Context mismatch - private messages vs topic


(Bruno Skvorc) #1

This one is plain confusing.

Someone posted a question on our forums: I am getting a 500 Internal Server Error after I restored my public html folder - PHP - The SitePoint Forums

I asked to see the code, and they posted back, failing to properly indent it for code formatting to trigger.

I then flagged the post to send them a message, explaining how code highlighting is done. Presumably, the user clicked “edit” and then marked the code and clicked the “code” button, which turned the message into a much more readable one, fixing the syntax. Success! Or is it?

Turns out, the user, upon clicking “edit” edited the contents of the topic post as it was copied from my report, when I sent it to them via flagging. So effectively, he changed the inbox message’s format, not the original post’s format - the changes done on the copied post in the inbox are NOT reflected in the main post, which is crazy considering there’s no easy way to get back to the topic at hand from the inbox message related to the topic.

I failed to realize this and replied with further advice on the very same topic, but later realized that, in fact, the reply was on the inbox message only, not on the topic as well. Upon trying to reply with the same answer onto the topic in question, the system refused and warned me about submitting content that was too similar to something I’ve already posted recently (namely, the inbox message to the user).

This is confusing and ridiculous for two reasons:

  1. The system has no business looking at how similar my inbox messages are to my topic post messages. They’re two entirely separate contexts and as such, if I want to write identical messages, I should be allowed to.
  2. The system is confusing in that it doesn’t let people know what context they’re currently conversing in. Or at least, in that it doesn’t copy the changes of one context (messages) into the other (topic).

I hope I’ve laid it out clearly - if any more clarification is required, please let me know.


#2

There is an envelope icon indicating that you’re in a PM rather than a topic, but I completely agree that it’s not blindingly obvious and therefor confusing. That is actually a styling issue on our install, more than a core one.

Your other points are also fair.


(Jeff Atwood) #3

Generally what I recommend here is just making the edit. The post in question looks like this:

Hey guys, I had to restore my website back to yesterdays backup file and when it completed, I got a 500 Internal Server Error with this error code in the log…PHP Warning: Unexpected character in input: ‘’ (ASCII=92) state=1 in /home3/boardtr1/public_html/index.php on line 21
[16-Dec-2014 10:44:31] PHP Parse error: syntax error, unexpected T_STRING in /home3/boardtr1/public_html/index.php on line 21…I am on Bluehost and running PHP Version 5.4.24. I looked all over but could not find any solutions. Any help would be great since my site is down -_-

Thanks!
Nick

So I would just click or tap the edit pencil and turn it into

Hey guys, I had to restore my website back to yesterdays backup file and when it completed, I got a 500 Internal Server Error with this error code in the log…

PHP Warning: Unexpected character in input: '\' (ASCII=92) state=1 in /home3/boardtr1/public_html/index.php on line 21
[16-Dec-2014 10:44:31] PHP Parse error: syntax error, unexpected T_STRING in /home3/boardtr1/public_html/index.php on line 21

…I am on Bluehost and running PHP Version 5.4.24. I looked all over but could not find any solutions. Any help would be great since my site is down -_-

Thanks!
Nick

I did this by highlighting the relevant section with my mouse and pressing ctrl+k.

This also generates an automatic edit notification to the user letting them know that you edited their post. So basically:

  1. See a mis-formatted post
  2. Edit it to fix it using hotkeys
  3. Let the user see the automatic edit notification and think to themselves “hmm, now my post looks better, I should learn how to make that edit!”

My hope is that ↑ would be a bit more efficient than:

  1. See a mis-formatted post
  2. Send a PM to the user explaining the edit options and formatting issues
  3. Wait for them to make the edit
  4. They reply to your PM
  5. You confirm that the edit is correct
  6. You reply to their PM reply

So really, conceptually, this is more about “how do we efficiently teach users proper post formatting”.


(cpradio) #4

He can’t, he doesn’t have that power… he isn’t an admin or staff, he is an article writer (IIRC).

Also, this only helped one part of the problem he encountered. The latter (or more important) being that private messages and topics are still very similar to the eye. I’ve grown to notice the subtleties, but I feel his pain. They are very similar, and it is very easy to occasionally post your response in the wrong location.


(Jeff Atwood) #5

Perhaps @swader should be granted those powers? Trust level 4 allows editing all posts, though it requires manual promotion.

Fabulous secret powers will be revealed to you!


(cpradio) #6

Not my, or your decision really. We can’t just go granting powers to individuals because they want to make a suggestion for someone to format their code.

Code formatting has been an up-hill battle for us. I can’t tell you how many times we “staff” go in and format the code of a person, and do it again, and again, and again.


(Jeff Atwood) #7

Yeah, but this is more of a Stack Overflow use case – and you can earn the right to edit everyone’s posts there at 2k rep.

There’s also a “suggested edits” functionality where any users can make the edit and have it approved by others. That’s a very deep rabbit-hole though.


(Jeff Atwood) #8

We used to have a big-ass gray envelope watermark in the right gutter next to each individual post in the PM. I personally no longer feel this is necessary, as the envelope icon in the title is always visible now…

… but if you want it, you can add it back into the CSS. Not sure if the right hand gutter is visible on your instance, though, but the CSS classes should be there to play with as you desire.

<div id="ember2556" class="ember-view private_message category-"><div class="container">

etc


(cpradio) #9

ping @HAWK, I like this idea. We did something similar for the private categories (or at least made the watermark more noticeable… we should do that here, “private messages”, too)


(Bruno Skvorc) #10

Admittedly, as the editor of the PHP channel it’s silly for me not to be able to edit posts in the PHP category, but due to the category setup of Discourse, it is my understanding per-category permissions aren’t possible anyway? Also a shame, considering the simplicity, but according to that post it’s coming soon? That would help other matters drastically - looking forward to it.

Anyway, it’s more than just a simple CSS issue. I doubt my correspondent would have done anything different even if there was a flashing and exploding red envelope in every corner of the page, because the content that was in front of him screamed “edit me”, and not “go back to original post via THIS LINK and edit your post there”. It’s a matter of the entirety of the “flagged” post being copied into the message, which misleads the reader into believing he is to perform whatever changes on that copy of a post, rather than the original.

If the changes performed on the inbox copy of the post were reflected in the original, there would be no issues. If the system didn’t check for whether my latest inbox message was too similar to a post or not and just allowed me to post anyway, that would also help. The least helpful solution of all would, actually, be the CSS upgrade to include an inbox marker.


(cpradio) #11

No, that exists. I believe we can grant a group Edit permissions on a category. You’d have to be in a specific group though (and it must get approved by the powers that be – which isn’t me :slight_smile: ).


(Bruno Skvorc) #12

Ah, that sounds good. I’ll take that up with HQ then, cheers!


(Dave McClure) #13

No, you can’t do that now. The options for permissions for a group in a particular category are:

  • Create / Reply / See
  • Reply / See
  • See
  • Nothing

(cpradio) #14

d’Oh. For some reason I thought it was possible… not sure where I got confused on that :frowning:


(Jeff Atwood) #15

This is a weird claim. It is like arguing a forwarded email edit should affect the original email that was forwarded. Why would it work that way? Any fundamental confusion about “I am in a private message this person sent me” versus “I am in the original topic I posted in” is irreconcilable.

Regardless, the flow I described is superior: demonstrate by doing whenever possible rather than an out of band private message. I support you having edit rights, though we do not yet have the concept of per category mods, it has been requested a fair bit and I support it.


#16

[quote=“swader, post:12, topic:23215, full:true”]
Ah, that sounds good. I’ll take that up with HQ then, cheers!
[/quote] You need to take it up with me. :smile:
Unfortunately though, it’s not possible.

When we can do it at a category level it goes without saying that you’ll have access to edit PHP posts.


(Mittineague) #17

There’s always the
Flag -> Notify Moderators “Please Format” option.

You wouldn’t be the only one to make such requests.

In fact, I correct posts so often I have 3 backticks in my Clippings. (mainly so I don’t need to reach around the cat to type them)

As for members ever learning how to use our MarkDown / bbCode / HTML to format their posts and actually start doing so, I have as much hope of that happening as I did when we were vB


(Jeff Atwood) #18

At Stack Overflow we (eventually…) wrote code to detect unformatted code in posts and block them from being posted until the user formatted them as code.

So @hawk this would make a great plugin. It is not too hard to semi reliably detect code because it has so many unusual characters, see


#19

Agreed. Let me talk to my people.


(Sam Saffron) #20

I am not against adding an edit permission it’s probably only a few hours of work, would be happy with a PR for it

That said I am not sure what harm could happen from granting your trusted editors tl4. Just grant it and explain them the constraints they need to follow