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17 February 2012

The Images On/Off Thingie You know the images on/off thing in the top navbar? Do we really still need it? [More:]Also, it's backwards - I just noticed that mine says Images Off even though images are, actually, on and if I toggle it to Images On then they are, you guessed it, off. Confusing! Yet slightly hilarious! Still.

I know it's there because people asked for it back in the day, but I question whether it still needs to exist in the image heavy online world of 2012. Can't we just assume that Metachat is a website with pictures, like so many of them? The toggle button seems to just confuse people more than anything else. Thoughts?
It says off when they're on to indicate that clicking will result in off and vice versa. 'Tis the confusing way of toggle links everywhere.
posted by Obscure Reference 17 February | 20:12
I'll be interested to know what people think. I'm used to this Mecha quirk, so I'm indifferent.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 17 February | 20:12
I say keep it. Sometimes people looking at MeCha in the office don't want a screenful of pictures to open up, even if they are pictures of cute bunnies. Give them the option of turning off the pictures.

What I'd prefer if we're going to change anything is that links open in a new window by default.
posted by Senyar 17 February | 20:23
I never noticed it until mygothlaundry pointed it out on the other thread. Is it mentioned on the wiki and I just missed it? As a newbie, I don't have an issue with it but it seems odd it doesn't control the side pics too.
posted by bluesapphires 17 February | 20:26
Just chiming in: I love having the option to have in-thread images on or off.
posted by Elsa 17 February | 20:37
I usually have images turned off except for once or twice each day to look at the pics.
posted by Ardiril 17 February | 20:59
Unless I go through the hassle of tethering my phone to a computer there is no images on/off; my phone doesn't wifi and the phone is my online internet.

I was looking for the on/off button last week and finally gave up. Now I know it doesn't display on my phone.

Back when I did clandestine mechat at work the images were always off by default and turned on at specific times.
posted by mightshould 17 February | 21:22
I agree that it "dates" the site, kind of an old-fashioned thing to have and not necessary. (My company blocks flickr, so I don't get to see most of the pictures anyway.) But if people like the feature enough, then I'm fine with it staying.
posted by Melismata 17 February | 21:31
What Senyar said - the option to turn them off for office viewing is a nice feature, not that there'd be NSFW pics here. Also, plain text is more stealthy.

So, among other conveniences the toggle offers, I vote to keep it. However, maybe the text should read "turn images off" instead of just "images off." Seem a bit more user friendly.
posted by MonkeyButter 17 February | 21:42
What I'd prefer if we're going to change anything is that links open in a new window by default.

Indeed. Didn't we used to have a little checkbox on the side that set this? Maybe make it part of the profile options.
posted by hangashore 17 February | 23:03
I guess the bigger question is whether even if we don't want it any more, can anybody really fix it? The site's back end is more dated than that button and not too flexible as I understand. Someone might need to page chrismear or gomichild and ask.

We've always heard there's just a lot about this site build that's really too difficult to bother with changing, due to its advanced age. I don't know about things like opening links in another tab - there was no such thing as browser tabs when MeCha was built! Again, not the right one to ask. The tech folks will be most informative about what we can and can't have, but in the past when we had some wishes like this it seemed like it was just gonna be too much hassle.

If folks care enough and want some more up-to-date options maybe y'all want to discuss migrating to a new platform and covering whatever costs come along.
posted by Miko 17 February | 23:50
Metachat: too difficult to bother with changing.
posted by Ardiril 17 February | 23:59
You might consider changing it so that it reflects the current state of the images setting, i.e. "IMAGES ARE ON" and "IMAGES ARE OFF" vice the current confusion.
posted by pjern 18 February | 02:41
I quite like it, since some of the image threads are pretty big for a phone, but I wouldn't be too upset if it went.

One thing though: I think it might be better if the default/logged out state was to show images. I think that's what most people expect from a website these days. So it might be confusing for newbies and strangers that they have to press a button to see the images that everyone else is talking about.
posted by TheophileEscargot 18 February | 04:48
Sit down children, I have a story to tell you....

So when we started Metachat back in 2005(?) the idea was that it would be a free for all without all the restrictions of Metafilter. It was meant to be chatty and maybe a bit silly.

We opened to much fanfair and almost immediately some trolls posted images to the front page. This will forever be remembered as "The knifebutt incident". Let's say no more about it.

As I was, through some bizarre twist of fate, the programmer of this fine website it was down to me to magic up a solution that everyone could live with and would reassure people that Metachat was a safe place for delicate eyeballs.

And I needed to do it very quickly.

And being that I'm not a very good programmer this meant I would have to do it quickly, and in all likelihood quite badly.

So I went with this odd little solution. By default images would be off and the user would have to elect to have them on. In addition, the setting would be on a "per machine" basis, rather than "per user" because you might want images on at home and off at work.

The feature does look a little odd at this remove. Should it stay? I have no idea. It might be an idea to change the default behaviour so it's less confusing to any newbies, but can still be switched off by people who would prefer to do so.

But, either way, I thought I'd explain how it got there in the first place.

As anyone who's worked in IT will tell you, it's much harder to take a feature away than to add a new one.

Legacy is a bitch.
posted by dodgygeezer 18 February | 07:15
Unless I go through the hassle of tethering my phone to a computer there is no images on/off; my phone doesn't wifi and the phone is my online internet.

What I'd prefer if we're going to change anything is that links open in a new window by default.

Never do this. No one should ever do this anywhere on the Internet. Even my phone's browser has an "open in new window/tab" option. What I miss is—shit, was it Netscape 3? or maybe early firefox—that had a right-click option to open in the same window. But even that was a pain. Links should open in the same window by default; middle-click or touch-and-hold on a phone to open in a new window.

Anyone who forces links in a new window should, by default, be flayed alive and then burned at the stake.
posted by Eideteker 18 February | 10:23
Oh sorry, lofi will only take care of the front page images (useful at work where anyone might walk by and say, "hey, that doesn't look like work"). But if you're on a phone, you should definitely at least try lofi. I have it bookmarked!
posted by Eideteker 18 February | 10:25
Dodgygeezer is a liar. The b2evo codebase metachat started with was a mess. Anyone who can do anything good with it is fantastic. That images off option was a sweet piece of code.

That he did it using the frankly crazy "plugin" functionality that b2evo came with is breathtaking.

If someone were to look at it again, it'd probably be JavaScript awesomeness. But, as mentioned, this was 2005.
posted by seanyboy 18 February | 17:18
It should however, be pretty simple to remove, should that become a requirement. Heres an offer. I have time; I believe the codebase is githubbed; and I can do it at the same time as I learn how pull requests work.

Mods willing of course.
posted by seanyboy 18 February | 17:24
seanyboy, thank you!

Personally I'd rather see it default to "images are on" because I use the imageless option on my phone, too... but if people would prefer it gone altogether, that'd be fine too.
posted by BoringPostcards 18 February | 18:27
Thanks y'all! I feel like an idiot - I knew that about the toggle, seen it a million times, but my brain did one of those flip things and suddenly it made. no. sense. This happens now and then. Ah well.

Since it seems like the consensus - well, I count 4 people to leave it, 1 to get rid of it and 4 who just don't care, so perhaps consensus is too strong a word - is to keep it, maybe if the text could possibly be changed to Turn Images On or Turn Images Off it might help for those of us who, like me, are brain challenged. And I also like the default to images on option but that's me.

oooh, I got seanyboy AND dodgygeezer in here, my heart, it goes pitter pat.
posted by mygothlaundry 19 February | 17:40
I heart dodgygeezer. And I still read it as doggy geezer in my brain.

So, mgl, I am with you on the brain thing. And the heart thing. Pitter pat to you, too.
posted by rainbaby 19 February | 19:21
Well, I feel pretty dumb!. I never noticed that link in the header. I just now clicked on it, and I can see in-thread images, like actually in the thread! Imagine that! All these years I've been reading Photo Friday threads by clicking on the images one at a time. Yes, it was a pain, but it never occurred to me that there might be a better way. Modern computing is so cool. Thanks MGL for opening this thread and brightening my day.
posted by marsha56 19 February | 21:49
Downton Abbey Paper Dolls. || Cats of Christmas Past