Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Site Talk >
Aug 2, 2014 08:40 PM

Feature Request - Add Date & Time Sorting to Q&A Topics

Would it be possible to add a Sort by Date of Last Reply button for Q&A topics? It's impossible to tell which responses have already been read.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Totally agree. I'd like to keep up with the answers (if the wretched format continues) but it's simply impossible. If you miss one, then your're doomed.

    1. I was directed to this post by the link you provided in the other thread I was reading. I'm sorry for the confusion but when I looked at a Q&A thread there does seem to be a Date & Time stamp on each answer. Am I missing something?

      26 Replies
      1. re: jrvedivici

        Yes - you're missing the fact that, while each reply has its own date/time stamp, replies you've already read don't collapse when you revisit the thread, and new replies appear in random order within the thread, so you have to go through ALL of the replies very time to see what's new.

        1. re: Allstonian

          Ahhhhh ok that makes sense, no offense to MplsM are but that was not very clear in her OP. So it's not a time stamp but just to collapse the answers would be sufficient correct?

          1. re: jrvedivici

            No, she's asking for a "button" that will re-sort all of the replies in chronological order.

            1. re: Allstonian

              Well then we are back to my original response. I'm pretty sure they do fall in chronological order, with an appropriate time stamp of the date and time the responses were posted. I can see your point that you would have to keep mental track of where you last left off because they don't collapse, but that would be it I think.

              1. re: jrvedivici

                They don't quite fall into chronological order. I haven't looked too closely yet, but at a glance I can't fully tell what algorithm the site is using for the format.

                It seems that the answer selected by the thread starter appears at the top of the thread (unless that has been changed in the last few days).

                Posts after that are sorted by the number of upvotes each post receives.

                For posts that have the same number of upvotes... that's where things get weird. It seems like most of the time these posts are in chronological order. But as shown in the picture above (edit: err, apparently below for some reason), that's not always the case. My guess is that it actually has to do with WHEN a post was upvoted as compared to other posts, but I'm not going to bother studying the format closely enough to figure out whether I'm right.

                At any rate, I believe the OP is asking to be able to sort primarily by posting date/time rather than by number of votes first and foremost. Personally, I have no idea why CH doesn't gray out and minimize previously read Q&A responses, just like in discussion threads.

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  Well we have certainly clarified the OP's thread and bumped it up a few times, maybe it will catch someones attention now! Good luck!

                  1. re: jrvedivici

                    And we have certainly 'clarified' that fact that this format isn't 'clear' at all.

                  2. re: cowboyardee

                    Reddit offers a few sort options, although the default is "best"/ aka up-votes. They also have a down-vote option and nested replies. Some of their threads get thousands of replies so the sort by date is essential if you plan to read through a thread over time.
                    Time will tell, but I think that the lack of a sort option or the graying out of read posts may limit the life span of q&a threads on CH.

                    1. re: EM23

                      As I've said elsewhere, I think Q&A is bad for CH even if it were implemented better. That said, either graying out previously read posts or more user-controlled sorting options would be improvements, IMO.

                    2. re: cowboyardee

                      Yes, thanks. I could have been clearer. That is exactly the problem. When the responses are reordered after they've been upvoted, I don't remember which responses I've read. As c oliver has pointed out a few times, after about 6 responses it becomes really tough to figure out which responses are new.

                      This seems to be a format that will remain no matter how *we* feel about it. Greying out read responses is not part of the plan I guess. And I suppose that's fine, but it's maddening. I just want to be able to actually use Q&A's since we are stuck with them.

                      If sorting by date is not possible, could we perhaps get the little blue dot for unread posts? This would add unnecessary clutter IMO but at least I could tell which responses I've read.

                      Edited to add - this is especially problematic for all the posts that get no votes or when many of the posts have the same vote count.

                      1. re: MplsM ary

                        Hi Mary, we're thinking about the Q&A posts a little differently than you are, so I'll try to explain here.

                        We've seen that Q&A threads have allowed for a poster to get a couple great answers to a quick question, making it unnecessary to follow updates to the thread over a long period of time. It also means that the top voted answers are the most valuable, making sorting less important.

                        This doesn't mean we're looking to change anything about Discussions, which will continue to be the best part of the Community as they reward you for reading deep into the thread and following it over time as more is added.

                        1. re: patsully

                          So why not lock them after, say, 48/72 hours?

                          1. re: c oliver

                            We could consider something similar, perhaps after the OP has chosen an answer they like best, though sometimes there may another great answer or two to follow. We'll keep it in mind!

                            1. re: patsully

                              I guess the theory behind the Q&A concept is it's purely for the OP's edification. If a person sees a Q&A thread you contribute your answer for the purpose of the greater cause and move on. If you wanted to read the other idea's so be it, but that's it. Interesting... I don't see locking it as being any more useful than locking other threads are deemed "old", that has been debated several times as well.

                              I'm not a fan of the Q&A set up myself, but I also realize it's my discretion to use, or not to use.

                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                Since that does seem to be the purpose, I think responses to Q&As should not be automatically added to our reading list. Then we can just post and never have to see the topic again.

                                1. re: MplsM ary

                                  Huh, I never noticed the Reading List. Mine seems to be a completely random assortment of topics. What's its use case?

                                  You can drop any topic from your Followed Discussions by clicking the Following icon at the top of the topic or the star on your Followed Discussions page.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Your Reading List is a listing of discussions that people you are following (reading) have created or participated in.

                                    1. re: DeborahL

                                      I was going to correct that but got busy with other things. I meant don't auto add Q&A responses to our Followed Discussions.

                          2. re: patsully

                            Ok. I just hope you guys are open to the reality of how people will actually use Q&A's versus your intended purpose. You can restate how they should be used all you want, but if nobody actually uses them that way... Meanwhile I will try to shift my thinking on how to view Q&A topics.

                            Thanks for your response.

                            1. re: patsully

                              "We've seen that Q&A threads have allowed for a poster to get a couple great answers to a quick question, making it unnecessary to follow updates to the thread over a long period of time."

                              In other words, it's contrary to the fundamental purpose of Chowhound, which is discussion.

                              "It also means that the top voted answers are the most valuable, making sorting less important."

                              Which is to say, it's hierarchical, directly contrary to one of the fundamental principles Jim Leff came up with years ago that made the site what it is.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                "Which is to say, it's hierarchical, directly contrary to one of the fundamental principles Jim Leff came up with years ago that made the site what it is."

                                Sadly that is all too common when a "mom & pop" type business is taken over by the corporate conglomerations. The all knowing corporate entity thinks they know best, often bastardizing the original vision or core value(s) of the founder(s). Sad to say Chow is far from the first or last business model to be subjected to this form of change.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  Leff has been gone for 7 years. Time to move on.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Hi Robert, we've been very clear that discussion will continue to be the fundamental purpose of the Community. That said, helping out others via the Q&A format is certainly not contrary to the spirit of the site. If it were, it would be a pretty unfriendly place.

                                    As the site continues to grow, it is more than able to support new goals. We're confident it will do so while maintaining the special sauce that makes it what it is.

                                    1. re: patsully

                                      I don't see that Chowhound's growing except in the sense that the archive is ever larger.

                                  2. re: patsully

                                    I think most people answering the Q&A will care about other responses. So you have to make it easier for them to participate and follow along.

                                    1. re: patsully

                                      "We've seen that Q&A threads have allowed for a poster to get a couple great answers to a quick question"
                                      Does it matter much how a feature was conceptualized if that's not primarily how it's being used?

                                      Very offhand, I see three kinds of Q&A threads:
                                      1) Threads that would be better off in a discussion format and are hindered by the inability to respond to specific posts within a thread (or even to suggest that starting a new thread as a discussion would be more productive). 'Poorly chosen' Q&A threads.
                                      2) Threads that are simple questions, ostensibly with quick, cut-and-dry responses. 'Used as intended.'
                                      3) Polls

                                      Again offhand, I see the ratio of Poorly Chosen Q&A threads to Used as Intended Q&A threads as roughly 3:1. And those 1 in 3 threads where Q&A is used well are almost always answerable just as easily and even more quickly by a Google search, due to the simple nature of the question. Why doom so many threads from the get-go for a feature of such dubious value?

                                      One might argue that this ratio could change as people get more used to the feature. But there's good reason to think it won't. Namely - the Q&A feature is designed to appeal primarily to non-regulars of the site. Among this crowd, familiarity with the site's features is impossible (or at least unlikely) by definition.

                                      Polls meanwhile... would be better managed by a poll feature.

                      2. I've completely given up on reading any threads that have the Q&A format, even if the question interested me, because it is too frustrating to weed through the answers.

                        I don't understand why replies you've read can't be minimized. If the order at least stayed the same, then I could jump to the bottom, but it doesn't. Totally useless format for me.