Blogpost "Temperature"?

Brians Latest Comments is the plugin I use for the “Ongoing Discussions” area in the sidebar. It has a comment temperature feature, meaning a recent comment is shown as opaque, while an old comment is more transparent in look. Thus it’s quick to see what’s new and what’s not.

So why isn’t this feature being used for blogposts? I could easily imagine the temperature color being used for the headline color, or on my fauna site for the post background color… Would it be confusing? Detrimental? Useless? Or are people just as lazy as I am, and don’t want to spend the time coding such a plugin?

12 thoughts on “Blogpost "Temperature"?”

  1. To be honest I think it would be a novelty feature (if I understand what you’re saying). The kind of thing you base a site around, which a certain crowd then ‘gets’ and everyone else is like “Well, that’s different…”.

    In a listing, I think we more easily grok numbers than colors in the same spectrum.

    What do you think?

  2. Joen says:

    To be honest I think it would be a novelty feature (if I understand what you?re saying). The kind of thing you base a site around, which a certain crowd then ?gets? and everyone else is like ?Well, that?s different…?.

    Yeah, good point. Unless the implementation visually communicates age (which, as you mention, can be tricky with color alone), people won’t get it.

    In a listing, I think we more easily grok numbers than colors in the same spectrum.

    What do you think?

    Just making sure I’m understanding you.. you mean we more easily interpret the written date of a post, than by color? Completely agree.

    Still… the reason “comment temperature” works for Brians Latest Comments is because it’s non-intrusive, helps the in-crowd, and doesn’t particularly confuse those not part of the in-crowd. Now what if it was possible to implement this elegantly with posts as well?

    Then on the other hand, you might just end up with an un-evenly spaced top-down gradient…

    Here’s a quick mockup:

  3. Chris says:

    You’ve no idea how uncanny the timing of this posting is.

    I like the idea if for no other reason than the novelty but as I’ve stated before I’m averse to dating posts. In fact, I’ve so de… what’s the word… not degraded… devalued? the dates for my own posts that you have to be looking hard to find the date of publication. In fact, I had to check just now to be sure I actually showed post dates.

    As for how to implement this I suppose you could create a number of classes and then used some if statements and some counting (which I’ve never figured out) backwards from present.

    pseudocode:

    if { the_date = present_date }

    echo (‘class=”present”‘);

    elseif { the_date == (present_date – 1_day) }

    echo (‘class=”presentMinusOne”);

    etc…

    That seems simple enough. You’d just have to get someone smarter than me to do the PHP as, obviously, I shouldn’t be allowed near a terminal.

  4. Jonas Rabbe says:

    It could also be used in lists of entries, for example the 10 most recent list Chris has on his page for the different categories. The temperature thing could easily be “swiped” from the latest comments plugin, the question is then how to add it to the code. I’ll have to think about that…

  5. I don’t think it makes much sense to use temperature on for instance the frontpage, like in your mockup Joen. But perhaps on a search page, where the results are listed by relevance?

    Or perhaps if the titles of the entries in Brian’s Latest Comments were temperature coded, it would make it easier to see how old the entry is vs. how long the conversation has been going.

    In short: Anywhere where the listing isn’t chronological.

    IMHO of course.

  6. PS: For invader I actually mocked up a temperature’d listing of recent entries for the bottom of the column. Never got around to implementing it though.

  7. Joen says:

    Chris said:

    pseudocode:

    if { the_date = present_date }

    echo (?class=?present??);

    elseif { the_date == (present_date – 1_day) }

    echo (?class=?presentMinusOne?);

    etc…

    The pseudo code should work just fine. Other ideas would be to use the “temperature” for the height or width of a div, hence creating an actual “thermometer”. We’re of course not discussing usability now, rather just possibility.

    Jonas Rabbe said:

    It could also be used in lists of entries, for example the 10 most recent list Chris has on his page for the different categories. The temperature thing could easily be ?swiped? from the latest comments plugin, the question is then how to add it to the code. I?ll have to think about that…

    How about this having the function show_post_temperature() echo out

    style="background-color: rgb(x,x,x) "

    That way you could apply it to most anything.

    You could then add arguments, i.e. show_post_temperature("color") would change the text color rather than the background color.

    That said, like Michael, I’ve not yet convinced myself I want to use it for anything just yet. I’m just throwing it out there to see if it floats

    .Michael Heilemann said:

    I don?t think it makes much sense to use temperature on for instance the frontpage, like in your mockup Joen. But perhaps on a search page, where the results are listed by relevance?

    That’s a great idea. Also, category archives, and all sorts of other archives, and why not comments?

    Usability wise, we could compare it to heat maps like the one used on Google Mars with a legend and all? (I know, it’s a stretch).

    Or perhaps if the titles of the entries in Brian?s Latest Comments were temperature coded, it would make it easier to see how old the entry is vs. how long the conversation has been going.

    In short: Anywhere where the listing isn?t chronological.

    While that might work, I’m wondering if it wouldn’t just confuse something which is already quite complex…

    IMHO of course.

    I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  8. Chris says:

    I?m just throwing it out there to see if it floats

    So far, it appears to be bobbing.

    I just love the fact that we’re discussing a feature that, as yet, none of us is sure we would ever actually use.

    I agree with Heilemann on not bothering where chronology is concerned. Relevance on the other hand might be handy. At the least, visually nifty.

  9. Joen says:

    Nifty yes, and I for one am sure some people will use it. I just want to make sure it’s not a REALLY bad idea, usability wise, so we don’t unleash some kind of plague on weblogs.

    I just visited Chris J. Davis website, and with this temperature thing in mind, I thought his “latest post has a blue background” worked pretty well…

    Perhaps comment temperature could be implemented in a somewhat similar fashion, i.e. the latest post is opaque, the second latest is slighty grayed in temperature, and all posts later than that have the same style…

    Edit: Then again, if that was all we needed, a plugin would be overkill probably.

  10. I always thought that a bit odd on Chris’ site. I mean, it’s obviously at the top anyway… If anything I think it’s slightly confusing, as my brain tries to figure out whether it’s an entry or not.

  11. Joen says:

    I always thought that a bit odd on Chris? site. I mean, it?s obviously at the top anyway… If anything I think it?s slightly confusing, as my brain tries to figure out whether it?s an entry or not.

    Good point. That’s such an essential part of what a “blog” really is: new stuff is topmost.

    I guess that kills off most usable elements of this idea.

  12. I just love the fact that we?re discussing a feature that, as yet, none of us is sure we would ever actually use.

    Yup me too – and if we wouldn’t use it, who the heck would?

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