Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Site Talk >
Feb 23, 2012 12:24 PM

Keeping up with active threads is extremely difficult

I think that the forums interface has some core flaws when it comes to big/active threads.

A couple of common headaches:

A) There is no way to quickly scroll to the newest messages. If I am reading a thread that has hundreds of messages, I have to scroll up and down to find the new message(s). This could be handled much more nicely by putting in a button on the sidebar that automatically scrolls to next/previous new message.

B) If I open a busy thread and start reading, it might take me 10 or 15 minutes to finish up. And maybe during that time I'll feel like posting a reply or two. Now when I go back to my profile I see that I'm the last poster, but I've missed any messages posted while I was reading the thread. And if I go back in to look for interim posts, ALL of the messages open up, making it impossible for me to track activity.

This second one is not a difficult problem to solve -- change the internal timestamp you keep from the time the user posted to the last time the user accessed the thread. That should fix the problem, at the expense of showing the user his or her own messages as "new." If you want to fix that, some additional logic could be put in place where the timestamp would be updated to the posting time only if no new posts from other users were done in the meantime. Again, not at all difficult, assuming that you have a reasonable data model backing this thing.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I like the idea of the button to go to the next new post on each thread. And while I'm not tech-savvy enough to know how #2 suggestion would work, I like it anyway. :-)

    1. YES!

      I don't mind Scenario A that much but Scenario B is a constant PITA. Engineering, PLEASE could you do something about it?

        1. time? what time zone? the server's or the user's? latest is one thing, time is another.

          2 Replies
          1. re: hill food

            Shouldn't matter, I think? The admins can choose one - say, the server's internal time clock - and use that.

            1. re: hill food

              What huiray said. By "timestamp" I meant whatever internal mechanism they're using to track the last time you hit a thread. Maybe it's a time, maybe it's a last-read message identifier (that's what I'd personally use), maybe something else. That's already happening, but currently it updates when you post a message. It's the update part I want changed; I don't care what the actual "timestamp" is.

            2. Bumping this. I've recently been involved in a thread with over 400 replies and have had the same problems yet again.

              Perhaps someone from Chow can comment?

              6 Replies
              1. re: davis_sq_pro

                Yes, it really would be great if Engineering could do something about this.

                It continues to be an issue, **even on shorter threads**, and I have missed posts on numerous threads where I started a reply, went to another window to do a bit of research before finishing off the reply, and missed both responses to the post I was responding to as well as other posts elsewhere in the thread - even posts responding to an earlier post of mine!

                Sometimes I have resorted to deleting (actually, copying) what I had started and aborting my response, rechecking whether a new post had been added to the thread, recomposing my reply in Microsoft Word (for example) and then waiting a bit before copying-and-pasting my separately composed response back into a new "reply to" window on CH.

                ALSO: I'm not completely sure about this, but it seems that sometimes when I post something - as a reply to another post, one that took a few minutes to compose, say, then post it - my response shows up in the thread...but if someone else had also posted at around the same time or *just* before I did in reply to the same post I *dont* see that other post (neither "collapsed" nor "open") after the webpage shows my own new post. If I refresh the page, *then* that other post shows up - and inspection of the time stamps of that "hidden" other post and mine indicate that other post was made just before mine.

                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                  Hi davis_sq_pro, huiray and others: We understand what you are saying here, so thanks for posting about this problem. There are other things we are working on that may eventually alleviate this, but it is not something we are going to be working on immediately. We will keep track of this for future consideration though, so thanks again for pointing this out.

                  Dave MP

                  1. re: Dave MP

                    the solution is simple. engineering should just limit posts to a small window of each day. would be as good as unplugging the clocks and phone - works like a dream. trust me.

                    1. re: hill food

                      Nice idea, if it were 1896 and we didn't have these newfangled computer things :-)

                      The timestamp solution I've proposed should be as easy as changing a line or two of code, assuming that the code is reasonably well written/encapsulated.

                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                        There may be an easy change we can do to fix issue B, so we'll be looking into it. Will be keeping you posted, and thanks again.

                        Dave MP

                        1. re: Dave MP

                          You can improve issue one by simply changing the background color of that highlight box that goes around open posts. That grey to slightly darker grey contrast is difficult to pick up, but if you used more contrast or maybe even a different color, it would be easier for people to pick up the new posts visually.