54 votes

Some layout adjustments and de-emphasizing topic tags a little

Updates have been slow lately—I've been working on some larger projects that have ended up with me getting lost down some rabbit-holes that I probably should have stayed away from. Hopefully there will be some progress to show from those before too much longer.

Anyway, I've just deployed an update that re-arranges a few elements, with the most major change being that most topic tags are no longer shown by default on the "listing pages", such as the home page and when you're inside a specific group. The tags added a ton of clutter to the page for information that wasn't important at all most of the time, and multiple people have told me that they found them intimidating and confusing.

I'll come back to the reasoning behind it, but first: if you want to continue seeing tags on topics in listings, there's a new setting for that near the top of the Settings page: "Show topic tags in listing pages". I've also already enabled this setting for anyone that has the permission to tag other users' topics, since I think those users clearly care more about tagging (and if you'd like that permission to help with tagging topics, send me a message and let me know and I can give it to you).

For more about why, I think this old page by Cory Doctorow from 18 years ago does a good job of explaining why detailed metadata systems often have a lot of issues. Even though some users (including me) care a lot about trying to organize and label everything, most users really don't, and it's intimidating to try to figure out how to tag "properly".

This will only get worse as the site continues to grow and more tagging conventions and history are built up, so I wanted to try addressing this now, before it gets too bad. Not having the tags on listings will also have some other benefits like not needing to worry so much about adding "too many" tags to topics, potentially being able to come up with some new special uses for tags in the future, and so on.

Various other minor tweaks were made to the layout as part of this and some upcoming changes (like being able to hide/ignore topics from the listing page). Just a quick list:

  • "nsfw" and "spoiler" tags will still be shown in listings. Other "important" tags will be enabled eventually to continue showing in listings, probably even on a per-group level.
  • On a topic's comments page, tags are now displayed below the title instead of being in the sidebar
  • On the new topic page, the "add tags" field is hidden (collapsed, requires a click) by default. Once a user shows interest in tagging—either by submitting a new topic with tags or changing tags on a topic—it will be shown in the future. I enabled it for a lot of existing users that have done any tagging recently, so most of you probably won't even notice this.
  • The "content metadata" such as word count and publication date is now shown in listings next to a topic's group, instead of in parentheses after its title. Without the tags, we have more room for this and can probably do some more with this soon.
  • Link topic favicons (the site logos) are now shown next to the site's name, instead of before the title.

That should mostly cover it for now. Let me know if you have feedback or questions.

And as usual, I've given every 10 invites, accessible on the invite page

16 comments

  1. [4]
    Whom
    Link
    I like this, hopefully it will help ease the occasional tension over tag complexity. Now it's more obvious that it isn't something every user has to understand and engage with. Could trigger be...

    I like this, hopefully it will help ease the occasional tension over tag complexity. Now it's more obvious that it isn't something every user has to understand and engage with.

    Could trigger be added to the list of always-shown tags?

    17 votes
    1. Deimos
      Link Parent
      Hmm yeah, that's probably a good one to show. That reminds me that this needs to handle hierarchical tags though (can be important for NSFW too) and it doesn't currently, so I'll need to work on...

      Hmm yeah, that's probably a good one to show. That reminds me that this needs to handle hierarchical tags though (can be important for NSFW too) and it doesn't currently, so I'll need to work on that first. It shouldn't be too difficult, but thanks for inadvertently bringing it up.

      11 votes
    2. [2]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      Is trigger useful as a tag without specificity as to what the potential trigger is?

      Is trigger useful as a tag without specificity as to what the potential trigger is?

      3 votes
      1. Bauke
        Link Parent
        Whom's idea is probably to have any tag starting with trigger to show, not just exactly trigger. The same way nsfw and spoiler work.

        Whom's idea is probably to have any tag starting with trigger to show, not just exactly trigger. The same way nsfw and spoiler work.

        6 votes
  2. [5]
    nothis
    Link
    I didn't follow any deeper discussion about tags that might have lead to this but I definitely know the mild anxiety that comes with trying to "get it right" as you post stuff. For example, I...

    I didn't follow any deeper discussion about tags that might have lead to this but I definitely know the mild anxiety that comes with trying to "get it right" as you post stuff. For example, I think I posted at least two links to talks here and I don't even remember if I tagged them "talk", "speech", "lecture" or "presentation".

    What's the purpose of tags, in real-world use cases? A text search should do as good (or a better?) job in most cases?

    6 votes
    1. Deimos
      Link Parent
      Tags have a few uses. A lot of the potential isn't really being taken advantage of yet, but overall they're useful for categorization as well as adding additional information to posts. For...

      Tags have a few uses. A lot of the potential isn't really being taken advantage of yet, but overall they're useful for categorization as well as adding additional information to posts.

      For example, if we have a game deals group eventually, each topic can be tagged with the system it's relevant for, and people can easily filter out systems they don't care about, look at a specific system, etc.

      Similarly, right now people can easily do things like filter out the "politics" tag and avoid all the posts in ~news related to it. Doing that based on keywords in the title alone could take hundreds of different keywords, and end up accidentally filtering out posts you didn't want to.

      They also work as "proto-groups" where we can use them to judge the need for future groups or sub-groups. If there are a ton of posts with a "hockey" tag in ~sports, maybe creating ~sports.hockey soon is a good idea.

      If you want to compare it to reddit, tags can do pretty much everything that people generally do by putting things in square brackets in titles (like "[News]"), as well as everything that flair is used for, but better.

      10 votes
    2. [3]
      cfabbro
      Link Parent
      I often browse by tags, and a text search would not adequately replace that system. And as for "real-world case": E.g. I love /r/videos on reddit, and while there is no group for that on Tildes...

      What's the purpose of tags, in real-world use cases? A text search should do as good (or a better?) job in most cases?

      I often browse by tags, and a text search would not adequately replace that system. And as for "real-world case": E.g. I love /r/videos on reddit, and while there is no group for that on Tildes (and probably never will be), at least I can browse ?tag=videos which is similar. Podcasts and History are other tags I browse by occasionally as well since they don't yet have their own groups.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        nothis
        Link Parent
        Well that makes sense! Just gonna point out that this kinda adds to my previous example: Although the talks I posted were videos, I never would have thought of tagging them "video" because, maybe,...

        Well that makes sense!

        Just gonna point out that this kinda adds to my previous example: Although the talks I posted were videos, I never would have thought of tagging them "video" because, maybe, I wouldn't even think of that general a category?

        1 vote
        1. Amarok
          Link Parent
          There's one more slice of silver lining to the tags here as well. A lot of the stuff people link to out there is already fully tagged, if you can read the metadata from that site's API. The lazy,...

          There's one more slice of silver lining to the tags here as well. A lot of the stuff people link to out there is already fully tagged, if you can read the metadata from that site's API. The lazy, delightful solution is to have the equivalent of reddit's 'suggest a title' feature here someday auto-populate the tags during the submission process. Just yank them right in from the link. Then the user only needs to do a quick proofread to make sure they are right. That'll kill a lot of the panic and make tagging easier/more uniform.

          4 votes
  3. [2]
    ainar-g
    Link
    I can see that this is a minority opinion here, but here goes. I don't like the fact that tags are becoming hidden-unless-requested. I think that this is closer to dumbification than to...

    I can see that this is a minority opinion here, but here goes. I don't like the fact that tags are becoming hidden-unless-requested. I think that this is closer to dumbification than to simplification. If users can't tag topic themselves, give “proven” (by karma? by personal request?) users the ability to tag other people's posts. If tags aren't self-explanatory, use wiki pages or tag descriptions to agree on specific rules.

    It upsets me that tags are being de-emphasised, because I am afraid that most people will simply not bother tagging at all, which means that finding content becomes harder.

    I mostly like the other changes though.

    5 votes
    1. Wes
      Link Parent
      Well, they are being taken out of the sidebar. In some respects they're more visible. I don't think I've ever looked at tags until this change.

      Well, they are being taken out of the sidebar. In some respects they're more visible.

      I don't think I've ever looked at tags until this change.

      3 votes
  4. [2]
    emdash
    Link
    Regarding the content metadata, would it be possible to "mark up" the names of reputable, frequently-posted third-party sources on topic listing pages? i.e. instead of seeing "washingtonpost.com",...

    Regarding the content metadata, would it be possible to "mark up" the names of reputable, frequently-posted third-party sources on topic listing pages? i.e. instead of seeing "washingtonpost.com", can we see "The Washington Post"?

    Semantically, this is more correct than the current implementation, if we're interested in the journalistic outfit, rather than the domain name associated with it?

    4 votes
    1. Deimos
      Link Parent
      Definitely possible, both YouTube and Twitter already do that (and also show the channel/user). For example, see (currently) the three newest topics in ~tv. This could be extended to other sites,...

      Definitely possible, both YouTube and Twitter already do that (and also show the channel/user). For example, see (currently) the three newest topics in ~tv.

      This could be extended to other sites, it probably just depends how far we want to take it.

      4 votes
  5. [3]
    Five
    Link
    Could a poll feature be added in the future if it doesn’t already exist ?

    Could a poll feature be added in the future if it doesn’t already exist ?

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      Deimos
      Link Parent
      It could be a good feature to have. It's not something I'm planning to work on soon, but I added it to the issue tracker.

      It could be a good feature to have. It's not something I'm planning to work on soon, but I added it to the issue tracker.

      5 votes
      1. Five
        Link Parent
        I personally think they are a great way for websites to get the users opinion on things especially new websites that are still working things out

        I personally think they are a great way for websites to get the users opinion on things especially new websites that are still working things out

        5 votes