19 votes

Suggestion: that there be only one all-inclusive topic type on Tildes.

At the moment, there are two types of topics that can be posted on Tildes:

  • Link topics, which consist of a title and a URL.

  • Text topics, which consist of a title and text.

These two types of topic are supported by having three input fields for new topics: Title; Link; Text.

I propose that we combine these two topic types into just one topic type. The submission page for all topics will include only two fields: a title field and a general all-purpose text box. The submitter will type a title for their post, and then put anything else into the general all-purpose box.

If the submitter is posting off-site content, they can put the link to that content in the all-purpose box. If they want to provide a summary of the off-site content, they can write the summary in the all-purpose box, with the link.

If the submitter is posting their own original content (no link), they can type their text into the all-purpose box.

The single all-purpose box includes everything that is currently split between the Link and Text boxes. When the topic is posted, everything entered in that all-purpose box is displayed in the main body of the post.

At the moment, summaries of off-site content are usually being posted as comments under the main topic, as a result of a change made a few months ago. These comments merely clutter up the thread. If these summaries were in the post itself, that clutter would be reduced.

One topic type, one streamlined submission page, one place for all topic content.

29 comments

  1. [8]
    Amarok Link
    If the summary is in the post, we're unable to judge it separately from the submission itself. That means whoever posts a major news item gets to basically sticky their opinion to it for all time....

    If the summary is in the post, we're unable to judge it separately from the submission itself. That means whoever posts a major news item gets to basically sticky their opinion to it for all time. Imagine how well that'll play out with reddit-levels of activity and grandstanding.

    Forcing it to be a separate comment exposes it to direct moderation and also means when someone writes a better comment it can displace the OP's own. I think that's very important.

    There are also many use cases for link only posts that do not include any kind of commentary. I know that sounds like an insane thing to say, but I can back it up with real world examples. What starts as nothing but random links to music tracks all day, every day in /r/listentothis can with a little effort be transformed into content like this which is extremely high-value. The value comes from the aggregate, rather than individual links. I'm interested in finding more automated ways to do that, too - but it does depend on the link posts.

    41 votes
    1. [3]
      tomf Link Parent
      This works well with /r/NeutralPolitics -- and I think there's definitely a place for both. The major issue is, like you say, having the commentary / summary not being completely neutral. An...

      This works well with /r/NeutralPolitics -- and I think there's definitely a place for both. The major issue is, like you say, having the commentary / summary not being completely neutral.

      An automated system would be handy. Here's an example:

      Input article / smmry.com

      A 13-year-old boy has just been named America's Next Top Young Scientist in recognition of his ingenious method for making pancreatic cancer treatment more effective.

      Pancreatic cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

      An inherent challenge of radiation treatment for pancreatic cancer resides in tracking where the pancreas itself is located on any given day.

      "Last summer, I went to visit my brother in Boston and came to know about some pancreatic cancer research and how difficult a problem it was to solve," Rishab told Good News Network.

      In addition to receiving the Top Young Scientist prize, he was also awarded a $25,000 prize.

      Taking that down to four sentences removes "Last summer..." and three sentences removes the last sentence re: the prize. Not too shabby for a teaser.

      It'd definitely be a nice option to select when posting a link.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        Soptik (edited ) Link Parent
        Summary would be interesting, but I'm not sure if it is viable. But it would be interesting to make custom summary. Which reminds me that I have 4 days this week when I have nothing to do. Edit:...

        Summary would be interesting, but I'm not sure if it is viable.

        Full: An unlimited amount of requests can be made with no artificial time limit in between. 1 credit costs $0.001, or a tenth of a cent. It costs approximately 1 credit per 500 characters returned by the API (only summarized content is counted). It costs an additional 8 credits if the article has not been previously submitted and cached by the algorithm, that way re-summarizing the same article is cheaper. When credit costs are being calculated, decimals are rounded upwards.

        But it would be interesting to make custom summary. Which reminds me that I have 4 days this week when I have nothing to do.

        Edit: There is opensource summary algorithm!

        2 votes
        1. tomf Link Parent
          yeah, an API like the one I linked would be pricey -- but the implementation of textrank you linked looks decent.

          yeah, an API like the one I linked would be pricey -- but the implementation of textrank you linked looks decent.

          1 vote
    2. [4]
      Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
      But almost all of these summaries are just copy-pasted paragraphs from the articles being posted. There's no judgement required of those: they just clutter up the threads with text that already...

      If the summary is in the post, we're unable to judge it separately from the submission itself.

      But almost all of these summaries are just copy-pasted paragraphs from the articles being posted. There's no judgement required of those: they just clutter up the threads with text that already exists in the article.

      Forcing it to be a separate comment exposes it to direct moderation

      So does including it in the main body of the post. Just because we don't have topic-level moderation yet, that doesn't mean we never will. If a topic is bad, it can be moderated.

      There are also many use cases for link only posts that do not include any kind of commentary.

      And my proposal allows for that. Someone can put only a URL in the all-purpose box, with no text.

      1. [3]
        Amarok Link Parent
        Regardless of what people are doing now, that feature should it exist will still be used to attach opinions for grandstanding. By trying to solve one minor issue here you're opening the door on an...

        Regardless of what people are doing now, that feature should it exist will still be used to attach opinions for grandstanding. By trying to solve one minor issue here you're opening the door on an entire class of new problematic behavior. I'm never going to agree to anything that allows an OP to stick their own bullshit directly to a link post. Let them make a self post for that if it matters so much to them.

        If you have a problem with people posting dull quote-lifted blurbs from the article as their comment, don't vote them up, or perhaps we can invent a label for 'adds nothing to discussion' people can use to tag that sort of stuff if it's really a problem. Frankly, I don't find ignoring the occasional quote-blurb laden comment to be a major imposition on my psyche, especially since it's already collapsed when I come back to the thread later.

        Just because we don't have topic-level moderation yet, that doesn't mean we never will. If a topic is bad, it can be moderated.

        Oh you can count on that. Here's the rub: that thread does not exist in a vacuum by itself. Now we have five people posting the same story as five separate threads with their own commentary all vying to be 'the one' that wins and makes it up the page. We're all going to spend several hours a day picking winners and loser copies of the same thread based on how the OP commented. Mods will get to remove 4 of every 5 threads, what glorious fun, I love spending my time sifting pedantically through a repetitive spam queue while all the users complain about the dupes.

        That's pointless moderator busywork. Mod time is precious, not to be wasted on bullshit like this. If that's what I spend my time doing as a mod, I won't be modding, and neither will anyone else. We need tools to merge that shit into one thread for that topic with all five of those people's comments present as comments on the same single thread. Then we let the votes and labels sort it out the way god intended.

        You're going to hate me when I suggest mods should be able to create highly tailored, customized submission pages using forms, fields, dropdowns, complicated regex, multiple database lookup utilities, and a formatting/vetting tool like reddit's automoderator. Different groups here will likely evolve some very different submission processes over time. This one feature would make half the 'rules' imposed by mods on reddit unnecessary, since they could be baked into the submission page functionality. ;)

        Uniformity is a bad thing, and so is inflexibility. I'm not opposed to changing how links work, or how self posts work, or inventing seventeen new kinds of posts plus allowing groups to invent their own and their own submission processes to go with them. I think trying to make everything work the same is going backwards, not forwards.

        10 votes
        1. Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
          What I'm effectively saying here is that every post would be a "self post" (they're called "text topics" here on Tildes...) That label already exists: it's called "noise". And I already label...

          I'm never going to agree to anything that allows an OP to stick their own bullshit directly to a link post. Let them make a self post for that if it matters so much to them.

          What I'm effectively saying here is that every post would be a "self post" (they're called "text topics" here on Tildes...)

          If you have a problem with people posting dull quote-lifted blurbs from the article as their comment, don't vote them up, or perhaps we can invent a label for 'adds nothing to discussion' people can use to tag that sort of stuff if it's really a problem.

          That label already exists: it's called "noise". And I already label these comments as "noise". Because that's all they are: noise.

          However, rather than addressing the symptoms of the problem, I thought we might instead address the cause. Rather than cleaning up the mess, we could prevent the mess from being made.

          Now we have five people posting the same story as five separate threads with their own commentary all vying to be 'the one' that wins and makes it up the page.

          What? Where is this coming from?

          You're going to hate me when I suggest mods should be able to create highly tailored, customized submission pages using forms, fields, dropdowns, complicated regex, multiple database lookup utilities, and a formatting/vetting tool like reddit's automoderator.

          Will this clean up these bloody "summary" comments? If so, then I won't hate you - I'll love you. Otherwise, I think I'll remain neutral until I see how this all works in practice.,

          1 vote
        2. super_james Link Parent
          How about the option to make a text post behave like a reputation gated wiki?

          How about the option to make a text post behave like a reputation gated wiki?

          1 vote
  2. [4]
    emdash (edited ) Link
    Wouldn't this be a great mechanism to inject bias or opinion into an otherwise link-only piece? Shouldn't a user's summary of a submission be liable to be voted up on its own merits rather than...

    These comments merely clutter up the thread. If these summaries were in the post itself, that clutter would be reduced.

    Wouldn't this be a great mechanism to inject bias or opinion into an otherwise link-only piece? Shouldn't a user's summary of a submission be liable to be voted up on its own merits rather than being simply included in the submission body? I may be interested in an article, but disagree with a user's summary. What is the solution to this?

    15 votes
    1. alyaza Link Parent
      i would say this view is the linchpin for why i don't think this proposal would necessarily be a good idea in the long term. to me, having the thing you put into the text box serve as the first...

      Wouldn't this be a great methodology to inject bias or otherwise opinion into an otherwise link-only piece? Shouldn't a user's summary of a submission be liable to be voted up on its own merits rather than being simply included in the submission body? I may be interested in an article, but disagree with a user's summary.

      i would say this view is the linchpin for why i don't think this proposal would necessarily be a good idea in the long term. to me, having the thing you put into the text box serve as the first comment seems more in line with what tildes strives to be for the reasons you say. moreover though, i think one of the issues with doing the OP proposal is that it might have the side effect of ultimately tying the opinions of the post to the post itself, and thus creating a variant of reddit's problem where people intentionally refuse to vote on/engage with things that don't conform to their ideological beliefs.

      with link posts as of now, there's a disconnect between the OP's opinions on something and the actual thing they're posting because one can be upvoted while the other isn't and vice versa without necessarily being correlated. if you start making what would be comments a part of the post itself, you sorta lose that difference and the behavior of how people vote will most likely change accordingly. it's not necessarily "possible" to spike a post on tildes right now since everybody sorts a different way and for most people a reply bumps a thread on their homepage, but i suspect that a reform like this has the potential to cause people to start associating links with the opinions of their OPs and accordingly support or refuse to support a thread regardless of the merit of the link on it. that would be a pretty bad outcome, and i'm not sure that it's worth risking that outcome for changing something that i honestly don't think is an issue right now in the first place.

      that's just my view though, and i'll admit that it's decidedly a cynical reading of possible outcomes. i can certainly see the merits of doing this, i just don't think this is a change worth making given those possible outcomes.

      7 votes
    2. wirelyre Link Parent
      You could also think of a link-and-text topic as a discussion with a particular context and focus. We already get some context via the group — an article about a video game posted to ~games is...

      You could also think of a link-and-text topic as a discussion with a particular context and focus. We already get some context via the group — an article about a video game posted to ~games is different than one posted to ~comp (maybe the latter relates to technical achievements).

      I think there's merit to restricting what kind of discussion is on- and off-topic. This could clarify why the link was posted, and potentially make discussion more productive. Is it worthwhile to ask an interesting question about an otherwise uninteresting article? Is it worthwhile to provide context to a well-written article about an obscure topic?

      1 vote
    3. Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
      But people are already doing this. They copy-paste chunks from the article they're submitting, and paste that in the text-box while submitting the article to Tildes. And, while copy-pasting, they...

      Wouldn't this be a great mechanism to inject bias or opinion into an otherwise link-only piece?

      But people are already doing this.

      They copy-paste chunks from the article they're submitting, and paste that in the text-box while submitting the article to Tildes. And, while copy-pasting, they can editorialise about what they're copying. I have seen a couple of "comments" (i.e. submissions into the text box) which consists mostly of copy-pasted text, plus a small opinion such as "good" or "bad". It is only a programmatic choice which displays this copy-pasted chunk of text as a separate comment. It could just as easily be displayed in the main body of the post.

      Anyway, people can already add opinions to their posts if they really want to. If I want to rant opinionatedly about something, I can make a text post, and include a link to the article I'm ranting about while filling the text box with paragraph after paragraph of my opinions. There's nothing stopping people injecting bias or opinion into their topic submission now.

      All I'm suggesting here is that we have only one type of post, wherein people can do whatever they please: link only, copy-paste chunks of text, write opinions, whatever.

      What is the solution to this?

      Not to have a user summary at all.

      However, after arguing against user summaries and submission statements for months, I'm now trying a different tactic. If we must have user summaries, can we at least have them displayed in a tidy way?

  3. [4]
    Eva Link
    Related, previous discussion, posted by the same user, about roughly the same thing: https://tildes.net/~tildes/5gk/do_we_really_need_to_add_summaries_to_posted_articles

    Related, previous discussion, posted by the same user, about roughly the same thing:

    https://tildes.net/~tildes/5gk/do_we_really_need_to_add_summaries_to_posted_articles

    14 votes
    1. [3]
      Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
      Yes. And now I'm trying a different tack. I've given up on the idea of not having summaries. People seem to need them desperately. But, if we must have them, maybe we could put them somewhere that...

      Yes. And now I'm trying a different tack. I've given up on the idea of not having summaries. People seem to need them desperately.

      But, if we must have them, maybe we could put them somewhere that they won't clutter up the threads - like in the body of the post itself.

      What was the point of posting this?

      1. Diff (edited ) Link Parent
        I'm imagining for context. And having it glued to the top doesn't really unclutter anything. It just forces everyone to view the clutter (can't collapse OPs) and prevents the clutter from being...

        I'm imagining for context.

        And having it glued to the top doesn't really unclutter anything. It just forces everyone to view the clutter (can't collapse OPs) and prevents the clutter from being moderated separately from the content itself. If anything that seems like worse clutter, I'm not sure what benefit having it in the OP provides.

        7 votes
      2. Eva Link Parent
        Just to show previous discussion.

        Just to show previous discussion.

        4 votes
  4. [13]
    Tau_Zero Link
    Regardless of whether additional text should be included at the post-level for ink posts, combining the link and text into a single input is not the way to go, as it makes determining what to link...

    Regardless of whether additional text should be included at the post-level for ink posts, combining the link and text into a single input is not the way to go, as it makes determining what to link the title to difficult.

    Losing the title link would be detrimental to the goals of tildes, where we want people to read the source and then comment (e.g. click the title from the activity feed to go to source, come back later for comments), rather than going to the post/comments page first to hunt for the link in the post text (and probably just comment immediately).

    Using the first link could get us something, but then you have to carefully arrange the text such that the main link is first, and at that point you might as well have an explicit link input.

    5 votes
    1. [12]
      Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
      Hold on. I keep getting told that we need to have user summaries in threads because people will not read the source first and then go to the comments second. They want to come to the comments...

      Losing the title link would be detrimental to the goals of tildes, where we want people to read the source and then comment

      Hold on. I keep getting told that we need to have user summaries in threads because people will not read the source first and then go to the comments second. They want to come to the comments first, read the summary, decide whether the article is worth reading, then read the source... and finally comment after that.

      And the current method of posting topics is set up to support that use case, of people reading summaries before they read the sources. I'm merely suggesting that we streamline the process, so that summaries are part of the main post, and not cluttering up the comments section.

      1. [2]
        Tau_Zero Link Parent
        I think there was a misunderstanding. My point is that if you want to have a unified submission page, that’s fine, but you don’t have to - and in fact shouldn’t - combine the link + commentary...

        I think there was a misunderstanding. My point is that if you want to have a unified submission page, that’s fine, but you don’t have to - and in fact shouldn’t - combine the link + commentary inputs into a single free form text field as suggested in the OP. Keeping link separate allows for an unambiguous title link target rather than trying to extract the implied link from a free form text blob

        6 votes
        1. Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
          Whatever. As long as the end result is not a top-level comment which consists solely of 3-5 paragraphs of text from the article, I don't care.

          Whatever. As long as the end result is not a top-level comment which consists solely of 3-5 paragraphs of text from the article, I don't care.

      2. [3]
        Whom Link Parent
        For the way things are now, the summary is subject to voting, responses, and sorting completely separately from the post itself. Because it's a comment, it can be overtaken by another person's...

        For the way things are now, the summary is subject to voting, responses, and sorting completely separately from the post itself. Because it's a comment, it can be overtaken by another person's summary or commentary and not given constant preferential treatment simply for being written by the person who posted the link first. I see this as much better, where a summary at least can be judged by other users to determine if it gets the spotlight or not. A hateful summary on a link worth discussing can still function normally, while one where they're joined will either have that hate on top forever or have to be acted on by an admin.

        But I also don't see either option as being more or less cluttery than the other (in fact, I'd rather have it be subject to sorting options like it is now), so I don't fully relate with any way you'd see this as being better.

        5 votes
        1. [2]
          Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
          Keep in mind that almost all of these summaries are just sections of text copy-pasted from the articles. Very rarely do I see any sort of analysis or commentary in these summaries. If I did see...

          For the way things are now, the summary is subject to voting, responses, and sorting completely separately from the post itself.

          Keep in mind that almost all of these summaries are just sections of text copy-pasted from the articles. Very rarely do I see any sort of analysis or commentary in these summaries. If I did see analysis or commentary, then I wouldn't consider it a summary: I would consider it the submitter's own response to the article, which is a different kettle of fish.

          So... for these comments consisting of copy-pasted text...

          • If people vote up that comment because they think it's good content because it's taken from the article they read just and voted up (it also gets an advantage from being the first "comment" in the thread), then the comment remains at the top, and everyone has to scroll past it to get to the real discussion.

          • If people label that comment as 'noise' because they think it's clutter, then it falls to the bottom, gets hidden, and noone can see it - so it might as well not have been posted in the first place.

          I fail to see how either of these outcomes is good - not for the readers who have to scroll past an upvoted comment, nor for the submitter who had a comment of theirs labelled as "noise" (remember that this will eventually detract from their reputation).

          1. Amarok Link Parent
            I'm not sure 'noise' ever needs to be punitive. It's janitorial, in-thread. Malice is the punitive one. The others are just helping sort. Hell we all make noise comments from time to time, any...

            I'm not sure 'noise' ever needs to be punitive. It's janitorial, in-thread. Malice is the punitive one. The others are just helping sort. Hell we all make noise comments from time to time, any discussion has plenty of it, and that's perfectly natural. We want to sift out the signal and elevate it, but we don't have to punish everything that isn't signal to do it. :)

            5 votes
      3. [6]
        Amarok (edited ) Link Parent
        If it's a summary attached that you want, I'm sure we can hoover up some metadata from the links and take a stab at having the site gen a summary. Some few sites put summaries like that in their...

        If it's a summary attached that you want, I'm sure we can hoover up some metadata from the links and take a stab at having the site gen a summary. Some few sites put summaries like that in their metadata, but most don't. For those that do we can include it, see how it goes. That ties right into all the other metadata stuff we've talked about doing.

        I don't mind the summaries. I mind giving OP a permanently link-attached soapbox. We can tell them it's only for a summary, but you know damn well people will use it for whatever they want, and mods will end up cleaning up the mess.

        Edit: In fact, I kinda like the idea of editors being able to attach a summary, and edit the site-created one. That has some potential and since it's locked behind a couple levels of the trust system to a group of editors/mods, it should self-police rather safely.

        5 votes
        1. [5]
          Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
          I don't! I definitely DO NOT WANT summaries attached to posts. I've made this point many many times over the past few months. However, I have been told time and time again that other people must...

          If it's a summary attached that you want,

          I don't! I definitely DO NOT WANT summaries attached to posts. I've made this point many many times over the past few months.

          However, I have been told time and time again that other people must have these summaries.

          So, I figure, rather than trying to prevent or block these summaries, we could tidy them up somewhat. Instead of having them clutter up the comments section of a thread, put the summaries in the main body of the post.

          We can tell them it's only for a summary, but you know damn well people will use it for whatever they want

          But they already have a soapbox now. It's already built in to Tildes as a result of this change. If someone pastes a URL into the Link field and types text into the Text field, the Text field gets posted as the very first comment in the brand-new thread. Submitters already have their soapbox.

          However, rather than using it to editorialise, most people are just copy-pasting text from the article they're submitting. Which is a tad redundant when you come from reading the article to look at the comments and the top comment is 3-5 paragraphs of text that you just finished reading.

          1 vote
          1. [4]
            spit-evil-olive-tips Link Parent
            I think you're mis-characterizing the position you're arguing against. I don't think anyone has said summary comments are required or necessary or anything like that. In my view, summary comments...

            I don't! I definitely DO NOT WANT summaries attached to posts. I've made this point many many times over the past few months.

            However, I have been told time and time again that other people must have these summaries.

            I think you're mis-characterizing the position you're arguing against. I don't think anyone has said summary comments are required or necessary or anything like that.

            In my view, summary comments are just not that big a deal. Some people do them, some people don't. We shouldn't by any means make them required, but we also shouldn't forbid them, or change the structure of the entire site to try to discourage them like you seem to be suggesting here.

            We get it, you dislike them. You've argued against them in previous ~tildes discussion threads, as well as in this thread where you seemed to take offense at someone posting a summary comment on a topic you submitted.

            Honestly, just give it a rest. Everyone uses Tildes differently, and that's a good thing. Your goal seems to be to structure the site in a way that pushes people to only use the site the "right" way, as defined by you.

            7 votes
            1. [3]
              Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
              Yes, they have. Every time this issue comes up, there's a range of opinions from my own "no summaries ever" to "compulsory submission statements always". The idea of making submission statements...

              I don't think anyone has said summary comments are required or necessary or anything like that.

              Yes, they have. Every time this issue comes up, there's a range of opinions from my own "no summaries ever" to "compulsory submission statements always". The idea of making submission statements compulsory was suggested a few months ago, and has been raised again a few times since then. I'm not saying that everyone wants this, but some people do, just like I want the opposite. We seem to have the full range of opinions about this here.

              Anyway, something doesn't need to be compulsory for it to be common. I am getting sick of opening threads and having to scroll past the top comment which is nothing more than copy-pasted text from the article I just finished reading. Sure, we all use Tildes differently, but some people's usage is actively creating inconvenience for other people.

              as well as in this thread where you seemed to take offense at someone posting a summary comment on a topic you submitted.

              And that's the discussion which prompted this suggestion. I decided not to just gripe and complain, but to find a positive approach to this problem. I'm not just complaining - I'm trying to fix it.

              Your goal seems to be to structure the site in a way that pushes people to only use the site the "right" way, as defined by you.

              I'm not the only one making suggestions about how Tildes should work.

              1. [2]
                Diff Link Parent
                Then (if I'm understanding you correctly) you're actively shooting yourself in the foot with this suggestion, it's worse for you than what's in place. If you've got the "highlight new comments"...

                Anyway, something doesn't need to be compulsory for it to be common. I am getting sick of opening threads and having to scroll past the top comment which is nothing more than copy-pasted text from the article I just finished reading. Sure, we all use Tildes differently, but some people's usage is actively creating inconvenience for other people.

                Then (if I'm understanding you correctly) you're actively shooting yourself in the foot with this suggestion, it's worse for you than what's in place. If you've got the "highlight new comments" option set then you'll only see those comments once. If you implement this suggestion, then you will see those summaries every time you visit a thread no matter what, and it will always be glued to the very top of the page. Not collapsed and not sorted down/hidden as appropriate for the content itself.

                2 votes
                1. Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
                  At least I'll know to just scroll past the text on article topics and go to the comments - which will all be real discussion rather than pointless filler.

                  At least I'll know to just scroll past the text on article topics and go to the comments - which will all be real discussion rather than pointless filler.