View Full Version : Idleness causes unread threads/posts to be marked as read?

December 8, 2011, 05:58 AM
If I'm browsing TFL and have to take care of something IRL, when I eventually return, previously unread threads and posts will all be marked as read as soon as I start browsing again.

What can cause this, and how can I prevent it? It seems to happen independently of the browser I use, and it never occurs at THR.

Mal H
December 8, 2011, 11:40 AM
TFL and THR use different options to determine what has been "read" and what hasn't.

Here at TFL it is time dependent as you said. After a certain period of time (I'm not sure how long it is) or after you have logged off, the assumption is made that you have read everything you wanted to. That's not always a good assumption obviously, but it is often desirable in that all the threads you are not interested in don't keep shouting at you (in the bold font) to read them. This is the scheme most often used in vBulletin forums.

At THR, each member has a data base listing of the threads they have read or not. It takes a lot more storage space, but the "read" state of the threads doesn't change until you actually open the thread or press one of the "Mark Forums Read" buttons (or double click on a single forum's icon which will mark it as read).

Different methods, and each has it's good points and bad points. For what it's worth, we had more complaints at THR when the "read" scheme was changed than we ever had there before or ever had here using the current method. For that reason, I haven't broached the subject here at TFL. We could use the data base method also, but it may not go over well.

December 8, 2011, 11:56 AM
I much prefer the current way that TFL handles this.


Mal H
December 8, 2011, 12:05 PM
"If you're seeking input ..."

I am. If anyone else has an opinion on it, speak up.

December 8, 2011, 01:01 PM
Kill the time out.
My vote is when finished reading and ready to exit then mark all fourms read.

I sometimes get distracte Oh! look a kitten, before finished reading all threads. A PITA to have to search a thread all the way through to find first unread.


Al Norris
December 8, 2011, 02:04 PM
Mal, IIRC, we tried it that way a couple of years ago.

I don't quite remember who all was complaining, but it wasn't me. I liked the other way.

An example, I'm watching the House Justice Committee w/Holder and during the voting breaks, even though I haven't refreshed my browser, if I click on a link to the ATF F&F thread, I have to scroll backwords to view the posts that were made, while I was watching.

I would much prefer to click on the last viewed button and actually be taken to my last viewed post in a thread.

It is no real bother to click on the "Mark This Forum Read" from the Forum Tools drop down, when any forum gets more unread posts than I care to read.

Added Thought: Yes, it may take a few weeks for everyone to get acclimatized, but this happens whenever change is introduced, whether it is this option or an upgrade to the forum software itself.

December 8, 2011, 04:30 PM
Agreed. If I haven't read it, it shouldn't be marked as such.

Mike Irwin
December 8, 2011, 05:28 PM
I prefer it as it is now, but could the "idle" period be lengthened?

In my opinion, it should mark everything read if you've been idle on the forums for 2 hours or more.

As it is now, I think it's about 15 minutes.

Mal H
December 8, 2011, 05:51 PM
It's 20 minutes, but if it is made longer then other, far more serious, consequences start popping up. One of them being that it really skews the active users statistics. That may sound trivial, but it isn't.

vBulletin should have made the two parameters separate functions, but they didn't - 'magin that!

Mike Irwin
December 8, 2011, 06:06 PM
Aye, for God's sakes...

Had I thought about that for just a second, I'd have known that it wouldn't be possible.

I swear to God that when the VBulletin development team was planning this software they did their relationship planning by parking a bunch of drunken monkeys in a room with a bottle of tequila, a box of darts, and feature names on the walls.

Paint function names on the monkeys, and any dart they throw that sticks to the feature on the wall, well, that function and that feature are now interrelated.

If a monkey goes wild and shreds one or more of the features? Hell, we don't need those in the software!

And, actually, one or more monkeys dying at the hands (paws?) of their compatriots would handily explain the lack of some functions you'd expect to see in software like this...

Shane Tuttle
December 9, 2011, 07:30 AM
I don't like the current state. My vote is to have it the way THR is set up.

December 9, 2011, 11:39 AM
I would cast a vote for the THR style also, if asked. :)

December 9, 2011, 11:45 PM
We did try it once before...

in which TFL valiantly changed to persistent read-state tracking (http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=337650)

in which most voters hated it so it was changed back to vbulletin's default (http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=338229)

Mal H
December 10, 2011, 12:01 AM
I didn't recall the exact outcome of the experiment, but it sort of mirrors what the early days of it were like at THR.

Worth repeating:
We could use the data base method also, but it may not go over well.

However, it's not nearly as bad as those reactions would indicate. There was some hyperbole from several members for sure! Those who are now used to it at THR know that it definitely has its good points.

Mike Irwin
December 10, 2011, 08:11 AM
Another one of the boards I'm on uses the persistent state method, if that's what it's called.

I'M OK with either one, actually. And, in some ways, I've come to like the persistent state.

December 10, 2011, 11:30 AM
As a newbie and not having experienced 'the other way,' nevertheless I would cast a vote for the THR style also. For instance, my Internet was down four days this week and I now have 822 unread messages on this site. Even though I got the Internet back Thursday, I'm just now logging in here because this is the first time I can hope to have an hour or so to myself and I know that if I'm interrupted while I'm here, I'll lose the 'New Posts.' But I'll work with whatever you decide.

December 10, 2011, 12:22 PM
I figured out how to work it last time, but a lot of people didn't. I'm sure they would have, its not like its hard, just confusing when things are suddenly and unexpectedly different.

How about an announcement with a short primer.

When someone logs on after not visiting in a while, clicks the new posts button and has 40 pages of a 1000 unread threads, they might get confused, irritated, etc, start complaining and PMing mods. If instead they knew right away, that you can mark all forums read and then click new posts button and have a manageable amount of recent activity, it might make the transition much easier.

January 23, 2012, 06:18 AM
I was actually about to post a question about this. My answer was not in the FAQs.

Luckily I'm one of those who would rather read 10 pages before asking a question someone may have already answered.

My first ever forum was THR (Summer 2k11). I've read millions of posts, some of them years old. I've heard several people mention TFL and finally wandered in here.

If you're seeking input ..."

I am. If anyone else has an opinion on it, speak up.

Since you asked.

I spend a ton of time reading on THR, because it always seems so busy.
TFL seems dead. I hit "New Posts" and only 6 items? I end up going back to THR where there are so many open threads.

I've already quit reading some threads (on TFL) because I did not remember where I left off yesterday.

I changed my settings to 10 posts per page on THR so I would not accidently skip too far ahead if I did not make it to the bottom of the page.

I was completely baffled about why it kept taking me to the very last post when I clicked "View First Unread". (on TFL)

If you keep it the way you have it, you should change that to:
"View First Unread - in the last 20 minutes"

EDIT: The TFL old-timers seem to like it this way, I dont want to mess up someone elses good thing. BUT the poll only had 39 replies, that seems like a small sample to me. I dont know how many users TFL has.

Either way, this isnt my house, so I'll follow the "house rules". Just my .02

Al Norris
January 24, 2012, 12:41 PM
It is my habit to open the forum to the main index. I then open tabs to the sub forums I'm interested in reading. After that, I go to the last tab opened and then open a thread in another tab.

Many of the threads have posts which contain links to other sites. OK. I go to that site (in a new window), read the information and usually, I get one or more links to yet more sites that contain info I want to read.

By the time I close all those other windows, I go on to read the next thread.

I've just spent more than my 20 minutes of alloted time and the next thread takes me to the "last read post." ... Only several people have made posts while I was "entertained" elsewhere. So I get taken to the last post of the thread.

Now I have to manually browse back up to where I remember reading the actual last post, in order to read what was posted since I was actually online last and while I was away (at other sites).

If we had persistent read-state tracking. I (and by extension, you) wouldn't have to fiddle with all this. I could simply click on the next thread and be where I should be. No fuss, no muss.

It isn't at all hard to click on "Forum Tools" to get to the "Mark This Forum Read" button, when I'm done.

For those of you that use the "New Posts" function, read what you want and then go back to the index and select "Mark Forums Read" when you are done. The next time you are here, only the new posts (since you were last here) will be shown.

Mike Irwin
January 24, 2012, 01:16 PM
TFL isn't dead, but it's certainly not as busy as THR.

I think in part that's because much of our original crowd never came back after TFL reopened a few years ago, and I like to think that most of our members are somewhat more measured in what they say, what they post, and when they post.

Mal H
January 24, 2012, 01:41 PM
Well, it's hardly a quorum of members, but it appears that the preponderance of members who responded here want to go to the persistent method of keeping track of read threads. (It was 9 to 1 in favor of changing.)

So, we'll give it a try again. Maybe it will be received a little better this time.

Al Norris
January 24, 2012, 01:59 PM
Mal, if you (we) go that route, we need to make an announcement, else confusion will arise, again.

Mal H
January 24, 2012, 01:59 PM
I have put up a notice concerning the change. Every registered member should see it at least once. After you dismiss it, it won't be shown to you again.

For those who missed it (that would include moderators), here is a copy for future reference:

Notice - TFL is changing the method we use to keep track of threads you have read. We are going to the "persistent" method. This means that any thread you have not actually opened will continue to be listed as unread (title will be bold) until you actually read it or you manually mark the forum(s) as all read.

Previously, any thread that you had not read would have been changed to read after a certain time period of inactivity.

You can mark a forum as read several ways. While viewing the forum's list of threads, pull down the Forum Menu and select "Mark This Forum Read". While viewing the main page (list of all forums), you can double click on the leftmost icon next to the forum (looks like a scope reticle). To mark all the forums as read all at once, click on "Mark Forums Read" at the bottom of the forum listing, or pull down the Quick Links menu and select "Mark Forums Read".

Due to the manner the function appears to operate when it is first turned on, you will probably see threads you may have already read marked as unread. We suggest that you initially mark all forums as read to get around this problem. After that, the function should work as described.

Even though the thread marking will appear to be persistent, there is a three day limit to thread and forum marking as read. That is, if a forum goes for three days without the member having read all threads in it, the threads older than three days old will be marked as read. The assumption is that the member has no interest in those threads if they went for three days without opening it.

If you have any questions on the operation of this function, please ask them in the Tech Support forum in this thread: http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=471059

Mike Irwin
January 24, 2012, 02:50 PM

It's showing messages that I read to the middle of last week as NOT having been read.

Messages before that ARE showing as having been read.

January 24, 2012, 02:57 PM
Mark all forums read Mike, then start over, it will look a lot better.

Mike Irwin
January 24, 2012, 03:08 PM
Yep, I did.

It was just what, and how far back, it was being shown that wasn't meshing up with what Mal was saying.

Mal H
January 24, 2012, 03:51 PM
That's because Mal doesn't know all the nuances of how the function works. I'll add a suggestion to the notice that members mark all forums read to begin with.

Mike Irwin
January 24, 2012, 05:39 PM
"Mal doesn't know all the nuances of how the function works."

My faith in my fearless leader is shattered.

January 24, 2012, 06:01 PM
Helpful how to video.

*video* How to mark all forums read with one fell swoop. (http://screencast.com/t/S6f2ru7tiB90) *video*

January 24, 2012, 08:25 PM
Here's my problem. The threads which I have responded to seem to be marked as unread even though I have read them subsequently and there are no new posts..
Is this just a change over thing or is this going to continue? I'd prefer they be marked as read until there is a new post.

For threads I haven't responded to I don't care if they're marked read or not. I can read a thread title either way.

Al Norris
January 24, 2012, 11:02 PM
Buzzcook, the quickest way to update all your cookies, is to mark the entire forum as read.

At the main index page, at the very bottom of the forum listings, you will see 2 options in the blue bar: Mark Forums Read View Forum Leaders

Click on the "Mark Forums Read" option.

Aguila Blanca
January 25, 2012, 11:34 AM
Buzzcook, the quickest way to update all your cookies, is to mark the entire forum as read.

At the main index page, at the very bottom of the forum listings, you will see 2 options in the blue bar: Mark Forums Read View Forum Leaders

Click on the "Mark Forums Read" option.
How does this help? And what if I have NOT read the entire forum? I want to see what's new since my last visit ... which is the way TFL worked until Tuesday (Jan 24), and the way every other vBulletin forum I have ever encountered works.

If the problem is that the unread bolding was expiring before people read threads, simply due to inactivity, you have used napalm to try to eliminate a gnat. Unread posts/threads don't self-expire on other vBulletin forums, no matter how long I walk away from the computer ... as long as I don't log off. But I have never had to manually mark anything as read.

Why would I mark as read something that I have not read? Seems rather counter-intuitive to me.

January 25, 2012, 03:08 PM
This board is functioning pretty much exactly as The High Road does.

Here is a tip, I marked all forums read on my last visit. When I visited today, I clicked New Posts. All of the New Posts since my last visit are contained within those results. If I open a thread, then go back to the New post results that thread will be eliminated from those results, until someone makes a new post.

Lets say one is reading through the various pages of New Posts and they're on page 4 and open a thread. Now you want to start reading the new posts from where you left off and not from the beginning, just hit the back button.

Also, the easiest way to keep up with threads you are very interested in,has always been to Subscribe to them.

7.62 Nato
February 22, 2012, 09:50 PM
This is my first sign on since implimented. I'm looking forward to reading TFL this way. It was always irritating if i was slow, or distracted to come back to no new threads. I'm used to this style on other boards.

Thank you very much.