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CmdrTaco's Journal: D2 Updates 70

Journal by CmdrTaco
In-Place Posting is now live for all logged in users. Hopefully there are no surprises. We've found a number of very tiny bugs, but nothing show stopping. We'll leave the link up to the 'classic' reply form for a few weeks. Next week anonymous coward will get the new posting form... hopefully there are no surprises with that.

A few new keybindings aren't documented yet... v (end) t (top) [] change upper threshold and ,. change bottom threshold. Also 'r' opens the new reply box, m opens the mod total thingee.

The only major complaint so far is that the design changes consume a lot more whitespace. I have mixed feelings on the subject, but am aiming to strike a balance. We noticed 2 very clear places where the whitespace is excessive and hopefully that will be fixed RSN. But on the other hand, making deep threads visually clear, and drawing some attention to the 'reply' buttons is beneficial to everyone, so bare with us as we work to strike some sort of balance.

This discussion was created by CmdrTaco (1) for logged-in users only, but now has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

D2 Updates

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  • Pudge did some really good work here.
    • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
      Credit should also go to wes- the functionality is Pudge's, the look is wes's. The 2 forces combine really nicely.
  • But on the other hand, making deep threads visually clear, and drawing some attention to the 'reply' buttons is beneficial to everyone, so bare with us as we work to strike some sort of balance.

    Sorry, Rob, but this design absolutely hideous and unreadable. Is there any reason to think people were unable to find the reply without a giant blob?

    • by nahdude812 (88157) *
      I wouldn't put it as strongly as that. I do like the better visibility on deep threads. I don't care much for the rounded links, they don't look like links or buttons, they look like informational messages - the sort of thing we train ourselves to ignore =)

      Buttons need to be three dimensional in some way to include the mental tie-in with the real world where we push things in with our fingers. Links need to stand out as a link and not just text. Knocked out text on a gray rounded box doesn't quite do th
    • by hcg50a (690062)
      I don't mind the size of the reply button, but I wish the reply to the main article had the same look and feel as the reply to the comments. The reply to the main article is still as hard to find as ever.

      The reply to the comments is now easier to find, but it wasn't hard to find before.
      • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
        I had this exact discussion with our designer not just a couple hours ago. It's on the TODO list.
    • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
      Yes actually- the people who emailed me and asked where the reply button was ;) I have a hard time buying your 'hideous and unreadable' argument. Perhaps 'Different' and 'We fear change' is more accurate? besides the larger reply buttons and the box, it looks almost exactly the same, so if THIS is hideous, it must have been pretty terrible originally anyway!
      • by bcat24 (914105)
        I also agree that "hideous and unreadable" is too harsh a critique. That said, I'm not excessively fond of the latest design change. The borders are quite sloppy looking, and there's far too much whitespace around comments. Also, the "reply to this" and "parent" button-links are too big for my taste. I like the basic style, but I certainly would be disappointed if some of the padding went away. :)
      • And user-configurable stylesheets with community-contributed styles are in the works so that people can skin Slashdot however they like? :)

        The new look feels bloated, like Slashdot posts are displayed in PowerPoint rather than Notepad.
         
        • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
          Isn't that sort of thing what greasemonkey is for?

          We learned a long time ago that if you provide slashdot readers with 100 options, 1 person will use all 100 of them, 4 people will use 5 of them, 10 people will complain that we are missing option #101 (but if we add that option, only 1 of those 10 will use it). And 95 people never change anything from the default settings ever.

          So in general, we now try to err on the side of 'solve it for the most people the best you can'. Stylesheets are a fun idea, b

      • by TRS-80 (15569)
        So looking at the end result of an expanded thread, it's not actually all that bad. But going from a single-line unexpanded comment to an expanded comment which now has all these borders and whitespace around it is quite jarring. And the reply/parent buttons just suck up vertical space - if you put them into the bottom of the grey frame they'd use a whole lot less space.
        • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
          I'm considering a footer- but I don't know how much space that actually saves... a few pixels sure, but at the expense of readability.

          Just give us a few weeks. We've tweaked a bunch of changes into the system and we'll get a few more in and hopefully we'll find a compromise that makes everyone happy. Or at least happIER. You can't ever make 100% of the people happy 100% of the time.

  • I'd like it better if the reply/parent buttons would be in the title bar of the comment. Now they just eat too much vertical space. Especially with short comments.
    Also, the grey boxes that appear around some (high-rated?) comments are too similar to blockquoted text. Too confusing.
    And there is no reason why the first comment level should be indented.
    • by deek (22697)
      I was just about to post exactly the same comment, when I read your reply. I totally agree; the buttons can definitely stand to be moved to the title bar. It'd make things more compact, and make it look much better. Depending on the design of the button, of course.

      Otherwise, I love the new in-line comment system. Much more convenient than the previous system.
    • by bcat24 (914105)

      I'd like it better if the reply/parent buttons would be in the title bar of the comment. Now they just eat too much vertical space. Especially with short comments.
      <aol>Me too!</aol>
    • To clarify: I'm still using D1, just tried out D2 again.
      In D2, the first-level indentation seems to be used for the thread selection marker. In D1 this marker isn't there, so there's just a white band on the left.
      The grey boxes are used everywhere in D2. They're OK and help visualize nesting, but should in my opinion have a thinner line size. Like the subtle line between a post and a quick reply form. Alternatively, make the blockquote line a different color, or put the quoted text in a colored box
      The bu
      • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
        At this point, only a very tiny percentage of our users are using D1, so while I understand that it might need some tweaking, my concerns are mainly for the 90-95% of our traffic using D2.

        I coudl go either way on the box thickness thing. I think the chunkier box line is nice- it sets the comment apart. If anything, I don't like that the in-line post box doesn't stand out a bit more. I think maybe that answer to that might be to put the whole thing into a light grey background... then it would really st

        • At this point, only a very tiny percentage of our users are using D1
          Ouch, I guess I'm getting old :P . Actually, I never really got the hang of D2, maybe because I'm used to reading in nesting mode. With D2 you either have abbreviated message clutter or no replies at all.

          I'll try it again for a few days, maybe it'll grow on me ;)

          • by ak3ldama (554026)
            It never grew on me either, Nested has always solved my needs. I found myself taking longer to read threads with D2. I was in the habit of loading up the individual threads on a new tab, and scrolling through quick or slow as needed. With the new code it takes more time, for me at least; I guess it is a blessing in disguise as I read discussions on /. less now.
            • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
              I've just never under stood the whole 'nested mode is perfect and D2 can't do it'. If you just pull the top slider down, and increase the # of comments retreieved when you load the page, you basically get nested mode. Except when you get to the end of the page, you click 'more' to continue. Yeah, you retrieve the comments in multiple requests, but that's just good manners- giving readers a 1 meg page of comments when they only usually read the first couple dozen is bad for them too, to say nothing of mer
              • I can't speak for ak3ldama, but from his comment it seems we use nested mode in a similar way.

                I usually start in nested mode with a fairly high threshold (4). Depending on how much time I have and how interesting the discussion is I lower the threshold. This can be perfectly done with D2.

                Where it differs is the following: if you click 'N replies below current threshold' in D1, it opens all those messages at once (and I usually open them in a new tab). In D2 clicking 'N hidden messages' first loads the subm

                • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
                  Remember that by using the new shortcut keys [] and ,. you can raise and lower the thresholds for abbreviate and hidden comments. This makes this whole process far more efficient.

                  I'm not happy with the X Hidden comments handling yet. I'm certainly open to ideas. The problem is that comments have a lot of states, and it's "Hard" to make an intuitive UI that lets you cycle between all of them.

                  • Thanks, I didn't know those shortcut keys existed (they're not in the FAQ - hint). The ] one doesn't seem to work on my system though (but I use azerty, and understand it's all still experimental).

                    As for suggestions: maybe a key pair to expand (full) / collapse (x hidden) the children of the selected post would be handy? That way you could quickly read through the children of a post, and hide them back when you're done.

                    • Oops, should have read your main post more carefully. Those new shortcut keys were mentioned there...
    • I'd have to disagree. Reply and Moderate appear at the END of a comment, because you can't reply intelligently or moderate intelligently until AFTER you have read the comment. I know that this eats up some vertical real estate, but it's not logical to have the actionable items displayed BEFORE the context that you need to act upon.

      There's always a debate between minimalism where every pixel matters, and logical clear design. We absolutely can tighten up this whole UI, but it's just more intuitive to ha

      • Well, you got a point. Logically they would indeed belong at the bottom. On the other hand, most of us are used to having action buttons in a toolbar or menu bar at the top of the window (or in this case text box). A reply button in an e-mail (web-)application is usually somewhere at the top. Maybe it could be a configuration setting?
        Anyway, I'm only suggesting. I'd probably hack the CSS before resorting to hate mail ;)
        • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
          I would make the case that *slashdot* users are used to it being at the bottom since that's where it has been for 10.5 years now... but then again, you could also make the case that they are also used to less whitespace, and I'm really trying to make the case that the extra whitespace is beneficial ;)
  • So far, I like what D2 is doing. It isn't perfect, there are bugs, and some things I don't like, but I recognize it's a work-in-progress. As long as changes continue to happen and it doesn't stagnate, I'm happy to use something unfinished. And it is definitely huge progress compared to what we had before. Right on!

    One question: I used to be able to see the moderation scores on a given comment by clicking the comment's direct link (the "(#12345)" after the time). I don't see that anymore. Am I just mis
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

      One question: I used to be able to see the moderation scores on a given comment by clicking the comment's direct link (the "(#12345)" after the time). I don't see that anymore. Am I just missing something, was it forgotten, is it on the to-do list, or was it taken away for a reason?
      Click the "Score" for the comment! Or if it is the current comment, "m".
      • Ah, I see now! That makes sense, and is a good idea, too. Doesn't waste space and works for all comments. Thanks for the tip!
        • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
          Yeah i routinely had to open up threads just to answer a question about moderation... this change is a huge improvement. Although we probably should have a key bound to closing the dialog box. I imagine ESC is a bad key to try to eat in browsers... anyone know?
          • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot
            I was thinking of the same thing, and I think 'm' could be used as a toggle. But it is a little tricky since I used the existing prefs API, so we might want to make a general keybinding for ALL modal dialogs, but we also might want to wait until I generalize the keybindings code ... etc.
            • If you want a global keybinding that's good for this sort of thing, I'd suggest 'x'. It's got a mnemonic in "exit"; it's unlikely to conflict with any other mnemonic; it's analogous with the icon used for the GUI "Close button"; it's near the WASD cluster.
              • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot
                I like that. 'm' could still be used for a toggle for this specific case, but 'x' as a general key for the same purpose is a nice idea.
                • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
                  yeah i wouldn't want to use 'm' because that would be confusing if we tried to map it into the prefs boxes.
  • ...I have to say that it looks like you're trying to make D1 less and less pleasant in an attempt to get everyone onto D2. I'm not saying that's actually it, it's just the experience seems to get worse over time as many of the features we know and love are removed (moderation score information without Javascript, simple indenting, long comments being displayed if we ask for them to be in our preferences, etc.) Meanwhile Web2.0 features are implemented haphazardly for a group that has actively rejected them

    • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
      We're really not trying to change D1, but the fact is that almost nobody uses it any more. And unfortunately in some cases, since D1 & 2 share some code, some changes to improve D2 affect D1. It's unintentional, but inevitable. We're working to make the Slashdot experience the best we can for as many people as possible, and for edge cases (people who reject ajax for example) we don't always meet their needs perfectly. It's not malicious, it's just a law of returns- making 90% happy takes X hours. M
      • by jamie (78724) * Works for Slashdot
        Actually I think it takes X hours to make 80% happy... 2X hours to satisfy 88%... 3X to get up to 88.8%...
      • Ok, needless to say I'm not happy about that response. Suggesting, as you appear to, that the solution to those of us who are finding problems with Slashdot's UI, is to go and start our own Slashdot-like website is just insulting, it doesn't really answer the issues. And I must admit I'm having a hard time believing that "almost nobody" is using D1. I suspect D2's popular - given it's the default - amongst casual users, which presumably make up the vast majority of Slashdot's hits, but then again didn't yo

        • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
          I'm not suggesting you start a new site... I'm suggesting you submit a PATCH ;)

          I'm not sure about the reparent highly rated comments thing. Are you in D1 or D2? That option does nothing in D2 atm- and it's not really on the TODO list since the whole point of the dynamic thresholding was to make kludgy crap like that unnecessary...

          • Oh, ok. Well, the way you described the long-comments issue, it sounded like you were suggesting it was impossible, so I didn't think patches were under consideration. But, ok, good :)

            I don't know about D2, but I'm using D1, and have "Re-parent" turned off. And it was working until recently, though I can't honestly say if it stopped working this morning or three days ago.

            And just to add to the confusion, I just tried it again on the exact same article and can't reproduce the issue. The comment in quest [slashdot.org]

            • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
              The caching thing is a hard problem that I doubt anyone can patch cleanly. Basically, we pre-cache every comment you see... but we cache just the X bytes that 99.9% of readers want. What we found is that users who turned on that option and hit discussions with really long comments caused the DB to seize because none of those comments were cached. It really screwed things up and it had to go for flat out performance reasons. I doubt it'll come back. We ran the numbers and picked a size that fit like 90%
              • Ok, compromise time: is there any way you could increase the size of what's considered too long for a comment? Or is it already set at the threshold for what causes serious problems with Slashcode's caching? Surely when the default was set, that was set based upon Slashdot's then state-of-the-art 80286 Xenix cluster with the huge 40M RLL hardcard, ARCNet network, and Trailblazer modem connection to the Internet. Things must have improved since then a little...

                • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
                  It was set at a number that was large enough to fit the vaaaast majority of slashdot comments. We like, looked a histogram and stuff. It was all like mathy and stuff. How about THIS compromise: turn on javascript and enjoy the glorious 21st century :)
                  • Yeah, because my objection is Javascript...

                    My objection is having to keep clicking around to read a conversation. To be interrupted in mid flow by "Read the rest of this comment", while reading a comment that is by definition going to be long, require some patience and thought, and require, well, no interruptions, is essentially kicking us out of the conversation.

                    The vast majority of Slashdot comments consist of "Fr0st post", "Actually, The EctoBleezer 2000 doesn't have a Snartfargler 7, that was the E

                    • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
                      I don't click at all. Pressing S and D navigates down and through threads. When I get to the end, it loads more comments. Setting thresholds how I like them lets me see more or less comments initially, and set how they appear (either abbreviated or not). It's faster, easier to navigate, and doesn't require me to take my hand off the keyboard. Well, except to moderate. Which we'll probably address someday soon ;)
                    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                      My objection is having to keep clicking around to read a conversation.

                      This is what I "get" the least about the complaints: I do LESS clicking around -- keybindings or not -- in D2. I get more of the discussion I want to see right up front. Be that as it may ...

                      ... the idea that the comment size limit might be waaaay too small shouldn't be exactly hard to believe.

                      The limit is actually pretty large: 4K. Raising the limit to anything still-reasonable would include very few additional comments. So yes, it is very hard to believe the limit is waaaaay too small. It is not hard to believe it could be larger.

                      Turning on Javascript will not help. Firstly, because it already is turned on (except when I browse remotely via Lynx, but that doesn't work any more because of the cookies issue)

                      Since when does lynx not work anymore? And what problems with cookie

                    • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
                      Yeah flat mode is the only thing that we're flat out not supporting ATM in D2. It's not out of the question, but I wanted to get all the other details taken care of before we used it- D2 completely replaces nested & threaded modes in every way, but flat mode has nothing.

                      I think that the way that people use flat mode is just for chronological comments. You can navigate the discussion that way using Q/E if you change your comment retrieval method to retrieve-by-date, but that is non obvious, and not a

                    • This is what I "get" the least about the complaints: I do LESS clicking around -- keybindings or not -- in D2. I get more of the discussion I want to see right up front. Be that as it may ...

                      When Nested mode is working, it's hard to see how you can click around less unless mind reading becomes part of the system. Once the page is loaded, you don't have to click at all except under two common circumstances and one uncommon one: the two common are going to the next page of comments, and replying to a comme

                    • by pudgetest (548119) *

                      So it seems improbable that you're doing "less clicking around" unless, maybe, you were using that "threaded" mode in the old system.

                      It works the same as Nested, and I don't have to go to another page to get more comments or reply. So, yes.

                      4K is so large you perceive it to be uncommon that anyone would come across such a comment on a regular basis?

                      No. 4K is large enough that I know for a fact that such comments are relatively rare, because we checked the existing comments in the database.

                      You think ... that someone is clearly doing something wrong if they hit that limit?

                      Not at all. You seem to think this is some sort of punishment. It's not.

                      Look, I'm complaining about this because in the short time this change has been in affect, I've hit the limit multiple times.

                      Me too. And yet, it doesn't bother me, because I know most users can just hit Read the Rest and it's not a problem.

                      Also note that we have INCREASED the limit for everyone who had no

                    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

                      by squiggleslash (241428) *

                      No. 4K is large enough that I know for a fact that such comments are relatively rare, because we checked the existing comments in the database.

                      Are you calling me a liar?

                    • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
                      A fundamental problem for a lot of folks is that they don't understand that D2 DOES nested mode just fine. There are 2 thresholds: "hide" and "abbreviate". If you pull the 2 thresholds together, you are in nested mode. It may not be blazingly obvious, but it is documented in the FAQ at least, and it seems to me at least that 30 seconds of clicking on the widget would teach people that. With all of this you get so much more too... like the ability to get the top rated comments on your first load, and the
                    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

                      No. 4K is large enough that I know for a fact that such comments are relatively rare, because we checked the existing comments in the database.
                      Are you calling me a liar?
                      Yes. That is exactly what I am doing. /me rolls eyes

                      I am simply (I thought obviously) saying that your experience, if it is as you describe, is atypical.
                    • by TRS-80 (15569)
                      Yeah, D2 is great for reading a discussion, but not so much for catching up on one you've already read part of earlier, and are now reading the new comments. Dare I say it, but k5 has had a (new) marker for years now that would be quite useful, in D1 or D2.
                    • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
                      We've started to address this in some ways- as you retrieve new comments, the old ones 'fade' a little in the titlebar to make it easier to retain what you've seen or not. The truth is that I just can't come up with a good way to maintain a read/unread status for a million users on millions of comments, and to do it in a performance effective way. Under D1 the problem was mostly unsolvable- under D2 it's probably do-able if we stored a client side cookie maintaining perhaps the last couple hundred comment
                    • by TRS-80 (15569)
                      You don't need to store it for millions of comments, just the thousands of articles - one last-read timestamp per article. How often to update the timestamp is the question, I'd say once after every non-AJAX page load would work ok.
                    • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
                      this just doesn't work in a threaded forum. We spent a bunch of time trying to figure out a way to do it. It's on the TODO list, but it's not at the top of it. It's a surprisingly difficult problem at this scale.
                    • by TRS-80 (15569)
                      The assumption being made is that the user had read all the comments (using AJAX) that matter to them in one load of the page, and the next time they come back they want to see what comments have been made since then. Sure it's an approximation, but a) how do you track if the user has actually read a comment - you can't, so why bother? b) I wouldn't want comments in threads I didn't expand because they didn't interest me showing up as new forever c) it's better than nothing and not that hard to do.
                    • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
                      yeah this is just part of why we've never addressed it. Determining what is read or not is "hard" in a web UI (you can guess in D2, and know for sure if the user uses keybindings tho). THis, coupled with the technical issue of maintaining the massive volume of data (we've discussed this btw, we can't just use 1 datestamp per story. it's just not gonna cut it in a threaded discussion). There are SO many variables here that it's the sort of thing that we're simply not gonna get right the first couple time
    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

      it's just the experience seems to get worse over time as many of the features we know and love are removed (moderation score information without Javascript

      Almost everyone uses JavaScript. This actually has nothing to do with D1/D2 specifically: this is just us saving you a page load to check a comment's mod information. I suppose we could make it so that people who aren't using D2 can still get the information the old way (CmdrTaco can direct me to do that), but I think you're probably in the minority, even of D1 users, who thinks this is a bad thing.

      simple indenting

      Do you mean the UI changes from last week? If not, I don't know what you're referring to. If that is wha

  • Are you aware that if you paste in a fancy single quote (opposite direction of the acute accent - I think right single quotation mark or _& # 8217;_), the system - well, let me just show you:

    â(TM) vs ’

    Unfortunately this seems to be a common character in news sites... Not sure if this is a new issue with posting or not. Otherwise I really like the new preview.

  • Add me to the list that doesn't like the knew look either. When I first saw it I thought that there must be something broken in my browser. Maybe I just need to get used to it, but I am having trouble following threads in the form. The boxes are distracting, where lined up columns of posts are just like follwing the indentation in blocks of code. Anyway, thanks for trying. I hope that you tweak the the look quite a bit more, though.
  • What is the purpose of the big > at the top that uses up horizontal space for all the comments ever? I thought maybe it was a way to collapse the thread, but it wasn't clicky. Nested comments are really important to me, so horizontal space is really premium.

    I think all the people complaining about the "new" look are silly. It's not that new. And I think the buttons are visible and attractive. They even highlight when you mouse over them. I think most of the world can handle webpages that use graphical bu
    • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
      The '>' indicates the current comment. You can use the keybindings (WASD mainly) to navigate threads very efficiently. It, along iwth the 'L' looking things that indicate depth still need a little work I think just to tighten everything up. We only have one user type to test out- anonymous coward. If the new in-line posting works for them, then the only peop

      Good point about button consistency. We plan to unify the buttons as best we can, and the 'If you have difficulty' text is going away in a few

  • There should be two viewing options -- one for normal (non-moderator) and another for moderation. If you want to encourage moderation of unmoderated comments instead of moderation of comments already moderated it is essential. The moderation default should also default to Oldest and Full or whatever view is everything.

    If it annoys me to have to change my regular view but I do it anyway I figure there are many others who don't bother and just moderate what their chosen view displays.

    With Firefox 3.0pre the "
    • by CmdrTaco (1) * Works for Slashdot
      This is actually something we've debated on many occasions. The needs of the moderator are different than the needs of the regular user. Unfortunately I really don't want moderation to be an obtrusive experience- so if I adjust thresholds and change sort ordering for people who have mod points, they are going to get annoyed because when they get mod points, Slashdot sucks.

      The alternative is simply to hope that users change their thresholds when they get mod points to look at those Score:0 and Score:-1 c

      • by cymen (8178)
        I sent you a screen shot.

        Regarding the moderation preferences -- I'm glad it's already been debated. Maybe a good compromise would be to have an option to set your view to full (right next to "You have X Moderator Points! Use 'em or lose 'em!").

        Perhaps as you suggest though D2 will take care of all of this.
  • It looks like the moderation select box appears in threads in which I've commented, even when I come back to that thread later (hence a full page reload). At least it won't actually allow me to moderate ("You've already posted something in this discussion.").
    • by nahdude812 (88157) *
      Also, it looks like if you check "Post Anonymously" and use the preview, it previews with your signature line in place, though doesn't post that way.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton

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