In related news nytimes.com used to have a similar feature where the definition of words would pop up when you selected them. It basically caused me to stop reading their site.
It's a shame so many designers out there (NYTimes, Google, and many, many others) fail this basic usability test.
Ah, my condition has a name. All it needs now is a support group. My case become terminal when I discovered three finger drag on OSX.
HN is a particularly good site to do it on because of the little lines and gaps that appear between selected blocks of comments. You can get a very satisfying 'pop' of a multi-comment selection springing from a single one if you move your mouse just a bit while dragging over the gap between one comment and the next.
I don't much mind about the structure, but it'd be really nice if it all lined up perfectly straight.
Scrolling without selecting is just disorienting when I'm reading.
Sometimes unconscious compulsion, otherwise to put together a quote in the context of an existing thread.
I immediately noticed this feature due to the high number of discards :)
When using keyboard it's not that important, since one quickly learn how much PgDn scrolls, but when using mouse it is good to have a selection marker to quickly continue to read from there after scrolling.
the same here.
Edit: don't need to share all that, I think.
Oddly enough I guess I always habitually deselect as well, so I've never noticed this gmail feature. Pretty useful.
Now if it browsers supported Sublime Text-style multiple selections for quoting several different bits of a long email, that'd be perfect.
On a sidenote it's kind of fascinating how polarised people are about this feature.
It's the single Windows feature I miss the most on other platforms.
I still remember the rage I felt when I switched from the Amiga in 1996 to the PC and found that Windows did that; screwing up a large part of the usability of scrollbars (for me) by adding a (to me) completely incomprehensible requirement for ultra-precise mouse movement or else you get BAM! back to where you started.
Note: not trying to claim that you are in any way "wrong", of course, I'm just pointing out the opposite perspective since I found yours interesting.
A large chunk of the reason I dislike Chrome is because of its weird text selection logic compared to Firefox - boundaries around paragraph starts and ends feel unnatural.
I remember how the nytimes did that and, like you, it destroyed the experience for me.
Are there any other reader-highlighters out there?
P.S. I see now that barrkel has already described this and one way of accomplishing it, elsewhere in this thread:
BTW, are you the Google Matt Cutts?
Often, I select bits of an email, to copy and paste elsewhere to check things. Then I hit reply, and wonder why only the currently selected text is there.
There should be a way to turn this "feature" off.
This would be far more discoverable and only minor changes to documentation over the current approach.
"I haven't heard of this feature" != "no one knows about this feature".
I tried to contact support or fill some feedback form to no avail. I eventually gave up.
Anyway, this is how web apps ride (no a single day passes without me ranting about the current trend, which I find alarming).
It is a big of a hassle if you want to reply to parts of the original post, Usenet-style (y'know, before "Usenet" meant "less traceable file sharing"). There having the answer atop of each single paragraph you're responding to is seriously weird, it's like playing Jeopardy with email.
Never mind that breaking up quoted text into parts is pretty buggy with gmail, due to the absence of quote chars (replaced by those colored bars).
A: Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
Q: Why is top-posting such a bad thing?
Q: What is the most annoying thing in e-mail?
As ever, there are exceptions, with one-on-one, serial email being the most prevalent. But if there's more than one recipient, top-posting is godawfully confusing.
I definitely don't love it:
1. I'm one of those serial overliners which will randomly select text and paragraphs while reading, so half the time I end up with a completely useless piece of quoted text.
2. I craft mail responses by quoting all the original mail, interspersing responses and cutting the stuff I don't care for afterwards, very rarely do I only need to quote a single contiguous block of text without anything else, unless the single contiguous block of text is "all of the original mail" anyway.
- another selection reader
I really don't know what the big deal about this is or why an article about it has so many points here.
I guess RMS has a point.
We've been able to rebind keys in videogames for a long time. Why can't we rebind ctrl+o to be cut, ctrl+t to be undo, and ctrl+k to be "delete this line"?
Why can't we have ctrl+v be one clipboard and ctrl+f be a different one?
I honestly think HN should be doing more about linkbait like this.
I usually read through emails highlighting (selecting) the important parts with the mouse. So when I hit "R", Gmail quotes only my last selection. Discard, unselect, hit R again.
However, bottom-posting's value is lost on the vast majority of people, so I don't bother unless it's someone I know will appreciate it.
Similarly, when using non-threaded email clients the same problem exists. The bottom of the post becomes a mishmash of quotes and arrows (ah, "> > > > > > > > > > >", how we miss you) and almost impossible to figure out what the original poster was trying to say.
With threading, and especially Gmail's aggregate view of threads, top posting is far less of an issue. If everyone is using Gmail (e.g. Apps set up within a company), there's very little reason to reply inline for shorter messages, and more reason (phone consumption) to top-post. For longer discussions, though, it still helps to address points individually inline rather than attempt to pull them out on top.
Even within an organisation entirely using Gmail, there are still people who are sticklers for bottom-posting and seethe when they see top-posting. I used to be one of those people on USENET, but for the reasons above, I've changed my stance considerably.
That said, it looks like the world is converging around the idea that down maps to past (inboxes, browser history, Twitter, Facebook timeline).
I wonder if anyone has made a top-posting-style shell? It'd be like using less as a shell...
Here is the email feature I want. If I paste a URL that looks like a post/article into a new message, I want the slug automagically split, title cased and copied into the subject line.
The Greatest Google Mail Feature You
Off topic, but a similar feature exists in Pinboard (https://pinboard.in). You can select some text on the page before clicking bookmark, and that gets set as the description of the page in the bookmark. It's a pretty handy feature if the page title is not enough to describe what the page is about.
Similarly, BufferApp post with the selected text instead of the title.
This is indeed a good UX feature and people should use this where it make sense - select text and put it in context with the next action.
The greatest feature about Gmail that not enough use is 2-factor auth (even though it is not limited to Gmail- other web-based mail services provide it); it is a pain in the arse, but after you get hacked once or twice, you'll be happy you did it. Popular Saas apps are prime targets for being hacked. It may mean they are safer, but they are also riskier to use. If you're not using 2-factor auth, you should probably not use Gmail, unless a hacker taking control of your account wouldn't bother you or your contacts.
We're not talking about false positives, these are emails that stay in my inbox for days before being moved to the spam folder. Which basically means I need to check my spam folder every day. Trust forever lost.
But I'm looking at the on/off radio button in labs in another tab right now.
Subtlety is a difficult thing to achieve in any field. Silence, however, is anything but subtle.
But you cann't reply to two different selections together. Probably because none of the browsers allow controlled selection using CTRL key.
All of the sudden recently I noticed a lot of single word quoted replies happening to me, and I figured it was a bug.
most of my email flows like a conversation, i don't need to bring back older parts if my recipient already has them in front of him.
No, wait. I'm lying. It's crap.
It is incredibly frustrating that in order to be able to find an email I received years ago I have to figure out exactly how someone might have written a certain term in that mail. And I cannot see any excuse for not offering that feature; limit me to a few substring searches a day if resources are an issue and I don't expect fully-indexed lightning-fast results, a simple "grep", so to speak, would be just fine...but please let me search my mails properly!
As a native Finn it's quite hard to use Gmail search for anything in our native language.
Just an example. If I want to search for, as an example, invoices (which many companies send directly to your email) I simply cannot do it.
The reason is this:
"Tässä laskunne" - "Here is your invoice"
"Saitte laskun" - "You've received an invoice"
"Puhelinlasku" - "Mobile bill" (the monthly invoice)
The word for invoice in Finnish is "lasku". And there are immense amount of ways to morph the word. And that is with every word. So in order to search for those kinds of mails we usually just search in the basic form. In GMail it's impossible so it's a pure guessing game.
I think this shows nicely that when developing something and thinking "This feature is not really needed" you might accidentally ruin the whole main feature for use cases you're not familiar with.
Edit: maybe it is doing prefix search only (I dont' know I search prefixes usually), so it's no true substring search, but prefix search is very useful in itself.
Well, I'll add it to my "startup ideas" list :) .
What is the benefit? Is it intentional, or is it a habit with no real use?
It's just something tactile to do while my attention is otherwise occupied.