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Can we fix multiple page threads?

Too hard to follow

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With the recent long threads on MTD for IT I've been frustrated again with the inability to properly follow long threads.

Generally, when dipping back in to a thread you've visited before, the posts you haven't seen are highlighted. If the thread has more than one page of responses though, visiting the first page clears the highlights from subsequent pages, meaning when you get to the recent posts there's no distinction between what you've seen and what you haven't.

Usually at that point I give up. It would be good if we could either get rid of pages altogether or have highlights persist when you flick forward through the pages of responses, either way, having them disappear before you've seen them is useless.

Replies (23)

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By Paul Crowley
31st Aug 2021 13:36

Agreed
Trying to follow new replies just does not work
Tax dragon has pointed this out in the past

press the like button rather than reply
This will then be in most liked for 3 months

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Stepurhan
By stepurhan
31st Aug 2021 14:44

This came in with the last big site overhaul, and was not the only problem introduced.

It was pointed out as a problem then, and has been every time a thread got large since. I doubt anything is going to change.

I have liked the question regardless in the hope my cynicism will be proved wrong.

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By SteveHa
31st Aug 2021 15:07

These days, if I see the number of posts is likely to exceed one page I don't even bother looking unless I have a particular reason to.

Far from generating clicks, in my case this godawful layout is costing them my click.

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Replying to SteveHa:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
01st Sep 2021 15:42

And why is the page choice not at the top of the replies rather than needing to scroll down to the bottom to click "last"?

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Tornado
By Tornado
31st Aug 2021 16:51

The problem seems to be that the website format is designed for mobile phones and new pages appear very quickly rather than utilising the full width of a computer monitor when accessed on a PC.
I guess this is deliberate as constant movement from page to page offers never ending advertising opportunities, so I doubt if this is going to change in the foreseeable future.
SIFT are a business after all and this is to be expected.

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Replying to Tornado:
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By Hugo Fair
31st Aug 2021 17:38

That (maybe) explains why Sift have stuck with multiple pages rather than a single scrolling one ... but doesn't address Duggimon's original point that 'highlights' should persist when you flick forward through the pages of responses.
It's a simple enough piece of programming ... the 'unread' highlight is currently applied 'per member per thread', but should be applied 'per member per page of thread' (i.e. treating each page, in this context, as a distinct thread). Simples!

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
Tornado
By Tornado
31st Aug 2021 17:58

You are right about keeping the NEW flash on postings but the speed at which threads get to the bottom of the front page and then disappear and become very difficult to find again, leads me to believe that AWEB is not meant to be used for long term reference but is mainly concerned with today's messages and anything over a few days old needs to be hidden, never to be seen again.

We all keep coming back to AWEB for the latest post, but the trick, which SIFT do very well, is to make sure there are always new posts to keep us all coming back to see ...... and the adverts. Again, SIFT are in business and it is legitimate for them to provide a platform for us and sell a few lucrative ads at the same time.

God knows how much this post will earn them but it will be more than a few pence.

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Replying to Tornado:
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By alialdabawi
01st Sep 2021 13:30

I have for the first time, this weekend, read forum threads on my phone. Noticed the same issue with 'New' tags across a couple of days and equally frustrated with the impossibility of following a thread which had swelled to 150+ replies on my last attempt at viewing this weekend.

Liked the question. Either way, I request the publishers of this website to simplify readers' ability to view new posts on a thread. It's not MTDfWebForums, is it?

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A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
31st Aug 2021 18:07

What ads do you see if you don't have an ad blocker?

If they are targeted ads then would and old fart like me get served ads for ED, 'roid cream and nose hair trimmers?

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Replying to Arthur Putey:
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By Hugo Fair
31st Aug 2021 18:56

You wouldn't want to get those supplies mixed up (if the 4th ad is for memory loss)!

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
01st Sep 2021 07:58

Never confuse Autosol and Anusol, the latter destroys chromework.

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By creamdelacream
31st Aug 2021 18:22

I agreed, I give up too if it's over a couple of pages, too hard to follow

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By Hugo Fair
31st Aug 2021 19:43

There's a certain irony that, in a forum where the current red-rag-to-a-bull topic is the technological deficiencies inherent in MTD , it is hard to follow the threads due to the technological deficiencies of the forum's software!

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By Tax Dragon
31st Aug 2021 20:47

It's bad enough when it's a thread you are contributing to and are involved in the discussion. Reading threads cold... it's not utterly impossible to reconstruct the discussion, but it's such a gargantuan effort that no-one would do it. As a result I haven't read the MTD one, don't know what was said, don't know if I could usefully have added to the discussion (probably not, but I'm not sure that's the point) and don't know if I could have learned from it (almost certainly could and surely that is the point, that the format negates the usefulness of the thread).

The fact that people's response to multiple pages was to have multiple threads on the same topic (which response makes little logical sense) demonstrates how frustrating and awful it is.

Some time back I suggested a few minor tweaks (such as replies to comments referencing the time of the comment being replied to) that would improve comprehensibility within the current [***] format, which suggestions JS seemed to welcome and which (being minor tweaks) I would have thought weren't that hard to implement, but there's been no sign of them appearing.

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
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By Hugo Fair
31st Aug 2021 20:50

Yup, that'd be my 2nd enhancement request (replies to comments referencing the date/time of the comment being replied to).
Even less gargantuan threads can get hard to follow - especially if 2 contributors are having a running 'discussion' and don't start each post with a quote from the one to which they're responding.
I'm sure there must be a better option than the linear display of what are multi-branched conversations, but your suggestion would prevent a few headaches!

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
ALISK
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
01st Sep 2021 00:53

How about referencing each post with a number that can be cross referenced.

Eg:
1.
2.
3. (replying to 2)
7. (Replying to 3)
4.
6. (Replying to 4)
5.

Presumably (one for The IT Crowd) each post is referenced anyway so the text appears in the right place when moved down as new posts are placed above it?

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Replying to atleastisoundknowledgable...:
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By Hugo Fair
01st Sep 2021 12:06

Hmmm, whilst technically possible I can see several downsides to this approach.
1st: it's resource intensive to keep updating the refno ID on every post within a thread if one is added;
2nd: it's REALLY resource intensive if multiple people are submitting new posts to the same thread at (almost) the same time;
3rd: there's a danger that each refresh resulting from an ID update would be seen by the software as re-opening the page - which is where this post came in!

Personally my preference would be to invent an icon in each post's header which, if you selected it, would shunt that post to the right and show you the post to which it is responding in the vacated space on the left. You can then read both alongside each other and/or GoTo the 'source' post and repeat the process if you want to review the origins of the sub-thread. But that would probably require actual development work!

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Replying to Hugo Fair:
By Duggimon
01st Sep 2021 15:05

These issues are already solved problems. Just do it like Reddit, replies are nested under the posts they reply to and whole sub threads can be hidden if off on a tangent you're not interested in.

Reddit's not perfect, but it's simple and easy to follow.

Also if we don't get a response from some staff in here soon I'm going to report my own post.

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Replying to Duggimon:
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By Hugo Fair
01st Sep 2021 15:35

"Reddit's not perfect, but it's simple and easy to follow".
I agree - but was just trying to show there are probably lots of solutions, each with their own little foibles.
The key, as per your OP (and TD's follow-up), is that the current solution isn't truly usable once you have >50 posts ... and can be embolism-inducing once those include any multi-branched sub-threads.
However, the silence from 'management' is ominous.

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Replying to Tax Dragon:
A Putey FACA
By Arthur Putey
01st Sep 2021 08:08

For those that dip into the BBC's Have Your Say, it used to suffer from an extreme form of this, in that each post just added to the thread and with hundreds and sometimes thousands of posts it soon became unreadable. Last year they introduced nested comments so you could reply to other posts, but that just led to sub-discussions many of which duplicated each other.

Whatever happened to RSS? That as I recall gave a way of quickly reading threads to get the gist before deciding to pile in. I guess its not clickbait friendly so there'd be no incentive for site owners.

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By johnhemming
02nd Sep 2021 08:10

There are lots of technical solutions to this, but one workable option is for people to create a new thread as soon as something goes over 50 responses. As a matter of principle I like to make a stab at answering new questions that people ask of me in a thread, but it gets too much effort when there are multiple pages to see what is going on.

In any event I am now off to the pub for breakfast.

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By Paul Crowley
08th Sep 2021 20:07

This is now top of the most likes in the last three months
Come on Aweb
Time to consider the issue
Even if only to leave the new marker on all the pages on a revisit

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
By Duggimon
09th Sep 2021 10:33

I reported my own post and Tallula replied to me saying it had been referred on to the development team.

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