|Post Order in Threads|
Right-side up or upside down?
Those of us that hang out here are used to reading posts with the oldest shown first. Quite a number of forums show the newest posts first, however.
I admit I'm partial to the oldest first, perhaps since that's a natural reading style. You certainly wouldn't want to read a novel or a textbook with the final paragraph first, then the second last one, etc.
Nevertheless, new-posts-on-top forums certainly have supporters. Can anyone make a good case for this based on usability or other factors?
I run a site that has only newest first. This is perfect for those who want only the 'latest scoop'.
It's usually a lunch-hour 'hit and run', but it works and I can't get the folks to go over to the ACTUAL forum where it's the opposite.
The trick here is that they want the LATEST news...not a conversation.
I believe a site would do better if both were available.
IF you are doing your website correct justice, then most people won't enter via the index.html. If so, then you need to give them what they want in a respectable manner and get the point across quickly. If not, they leave.
When you do give them the latest, the may tend to hang around and actually visit your index page...and that's where the fun begins. (Seen it happen...watch your logs.)
Someone around here once said:
"What home page?"
Every page (even a forum thread) is potentially the landing page for your website via a search.
Make it exciting...make it NOW.
I do NOT like "oldest first" fora. I don't have ANY need to reread all the previous stuff, and it's a MAJOR PITA to have to scroll down EVERY TIME someone posts to an existing thread.
Along with that, if you're so antiquated that you can't write or use board-ware which does "newest first", the very LEAST you could provide would be an icon or other clickable to go straight to the "last/latest post" in the topic....
[Edit: oh, btw, rogerd - I ALWAYS read the last page of any book first. If it doesn't "end right", I'm not going to pay good money for it.]
Let the user decide in their preferences.
I prefer to see the oldest first, but if possible, I'd prefer to offer users the choice.
|I ALWAYS read the last page of any book first |
I guess suspense novels aren't your thing, eh, vkaryl? ;)
rogerd: I love good mysteries, but "suspense" novels drive me round the bend....
Another person's idea of suspense generally misses all bets with me, whether or not I read the last page first.
Besides, reading the last page first only tells you how it ends, not how it got there to begin with.... I'm a writer - believe me, they are NOT one and the same....
Since starting this topic, I've paid a bit more attention to what other forums do. Sometimes it seems a bit random, but here are my observations:
1) Forums dedicated to problem-solving usually use oldest-first. This allows a new visitor to read the problem statement and follow the evolution of the solution.
2) Forums with "permanent" threads, or long threads that mostly consist of observations, newest-first makes sense. For example, a bird-watching forum might have geographic topics organized by state, then by locations within that state. Assuming that no individual sighting would raise a huge discussion (justifying its own thread), it would make sense to let visitors just append their latest observations. Sure, you might get a few consecutive posts that form a conversation at times, but mostly you'd have individual posts forming the thread/topic. In this case, presenting the visitor with the newest first is far more useful.
(I don't care much for permanent threads except for special purposes - on some forums, I've seen threads many hundreds of posts long with the oldest post being a couple of years older than the new one. These are difficult to read and can make searching difficult. Not great from an SEO standpoint, either.)
In fact, most forums are a mix of post types. Even here, for example, we have many problem solving posts ("My CSS Border Doesn't Show Up"), and so observational threads that can get very long (Google Update Threads).
As a few members have suggested, user choice is the best situation - if a user is used to one format, it will be easiest to stay with that format regardless of the kind of post. If that's not technically possible, then the forum designer needs to analyze the style of posts and choose the most sensible approach.
|(I don't care much for permanent threads except for special purposes - on some forums, I've seen threads many hundreds of posts long with the oldest post being a couple of years older than the new one. These are difficult to read and can make searching difficult. Not great from an SEO standpoint, either.) |
This is an almost "verbatim" description of role-play threads....
[edited by: rogerd at 2:09 pm (utc) on July 20, 2004]
[edit reason] Typo repair [/edit]
Post order really has to do with the type of forum and the type of topic. I find that oldest post first makes me at least skim through the progression of the post. Showing the first post first is better at keeping the thread on topic. Often I'll find myself wanting to respond to a post, but the oldest post first order leads me to read through the posts and see if my response has already been said. Often threads can become cyclical, where someone will make a point and then someone will contradict their point. Then the person with the first point will just restate their point and the topic will have gone nowhere. If you read this last post first, you may just respond to that post. I may not be making much sense, but I believe I have a point in there somewhere.
I think you should at least prepare your forum to be able to change the sort order. Even if you don't give your users the option, you should make sure you can later in the game.