moderated How on earth does Groups.io thread a topic? BV


Brian Vogel <britechguy@...>
 

On Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 01:48 pm, ro-esp wrote:

 If we were using header threading as "ironclad,"
What do you mean by "ironclad" here?

Ronaldo,

           By "ironclad" I mean that if the content is available in the message header to thread into an existing thread, that would take precedence over all else, including a modified subject.

           That kind of threading is indeed used and really doesn't take that much getting used to.  Users figure out very quickly (and, of course, are also told) that if they want to create a new thread they must create a brand new message in their e-mail client in order to do so.  This is really no different than that happens in the web interface, as one must hit "New Topic" to create a new topic.

            I am going to intentionally add "BV" to the end of the subject on this message itself.  I believe I recall having done something like this accidentally at one point using the web interface, as I am now, and that it does not cause a new thread to be created, but this message will simply be the next in the series even with a changed title.

            If that turns out not to be the case then at least the behavior is consistent as far as what happens if any subject change is made and I apologize in advance for thread splitting.  It is perfectly OK to merge this back into the original thread if it doesn't stay there on its own.

            I've used a number of e-mail clients over the years that completely ignored the subject of a message in terms of threading a conversation if the header information indicated it was in reply to a message in an existing conversation thread.  It's really a matter of what choice you want your threading algorithm to make. 
--
Brian

I have made mistakes, but have never made the mistake of claiming I never made one.   

          ~  James G. Bennet


Brian Vogel <britechguy@...>
 

Clearly, my assertion that "one must hit 'New Topic' to create a new topic" in the web interface is completely wrong.  I am actually rather shocked that my "subject change" tweak did, indeed, start a brand new topic/thread.
--
Brian

I have made mistakes, but have never made the mistake of claiming I never made one.   

          ~  James G. Bennet


 

On Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 9:38 AM, Brian Vogel <britechguy@...> wrote:
Clearly, my assertion that "one must hit 'New Topic' to create a new topic" in the web interface is completely wrong.  I am actually rather shocked that my "subject change" tweak did, indeed, start a brand new topic/thread.

Heh, me too, and I wrote the code....

So, I did put code in a long time ago that looks at subjects and sets a new thread if the subject has been changed even if there are references to an existing thread in the message header. Should I nuke this code? I'm thinking I should nuke this code.

Related question: also as part of that code, if the subject of the thread has been changed (say by editing the thread on the website), we re-write the subject line of the message with the changed subject of the thread. Keep that? I'm inclined to say yes, to be consistent with the fact that when someone edits the subject of a thread on the website, we go into the archives and re-write the subject line of all the existing messages. 

Thanks,
Mark


Brian Vogel <britechguy@...>
 

Mark,

           No matter which way you decide to go you are going to get howls of protest from one quarter or another.

           Speaking for myself and those who think like I do:

  1. You should nuke that code.  On a web interface in particular no one would ever expect that if they've done a reply to a message in an existing thread in topics view, even if they tweaked the subject in some way, that it would not remain a part of the thread in which that reply is being made.   I have never had a web forums interface, and that's what I consider the Groups.io web interface to be, ever split a thread, period.   The user must make the explicit decision, followed by the effort necessary to hit the "New Topic" button, to create a new thread.  If context needs to be borrowed from an existing thread that is done via copy and paste, not by relying on being able to hit "reply" in an existing thread, changing the subject, and then editing down the existing message material to retain the context one wishes to maintain.
  2. By extension, I firmly believe that this should be extended to how the e-mail interface works, too.  An announcement, perhaps repeated announcements, would be needed ahead of the actual implementation.   I can see no reason why the same explicit kind of "new thread creation" decision making should not be built-in to the e-mail side of the world just like it is (or we thought it was) on the web side.  If you want to create a new thread you should have to create a brand new message addressed to the posting address for a given group, with a new title (even if that title includes a "was: blah blah blah"), and with the intentional transfer of content, if any, from the old thread that served as its genesis.   This is precisely how entirely new topics get introduced when that's the intent, so no one can say that this is something they cannot understand if they've been something other than a lurker or a "reply only" participant.  It makes the user consider what they're intending to do before they actually do it, and that always tends to be for the good overall (particularly since it can sometimes give people a chance to reconsider something).


With regard to your question regarding manual changes to a subject on an existing thread by an owner or moderator, I believe you are correct that each and every existing message in the thread (and, in this case, the archive since the web interface is the only place I know of that one can retitle existing topics) should have its subject changed.  If you were to implement the "ironclad" header threading discussed above, this would allow for mixed titles in a topic to occur, but that's probably not going to happen often nor be a problem.  If an owner/moderator is retitling a thread it's because they feel that, to use a metaphor, "the drapes don't match the rug," and the intent is to get a match.  This is particularly important when an existing thread is being split.  One would want the new title of each thread created from the messages in a single existing one to have the same title as "message one" in each new one.  From what I've seen this process occurs already automatically in the case of a thread merge.  The thread being merged always has its message subjects changed to the same one as the thread that it's being merged into.
--
Brian

I have made mistakes, but have never made the mistake of claiming I never made one.   

          ~  James G. Bennet


 

Brian,

Clearly, my assertion that "one must hit 'New Topic' to create a new
topic" in the web interface is completely wrong. I am actually rather
shocked that my "subject change" tweak did, indeed, start a brand new
topic/thread.
Pro: it is consistent with email posting. That's "AND logic" - thread the new message onto an existing message if the citation matches AND the subject matches.

Pro: in the Topics list and particularly in the Topic view, the reader is shown only one instance of the subject line. If changing the subject of a reply didn't create a new thread then Reply might as well not have that field as editable: its content cannot be displayed. Or, the layout of the Topic View must be redesigned.

Con: it may not be least astonishment behavior for the web site, where it can be known that the user clicked "Reply" versus "New Topic".

I think the only reason Reply allows one to alter the Subject text is specifically for the use case of launching a new topic tangent from (and copying some quote from) an existing topic. Maybe the UI needs to be more clear about that purpose and consequence.

FWIW Yahoo Groups operate with "OR logic" - thread onto an existing message if the citation matches OR the subject matches. This has the "over-threading" that you mentioned, particularly since they have no time limits on the threading. In Yahoo Groups classic each reply in their equivalent of Topic View did show its own instance of the subject line. Not so since the Neo redesign - only email readers see any changes to a reply Subject.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/shalf/10130171945/in/album-72157636272401705/

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


Nightowl >8#
 

Shal Farley wrote:>>Con: it may not be least astonishment behavior for the web site, where it can be known that the user clicked "Reply" versus "New Topic".<<

Shal,

What does "least Astonishment" mean, and why does it make this behavior a con? Even though I personally don't use threading, I want to understand what the correct behavior would be to make a new thread start, or keep one together for the group as a whole.

Thanks,

Brenda


 

Brenda,

What does "least Astonishment" mean, and why does it make this
behavior a con?
It is a principle of user interface design. The idea is that when you use a product you shouldn't wind up wondering what the heck just happened. As happened to Brian when he tested the Reply feature. Or to use a more extreme example, twisting a doorknob oughtn't turn off the lights.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_least_astonishment

Even though I personally don't use threading, I want to understand
what the correct behavior would be to make a new thread start, ...
Use the New Topic button. Or in email that's generally New Message, or Compose, or some such. Then fill in a Subject that seems to you unlikely to match another that's already been used.

or keep one together for the group as a whole.
Use Reply. And don't alter the Subject.

That advice will most likely work in both Groups.io and Yahoo Groups, and probably with most people's email interface.

To fine tune it better than that you likely need to know your audience.

What happens if you use Reply but alter the topic? Depends on the interface in use by the recipient. Same thing if you use New Topic (compose, new message, whatever) but give the message a commonplace subject ("Question", "New here", "Happy Holidays", etc.) - depends on the interface.

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


Donald Hellen
 

Shal & all . . .

On Wed, 11 Jan 2017 17:08:58 -0800, "Shal Farley" <shals2nd@gmail.com>
wrote:


Even though I personally don't use threading, I want to understand
what the correct behavior would be to make a new thread start, ...
Use the New Topic button. Or in email that's generally New Message, or
Compose, or some such. Then fill in a Subject that seems to you unlikely
to match another that's already been used.
In my email program, whether it be Outlook or Forte Agent (depends on
which laptop I'm using), to start a new topic I double click on the
group email address in any post, which is in the "to:" field. That
opens a composition window with a blank subject line and blank message
window. I then just enter a subject and then compose my message, then
click send and it spell checks for me (when I have it turned on)
before it gets sent.

On the group site (depends what platform you are using, Groups.io,
YG!, etc.), you should see a "new topic" button to open a composition
window.

I prefer email but many use the group site to post from. Either will
work, but I find email more convenient.

Donald


ro-esp
 

On Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 09:35 am, Brian Vogel wrote:


           By "ironclad" I mean that if the content is available in the message header to thread into an existing thread, that would take precedence
over all else, including a modified subject.
In my experience, that would just lead to more messages hidden in an unrelated thread. Only those who use the archive would notice


 That kind of threading is indeed used and really doesn't take
that much getting used to.  Users figure out very quickly (and, of course,
are also told) that if they want to create a new thread they *must * create a
brand new message in their e-mail client in order to do so.  This is really
no different than that happens in the web interface, as one must hit "New
Topic" to create a new topic.
I'm looking through email-eyes


I am going to intentionally add "BV" to the end of the subject on this message itself.
As I've said (and we may be venturing in academic discussion and wishful thinking here), ideally it would not start a new thread if a "specifier" is tacked on at the end of a subjectline, but it definitely should when the subject is changed.

If a programmer feels like doing it (I'm guiessing it's a ton of work), I'm sure there even could be some way for the machine to check for *quote* to see if a message belongs in a thread


I've used a number of e-mail clients over the years that
completely ignored the subject of a message in terms of threading a
conversation if the header information indicated it was in reply to a message
in an existing conversation thread.
Sounds like googlegroups when you send more than one reply to the same digest. They all go out with the subjectline of the first..

 It's really a matter of what choice you want your threading algorithm to make. 
Or rather, whose lives you want to make easier.

Should we have a poll about it?

groetjes, Ronaldo


Brian Vogel <britechguy@...>
 

On Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 04:02 pm, ro-esp wrote:
Or rather, whose lives you want to make easier.

Should we have a poll about it?

 Actually, I think that making someone create a new e-mail message, with a new subject, to create a new topic is not making their lives any more difficult than it is for a web user who has to hit a "New Topic" button and enter all the same information, and do any cut and paste from an old thread if they want to create a true new one "the logical way."

It is my sincere belief that one should not be able to create an unintentional new thread, which is usually a split of an existing one rather than an actual spin off, by simply changing the subject - in any way.   It's just too darned easy to make a change to the subject, by even a single character, and I see thread splits of this nature being created with relative frequency, or people treating the subject like it's an extension of the message body and not knowing that changing it has any impact on threading both on the Groups.io web interface and in a number of e-mail clients that support threaded views where subject takes primacy over header information in threading.

As I said at the outset, there is no "right answer" to this and no matter which way Mark might choose to go there will be howls from one quarter or another.

There are times where "the top" needs to set a direction and stick with it.  Right now I fully understand how things actually work and am also seeing, time and time again, the shortcomings of that threading algorithm in the form of thread splits from subject changes that really are not intending this, and are robbing their own contributions of their conversational context both in the web interface and in e-mail clients that give subject primacy in threading.

My position is based strictly on two things:

  1. I see clearly unintended thread splitting through subject changes occurring with greater frequency here than I have ever seen on other forums in which I participate.
  2. It drives me freakin' crazy.

As the old saying goes, "Your mileage may vary."  Those for whom this is true have every opportunity to make their cases on this topic just like they do on a multitude of others.  I've actually been surprised that there hasn't been more chiming in from the beta regulars.
--
Brian

I have made mistakes, but have never made the mistake of claiming I never made one.   

          ~  James G. Bennet


 

Ronaldo,

I'm looking through email-eyes
Me too, almost always. And seldom with threaded view turned on.

But I do sometimes use the handy View/Reply link in a message footer to go on site to see the whole message thread if I think there may be later messages that would moot or modify my reply. Sometimes that's actually easier than viewing the thread in my email interface.

As I've said (and we may be venturing in academic discussion and
wishful thinking here), ideally it would not start a new thread if a
"specifier" is tacked on at the end of a subjectline, but it
definitely should when the subject is changed.
That I think would be an AI problem: how much and what type of content can be appended to a Subject before it is considered a new topic. A way out might be to establish a syntax, for example: if what's added is all in parentheses, which software could more readily detect. But then you're getting back into the realm of having to train the users how to use it.

If a programmer feels like doing it (I'm guiessing it's a ton of
work), I'm sure there even could be some way for the machine to check
for *quote* to see if a message belongs in a thread
That I've actually suggested (going back and looking for matching body text in prior messages), but in the context of auto-trimming (or auto hiding) quotes - thus distinguishing between quote from prior message, which may be trimmed or hidden, versus quotes from an outside source, which oughtn't be.

Of course, that starts with the ability to reliably discern which parts of the message body are quoted material - and that of itself has proved a challenge given all the different conventions and personal styles. Another "AI" problem unless you decide on a limited number of rigid formats for quotes. And we're back to user training again.

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