Read topics tracking


(AstonJ) #1

Love it :slight_smile:

However just a quick note - by greying things out you are saying ‘this is not that important’, but by highlighting things (such as by bold) you are saying this is more important or requires your attention.

Some might argue it is a trivial distinction. Personally I think I’d prefer saying threads with unread posts are something that require your attention (though happy to live with this for a while to see how it feels). Either way, I am VERY happy you have decided to add this :+1:


(⛰️) #2

This new feature helps with my own continuing quandary on older topics I don’t know exist (pre-registration) but get updates to this day.

This new color change to topics completely read will help me understand what I may have missed in a visual manner.

As for the color being grey, that does not always imply ‘not important’. One has to consider the context of the color when used in an online community ui and not an actual program or tasking application of some kind.


(Jeff Atwood) #3

This is correct, a topic where you have read every post is less important – there’s nothing in it you have not seen already. That’s why it is dim/grey.

Correct, topics with stuff you have not yet red are more black and “bold” and thus stand out more, requiring your attention. E.g…


(AstonJ) #4

Yes, I know :confused: aside from the psychology of design (would we rather highlight/promote things that may need our attention, or mute/demote things-that-still-may-be-of-interest that don’t) we need to remember that even fully read threads may still be of interest - whether that’s because people are browsing categories, bookmarked threads or in search results. Then it becomes a design issue (are dimmed out threads an ideal choice for these?)

As I said I haven’t given it deep enough thought, and obviously I need to live with it for a bit, but I think the key in deciding will be whether the marking system keeps track of all threads or whether there is a cut off limit (days or visits). If there is a cut off limit then browsing through old threads will show threads as dimmed out, which is far from ideal.

I’ll post my thoughts once it’s on my forum and I have lived with it for a while.


(⛰️) #5

I agree. I am a hoarder and bookmarking is a pasttime of mine. I use it to winnow the important bits of info I know I may need someday down the line from everything else.

That sounds like you don’t want your entire topic lists dimmed for yourself. Have other users read every single post in every topic that currently exists in your community?

Sure, a topic list completely grayed may drab your ux a little, but then when new content comes in via posting those topic titles start lighting up. It’s like Christmas Day in your brain.

I’ve encountered this before. Be aware that as an admin you might end up with an edge case when it comes to specific design elements. This is one. You will have probably read every single post on that community. Your users? Not so much.


How can I remove a "flag for off topic"
(Sam Saffron) #6

On this topic, this is why my theme used the more traditional color at the moment

Its a bit weird, the decision to “super light grey” is better for the vast majority of users but hurts power users that track tons of stuff.

I dunno, maybe bookmarked / watched / tracked should not get that treatment… unsure, logic gets complex.

I wonder what @awesomerobot thinks about the visited styling here?


(Sam Saffron) #7

Another couple of points or ref:

Whirlpool (Australia’s most popular forum) uses this

ebay does the same purple thing as Google.


(Jeff Atwood) #8

Yeah the blue and purple is just 1996 era HTML defaults for visited and unvisited, e.g. Links: Differentiate visited and unvisited links

The standard browser default is to color unvisited links blue and visited links purple. This combination is the most universal and will be generally recognizable, even with some variation in saturation and brightness (perhaps slate blue and violet). However, since this combination is so universal, designers should avoid using its opposite: purple text for unvisited links and blue text for visited. Another approach is to use a saturated color for unvisited links and a less bright, less saturated version of the same color for visited links

Less saturated is what we are doing now.


(AstonJ) #9

I’m not so keen on that tbh @sam.

Personally I think it would be better to have a standard colour/style for topics, and then something to signify that a topic has unread posts. Whether that is by colour/weight or icon. (As opposed to ‘demoting’ threads that you have fully read.)

I haven’t looked but I presume this can be changed in the CSS so it’s not a big issue either way.

Slightly off topic, but what would be nice when it comes to styling, is being able to see (and add icons or style accordingly) topics that:

  • The user has posted in
  • Has unread posts (what this thread is about)

And then maybe:

  • An indicator that a topic is tracked/watched by the user
  • Has a reply or mention to the user

Basically the sort of stuff a user would find interesting as browsing down the list of threads.


(Sam Saffron) #10

Except that we are doing the opposite of the above recommendation, the recommendation is to emphasize visited


(Jeff Atwood) #11

No, read it again.

Black vs. grey. Grey is less bright, less saturated than black.

Another example would be dark blue for unvisited, and a lighter faded blue for visited.


(Sam Saffron) #12

Getting mixed messages from this


(Jeff Atwood) #13

I assumed that was a typo. I’ll just delete that section, since the intent is clear. Dimmer, less saturated is stuff you have already read. You want to call more attention to what you have not seen – unread stuff should be brighter, more visible.

Or maybe they meant “dark” as “dimmer” … dunno but the bolded text was quite clear.


(Mittineague) #14

As best as I could tell with a quick look, topic links have one of these classes

  • visited
  • new-posts
  • new-topic

Shouldn’t be impossible for users to tweak.

EDIT
Maybe not so easy. I did a wee bit of testing and the results were far from as hoped.


(AstonJ) #15

Lived with it for a while now and I’m still not keen on the dimming, so have changed it on my forum to emphasise topics with new/unread posts rather than demote those without.

If anyone else wants to do the same, just add this to your css:

.topic-list a.title { font-weight: bold; color: #333; } 
.topic-list a.title.visited:not(.badge-notification) { font-weight: normal; color: #444;}

(AstonJ) #16

Just posting a quick update to say I much prefer promoting over dimming:

I think it will encourage more user engagement because it screams “HEY!! Click me! Click me!”


(Sam Saffron) #17

Its a tricky balancing act, on very active forums “promoting” can lead the general population to just have one huge bold page that never goes away.

On small forums where you read almost everything I think it can be very effective.


(AstonJ) #18

I agree Sam. I think it would need to be tweaked for very busy and very quiet forums with the default suitable for something in the middle.

For example, on busier boards you might opt to use a font that works better bold (so not as overpowering) or use an icon, or mimic what you have here now.

It needs to be part of the system though, as (and although I didn’t spend much time on it) it wasn’t straight forward to apply the same changes to non-logged in users. (There seems to be a third anonymous view too).

So I’d suggest a style for standard topics, and another for those with unread posts. You could even offer a ‘mark forums read’ button or allow users to set a cut-off rate, such as to only show what’s new since last visit, or as far back as three visits. In the old days, post marking only went back as far as last visit (so only posts made after you logged out (or got logged out) were count as unread). I’m not so keen on this - but setting it to last 3 to 5 visits is worth considering (lower number for busier forums, higher for quieter ones).


(Kane York) #19

Hell no. That is the “we are giving up on design, read tracking is too hard” button. If the styling is so loud that you are considering that option, the styling is wrong.


(Jeff Atwood) #20

It is his site he can style it how he wants, regardless, the reality is most people will read a tiny fraction of what is on offer at any given day.

It is the exception to read “everything”, not the rule.