Suggestions for future improvements to our forum software

I am pretty happy with discourse at the moment. Is very good software and it shows.

The one feature I have problem with, is going to the last unread post. Thats basically 90% of what I do when reading forums, and I don’t know how to do it in discourse.

Because I am a big idiot, what I do is to click on the thread name, then fight with the thing to scroll to the bottom, then read the post going back in time to the last post I have not read, then go forward in time reading. Is about the most complicate and awkward way possible. No less because going to the last post in a phone is hard.

There has to be a better way to do it, I have missed.

Unrelated, but I love so much the feature that shows how much time since the last guy have posted, that I would legally marry it. Every time I see “3 months later”, I always laught.

I am pretty sure just opening the thread takes you to your last read post.

Unless you click the thread name from search results, in which case you wind up in a completely random part of the thread.

Yes, I’ve noticed this, too! Very annoying.

Also, I wish when opening a thread, the “latest post” would remain highlighted somehow, rather than a temporary glow, as I prefer opening threads in tabs to read later.

Yeah, if WEB CODEZ allowed it, even something like “Fade on Timer X” where Timer X doesn’t start until the tab gains focus would be a more ideal implementation than what it currently does (or I assume it does).

Ha. Try a few more orders of magnitude.

So is it Discourse or my phone’s browser that’s suddenly turning everyone’s quote marks into smart quotes?

(pretty sure it’s Discourse, but I’ve seen Google do stranger things)

My phone browser (Chrome on Android) doesn’t do that. Got a screenshot to show what you mean?

If you want to enter at the bottom, click or tap on the post count, not the title.

All those areas are tappable, and lead to logical destinations, if you think about it for a second. (You can even tap on @Jason_McMaster though I don’t recommend it.) Post count is more abstract, but you’ll see what it does when you tap it.

It is easier on desktop/laptop/tablet, but yes, on mobile you need to expand the topic timeline then tap on the date at the bottom of the timeline, like so:

On desktop or laptop just press the end key of course.

… the actual search result you searched for!

If you search for “pogonophobia” and click on it, GUESS where you should be? G’wan… guess.

yep right you end up directly in the post you searched for. Why is this at all surprising @ArmandoPenblade?

Yes, auto-smart typography is “now” “on” “by” “default”, see this … and this – and you can’t not don’t never miss that’s!

Ah, I see it now. Thanks for that. I blame my old eyes for missing it.

Aye, that way lies madness

Apparently not smart enough, since it’s jacking up the quote marks in the post quote code when you edit them (for example to trim down a quote chain).

I edited the above just fine (deleted some words) and no smart quotes in sight. Remember that typographical entity processing only happens after you post, not before.

(now if you are doing something really weird like manually copying text out of the preview window instead of the editor, God Help You)

So… search gets an A+ for locating the only post on the forum that has a unique and obscure string in it. Good work.

But let’s try out some use cases of things I might actually search for in the real world. Say, I just finished a game and want to post my thoughts about it:

It surfaced the right thread just fine, but please explain under what conceivable logic the appropriate arrival point in that thread should be the undistinguished post #42/225, which contains none of my search terms?

Why is it at all surprising that this feels random, @wumpus?

I’ll give this use case a B-. It gets me most of the way to the right place, but requires a pointless extra step to get to the bottom to start replying, following a moment of “why am I here?” disorientation.

I think the disconnect is that my thought process when searching is almost always “Where was the thread about ______ ?” rather than “Where was the post that contained ‘__________’ ?” I naturally want to land at my own personal last-read position in that thread, just as if I had clicked it from one of the other navigation methods.

The obvious fix to me would be to decouple the thread title from the text snippet preview in terms of links. If you want the current functionality, click on the text snippet and go straight to that post. If you want to go to your last-read position, click on the thread title.

And as long as we’re talking about the search function’s deficiencies, it’s got a severe recency bias that makes it all-but-useless for locating older threads. There’s a valid argument for a moderate preference for more recent results, but not to anywhere near the extent that it’s done here.

Two issues there. First is that the preview text snippet for some reason highlights spurious partial matches like ‘looking’ rather than the verbatim match of the entire search term elsewhere in the same post. More importantly, we have a 500+ post thread chock-full of juicy, detailed discussion, dedicated to that game, but Discourse thinks I want random drive-by mentions in unrelated threads, just because they happen to be more recent?! F-!

Compare with Google, which surfaces no less than 8 dedicated threads before getting to the first match that’s just a mention in a thread on another topic:

That is indeed odd, I can’t explain why post #42 would be the target for a search on “Nier Automata” without the quotes. I’ve definitely never been in that topic, and since we both got shunted there… I dunno, let me look into that one.

Was there something done to the post DB around February? While playing around with it, I noticed that the search result for most active threads wind up sending you somewhere around that timeframe.

In general I do not agree that every search is de-facto searching for a topic title, though topic title matches should get a pretty hard bump in the search results. We could debate how strong that effect should be.

However, I do agree that we should have a “scope to just the topic title” advanced search option; this is as close as I can get right now:

in other words “scope to just the first post” … as it turns out, there are a disturbing number of topics where the first post body text does indeed contain the words “king of dragon pass”.

Yeah, I wouldn’t want to completely take away the ability to pinpoint the most recent usage of a specific phrase, it’s just the opposite of what I tend to use search for, so I find it being the assumed goal of search annoying.

Agreed. But even without the title or scoping to the first post, there’s something to be said for volume and concentration of search matches as a heuristic when trying to find the thread about a particular topic rather than just a random mention.

For example, take ‘trails in the sky’. The top hit is What will you play in the weekend? , which contains four matches of the search term spread across 1,730 posts. But even without the thread title as a clue, a more sophisticated search algorithm could recognize that Excellent classic JRPG on Steam NOW, $16.99 contains a dozen matches in 90 posts, so a much larger percentage of the thread is about the search term topic. But that thread isn’t even in the top 5 results, beaten out by, of all threads, Bethesda finally let the other shoe drop on paid mods at E3 2017, thanks to its several matches of ‘Skyrim’ and none at all of ‘Trails’.