Gray and blue unread counters on topics

(Dave McClure) #1

Continuing the discussion from Unread/new badge style?:

I searched high and low and couldn’t find it. So I’m starting a new topic…

I’m interested to hear from folks who find the grey unread badge count useful…

It feels like clutter to me, but I’d like to hear the other side.

For those that find it useful, what about this idea?

Instead of having 2 separate counters have 1 counter:

  • If any of the unread posts are new, make the counter blue.
  • If all of them are old, make it grey.


At first it was confusing and messy to me, but once you learn what it means, it works fine.
I actually like it as it is now, and would not be a fan of condensing it into 1 bubble because you lose information then.

(Kris) #3

I’m not a fan of the “unread old” feature in general. If I haven’t read it, why does it matter if it’s old or new? If I haven’t seen it, it’s new to me.

If I ruled the :earth_americas: I’d remove :star: and let :bookmark: handle it. Then align new/unread on the left to remove some of the chaos that comes along with position being dictated by topic length. Then I’d give out free :horse:

also, interesting how busy a gmail style of new/unread feels

Move the new/unread counters to the first column in topic list
(Matches) #4

I personally like just one bubble, but I’m also the guy who ignores a post for 2-300 posts and randomly comes back in. I’m not going to re-read those 300 posts, and the topic that was being discussed probably isn’t relevant any more anyway.

(Dave McClure) #5

You read my mind @awesomerobot. And you can always star/unstar the topic from within it (I think that’s what I usually do anyway, but I’m not sure).

I also think if you had the badges over there they could be made more subtle and still stand out perfectly well at a glance. I’d be inclined to see if some font-awesome badges work.

To take it a step further on the minimalist track, I would go so far as to say that the number of unread posts isn’t even all that relevant. It could just be the badge indicating “this topic has some (new) unread posts”

Just a thought:

  • new topic
  • topic with new unread posts
  • topic with unread posts (but no new unread posts)

The closed envelope for new meaning “you’ve never opened this recent topic” could also be used on the topic list tab to help drive the point home:

(Kris) #6

I get the idea here, but I feel like the envelope sends mixed messages with email/pms - overall the icons here feel like they’re adding more confusion than alleviating it. I don’t think there’s a great icon solution for new/unread.

I do think the number of unread posts is relevant. Whether a topic has 1 or 50 unread will influence the importance of whether or not I read it.


Ditto - if I see a topic I wasn’t interested in that has say 250 posts, I’m probably never going to bother with it. If it only had 5 posts… then I might read it just because it won’t take long.

The other reason would be that if I have to leave in 5 minutes, I don’t want to end up accidentally flagging a topic as read by jumping into it when there’s 100 posts to read, whereas a 5 post topic would be easy to read in the 5 minutes I have.

(Dave McClure) #8

Good point forgot about that.

I don’t think it’ll flag it as read unless you scroll through all the posts though I can still see why you find the numbers relevant…

My crazy ideas aside, I still like what @awesomerobot mocked up above.

(Sam Saffron) #9

Back to the original point of feedback, personally, I dislike having 2 different numbers here. I think it is cluttered and very hard to explain. I would much prefer just one number.

Also, simpler to implement.

I do know that @codinghorror feels very strongly about keeping this split.

(Michael Downey) #10

The two sets of numbers are completely un-intuitive and highly un-learnable. The grey number should really go and never come back. :slight_smile:

:door: :walking:

(Jeff Atwood) #11

It can be a subtle distinction, but the tooltips do explain it.

It’s the same new/unread distinction we make between these two kinds of topics:

  • this is a new topic with unread posts (New tab)
  • this is an old topic with unread posts (Unread tab)

… except expressed at the post level:

  • these are new unread posts (Blue number)
  • these are old unread posts (Grey number)

You might want to know that there are:

  • 50 new unread posts in this topic (blue 50)
  • 100 old unread posts in this topic (grey 100)

This gives you an idea of how much real “newness” or “freshness” you can expect to get if you enter the topic at your current read position.

If a topic is not getting any new posts, the distinction is definitely irrelevant. In other words, there are no more episodes of the Sopranos being recorded, so you have a constant single number of episodes left to watch at any given time. But if it’s say, Adventure Time, then you have two numbers: number of episodes left in this season, and number of episodes left all time. Maybe the Sopranos case (you are entering long-dead topics) is true enough of the time that grey/blue does not matter.

But if it is an active topic, knowing:

  • Here’s how many “old episodes” I need to watch just to finish the season.
  • Here’s how many “new episodes” have been recorded after the current season.

The intent is to give you a sense of how far behind you are falling, and how much the topic is growing:

  • If the grey number is large and the blue number is small, the topic is barely growing.
  • If the grey number is large and the blue number is large, the topic is growing faster than you can read it.
  • If the grey number is the only number: the topic is dead, there is no growth.
  • If the blue number is the only number: the topic is all growth.

It kind of bothers me with only the blue number that you have no idea if these are really “new” replies you’re being informed about. They could be unread replies from 5 years ago…

But then again to be honest I rarely run into the grey numbers in practice. Either I read to the end, or I just don’t care about the topic and tap out before the 4 minute default auto-track interval. You’d see very different results if you changed the default tracking settings to, say, auto-track every topic you enter.

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #12

Since tooltips are only viewed by desktop users, they should not be used for anything more than reaffirmation, never from-scratch explanation. Intuitively learning the meaning of a single number by following its correlations (new posts) is very doable. If you have two numbers, it’s much harder.

I can’t say I’ve ever intuitively applied it like that. I consider myself a forum super user, but this seems like a super-super user feature.

What about moving this metric exclusively to the /Unread page? That’s where unread granularity really counts.

(Dave McClure) #13

Eh… Either keep it or don’t. This just adds complexity.

This is another case to remove it. Not only does it add little value in practice, but the rarity makes it more difficult to intuit the meaning.

Understood. Just a question of whether its really worth it. You can get this sense after going into the topic on those rare cases, after all…

The rarity is also a case to do nothing though. If people rarely encounter this, is it really a problem?

There are two reasons to consider it:

  1. Reducing the cost of ‘explaining and maintaining’ this feature in the future

And 2:

To enable changes like this (being discussed here)

Perhaps the change should be considered in those contexts if changes like those become a priority in the future…

@Lee_Ars: I quoted your observation in the original post. Would you miss the two-counter implementation? Or would having a single counter go gray when all the posts are old suffice in your opinion?

(Jeff Atwood) #14

I agree that for now the rarity of encounter means we don’t need to do anything either way right now.

Personally I feel the distinction between unread/new, and unread/old, is just as important within a topic as it is on the New and Unread topic lists. But it just does not come up that much, in spite of @sam saying we have to explain it a lot, that actually is not true, it comes up rarely if at all on the Discourse instances I know about.

(Anton) #15

Looks like a new PM.