Tone down the new indicator and change it to mean 'never opened'

Continuing the discussion from A call for removal of a:visited on topic list:

I think the reason why this change is so great is that it helps answer the most important question when deciding whether to open a topic.

I got this feeling somewhat as a hunch, but tried to work through why and I think it has to do with the hierarchy of the decision tree when determining whether to read a topic or not, which I’ve attempted to outline below.

How I decide whether to read a topic.

  • Wait, have I read this whole thing already?
    • yes:
      ok, well you probably don’t need to open it
    • no:
      Is it a topic I’m tracking?
      • yes:
        ok, then I probably want to read it
      • no:
        Is it currently active or popular (near the top of latest)?
        • no:
          probably won’t read it unless its linked to or in a search result
        • yes:
          have I ever opened the topic before?
          • yes
            was it interesting?
            • no
              skip it.
            • yes
              ok, let’s check it out again
          • no
            is the title interesting?
            • yes
              check it out
            • no
              was it created in the last two days?
              • yes
                well, it’s likely to be relevant anyway, so if you’ve got nothing else to do…
              • no
                old and uninteresting… but if you’ve really got nothing better to do…

So it seems that rather than an indicator to show ‘newness’ I actually just want a more sublte indicator to highlight topics I have never opened. I can already set my preference for the new indicator to behave this way, but if I do so, I’d like to tone it down along the lines in the mockup linked.

Something along these lines:

And I would argue to make this the new default preference for the indicator…


Not really following a lot of this, which is unusual for topics you’ve started.

It sounds like you want to set the New preference in your site settings to “consider topics new when I haven’t viewed them yet?”

And possibly, if you are prioritizing topics you have previously viewed, “Automatically track topics immediately (after entering them)”

What I want is:

  1. Consider topics new when: I haven’t viewed them yet
  2. Automatically track topics after 5 minutes (real interest has been demonstrated)

But because of (1), I expect to have many more topics with new badges, so I’d like the indicator to be toned down.

To date, I have has setting (1) set to ‘created in the last 2 days’.

The reason why I want to change my setting for (1) now is because I can:

  1. Open a topic that seems interesting
  2. Read it for less than 5 minutes
  3. See if there is new/unread stuff in it, but distinguish it from tracked topics I know I’m interested in
  4. Use my new preference for the new indicator to know that I have in fact opened it before

I am not sure I’m doing any better off a job explaining myself. But here’s one more observation to consider.

With the new visited styling, I am now in a way always tracking every topic. So the last thing I want to do now is automatically track topics I enter.

And when I see a topic that isn’t dimmed, I ask myself, is that because I’ve never opened it? Or because it has new posts since I last did?

Changing my preference will make it easy to answer that, but I would like to do so without introducing too much additional visual noise.

It sounds like you want the classic browser “visited” state back, meaning

Show this topic as visited if I have ever clicked on it

Whereas from past user feedback here and elsewhere, users told us they wanted

Show this topic as visited only if I have actually read everything in the topic

In other words, a topic with new replies was not “visited” to them. But in your case it would be.

I think the latter definition is a) more correct b) more reflective of what users intuitively expect to happen and c) encourages reading, which we want to do anyway.

Not a huge fan of rewarding people with a visited state just because they clicked on something once.

Anyway, you’re correct – if you want an indicator to tell you “have I ever clicked on this”? Then is your huckleberry. It’s just a question of how long a topic can reasonably be considered “new”.

Remember that this setting also includes “and it was not created before I signed up”. On the other hand, “no topic_users row” is probably easier to check.

And for the record I have proposed toning down the new indicator even further, a few times:

I am thinking about “just the dot” and dropping the word new but… eh.


+1 vote for just a dot. • new I believe is too visually distracting to see on nearly all topics when you haven’t visited in a while. Especially in an otherwise largely monochromatic interface. As you outline here and here there is definitely modern precedence for that.

Maybe a bigger blue dot? Perhaps the same size as the # new indicator but without the number inside.

Yes please. That would satisfy my request personally as I have control over the rest via preferences.

1 Like

I tried changing my setting to this:

and quickly learned that I didn’t like it. Not only because of the very busy latest page, but also because:

  • it made the ‘New’ tab worthless to me. I actually never go to that tab anyway, but I learned it’s more valuable to see New (7) instead of New (500)
  • it made ‘Suggested Topics’ less useful. It was just cluttered with unopened topics that I never planned to read.

I set my preference to an even more aggressive setting of ‘Consider new if made in the past day’ and I’m much happier now.

I would probably still enjoy a toned down ‘dot-only’ style, but it’s not a big deal at this point.

I would imagine you would need to declare New Bankruptcy at least once via the Dismiss New button if you change new to be “until visited” after the fact, anyway.

Otherwise New (500) would haunt you forever.


I use “new when not viewed yet”. My daily read-flow goes:

  1. Land on Latest and immediately skip past it to Unread.
  2. Read everything in Unread.
  3. If time allows it
  • Read what interests me in New, then Dismiss New, if time does not allow it;
  • Come back tomorrow and start at 1 again.

When it comes to Meta, I don’t want to miss out. If I’m offline for a couple of days, I’ll have a much easier time skimming past New than the entire Latest list.