Good. Threading simply does not work on the Web. I've only ever seen it done two ways, and both suck beyond belief.
The first is the Slashdot/Plastic model. It's hard to make out where subthreads start and end. If you decide to read each subthread as separate entities, it takes forever to load a page, then go back a page, load another one, on and on. And if you read them straight, and the topic has any popularity whatsoever, the Slashcode ends up generating so many levels of nested tables that it can take the browser 90 seconds to interpret and display the page. Which, as we all know, is intolerable. The average user will abandon a web page entirely if at least some amount of the text hasn't appeared within seven seconds of starting to load.
The other is the CompuServe model. Check out their forums, which were once the envy of the Internet for both their quantity and quality of activity, and see how switching to the web while trying to retain their old threaded style has completely, totally destroyed them. You will quite possibly determine it to be the single worst interface ever put onto the web.
aaron, I believe it was, mentioned that he would be willing to run a Metafilter mailing list if there were any call for it.
Yes, but I didn't really propose it for exclusively sub-topic content. And I agree with others above that it wouldn't work. It would require everyone who wanted to participate in the subthread to be subscribed, and would also force all subscribers to be subjected to all subthreads whether they care about them or not.
What I want a mailing list for is simple community building. The single flaw of MeFi, IMHO, is that our Prime Directive is "Keep your personal life off the front page links." That means, by default, that our only opportunities to open up about ourselves are on the rare occasions that a thread comes up about a subject that we have personal anecdotes about. Otherwise, we're just all names on a board, with varying levels of anonymity, that we never learn much about or interact with except to debate stuff. A mailing list would allow more of a real community to gel, to create actual friendships.
The problem of keeping anonymity is easily solved. Digests would be available to keep those with limited email space from going crazy. And I'm not sure it would be any more of an A-list than MetaTalk is already. Not all MeFites every come over here, though they're all allowed to at any time. Likewise, MeFites could join the mailing list at any time. The problems of exclusivity and obscure references on MeFi itself could be fixed by making all mailing list posts available via a web interface. Any MeFite could browse them at will. And when you bring up something that was list-only, you'd just link to the thread.
posted by aaron at 11:16 PM on March 6, 2001 [1 favorite]