Guide to Threads
NewsTalkers uses hierarchic comments to organize long discussions. First level comments have integer identifiers (1,2,… n). Second level comments have two integers such as 3.4 or 12.7. The third and final level of comments have three integers such as 3.3.1 or 12.7.5.
First and second level comments define threads. A thread is defined as the first or second level comment and all of the replies that fall within it. Thus the first level comment ‘3’ defines a thread that includes 3.1, 3.2, … 3.n comments. The second level comment ‘3.3’ defines a thread that includes 3.3.1, 3.3.2, … 3.3.n comments.
Each thread can be closed. Closing a thread hides its contents. Closing thread 3.3 will cause all comments beginning with 3.3… to be hidden. Not only does closing allow the user to dismiss comments that are no longer of interest, it helps substantially with performance. A closed thread will not be downloaded from the server and prepared for presentation by your browser. Less work for the browser translates into a faster load.
Enhancements have been made to thread functionality for convenience and performance. Each feature is discussed below:
In each article, you will now see a panel consisting of three buttons:
These buttons condition all the comments in the article:
Collapse All Threads will cause the article to show only the first level comments (i.e. those numbered 1,2,3, … n). This gives you the best load performance, but you will often see a delay if you need to open a thread to see its comments.
Expand All Threads is the other extreme. This will open every thread in the article. It can result in a very long load, but every comment will be loaded on your browser and available to you. This is good if you need to browse (or search through) a bunch of comments.
Automate Threads is middle of the road. Pressing this button will cause the system to automatically determine which threads to open and close based on timeliness of comments, tracker history, etc.
It is expected that you will use Expand All Threads only on rare occasions. Collapse All Threads will be used when an article gets big and you want to just collapse everything and manually open one or a few threads. The Automate Threads option is the default; all new articles are in ‘Automate Threads’ mode. You would use this option if you (for some reason) wish to return to the default after pressing Collapse All Threads or Expand All Threads .
Long Thread Suppression
At times, a second level thread can grow very long. For example, a comment made at 2.1 might trigger a debate that could add hundreds of comments all starting with 2.1… (e.g. 2.1.134). In this case, having the ability to close threads does not help. We need the ability to partially close a thread.
Now, when a thread grows too long, the older (stale) comments will be suppressed. This means that they will not show on the browser. Suppression is based on a variety of factors, but ultimately it will be used when a thread passes a size threshold. Typically, a percentage of the comments will be suppressed. At times comments will also be suppressed due to age. For example, comments that are a week old in a thread are very likely to be suppressed.
The following shows a tiny example of suppressing comments. ( Here the threshold has been set very low for illustration purposes .) There are 12 comments starting with 9.1… in this example. The first 11 are suppressed due to age (they are months old). The only comment showing is 9.1.12 because it is recent.
Suppressed comments can be disclosed by the user. When suppression is in effect, you will see a button indicating the suppression state and a count of the comments subject to suppression. In this example, where suppression is in effect, the button you see is the DISCLOSE button.
If you were to click the DISCLOSE button, the 11 suppressed comments would be disclosed and available to you. At that point the SUPPRESS button will now show.
Clicking this button will suppress (hide) the 11 comments subject to suppression.
[ These buttons use icons ( ► and ▼) that are frequently used on websites to mean ‘content available to disclose’ (►) and ‘content is fully disclosed’ (▼). ]
Given the new features, it is possible for comments you are currently tracking to be hidden within closed threads. This means that as you use the Navigator (on the right) within an article, you could navigate to a hidden comment (one that is in a closed or suppressed thread).
The Navigator will now automatically reveal comments to you in real time as you navigate. If you, for example, navigate to comment 3.3.2 in a closed thread (3.3), that thread will be revealed and the system will position you to the newly visible 3.3.2 comment. The revealed thread is only temporarily revealed. If you want it to show each time you open (or refresh) the article, you will need to open the thread yourself. Manually opening a thread tells the system to keep the thread open until you change your mind (same is true with manually closing a thread).