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bonus's avatar

Display Dates In Fluther Answers?

Asked by bonus (538 points ) June 18th, 2009

I find it confusing that there are no dates or times visible in the answers posted on Fluther.

Is there a setting or script or something that I am overlooking to correct this?

Any help is appreciated since, without some context, it is hard to make sense of what is still relevant.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

106 Answers

Ivan's avatar

That would be very helpful.

Tink's avatar

That would be so helpful

Tink's avatar

@Ivan – Ha at the same time

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i thought the same thing! i wonder if there’s a reason they’re not included?

arnbev959's avatar

I like that the time and date isn’t displayed.

eponymoushipster's avatar

i agree with @petethepothead. it would be too message boardy with that.

fireside's avatar

I was just gone for four days and came back to find several threads from last year with new activity
I doubt that would happen as often if there were date stamps.

Dr_C's avatar

i prefer to keep my dates confidential. don’t like to feel crowded. But hey… there are some exhibitionists out there so… whatever floats your boat.

SirBailey's avatar

I understand the concern that posting time and date stamps would make people less inclined to answer older questions but, with me, it’s the “asked 19 minutes ago” that makes me decide if the issue is old and dead or active. If I saw a question posted a long time ago, but noticed the last response was recent, I would be MORE inclined to post to an old question, not less.

I think time stamping posts would be a good thing.

arnbev959's avatar

@SirBailey: For me, “asked 19 minutes ago” is all I need. I know that most of the answers were probably posted shortly after the question was asked. It isn’t necessary to show what time each answer was posted. I feel like time stamps on every answer would just be unnecessary clutter.

Ivan's avatar

SirBaily is right. If someone comments on a 6 month old question, and I stumble upon it 5 minutes later, I am not going to reply if I think the response is 6 months old. I would be much more inclined to reply if I knew it was in fact only 5 minutes old. That, and if an old question that you’re following gets commented on, you have no idea if it’s only the last comment that’‘s new or if it’s the last 2 or 3 or whatever. This all ignores the fact that some comments are simply time sensitive; they only make sense when you understand when they were posted.

Dog's avatar

I think the whole point of Fluther is that good questions do not have an expiration date- nor do good answers.

The archives are full of valuable information- the date it was posted is not reliant if it helps me today.

DeanV's avatar

I think it would actually take away from the nice and clean Fluther interface. The questions have time stamps. That’s good enough for me.

DeanV's avatar

@fireside But is that a bad thing? I remember that when I was new here I posted on a question that was 2 years old exactly, to that day. It was quite an adventure. I’ve looked at the question time stamps since.

Tink's avatar

Whoa 2 years?!

jrpowell's avatar

@dverhey :: It wouldn’t have to add clutter.

Edit – D’oh.. I messed up the date. But you get the idea.

DeanV's avatar

Good point, JohnPowell.

When I think timestamp I just seem to think of them at the bar at the bottom of your answer. That would be a good and non-obtrusive way to add them. I would be all for that. I just don’t want dates all over answers.

SuperMouse's avatar

JackAdams is that you?

jrpowell's avatar

@dverhey :: I completely agree. But I do think it would be nice to have the option. Or have it a setting we can turn on or off in our account.

Ivan's avatar

If you’re going to have time stamped questions, you have to have time stamped comments. Any argument for or against one is the same for the other.

Tink's avatar

Comments are stamped

DeanV's avatar

Yeah. Comments are timestamped.

And who is the JackAdams comment addressed to?

Ivan's avatar

huh?

SuperMouse's avatar

The JackAdams comment was directed to the Collective as a whole. Jack was a somewhat controversial Flutherer who, before being banned, created his own program (or some kind of thingy) that he used to time and date stamp all of his quips.

jrpowell's avatar

Yeah JackAdams would end everything with the date and time.

8:39 PM PST June 18, 2009

Ivan's avatar

Is there something special that you call a “comment” that I’m not aware of?

Tink's avatar

You’ve never gotten a comment before?!

jrpowell's avatar

@Ivan :: I think they are referring to private comments. Answers to questions are not timestamped. Well, they probably are in the database.

Ivan's avatar

Ah, I still refer to answers as comments and to comments as PM’s.

Tink's avatar

PM’s?

DeanV's avatar

Private Messages=PM’s.

I thought I had heard the name JackAdams around. That explains things. I thought you thought me or Ivan or other people who answered this question were JackAdams. Thanks for explaining.

Tink's avatar

Thought it was something else :P

YARNLADY's avatar

@Tink1113 I recently discovered comments/answers = “quips” on fluther
I see no value in having time stamps on Fluther. The advice that was good when it was given will still be good long after we are gone.

Tink's avatar

@YARNLADYquips?

andrew's avatar

@SirBailey I actually pose the same response that I did to Jeruba. The argument that timestamping would promote activity is a bit circular. See my link above.

YARNLADY's avatar

Look at the address at the top of the page, the identifying # at the end of the address says #quip650384 (or whatever)

Tink's avatar

Oh : )

jonsblond's avatar

I agreed with @dverhey until @johnpowell posted his example. I don’t see anything wrong with adding a time stamp that doesn’t clutter the page. Either way, I usually don’t answer questions that are a week old or longer (unless it’s about the frizzer or pancakes). I keep up with the activity for me or current questions.

Que Sera Sera

DeanV's avatar

I agree. @johnpowell had a very good example. I would have no issue with that being added.

AstroChuck's avatar

Oh, no, no. Not this again.

bonus's avatar

Woah. I touched a nerve even though lots of folks on here say they wouldn’t want to see the time. Some of the reasons I didn’t expect and think some of those reasons make some sense. Sort of. To some people.

My own reasoning was that, after I get what I want out of a question, I stop following it. I really dislike being nagged every time I open Fluther. I suppose, this is a whole different issue.

If I start a question but no longer follow it, how does it still have legs? Who keeps it going? How long does it remain relevant, maintained, whatever?

There’s plenty of space and we are intelligent enough to take in the added information. I don’t care to waste my time looking at really old questions and wondering if anyone will contribute with really new answers or even any energy at all.

If some people want it and some don’t, why not offer it as an option that each user can elect to turn on or off within their own account?

breedmitch's avatar

Repeatedly stabs fork into eye

bonus's avatar

@SirBailey I agree that I am also more inclined to answer newer questions.

@johnpowell Your time stamp hover link idea is brilliant.

Still, this is a forum. I don’t get why anyone would be disinterested in the timing + relevance of an answer. I say again, make it an option for those who want it.

@Ivan has it right: “If you’re going to have time stamped questions, you have to have time stamped comments. Any argument for or against one is the same for the other.”

@SuperMouse Yeah. Please don’t let any time stamps like the JackAdams one @johnpowell shows slip through. That is horrendous.

@YARNLADY With all due respect, I don’t agree that answers will remain relevant after we are gone.There are dozens of obsolete answers on dead forums all over the internet. I avoid them because they are a waste of my time.

@AstroChuck My apologies. I know this must be painful. I imagine someone brings up the question every month or so.

bonus's avatar

@breedmitch Why breed, why?

breedmitch's avatar

You said it yourself; someone brings this up every month or so. It’s not your fault. You didn’t know.

Once again, the bendrew is capable of wondrous things. If they wanted timestamps (in whatever form) I’m sure they would create them.

Actually, I think the yamlady said it best. From what I understand about the purpose and goals of Fluther, we should be viewing this site as a reference tool (the social aspect is inevitable). So when someone wants to know the best way to remove broken glass from their sink, and they go to Google and search “best way to remove broken glass from sink” Andrew’s question and the answers will pop up. Does it matter that it’s from a year and a half ago? No.
As far as I’m concerned any timestamps would only serve to reinforce the overly social aspect of the site, which although nice, is not the main objective.
Welcome.
In case you break a glass

dynamicduo's avatar

As you have seen now, this issue has come up many times in the past, and the word from the bosses is that this feature won’t be implemented anytime soon.

This place isn’t really a forum. Forums are subdivided and topical, Fluther is one big heap of content spanning everything. And the purpose is different too, Fluther’s vision was to be an information archive, a source of info where the exact time is not relevant at all. I guess based on the definition of the word “forum” to mean “a place where people can get together and chat, sure this site is a forum, but so is the rest of the internet by that definition.

I am content with the date posted of the question. I don’t care for timestamps on comments because it really doesn’t matter to me one bit.

The issue with custom tailoring features and letting users toggle them is manyfold. One, you start changing the site based on what specific users want rather than what the site’s designers want, there are politics in deciding what optional features to implement and the value tradeoff is relatively low versus putting time into bettering other more public/widely used aspects of the website. Furthermore, these features can impact the quality of code, as more code equals more chances of bugs happening. Troubleshooting other site errors becomes harder when individual users can set preferences that effect the site, the screenshot that User X sends you may not be what User Y sees, maybe the bug is only related to settings User X has set or ones User Y has not set, etc. And then there’s having to design two (or more) different visual interfaces, each taking into consideration the placement of elements that can be toggled…. this is a nightmare, and one which I personally take steps to avoid.

I guess the message I’m saying here is that it would take much more work than you imagine to implement this and other optional features (cause once yours is granted, the floodgates are opened), and the return value is not enough to justify the investment of effort, nor would the resulting change in site culture be what the site creators intended it to be.

Lupin's avatar

Here’s my two cents… I’d skip the time stamps.
I don’t want a written record of every time I came here – especially when I should have been doing something else.
The writers of the question have the option of getting a time stamped email when they get an answer. We see when the question was written. Isn’t that enough?
If you are interested in a particular Q then just “Follow this Question”.

The last thing we need is a divorce attorney pulling down some Q and A info and saying “Your Honor, On June 18, 8:00 AM, He was ignoring his children by surfing the internet for three hours. Here is a complete record.”
Leave it alone.

bonus's avatar

This is getting somewhat absurd but I’ll bite.

@breedmitch Will my comments on the ferment currently taking place in Iran even make sense without regards to time? Tomorrow or two months or five years down the road? Or any political or technological evolving story, for that matter? Timestamps will not make that glass question disappear, either.

@dynamicduo A forum could or could not be defined as a “place to chat” but I was thinking more in the terms of the voice of the people. As in the Agora, a public democratic place where everyone has a right to voice their opinion. In terms of the technical problems you suggest, please. I learned how to add comments on my Tumblr site and I don’t know a stitch of programming. And, yes, a time reference was built into that. I did have to cut and paste a few paragraphs of code but I am sure the designers of Fluther can handle that.

@Lupin Really? Do we all fear time on other sites?

I really appreciate everyone’s input but these arguments are kind of disappointingly impossible to take seriously.

fireside's avatar

@bonus – the bottom line is that the site owners don’t really think it would add any value to the site, so it will stay as is unless a true business case is made.

Think of the tens of thousands of users who stumble upon this site via Google searches. They may be disinclined to add their two cents to a thread if there is a reminder on every post of how long ago the conversation had taken place. For those potential new members, the time stamp may be more off-putting than helpful.

bonus's avatar

@fireside Yet, there are new users on here asking for just that.

fireside's avatar

@bonus – there will always be people who want things differently. That is not a business case.

bonus's avatar

@fireside Really? Do you work for Fluther? Are you speaking for them? Businesses that respond positively and creatively to user input are the only ones going to survive in the times ahead.

SirBailey's avatar

@andrew , it’s actually no more circular then saying NOT putting timestamps encourages responding to older questions.

I strongly disagree. I say most people look at the “asked 11 hours ago” as their deciding factor as to how old a question is and whether they think it’s worthwhile answering.

Furthermore, if you think timestamping answers will deter people from answering older questions, then why do you time stamp the QUESTION at all? I assure you, anyone that wouldn’t respond if they saw the last comment posted was old, is the SAME PERSON not responding because the QUESTION is old!

If you think that putting timestamps on posts is a negative, then you HAVE to think putting timestamps on QUESTIONS is a negative for the same reasons. No?

Dare I say it? Look at Askville. They have timestamps on their posts and it’s NOT cluttered.

fireside's avatar

@bonus – No, I don’t work for Fluther or speak for them. But I do know that we are not the primary income source for Fluther. How much money do you think you have added to Fluther’s operating capital?

Just because some people with free accounts want something and post about it doesn’t mean that the company should spend the time, money and effort to redesign and reprogram their website when they are a profitable business and have larger goals for expanding Fluther’s functionality.

fireside's avatar

@SirBailey – Considering that over the past six months Fluther has averaged 48,500 page-views per day, I would say that Andrew and Ben are doing a perfectly fine job of running their business.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

I vote for dates and times.

bonus's avatar

@fireside I am sorry but is Fluther the main business you are speaking of? Because, if so, we the owners of these free accounts are generating the only content on this site. Funny how the bulk of the resistance is coming from more senior users. Not an easy force to contend with for a noob who is just trying to figure out why. I am aware that other sites request and receive user input. I still don’t see any real reason why this minor change would be a problem for anyone.

Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be enough traffic yet on Fluther to warrant anyone just working around this with a simple GreaseMonkey script or something. I really don’t care if others don’t like it. I am just asking why it isn’t offered.

walterallenhaxton's avatar

What a bunch of potato brains.

bonus's avatar

@walterallenhaxton I upvoted you for a terrific phrase.

fireside's avatar

@bonus – Simply put, it isn’t offered because it was a design decision to not have them added to every post so as to reduce the number of repetitive elements on each page. I think johnpowell’s solution for a tool tip is the best one in terms of appearance, but it would still bloat the code. Yet if they were to add the dates, but then people would complain about why they had to mouseover the permalink to see the dates.

If you see more resistance from people who have been on the site longer, it is because they have seen this question come up before and still continue to see activity on old questions from new people. So it clearly hasn’t deterred everyone from adding their input when they find a thread that interests them.

Not sure what you mean by Fluther doesn’t have enough traffic.
442,400 visitors and 1,400,000 page views per month seems pretty significant to me.

bonus's avatar

@fireside I agree with most of what you just said. Still, if it is an old or irritating question to you, why pay any attention to it?

I will imagine that it is possible that the code bloat is a real issue as you are not the first to mention it. Does healthy growth of any social site eventually lead to these kinds of growing pains? I wonder.

Traffic wise, I just mean that the bigger a site gets, the more user scripts people author for their own use of sites. This is true of other social media sites like facebook, youtube, etc. where users just got sick of waiting and tweak their browsers using things like Greasemonkey (for those who may not know about it).

Lastly, out of curiosity, where do you get those statistics? I was trying to figure out earlier, on Alexa, how many people are using Fluther and never came across that. I am, in no way, a savvy guy when it comes to internet traffic analysis. It would be nice to know.

Thanks.

fireside's avatar

@bonus – The question doesn’t annoy me, I am just offering up answers that have come up in previous discussions about this issue. It does seem funny to see this question now when I just read new posts this week from at least 6 different threads which were initiated in October of last year.

Andrew posted this link to Quantcast before which I occasionally refer back to for traffic stats.

bonus's avatar

@fireside Ok. Maybe I am trying to hard to stand some kind of ground for some weird reason and I am the one who is getting cranky. Really, I just care about making things better.

That quantcast site is amazing thanks for that.

Response moderated
Response moderated
fireside's avatar

@SirBailey – Huh? Can you provide a bit more context to your flame?
Which of my comments was incredibly stupid?

I’ve got a pretty full life outside of Fluther. Maybe you need to examine why you have a need to attack people personally over a forum post. Why do you think you’re getting so upset over someone answering a question about personal preferences?

Dr_C's avatar

@SirBailey and @fireside let’s try to keep it civil guys… no need to get worked up over something so simple. In the grand scheme of things adding or committing a time-stamp really won’t make a difference so why get so pissed? let’s all just move on shall we?

DeanV's avatar

Flame war at 11:30 AM PDT June 19th 2009…

SirBailey's avatar

@fireside, all of them.

fireside's avatar

@SirBailey – ok, I’ll just close down my account since my comments seem to irritate you. Sorry to offer a more business oriented perspective to your personal desire to change someone else’s website.

SirBailey's avatar

…Including your last one.

DeanV's avatar

Sometimes the term “Incredibly stupid” is relative…

Dr_C's avatar

@dverhey i agree… i think we all have AT LEAST one incredibly stupid relative.

SirBailey's avatar

and other times it’s right on the money.

SuperMouse's avatar

@SirBailey I’m not a mod, but in the midst of one of the most beautiful moments in Fluther history, maybe even the history of the internet, I ask you, flame off please.

DeanV's avatar

Excellent point SuperMouse. Why am I even bothering with this shit? Get over it. Move on.

SirBailey's avatar

@SuperMouse, WAY TO GO!!! And this is your lucky day! I take GREAT honeymoon pics!! Call me!!! :)

SuperMouse's avatar

@SirBailey whathefluther and sccrowell got married, but I’ll keep your card handy for my own impending nuptials!

fireside's avatar

@SuperMouse – ooh, I didn’t even see this yet. Thanks for the link!

SirBailey's avatar

@SuperMouse, I think, if your nuptials are imploding, you better see a doctor.

Ivan's avatar

Everyone knows the best business model is to never experiment with new features and always stick with tried and true ways just for the sake of it.

fireside's avatar

Especially when your revenue is dependent on the code being indexed well.

DeanV's avatar

Of course they experiment with new features. Remember answers on profiles? The @Ivan tags wouldn’t exist if they followed your business model.

Just because they won’t do this doesn’t mean they never experiment.

Ivan's avatar

@fireside

From what I understand (maybe someone could correct me), quips are already time stamped such that mods can view when an answer was posted. My experience with computer programing is admittedly short, but I can’t imagine outputting a variable that is already stored would muck things up too badly. So far none of the arguments from Andrew have had anything to do with logistical problems.

@dverhey

I didn’t say that. Fireside wanted an argument from a business perspective. Choosing not to implement a helpful feature is not an effective business strategy, especially when the most prominent competing argument is “the owner of the site has decided not to, and that’s that.”

richardhenry's avatar

@Ivan It’s a design and intent hurdle, not a technical one.

Tink's avatar

WTF are you guys arguing about anyways?

richardhenry's avatar

@Tink1113 What are you referring to?

Tink's avatar

Idk everything

Ivan's avatar

I don’t know everything either.

fireside's avatar

@Ivan – lol
@Tink1113 – the question at hand is whether or not a business should capitulate to whiny users who don’t understand their decisions. No real resolution here. If a change is made there will just be something new to whine about.

richardhenry's avatar

@fireside To be clear, making suggestions and pining for changes isn’t necessarily being whiny. We use the service, and while we don’t get to say what happens, as someone who runs a software company—user feedback is important and helps us come up with some of our best ideas and realize what’s important.

fireside's avatar

@richardhenry – I agree, it isn’t always whiny. Depends on the approach. I thought bonus was genuinely interested. Maybe I’m just reacting to being cussed out for my opinion.

andrew's avatar

[mod says]: Removed some snark.

Ah yes. The old feature battle.

The issue with time stamps is one of extra space. We’re very conservative with real estate here since we don’t want to clutter things up—and that design is one of the big reasons we’re popular, so yes, it is a business decision.

There’s also the issue of encouraging discussion on old questions—and that, for better or worse, is largely due to the fact that people don’t notice that questions are old (despite the fact that questions are dated)—especially google users who sign up to answer old questions. So yes, that’s a business decision as well.

Finally, there’s the fact that many, many people I’ve talked to, for the majority of the time, don’t notice or care about it.

Now. That said, I think JP’s solution is quite elegant. So elegant, in fact, that we just pushed it to the site.

One thing to note for the future is that we don’t usually listen to feature requests—since 95% of the time it’s design by committee, and that doesn’t really work. We do however, pay close close attention to problems people have on the site—like the fact that JP hasn’t cleared out his questions for you—and that’s something that we can much more productively address since we can craft a solution that works with all the other parts of the site.

Now lurve me out, folks. I want my 10K party. With ponies and kittens.

Ivan's avatar

Hurrah!

AstroChuck's avatar

I don’t recall any kittens. I like kitties too. :(

DeanV's avatar

Sweet. I like that. But you’ve got a little while until 10K eh?

bonus's avatar

@andrew Thanks for the input. I, unfortunately, must be very brief as I need to dash out to another meeting. I may add more later.

You have pushed this to the site? This is great. Can you expand on this?

For the record, this discussion has been unfairly derided as “whiny” which is not constructive at all. In fact, it is quite hostile. Not to compare, but other websites have made improvements based on just these types of healthy vigorous discussions. I have witnessed these improvements over the years with the Gmail interface, Reddit.com and others. My own belief is users prefer to think that they are intelligent enough to handle information in contemporary society and that it is a tricky highwire dance to strip away functionality that is being repeatedly requested by large amounts of people. Some will respond well to this “simplicity.” Others may not appreciate it and see it more as an insulting dumbing down.

I had no idea this would be a “battle.” I would have totally whussed out and not asked about it if I had known that would be the case. I would suggest, to prevent this unnecessary back-and-forth in the future, why not just post a little blurb on it in the FAQ section? I kept half expecting someone to direct me to just such a blurb. If it already exists, my apologies and, let’s definitely post it here.

Special thanks to everyone who contributed positively to what might have a lasting improved effect on a site so many of us love so much.

Ivan's avatar

@bonus

Check the permalink buttons.

fireside's avatar

@AstroChuck – Here’s a couple of kittens for you

@andrew – Nice job! You’ll have to share the kittens, but I found you some ponies

@bonus – As I said, I thought you approached the subject in a perfectly rational manner – this is what I would call hostile

bonus's avatar

@fireside Yeah, yeah. You and @SirBailey need to figure out a way to bury the hatchet. I am curious what @dynamicduo said that got removed by the moderators! Too bad I couldn’t be paying attention to the whole process live today. Spicy.

fireside's avatar

@bonus – no big deal. He’s acting just like someone else who used to complain about the same issue and write in all caps for emphasis. I’m not that bothered by it now that I am done working and got to spend time with my fiance tonight.

Edited to avoid the impression I was spending time with my finance on a Friday night : )

bonus's avatar

@fireside I believe you are both guilty of being unfair to one another. That is all. I hope you meant fiance. That sounds way more fun. Enjoy your weekend.

AstroChuck's avatar

@fireside Thanks. I needed that.

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