Off-topic, off-color March 13, 2001 9:44 AM   Subscribe

I was just reading over the QuickTopics thread, and a thought came to mind that a solution akin to what Raging Bull used to do, namely offering a check box in the posting area that actually allows the poster to self-label their comment as off-topic (OT) or not.

Basically, all the posts that are self-labeled as off-topic would show-up as a less contrasting text color (say a bluish-white, or something) in the thread. This will give users a visual clue that can help them better navigate the thread. I'm also thinking that a little glyph out on the main page to indicate off-topic material might also be useful, if only to invite the curious into the thread. This might, though, encourage too much OT. I don't know.

What do you think?
posted by silusGROK to Feature Requests at 9:44 AM (3 comments total)

I like this idea, as a whole. It keeps the single-threaded style we obviously prefer (and that, arguably, makes MeFi a good discussion place) but it also allows for some minor off-topicality, which we have anyway.

I don't like the idea of a main page indicator, for a couple of reasonably minor reasons.

The off-topic indicator on the main page would basically draw people in for the off-topic discussion, which kind of goes against the "Keep things on topic" mentality we prefer to promote. Basically I just think the thread itself should be the draw.

It'd also be annoying to code. Checking all of a threads comments while rendering the main page seems like a waste of processing time to me, but I'm not sure how deeply into the comments the various sql commands already go, so that may be moot.

Front-page clutter's already a concern, why bog it down more?

And, truthfully, it'd probably be easier to put an icon showing which threads don't have an off-topic post in them.

I do like the idea of some off-topic indicator though, it's a nifty one.
posted by cCranium at 12:14 PM on March 13, 2001

If people self-policed that well, maybe they wouldn't go so off topic in the first place? I think if you want to go whole hog on this, you'd need a karma indicator or something so other people could say they thought you were off topic [or -- my favorite -- have a separate killfile cookie for people you never want to hear from again]

My guess is the problem children won't do it, or it will become a semantic nightmare "well, my topic was on-topic to the off topic post, you can't censor me with off-topic off-blue!"

I agree that main-page indicators are probably out.

posted by jessamyn at 9:49 PM on March 13, 2001

Going off-topic is a natural part of dialogue. Everyone at MeFi (not to mention a good deal of us here at MeTalk) goes off-topic.

The folks at Raging Bull don't have a problem noting their straying thoughts.

This indication is merely a reading aid for everyone else.

And, with a little thought, I'd have to agree with both of you on the front-page indicator.
posted by silusGROK at 6:42 AM on March 14, 2001

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