Topics

locked Thread view?

Jeff Powell <jrpstonecarver@...>
 

Looking at messages in any given group (in the UI... not in email) there is an issue of a sort. (And yes, this is UI only, not email related. If you're not interested in the UI you can ignore this thread.)

Right now I can choose only 2 message views in the UI:

  • Messages View - which shows all the messages in time order
  • Topics View - which shows the first message and gives an indication of how many replies there are

What is missing is a thread view, that shows the first message and below that - indented - the replies to it. There might be multiple levels as well, of course, with replies to replies.

What a thread view allows is for user to have a better handle on what they have and haven't read. It's much easier to note if some new reply to a thread has been sent since you last looked. (Right now, if you don't remember the message count in that thread, you're out of luck and have to go look.)

Actual BB systems track what you've read and haven't, so they can indicate things you've not yet seen. That might be interesting too, but may not be where groups.io is headed. But a thread view would be helpful, and since the system already show both topics and all the messages, it's effectively just a different sort order plus indentation in the display.

And yes, I fully understand that sort might be a nightmare. It might not be possible (or at least not practical). But speaking as someone that uses the digest version of beta and GMF, but reads the groups online to keep up when I can, such a display would be much appreciated. At least by me.

Thoughts?

--jeffp


 

I think this would be really useful.

Sent from my iPhone

On Sep 18, 2016, at 4:35 PM, Jeff Powell <jrpstonecarver@...> wrote:

Looking at messages in any given group (in the UI... not in email) there is an issue of a sort. (And yes, this is UI only, not email related. If you're not interested in the UI you can ignore this thread.)

Right now I can choose only 2 message views in the UI:

  • Messages View - which shows all the messages in time order
  • Topics View - which shows the first message and gives an indication of how many replies there are

What is missing is a thread view, that shows the first message and below that - indented - the replies to it. There might be multiple levels as well, of course, with replies to replies.

What a thread view allows is for user to have a better handle on what they have and haven't read. It's much easier to note if some new reply to a thread has been sent since you last looked. (Right now, if you don't remember the message count in that thread, you're out of luck and have to go look.)

Actual BB systems track what you've read and haven't, so they can indicate things you've not yet seen. That might be interesting too, but may not be where groups.io is headed. But a thread view would be helpful, and since the system already show both topics and all the messages, it's effectively just a different sort order plus indentation in the display.

And yes, I fully understand that sort might be a nightmare. It might not be possible (or at least not practical). But speaking as someone that uses the digest version of beta and GMF, but reads the groups online to keep up when I can, such a display would be much appreciated. At least by me.

Thoughts?

--jeffp



--
J

Messages are the sole opinion of the author. 

I wish I could shut up, but I can't, and I won't. - Desmond Tutu

 

jeffp,

Right now I can choose only 2 message views in the UI:
  • Messages View - which shows all the messages in time order
  • Topics View - which shows the first message and gives an indication of how many replies there are
There is also the other variations of Messages View: Expanded View, Polls View (a filter for messages with a Poll in them).

 What is missing is a thread view, that shows the first message and below
 that - indented - the replies to it. There might be multiple levels as
 well, of course, with replies to replies.

Apart from the lack of hierarchy, that's what you get when you click on a topic from Topics view.

I too would have preferred that Topic View were arranged to show the actual reply-to hierarchy of the messages.
https://groups.io/g/beta/message/366

 What a thread view allows is for user to have a better handle on what
 they have and haven't read. It's much easier to note if some new reply
 to a thread has been sent since you last looked. (Right now, if you
 don't remember the message count in that thread, you're out of luck and
 have to go look.)

I don't get that. I would expect the criticism would be the opposite: that hierarchy view makes it harder to find the new posts (because they may be hanging off the various branches of the conversation, not gathered at the bottom or top).

So maybe I don't have the right picture of what you're asking for.

 Actual BB systems track what you've read and haven't, so they can
 indicate things you've not yet seen. That might be interesting too, but
 may not be where groups.io is headed.

On the wishlist, but not coming soon.
https://trello.com/c/m1HaX8DC/18-keep-track-of-read-unread-messages-on-the-website

Shal

Maria
 

On Sun, Sep 18, 2016 at 04:35 pm, Jeff Powell wrote:
What is missing is a thread view, that shows the first message and below that - indented - the replies to it. There might be multiple levels as well, of course, with replies to replies.

I can't say I "miss" that that particular way of viewing things is missing :)

I find the indented view of replies really rough on the eye and impossible on mobile.

I much prefer the flat thread view you get when you click on a topic subject - the way groups.io and discourse do it.

There is a whole movement to modernize message boards and I think getting rid of the indented view that you get with a traditional thread view is part of that.

Even Y! doesn't really offer that. They show threads as a flat reading experience - no indentations - and even collapse the in between replies so you have to expand then either one by one (or maybe there is an expand all option?)

I guess I'm not understanding the need or the benefit as I shy away from that view on platforms that offer it.

Maria

Maria
 

On Sun, Sep 18, 2016 at 04:35 pm, Jeff Powell wrote:
It's much easier to note if some new reply to a thread has been sent since you last looked. (Right now, if you don't remember the message count in that thread, you're out of luck and have to go look.)

I've also felt that it would be nice to have indicators of "new" activity and I'm fine with "new" being considered what's "new" since your last login or the last time your browser tab was clicked on. I feel there are options that are dynamic and not bothersome to help achieve this. Many ideas were shared in the various notification threads. Even something as simple as the counter on topics changing color if there is "new" activity since you last logged in. A text based statement at the top of the browser window, that may disappear after 3 mins to tell you how many new topics have been added, how many new replies... etc.  And there are many other ideas should a thread on this subject come up again.

Maria

 

On Mon, Sep 19, 2016 at 04:58 am, HR Tech wrote:
There is a whole movement to modernize message boards and I think getting rid of the indented view that you get with a traditional thread view is part of that.

Why would this be an obstacle to people who don't like it? My impression is that Jeff is suggesting this as another view option.

I know nothing about "modernizing" message boards or movements to do so. I do know that if I select message view, it's hard to have a global view of threads (now known as "topics," for Jeff's benefit - since I think he wasn't around when the name change was discussed). And if I select topics view, it's hard to immediately get a glimpse of what messages are in each topic.

His suggestion seems to provide a way to get a better immediate handle on both.  

I don't think it will happen. But FWIW, I think it would be helpful. 
--
J

Messages are the sole opinion of the author. 

I wish I could shut up, but I can't, and I won't. - Desmond Tutu

Maria
 

On Mon, Sep 19, 2016 at 07:12 am, J_Catlady wrote:
And if I select topics view, it's hard to immediately get a glimpse of what messages are in each topic.

Yes, I can relate to that need. Also can relate to the feeling of wanting to know if there is "new" activity within a thread that I've not read. If this does get further consideration, my suggestion would be to have a way to expand one thread (while in topics view) with one click ( like we do the admin menu) and then for that button to perhaps collapse the thread, or collapse any others that you've opened that way back to return to the overall topics view.

Ideally it would drop out/down in a flat/linear way so that you aren't seeing messages gradually drifting to the right hand side - which makes it impossible on mobile. Similar to the way you expand a thread now in Y! or the way Muut does it, or the way you see replies to comments on FB or discourse.

Just some ideas.

Maria

Jeff Powell <jrpstonecarver@...>
 

On Sun, Sep 18, 2016 at 05:35 pm, Shal Farley wrote:

jeffp,

Right now I can choose only 2 message views in the UI:
  • Messages View - which shows all the messages in time order
  • Topics View - which shows the first message and gives an indication of how many replies there are
There is also the other variations of Messages View: Expanded View, Polls View (a filter for messages with a Poll in them).

Polls view isn't generally useful in the groups I use, and the expanded view is basically unusable (to me) as things are so spread out I can't get enough context to have a clue.


 What is missing is a thread view, that shows the first message and below
 that - indented - the replies to it. There might be multiple levels as
 well, of course, with replies to replies.

Apart from the lack of hierarchy, that's what you get when you click on a topic from Topics view.

Actually you can't see the date of any replies either. I started this thread, but to check if there are new replies to it I have to to to the message itself and view it, then scroll down. There is nothing in the views (except expanded, which I really don't like) that gives message dates. And, as you agree, the hierarchy is missing as well.


 What a thread view allows is for user to have a better handle on what
 they have and haven't read. It's much easier to note if some new reply
 to a thread has been sent since you last looked. (Right now, if you
 don't remember the message count in that thread, you're out of luck and
 have to go look.)

I don't get that. I would expect the criticism would be the opposite: that hierarchy view makes it harder to find the new posts (because they may be hanging off the various branches of the conversation, not gathered at the bottom or top).

So maybe I don't have the right picture of what you're asking for.

No, you have the right picture, you're probably just thinking about a message with dozens or hundreds of replies. I'm thinking about a message with 5 or 10. In that case the hierarchy is manageable and if I can just see the first few words of each message (as currently displayed) but arranged in the hierarchical fashion - possibly expandable, as someone else suggested below - that would help my brain to scan these groups more easily.  Perhaps I am a mutant.

--jeffp

 

Jeff Powell <jrpstonecarver@...>
 

On Mon, Sep 19, 2016 at 07:12 am, J_Catlady wrote:

Why would this be an obstacle to people who don't like it? My impression is that Jeff is suggesting this as another view option.

Exactly. Another option that some users might want. 

--jeffp

 

 

Maria,

I find the indented view of replies really rough on the eye and
impossible on mobile.
Indentation isn't the only way to display hierarchy. It is merely a text-based customary way.

Even Y! doesn't really offer that. They show threads as a flat
reading experience - no indentations ...
That's true since the 2013 "neo" redesign. Previously each opened message had its hierarchical context shown below the message.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/shalf/10130165595/in/set-72157636272401705

I guess I'm not understanding the need or the benefit ...
For example: you post an idea for a new feature. I reply to you outlining an entirely different UI to get the desired effect. Then Alice (a hypothetical Alice, not any actual Alice here) chimes in with "I like this, but wish it did ... also" without quoting either of our messages.

Now, which of our proposals did Alice like? In the current views there is no easy way to find out.* What a hierarchy representation does is show which message Alice replied to.

This tends to be a fairly common scenario, as message UIs increasingly discourage the inclusion of quotes of prior messages. Notably, even here in Groups.io it requires an explicit Insert action to do so. Meanwhile Alice is blissfully unaware that there's even a question. The reply links are on individual messages (not the thread as a whole), and she chose the one she meant to comment on. The difficulty is that the current UI doesn't tell us which she chose.

*Reading the messages' view sources and comparing Alice's In-Reply-To field against our Message-ID fields is excluded as "not simple" for typical users.

--
Shal
https://groups.io/g/Group_Help
https://groups.io/g/GroupManagersForum

Maria
 

On Mon, Sep 19, 2016 at 11:48 pm, Shal Farley wrote:
For example: you post an idea for a new feature. I reply to you outlining an entirely different UI to get the desired effect. Then Alice (a hypothetical Alice, not any actual Alice here) chimes in with "I like this, but wish it did ... also" without quoting either of our messages.

Now, which of our proposals did Alice like? In the current views there is no easy way to find out.* What a hierarchy representation does is show which message Alice replied to.

Thank you Shal! Great example.

In the back of my head I was thinking "I wonder if Shal has a pic of the way the threading on Y! was before 2013...". I only vaguely remembered it. Thanks for sharing that. I definitely prefer flat threading :)

I am really interested in this thread however, because I think it is really useful to think about what could make the current views better - and this thread raises some great points. I have nothing against options but wonder about having a 5th viewing option - that just feels like too many. Instead I think it would be interesting to see if the points raised could be used to improve the current topics view in potential future revisions?

One need you shared, is to understand who someone replied to if/when that's not clear (either because it's not directly following the post it replies to or because as in your example there is no quoting etc). One way I've seen that resolved is to have an icon at the border of the post indicating which post is being replied to with the screen name of the person whose post you are replying to - if the icon is clicked the post that is being replied to expands out and can then be collapsed back. This works great with finger clicking or mouse clicking.

Likewise, I've seen replies that are not directly subsequent be listed chronologically in the flat view, plus also hidden but represented by a "3 replies" (which expands when clicked/tapped) under the post they are replying to. This way one can read the whole thread in a flat view, or get more granular and see the replies (with only one indentation) to a specific post in the thread. Both options are there within the same view.

Also, tagging someone in a reply with their @ name (if they have one) may in the future help with this as well as alert the poster there is a reply specifically for/to them.

I agree there are ways of showing hierarchy, or the relationship between posts, without increasing multiple indentations (this is being done elsewhere). Besides how hard indentation is on mobile, I don't like the way it creates sub-threads within a thread/topic, fragments conversations a bit (with replies to replies drifting off or feeling like one on ones), and that perhaps it's not even an accurate representation because people would often reply to the latest post or last post they read, even if they mean to reply to the original 1st one with general comments. It gets really messy on UI that don't hide the original text the person is replying to. I am definitely a fan of flat threading :) I like how that helps me gain a speedy overview of the entire conversation and feels cohesive. 

The other issue raised is that of notifying those of us who use the UI mostly about new replies within a thread - I think there are many intuitive and graphically driven ways to do that.

Maria

 

Maria,

I have nothing against options but wonder about having a 5th viewing
option - that just feels like too many.
Thy way Y!Groups classic did it would not be a new viewing option, it would be an addendum to Single View (show this one message, and its context). That is, some kind of representation of the hierarchy could be added to that view.

One way I've seen that resolved is to have an icon at the border of
the post indicating which post is being replied to with the screen
name of the person whose post you are replying to...
You probably need to be careful where you put that, and how it is styled, especially if you also include the replied-to person's photo. You also need the message number, as the person alone is likely ambiguous in a thread which has been an ongoing discussion.

That said, I don't really want to add visual clutter by having that information on every message (but the first) in the thread. A possibility is to show it as an item in the More menu. Something like "In reply to name, #number" The item could scroll you back to that message if clicked.

I agree there are ways of showing hierarchy, or the relationship
between posts, without increasing multiple indentations ... Besides
how hard indentation is on mobile, I don't like the way it creates
sub-threads within a thread/topic, fragments conversations a bit
(with replies to replies drifting off or feeling like one on ones)...
In that regard I think the hierarchy is reflecting reality, not creating it. That is, people do go off on tangents and engage in back-and-forth arguments off the main discussion. You can argue that they shouldn't, or that a moderator should step in and break those out into separate topics, but I think there can be advantages if UI reflects the reality of the conversation and not the fiction of a flat time-sequential conversation.

The classic Y!Groups presentation had that advantage: it gave the reader the choice of reading style. Those who prefer reading chronologically could use the next/previous in thread buttons to read in time order, while those who preferred to go depth-first could click in the hierarchy to follow a given sub-thread of the topic.

Note that we have the opportunity to do both: add a "In reply to" item to the More menu in Topic View, and add a hierarchy presentation to Single View. Neither would have much impact on users who don't need or want to use them, and no new modes are required.

The other issue raised is that of notifying those of us who use the
UI mostly about new replies within a thread - I think there are many
intuitive and graphically driven ways to do that.
Right. I don't know if adding a hierarchy display of some kind to Single View would help jeffp's use case; adding the In-Reply-To menu item to Topic View certainly wouldn't.

Shal
https://groups.io/g/Group_Help
https://groups.io/g/GroupManagersForum

Nightowl >8#
 

Jeff Powell wrote:>> But a thread view would be helpful, and since the system already show both topics and all the messages, it's effectively just a different sort order plus indentation in the display.<<

Groups.io decided to rename thread view to Topic view, and you can still read all the messages in that topic, I think, in reverse order. I don't do it, so I'm not as sure.

And I use the message numbers to keep track of where I am reading, but I read chronologically, not by topic. And I navigate using those message numbers.

Also, I know it's more work, but because I hate the vertical grey bars for quoting, I highlight the part I want to quote, hit reply, and then add my own >> around the quotes. <<

Brenda

Nightowl >8#
 

Shal Farley wrote:>>The classic Y!Groups presentation had that advantage: it gave the reader the choice of reading style. Those who prefer reading chronologically could use the next/previous in thread buttons to read in time order, while those who preferred to go depth-first could click in the hierarchy to follow a given sub-thread of the topic.<<

This is all SO confusing that I am thrilled I always read groups in chronological, message # order. :)

Brenda