does this happen often to you too?

You found a great post, commented to it, only to find out later that a broad discussion was triggered ... but not on the thread branch you commented on.

So if you didn't bump into it coincidentally you'd be totally unaware of that.

I'd like a Watch Post feature that sends me notification of all activity on the thread.

See also:

Would you like to have a Watch feature?

@humanetech We need both: an extra button to "watch a post", even without having to interact with it once. And an option to "mute a post". Sometimes the people I follow embark on long and very specific discussions between one another, which I see in my timeline. Obviously I don't wish to mute the people I follow, so being able to mute certain threads would be handy. It is already a feature on Misskey!
I have to say it has been proven useful a couple of times.
For example when someone posts a technical question and you would like to know the answer too, whenever someone answers, then you can Watch that post and you'll stay updated on it.

@vib @humanetech Friendica also have that too! Any post you open/view/watch will be added to a "posts to notify new messages" list, so you get that notifications 😃 You can also "ignore thread" and will not get notified

@humanetech Recursive subscribe/unsubscribe from any node in the tree, really.

@varx you mean implementation-wise, where my Watch action results in a list of subscriptions (recursively derived) listening for replies to each entry?

Apparently both and already have Watch feature, so stuff can be derived from there.

An extension might be and indicator about who is watching, just like Github issues have too (though invisible watchers are probably best, privacy-wise).

@humanetech I don't know what the implementation would look like, or whether ActivityPub would make it prohibitively difficult.

But the feature I *want* is "let me know of any new replies under X" with the ability to say "oh wait, except for the subthreads under node Y".

@varx makes sense. It is a bit same as asking "Pls, untag me".

has an implementation that might make the easily possible (or already done). See:

@humanetech Yeah, the existence of "please untag me" is just a perfect illustration of some of the flaws with Twitter-style conversations. The snowballing of mentions is a hack to plaster over the lack of thread-following.

@varx As a stop-gap measure, @Chartodon could be adapted to do that. Or something similar.

(thinks ...)

@Chartodon could take "start" and "cut" nodes, and generate the appropriate subgraph.

CC: @humanetech

@varx Other systems I've written send email notifications on a schedule ... I could possibly do the same.

Again, it would be a stop-gap measure, but it's possible. Someone could then see how it works and write it "properly".

CC: @humanetech

@varx @humanetech

The usefulness of this proposal would increase even further if there were clear visual cues for where the nodes of the tree are.

I'll suggest something better - namely:

The issue is essentially that there is no standard method for fetching a conversation and all its replies from the root of the conversation. We're using 'context' for this purpose as well as identifying children of the same thread for conversational views. Fetching this collection with a signed request automatically subscribes you to followups (unless the original post had a protected or private scope; in which case you won't see it anyway). You are also subscribed to followups if you manually fetch any single activity with a signed request (by pasting it into the search bar). This allows us to propagate edits and deletes and poll updates to everybody that fetched the original; which is another long-standing federation issue.

Another great informative follow-up @zap thank you. has so many things figured out, it is delightful!

I will transfer your post to in a new topic, for the record, as I am merely suggesting a feature but not technically involved (or capable enough) in any federated project that would benefit from this 😀

@humanetech honestly threading should be revamped as a whole imo

this sounds like a nice feature regardless

@humanetech I'd like a thread to be *a single thread* instead of the multi-branch mess it is now.

@tinyrabbit I can imagine. But it might impact how conversation takes place.

People going off-topic multiple times, and others responding to that may be just as messy.

In Discourse forum topics for instance you often hear "please stay on topic", or a moderator forks some comments in a new topic.

Fedizens might be less inclined to interact, or would not to explicitly watch/unwatch thread comments to get the desired view of the discussion.


There's one particular things that would be quite helpful in having a single thread..

Right now very often people tend to respond to a sub-branch without having read the other sub-branches, bringing up points already discussed.

On this thread for instance I already pasted the same link to about 3 times.

@tinyrabbit I can see why you would want that, & I'm sure I'm not going to say anything you haven't thought of already, but my thinking is this.

Suppose there's already a single thread, not too long, easy to read perhaps 10 or 20 toots. But one of the toots in the middle is something to which I'd like to reply. The existing system allows me to do that, whereas having a single thread would force me to tag my comment on the end, even though I'm replying to something further up.

CC: @humanetech

@tinyrabbit My wish is to be able to reply to multiple toots, thus drawing a sprawling conversation back together. Then, additionally, have the ability to render the discussions as graphs, like this:

I've written a discussion system that lets you do that. It's currently find for small numbers of users, and extremely helpful, but pig-ugly, and very parochial.

CC: @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @humanetech I guess this all comes back to how one likes to discuss things online. Fediverse is only functional for shorter discussions, imho. I prefer forums for longer discussions, and in forums I prefer flat views rather than threaded views.

@tinyrabbit In what way do you see this discussion as different from how it would happen in a forum? To me, this is a forum ... in what way is it not?

What do you mean by "A Forum"?

CC: @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @humanetech On a typical forum platform you have a thread-starting post, and then every other post is visible for every other poster. In this discussion I really only see our little break-out thread. If I want to see the whole thing it takes effort. This interface isn't centered around discussions; it's centered around individual posts.

@ColinTheMathmo @humanetech And by "forum" I mean typical forum software like phpBB, XenForo, and similar.

@tinyrabbit Right, so in what you're calling a "forum" you see literally a linear collection of posts, each being a comment in the thread. So if I want to reply to some comment further up the (single) thread, I somehow need to make that clear, and it's not in the structure.

That's a trade-off, and I can see why it's a "Good Thing(tm)" in some contexts. I find that limitation extremely frustrating in more complex discussions.

Equally, ...


CC: @humanetech

@tinyrabbit ... I find the inability of platforms to provide a sensible and usable rendering of the more complex discussions *also* to be enormously frustrating. The platform I wrote as an experiment feels much more usable, but (a) it's pig-ugly, and (b) it's really not ready for a wider audience.

If I had more 'net programming skillz then I think it would be the way to go, but I have neither the skillz nor the time.

CC: @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @humanetech To me this sort of discussion tree looks quite horrible 😆 I can't imagine the effort it takes to follow that discussion in all its branches, or how frustrated I would be to see virtually the same discussion taking place along a number of different paths. To me it looks like a great way to *socialize*, but a horribly inefficient way to *discuss*.

@tinyrabbit That discussion tree would benefit from navigation tools, and I have those, and that makes it a real pleasure. Open some branches, close off others, hide nodes that don't really contribute, and you end up with the "Real Content" distilled.

As I say, I don't have the skillz to make those tools more widely available, but the chart, when displayed on a decent size screen, can be scrolled around,and the many threads can easily be followed.

Takes a little practice.

CC: @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @humanetech I imagine it could look and work similar to a thread-based forum platform (like UBB.threads for example). And the age-old battle between threaded view or flat view in forums has no objective winner, only different preferences 😄

@ColinTheMathmo @tinyrabbit @humanetech

If you want to see a beautiful interface for dynamic discussion in a tree-structured thread, I recommend checking out Euphoria:

@dynamic I agree that it's a beautiful rendering, but structurally, it simply looks like the usual linear layout of a tree. Is that right?

One of the great things about DiscDAG is the ability to tie threads together. Another is to use space to show the actual DiGraph.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @tinyrabbit @humanetech

Euphoria threading is not shaped like a tree, but it is a tree-structure, communicated by indentation, in the same sense of the directory trees that can be used for file browsing in certain operating systems.

@dynamic Indeed, which means that is suffers the same problem that in a complex discussion you sometimes have to scroll a long way to find a comment's parent.

This is a hard problem, which is why I'm exploring how usable the "actual tree layout" might be.

My experience is that the static version is fine after discussion is ended, and the dynamic version I have is fine provided you use the navigation tools.

Working on it.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @tinyrabbit @humanetech

Tying threads together is not a thing I'd even heard about until you mentioned it in the current discussion thread!

@ColinTheMathmo @tinyrabbit @humanetech

My intuition is that a literal tree-shaped render could be useful for review of a discussion after the fact, but I have a hard time imagining it as an interactive interface.

@dynamic DiscDAG is making progress in that regard. It's intended for dynamic discussions, allowing multiple threads that subsequently come together (where appropriate). It needs better navigation tools, and a better UI in general, but it works well for the appropriate context.

Most examples are private conversations, and those that are public are mostly not good examples, but here are some links.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

@dynamic Here is an explanation about the Axiom of Choice, and why it's problematic:

Here's a more extensive, free-form discussion about the system itself and some of the problems:

It's almost essential to use Neighbourhood Mode to navigate and follow the discussion a bit at a time, showing that better navigation tools and UI are clearly required.

But I can't imagine trying to follow this in a linear form.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @dynamic @humanetech You have a good point about following branching discussions in a flat thread. In that case compartmentalization and breaking out branches into new discussions when they diverge from the original poster's intention are key. And doing that in social media is... uhm... yeah...

@tinyrabbit A consequence of breaking things out into new discussions is that you can't then tie them together again. If they're genuinely different discussions then that's fine, but if they are different aspects of the same discussion then it's a nightmare. The ability to "fold up" or "abstract out" sections is the thing DiscDAG is missing, and neighbourhood mode is a poor substitute, but when a discussion is large and sprawling, you need to connections.

CC: @dynamic @humanetech

@tinyrabbit I'm looking at being able to select several nodes in DiscDAG and then collapse them under a "Summary Node" which can be expanded or collapsed as appropriate.

CC: @dynamic @humanetech

@tinyrabbit There's a difference between "Shooting the Breeze" (StB) and "Have a Discussion to Reach Conclusions" (HaD2RC). Existing platforms drive everything to StB, and platforms that claim to help with the HaD2RC context just ... don't.

DiscDAG seems to be a step in the right direction. It's needs to go further, but I have none of the skillz, the time to acquire the skillz, or the money to pay people who have the skillz.

So it's stalled.

CC: @dynamic @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @tinyrabbit @humanetech

What are your thoughts on Argument Mapping tools? To me they seem much more promising than DAG structured things (I feel like it's pretty unusual to *really* want to pull two separate threads together, and that when it is desirable it could probably be handled pretty well by making a post with links to the parent threads).

@dynamic I haven't seen an "Argument Mapping Tool" for a long time, and I'm sure they've improved, but I've hated every one that I've seen. They have always, to me, seemed to offer nothing over existing linear representations of trees.

And I have frequently use the facility to pull together separate threads. This might be one of those cases where until you have it you don't see the point, and when you've used it, you feel crippled not to have it.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech


Your chart is ready, and can be found here:

Things may have changed since I started compiling that, and some things may have been inaccessible.

The chart will eventually be deleted, so if you'd like to keep it, make sure you download a copy.

@dynamic Here are links to more:

There are many *many* more, but they are private discussions, so you don't have access.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

@ColinTheMathmo @tinyrabbit @humanetech

The DAG flow charts you've been posting require both left-right and up-down scrolling, which seems like an even larger impediment to comprehensive discussion than linear-format thread trees would be.

@dynamic Large, complex discussions will always need some way to render them, and some way to navigate.

I wish I had the skillz to show you my vision ... clearly I'm just not able to make my point.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

@dynamic I think I'm just going to end up like Ted Nelson, with a vision of "A Thing" which I know will be better than current stuff, but of which I can convince no one because I have neither the ability to implement it, nor the charisma to inspire others to do so.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

@dynamic OTOH, maybe it's just crap, and I'm completely deluded. Maybe a linearised tree is the only thing that will ever work, and the best thing that can ever be.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

@dynamic But try this. Start with this link:

If a node that is currently not highlighted looks interesting, click on the author's name to add it to the selection and see it and its neighbours. When you're done with a highlighted node, click on the author's name to remove it from the selection.

Then start navigating around. You can collapse everything except a single node-and-neighbours by clicking the grey box.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech


I think it is certainly not. But probably you have to target other use cases + audiences more. Here, in microblogging domain, it makes most sense to diagram a complex thread graph after it happened. Dynamic view probably not well-suited.

Specialized audience (e.g. scientists) and use cases (argument maps, decision-making, ...) may be excellent to consider.

It'd also help UX designs if your nodes had more semantics than just <text> e.g. linked data vocab.

@dynamic @tinyrabbit

@humanetech WRT getting an audience, yes, probably these sorts of facilities and capabilities are better suited to a more specialist audience than a generic "social media" context.

WRT semantics and nodes, probably, but I have no front end skills. None. Producing a diagram like this is all I can do, so while what you say is probably true, I can't make it happen.

To be honest, I've pretty much decided to give up, and just use it for myself.

CC: @dynamic @tinyrabbit

@ColinTheMathmo you might describe things in text, no ux designs needed.

For semantics, e.g. the simple fact of a 'node' having a title and subject might give many options for re-arranging the UI, collapse branches, etc.

In special domains more meaningful linked data formats can be used. E.g. in IT context you may label your text with "requirement" and "bug", etc.

Can brainstorm a lot on possiblities, but also talk to audiences on their needs.

@dynamic @tinyrabbit

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@dynamic It's really, *really* useful in a constructive discussion. Sometimes a single comment to pull threads together is exactly the right thing, and in existing platforms it seems difficult, or even impossible.

DiscDAG (which I suspect you haven't seen) definitely wins for that, but probably won't scale.

CC: @tinyrabbit @humanetech

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