Regression in category sorting


I’ve been trying to manually re-order categories, both dragging them in the UI and manually changing the order number.

As soon as I get them right (which takes an hour) and then refresh, they all jump back to some seemingly random order. This was sorted a while ago and seems to have regressed.

It’s driving me crazy. :smile:

(Jeff Atwood) #2

Are the numbers correct in the category edit settings? e.g. do they stay what you set them to?

I am not a fan of this “drag and drop” nonsense as I think it makes zero sense when you have 12 screenfuls of things to order.

But I want to make sure the numbers specified in the category edit dialog are retained and correct as-entered.

(Sam Saffron) #3


See ^^^^

(Jeff Atwood) #4

Right, I saw that, I just want to make 100% sure that the numbers are stable in the edit category dialog.

(Adam Capriola) #5

I found that dragging them never works. I had some luck manually assigning the order numbers, but you need to start with 1, then 2, then 3, etc…

Eventually I decided to select default position though and let my users decide which categories should be at the top of the list.


They don’t remain stable. When they a systematically moved the numbers change.

Eg for some reason our Mobile category keeps being moved to the end and it’s number reset to 30 (which would make sense if it was supposed to be last).

Ok, I’ll ditch the UI for now and reset them manually again. I’ll document the changes more carefully this time. Hang fire.

(Jeff Atwood) #7

@neil can look at it tomorrow.

On renumbering, it should behave like the netflix DVD queue if you’ve ever used that. They have spent years thinking about this.

(Neil Lalonde) #8

What’s confusing about the drag-and-drop method is that items that haven’t been drag-and-dropped have no position (default position). So what you see is not what you get when you reload the page.

After putting the MOVE ME category where I want it, I see this:

When I reload the categories page, I get this:

It’s ordered by position first, and then default position items last.

Some possible solutions for drag and drop:

  1. assign a position value to all categories. In above example, positions would be: 1,2,3,4,5
  2. fill gaps with the default position categories. In above example, positions would be: 1, nil, nil, 4, nil

Option 1 makes it very clear what the order of categories will be. What you see is what you get.

Option 2 will cause some categories to float around while others are fixed in place. This is probably not what anyone wants when they arrange the categories visually. Then again, some people might want one category to be first, one last, and all others ordered according to popularity. But option 2 doesn’t communicate that idea at all right now.

(Jeff Atwood) #9

I am not sure I want this drag and drop feature in our product. It is too complicated and not useful when you have more than a screen of categories.

(Sam Saffron) #10

I only find this feature useful if you have positioning enabled for everything. That is how I initially implemented this.

Either we assign positions for everything or use automatic positioning for everything.

This abortion of a situation where half of your stuff is positioned and half automatically positioned is a much more severe issue in the product I think we should fix first. Its causing confusion and is a nightmare to explain.

Personally I think users should select a site setting if they want to enable category positions. We can hint users at the site setting from the category edit page.

Then completely disable this drag and drop stuff AND disable the “position” box in category edit, unless “manual_category_ordering” is true.

Also, regarding these position numbers.

Say my order is 1,2,3,4,5 … now I want to move 5 between 1 and 2 … how can I do that? I guess our engine needs to be smart enough to shift everything forward if you set something to 1 and that spot is taken.

(Jeff Atwood) #11

As I said a while ago, and here in the topic above, try the Netflix queue manager… This has been a solved UI problem for years, simply copy what they do. No need for reinventing wheels here, badly.

(Sam Saffron) #12

So netflix support a mixed automatic/manually ordered queue? That is my #1 objection to current design.

(Jeff Atwood) #13

I think it’s fine to have a setting that switches between “categories ordered by activity” and “100% manual category order”. This should only affect browsing categories, though, not the editor/composer.

My objection is to a drag and drop UI that does not work at all with more than 1 screen of information…

(Clever Moniker) #14

If I may add to this…

Once you have established the category positions. When you click to create a topic, it doesn’t retain the same positions as when in category view.

(Neil Lalonde) #15

I don’t know what the netflix queue manager is, and googling for it returns a hundred different apps. Netflix on PS4 has a “My List”, but I don’t see any lists on apple tv or the website (and I wish they had lists). Is there a video demonstrating it?

I like this solution, unless we can come up with a sane UI for the mixed case.

(Kane York) #16

Here’s an image I found on Google:

(Neil Lalonde) #17

I added a new site setting to control categories ordering: fixed category positions

If checked, you will be able to arrange categories into a fixed order. If unchecked, categories are listed in order of activity.

(Sam Saffron) #18

Closing this, you now have the power to control ordering, with the new site setting :slight_smile:

(Sam Saffron) #19