Ambiguous lack of "in reply to" label on immediate replies

(sparr) #1

When you reply to a comment immediately after that comment, the “in reply to” bit gets left off the top of your reply. This makes your reply indistinguishable from a reply to the thread (posted with the +Reply button at the bottom of the page). A slight distinction might appear later, if the parent comment gets a second reply, but normally this ambiguity remains.

Continuing the discussion from Nested comments instead of just reply-to-username:

(Jason) #2

This isn’t really a bug as that behavior is by design.

Not saying your concern is invalid or anything, but using another category would’ve been better and you should keep in mind that you’ll have to convince them why doing it your way is better than how they have already decided to do it.

(sparr) #3

leaving off the “in reply to” from immediate replies may be intentional, but the ambiguity of the two sorts of replies remains a bug. the fix for that bug might be putting an “in reply to” on replies to the thread, instead, but that would appear rather inconsistent.

(Jason) #4

Eh, I think it’s fairly obvious in most cases. If there’s no “in reply to” you’re either replying to the OP/general topic of the thread or you’re replying to the post directly above yours. Context will generally make it clear which is being done, ambiguity in that would mostly result from poorly written posts.

Just pointing out this is a feature request really and you need to try and convince the devs your way is better, it’s not a bug if the software is working exactly as intended.

(sparr) #5

You’re wrong about how obvious it is in cases of ambiguity.

(who am I replying to here? I could be disagreeing with jpeg, or with sparr.)

(ZeroIron) #6

I had created a thread showing how replies worked with the thread itself. I don’t really care for it, but I can see what they were trying to do. I still think it is confusing. It seems like an issue of consistency or ambiguity vs a little cleaner layout or less repeated information.

The mentioned thread is gone now, as I created it in the try section of the site.

@sparr Makes a pretty good case here

[quote=“sparr, post:5, topic:1528, full:true”]You’re wrong about how obvious it is in cases of ambiguity.

(who am I replying to here? I could be disagreeing with jpeg, or with sparr.)[/quote]

(Jason) #7

Well I would argue that your post is also intentionally short and poorly written to be ambiguous :stuck_out_tongue:

But seriously, I don’t actually care which way it is done. Mostly just guessing at why the devs have it the way it currently is. Though I also think have an “in reply to” at the top of almost every single post would be a little annoying especially for those that are just replying to the post immediately above, but at the same time it would remove ambiguity like you’re saying so neither situation seems completely ideal to me.

(sparr) #8

I don’t think the way it currently is was a single decision. I think it was two decisions that interfere in a negative and unanticipated fashion.

Developer A thinks “Don’t put in-reply-to on immediate replies” makes sense

Developer B thinks “Don’t put in-reply-to on replies to the thread” makes sense

They are both right. It’s the combination of those decisions that causes the problem.

(Brad Westness) #9

Also somewhat confusing/ambiguous is the distinction between replying to the thread and replying to the OP.

(sparr) #10

(hamburglar) #11

I agree that the behavior is a bit weird. If there’s one post in a thread, clicking the Reply button in that post and clicking the Reply button at the bottom of the thread should do the same thing: it’s a reply to the OP.

In addition, I think Discourse should be a bit agressive about making sure more posts are tagged as replies to previous posts. It’s very easy to intend to reply to the last post, but instead just click the thread’s Reply button, and in that case, information is lost. Perhaps it should actually prompt you in certain circumstances when you submit your post and say “was this intended to be a reply to a particular post? if so, click that post now” (alright, that one should probably be run past some professional interaction designers, but you get the idea :smile:)

EDIT: heh, case in point: I quoted post 9 above, but because I had already started writing my post using the thread’s Reply button, it does not consider my post a reply to any specific post. So perhaps part of that aggressiveness would be that if a new post is not a reply to any given post, but it does quote a post, tag it as a reply to that post. And I’ll put in another plug for “is a reply to” to be a many-to-many relationship, since you can quote multiple posts.

(Jeff Atwood) #12

@hamburglar incorrect. The blockquote in your post ties your reply to the post it quoted. Try expanding the replies to that post and you’ll see. One post can reply to dozens or even hundreds of previous posts, provided you blockquote them all…

(In general, blockquotes are a better, clearer, more flexible way of tying conversations together on a flat forum than reliance on single reply metadata. So if you want to have a policy, make it “blockquote all the things”. Remember the first toolbar button pulls in the full body of the reply in a quote if that’s what you want.)

As for in-reply-to suppression on immediate replies, we tried this both ways and it is very noisy when you don’t suppress the indicator in the following conditions:

  • when there is exactly 1 reply
  • when that reply is directly under the post it is replying to

Locality means a lot in conversations, and when one person stops talking and another starts talking, the vast, vast, vast majority of the time they are responding to what was just said.

This is now a site setting, so if you want reply indicator to show up in all cases, flip it on for your Discourse instance. Problem solved.

Reply doesn't show the replied to @username/post link
(hamburglar) #13

Oh, that is cool. Does that mean that selecting part of a post and clicking the “quote reply” popup sets up the same sort of relationship between the quoted post and the response as if I had actually clicked the “<- Reply” button at the bottom of the quoted post? If so, that’s exactly what I’ve been asking for; the decision to suppress the “in-reply-to” badge on the reply was just obscuring that that behavior already existed.

(Jeff Atwood) #14

Yes, it does.

There are several ways to quote earlier posts:

  • highlight the text and click the pop-up quote reply button

  • highlight the text and click the regular reply button on the bottom of the post

  • click reply, then click the first toolbar button which pulls in a full quote

(sparr) #15

Was testing ever done of any way to indicate a reply-to-thread that is distinct from in-reply-to? There are two facets to this problem and most of the discussion only addresses one of them.


This drives me crazy! I had been deleting, and reposting posts to get them to show up as a reply to that individual. From the perspective of a long time UX developer, this is confusing and annoying as hell. If its a reply to someones post in the thread it should show up as a reply.

(Jeff Atwood) #17

You can change the relevant site setting if you want the noise.


Unfortunately I do not moderate most of the sites that I use with this setting. I have posted the reason that these posts show up like this on a number of them now that I know its changeable and it seems most of the user base is rallying to have it changed to show them.

This seems to be a feature that should be on by default, or is it possible to have a smaller indicator by default just to show that it is an actual reply to someone (just the reply arrow, or the arrow and user icon)? Maybe on mouseover it shows the full regular reply information?


Where would one find this site setting, and what is it named?

(Rafael dos Santos Silva) #20

I think it is the suppress reply directly above