Email Reminder Request March 22, 2003 3:34 PM   Subscribe

this isn't a request for matt, really (i know there are lots of those) - i think anyone could do this with a little screen-scraping and not too much server load. how about a daily (or 6/12 hourly? or step-wise, every 1, 4, 16, 64 replies...) email service to tell you if there have been any replies to threads you've posted on. this would be for those of us who only post a couple of comments or less a day - helps keep you in the discussion without having to run through threads checking for possible responses.
posted by andrew cooke to Feature Requests at 3:34 PM (15 comments total)

(yes, "anyone" could include me. if i thought i would have the time to do it i would; i don't so i just wondered if anyone was interested)
posted by andrew cooke at 3:36 PM on March 22, 2003

What would be involved in creating a MeFi API so that weekend hackers could more directly access and repurpose MetaFilter data without the need to scrape or ask Matt to do more work?

Is it an hours worth of work or a month's worth of work, and Matt - if you check in here, is that something you might find to be an interesting project?

It seems like every week or so, somebody has a suggestion for some bit of something, and I expect a lot of people could do a lot of cool things if they could more directly access the data.
posted by willnot at 5:06 PM on March 22, 2003

Oh, man. I'm actually literally salivating at that idea.
posted by webmutant at 5:34 PM on March 22, 2003

Once again: You guys!
posted by y2karl at 5:43 PM on March 22, 2003

See up there where it says "There have been X links and Y comments posted since your last visit"? Right below that it says "Sort by date." Simply change to "Sort by my comments." Enjoy. (Yes, it would require your actually going to MeFi every once in a while rather than lying back and waiting for e-mails; on the other hand, it wouldn't require anybody else doing any work.)
posted by languagehat at 6:31 PM on March 22, 2003 has a email notify system that I find handy.

While I am at it, they also have a system that only downloads a certain amount of posts at one time, which I imagine saves some bandwidth. This also means you don't have to go back to the beginning of the thread in question unless you really really want to. Is this something that could be feasible here-at least for some of the megaposts that pop up once in awhile?
posted by konolia at 7:53 PM on March 22, 2003

languagehat, what is your problem? why the snarky tone? got something stuck up your arse? fyi: some of us enjoy writing code that "does fun stuff". i tried to make it as clear as possible that this was something i thought someone might be interested in, not something someone should feel obliged to do. how much clearer can i make it? i certainly wasn't asking *you* to do it, and i made it explicit that i wasn't asking matt, so just who are you defending so righteously?

otoh, thanks for the sort-by tip. i'd forgotten about that as i use lofi.
posted by andrew cooke at 8:16 PM on March 22, 2003

oh, simmer down--we're all stressed.
do as I say, not as I do, in other words.
posted by y2karl at 8:20 PM on March 22, 2003

harumph. here's a link instead (and it's not bloody kittens either). i'm going to bed.
posted by andrew cooke at 8:31 PM on March 22, 2003

andrew: Sorry if I sounded too snarky; I was about to post the comment up through "Enjoy" when I realized it didn't address the notification issue, so I tacked on the () without really checking for tone. The moments between Preview and Post are always dangerous. Anyway, as y2karl says, we're all stressed. A round of Tolerance for the house, barkeep!
posted by languagehat at 8:44 PM on March 22, 2003

You want email summaries of replies to threads you post on? It seems pretty self-defeating to me - unless you're still involved in week-old threads, the odds are every thread will have had comments added to it by the time the emails go out - that's the linear nature of comments on Metafilter, compared to fully threaded sites where replies really are to you.
posted by Jimbob at 11:07 PM on March 22, 2003

JoelonSoftware would have some interesting things to say about emailing people about comments they have made. The article is here, but to paraphrase badly, he says... "If you email people to say that they've received a reply to comments they have made, then people will stop coming to your site."

Metafilter will stop being about reading other peoples comments (a by product of that "Press F5 to see if anybody has responded to me" situation), and will start being about people making a comment, going away and not coming back unless somebody replies to a comment they made.

Again - from the article (above)
If you eliminate (emailing comments), people are left with no choice but to check back every once in a while. And while they're checking back, they might read another post which looks interesting.

Technically, it's an interesting idea, but I don't think it would be good for the community.
posted by seanyboy at 12:29 AM on March 23, 2003

I can see it lowering the quality of discussion by removing the element of thoughtfullness before posting. Inasmuch as we do think before posting.

I'm reflecting on my 20-something Usenet days, when locked in mortal thread-combat I would poll newsgroups for signs of replies from my foe. I'm sure your motives are pure, but this could be an evil tool in the hands of the egotistical. I know I would find it too much of a temptation...

Check twice a day, and be content. I find usually someone else has said what I wanted to, but better. Or worse, but well enough.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:38 AM on March 23, 2003

ah well. it wasn't summaries, necessarily, just something to say "hey, you have conversations here, here and here". i'm not sure mefi needs to worry about losing eyeballs, but maybe encouraging back-and-forth flame fests isn't the best idea in the world.

willnot - that's kind-of what rss feeds are all about, isn't it? or, at least, i think they could be used that way. in the (glorious) future, sites will all have valid xhtml (don't know about this one), formatting based on logical structure, and presentation controlled by xsl and css. then the page itself would be what you'd need and screen-scraping would become the norm, rather than a flaky regular-expression filled black art.

languagehat - ok/sorry/big tearful hugs.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:22 AM on March 23, 2003

sorry, nerdy correction: sites would provide xml data and xsl processing instructions which together generate xhtml for browsers. the xml data alone is what you'd need for screen-scraping (and it doesn't have to be - and normally wouldn't be - xhtml). and the url might be an xquery statement and....
posted by andrew cooke at 4:31 AM on March 23, 2003

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