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I’ve been enjoying the back-and-forth with @peter at https://lobste.rs/s/w4auk6/more_shell_less_egg_all_this#c_xln3fi. However, the deep nesting of this thread is getting really silly.

I’m not sure what the right fix is, but the obvious point of comparison: on HN there’s a special page for every subthread, so clicking on the link to a comment provides an escape hatch for deeply nested sub-threads.

A solution to this issue may also help resolve Issue #394.

I’ve managed to get the Lobsters codebase up and running. But I probably shouldn’t try to prematurely design a fix. What do people with more experience here think?

(There’s also the question of whether this should block on the transition of the site.)

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    What about Stack Exchange/Discourse’s solution to limit the depth of replies in a discussion to one level? See Jeff Atwoods article Web Discussions: Flat by Design for details. I like this solution but I am unsure how others think about it.

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      For me, it would be a regression. I find indented threads are the only design I’ve seen so far that makes this kind of long discussion followable.

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        The two times I’ve designed commenting, it’s been like that. Top level comment, then linear chain of replies. It supports the typical conversation quite well. Somebody posts a link, I ask what’s a monad, somebody answers. It has its own pathological cases, with a dozen people arguing back and forth in a big jumble, but it’s not necessarily worse than the tree model in that case. The tree model appeals to people because it’s “technically correct” but sometimes worse is better.

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          The only reason I like the tree model above one-level conversations is that a tree that becomes “toxic” can be hidden entirely from the discussion. It helps when a “troll” comment gets posted, and all the conversation related to that comment as well as the comment itself can just be collapsed out of a conversation, instead of polluting the whole conversation flow. Kind of like the “comment score below threshold” on reddit. Even if lobste.rs didn’t want to auto-hide these flows, I think it’s useful to be able to do that my self.

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          Personally, I quite like threaded discussion, as it helps to keep track of who’s replying to who, and to separate different topics as comments diverge.

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          There’s also Reddit’s solution of automatically hiding subthreads more than a certain depth under a “more comments” link. This is better than the HN solution because it won’t even try to render excessively deep comments (assuming HN still includes them all on the page regardless; I don’t actually know) with the downside that it produces a “below-the-fold” effect and comments below that depth will always receive less attention just by virtue of being behind another link.

          No matter the ultimate solution, it will clearly depend on linking specific comments, rather than anchoring into the middle of an entire comment page.

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            I’ve been enjoying the back-and-forth with @peter at https://lobste.rs/s/w4auk6/more_shell_less_egg_all_this#c_xln3fi. However, the deep nesting of this thread is getting really silly.

            I find that the mailing list mode helps a great deal.

            https://lobste.rs/s/jg3eet

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              I’m a great fan of the feature.

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              I hate to say it…but in cases like that, especially when it’s just you going back and forth with the same user, maybe you should move to a medium better-suited?

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                True. The drawback would be that we cut off some potential serendipity with other readers here. But it may be the right trade-off.

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                On mobile the nesting is actually deep enough that my Firefox renders nothing but whitespace (after a few comments with one character per line).

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                  Honestly for that discussion I turned off the max-width CSS rule for the main wrapper div. So there is a “wide mode” check box, just not in the most user friendly place. ;)

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                    I don’t think it needs to block on the site transition. As I understand it, the transition isn’t going to involve any significant code changes. It’ll be moving the existing code and data to new hosting infrastructure, under new management. Any patches made before the transition should be equally valid after.

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                      I did submit a PR for https://github.com/lobsters/lobsters/issues/218 today. It sounds like that should help with some of the issues you are having?

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                        I did see that, but I don’t see the connection. Can you elaborate?

                        To clarify, the issue is not noticing the comment. I do get email notifications of peter’s comments. The problem arises when I try to click through to respond to them.

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                        I wonder if after ~3-5 nests deep, comments should just become chronological without nesting (like phpBB forum style). It becomes impossible to keep track of the tree at that point anyway.

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                          Now that subtrees are collapsible, the trees are much more manageable. However, I’ve noticed that when multiple people are participating in a deep subtree, information gets repeated in order to reply to multiple people. It would be great to linearize two sibling trees that are discussing the same topic, don’t know how you would though.

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                          I like allowing pretty-deep nested inline, but of course there is some level where it’s too much. I like the Reddit-style link escape hatch (similar to what you describe)

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                            I just noticed that reddit on phones stops indenting child comments past a point, and instead starts adding green dots. Interesting compromise solution between full-scale trees and a single level of replies. It looks linear, but you can still hide away a comment and all its replies.

                            /cc @pushcx, @klingtnet, @peter, @tedu, @orib, @cwill

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                              I do like the dots on reddit. They’re quite easy to read.

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                              I previously mentioned this saying the HN model works pretty well. You can collapse what you don’t want to see. You can also click a certain link on one of the tiny, compressed comments to make it the new top-level comment. Then, all the others are easier to read. When I came to Lobsters, I was really missing that feature looking at squished-together text like akkartik is referring to.

                              Note that the link itself is usually on the timing to save space in the UI. For example, right now I’d click “3 hours ago” on akkartik’s “on mobile…” comment to put it at the top.

                              “There’s also the question of whether this should block on the transition of the site.)”

                              I was personally holding off on metas until after the transition. Our hosts are already doing quite a lot for us. Then again, they might not mind since they can put something in the backlog.

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                                The only universal solution is for the server to become a dumb message storage backend and for each user to use their own client software, which they can customize entirely on their own. Like Usenet.

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                                  Like Usenet.

                                  Lobsters mail gateway, Lobsters Gopher gateway, when are we getting a Lobsters NNTP gateway?

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                                    Perhaps you’d like to write it up? I mean, we also have a BBS that few people use right now.

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                                      Well, I wrote a Gopher gateway - NNTP might be trickier, but interesting.