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Default depth for replies

by igelkott (Curate)
on Dec 10, 2007 at 21:38 UTC ( #656239=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

What is the reason for limiting the (default) view depth of replies? I understand the obvious argument of not wanting to confuse the newly-initiated with possibly diverging topics of conversations but I humbly disagree. The final solution might be found at level 5 but a newbie (e.g.) will never see it because he doesn't even know that the view depth can be changed.

I read a five-year-old thread related to this question but it was centered on how to change the setting and haven't seen anything actually questioning the practice. I'm rather new here and of course don't expect to stir up much dust but I am curious if anyone has a good argument.

Comment on Default depth for replies
Re: Default depth for replies
by parv (Priest) on Dec 10, 2007 at 22:07 UTC

    Just my own experience, nothing else...

    Current default depth limit is rather too low for an unregistered user. It needs to be increased at least by 2.

    As a registered user, I find limit of 9 (counting from OP) just about suitable. After that (or near level 7), most of the time either the thread degenerates, goes off topic, or over my head.

Re: Default depth for replies (improvements)
by tye (Cardinal) on Dec 10, 2007 at 22:20 UTC

    I'd like the "replies depth" for bodies to be required to be larger than the "replies depth" for headers, as that provides a much clearer result when the depth limit is exceeded. I recall trying to make this the case for Anonymous Monk but being twarted by a combination of somewhat obscure things. Making it that way for Anonymous Monk and having it default that way for new users would be a big improvement.

    There are several improvements that can be made to the display when the depth is exeeded (linking to where the defaults can be changed, always providing a clear link where you can see more of what you are missing, allowing a temporary increase in the display depth, etc).

    The (unclear) call for completely removing this default depth limitation is certainly unlikely to be implemented. Raising the default might be wise. It seems that a lot of similar popular sites have a depth of 1 and I certainly find those frustrating to try to peruse. :)

    - tye        

      It seems that a lot of similar popular sites have a depth of 1 and I certainly find those frustrating to try to peruse.

      Some of those have fewer and larger threads though I believe. Slashdot, for example, limits heuristically (sometimes you don't even see first-level replies) but traffic is much higher there. Userfriendly forums has one large main thread per day which would be ugly to show in full.

Re: Default depth for replies
by ambrus (Abbot) on Dec 11, 2007 at 07:53 UTC

    I don't think it's confusing, because there's a clear message saying "Some notes below your chosen depth have not been shown here". I think that hints you that the depth can be changed somehow, and note that "chosen depth" also links to the settings page to change the depth. I think it's also obvious that you can click on the titles of replies to show them and their descendants (slashdot works the same way).

    Also, though this doesn't apply to those shallow threads cut by the default view depth, I think that very deep threads are usually flamewars (not trolls, mind you). Just look at how those threads are mostly not branching, just alternating replies between two monks.

      Actually, confusion about that message was the topic of that old thread I referred to. The poster wrote "... my depth of what? Level of 'Re:'? reputation?". I really shouldn't take someone else's argument because I actually didn't find this overly confusing myself (for whatever reason) but the point is not everyone will read the message the same way.

      The ability to change the level isn't contested (of course). I'm only suggesting that the initial reply depth could be set higher (or infinite) until the user has the experience and desire to filter away long-winded debates (such as I'm starting here ;-). Perhaps it's not really necessary, as you suggest, but is it actually bad in some way to make this change? Will it lead to more or less confusion? Don't know but I have my opinion.

      Before it seems like I'm getting too carried away, I do realize that this isn't a terribly important issue. It was just an idea that at least some people might think of as some small improvement.

        The depth limits somewhat reduce server load so changing them for AnonyMonk and new users may have a non-trivial impact on server responsiveness (most page hits are anonymous). Eliminating the limit is simply unacceptable to me (not only for the possible impact of server responsiveness but also because it can make some huge threads render unacceptably slowly and also display quite poorly). In fact, it'd be nice to have a reply count restriction to go along with the reply depth restriction, but that is harder to implement so I certainly wouldn't hold my breath.

        Have you tried setting the two depth settings differently as I recommended? I find that it is a huge improvement to the clarity of the results, to the point that I'm in favor of such being required.

        Hmm, that makes me think of a quick way to do this. I'd actually rather just strongly encourage having them set differently (that is, discourage setting them the same by accident or ignorance). But given the problems I had trying to just get AnonyMonk to use different defaults, if nobody ponies up patches to implement something better (I won't hold my breath) then I might do a quick patch to force "headers w/o bodies" to be 1 higher no matter how they are set. Somebody can come back later and improve that if they have the time and motivation.

        - tye        

Re: Default depth for replies
by dynamo (Chaplain) on Dec 12, 2007 at 22:13 UTC
    One thing I didn't see already pointed out is simply that the more deeply a particular node in a conversation is nested, the farther it ends up being indented over from the left side.. Thus, the more wasted space on the page.

    After a certain amount of indenting (not much more than 5, I expect), you will have a very small column for the text to flow into (assuming you don't have your browser window set to be 1600 wide etc..). I expect this was a design decision as much as a technical / conceptual one.

    - dynamo

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