no comments
2. MetaTalk without [more inside] - post and some (but not all!!?) comments
3. AskMe with [more inside] - post but no comments
4. AskMe without [more inside] - post but no comments
5. MeFi with [more inside] - post and some (but not all!!?) comments
6. MeFi without [more inside] - post but no comments
7. FanFare with [more inside] - post but no comments
8. FanFare without [more inside] - post and some (but not all!!?) comments

On the posts where comments were partially displayed, in one case they capped out at 10 comments and in the other two cases at 11 comments.

Anyone want to quickly try the above threads with other readers (Matter, Pocket, non-Firefox browsers, etc.)?

Alternatively, try out other threads with and without [more inside] sections and see if you get the same results. (If comments seem to be displayed, compare how many comments display versus the actual number of comments that should be there.)
posted by trig at 5:32 AM on January 21

Part of the issue here may be that reader apps are designed for reading a static piece of content, not one that’s expected to be augmented over time. So even if the structure of the page markup isn’t causing it to ignore the comments entirely, it may be caching the text of a given page when it has no or few comments (i.e. you or another user has already viewed the same URL) and not re-fetching it to pick up the current/latest set of comments.
posted by staggernation at 5:42 AM on January 21 [2 favorites]

I have never, as far as I know, been able to read comments while using the Reader version of the site on Safari in iOS or on Safari on a Mac. Of the links trig posted, I see either the post title+text but not comments, or just the post title, when I am accessing it via Safari on a Mac. I just tried FF on a Mac, and the results are exactly what trig posted.
posted by cupcakeninja at 6:18 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]

Part of the issue here may be that reader apps are designed for reading a static piece of content, not one that’s expected to be augmented over time.

That does not seem to be the case for Firefox's reader view. Among other things, the pages that do show the post content display a correct total comment count that gets updated in reader view the same as it does in regular view. Also, the comments displayed in reader view aren't, as you'd expect, the first X comments. Instead, they seem like almost a random selection, including comments at the bottom of the page. I'm pretty sure FF's reader view is not working off of cached content but off of whatever your browser was displaying in normal view. (To enter reader view, you first have to load the page in normal view and then press the reader view button.)

There may or may not be anything Metafilter can do about this. I linked what seems to be the actual code for Firefox's reader view in the previous thread if anyone wants to take a look at what's causing some but not all comments to be omitted, and if it's the same thing that is causing all comments to be omitted on other threads.

Again, all the different reader views probably have their own implementations and work in different ways.
posted by trig at 7:18 AM on January 21

There's at least one active Mefite who works at Firefox; might be worth consulting with them if they're agreeable.
posted by trig at 7:23 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]

(Thanks for trying the links out, cupcakeninja!)
posted by trig at 7:24 AM on January 21 [1 favorite]

Right, I assume browsers would show a reader view based on the current version of the page (which you’ve already loaded before accessing the feature)—it’s with offline reading apps like Matter or Pocket that I would expect some caching to be involved.
posted by staggernation at 7:28 AM on January 21

Yup. But as mentioned - everything I wrote is about Firefox's built-in reader view. I have never tried any of the offline apps. If someone with an offline app account wants to take a moment to actually try it out, that would be informative. Otherwise we're just guessing.
posted by trig at 7:35 AM on January 21

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