Since it launched, Tildes has always been using "Activity" as the site's default sorting method, which behaves like a classic forum—any new comment in any topic causes it to "bump" back to the top of the list. This has generally worked well overall, and has been a good way to keep threads visible and active over longer periods.
However, there have been a few issues related to it, such as controversial threads staying at the top of the site for long periods of time, and bickering back and forth between two users causing threads to constantly bump back up to the top even if nobody else is interacting with the topic at all. We haven't had great ways to deal with this so far, and have mostly had to work around it by setting the default time period to "last 3 days" so that threads can't dominate the site indefinitely, or even locking threads to force them to drop off.
As an attempt at a better solution, "Activity" has now had its behavior changed so that topics will only bump to the top when something "interesting" happens, instead of for every single comment. The exact methods we're using to determine "interesting" will need experimentation and to be adjusted as we see how they work, but initially it's entirely based on comment labels:
If a comment or any of its parent comments has an active Noise, Offtopic, or Malice label (note: it generally takes at least two users applying the label to make it "active"), the comment will not cause the thread to bump to the top. For example, this means that if a particular comment gets labeled as Offtopic, any replies "below" that comment will no longer bump the thread in the Activity sort. This will also apply retroactively, so if someone posts a new top-level comment, the thread will still initially bump to the top, but if that comment is then labeled as Noise, it will "un-bump" and return back to its previous location in the listing.
Since this will give us a better way to prevent threads from staying at the top of the site forever, I've also now changed the default time period back to "all time".
If you'd rather keep the previous behavior and continue having threads always bump to the top when a new comment is posted in them, you can use the new "All activity" sorting method instead. Logged-in users can set it as their default sorting across the site by changing to it on the home page and clicking "Set as default" to the right of the time period dropdown.
Any feedback is welcome, but these are questions that I'm particularly interested in:
- Are there cases where the label-based "uninteresting" judgment won't work well? Links to specific examples would be ideal, if possible.
- What other methods could we use to judge a new comment as "uninteresting"?
- Should we try triggering bumps from other non-comment events? For example, if a topic is getting voted up a lot, should it bump even if there isn't a new comment?
As usual, I've also given everyone 10 invites again (and don't worry, I haven't forgotten about turning the visible comment votes back on either, and I'll do that this afternoon, along with posting a thread to discuss it).