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Public area => The Pub => Off-topic => Topic started by: xrunner on May 22nd, 2013, 01:04 AM

Title: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: xrunner on May 22nd, 2013, 01:04 AM
I searched but didn't find this discussed before. I sometimes de-nest quotes manually for what I feel like is easier reading. I wonder if anyone else has ever thought that this would be a useful forum feature? It places the person's membername closer to the start of their quote for easier association, especially when there is more text.

Instead of going from the inside out -
Quote from xrunner on May 22nd, 2013, 12:48 AM
Quote from Wanchope on May 8th, 2013, 05:56 PM
Quote from Arantor on May 8th, 2013, 05:07 PM
Mostly because they set up their style in the old days, then got big in spite of ugly design, and had to keep it to avoid upsetting the existing fans.
You need to see the picture of Facebook back in 2004,...
Test test test additional comment.
You'd see this going from first to last in sequence -
Quote from Arantor on May 8th, 2013, 05:07 PM
Mostly because they set up their style in the old days, then got big in spite of ugly design, and had to keep it to avoid upsetting the existing fans.
Quote from Wanchope on May 8th, 2013, 05:56 PM
You need to see the picture of Facebook back in 2004,...
Quote from xrunner on May 22nd, 2013, 12:48 AM
Test test test additional comment.
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Arantor on May 22nd, 2013, 01:12 AM
Well, there's already an option in SMF (and has been for some time) to strip nested quotes so you'd only have the outermost quote in the first place. I am not sure if it is buggy or not (it is disabled here but I don't remember if it was just because it's not enabled in SMF by default or because we found a reason to disable it)

I see where you're going but I'm not entirely sure I like the look of it. Would be interested to see what other comments there are.
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: xrunner on May 22nd, 2013, 01:15 AM
Quote from Arantor on May 22nd, 2013, 01:12 AM
Well, there's already an option in SMF (and has been for some time) to strip nested quotes so you'd only have the outermost quote in the first place.
Yes I know about it, but as you know it does remove all the other quotes.
Quote
I see where you're going but I'm not entirely sure I like the look of it. Would be interested to see what other comments there are.
Fair enough, just another crazy idea of mine (but I really do this a fair amount for the readability). :)
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Arantor on May 22nd, 2013, 01:20 AM
Removing the other quotes is sort of the point. You really don't need all the extra quotes and as far as readability goes, it seems to me to promote wall-of-text syndrome by making wall-of-quotes. The head of the quote is still a link back to the previous post so it's not like you can't easily get the original context.
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: xrunner on May 22nd, 2013, 01:28 AM
Quote from Arantor on May 22nd, 2013, 01:20 AM
Removing the other quotes is sort of the point. You really don't need all the extra quotes and as far as readability goes, it seems to me to promote wall-of-text syndrome by making wall-of-quotes. The head of the quote is still a link back to the previous post so it's not like you can't easily get the original context.
Yea, on the other forum I ran for years (WWGHA), I tried using the "strip nested quotes" option.

It was a disaster - not because it didn't work but because the members hated it. They loved their nested quotes and I gave up trying to convince them of the same logic you just outlined. After that I tried to police all the wall-quotes as lazy members would just quote away without thinking about it, repeating already-posted items completely with ridiculous amounts of text. I even used the warning system to try and stop it. It was to no avail. Fortunately my forum has better behaving members in that respect. :)
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Arantor on May 22nd, 2013, 01:33 AM
Perhaps if it were enabled by default on a fresh installation... hmm. Needs more thought.
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: xrunner on May 22nd, 2013, 01:44 AM
Quote from Arantor on May 22nd, 2013, 01:33 AM
Perhaps if it were enabled by default on a fresh installation... hmm. Needs more thought.
Yep. It's mainly a matter of habit. It's a bad habit that I found couldn't be broken. I even wrote sticky posts about it. I would say

"Do not quote more text than is needed to make your point. All the points everyone has made are in the thread. That's what the thread is there for - to hold all the points. A quote should be short and simply to jog the memory and help people reading to understand what you are addressing, blah, blah, blah ..."

Something like that. Mainly new members would not understand how the quote button should be handled correctly. They simply thought it was there to respond to any member in the thread. But as I would scold them - no, it's only to be used to attach a short amount of specific material that you want to rebut. You MUST edit out all unneeded material down before posting! Otherwise, simply do this -

Member xyz, I have this to say about your last point ...


Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Johnny54 on May 22nd, 2013, 02:31 AM
I am glad our admin was smart enough to never activate nested quotes. I hate them.
I have visited forums with nested quotes where the quote sometimes ran 20 levels deep and the largest answer was about 4 words long. Nuts, plain nuts.

On our forum there are also people that misuse the quote button as the answer button. You can keep telling them they shouldn't. but they are used to it from other places.
I have the most success by sending those people a PM telling them that in a normal (spoken) conversation they wouldn't even think about repeating everything the other people say before answering. That really makes them think and often they start using quote for the purpose it's meant.
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Arantor on May 22nd, 2013, 02:33 AM
Quote from xrunner on May 22nd, 2013, 01:44 AM
Quote from Arantor on May 22nd, 2013, 01:33 AM
Perhaps if it were enabled by default on a fresh installation... hmm. Needs more thought.
Yep. It's mainly a matter of habit. It's a bad habit that I found couldn't be broken. I even wrote sticky posts about it. I would say

"Do not quote more text than is needed to make your point. All the points everyone has made are in the thread. That's what the thread is there for - to hold all the points. A quote should be short and simply to jog the memory and help people reading to understand what you are addressing, blah, blah, blah ..."
That's because users are, generally, idiots. It's mob mentality - one person can be smart, a genius even, but we end up having to cater to the lowest common denominator.
Quote from xrunner on May 22nd, 2013, 01:44 AM
Something like that. Mainly new members would not understand how the quote button should be handled correctly. They simply thought it was there to respond to any member in the thread. But as I would scold them - no, it's only to be used to attach a short amount of specific material that you want to rebut. You MUST edit out all unneeded material down before posting! Otherwise, simply do this -

Member xyz, I have this to say about your last point ...
Well, as I just demonstrated there is one very nifty feature that might be useful, the quote splitter. Quote the whole post, press shift-enter and it'll break the quote, ending the quote and opening a new quote tag around the cursor. Works for other tags too.
Quote from Johnny54 on May 22nd, 2013, 02:31 AM
I am glad our admin was smart enough to never activate nested quotes. I hate them.
I have visited forums with nested quotes where the quote sometimes ran 20 levels deep and the largest answer was about 4 words long. Nuts, plain nuts.
Actually, it's activated by default in SMF. You have to specifically tick a box buried in the admin panel to disable it.
Quote from Johnny54 on May 22nd, 2013, 02:31 AM
On our forum there are also people that misuse the quote button as the answer button. You can keep telling them they shouldn't. but they are used to it from other places.
Yeah, that's a problem when they mean to answer the topic as a whole and end up quoting a post they didn't really mean to. See above about lowest common denominator.
Quote from Johnny54 on May 22nd, 2013, 02:31 AM
I have the most success by sending those people a PM telling them that in a normal (spoken) conversation they wouldn't even think about repeating everything the other people say before answering. That really makes them think and often they start using quote for the purpose it's meant.
Sounds good.
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: xrunner on May 22nd, 2013, 02:40 AM
Quote from Johnny54 on May 22nd, 2013, 02:31 AM
I am glad our admin was smart enough to never activate nested quotes. I hate them.
I have visited forums with nested quotes where the quote sometimes ran 20 levels deep and the largest answer was about 4 words long. Nuts, plain nuts.
The more I think about it, as Arantor alluded to, the more I think stripping nested quotes should be the default setting upon a fresh install.

I don't think people really care, as long as they aren't "shell-shocked' by a change, silly as that sounds. In other words, if stripping nested quotes was the default, and you suddenly turned it off after the members were used to it, they'd probably be just as pissed off about it.

"WTF! Why are we now seeing all this nested mess when we click the quote button!" :wow:

If you aren't careful, as I've found, the initial settings of your forum are going to be what people get accustomed to, and any change will reap complaints. So - all you new Admins - please know what the Hell you are doing when you install and set up a new forum! :cool:

P.S. Unlike I did back in the day.
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Nao on May 22nd, 2013, 08:59 AM
A useful suggestion, perhaps..?

Since nested quotes are an acquired taste, maybe have this as a user option, rather than a site-wide option, and disable or enable it by default, I don't really care -- having them disabled by default means that you'll never get pyramid contests (I fun them fun from time to time, even as an admin, but...), while having them enabled by default allows people to at least discover the qualities of my quote splitter... :P

(Although I still need to fix said quote splitter, as I recently noticed a minor bug with it.)
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Arantor on May 22nd, 2013, 02:11 PM
The only problem with making it a user preference is that you have to do that at parse time, not at fetch-quote time.
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Nao on May 22nd, 2013, 04:32 PM
I'm not talking about hiding all quotes for them, rather simply stripping off nested quotes for their own posts.

Although, well, it could be possible to strip quotes at runtime. Say, in ob_sessrewrite...

Or... Let me think about it... Replace all nested quotes with a "Show this quote" button..? At least it won't take as much size, although it'll still be a problem with the database size, but I think we have a setting around here to prevent long quotes from being saved, or something...?
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Dragooon on May 22nd, 2013, 06:55 PM
Nested quotes preference should be to view honestly, not to quote. A little CSS for those who want to hide nested quotes can make this a lot faster rather than parsing the post.
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Arantor on May 22nd, 2013, 10:40 PM
Hmm, I don't know whether it would be quicker to just hide it in CSS or to strip it on view before parsing (thus saving some tags)

I also don't know how you'd do it in CSS if it's a user preference because that means it can't really be in the CSS file at all... unless we add a class at parse time to it (which is currently not supported and would make parsing undoubtedly slower)
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Nao on May 22nd, 2013, 10:54 PM
Quote from Arantor on May 22nd, 2013, 10:40 PM
Hmm, I don't know whether it would be quicker to just hide it in CSS or to strip it on view before parsing (thus saving some tags)
It all depends on whether disabling nested quotes is about saving bandwidth, saving database space, or saving scrolling time, or a combination of all three...

The main advantage of adding a 'view quote' link/button, is that you can possibly get rid of the option.
Quote
I also don't know how you'd do it in CSS if it's a user preference because that means it can't really be in the CSS file at all... unless we add a class at parse time to it (which is currently not supported and would make parsing undoubtedly slower)
Well, it's easy to find nested quotes at parse time, so..?
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Arantor on May 22nd, 2013, 11:09 PM
It's not a bandwidth saving particularly. From a preference point of view it's about just only having as much content as you really need to be able to make your point. Bandwidth and DB space savings are a nice by-product if done at save time.

Nested quotes at parse time... yes and no. The current nesting hierarchy is maintained, so we know what tags we are inside and what is still open. However... that's not passed to the tag itself for the validate_func purpose. It is validated against disallow_children and disallow_parent to prevent a tag being inside something it shouldn't be, but that's all. The notion of passing the current parse tree into a tag to validate itself (e.g. allowing a tag to generate different markup if it is inside another) is a bit exotic and will definitely carry a performance penalty passing that in and out of the validate_funcs. Mind you, we could always retain it in a global variable and let a tag pull that in but I'd sort of rather not do that if I can help it.
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Nao on May 23rd, 2013, 03:28 PM
There is already a special codepath in parse_bbc (Subs-BBC::592) that goes through a quote's parent quotes, and alternates their styling.
Meaning, we can reuse this to additionally add a "show quote" class/behavior to the penultimate quote in the stack.
Alternatively, we can also get rid of that code block and instead use CSS to alternate style (I gave it a try, it's an additional 13 gzipped bytes compared to an .alternate > div styling solution, but obviously it also saves us a few HTML bytes, as well as processing time.)
Then we'll be back to square one when it comes to showing "show quote", but whatever... ;)
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: xrunner on May 23rd, 2013, 07:18 PM
The problem with the quote button is that it selects all of the text in the post (including other nested quotes), which is usually more than is needed. You must think about what you don't need.

Here's another idea - may or may not be easy to implement. What if, when you clicked "quote" for a reply, you got an intermediate window or forced step. Now, with this, you must select what you want for your response. By default nothing is selected - this forces you to select what you need. Sure, a person could simply select all of it anyway, but I think it gives people a chance to really think about what they are selecting and why. It could even have a message -

"Please select ONLY the minimum required for your response"

In other words the way it is now is an opt-out paradigm - you remove what you don't need (and lots of people don't opt-out of anything). It's too easy to click quote and start typing your respons

The new way would be opt-in paradigm - you select what you do need and only then can you add your response

Now that would be super-neat IMHO.
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Arantor on May 23rd, 2013, 08:00 PM
If the strip-nested-quotes option is on, it should be stripped at quote time anyway.

Part of the problem is that while I can see where you're coming from, the average user is too lazy to do that.
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: godboko71 on May 23rd, 2013, 08:11 PM
Quote from Arantor on May 23rd, 2013, 08:00 PM
Part of the problem is that while I can see where you're coming from, the average user is too lazy to do that.
Not only that but de-nesting is less readable to me because it loses its scope which nesting provides.

Now if I was replying separately to each post I would quote each post individually so it was readable and understandable. At times it would be nice if multi quote was easier.
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: xrunner on May 23rd, 2013, 08:15 PM
Quote from godboko71 on May 23rd, 2013, 08:11 PM
Not only that but de-nesting is less readable to me because it loses its scope which nesting provides.
I completely disagree, but such is the nature of opinions.
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Arantor on May 23rd, 2013, 08:23 PM
While I certainly won't knock anyone for having opinions that conflict, opinions that can be backed up with a justification/support argument are much more valuable. Knowing *why* someone holds the opinion they do can be important.

So, de-nesting does have less readability for some people, and the reason is some scope and context - which can be important in complex debates - can be lost.

For others, I can see there might be an argument that having the extra content does make it hard to focus on what's important and what points need to be refuted. But it seems to me that it swings both ways and is probably down to the user's preference.

So... with that in mind, if a user doesn't want nested quotes, they won't see nested quotes from others and if they quote a post, it should strip the nesting when the quote is generated.

Seems to me that it will solve both sets of concerns.

Regarding multi-quote, I agree that it might be useful to have so I might consider trying to get that working as a plugin.
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Nao on May 23rd, 2013, 08:42 PM
Is it worth trying to implement a text mode quote system similar to text emails..?
Then we can easily manipulate multiple quote levels.
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: xrunner on May 23rd, 2013, 08:45 PM
Quote from Arantor on May 23rd, 2013, 08:23 PM
While I certainly won't knock anyone for having opinions that conflict, opinions that can be backed up with a justification/support argument are much more valuable. Knowing *why* someone holds the opinion they do can be important.
It's partly subjective sure, but I never liked the nesting of quotes. Why? Because people are talking in sequence on a forum. So a sequence is

Person A
Person B
Person A
Person C


and so on.

Nesting what was never nested to begin with doesn't make any sense to me - in other words quoting multiple members should never have been nested at all. Does the forum itself nest each post as they come into a thread? No. It's put in sequence. Then why change that for a quote? Why change the appearance? I don't understand what it adds. Where did that ever come from anyway (I'd like to know just for grins).

Why make it look like a ballooning-out sort of thing when that's not at all what it is. Like I said, it's a sequence structure - not a ballooning-out structure. The way it works now isn't indicative of what's going on (IMHO). And, as I said, before, the larger the nesting gets the harder it is to see who's name goes with what text - that's a fact of the nesting. If you don't nest the quotes to begin with (in a quote) you both represent the original way it appears in the forum, and you see very neatly who's name goes with each quote.

 :)

If you need any evidence of the mess it makes, go to this thread and scroll down - you don't have to read a single word, just look at the visuals of the nesting that people end up putting in the thread.

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,24943.58.html

It's a mess and few people read the mess, they just look at the outside membername to see who they are trying to respond to. I've dealt with this for years and it frustrates the hell out of me. >:(

But we're all here to give ideas and improvements. I realize we can't all be right. :)



Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Nao on May 23rd, 2013, 10:29 PM
Maybe we could offer the ability to strip quotes if they're more than 2 levels down, i.e. no more than a quote and a child quote are allowed... That way, we maintain context, and avoid pyramids entirely... Is that better, now..?

Anyway, what I offered still holds:
- adding a "show this quote" button for quotes below the first level,
- using e-mail-like quotes in the post area, so that you can easily delete the quotes, without having to look for quote tags, e.g.

> > Quote: Arantor
> > Nice...
>
> Quote: Nao
> Hello, world.

Easy to turn back into quote tags, and nearly as easy to build in the first place, as it only requires a technique similar to what I did with the Mentions popup positioning... (Which, ahem, is still buggy.. Not for the positioning, though...)

- or, simply, showing the automatic quote splitter's description in huuuuge red bold text :P
- or just enabling it by default, and bypassing by shift+enter. (Not hot about that one, personally... I'm still old school, and even though I got the idea for the quote splitter, and even implemented it, I don't use it much... At least, not as much as Pete seems to do... ;))
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: xrunner on May 23rd, 2013, 11:21 PM
Quote from Nao on May 23rd, 2013, 10:29 PM
Maybe we could offer the ability to strip quotes if they're more than 2 levels down, i.e. no more than a quote and a child quote are allowed... That way, we maintain context, and avoid pyramids entirely... Is that better, now..?
Sure. I'll take anything I can get. :)
Quote
Anyway, what I offered still holds:
- adding a "show this quote" button for quotes below the first level,
- using e-mail-like quotes in the post area, so that you can easily delete the quotes, without having to look for quote tags, e.g.

> > Quote: Arantor
> > Nice...
>
> Quote: Nao
> Hello, world.
See to me that's easier to read and it's sequential and clear. Easy to work with for newbies.

I know for a fact that new forum users (and some old ones that should know by now) don't seem to be able to figure out how to quote properly. I believe that is one reason they just click "quote" and proceed to add to whatever they get, because they don't have a clue how to break it up. I've even written tutorials on it. That's one more problem with nested quotes - it looks like a logic puzzle to a lot of people when viewed in the raw. Hell, I've even run across some that I wanted to break up that were confusing to work on, they had so much going on.

Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Arantor on May 23rd, 2013, 11:25 PM
Breaking a quote up... press quote, place cursor where you want to break the quote, press shift+Enter, it's just magic. ;)
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: xrunner on May 23rd, 2013, 11:45 PM
Quote from Arantor on May 23rd, 2013, 11:25 PM
Breaking a quote up... press quote, place cursor where you want to
:cool:
Quote from Arantor on May 23rd, 2013, 11:25 PM
break the quote, press shift+Enter, it's just magic. ;)
Oh - that felt good. Makes me want to do it again.

That would really help the problem too. Nice!
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Nao on May 24th, 2013, 11:54 AM
Holy cow... That's the automatic quote splitter I've been mentioning since the beginning.

It's also mentioned prominently in the post area.

What else should I do to get people interested in it, if even those who are looking for a quote helper haven't noticed it..?!
Have it enabled by default, and show a popup explaining what it did, and offering to disable it..?!?!

:-/
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Nao on May 24th, 2013, 11:55 AM
Quote from Arantor on May 23rd, 2013, 11:25 PM
Breaking a quote up... press quote, place cursor where you want to break the quote,
Actually, you don't need to press Quote... :^^;:
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: xrunner on May 24th, 2013, 02:26 PM
Quote from Nao on May 24th, 2013, 11:54 AM
Holy cow... That's the automatic quote splitter I've been mentioning since the beginning.

It's also mentioned prominently in the post area.

What else should I do to get people interested in it, if even those who are looking for a quote helper haven't noticed it..?!
Hello Nao,

I am very interested in it. So much so that I went to this thread and read about it -

http://wedge.org/pub/feats/posts/6682/automatic-quote-splitter/

In that thread you don't mention the shift key, you simply say press enter -
Quote from Nao on May 11th, 2011, 08:24 AM
When you're replying a post by someone and you want to break up their quoted text into several parts for convenience, you usually have to do some convoluted copying and pasting. Not so with Wedge.

Just put your cursor wherever you want to split the quote, and... press the Enter key. That's it, you're done. The quote gets split automatically.
You also have an example and then say this -
Quote
After pressing Return, this becomes:
So although I do see re-reading this thread that shift-enter was mentioned earlier, I guess I was confused when I went to the above thread, and when I tried to split a quote by pressing enter, it didn't work, so I just thought it was a minor bug at the time. I read a handful of comments and they all just looked like "congratulations" "great" so I figured the first post was still the correct explanation of how it was supposed to work (press enter).

I didn't try the "shift-enter" until it was mentioned again by Arantor in this thread near the end. So, you might want to edit your explanation thread (first post) above so it says press "shift-enter". :)
Title: Re: Automagically De-Nesting Quotes
Post by: Nao on May 24th, 2013, 03:06 PM
Quote from xrunner on May 24th, 2013, 02:26 PM
I am very interested in it. So much so that I went to this thread and read about it -

http://wedge.org/pub/feats/posts/6682/automatic-quote-splitter/

In that thread you don't mention the shift key, you simply say press enter -
Oh, that would explain why Dragooon was confused about it, too...
I updated the first post to reflect the fact that you need to hold either Shift or Ctrl while pressing Enter. Thanks.
Quote from xrunner on May 24th, 2013, 02:26 PM
So although I do see re-reading this thread that shift-enter was mentioned earlier, I guess I was confused when I went to the above thread, and when I tried to split a quote by pressing enter, it didn't work, so I just thought it was a minor bug at the time. I read a handful of comments and they all just looked like "congratulations" "great" so I figured the first post was still the correct explanation of how it was supposed to work (press enter).
It's because I rewrote the feature in the meantime, after some complaints about the fact that this behavior wasn't optional. So, I made so you needed to press Shift or Ctrl at the same time. Which was fine by me...