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dang, can we get a collapse threads function?
27 points by debacle on Oct 24, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 7 comments
If you'd like, I can write up the JS. It would be a nice feature to have. When visiting new-ish threads I like to read everything, but if I'm revisiting something later I like to skip around and the scrolling is...prohibitive.

[I am not dang]

I would not be surprised if the absence of collapsible threads were a conscious design decision. To put it another way if returning to the same thread again and again was considered a user behavior to be slightly discouraged, then your anecdote indicates why no collapsible threads could be a feature rather than a deficit.

Thinking about why a designer would wish to raise the cost of returning to the same thread again and again: the cost is still rounding error when the reason is a compelling and collegial exchange of ideas and relatively high in relation to other places on the internet where people type into boxes when the motivation is pouring gasoline on the embers of insults, bullying or trolling. Or just ordinary XKCD386.

Another habit it discourages is a clique of people who hang out in a few threads for prolonged periods (say a week or more) engaging in 'insider' tribalism. Instead it may encourage people back to the front page and the content. On Hacker News, interesting topics recur when people make new submissions of additional information instead of prolonged based on the same information and position defending.

None of which is to say that this is in fact fact or to in any way imply that these habits or motivations or behaviors apply to you individually. I think it's more of design to avoid tragedies of commons.

Good luck.

With respect, while Hacker News does appear to be replete with attempts at subtle coercion, collapsible comments have been mentioned as a feature the devs are actually working on, so you might be reading the tea leaves a bit too hard in that case.

At the very least, I would suspect that particular bit of negative reinforcement failed at its job. A number of other features (karma primarily, but also the comments page and saved stories and saved comments) seem to encourage long term engagement far more than non-folding threads could discourage it. That downvoted comments alone appear on /newcomments practically makes it a flamebait generator. Tribalism, trolling, vindictive nastiness and even meme posting abound here.

On the other hand, I suspect (with nothing to back it up) that pg simply never considered thread folding, or else didn't consider it interesting. Meanwhile, any new feature will inevitably garner criticism from users if it doesn't work they way they expect, doesn't support their browser, etc. And, anything that causes Hacker News to look and behave superficially more like Reddit will cause more than a few users to rend their garments, put on sackcloth and ashes and wail in agony at the death of Hacker News.

That headache, combined with the 'unique' (and not really open) nature of the codebase, a staff with better things to do most of the time, and a strong cultural aversion to making even small changes in the UI, means otherwise apparently simple changes probably take far more time to roll out than many developers would consider reasonable.

I guess dumb luck keeps me from encountering a normal amount of undesirable behavior, while agreeing that folding comments isn't likely to have been anyone's priority. I do see isolated memeoization, flames, etc. but it's not really a characteristic of "core contributors" unlike is more typical of internet communities.

For what it's worth, if indeed PG didn't consider thread folding interesting, I cannot say that I blame him since it is that way for me. The feeling that scrolling through a page to find some comment feels like a bother means that it actually is a bother and not worthy of the effort. Collapsible threads making it less effort to rebut won't increase the quality of my comments...on average, it will probably reduce them. YMMV.

Have you guys tried User Scripts? I just tried this one and it seemed to work pretty well. (In chrome this can be done by saving the script as collapse.user.js and dragging into chrome://extensions).


I use this. Works very well. It is simple enough I'd encourage building it in to the site though.

I second this - would be awesome. Some of the larger threads are taxing/hard to navigate without a collapse/fold function

That is probably my favorite feature of reddit.

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