Jump to latest reply, repetition

(Andy Routledge) #1

Using this topic as an example - [View per IP][1].
[1]: How many views are counted per IP?

2nd comment: mcwumbly - “oh… is that how its done?”

Click “2 replies”.

codinghorror: “No, that is not how it is done.”

Then either:

a. Scroll down or
b. Click “jump to later reply”

And I see the exact comment I’ve just read when I’ve clicked “2 replies”. "codinghorror: “No, that is not how it is done.”

So two issues:

  1. Jump to later reply doesn’t seem to serve a purpose.
  2. Repetition. The comments revealed when you click “x replies” are also repeated when you scroll down past the “replies”.

So perhaps:

  1. Ditch the “jump to later” arrow and only display a comment once. If the comment is a reply, display that comment only when someone clicks “x replies”.

  2. Ditch the “x replies” link. Having the same comment displayed twice is redundant. The user can click the expand (down arrow) on the quote, or jump to the quoted post. If the “x replies” link is ditched, then there’s also a case for removing the “Reply” button on each comment. Instead, just quote the darn comment.

UPDATE: The “x replies” link doesn’t appear on the tablet UI. Only at larger resolutions does this problem occur. The “jump to later” link also “works” on tablets.

(Jeff Atwood) #2

Yes, this is the tension between our hybrid of:

  • very mild threading
  • traditional flat discussions with quoting

The best way to think of “expand replies” is a sneak preview function, like watching the 2 minute trailer for a movie. You will see the same scenes again in the full movie. If this makes one angry, one might consider not viewing movie trailers to avoid the situation :wink:

We have considered some ways of dealing with this, but they are difficult.

  1. Suppress downstream replies “you’ve already seen”. That’s fine… but how can you like, reply, or interact with these replies? Those controls are not available on the manually expanded replies. So we’d have to make the complete set of post controls available on expansions. That’s… hard.

  2. Suppress reply indicator altogether. The # of replies is a key signifier in how important and useful a post is. A post with a lot of replies is highly relevant to the discussion. This also means you have to jump around in the stream to get the same effect which badly breaks reading flow.

(“x replies” does appear on tablet. You might be referring to the mobile layout which you can get on very small tablets or … phablets.)

(Andy Routledge) #3

Yes, I no longer click the ‘x replies’ button.
“x replies” - tested it on a Nexus 7 2013, 1920 x 1200 resolution.

Using the [Awesome plugin][1] thread as an example:
[1]: What is the most awesome plugin for Discourse, that does not yet exist?

A few observations on this 195 post topic.

  1. The 1st post by the topic starter has 12 replies. There should be a “reply to topic” button there instead of a “reply to post” button.

  2. I can’t interact with the expanded replies. So I have to go searching for them. Or click the inaccurately titled “jump to later reply” link to take me to duplicate of the post, just so I can use the interaction controls. I then have to find my way back to where I left off, scrolling back up. There doesn’t seem to be a 1-click short cut back to the expanded replies. These comments can be far down the page. 124/195 for one of them. Where’s the flow? Having to jump back and forth between the fully-functional post and the non-interactive version.

  3. If I read the “x replies” posts, I then have the issue of starting to read the duplicate posts further down the page, which can of course be quite a long way down a page. That breaks the flow. Hence I no longer click “x replies”.

I’m constantly having to assess “have I read this post?”. You could suggest “don’t watch the preview”. But the preview is functionally limited, and mucks up the experience of the rest of the topic. So there’s not much value in having the preview as it is currently implemented.

So perhaps:

  1. Put interaction controls on the “replies”.
  2. Remove the duplicate posts.
  3. Optionally display the replies by default. Do away with the need to keep clicking “x replies”.


  1. Using the movie preview analogy. A 200 post topic with 100 individual post replies. For
    a 2 hour movie, it’s like scattering 60 minutes of previews throughout the film. It ruins the movie.
    A “2 min preview” could show you footage from random parts of the film. From what’s up right next,
    to small clips right up to the end of the movie. You then spend much of the movie watching parts you’ve
    already seen. 60 minutes is a lot more than a preview. So people will learn not to watch the “previews”, as
    it wrecks the experience of watching the movie.

  2. As it stands, you can reply to replies, seemingly to many levels. All this ends up is scattering the discussion about the parent post. You end up with lots of “1 reply” posts all over the place, but no way to refer back to the parent post.

  3. # of replies a key signifier in how important or useful a post is? I reckon the number of likes is a better indicator of quality. Using Reddit/Youtube as as example of back and forth nonsense.

  4. Threads - they should be displayed as a cohesive unit, not scattered all over the place as they currently are, allowing replies to replies, and no way to see the parent posts

(Jeff Atwood) #4

You can refer back by clicking or tapping on the in reply to badge:

Note that this may not appear if the post is quoted, in that case, you “refer back” by expanding the quote inline.s

(Andy Routledge) #5

The immediate parent. But if it’s a reply 4 levels deep, that’s a lot of clicking.

It’s a lot more elegant to have the threaded/diverse discussion in one place, rather than have it interrupt the flow
repeatedly throughout the entire topic thread.

(Jeff Atwood) #6

If you’re looking for deep threading views, you may be in the wrong place… we support some minor threading hybridization (the sneak preview, expansion of in-reply-to, expansion of replies), but Discourse is primarily a flat discussion system.

(Andy Routledge) #7

No, I’m not looking for threading.

Discourse appears to support unlimited levels of threading. That’s not very flat.

(Jeff Atwood) #8

One thing that has been proposed is filtering to a particular conversation.

We do a bit with filtering already – you can filter this topic to just your response by clicking/tapping your avatar, e.g.

Jump to latest reply, repetition

And of course on long topics with 50+ posts, click/tap the Summarize this Topic button to limit the topic to just the most interesting 10% of posts.

However. Remember that each post can reply to multiple things above it, e.g. have multiple “parents”. I could quote 3 posts right now and this post would immediately have 3 upstream things it is in reply to.

(Kane York) #9

So it’s more of a directed, totally ordered, acyclic graph.

This post itself is a reply to two different posts.

(Andy Routledge) #10

This post has 3 replies, but codinghorror’s post doesn’t have the replied-to andyr link in the top right. Is that a bug?

(Jeff Atwood) #11

In-reply-to is suppressed if it is directly underneath – it is assumed via locality and context. Otherwise it’s very noisy – most conversations are a series of directly-underneath replies.

(Andy Routledge) #12

Until you told me that, I assumed posts without the replied-to link were replies to the topic. Lots of posts don’t make it clear they are responding to the post directly above. Your post starting “one thing that has been proposed” - that could be interpreted as a reply to the topic or person. Without a replied-to link/mention/quote or other clear indicator it’s a reply (the words used), I would assume it’s a reply to the topic.

(Jeff Atwood) #13

The idea is that when you see in-reply-to, there’s more than 1 post away from the reply. So it’s a hint about upstream context.

Otherwise, for example, the last 3 responses here would have the in-reply-to badge, which I find extremely noisy and of dubious metadata value.

Note that this is only done for directly-under and directly-above. I find that you need the reminder of context when there’s more “space” between the replies.

This is of course configurable but the defaults are the way they are for a reason, to produce a cleaner discussion, with just the right amount of necessary metadata.

(Rikki Tooley) #14

Maybe there can be a subtle indicator? Just to confirm a suspicion that posts are linked together, and aren’t “general” replies to the thread - because there’s no way to know for sure at the moment. Maybe this is too subtle, but the general idea is there:

IMO the solution to a noisy indicator isn’t to hide it altogether… but replace it with something quieter.

(Daniel ) #17

Hi, I’m not sure if this is the exact place for my comment, but this was as close a topic match as I could find. If there is a better or more current place to post to this topic, please let me know.

I’m new to Discourse and using the forum through freeCodeCamp. I’ve noticed it is very hard to understand if I am reading a reply to a comment or if it is an original post. Basically what happens is as I am reading through a given topic’s posts, I wind up reading replies to posts by clicking the Replies dropdown button (often this button doesn’t work, incidentally) and then scrolling through to read other posts, which at some point becomes replies. Effectively I wind up reading replies twice. I notice the icons pointing back to the original post, but this seems like a band-aid instead of just nesting all the post replies one time in one place. Is there something wrong with that approach? That seems to be how most forums I’ve used work. I’m not sure why Discourse separates the repeats the replies, but it makes the forum reading experience pretty unwieldy.

(Jeff Atwood) #18

If you are looking for a pure threaded approach, you will want to try different software. Discourse is mostly flat with some lightweight hybrid threading, but it will never satisfy threading purists / absolutists.

(Evgeny) #19

Perhaps, if I understood correctly, you just want to highlight (design) the comments. Then, perhaps, you will be interested in this approach.

(Daniel ) #20

Thanks for the response Jeff. I’m not a forum purist, just an average reader. I’ve never seen the post/reply mechanism built in this way, and just found it a bit hard to read through. I’m surprised that the response is to find different software though. Is there something that is particularly beneficial about repeating the replies in two places that I might not understand?

(Jeff Atwood) #21

It is not repeated; collapse the expansion before proceeding. I might well tell you that threading is broken since I have to manually collapse conversations I am not interested in, or otherwise be forced to scroll down through dozens of attached threaded responses I have zero interest in.

Matter of perspective.

(Daniel ) #22

All I am interested in is being able to read through forum posts and understand the hierarchy of posts and responses. It seems the replies are included in posts, and then again at the root post level, which makes it hard to know who is posting vs. replying.