Tree Views - Indication of conversation structure?


(Brian Gillespie) #1

Continuing the discussion from Ok, I had a look and can say:

I’m starting a new thread from Helvetosaur’s original (using the 'Reply as new topic" link to the right of the message). This is Discourse’s way of keeping conversations related without hijacking the topic. Topic hijacking is a major point of discussion on meta.discourse.org now.

It seems that the threaded view provided by newsreaders is dearly missed by some people, citing that it’s difficult to see the structure of the conversation.

So I did an experiment - I went to the top of the topic that started this discussion:

And I tried to see if I could follow one thread of conversation, and it is possible. Here’s how:

  1. Click on the “5 Replies” button at the bottom of the first post. I see replies from Helvetosaur, Marc, Willem, stevebaer, and sam. I decided to follow Marc’s disagreement by clicking the down arrow at the bottom of his reply. This took me to the real post, somewhere down in the middle of the thread.
  2. From there, I read his post, and see that there are 4 replies. I click that, and can see immediately where the conversation branches from there.

So, it’s possible to follow a thread inside a topic. It’s different than a newsreader. I agree with that.


#2

Yeah… I think part of it is getting people to click on the reply to the post, rather than just the reply to the entire thread. If you reply to a specific post and click on the post’s reply button, you can easily drill open the hierarchy it seems. But if you just hit the more obviously reply button, that structure is lost.


#3

Why did you create a new topic?

All that accomplished was it added to the topic clutter.
The Rhino newsgroup doesn’t have very many topics but when something is important to the participants a single topic can have a huge number of posts. Here you had to create a new topic because you knew it was far more unlikely anybody would find what you had to say otherwise.

The point here is not that you can’t follow a single thread. The point is you can’t easily navigate and pick and choose from all the threads. You are like a rat in a maze, you had to actually pursue the thread to find where it is going. And that fact (everyone is operating like a rat in a maze) makes all the topics seem more like a caucophony of voices rather than organized discussions. Branches end up stunted because its only the people who stumble upon them that participate.and it is difficult to keep track of the structure once the depth reaches a certain point.


#4

I agree with @jim , we don’t get a good visual of side discussion branches … it is not that we can’t figure it out (as you have shown) given enough effort, but you do have to put a bit more effort than before.

He also made a good point that long threads become combersome piles which we no longer bother to go through without a useful visual cue of trees and branches. (In the old newsgroup in a 100 post thread, it is much easier to find the branch I follow, by looking at @jim reply to the root and going down the fifth discussion in that branch all in one glance. No investigative effort needed )


(Brian Gillespie) #5

I created a new topic because it IS a topic that people care about, and I think deserves to stand alone. If I were new to this forum, looking for a topic about threaded view, I’d never read the “Ok, I had a look and I can say”. That conversation has fractured into information density, graphical design, user experience… and this topic is only about threading.


#6

Yes, that’s one habit to get into that is different than nntp. In nntp you always have to reply to someone’s post, whereas on some http forums, you can either reply to the whole thread, or to someone specifically. How easy it is to see which one of the two forms you used is different depending on the forum. Some are totally flat - you always reply to the last post, and some do have some semblance of threading - the Grasshopper forum does, but it breaks down if there are a lot of replies over several pages.


#7

That is exactly the same as it works in a news group. You are either replying to someone or to the whole thread. Mapping the structure of this thread would be identical to how it works in a newsreader.

The main difference is that because this forum doesn’t give you the tools to view the structure you quickly lose track if the topic gets long.

It seems to me it would be pretty easy to have a window just like the “reply window” that would show a map of the current topic. That would allow you to at a glance see the whole thing.When you click. on a message it would take you to that message. When you are making a reply that window would disappear since you don’t need to navigate while composing a reply.

None of this would involve changing the current structure. It would simply be a tool to make the current structure more useable.


#8

Ok – I wouldn’t be against that as an option at all… take up some real estate on the side as a treed map of the thread to the right of it, highlighting the posts currently in view or something… Would be tricky to impliment cleanly, but I could see it. I could see how it might help when a thread gets to be 100 posts or more. But most threads that long have just devolved into mostly whining anyway. :wink: