Make Metafilter better for me! March 16, 2001 11:39 AM   Subscribe

I have a few ideas on how Metafilter could be tuned to work better for the way I use it. I'm not guaranteeing anyone else would even care. Read my description of how I read MeFi and what features would make it easier for me inside.
posted by daveadams to Feature Requests at 11:39 AM (5 comments total)

If it's not easy for you inside, wait'll you get on the outside.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:45 AM on March 16, 2001

How I Use Metafilter

Each time I visit (at least once a day (except perhaps on weekends), sometimes two or three times), I scroll down the page (quickly) until I stop seeing white "new" comment markers. Then I scroll up (slowly this time), and judge whether I want to visit each thread based on a few factors:

(1) How many new comments have been posted -- even posts I don't think I would find interesting can generate interesting (to me) discussions... if a thread is popular, I may enjoy reading it.

(2) Whether the topic sounds interesting and/or I remember not enjoying the discussion -- some topics I could care less about, or sometimes threads venture off in a different direction than I would find interesting, even if I think the original post is intriguing.

(3) Whether I remember that I posted to that thread -- I'm intensely curious to see how others responded to what I posted. Unlike aaron or rcade, I don't always get a reaction, but I crave a good response like I imagine a crack addict craves his next hit.

As I scroll up, I decide which threads are worthwhile and shift-click them open in new windows. Usually I do a few at a time. More rarely I do one at a time, and sometimes I just go through and do them all (resulting in a whole damn lot of IE windows crowding up my task bar). Then I go across the task bar from right to left, opening the windows in the order I clicked them (I also shift-click open the links that the posts point to if it's new or I want to revisit... I do that before clicking the comments link so I can see the destination first (and so I don't have to remember if there's an article I need to read before joining a discussion).

I never utilize the alternate viewing options, and for whatever reason (I think bc the page loads too slowly maybe?) the link-to-oldest-comment-since-you-last-visited never jumps to the appropriate anchor in the page (IE 5.5, Win2k) for me, so I don't use it either... I just scroll down to where I remember stopping before.

The most valuable feature to me (as indicated by my #1 criterion above) is the number-of-new-comments-since-your-last-visit indicator. I'd say (not having done any scientific measurements) that that feature accounts for nearly 90% of my decision whether or not to visit a thread. I believe that reloading the home page (as you would if you switched viewing options) clears out that new comment indicator. Therefore the "my comments" feature isn't as helpful to me as it could be.

What I (Think I) Want From Metafilter

Here's what I think would make my visits more productive (and possibly more prolific, so implement at your own risk, Matt!):

(1) An icon or other indicator per-thread on the default front page that tells me I have a comment in the thread. Even better if it would tell me how many times I've commented (so I can detect threads that I have been particularly interested in).

(2) A way for me to check off which threads I want to pay attention to next time and which I'd probably rather ignore. This in particular may be a feature of MyMeFi, I'm not sure. In my dreams, the threads I like would be noted perhaps with a slight change of text color or an obvious icon. The threads I have marked as not liking would be dimmer (this is the more important of the color-shifts). Using the fantastic capabilities of CSS, there should be on-page (no reloading) capabilities to hide threads-I-hate or to only show threads-I-love. But the key is to add these functions without disturbing the new-comment-indicator. Note that this feature could also be used to provide alternate sorts on the posts based on which threads more people like or hate (again, probably part of MyMeFi).

(3) I had a third, but I can't think of it now.


Anyway, that's my wishlist. I don't expect any of it to be implemented, but it's what I would do if I had infinite time and energy and decision-making power over Metafilter's interface (not that I have any of those things). I know Matt has better things to do with his time and energy, and I certainly can't complain about the current state of MeFi. It's great just the way it is now.

Anyway, any feedback? If anyone actually read all that, I'd be impressed.


sonofsamiam, bite me. :)
posted by daveadams at 12:05 PM on March 16, 2001

On your usage:

I scroll down too, and I think I stole this method from someone else, but scrolling all the way to the bottom, hitting ctrl-f (ie5.5 on win2k or 98 depending on whether I'm at work or home) and searching for "w)" up. It's a quick keystroke combo for me, ctrl-f w) alt-u enter.

if you reload the home page within 15 minutes of your first visit to it, it doesn't refresh your "last visited" information, so all the comments that were marked as new are still marked as new. I still don't use the various filters, but that's saved my MeFi adventures once or twice when I accidentally forget to open a page in a new window.

I like the thought of (1) in the What [you] Want section, and (2)s a nifty idea I wouldn't argue with.

At the same time, I'm not sure how much I'd use them. I tend to browse MeFi mostly the same as I did 6 months ago.
posted by cCranium at 12:39 PM on March 16, 2001

When matt added the various views, he also improved the new comments code. I used to lose my new comment counts on occasion but never do anymore.
posted by sudama at 8:55 PM on March 16, 2001

One solution to the vanishing-new-comment-flag problem, which seems to underly a lot of the other problems, is the one I use on Edgecase: track visits by thread. The Edgecase db has a 'threadhits' table with userid, threadid, and timestamp. When you hit a discussion, the script saves a threadhit record noting the fact; if you revisit the discussion, it writes a new timestamp. When printing the homepage (or any list of articles) it uses the timestamp to determine how many comments have been posted since your last visit.

Perhaps you considered and rejected this approach - the disk space involved is trivially small for Edgecase, but I can see how it might become prohibitive for Metafilter - but I figured I'd throw it out here just in case.

posted by Mars Saxman at 6:35 PM on March 23, 2001

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