The topic list doesn't need a category column

(Kris) #1

The category column is kind of odd… it’s sortable, but why? Are you going to browse all topics in alphabetical category order? What is comparing categories in a separate column doing for anyone?

Why not move them under the topic title?

This is also where we show category names once we’re in a topic:

and it’s where we show them on mobile:

One potential downside for larger screens is that all topics now occupy two lines, instead of sometimes only occupying one (note that tags and assignments already create an additional line anyway)… but we’re also gaining some horizontal space, so it’s also less likely that long titles will have to break to two lines.

Unless there are unforeseen problems with this change, it should be simple enough to include as part of our ongoing 2.2 release

Add Category Column
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Has something in the software changed?
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(Jeff Atwood) #2

Having thought about it a lot, I am hugely in favor of this change.

Another reason is that if you are doing anything at all with tags, or assignment… you’re gonna have 2 line topics anyway, even on desktop.


We should fully embrace that 2-line topics direction, and simplify our default layout by removing the mostly redundant dedicated column for category in the process.

(Joshua Rosenfeld) #3

I’ve sorted categories at times when doing cleanup, or when looking at a specific tag. For example, here on Meta I’ll sort the #pr-welcome list by category. I’m not against moving the category under the topic title and removing the dedicated column, so long as I can continue to add ?order=category to a URL and have it sort.

(Sam Saffron) #4

This was one of the first changes I made with my theme.

Completely agree with shifting it below topic, it reduces clutter and “sort by category” really makes very little sense even though Josh sometimes uses it :slight_smile: … I am definitely not against ninja ?order=tag and ?order=assigned and ?order=category but it is totally in the ninja department.

(Charles Walter) #5

Certainly helps consolidate things. We made the change early on as well. Makes sense to provide a consistent experience between mobile and desktop. We have many more users on mobile devices these days anyhow.

I think the category under the topic also helps provide context when quickly scanning topics.

(Kris) #6

Something else to think about: Should we show both the parent and subcategory name now that we’re not confined to a narrow column? At that point we’d be even more consistent with the titles on the topic page…

It’s a bit of a trade-off, this creates more noise on the topic list… but it does make the category/subcategory relationship more apparent.

(Jeff Atwood) #7

Possibly, I would phase in the change first before further tweaking.

(Stephen) #8

If you can visually indicate their relationship then absolutely. If there’s no inference of parent/child there’s a risk that it will look like it’s in multiple, or that categories are actually tags.


Removing the category column would have the additional benefit of getting rid of the colspan=2 of pinned topics. See here:

(Jeff Atwood) #10

Are we clear to phase this change in later this week? @pmusaraj will we be clear of Font Awesome 5 changes?

(Penar Musaraj) #11

Yes, we should be clear of FontAwesome changes sometime this week.

Make entire topic list td element a link
(Jeff Atwood) #12

As we are 99% clear on the FA5 change, this change is now live on Meta and in master:

My first reaction is that it feels much “airier” and less like the complaint we sometimes get about being an Excel spreadsheet :wink:

(Kris) #13

I very much like this change :sunglasses:

(Jeremy M) #14

This would certainly be in line with the action on the topic…

(cpradio) #15

Have we experimented with the various displays of categories yet with this new design, does the box style still fit nicely and not impede the topic title?

(Kris) #16

It still fits, but the existing box style is definitely more distracting with this layout


It might be worth removing the vertical padding


(Kris) #17

Also, what if instead of this:

we did this, for maximum :rainbow:

(Jeff Atwood) #18

I think we should pause on anything other than minor tweaks to let this change get absorbed and tested for a few days:

  • don’t change line category style
  • slightly dampen box style in topic list (very minor tweak)
  • keep categories bold for now

(cpradio) #19

Keep in mind that makes categories look very similar to tags, and I think the distinction between the two is still necessary, but that might be my own bias.

(Régis Hanol) #20

I think the fading out will be even more import for dark mode