Moving post-specific reply indicator into the editor

Continuing the discussion from:

I’d like to propose a solution that builds on my suggestion from “A lot of weirdness caused by moving posts around”. (A similar solution was implemented in Flarum, except it used a unique post-ID instead of a post:topic combo.)

The idea being that if the “Reply (-to specific post”) button was just a special forum syntax instead of a unique UI element, it’d come with a lot of wins:

  • Less “magic”; it’s just part of the editor and the universal concept of linking.
  • Can reply to multiple posts
  • Replies are easily changed or unlinked entirely by simply removing the link
  • The logic for Replies is more aligned with Quotes

So when you click on the “Reply” button, you’d get something like this in your editor:


Which would look like this in the preview:

Full example:

My hypothesis is that this more effectively communicates that there’s nothing special about your reply - It won’t start a nested sub-thread or anything - besides the fact that you’re mentioning this specific user’s post.

p.s. I’m putting this in Feature instead of UX because implementing this goes beyond pixel pushing.


Well, we already do that

So… like… move it down… or something?

(I wonder if suppressing the editor toolbar would also assist here)

The suggestion here is to

  1. Move it into the editor
  2. Make it a custom syntax, like Quotes are, except this new syntax will be an extension of the already established Mention syntax.

Not really following, we already have @erlend_sh for name mentions.

I think suppressing the editor toolbar by default would be a more effective way of moving this visual reply indicator more into your field of view.

I think there is a lot of “toolbar blindness” and I don’t blame people.

I updated the mockup to show more accurately what it’d really look like. What I’m proposing is:

  • Don’t ever change the Edit header that informs you that you’re replying to this topic.
  • Let the Extended Mention inform you that you’re also mentioning this user+post directly.

It’d still be a reply, just just a quote is also a reply, but it doesn’t require some hidden meta-information that’s saying “this is a reply to foouser’s post #23”.

It takes away a lot of that ambiguity in “what am I actually replying to in the great hierarchy of things here?” that I think has been confusing a lot of people, myself included.

I personally find that Flarum feature spectacularly confusing. We already have

  1. @name mentions – of a person
  2. quotes – of a post

So this would add a third, weirdo hybrid type

  1. @person + post_id (but not quoted!) combo mentions

… with its own arcane syntax. I think you’d end up confusing people even more than they already are – what’s this junk in my reply area, and why it is here, and what does it mean?

At least with a quote you see the other person’s words, and with a name mention you see their name, these things are clear and well-understood, you have a name, you say words to me. But as a combo hybrid it’s just… a mish-mash of metadata.

If anything we could make the @name mention pop up that person’s last post in this topic when clicked. That seems reasonable, it’s not a bad suggestion. So if I said @erlend_sh your last post was crap! you could click that and see your last post in this topic. It’s a reasonable expectation, if you have posted in the topic, anyway. If I am mentioning you I’m probably talking to you about the last thing you posted here.

But I think having it target the person and explicitly the number of their post – without quoting it – is highly bizarre. I don’t know that is something that should be encouraged. We want people to quote. Reference a name. Reference specific words. Don’t make people dig up post numbers which are meaningless.


I don’t mind the syntax extension in Flarum, but I do mind the rendered output, which I’ve tried to improve here with the #id tacked on.

That said, the syntax could also be entirely different. For instance, it could follow the quotes convention instead:

[replyto="codinghorror, post:6, topic:31899" /]

I just dislike the fact that it’s this magic bit of data that’s stored in your post somewhere. And it also gets really confusing when you learn that, hey, if you Reply to someone, but also quote someone else in that same post, you’ve actually replied to both of those people. This is incredibly difficult to grasp, because according to the UI, if my post looks like this:

I’m gonna be pretty convinced that my reply to that user is somehow the “parent, overarching reply” here, due to its unique UX.

Perhaps, but if you quote both people explicitly in the post – which we encourage – it should be quite clear.

The case of clicking the reply button on a particular post and then selectively quoting just one other person in your reply seems rather cherry picked to me. That’s quite unusual.

I think the major loss would be that every single reply would suddenly have this weird metadata shoved into the body, when the reality is that 95% of replies are to a single person – or to nobody at all, because they are replying to the topic in general.

You’re proposing a change that would make it worse for the 95% to make the 5% case better. That doesn’t wash.