Some proposed Discourse improvements for TDWTF


  • Banned

    Here are some changes to Discourse we'll be working on to address the major, consistent, repeated points that came up in previous discussions:

    • a keyboard shortcut to jump to arbitrary post numbers (or "pages", whatever we define that to mean) in a topic

    • a "don't take me to my new post after posting" user preference

    • location field on user profiles

    • fix the Firefox selection bug due to markup

    • user preference to not update URL as you scroll in a topic

    next up, programmering


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    I think you may have overlooked the top most-requested feature.


    Filed Under: A truck bed for the car.



  • @codinghorror said:

    a keyboard shortcut to jump to arbitrary post numbers (or "pages", whatever we define that to mean) in a topic

    Why not just use the existing widget and have it do something actually useful? I mean, shit, you have tiny-ass hard-to-click links all over the place, except that widget (which you inexplicably call a "scroll bar" even though it's not) is the biggest hit-area on the entire goddamned page, and it does exactly two things, both of which are mostly useless. How about if I click in the middle, I get a slider or a text box or some shit?

    @codinghorror said:

    a "don't take me to my new post after posting" user preference

    Why don't you just show the fucking up arrow widget on a reply, even if they replied without quoting? Wouldn't that fix be 100% more sensible?

    The bug here is when you quote and reply, the resulting post's header is UTTERLY DIFFERENT than if you reply without quoting. The obvious solution is to make them not utterly different. Not to add new settings nobody will ever find.

    If you're going to shuffle Titanic deck chairs, at least spend some time thinking about how to put them in attractive arrangements.


  • Banned

    @blakeyrat said:

    except that widget (which you inexplicably call a "scroll bar" even though it's not) is the biggest hit-area on the entire goddamned page, and it does exactly two things, both of which are mostly useless. How about if I click in the middle, I get a slider or a text box or some shit?

    I've never called it a "scroll bar", it is a "topic progress bar". Right now the two click areas are as follows:

    I'm just not convinced that average people really want to move to arbitrary posts in the stream that often, such that we corrupt the experience for the much more common needs of moving to top and bottom?

    And you guys know you can move to any post number in the topic via the keyboard already right? Try this:

    • press alt+d
    • press end
    • delete the numbers there, enter the number of the post you want to move to
    • press enter

    Ok, so maybe that's a lot of keys.

    @blakeyrat said:

    Why don't you just show the fucking up arrow widget on a reply, even if they replied without quoting? Wouldn't that fix be 100% more sensible?

    Define reply -- a reply is anything I quote from. If I click the reply button on a post, then quote 6 other posts, that's a reply to 7 different posts and it'll be tracked as such from both directions.

    But I think I get your intent here, why not show a "move back to my read position" button on your newly posted reply. Overall I think I prefer spending that engineering time to add the user preference to not move your viewport to bottom on reply if you are an advanced user and you know what you're doing, for the reasons stated here.



  • @codinghorror said:

    I've never called it a "scroll bar",

    Liar.

    @codinghorror said:

    I'm just not convinced that average people really want to move to arbitrary posts in the stream that often, such that we corrupt the experience for the much more common needs of moving to top and bottom?

    Nor am I. I think they'd rather have a pickup truck. Which, incidentally, would fix about 47 other bugs we've seen here.

    @codinghorror said:

    And you guys know you can move to any post number in the topic via the keyboard already right?

    Features that are not discoverable do not exist.

    @codinghorror said:

    Define reply -- a reply is anything I quote from.

    We are specifically talking about replies WHERE NO POSTS ARE QUOTED. Try to keep up. It's your own fucking topic.

    That said, you bring up an edge case where a person could hit reply on post A, then type a response to A, then quote post B, etc. In that case, you could just insert the up arrow widget on the top of the post (like you would do with a post with zero quotes) and the other quotes already have a widget so they're fine.

    @codinghorror said:

    Overall I think I prefer spending that engineering time to add the user preference to not move your viewport to bottom on reply if you are an advanced user and you know what you're doing, for the reasons stated here.

    Not that you give a shit, since you clearly don't QA anything about this, but every checkbox doubles the number of configurations you have to QA. If you can solve the problem without a configuration, you should.



  • @codinghorror said:

    And you guys know you can move to any post number in the topic via the keyboard already right? Try this:

    Cannot reproduce on OSX. Alt-D does nothing, command-D bookmarks, control-D does nothing, my mac doesn't have an end key and you're right, it's an absurd number of keys.

    I can't say I like the idea of so much functionality being dependent on hotkeys. It's not discoverable, it's (as shown here) inconsistent and it just plain isn't an option on tablets or mobile devices. I've seen keyboard shortcuts popping up all over the place which sound kinda cool, but I can't use any of them and there's no accessible fallback.

    EDIT: and by "popping up" I mean "being posted in threads by the developers because there's no way to figure them out by yourself." Not exactly a sustainable education mechanism if this software gains widespread adoption.



  • @codinghorror said:

    I'm just not convinced that average people really want to move to arbitrary posts in the stream that often, such that we corrupt the experience for the much more common needs of moving to top and bottom?
    I'm an average person and I want this. For moving to top and bottom I prefer using Home and End.

    But I still think it would be better to have a scrollbar or a sausage.

    Filed under: anecdotal evidence.


  • Banned

    @blakeyrat said:

    Features that are not discoverable do not exist.

    The fact that the URL represents your current location in the stream by post number is reasonably evident as you scroll down, since you can watch the URL change:

    And of course on the link dialog:

    That reminds me though, it is a good idea to make that dialog a bit wider.



  • @codinghorror said:

    I've never called it a "scroll bar", it is a "topic progress bar". Right now the two click areas are as follows:

    I'm just not convinced that average people really want to move to arbitrary posts in the stream that often, such that we corrupt the experience for the much more common needs of moving to top and bottom?

    Here, I made my own little mock-up. You'll want to get an artist to redo the graphics, 'cause I drew it on my laptop's touchpad, but it gets the idea across:

    Tag: Also I am 12.


  • Banned

    That art should be in the smithsonian.

    But seriously, I was thinking maybe clicking / tapping on the progress bar expands it substantially (up) to show a bunch of things:

    • date ranges of activity, with targets to move to
    • arbitrary move to post number entry box
    • move top
    • move bottom
    • move top 20%
    • move bottom 20%

    The only downside is that moving to top/bottom becomes a two-tap operation. There is an alternative single action move to top by clicking/tapping the title of the topic, but there's no alternative single action move to bottom except the end key.

    Example of clickable date ranges from esotalk:

    Careful, esotalk is an infinite scroll forum. I don't want anyone's feelings to get hurt when they click over there. Because I care a lot.

    Faith No More - We Care A Lot – 04:05
    — Rockdriigo



  • @codinghorror said:

    a "don't take me to my new post after posting" user preference

    +1

    Can I suggest, though, that this be set on by default? There seems to be a lot of power on here that is hard to identify / discover, and the least intuitive setting tends to be the default.



  • @dfcowell said:

    my mac doesn't have an end key

    Try Fn+right arrow.

    WTF? Why can't I paste text I copied from another program to this editor (I can copy-and-paste text within the editor, but I can't copy something from eg. Notepad and paste it in here - Ctrl+V, Shift+Ins and right-click->Paste do exactly nothing).



  • @codinghorror said:

    to address the major, consistent, repeated points that came up in previous discussions

    all you need to do is provide me with an option to turn all the fancy schmancy infinite scrolling bullshit OFF and give me the paginated view I want.

    I know it sucks when you've poured your heart into something you consider new and wonderful and people just piss all over it. But there's a reason why dead tree books have been published in codex form rather than scroll form pretty much ever since the codex was invented, and that is that pages work. From my point of view as a frequent user of the forum that this one is probably going to replace, infinite scrolling is an insanely irritating non-solution to an absolute non-problem.



  • @ender said:

    Try Fn+right arrow.

    Thanks, I always thought that the fn key only affected... well... the function keys. Seems like Discourse takes after Apple in terms of discoverability. Still doesn't solve my lack of an Alt-D though.



  • Works on most Windows laptops, too. FN -> is end and FN <- is home



  • @skotl said:

    Works on most Windows laptops, too. FN -> is end and FN <- is home

    You mean non-apple laptops. And I found that this works on macs precisely because this is how many regular laptops implement Home/End/PgUp/PgDn - except that unlike Apple, they indicate that on the keys.



  • Fair enough.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Zecc said:

    or a sausage.

    @Sausage's author said:

    Sausage is a jQuery UI widget for contextual pagination. It complements long or infinite-scrolling pages by keeping the user informed of her location within the document.

    Have I mentioned how much that sort of thing grates?

    @codinghorror said:

    The fact that the URL represents your current location in the stream by post number is reasonably evident as you scroll down, since you can watch the URL change:

    Firefox 32.0a and Chrome 34 under Linux here. The URL doesn't change while scrolling.



  • @PJH said:

    Sausage's author said:
    Sausage is a jQuery UI widget for contextual pagination. It complements long or infinite-scrolling pages by keeping the user informed of her location within the document.

    Have I mentioned how much that sort of thing grates?

    Yeah, way too heteronormative.


    Filed Under: wurstfest



  • @PJH said:

    Sausage is a jQuery UI widget for contextual pagination. It complements long or infinite-scrolling pages by keeping the user informed of her location within the document.

    Have I mentioned how much that sort of thing grates?

    Well, who else is going to want a sausage? You're saying you want a sausage?


    Filed under: Teeheehee



  • @codinghorror said:

    next up, programmering

    accurate



  • @codinghorror said:

    I'm just not convinced that average people really want to move to arbitrary posts

    Regardless of use case, it made intuitive sense to me that clicking in the middle of the progress bar takes me to the middle of the thread, just like a media playback progress bar.

    Is that called affordance? Probably.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @dhromed said:

    Regardless of use case, it made intuitive sense to me that clicking in the middle of the progress bar takes me to the middle of the thread, just like a media playback progress bar.

    Agreed, I'd find this intuitive as well.



  • @DoctorJones said:

    Agreed, I'd find this intuitive as well.

    Agreed with this guy's agreeing.



  • @dhromed said:

    Regardless of use case, it made intuitive sense to me that clicking in the middle of the progress bar takes me to the middle of the thread, just like a media playback progress bar.

    Is that called affordance? Probably.

    Honestly, I assumed it already did that, and was very confused when it didn't. Why are we pretending it's a scrollbar if it isn't at least as useful as a scroll bar? Because if it's a progress bar, then it's nearly pointless and probably a liar, like all progress bars everywhere.



  • @moderator said:

    I assumed it already did that, and was very confused when it didn't

    That is called "intuitive"



  • Here's my suggestion for the green box thingy. Make the arrows go to the next and previous posts, instead of the top or bottom of the page.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    That's what J and K are for...



  • +1 for discoverability and choosing the easiest keys to quickly reach from the mouse.



  • I have Find-As-You-Type in Firefox. It's really handy. Often breaks kidnapped keys, though.



  • @codinghorror said:

    average

    bzzz sorry, penalty. I've said it before and I'll say it again: by your own admission of "grumpy cat users" vs. "tdwtf users", we are not the average users. Like your own topic header says "http://what.thedailywtf.com/t/some-proposed-discourse-improvements-for-tdwtf/365"... wow, just fucking wow. I highlighted the forum title, and you fuck around with copy and paste operations? GUESS WHAT? A NEW BUG!!!!

    That should have pasted "Some proposed Discourse improvements for TDWTF". Jesus fucking christ, stop letting your software assume it knows what I want to do. Fuck.

    Putting that bullshit aside, you're also wrong about "average" users. "average" translates into "unwashed drooling idiots", and those users simply don't exist. Humans are smart and adaptable, even the "stupid" ones. You and every designer in the world has to stop making software to idiots. They don't exist, and you're just harming us all. You harm us who know how to use software (and there are a lot of us), and you do a dis-service to those who can learn to use software (read: every fucking person on the planet, since they learned to use a computer just fine since they are USING SOFTWARE).



  • Alright, I can't finish reading the threadtopic before replying, because there are too many things piling up that I want to reply to, and I'll never find them all again, so I apologize in advance if I repeat something someone else has already said:
    @codinghorror said:

    And you guys know you can move to any post number in the topic via the keyboard already right?
    Hell fucking no, because that is not even remotely close to discoverable, and even with all the discussion of navigation that's been going on here, this is the first time anyone has thought to mention its existence.

    @codinghorror said:

    I'm just not convinced that average people really want to move to arbitrary posts
    How many times do we have to tell you we want to before you get it. Maybe we're not average people (we're not), but we are the average users on this forum*, and a significant number of is want to.

    * That's not really true either, most of us would be considered power users, but still...

    @dfcowell said:

    I can't say I like the idea of so much functionality being dependent on hotkeys. It's not discoverable
    QFT. Even if you know there are hotkeys available, I haven't seen any kind of help anything around here to reveal the magic incantations. If there is, it's sure not obvious for a new user to find it.

    @codinghorror said:

    The fact that the URL represents your current location in the stream by post number is reasonably evident as you scroll down, since you can watch the URL change:

    Not really. When I'm scrolling down the page, I'm looking at the text I'm reading, not the address/awesome/whatever-the-fuck-stupid-name-it-has-this-week-bar.@codinghorror said:

    And of course on the link dialog

    Not "of course." I have never clicked that widget, because I have never wanted to share a link on a social network that I don't use. I just want to know how to get back to this post.
    @codinghorror said:
    But seriously, I was thinking maybe clicking / tapping on the progress bar expands it substantially (up) to show a bunch of things:

    That, to me, is an acceptable solution. It doesn't get rid if the infiniscroll BS, but if we are hopelessly stuck with that, at least it's a reasonable way of navigating within it.
    @ender said:
    WTF? Why can't I paste text I copied from another program to this editor

    Seriously??? There must be an emoticon for *headdesk* but there is no suggestion when I start typing :head..., and I'm too lazy to go try to find it, so just imagine about 20 of them here.
    @dhromed said:
    Regardless of use case, it made intuitive sense to me that clicking in the middle of the progress bar takes me to the middle of the thread, just like a media playback progress bar.
    Yes. Yes. YES!

    @moderator said:

    I assumed it already did that
    Yes. Yes. YES!



  • @codinghorror said:


    WTF? Now it won't let me quote an image from your post; I have to past the URL in manually, and it's not oneboxing it; I have to wrap in an img tag.

    Anyway, yes, that's exactly how I would and did expect that widget to work (except the yellow box should be bigger; the boundaries should be about mid-way between the arrows and the numbers).



  • @codinghorror said:

    I'm just not convinced that average people really want to move to arbitrary posts in the stream that often

    I have to agree here. How am I supposed to know the number of the post I want to jump to? Guess? Memorize?

    Moving around quickly and efficiently is important, especially in long discussions, but jumping by typing random numbers is just a kludge.

    @codinghorror said:

    But seriously, I was thinking maybe clicking / tapping on the progress bar expands it substantially (up) to show a bunch of things:

    • date ranges of activity, with targets to move to

    • arbitrary move to post number entry box

    • move top

    • move bottom

    • move top 20%

    • move bottom 20%


    Jump targets I would find useful:

    • move to top/bottom

    • move to first unread post

    • a list of my own/bookmarked/liked posts in this topic

    • move by ±50 posts

    • maybe date ranges


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @HardwareGeek said:

    Anyway, yes, that's exactly how I would and did expect that widget to work (except the yellow box should be bigger; the boundaries should be about mid-way between the arrows and the numbers).

    What if you could click-and-drag from the green area, and the further you dragged the further you jumped? So, 40px might take you 5 posts, 400px might take you 50 posts. It might be a little jarring, so you'd have to have the numbers update while dragging and then animate the actual jump.



  • @fatbull said:

    Jump targets I would find useful:

    What the jump targets should be is a very reasonable topic for discussion. I think there is reasonably broad agreement that the widget should be more useful than it is now, yes? I do not disagree with your suggestions, but I believe going to a specific post should be available for those who want it.



  • @error said:

    What if you could click-and-drag from the green area, and the further you dragged the further you jumped? So, 40px might take you 5 posts, 400px might take you 50 posts. It might be a little jarring, so you'd have to have the numbers update while dragging and then animate the actual jump.

    I'm having a little trouble visualizing just what you're describing. I guess I'd have to try it to see if it was a navigation mode that fit my workflow.



  • @error said:

    then animate the actual jump.

    Eh, I'd prefer an instant jump, not an animated one. Stated another way: I only want to wait as long as it takes to get the information I want to see and not have to wait an additional amount of time to see all the information between where I'm at and where I want to go.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @too_many_usernames said:

    Eh, I'd prefer an instant jump, not an animated one. Stated another way: I only want to wait as long as it takes to get the information I want to see, not have to wait an additional amount of time to see all the information between where I'm at and where I want to go.

    I meant something very quick, like constant time 100ms (regardless of total distance). Believe me, warping is very disorienting.

    Your scrollbar does it when you click the area above or below the actual bar. Smooth scrolling I think it's called.



  • Right - but how do you animate that when jumping over, say, 50 posts? That's different than smooth scroll, which is only scrolling stuff that's just outside the viewable area. For a large jump, there is no meaningful way to animate it - not in a scrolling manner at any rate. I suppose I could tolerate a fade-out/fade-in thing, but it had better be fast. Computers are supposed to speed things up for me, and I find it seriously annoying when we add things that take time (menu fade-in, etc. Just open it when I click already! At least normally that fade stuff can be turned off...)



    • Feature request: a stylesheet that does NOT fade out elements when you're not hovering your mouse over them, and draws a rectangle around every post.
    • Also, forget your nonsensical ideas of "the mouse will be replaced by touchscreens any day now, you'll see" and implement tooltips already.
    • Also, that
      @Zecc said:
      sausage

      thing looks great.
    • Also, is it me or are you unloading posts from memory as soon as they fade out of the screen? Because that would be a WTF of colossal proportions.

    I think that's about it. For now.



  • @anonymous234 said:

    Feature request: a stylesheet that does NOT fade out elements when you're not hovering your mouse over them

    That would be a dupe of a bug I posted elsewhere-- but since people only read the first and last 10% of anything, thank you for reposting. I truly love SHIT RANDOMLY FLASHING ALL AROUND THE SCREEN!

    @anonymous234 said:

    draws a rectangle around every post.

    I know of a really [url="http://forums.thedailywtf.com"]good looking style[/url] that we should emulate.

    @anonymous234 said:

    implement tooltips already.

    In all fairness, some elements do have tooltips. I couldn't tell you which ones, because there is no consistency between which do and don't, and if they hold additional information that should be on screen (like the time), or if they hold critical discovery that would be fixed by not using an icon (all the greyed out buttons under each post), or just missing.

    Now, even I will concede that mobile browsing is A Thing, and that tooltips should only contain helpful information and screen-reading instructions, not any additional functionality. Of course, given that half the site is designed with "everything's a phone" brainworms, many UI/UX elements are MS-Paint mystery widgets. You can discover what they are by hovering with a mouse. But they are ostensibly made for touch devices-- which both need the tool tips the most, and are the least capable of accessing them. It's brillant design.



  • @PJH said:

    That's what J and K are for...

    Vi lives on!



  • In addition to the post count, I'd like to see an online/offline indication and location, like CS has. Yeah, a lot of people put silly stuff in the location, and some of us privacy freaks and/or lazy bums don't put anything, but for the people who do put a real location, it's nice to be able to respond to one of their posts and know "he's online, and it's lunchtime where he is, so I'll probably get a quick reply," or "he's offline, and it's 3 AM, so I won't hold my breath."



  • @HardwareGeek said:

    In addition to the post count, I'd like to see an online/offline indication and location, like CS has. Yeah, a lot of people put silly stuff in the location, and some of us privacy freaks and/or lazy bums don't put anything, but for the people who do put a real location, it's nice to be able to respond to one of their posts and know "he's online, and it's lunchtime where he is, so I'll probably get a quick reply," or "he's offline, and it's 3 AM, so I won't hold my breath."

    There's an online indicator in CS?



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    There's an online indicator in CS?

    Yeah, at least I'm pretty sure that's what it is. I can't remember if I ever found it documented, but it exhibits the behavior I would expect from such an indicator. I see it next to my name when I'm logged in, and not when I'm not. I usually see it next to the names of people who've posted in the last few minutes, and not next to names of people for whom I know it's the middle of the night:



  • @HardwareGeek said:

    Yeah, at least I'm pretty sure that's what it is. I can't remember if I ever found it documented, but it exhibits the behavior I would expect from such an indicator. I see it next to my name when I'm logged in, and not when I'm not. I usually see it next to the names of people who've posted in the last few minutes, and not next to names of people for whom I know it's the middle of the night:

    <img src="/uploads/default/263/1419a804895ae1b2.png" width="94" height="72">

    I'll be goddamned, I didn't know that's what that was.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    I'll be goddamned

    Probably

    @morbiuswilters said:

    I didn't know that's what that was.
    Yeah, I think I must have found it somewhere in some help something, because I don't think I'd have figured it out on my own, either.



  • Indeed, user_IsOnline.gif is an indication that the user is online.



  • @anonymous234 said:

    Also, that sausage thing looks great.

    I have toyed a bit with it to see if it would improve things. This Greasemonkey user script adds the sausage bar to the forum, with a “page” for 50 posts. The page indicator is updated as the page scrolls. One caveat is that clicking on it reloads the page to show the post at the top of the selected “page”, instead of just jumping to it; I’ve tried Discourse’s Discourse.TopicView.jumpToPost function, but it does not seem to work all the time (I think it only works if the post was already loaded).

    (Note that the code is a huge WTF, particularly the Discourse hooking part)


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