6

I made a feature-request on M.SE which met with a mixed reception - guarded interest plus virulent opposition. Basically I was suggesting having an overlay ticker-feed of activity on the main site of users in the chat room.

In order to see whether this could be in any way helpful, I'd like to put something similar in place in The Heap manually: ticker overlay feeds of some of the top users on the site (starting out as 20k+ users).

If you don't want me to even experiment with this, please vote this post down - otherwise please hold fire for a few weeks and then if you feel strongly about it one way or the other, please consider posting an answer here saying what you think and why.

8

I think it can be useful at times, especially when peers comment on questions that I recognize (or that sound interesting) but where I wouldn't have received a notification about otherwise.

But a few changes I'd like to see:

  1. The ability to move / resize the dialog (ultimately what would be awesome is the same functionality as the inbox in the toolbar on the main site - lights up when there is new activity, and you can open it up to see that activity if you wish)
  2. It should automatically filter my own activity from the feed (I know when I have commented or posted)
  3. The ability for our group (maybe just Heap owners?) to determine who the interesting users are for all of us (sounds like you already have that planned)
  4. The ability for an individual to restrict activity notifications to certain tags - I don't really care when Rolando posts a MySQL answer or Erwin comments on a Postgres question
  5. If a user has commented or posted multiple times on the same post, they should be rolled up to a single notification
  6. For comments/answers, if the notification is not rolled up as described in #5, the link should append the #commentid or #postid so that the browser scrolls to the comment/answer
7

Oh cool, let's see what snarky comment has come in and I click the link. New window opens up and I see the snark. All is well and good.

I close the new window, return to my chat and "Is that a new comment or the same one?" It's the same one, just the act of clicking on a link should make it depopulate from the list.

  • Was just about to post this myself. – LowlyDBA Jan 13 '15 at 20:43
  • Thanks for the feedback, both your answers suggest sensible improvements, and the whole experience is tainted but minor annoyances like this. – Jack Douglas Jan 16 '15 at 16:32
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The feedback and my own experience has mainly fallen into two categories, both are important and worthy of being considered when we decide if we ever want something like this running permanently:

  1. Irritating features of the feeds themselves that perhaps could be easily fixed, but probably won't be. If there were just one or two that wouldn't be so bad but there is a fair list:

  2. We end up being distracted by stuff we aren't directly interested in.

    • There is no way of opting-out entirely per-user
    • There is no way of filtering out by tag or some other means

In the end it's been a mixed bag - quite a few folk have said they "...like the feeds but...", and I think they do achieve the core thing I was hoping for - they encourage engagement on 'main'.

So, I'd like to:

  1. Stop the current feeds now
  2. Develop a custom rss feed that does a better job that the built-in feed, posting significant activity (probably not comments, maybe not edits, definitely questions and answers) by users with >5k rep who are frequently or currently in the room. I think this might be best in the main transcript rather than with the flawed ticker overlay, and would need to be brief one-liners rather than intrusive one-boxed splurges.
  • 1
    I really like the idea of putting them in the main transcript, as long as it isn't crazy. However for comments at least I much prefer the oneboxing over "jcole posted a comment on question x"... – Aaron Bertrand Jan 16 '15 at 17:08
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When this feature was first announced I was fairly against it as I found the notifications to be kind of obnoxious. I waited a few days now to give myself a chance to warm up to the feature. Heck I've even clicked on a bunch of the items to try in an attempt to see the feature in a new light. Unfortunately my opinion of the notifications has not improved.

I still find them to be annoying. They pop up pretty frequently and most of the time I dismiss them before even reading what it says. Now maybe this is just an issue with me personally. I tend to turn push notifications off on just about every single application I get on my phone, which get's me to my central problem with this system.

It's not tailored to my interests at all. If I could set up my own feed to let me know when new SSIS questions or answers come up that would be something I would be interested in. Instead right now it's just any activity that's done by high rep users. No offence to Rolando but no matter how brilliant his answer/comment may be I don't care about MySQL. Even if the answer or comment is of my interest the notification does not show that. Let's say Aaron has some comment that I would be interested in reading the notification does not have any synopsis to tease me into clicking on it. I would need to click on every comment/answer that happens every day to assure that I'm seeing comments of interest.

That's just my two cents. I'm all for the concept but having a hard time finding use for this in it's current state.

  • It's not going to make you completely happy, but perhaps you'd find it marginally less annoying if we restricted the feeds to regular Heapers (by some definition of 'regular'). – Jack Douglas Jan 14 '15 at 8:00
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    If people are interested in feeds, they should use a custom RSS. Not make everyone else suffer. – Kermit Jan 16 '15 at 14:50
  • Thanks for the feedback Zane - I'm hoping we'll eventually get some version of this feed in the room but I agree with you that it's too annoying as it stands. I don't agree with @Kermit - a little big of suffering for the greater good of the site makes sense, but this is too much of a pain and too little gain currently. – Jack Douglas Jan 16 '15 at 16:30
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I think the ticker was a nice idea, but I mostly find it annoying. Most of my dislike stems from the fact that I can't move it and constantly have to dismiss it. It is in a prominent area of screen real estate (important things go in the center or in the top left). And I hate having to dismiss it all the time. I'm like Zane in that I only care about certain tags, so most of the content in the ticker is irrelevant to me. And the ticker gets rather busy when there are several comments on a question. The best thing I can say is that I would be happy to tolerate it if I could move it down to the bottom right of the page or resize it so it is so small I don't really see it. I may be in the minority as far as the tags and users I care about, but I hang out in the Heap somewhat frequently and figured I would share my opinion.

  • Your opinion matters and I think you feel mostly the same as everyone else including me. – Jack Douglas Jan 16 '15 at 16:28
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Perhaps an additional item that could help is for the notification to go away after N timeunits. I'm in chat, I look up, see what's listed and it's not of interest. Let it timeout so I can get that real estate back and possibly see a new notification that does interest me.

As it stands, my OCD for clicking the dismissal button vies with my stubbornness to not give the overlay the satisfaction. Hear me overlay? I'M IGNORING YOU!

click

2

FWIW, not interested. Sorry.

I am disenchanted with noisy websites that want to actively tell mme things I have not asked about. I tend to jump into sites like that, find what I want, and get back out as quickly as possible.

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