Proposal to make it easier to make lists on AskMetafilter April 19, 2023 5:12 AM   Subscribe

Because I like the podcast True Stories I am on their Facebook fan page and someone there asked what other podcasts do you like. There were many responses, many repeats, very hard to read and keep track in my head. So I made a paper list. People often ask for what other (blank) do you like? here and I haven't made a paper list yet, I usually just bookmark the page and never come back to it. In Evernote web clipper I can chose to "save simplified article" which cuts out all the chaff. I would love something similar on AskMeta. My wishes:

Click at the top somewhere and every link becomes an entry in a list that is on a separate page, without all the commenting and blah, blah
Ability for people to second, third, fourth, etc. the recommendation
Empty checkmark box so you can check if you have tried it out

I realise this is probably impossible but saying it anyway!

OK, thanks for listening.
posted by cda to Feature Requests at 5:12 AM (14 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

This would have been an amazing feature to have on the recent 50-best-SF thread--there were a TON of recommendations, so many it was a little hard to keep track of.
posted by mittens at 5:47 AM on April 19, 2023 [3 favorites]

This sounds like a GREAT idea.

I doubt MetaFilter has the internal resources to build this right now, but I wonder whether someone might be able to build a Greasemonkey script or something that would do this.

Thanks for sharing the idea, cda!
posted by kristi at 8:03 AM on April 19, 2023 [1 favorite]

There are some browser addons that make it simple to extract all the links in a page, but people have to actually link the item to make it useful.

Agree that this is a lot to ask from MF programmers right now. I feel like this type of collaborative list making could be done on other sites if someone was to manage it. For example with the SF books, a list on goodreads would allow people to add books and others to upvote that book. It takes some tending to keep out spam though, usually by the person who created the list. It also requires people to have another account to upvote. Additions to the list can be memailed to the creator.
posted by soelo at 8:39 AM on April 19, 2023 [1 favorite]

It would certainly be easy to write a userscript or Chrome extension to extract links, maybe with some de-duping and MeFi-specific features like including the username of the answer/comment in which each link appears.

However, as soelo suggests, the data doesn’t currently seem to be there to make a purely link-based solution especially useful, and I’d be wary of discouraging participation by requiring people to dig up a URL in order to recommend something. Especially for something like a podcast where there are many different ways to access it.

Maybe we could establish a simple convention like (I don’t have a strong opinion on the actual syntax, this is more a “type of thing” suggestion):

[+] “Bob and Carol” by Ted Alice

[+] Cuisinart DBM-8

[+] Shutter Island (2010)

with a recommendation by itself on a line, link optional, which a script could process unambiguously. With commentary on the following line? For “seconding” you could just use the same symbol or a variation to acknowledge you’ve seen the previous reference:

[++] Bob and Carol

We could do some clever string matching to aggregate partial names with full, quoted with italicized, linked with non-linked, etc.
posted by staggernation at 9:11 AM on April 19, 2023

Making summarized recommendation lists from threads is a minor hobby of mine: (there are others in my profile), and I can tell you there are some complications.

People unfortunately often don't make nice automatically extractable links like
The Cuisinart DBM-8 is a good food processor
That would be nice, but what we often do is
My favourite food processor is this one.
and you'll miss things like
I got a Kwyjibo food processor for my birthday, this model, and let me tell you, buddy, it's utter trash
A list like
  • this one
  • see here
  • this
isn't going to be that useful for people, requires further processing, and misses other context. Unless staggernation's suggestion that we start creating readily ingestible links takes off (unlikely given Mefites' tendency towards persnicketiness), any autolist is probably a non-starter.

If you are grabbing links for further processing, I recommend XPath Helper.
posted by zamboni at 1:05 PM on April 19, 2023 [1 favorite]

Ooo we have a "insert link" button...what about an "insert bullet point" one, with a site convention of if you suggest something, or are making a list, you use the bullet point thing. Not perfect but.

Or convention alone, it would be cool to have [o] or something so you could "find in page" for AskMe. Worth kicking around.
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:21 PM on April 19, 2023

Bearing in mind the current resource limits to create scripts to automate this... I think it's a good idea. I have frequently gone to make lists in posts or comments and experienced various issues suggested above.

I humbly suggest that we should not establish new conventions for making posts, which users would have to remember or follow when creating a post. We should not make posting harder. Adding extra labor to the creation of posts does not seem to me to be a useful step, both generally and at this time in particular (funding, membership, etc.).
posted by cupcakeninja at 6:09 AM on April 20, 2023

I'm not going to address the links issue because it's beyond me, but I would like to enthusiastically nth the idea of being able to easily create bulleted lists, particularly in AskMe. I've tried to do it manually in answers multiple times and something always breaks and it looks funny. A formatting button that did it for me would be super helpful.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:56 PM on April 20, 2023

Hey, if we're asking for additional formatting widgets, I'd also love
posted by zamboni at 2:30 PM on April 20, 2023 [1 favorite]

Any chance we can add the option to use markdown styles?
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 1:27 AM on April 21, 2023 [1 favorite]

(I'm reasonably confident blockquote is supported in comments in at least MeTa and AskMe, not sure about other subsites.)
posted by box at 5:41 AM on April 21, 2023

Blockquote is supported but I think zamboni was talking about adding a button to insert it without having to type the tags. Honestly, I don’t see adding more “dumb” HTML formatting buttons to the current B/I/link palette as a real game-changer... Markdown support could be, though.
posted by staggernation at 6:39 AM on April 21, 2023 [1 favorite]

Blockquote is supported but I think zamboni was talking about adding a button to insert it without having to type the tags.

Yes. One small tell that I am already aware that blockquote is one of the permitted tags is that my previous comment includes a blockquote.
posted by zamboni at 7:10 AM on April 21, 2023

I humbly suggest that we should not establish new conventions for making posts, which users would have to remember or follow when creating a post.

There's so many conventions here already, I get it. But none of them are a requirement.
posted by tiny frying pan at 7:26 PM on April 21, 2023 [2 favorites]

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