"New topics": Please track per-user info


So, as a new user of this forum system, I’ve found something that I really dislike, and would like to see changed:

All topics less than two days old are considered new.

Every other forum that I use tracks, at the LEAST, my last “login” date, and shows me as new those topics that have been updated since my last login. Most of them track which topics I have read / what is the last post in each topic.

Tracking none of that – just saying “Ohh, this is less than two days old, so it’s new, no matter when you were here last”, is just …


Consider someone that reads mid-day on friday, and comes back to read again on Monday. That’s more than 2 days, so some new stuff won’t be “new”. And that’s just a common case – there will be many cases that have a bigger time gap than that.

Basically: I do not LIVE on any given forum. I come to visit it a few times a week, normally. But it’s not my life, and if I come back after 8 or 10 days, I still want to see what’s new since my last visit.

(Jeff Atwood) #2

So change your user preference thusly:

Consider topics new when…

  • created since I was here last

Also, we recently added an ambient dim red line on the topic list that shows your date of last visit. Keep an eye out for that.

While you’re striving to find the right road,
There’s one thing you should know,
What’s hip today, might become passe

USER suggested tweak to red line feature

Alright, I checked preferences.

… I am … well, surprised, confused, and … lacking any words for this.

Basically, I was able to change the preferences to do what I want. But I cannot understand the thinking that leads to those defaults.

I’m not trying to be mean or anything here. I’m actually trying to understand this. The “next level” of theory of mind after “different people think differently than me” is “understanding why and how someone else came to that idea/belief”, and I cannot see the thinking process that leads to those defaults.

(Mittineague) #4

What default values in particular?

IMHO most of them seem like a good balance, at least in theory,

I’ve changed mine for my particular eccentricities.

I’m not fond of checking my email inbox, so I’ve set those to “never”

But I’m here and at SitePoint literally every day.
And I like to see just about everything.
(my life situation allows me the time)

As a result, I’ve set a lot of categories to Watching, and I have “consider new” set to “haven’t viewed”.
And “track” to “immediately”

But I don’t think those would be good defaults for most. Maybe I was interested in 2 year old discussions when I first joined because I wanted “background” - but do most people have interest in old discussions that are likely to now be moot, and probably more pertinent, do they have the time and tenacity to deal with the tediousness of “catching up” and staying up-to-date and visit the forum every day?

(Jeff Atwood) #5

Any reasonably active discussion area will have at least 4-5 new topics per day. If a user does not return for 3 days, 12 days, 60 days, 300 days – is it really helpful to tell them that 15, 60, 300, or 1500 topics are new? Isn’t that an overwhelming and oppressive number for the average person? Furthermore, is it even true, for any sense of the word “new”? Would a newspaper tell you that topics from two weeks ago are “new, breaking news”? Or even 3 days ago?


I will often return to the OBS (Open Broadcaster System) forums after a week of being away. I go to the Mac support forum, and see all the new stuff since my last visit, and read them.

For any sense of the world “new”? It is new to me.
Since I want to keep up with OBS on the mac, I want to see everything posted that is new.
That includes both new topics, and new posts on existing topics.

And it isn’t just OBS. Any forum that I visit less than frequently will have stuff since my last visit that I have not seen. Being able to look at the new topics lets me see which topics are of interest that I will want to consider following. I may not check the minecraft forum on released mods very often, but when I do, I want to see what’s new, no longer work-in-progress, as some of them will be worth playing with and adding.

Maybe this is the issue. You seem to see this forum software as intended for current event discussions. Yes, there are many forums where topics generally die off after a week or two; there are forums where a topic more than 2 weeks stale is auto-locked. There are also forums where a topic will be active for years, or where the rule is “bump the oldest appropriate topic to keep all related discussion in one place” (similar to closing new bug reports as duplicates of older ones).

I guess the key issue for me is that I see forums as places to go to read about a topic even if it isn’t “right now” – that the difference between a news site (like Slashdot) and a forum site (like Giant in the Playground Forums or specifically Webcomics) is that I don’t have to go “right now” – I can catch up later.)

Oh – I attempted to respond by mail. I got, in response, this:

We’re sorry, but your email message to [“meta+b42af0031433c4ee70322593c0279650@discoursemail.com”] (titled Re: [Discourse Meta] [feature] “New topics”: Please track per-user info) didn’t work.

Your reply was sent from a different email address than the one we expected, so we’re not sure if this is the same person. Try sending from another email address, or contact a staff member.

Perhaps the email can contain some sort of magic cookie to include in the response text (even a copy of that magic cookie reply-to address) so that it can be known to be valid? All of my email eventually comes to the same mail reader client, with different addresses getting different tags/mailboxes (or outright spam filter if completely invalid), and the same outgoing email.

(Sam Saffron) #7

It already does, but we need to protect against you forwarding the mail to someone else.

Thing is, we already

  1. Offer you, the end user, the ability to redefine “new” however you want.
  2. Offer site admins to pick a different default.

We are happy with our current default, it is safe. I strongly recommend you read through the history of this feature on meta, there are probably about 50 topics discussing it.