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Idiots on threaded discussions

This is a discussion on Idiots on threaded discussions within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; This one tops as the most nonsense I've read this month: Coding Horror: Web Discussions: Flat by Design But it's ...

  1. #1
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Idiots on threaded discussions

    This one tops as the most nonsense I've read this month: Coding Horror: Web Discussions: Flat by Design

    But it's Christmas time. The race is still on...
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  2. #2
    C++まいる!Cをこわせ! Elysia's Avatar
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    I am actually inclined to agree with what is written there.
    Except for Twitter. It's such a horrible mess to follow a conversation there that I never do it. It wasn't mean for doing discussions, but for telling the world what you were doing at certain points in time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Adak View Post
    io.h certainly IS included in some modern compilers. It is no longer part of the standard for C, but it is nevertheless, included in the very latest Pelles C versions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Salem View Post
    You mean it's included as a crutch to help ancient programmers limp along without them having to relearn too much.

    Outside of your DOS world, your header file is meaningless.

  3. #3
    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    Coding Horror: Web Discussions: Flat by Design
    O_o

    Well, that is an certainly an interesting view.

    Do you think, maybe, he never used the ancient bulletin board systems of old where everything was a simple flat view of all posts?

    That was an impenetrable mess I'm not anxious to see repeated.

    I am actually inclined to agree with what is written there. Except for Twitter. It's such a horrible mess to follow a conversation there that I never do it. It wasn't mean for doing discussions, but for telling the world what you were doing at certain points in time.
    O_o

    Are you sure that you agree?

    I only ask because I read the article as him praising the completely flat approach used by "Twitter" as the only right way to do a discussion thread.

    Soma

  4. #4
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    And even more interesting, that he actually puts "Tweeter" and "discussion" in the context of cause and effect. As if tweeter could be used as a means to seriously discuss or debate anything.

    >> Do you think, maybe, he never used the ancient bulletin board systems of old where everything was a simple flat view of all posts?

    Or even the new threaded model that he flat out denies as being important in today's internet. It's easy to look at singletons like tweeter and be impressed by the sheer number of people using them. It's much harder to look at the huge amount of threaded forums in the worldwide web and contextualize that as being most probably a far more common means of people to come together, despite the obvious smaller number of participants on each one individually. I'm not even going to commit the same mistake and mention reddit (oops!).

    But this guy has an history. An all too common one:


    - Guy devises some mildly successful social network-slash-website (or anything else for that matter)
    - Guy gets praised and respected
    - Guy suddenly believes his got a better grasp of things
    Last edited by Mario F.; 12-17-2012 at 07:30 PM.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  5. #5
    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    I'm not trying to advertise anything in any way!

    I don't know if I've ever even considered what software "Groklaw" uses, but I have to say, it is a threaded view that is good on computers and glorious on mobile devices.

    If you don't want to visit that link, for whatever reason, it works like this:

    Code:
    [Content Title]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
        [Reply #1 Title (Level:1)]
        [Reply #2 Title (Level:1)]
            [Reply #1 Title (Level:2)]
            [Reply #2 Title (Level:2)]
        [Reply #3 Title (Level:1)]
    So that clicking a reply at a given level shows the content for all posts at that reply level.

    Soma

  6. #6
    Cat
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    Personally, I tend to agree. I will read Fark's comments, for example, but never reddit's.

    There are certainly successful sites that have used the threaded model, but I don't think that proves the model's usability anymore than successful non-threaded sites prove the model's unusability.
    You ever try a pink golf ball, Wally? Why, the wind shear on a pink ball alone can take the head clean off a 90 pound midget at 300 yards.

  7. #7
    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    I will read Fark's comments, for example, but never reddit's.
    I'd love to see how the software at "Fark" behaves, but literally everything I've clicked through either brings me to a different site or has no comments associated with the article in question.

    As for "reddit", are you sure it is the comment format (threaded)? Or, as is more likely, is it the general awfulness of the site layout the turns you off?

    Soma

  8. #8
    Registered User whiteflags's Avatar
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    The worst thing about discussion software of any kind is when people decide to start

    talking in the title field and bump into the letter limit. My pet peeve.

  9. #9
    Cat
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomotap View Post
    I'd love to see how the software at "Fark" behaves, but literally everything I've clicked through either brings me to a different site or has no comments associated with the article in question.
    Here is an example comments page. It's a straight up flat discussion style.

    As for "reddit", are you sure it is the comment format (threaded)? Or, as is more likely, is it the general awfulness of the site layout the turns you off?
    Could certainly be that, too

    I find, though, that when I want to read a discussion, I either want to read every post, or I want to read the newest posts since a certain time, and a flat style post works well for those purposes. If I ever had a reason to selectively read "branches" of a conversation, a threaded system might work better, but that's rarely if ever what I want to do.
    You ever try a pink golf ball, Wally? Why, the wind shear on a pink ball alone can take the head clean off a 90 pound midget at 300 yards.

  10. #10
    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    Ninja'd! (Reply->#8)

    >_<

    Me too!

    So much so that I was glad when one of the forums I used to visit disabled titles in responses.

    Soma

  11. #11
    Registered User C_ntua's Avatar
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    My disagreement with the Coding Horror article is that it talks about discussions. Where opening a topic in a forum is more like throwing a party. You have a theme, but in the end people focus on different aspects, start talking to each other etc etc. Still everybody can talk with everybody, but not at the same time. When you enter a "discussion phase" then I agree that there shouldn't be branching. In the end I believe having one level of branching only is the best. If there is too much threading and it ends up like phantomotap's #5 post it becomes too much.

  12. #12
    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    I find, though, that when I want to read a discussion, I either want to read every post, or I want to read the newest posts since a certain time, and a flat style post works well for those purposes.
    O_o

    What makes you think that forum software can't decorate new posts in a forum regardless of the format of threading?

    The things you bring are meaningful. Absolutely.

    However, the utility of reading "all posts" or only "new posts" is not something which the flat format is actually better suited than other formats. Good forum software is capable of some notion of "expand all" or "newest first".

    Code:
    [Content Title]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
        [Reply #1 Title (Level:1)]
        [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
        [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
        [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
        [Reply #2 Title (Level:1)]
        [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
        [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
        [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
            [Reply #1 Title (Level:2)]
                [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
                [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
                [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
            [Reply #2 Title (Level:2)]
                [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
                [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
                [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
        [Reply #3 Title (Level:1)]
        [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
        [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
        [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    I don't much like "expand all", but there you go all the same: you can read every post without needing to navigate the forum.

    Code:
    [Content Title]->
        [Reply #2 Title (Level:1)]->
            [Reply #2 Title (Level:2)]
                [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
                [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
                [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content Title]->
        [Reply #3 Title (Level:1)]
            [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
            [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
            [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content Title]->
        [Reply #2 Title (Level:1)]->
            [Reply #1 Title (Level:2)]
                [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
                [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
                [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    You can also, of course, get a "newest first" view with a threaded format.

    So, yeah, again, you are bringing up meaningful argument, but really, if a particular bit of forum software can't present some form of "show all" and "show newest" that is a problem with the software and not the comment format.

    Really though, comment format besides, don't you like forums that have "show newest" more than those that don't?

    If there is too much threading and it ends up like phantomotap's #5 post it becomes too much.
    O_o

    Code:
    [Content Title]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Reply #1 Title (Level:1)]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Reply #2 Title (Level:1)]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Reply #3 Title (Level:1)]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Reply #4 Title (Level:1)]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Reply #5 Title (Level:1)]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    [Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content][Content]
    There is only six posts and already you don't know if the replies are meaningful to the original post or only a tangent brought up by a poster. There is more material for me to scan through manually because the forum isn't doing it for me. Even if the forum users are consistent enough to mark there posts as replying to a specific individual, I still need to read that mark to know if or how it is relevant.

    This is better? Really?

    Soma

  13. #13
    C++まいる!Cをこわせ! Elysia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomotap View Post
    O_o

    Are you sure that you agree?

    I only ask because I read the article as him praising the completely flat approach used by "Twitter" as the only right way to do a discussion thread.

    Soma
    Yes. As I mentioned, I agree with the view of threaded views. I dunno about a "threaded" view as Twitter does it. I've never used it. It probably doesn't work, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by phantomotap View Post
    There is only six posts and already you don't know if the replies are meaningful to the original post or only a tangent brought up by a poster. There is more material for me to scan through manually because the forum isn't doing it for me. Even if the forum users are consistent enough to mark there posts as replying to a specific individual, I still need to read that mark to know if or how it is relevant.

    This is better? Really?

    Soma
    There is no black and white method for associating which posts are relevant to the OP or not. Clearly, they are relevant somehow because they are associated with the topic of the... topic.
    How often do we not see where someone points out something wrong and then it spins off into its own little discussion where people build on that, and then some people reply directly to the OP? Clearly, both are relevant, so I don't see how threaded view is any better than flaw view.
    Clearly, neither are perfect in any sense, but I fail to see how the threaded one can provide any benefit, except in particularly "good" circumstances where most of the drawbacks of the threaded model aren't fulfilled.

    While we're at the subject, who thinks mailing lists are good? I never was fond of them, and still am not.
    Quote Originally Posted by Adak View Post
    io.h certainly IS included in some modern compilers. It is no longer part of the standard for C, but it is nevertheless, included in the very latest Pelles C versions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Salem View Post
    You mean it's included as a crutch to help ancient programmers limp along without them having to relearn too much.

    Outside of your DOS world, your header file is meaningless.

  14. #14
    Registered User whiteflags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elysia View Post
    Yes. As I mentioned, I agree with the view of threaded views. I dunno about a "threaded" view as Twitter does it. I've never used it. It probably doesn't work, though.
    Well it isn't really threaded, it expands flatly. I'm not the most artful person at explaining these things, but it's kind of lazy. I mean, you can technically expand a conversation from any point in the conversation. So later posts will still be in the stream, even if you've already expanded everything.

    I have to be honest here, I don't use twitter either, but that was because I thought twitter was "IM for your every thought" instead of what it really is. There was a level of annoyance that came with that assumption, and the public nature of such annoyances, that made me rue its arrival and fear it. But now my friends have pages, and even though I complained their site does not really bother me.

    Additional food for thought (even though other people have said this stuff already):
    There is no black and white method for associating which posts are relevant to the OP or not. Clearly, they are relevant somehow because they are associated with the topic of the... topic.
    Sure, there is a black and white method. The posts under the OP are relevant to the OP. Threaded views tell you exactly who replied to who, at a minimum. Flat views make you guess who's talking to who unless people are unusually organized that day.

    How often do we not see where someone points out something wrong and then it spins off into its own little discussion where people build on that, and then some people reply directly to the OP? Clearly, both are relevant, so I don't see how threaded view is any better than flaw view.
    Clearly, neither are perfect in any sense, but I fail to see how the threaded one can provide any benefit, except in particularly "good" circumstances where most of the drawbacks of the threaded model aren't fulfilled.
    Well, how often is a side discussion annoying to you, and how handy would it be to know visually where to pick up the thread? It's just good that way.

    On a massive site like reddit, I don't feel bad about getting tired with a whole thread, yet it is so much easier to skim. Good! Because reddit's content is a notch above facebook tier.

    While we're at the subject, who thinks mailing lists are good? I never was fond of them, and still am not.
    You say tomato, I say tom-a-to. It's all the same .........
    Last edited by whiteflags; 12-18-2012 at 05:05 AM.

  15. #15
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    There's essentially the idea that one should opt out between those two options. That's what that article is doing. As if a threaded model or a flat model couldn't offer both advantages and disadvantages and coexist on the web as equals. As if the threaded model was some ancient method and the flat model is some sort of innovation over the previous. It's not even historically accurate. I was using both flat and threaded discussion models back in the BBS days.

    But it is also just another douche trying to define the web to their own irrational set of preferences. Love it when these guys then suddenly start supporting Net Neutrality. It gives me a reason to hate their hypocritical guts.

    Also I found it irritating his characterization of Usenet as "a relic and artifact of the past" (sic). He didn't even pondered to consider if this was actually true. If something that is being used and growing is a relic of the past (and that far more people use Usenet today than back in the 90s), I suggest his own stackexchange is a relic of the past (and I'll possibly be more accurate considering the comparatively smaller post volume of his website). Probably he subscribes to ISPs decommissioning their Usenet servers, despite the ever increasing growth of text messages. Fad boy.

    Then there's "it is rare to find threaded discussions of any kind on the web today". Blanket baseless statements also known as bulls****. His attempt at furthering an already stupid idea.
    Last edited by Mario F.; 12-18-2012 at 07:34 AM.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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