That is why I have rather strong feelings on this one. If you aren’t willing to read to the end, then you shouldn’t be posting at all.
(And if that’s a statement you fundamentally disagree with, you shouldn’t be using Discourse.)
I accept and understand that there can be some rare topic exceptions to this, such as spoiler topics for tv shows you haven’t watched yet – but this should be pretty rare in the big scheme of things, shouldn’t it?
Heh. This post makes me chuckle because it has all kinds of inherent assumptions. So many, in fact that I’m not even sure where to start.
Let me start with an example. Let’s say you’re posting on Quartertothree, which uses Discourse, and you’re away for the weekend, spending time with your family, you didn’t get a chance to post. Now it’s Monday morning, you’re at work, and you just hit compile, and you’re waiting on something, and you start checking out some threads that you missed over the weekend.
In the Immigration thread, on Friday night, someone posted a really nice detailed analysis on how to use e-Verify and manditory checks with the system to ensure that no one can come with fake papers and start a job. The post goes into details, one by one, of the consequences, and what it leads to, which leads to something else, which leads to something else. Following that post, there are two other posters who had some nice counter-ideas and criticisms, and agreement. But then on Saturday the news came out about keeping kids in cages, and there’s articles posted that you want to follow. But you don’t want to lose the thread on the ideas you had when reading that earlier discussion. So you quote part of people’s posts, you post a detailed reply, and you hit post, but thankfully, you don’t lose your place in the thread, you go back to work, and when there’s a lull later that afternoon at work, you check back in and check out some game threads, since you’re not in the mood right now to check out articles about kids in cages.
After you come back from lunch, your computer is acting up, everything is working but it’s really slow, so you open a tab on Qt3’s forum again, you go back to the Immigration thread and you follow the thread now on those kids in cages. You don’t have anything to contribute here, so you just read the articles and people’s comments. On Sunday, it turned out there was an interesting article published about the historical context for immigration in this country, and there was a detailed discussion on that. You do have some ideas to contribute here, you’re an immigrant yourself, and some of these ideas resonate, and you want to share them, but you don’t want to skip ahead and lose the place in the thread.
And on and on. That’s just one example from the recent past, there are dozens of others. At Qt3, we don’t even have a thread per season on Game of Thrones, we just have one giant thread. I was on there today, the discussion can go on two or three different parallel tracks at once, and it moves FAST. And after posting on Qt3 for a while, you become attuned to the changes in the thread. You know when topics change and get dropped. They were discussion Arya’s spear, but now they’re discussing White Walkers. You want to agree with someone but post a small addition about something you noticed about the spear. Yes, sure, there might be someone who posted that same thought in the intervening 300 posts you haven’t caught up on yet. They might have gone back to the spear. But it doesn’t matter. You’re having fun, the person you replied to will probably appreciate your additions to their idea, even if it’s been mentioned before. There’s absolutely no harm in not reading the 300 posts in between before posting about the spear.
Believe me, if you’re posting on Qt3, what I described above is “expert” behavior. You’re contributing to a social thread, or a political thread, or a game thread, with ideas. It’s better to have those ideas out there, even if there’s some repetition, than for someone to skip past it, and forget about what you were going to say as you read the hundreds of other posts about different things that come next in the thread.
I’d also add if the topic is really that chatty and random, why would you care if you lose your place in reading it? What difference does it make? The idea that your read position needs to be meticulously and accurately tracked becomes nonsensical at that point. If you don’t read some specific part of mega random rambling chat topic, nothing of value has been lost.
From all of the comments over the past two weeks it’s clear that a lot of the pushback comes from bad habits.
It’s not essential to read every response in a topic which amounts to ephemera
Not all communities understand effective topic structure
Duplicating posts that may already exist is always bad - aka empty vessel syndrome
All of the above contribute to the kind of fatigue which eventually renders participation a hollow timesink. It was complaints of drinking from the firehose which led to social networks experimenting with algorithms to prioritise content, so it’s no surprise that the same problem appears in more conventional communities. People are fundamentally bad at this stuff.
To anyone who is hell-bent on not losing their topic position in a single reading it’s quite easy to just run a second tab or window. I’d rather “experts” be put though that inconvenience than give them the tools to perpetuate the above.
The short answer is that it doesn’t. Stephen is right. It’s just a message board where people are posting about movies, games, tv shows, politics, and lots and lots about the kind of food they like. Ultimately, you’re right, I should be doing something more productive with my time rather than reading and posting on a message board. So I guess disabling jump reply will help with that.
I will provide a small counter-example of that in the politics topic though. In the example above, those three separate things I discussed that would be in the Immigration thread, if I had skipped past two of them and never read them, it’s true, I’d be none the wiser that I’d missed a good discussion, or in the case of the third mini-discussion, missed my chance to share my own memories of coming here as an immigrant. And the truth is, I don’t check every topic. I do sometimes just skip large potions of certain threads. The only exceptions to that are the threads like the one I’m describing where there’s topics being discussed that are important to me. These topics don’t just provide reading material, they help solidify and refine ideas. I then discuss these topics with my co-workers and friends, none of whom are the same political persuasion as me. Sometimes reading these threads actually helps me frame ideas in a way that make sense in the real world to the people around me, and it helps change their minds. Unlike message boards, people in the real world talking around a lunch table are very conducive to a well made point, and I’ve managed to change minds over the last three years, and had my own changed on a few things as well.
Thing is, I know which topics have these kind of valuable discussions and which ones don’t. I know which ones are likely to have them, I should say. There’s always the occasional off-topic fantastic discussion that breaks out in a completely unrelated thread, and if I miss that, it’s okay. The point is, I want to be in control of that. Whether I want to skip discussions in a particular thread or not.
When a forum is organised with mega topics like that, it really sounds like it should be a true threaded forum system, not Discourse’s flat-but-with-post-links. With threaded topics can branch and get deeper, and this whole problem disappears.
Now I don’t think it would be impossible to make a plugin which turned Discourse into a threaded forum. The database structure probably wouldn’t need to change, just the queries that retrieved posts, and of course the UI. It would be a big undertaking. But it would work much better than replying in the middle of a flat forum does.
I guess this is the logical conclusion here, which is why @codinghorror is so apprehensive here.
This is fundamentally an attempt to sneak in threading, and we have zero plans to ever tackle a threaded view for our forum it would be fiendishly complex and completely against our core project mission statement.
Just to set expectations here, we have no plans to do anything here for at least 6 months.
Jeff is open to adding a ninja per time you post, don’t blow off my foot if I am a bomb disposal expert toggle. I am worried about complexity here in the UX, but we can think about this again in 6 months.
In the interim my recommendation would be just to reorganise threaded topics into multiple topics. Much of this is “but I want to install a mega pancreas that eats up all my sugar in one go”, eat less sugar?
One mega politics topic -> One politics directory topic + multiple sub-discussion topics.
One giant GoT topic -> GoT directory + Per episode GoT topic
I used to just copy/delete/paste posts and ensure I pressed the correct “reply” button for the response I wanted. I had no idea I could switch on the fly!
Speaking of holes: Is there a way to clear them? The back button went a bit crazy the other day and it ended up pointing at the top of QT3s Game Of Thrones mega-thread, even though I was “fully read” and possibly the last poster in that thread. It turns out there were quite a few posts near the top that weren’t marked as read, and they still are, because I’m not going to manually scroll down them all to satisfy Discourse. I’d never seen that before, though.
( I also find it ironic, as Discourse is usually hell bent on destroying my precious read position and getting me to the bottom of the thread)
It’s quite easy, but completely impractical. I already have a dedicated tab open for the QT3 Star Trek watching thread because Discourse mangled my read position with its search results. (ps I purposefully linked to the end there to mess with your read markers in that thread) Perhaps I should keep a physically notebook open by my desk and write down all of my read markers for all important threads, just on the (likely) chance that Discourse blows them away?
I was just wanting a feature back that was taken away recently, that I used a lot.
Believe me, this is not a super secret underhanded way of asking for a threaded view. A threaded view wouldn’t work well at Qt3 anyway. Things are fine the way they are. If we had to start a new topic for every little thing discussed during the Trump era in the politics discussion that would be a LOT messier than just keeping things within the megathread topics. A much, much easier solution to the problem than a threaded view is just to allow me to disable jump to reply, which used to be an option. I’m fine with codinghorror’s solution of doing it per thread as well. That might actually work better than the old way.
I always used it and loved the feature. I was very surprised when suddenly it was gone earlier this week/last week. I’m a user of WaniKani’s forums, and some of those threads are exceptionally long (including the helpful ones).
I never noticed a problem with it, it always seemed to work for me.
I would really appreciate it if the option would return to user settings.
Thanks for asking for and considering our feedback.
EDIT: Well, I see that nothing is going to be done about this for 6 months… If @sam’s reply button idea gets implemented, would it be when you press reply at the bottom of the post, or in the top left of the compose box as shown in the posts you’ve made? Personally, I would prefer the former, hidden under the “…” next to reply and edit. I tend to forget the button on the compose box even exists, and don’t even know where to access that on mobile.
Although it seems like @codinghorror has his mind made up anyway, and doesn’t care about Japanese learning resources, or grammar help. (But yes, 80% of the insane posts at WaniKani is chatter by your definition; the WaniKani community is a strange beast… Which thrives on it’s strangeness.)
I agree with this. I have no stake in the “jump to reply” discussion, but I wanted to support that there are some legitimate usages of mega topics. I’m a member of a language learning forum, where we have (for example) a mega topic for asking short grammar questions. Without that we’d get a ton of small topics, which are then hard to navigate. By having this one mega topic where people ask most grammar-related questions, everything is organized in one place, which is convenient for both the people asking the questions and the people answering the questions.
Just a minor suggestion on top of that: Since Ctrl + Enter submits the post, could Ctrl + Shift + Enter submit the post in this "expert reply mode”?
The thing is that none of these things are ‘bad habits’, they are simply things you don’t agree with. Not washing hands after going to the loo is a bad habit because you endanger others with germs; having topics where posts can be replied to without the need to read the rest of the posts in the topic is simply a different situation to one you prefer.
One of the useful things about this site is that you get the link down to replies to a post. This means you can immediately see if a given specifically targeted post has been addressed. There might be 300 posts below the one I’m reading but if there’s no
under it then I can safely reply knowing I don’t need to read the rest of it.
While it might be nice to assume that all Topics can work in the same way, be narrow and specific, it’s simply not practical to assume that is the way all communities will work. DrownedInSound has a morning thread and an evening thread every day that generate several 100 posts of chat between members. Essentially they are miscellaneous topics and they work well as a sort of cowcatcher for posts that might otherwise not fit in existing topics.