I don't really believe that if reply counts will be shown in the UI, it will lead to any changes in behaviour... I can personally see and feel the appeal of higher follower, favourite and boost counts, but I've never once felt like I wanted to somehow inflate the number of replies to my posts...


If we want to communicate that a post has replies, but not show the number of them, it's stretching the limits of what an icon can symbolize.

Currently a single arrow just means "click reply to this post", and a double-arrow means that the post itself is a reply to another. Now you want me to make it an empty arrow if it has no replies, and filled if it does, but I think because it's a button it will make people believe replies are disabled when it's empty. Numbers seem more intuitive there.

@Gargron ah, NOW I get the issue this is trying to solve

What about a boolean dot in place of the numbers? Like how some apps indicate, say, new activity.

@Gargron I think a dot/circle icon next to the reply button in place of the numbers would be understandable and avoid the "numbers are bad" protests

(Because yeah, empty vs. filled is a bad idea)

@InspectorCaracal With double arrow and small circle, won't it become kind of busy visually?

@InspectorCaracal @Gargron Potential difficulty with either approach: will people read an indicator as "replies I haven't seen" vs. "any replies at all"?

@Gargron My suggestion is putting like • or ● in exactly the spot the number is, though, so it shouldn't be any busier.

@InspectorCaracal mmmhhhh we use such dots as separators in some other UI elements, this is tricky

@Gargron I'd edit it in to the picture to show you but I'm stuck without a computer right now...

@Gargron If the choice is between not knowing if a post has replies and showing the number of replies it has I would rather not know.

That said, if there needs to be some kind of indication that there are replies, and that indication needs to be a count, can the count be incorporated into the icon somehow, so it doesn't alter the basic visual structure of each post? It would be jarring for the boost and star icons to be shoved over to make room for the reply count on only some posts.

@Gargron Alternatively, are you open to design suggestions/submissions for icons that would work without showing the count?

@Gargron Yikes. I already didn't know what the double-arrow meant. I'm against overloading that icon any further.

@Gargron A "hollow vs. full arrow" system seems unintuitive at best. And also I don't see how that would help gauge if I should bother replying to a post or not.

I mean if it has ~5 replies I could just check if anyone has mentioned what I'm planning to mention.
If it has 100+ I'm unlikely to respond no matter what, because they could be already overwhelmed by the response and I don't want to risk making it worse.

@Asimech That sounds like a good argument in favour of showing the count.

@Gargron Or showing a "low/high response level" icon.

However if showing a number would encourage bad behaviour, so would "low/high" icons, except it would be less intuitive than a number and how would one define "low" or "high" in the first place?

For example 20 replies to a request for feedback wouldn't be a whole lot, but it would be quite a bit in response to a joke or for asking about when a movie is coming out.

@Gargron You can do the "1" and "1+", which is the intuitive numbers thing without having it be much of a metric.

@jond I GUESS. It just seems a bit odd. Are there any precedents for UIs that do that?

The closest I can think of at the moment is the user script that turned MetaFilter's "no favorites" and "has favorites"* into "0" and "1+" for compactness. I haven't used that script in a long while, though.

(MetaFilter lets users configure between "hide favorite count altogether", "show merely no / has favorites", and "show favorite count" because of the difficult nature of favorite counts. I'm not advocating for it being configurable here.)

@Gargron how about an indicator for order of magnitude instead of a number? (think none/few/many, or 0/single-digit/double-digit/ALL OF THE DIGITS)

@Gargron I think I've had issues where there are replies to a post but the don't show up until waiting a bit and refreshing a status. Maybe something on the backend with a delay in requesting and processing data from one server to another. I am in favor of numbers in the UI just so I could see if all the replies have federated properly!

@crazypedia @Gargron if they havent federated, you’d likely get the lower wrong count for the number as well

You can only see what your server knows about after all

@Satsuma @crazypedia @Gargron also if you've muted the conversation, do you still get the full count or just the count of the toots you see in your notifications stream? (I clear mine regularly and treat it a bit like an answering machine of "interactions since my last login")

@bobstechsite @Satsuma @crazypedia we're talking about little per-post counters of replies to that post, like boost counters etc, not a notification number

@Gargron I’m not sure “this has replies” is a thing that really needs to be exposed?

@anthracite @Gargron yeah I still havent figured out why this is a problem in the first place

@Gargron idea in emoji:

↪️ click to reply
↪️💬 click to reply, and replies to this post exist

@Gargron just getting to know the system after a week or so. I kind of like not seeing any number. Something about responding to a post on its own merits, vs. Going to the bar because there is a lineup outside (popularity).

@Gargron but it can be confusing the way a toot can be a reply to a reply and so without going to the original toot or it’s reply one may not know of/see the rest of the conversation!

@Gargron Changing the appearance of a button that accomplishes exactly the same function, and using an action button to display unrelated information is atrocious UI design. The number of replies has nothing to do with the button that creates a new reply. Don't pay attention.

@gargron I feel like the only person who needs to know on sight if a post has replies is the poster, & that’s what notifications are for. If you click on a post, you see all its replies anyway, if you’re interested enough.

@Gargron reply count visible to only the op or the count of replies visible from the user reading the post ? From the instance ? From the fediverse ? Could potentially be weird with posts not being displayed in the thread no ( not followed by the user/blocked/etc ) ?

@gled you've seen the PR... splitting tables was the hard part, the actual counting is simple. first-level only, no special federation gotchas. but most conversations are complete nowadays thanks to reply forwarding.

@Gargron holy shit this revelation rn. This is very good to know

Sign in to participate in the conversation

The original server operated by the Mastodon gGmbH non-profit