Do we need a "Mark all as read" function?

(Jeff Atwood) #23

I understand you’re frustrated. I’m also frustrated, deeply frustrated, with the current awful state of forum software.

Have you checked your user preferences to see if they can be changed to obtain the behavior you want? We realize there is no one-size-fits-all in the area of showing unread and new, only sensible defaults that can be changed to fit everyone’s needs.

(Christoph) #24

^ while I would have not placed the argument in such rather harsh language, thank you for expressing the points I wanted to get across. I was struggling to formulate a good post, and yours fits the bill pretty much. especially the second paragraph describes what I wanted to say.
Incidentally, my “major” forum I take part in is also vBulletin (200 user currently online, 2900 max), and the “view unread” page is my landing page. this is the way I consume this forum, and it works splendidly.

edit: argh, this was in reply to Hamburglar, not codinghorror

(Christoph) #25

I have to admit it’s not very easy to adjust prefs to your needs when the nomenclature has been jumbled around. :wink:
maybe I’ve finally grown old and start to have difficulties adapting :stuck_out_tongue: (apparently also my smiley style is too “old-skool” to be recognized ^^)

(hamburglar) #26

[quote=“codinghorror, post:23, topic:797”]
I understand you’re frustrated. I’m also frustrated, deeply frustrated, with the current awful state of forum software.[/quote]

I get this, and I agree, but the awfulness of most forum software is 75% around implementation and technology, not the conceptual model of keeping track of what I’m interested in reading or how much of it I’ve read. Those are pretty simple concepts, for the most part, but you’ve managed to complicate them to the point where I have no idea what to expect, or am frustrated when I expect one thing and get another. It seems there are a handful of others reacting the same way, which oughta at least make you pause and wonder if your assumptions are right. Don’t throw out everything existing forums do just because a lot of it sucks.

A perfect example of you having a wildly different idea of the desired behavior from me is your attitude about what should happen if I go away for a couple weeks and come back. I love the fact that with most existing forums, I can pick up exactly where I left off and not lose any state. It seems that you think this is such an unlikely use case that you don’t even want to support it, but a forum which lost my read state for every thread just because I hadn’t visited in a while would quickly become one that I didn’t want to put the effort into going back to. I don’t see how that’s advantageous to you guys.

Well, I’ve switched to “threads are new if I haven’t read them” but I’m going to have to wait and see if that does what I think it does. I don’t know if that means threads are only new if I’ve never even seen the OP, or if it means they’re new if there are unread posts in them.

(hamburglar) #27

To expand on this, I’ve got a SomethingAwful account, and I rarely read it, but I’m subscribed to a couple of threads that run into the hundreds of pages. When I return after months of not looking at it, I don’t catch up on the threads, but I do appreciate having a link to the first new post so I can reread a page or two of what was the end of the thread when I last looked, and refresh my memory before jumping to the end and finding out what the latest discussion is.


Ok. Let’s back up.
Nomenclature overview: (we can argue about whether changing all the nomenclature is a good idea later. For now, lets just try to both get on the same page.)

The New list is topics you’ve never seen before (ie you haven’t seen the OP). If you have the new setting on its (imho, a pretty terrible) default this list clears every session, and will only show new topics since your last session.

Unread posts are ones that have been updated since you read them and you’re “tracking”. By default, you’re tracking posts that you’ve spent 2 minutes in. I’ve changed this to 1 minute for myself, but I’m considering changing it to “always”.

When you watch a post, updates too it show up in the upper right corner, where notifications for replies and likes normally are. If you’re not logged in, they also get sent to your email. These posts also show up on your unread list.

My workflow is to go to the unread list, open all of those in tabs, and read them. Then I go to the new tab and open all the ones that look interesting, and read those. Some topics, like this one, I track because I want to be an active part of the discussion. It works pretty well for me, even coming from a vBulletin background.

(Jeff Atwood) #29

I think that had to be a misunderstanding because we implemented that feature yesterday – check your user page preferences:

The default here is “they were posted in the last 2 days”.

(hamburglar) #30

Fair enough. This answers a question that was asked upthread but I didn’t see an answer to: “I haven’t viewed them yet” does not mean you haven’t viewed the topic, it means it contains posts you haven’t viewed. Which is the right choice, in my opinion.


No, not really. See my last post. Unread is what you’re looking for.

(Christoph) #32

wait, this doesn’t seem to be consistent. my remarks within your quote in bold.


A) I thought I had edited the first one to “topics”. My bad. Fixed now.

B) Watching is underneath the reply bar the menu where it tells you you’re “Tracking” this topic. You can also set that to “Watching”

C) Unread posts never expire. Only new posts do.

(hamburglar) #34

Aha, the distinction between “new” and “shows up in the unread list” is what I was missing. The nomenclature and UI have caused me to be off by one in my mapping between my own internal concepts and Discourse concepts.

I think the workflow that would make this feel comfortable to me is the following (and I’m not asking for this to be implemented this way, just explaining the way I use forums so maybe someone can tell me how this best maps to Discourse):

  1. all threads are Tracked
  2. any thread I post in is Watched, and I can obviously manually Watch any other thread
  3. my default forum (or category) view shows all threads, but has an indicator (e.g. with vBulletin, it’s bold text for the title) of whether the thread is Unread.
  4. there should be a tab, akin to Unread, which shows “topics which are Watched and Unread”
  5. “New” is irrelevant, but in my default forum/category view, there’s an icon next to threads I haven’t seen at all.

(Jeff Lunt) #35

I too got confused about the difference between “New” and “Unread”, but I get it now.

For me, both “New” and “Unread” feel the same - they make up the two parts of my “to read” list. I want to interact with the stuff where I have pending activity first (replies to things I’m tracking, watching, have @-replies waiting for me, whatever), and then move on to new topics (stuff I haven’t seen before).

I’d be happy if the current definition of “New” and “Unread” were just combined into a single “New” view, and if it looked something like this image (ignore the fact that I copied/pasted the same set of topics for both - this is just a mock up).

The label “New activity” is perhaps a bad label, but I’m trying to express what I think “Unread” means, which is “Stuff you’ve interacted with before, but which has new activity on it and you might want to go check it out.”

Where as the “New topics” is my understanding of what “New” currently means - stuff that is wholly new that you haven’t seen or interactive with before - in other words, the new things people are talking about in the community.

(hamburglar) #36

To clarify, I am suggesting a tab which means “Watched threads which are Unread”, not “Threads which are Watched and Threads which are Unread”

Or perhaps just a “Watched” tab which shows all Watched threads with read/unread as a visible attribute (e.g. bold = unread).

(Jeff Atwood) #37

That’s a really good idea to change the word “topics” to better reflect what the list is!

(Daniel Watkins) #38

In general, I really like the system. There is an aspect which I don’t think it covers: expected reading time. There’s a big difference between spending 90 seconds reading a single post topic (Discourse can’t tell if I care or not), and 90 seconds scanning through a 50 post topic (Discourse can infer that I probably don’t care), but they would currently be treated the same.

I don’t know how I would want this to work, really, but it is a frustration I’ve been hitting.

(Jeff Lunt) #39

Time is just an easy way to determine interest. If you spend ‘x’ time on topic, regardless the behavior you do while you’re there, you’re probably at least looking to be interested otherwise you would have closed the page. Even in the case of long topics to which you’re just being introduced, I feel that the time it takes to scroll to somewhere in the topic and the time spent determining if you even want to read a topic shows that you’re at at least a little interested. If not, you can always hit that “jump to the last post button” and un-track it.

I think it’s going to be a, “We have to draw a line somewhere, and at least the line is adjustable on a per-user basis,” kind of thing. I don’t know how Discourse could reasonably support a complex inference system for figuring out how one person determines interest vs. someone else. I also don’t know if it’s reasonable for Discourse to go too far down this path trying to figure out all the possible signals that could be used to indicate interest, as this isn’t Google analytics, and whether Discourse is near perfect at determining interest is probably not on-mission so long as it does it correctly more than half the time.

If the time inference model doesn’t work for a given user, they can always just turn it off, allowing only manual tracking.

(Jeff Atwood) #40

I’m going to make sure we have a 3 minutes option in there as well as 1, 2, 5. I agree with @normalocity that it’s probably worth trying to keep this simple-ish and purely mke auto-tracking a function of reading time in a topic if we can.

(hamburglar) #41

Any chance of a “track all topics” option and a “watched” tab? These two things would make the forum behave exactly as a lot of people expect.

Edit: actually, I just turned on “automatically track topics I enter: always” and it appears to actually be tracking topics I haven’t entered yet, so it is effectively a “track all topics” option. Although this makes its description incorrect…

Edit again: it doesn’t really seem to be tracking all topics, but it’s definitely a much bigger set of topics than ones I’ve read. I’m not sure what it’s doing.

(Jeff Atwood) #42

It is indeed tracking all the topics you’ve entered, either now or at any time in the past. It applies retroactively.