moderated Change "New Topic" to "New Message", or (preferably) revert this change.


 

Mark,

* CHANGE: Previously we would treat web posts as new topics,
regardless of whether they had the same subject as a previous
topic. This was different from how we treat email messages, where
we combine new messages into existing topics when we can. Now we
do the same for web posts.
If "New Topic" no longer means /new topic/ it ought not say that.

I actually prefer the old behavior but if that is thought to be somehow too confusing then at least make the button say what it does.

While my general preference is for consistency, this is a case where I think the inconsistency was on the side of the email standards, not the site. The site was clear and internally consistent, producing a predictable result. Now clicking "New Topic" is unpredictable (maybe it is, maybe it isn't).

I'd rather live with the email messages being unpredictable as a consequence of the limitations of the email standards than have the site be unnecessarily unpredictable for the sake of slavish imitation.

Shal


Gerald Boutin <groupsio@...>
 

On Sat, Jan 5, 2019 at 04:26 AM, Shal Farley wrote:
The site was clear and internally consistent, producing a predictable result. Now clicking "New Topic" is unpredictable (maybe it is, maybe it isn't).
I strongly agree with Shal. In fact, I started writing a scathing post about how much I don''t like the idea.

However, as I started to check out the functionality, it seems that this change may not be as literal as the "Changelog" shows it.  I think it only looks back a limited distance in time / messages. In that case, it may not be as terrible as I thought it was.
 
Even so, I would much prefer that it stay the way it was with clearly defined and consistent functionality without having to know any secret handshakes.
--

Gerald


 

Gerald,

I think it only looks back a limited distance in time / messages.
o If the subject starts with Re:, look for a matching subject within the last 30 days
o If the subject does not start with Re:, look for a matching subject within the last 2 days
https://beta.groups.io/g/main/message/12652

Shal


Marv Waschke
 

I'm of two minds on this. When I read the change notice, I realized that had I noticed the inconsistency without realizing what it was exactly and was glad it was resolved. But when I read Shal and Gerald's comments, I also agree that a new element of unpredictability has been added. Ah, the pleasures of interface design!
Best, Marv
 


Gerald Boutin <groupsio@...>
 

On Sat, Jan 5, 2019 at 01:43 PM, Shal Farley wrote:
Gerald,

> I think it only looks back a limited distance in time / messages.

o If the subject starts with Re:, look for a matching subject within
the last 30 days
o If the subject does not start with Re:, look for a matching subject
within the last 2 days
https://beta.groups.io/g/main/message/12652

Shal
I did a bit more checking and I withdraw my scathing thoughts that were fortunately never posted. 

I did verify that the "memory" only goes back a couple days at most, so I don't see any real issues. I suppose that the label could be changed, but keeping it the same is probably OK too and would mean less documentation to update.

 
--
Gerald


Jim Higgins
 

Received from Gerald Boutin at 1/5/2019 01:17 PM UTC:

On Sat, Jan 5, 2019 at 04:26 AM, Shal Farley wrote:
The site was clear and internally consistent, producing a predictable result. Now clicking "New Topic" is unpredictable (maybe it is, maybe it isn't).
I strongly agree with Shal. In fact, I started writing a scathing post about how much I don''t like the idea.

However, as I started to check out the functionality, it seems that this change may not be as literal as the "Changelog" shows it. I think it only looks back a limited distance in time / messages. In that case, it may not be as terrible as I thought it was.

Perhaps not as bad as originally thought, but worse than before the change because it's no longer consistent and predictable.

Jim H


 

Jim,

Though you were in the original conversation, I should have cited it for the benefit of others reading here:
https://beta.groups.io/g/main/topic/28790857#19260

Perhaps not as bad as originally thought, but worse than before the
change because it's no longer consistent and predictable.
Arguably it is now consistent with how messages are handled by email, but that's a non-issue (I think; members who post on site probably don't notice the threading behavior of messages posted by email).

I don't like the change for two reasons: one, it invalidated the meaning of "New Topic" as the label on the button (now you might be creating a reply instead).

More importantly two, because to predict the outcome (New Topic or Reply) one must have perfect knowledge of the group's Topic list to determine if there's another topic with the same subject text. And by "perfect" I mean up to date, including any topics created near-simultaneously by other members.

Granted, members who post by email have had to put up with this unpredictable behavior all along, and it has not been a disaster. But in that case there's really nothing the site can do to rectify the situation - the email standards don't have a required header field to mark a message as created by "Compose", "New Message", or whatever, and not as a Reply (there are fields to mark replies, but their absence isn't a reliable marker, sometimes even within a given email interface).

Circling back, the original question/complaint was about a member who might create an indefinite number of posts with the same subject text; and whether that behavior ought not result in a single topic.

My answer then and now is "no". The member should instead be taught to create subject texts which match their message content, or use Reply when their speaking to the same topic. Other members, who happened to pick the same subject text for their New Topic, should not be punished by having their message subsumed under a Topic created by someone else.

That is, we should respect the member's intent in clicking "New Topic". Or else change the name of the function accordingly.

Shal


Jim Higgins
 

Received from Shal Farley at 1/5/2019 10:18 PM UTC:

Jim,

Though you were in the original conversation, I should have cited it for the benefit of others reading here:
https://beta.groups.io/g/main/topic/28790857#19260

Perhaps not as bad as originally thought, but worse than before
the change because it's no longer consistent and predictable.
Arguably it is now consistent with how messages are handled by email, but that's a non-issue (I think; members who post on site probably don't notice the threading behavior of messages posted by email).

I post and read exclusively via email and I can't say that I notice it. But then I've never created a new email (not a reply) with the same subject line as a current discussion to see how it's handled.


I don't like the change for two reasons: one, it invalidated the meaning of "New Topic" as the label on the button (now you might be creating a reply instead).

Yes. The change destroyed important old functionality in that it completely removed the ability to create a "New Topic" while also assuring it's really a new topic (new thread).


More importantly two, because to predict the outcome (New Topic or Reply) one must have perfect knowledge of the group's Topic list to determine if there's another topic with the same subject text. And by "perfect" I mean up to date, including any topics created near-simultaneously by other members.

Yes... tho it shouldn't be necessary to have such knowledge when composing a REPLY. A replier should expect a reply to be threaded with the message being replied to... period. Repliers need to accept (and/or be educated to) that reality... after which no other knowledge is needed. Actually, I wouldn't bother with proactive education, I'd just deal with any who complain by saying something that would translate to a polite version of "what else did you expect... and please take as many screens as needed to explain why?" ;-)

Thread hijackers can and will - usually without conscious bad intent - subvert all attempts to create the appearance of threading by message content when the only measure of content possible is the Subject: or the Message-ID:, References: and In-Reply-to: headers.


Granted, members who post by email have had to put up with this unpredictable behavior all along, and it has not been a disaster. But in that case there's really nothing the site can do to rectify the situation - the email standards don't have a required header field to mark a message as created by "Compose", "New Message", or whatever, and not as a Reply (there are fields to mark replies, but their absence isn't a reliable marker, sometimes even within a given email interface).

There are the MID (etc) headers. Thread by those and then leave it up to Group Owners to deal with those who don't like the result and with those who - by their behavior - create a bad result. (I really like the "What else did you expect!" approach.)


Circling back, the original question/complaint was about a member who might create an indefinite number of posts with the same subject text; and whether that behavior ought not result in a single topic.

My answer then and now is "no". The member should instead be taught to create subject texts which match their message content, or use Reply when their speaking to the same topic. Other members, who happened to pick the same subject text for their New Topic, should not be punished by having their message subsumed under a Topic created by someone else.

Exactly! Don't allow those who "misbehave" and then aren't happy with the result dictate how threading should be performed. All messages in a given thread should be related by MID (and etc) headers. It's like a family tree... chromosomally linked only; the next door neighbors and Uncle Tommy's live-in girlfriend aren't included.


That is, we should respect the member's intent in clicking "New Topic". Or else change the name of the function accordingly.

Shal

YES... but that's a YES to your reasons for reverting to the old behavior. The problem with the "or else" alternative - changing the name of the "NEW TOPIC" function to match the new behavior - is that the new behavior shouldn't (IMNSHO) have been implemented in the first place. Instead of doing something to make the name on the function button consistent with the new behavior, we just need to revert to the old behavior. What the heck is an email group without a "New Topic" button that actually creates a new topic (new thread). I'd suggest it be relabeled to "New Thread" in conjunction with reverting to the old behavior, but I'm afraid "New Thread" would confuse too many not familiar with the term - and maybe not even the concept.

About "member intent." If a member's "intent" is that a "New Topic" will thread with an old topic having the same subject line, then I wouldn't agree with respecting that intent. The solution to that form of confusion is education, not a change in the "New Topic" behavior.

Jim H


 

Jim,

Yes... tho it shouldn't be necessary to have such knowledge when
composing a REPLY.
Agreed.

And generally one doesn't. If posting on site Reply threads into the same topic. And for the benefit of those reading via email, it also inserts the References: [MID] and In-Reply-To: [MID] fields in the header of the reply.

Likewise, when replying by email if one's email interface adds one or both of those fields the Reply threads correctly, unless you edit the Subject text in your reply.

All messages in a given thread should be related by MID (and etc)
headers.
That would be ideal.

The reason Groups.io takes the Subject into account is twofold: one, not all email interfaces insert those header fields to identify a reply; and two, many email users start with a Reply and then modify the Subject rather than bother to compose from scratch. So the rules involving the Subject text are really ad-hoc adaptations to do the right thing "most of the time".

There's a ton of material about topic threading in beta's archive. I really don't want to end up recapitulating all of that here, it veers off-topic. See for example:
https://beta.groups.io/g/main/topic/4015812

In email messages the site must cope with both forms of ambiguity, but in postings on site there needn't be any ambiguity.

About "member intent." If a member's "intent" is that a "New Topic"
will thread with an old topic having the same subject line, ...
Nope. I'm assuming the user understood the name of the function at face value. Otherwise the result is on him/her.

Shal


Jim Higgins
 

Received from Shal Farley at 1/6/2019 02:27 AM UTC:

About "member intent." If a member's "intent" is that a "New Topic" will thread with an old topic having the same subject line, ...
Nope. I'm assuming the user understood the name of the function at face value. Otherwise the result is on him/her.

Exactly! And I'd prefer to see that concept applied across the board. Let education deal with the rest.

Jim H


 

Shal,

On Sat, Jan 5, 2019 at 12:26 AM Shal Farley <shals2nd@...> wrote:

 >   * CHANGE: Previously we would treat web posts as new topics,
 >     regardless of whether they had the same subject as a previous
 >     topic. This was different from how we treat email messages, where
 >     we combine new messages into existing topics when we can. Now we
 >     do the same for web posts.

If "New Topic" no longer means /new topic/ it ought not say that.

I actually prefer the old behavior but if that is thought to be somehow
too confusing then at least make the button say what it does.


I've reverted the change.

Thanks,
Mark