Subject headings

When replying, if you leave the subject field blank the current default is to take the first n characters of your post and make that the subject. Alternatively, you can supply your own subject.

This leads to a mix of comments using both approaches. I would like to read the subject if the user supplied their own. However, if the user did not supply their own, I end up reading the same thing twice, which takes me out of my "flow".

Would it be possible to have the default subject be the same as the previous subject, with an "Re: " prepended? That would be a good visual cue when reading, to make it easy to skip over them.

Note that I'm not advocating in any way whether people supply their own subjects or not. It's nice to have both options and let the user choose.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

makes sense

Setting the subject field to the replied-to comment with "Re:" prefixed would be ideal. People would be free to change it if they wish to of course. Starting off with it blank is rather odd and something I've not seen before.

It grew on me. When we first

It grew on me.

When we first migrated to Drupal, I found this behaviour strange, but I got used to it. In fact, I often begin my posts with a line that I think will serve as a good title...

More opinions, anyone?


Personally, I prefer to think of a title, since it forces me to find a way to summarize my main idea in a way that will entice people to read the rest.

But I don't mind the current behaviour.

Problem with automatic titles

The main problem with having automatic titles (where it is assigned "re: {previous title}) is that most of the time people will not change it, even if the subject is no longer fitting. By forcing the poster to enter a title, this forces a re-thinking of if the current subject title still fits. This is demonstrated by comparing discussios on sites that have one behaviour or the other.

This is the first message board where I've seen this particular format. What would be nice is to have hand-entered titles distinguished from automatic titles, so that the reader knows to skip reading the title.

This post just gave me a stance in this question

This post just gave me a stance in this question. I'm (now) against changing the current behaviour. I do agree that many people would just stick to the "re: title" titles, if that were the default. However, derekp is, in my opinion, completely off when he says, "this forces a re-thinking of if the current subject title still fits". It is very rare for LtU replies to reuse previous reply titles -at all- (repliers don't even think to). As well as being more interesting than just a bunch of "re: foo" titles, it makes it much easier to evaluate/skim/search a reply/thread as the post titles tend to be relevant to the content of the post. Relating to another thread, they are used as mini-teasers to the replies. Even just taking the first "line" is, as it currently is, preferable to me (now) then "re: title" would be. The only thing I wouldn't mind being changed, is if it was a bit smarter and took the first sentence/line rather than whatever it's current algorithm is.

Skipping blockquotes in the

Skipping blockquotes in the process would be a good idea, too.

Code welcome

The Drupal PHP code in question can be found here (look for the _comment_form_submit function[*]). If anyone would like to submit improved PHP code that does basic, uncontroversial things like e.g. remove blockquotes, we'll install it. Any more sophisticated enhancements should probably be discussed first.

[*] Note that this is a later version than we're currently using, but I believe the only change is the condition which results in a "(No subject)" title.

I think we are in agreement...

What I was commenting on was the effects of the two subject styles based on my observations of other message boards -- the ones that automatically fill in "re: subject" tend to have less creative subject titles than the boards that require the user to manually fill in the subject field. LtU is the only site I've been on that will use the first few words of a message as a subject if none is provided. I do agree that this is far better than an automatic "re: blah" subject field. I haven't formed an opinion yet though if it is better than no automatic subject at all (i.e., always require the user to enter a subject line). But in the case of LtU, it probably isn't an issue, as the members here tend to write much more thought out replies as a general rule, including putting in an apropriate subject where applicable.

The only thing I would change is maybe an indicator to notify the reader if the subject was manually entered, to make for a better flow.

Subject line marker

Can we have something less obtrusive than three bright red asterisks? I don't know about anyone else, but I find them very distracting. Surely the content of the post is more important than the fact that it happens to have a user-edited subject line. Perhaps just keep them the same colour as the subject line (i.e. blue) - that way the don't jump out of the page at you.


These are meant to mark unread messages. This was an added feature users requested, and was obtrusive on purpose.

My bad - that's actually

My bad - that's actually really useful - I'll go back to lurking...