Something that's come up in discussions a few times recently is how important it is to have good default settings. Even users who are quite technical and involved don't always explore which...
Something that's come up in discussions a few times recently is how important it is to have good default settings. Even users who are quite technical and involved don't always explore which settings are available, and that's totally fine—they shouldn't need to. The default setup should be as good as possible, with changing settings mostly for specialized cases.
One particular place on Tildes where this isn't currently being done well is for the "mark new comments" feature, which has always been disabled by default. I think it's one of the best features on the site and makes it much easier to follow ongoing discussions here than on other sites with similar comment systems, but overall, not many users have enabled it.
For example, Tildes got some attention on Hacker News again yesterday, and about 80 new users have registered so far from that. Only 9 of them enabled "mark new comments", even though the welcome message strongly encourages it. Looking at longer periods of time, this seems typical: only about 10% of users ever enable it.
As it says on the settings page for the feature, my reason for disabling it by default was out of privacy concerns. However, I've been doing some review of the data that Tildes stores lately and realized that this was kind of misleading and inaccurate. Because I have HTTP request server logs and some other related data (which is all only kept for 30 days), I effectively have topic visit records from the last 30 days for all users anyway, whether they have the feature enabled or not. The data is more convenient to access for users with the feature enabled, but it's available either way.
Because of that, and because the data will be very useful to combine with some of the upcoming changes I mentioned in the last ~tildes.official post, I'm planning to enable this feature for everyone. Here are the general plans:
- Data about which topics' comments pages a user visits will be stored (for 30 days), along with when and how many comments were there at the time. This enables displaying which topics have new comments since your last visit, and marking those new comments.
- There will no longer be a setting to disable this, but you can still choose whether previously-seen comments are collapsed when you return - the same as the existing checkbox on that page for "Collapse old comments when I return to a topic".
- I will probably implement some sort of "stop informing me of new comments in this topic" feature (separate from the new Ignore one) to stop having the info about new comments in a topic showing up for you.
Please let me know if you have any thoughts or concerns about this. If nothing major comes up, I intend to make this change later this week.