Posts which quote other user comments display as "edited" although weren't

Platform: Desktop version, Chrome browser. Process: Click on comment box to write comment. Highlight another user’s comment to choose “quote.” Finish the post. The post reads as being edited. Checking the past version, it reads identically.

First, the bug report category is not for forum bugs, it’s for iNat bugs that iNat developers could fix. If there is a bug with the forum software, the place to report it is https://meta.discourse.org/

Second, this is not a bug, it’s an intentional design choice by the forum software developers. If you quote someone’s post in full, the software will edit your post to remove the quote, and it tells you that in the edit history:

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Okay. I did actually phrase this post as asking a question, not implying I knew the answer (I gave multiple possible causes). I wasn’t aware there was a second section to post forum bugs, I’ll take note. If you so choose to you could delete this post if it’s not needed/in wrong section.

Secondly just my opinion, I’d prefer that no non-edited posts display as edited. Quoting entire posts can be quite lengthy, and divert away from the part of a post one is replying to.

Platform: Website (iNatForum, not iNat)

Browser: all

URLs: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/do-you-think-that-natforum-is-easy-or-difficult-to-use/29864/37

Description of problem: Quoting in comments is done by highlighting someone’s comment and clicking Quote (not by clicking Reply). But maybe 20% of the time the new comment displays as having been edited and doesn’t include the quote.

i’m fairly certain that this has been discussed (with you) before:

below is the the edit history of the post you referenced in your original post (https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/do-you-think-that-natforum-is-easy-or-difficult-to-use/29864/37). note that the top of the window indicates “Automatically removed quote of whole previous post.”:

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Whether that’s so, it still doesn’t make sense for the system to do that so is still worth discussing now (see discussion at the link). Especially given that many full-quotes are very short, as short as an excerpt of a longer quote would be, like in the example I gave. Secondly, it especially doesn’t make sense because a person still can (later, in an edited comment) quote the comment in full that the system earlier didn’t allow them to quote in full. Finally, the original failed-quote makes no sense to display as “edited” because the person didn’t edit it but most people would assume they did.

Whether this topic should change to another category would be fine by me (e.g. Feature Request), but I’d prefer people still discuss issues like this instead of implying “not a bug” is the answer.

I merged these posts since they referred to the same issue. @brian_d I think this would be better directed to the developers of the Discourse platform that iNat uses for its forum. I don’t think this is something that iNat has any control over.

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First, it looks like I did lose track of mentioning this at an earlier time, although that’s understandable given that many people recently mentioned being confused about this and it wasn’t in my opinion adequately explained in the past. To me and many others, there are many reasons why this intentional design choice seems to have many more cons than pros:

  • The comment displays as edited (and most others will assume they edited it) but it wasn’t knowingly edited (by definition).

  • Many quoted-comments are a short single sentence, so there’s little reason why they shouldn’t be able to be quoted in full. Some people even dislike when people excerpt them instead of fully quoting (although I agree long comments aren’t ideal to quote in full).

  • There’s no notice to forum members (before) commenting that/why the system works this way (unless I’m unaware), and so many are confused.

  • The system also allows the same person who it didn’t let quote others in full quote the same comments in full after, and so quoting in full is possible in this system.

In other words there seems many reasons to think this intentional design has little benefit, many downsides, and is generally nonintuitive and confusing, which is what I’d prefer discussion would now focus on.

I’m fine with the merging of the topics. But, two others members have described this as an intentional design of the iNat forum developers, and debated my view on this on iNat forum. Due to this I think it is fair to discuss here at least first, whether or not Discourse developers would be ideal to later contact. This has also been confusing to other members recently.

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a topic that starts off as a bug report is going to have responses that try to analyze the “problem” from the perspective of something not working according to design.

judging by posts over at the Discourse forum, such as this one (https://meta.discourse.org/t/automatically-removed-quote-of-whole-previous-post/114007/19), i gather that admins can control whether this behavior is enabled or not.

whether this forum needs to be configured differently from default i suppose can be debated, but from my perspective, i don’t really have a problem with the default. (i wouldn’t really have a problem with the alternative either, but it’s not really a pressing concern for me either way, and i don’t know that there’s been a strong case made for going with the alternative approach in this forum, though discussion over at the Discourse forum brings up some reasons folks might like that approach.)

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I’ve made the case above, which is what would seem best for people to discuss now.

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Thank you for clarifying! I guess it will be up to iNat staff then whether or not they want to change this.

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i’m fairly certain this is covered explicitly in one of the forum onboarding tutorials. it’s optional whether someone chooses to go through the tutorial. i wouldn’t want the tutorial to be required though. it’s not the responsibility anyone else to force feed you this kind of information.

i don’t know why this matters. personally i don’t really care if posts are edited or not, unless i know that i’ve read the post in an earlier form, or unless it looks like there’s something missing in the post that might have been there in the past (in which case, i know to go look at the history of the post).

It matters because it displays (in the public view without clicking on it) as if the users edited many of their posts which they didn’t intend to edit. Generally, Internet communities seem to regard unedited (and the practice of typically not editing) as more authentic. For example, many users of Reddit or even this forum even indicate in writing if they’ve edited something, for that reason. Put simply, frequently editing causes people to have to read more to understand what a comment says, or to read multiple versions. I’m in no way against editing when applicable though, I just prefer comments only display as edited when they are. I also gave some other reasons above. One is that there seems little reason why we can’t quote a comment in full if it was only a short sentence, and given that that the forum allows quoting in full in subsequent edits (so why not originally?). Since I’ve elaborated on this above I’ll just wait for additional replies, and hope to hear the views of additional people too.

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I’m ambivalent about the auto-deletion of quotes but did experience this and was wondering what was going on. So I’m glad to see it wasn’t my inadvertent doing.

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My two bits if we are discussing this.

I would prefer only the salient parts of the previous post to show up in quotes. Even if every part were addressed, I would rather see it as snippets that are responded to as it helps me follow the reply thought process. I will have read the whole post previously and will click to refresh my memory if it was from a while ago. I do not want to see the whole post in quotes - I have faith and don’t need a repeat of something I have already read. I have felt at times that it was lacking effort when I have seen it on other forums (I can reach back to about 1992 on AOL) and have almost felt it was insulting. Maybe it is just a silver surfer’s knee jerk response to having heard the chatter of a modem with bulked out bandwidth and found out I already have the data coming in when, for me, all of it was not necessary.

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I’d make one distinction between different forums, in that this one is uncommon in not grouping replies next to the replied to-comments (in the view of the page without clicking; if you click you can see the replied to-comment and it is grouped nearby). I agree it’s (typically) best to only include the portion of a comment you’re replying to or else we get confused and have to read too much. But, sometimes that portion you’re replying to simply is the entire comment, because many comments are only one or a few sentences long. Anyway, the drawback with the current system I and other see is it bans all full quotes, including short one-sentence ones. I’d prefer it not ban any, and then people just decide (hopefully) not to usually quote at length. Although it also uncommonly is warranted to quote someone’s long comment, so I consider it as a decision to make on a case by case basis.