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Anna J

Board Upgrading (what's working? what's not?)

149 posts in this topic

My guess is that, unless you get an actual error message when you try to do something, any issues you are having will be fixed by:

1) Clearing your browser's cache

2) Logging out and logging back in

Also, keep in mind that the new version -- for whatever reason -- has done away with having both a member photo (which appeared on your profile page) and an avatar (which appeared next your posts). Now, a single image is used in both places.

You can upload a custom image or use a gravatar (which you probably already have if you have a Wordpress account). If you signed up to A&F with your Facebook account, then it might user your Facebook profile photo, but I don't know that for sure since I am not using Facebook to access A&F.

Also, I'll be making some minor changes to the text editor used by the forum to clean it up and simplify things. So don't be surprised if it looks a little different.

Finally, I'm loving the mobile interface.

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It worked to sign out of A&F, empty my browser history, and then sign back in.

That did work. Am I gonna have to do that every time I want to edit my film journal?

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It worked to sign out of A&F, empty my browser history, and then sign back in.

That did work. Am I gonna have to do that every time I want to edit my film journal?

I don't think so. I believe it was just old information from the previous version that was interfering. It should be fine now. Seems to work for me.

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I don't think so. I believe it was just old information from the previous version that was interfering. It should be fine now. Seems to work for me.

This.

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Thank you so much, Jason. You have been a lifesaver. I would be completely helpless at fixing most of this stuff.

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Question: Is there going to be a new favicon with the upgrade? Something that fits the Arts & Faith/IMAGE look?

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Eep. So THIS is what happens when I take a month off.

My first impression is that this board has gone the way of Google, adding far too much white space and forcing me to make my browser window bigger than it used to be / needs to be.

Come to think of it, IMDb went through a similar redesign a little while ago, but IMDb members can always avoid that redesign by adjusting their settings back to the old design. Would a similar ability to personalize the look of the site be feasible here, too?

Oh, and the search engine is broken, too. Seriously broken. Can "Malick" really produce only 2 pages of results, going back only as far as February 2010? And can The Tree of Life really turn up only ONCE in those results?

I also quibble with the way the site now refers to each of our threads as a "forum". Um, isn't a "forum" supposed to be a GROUP of threads, gathered under a shared heading, like "Film" or "Music" or "About this Website"?

I think I sense a few other losses of functionality -- which, to me, is far worse than a change in mere design or appearance -- but I'd like to try to catch up on some of the actual discussions first. Assuming that I can, of course.

Oh, it's also kind of weird to have the photo of the person who started a thread posted up there with the title of the thread. Most of the threads on this board are NOT that personal, and if we really mean it when we say that people shouldn't be competing to be the first to post a bit of news about this film or that film, or this album or that album, etc., then we might want to consider removing this incentive.

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My first impression is that this board has gone the way of Google, adding far too much white space and forcing me to make my browser window bigger than it used to be / needs to be.

Come to think of it, IMDb went through a similar redesign a little while ago, but IMDb members can always avoid that redesign by adjusting their settings back to the old design. Would a similar ability to personalize the look of the site be feasible here, too?

The forum software does let you switch themes via the "Change Theme" link at the bottom of the page. But as of right now, the only alternate theme that is fully developed is the mobile theme.

Oh, and the search engine is broken, too. Seriously broken. Can "Malick" really produce only 2 pages of results, going back only as far as February 2010? And can The Tree of Life really turn up only ONCE in those results?

FWIW, the search results for "Malick" return topics/threads from at least as far back as 2006. The search results, however, are sorted by last update time by default, meaning that topics/threads with more recent updates appear first. (Although there are a few discrepancies, though I don't know why.) You can sort by other criteria, though.

I also quibble with the way the site now refers to each of our threads as a "forum". Um, isn't a "forum" supposed to be a GROUP of threads, gathered under a shared heading, like "Film" or "Music" or "About this Website"?

Where do you see this?

I think I sense a few other losses of functionality -- which, to me, is far worse than a change in mere design or appearance -- but I'd like to try to catch up on some of the actual discussions first. Assuming that I can, of course.

If you find examples of lost functionality, please let me know. Things have been moved around and changed -- this was not a small upgrade.

Oh, it's also kind of weird to have the photo of the person who started a thread posted up there with the title of the thread. Most of the threads on this board are NOT that personal, and if we really mean it when we say that people shouldn't be competing to be the first to post a bit of news about this film or that film, or this album or that album, etc., then we might want to consider removing this incentive.

I can look into changing this If this becomes a big deal.

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Okay, I've found three things that I actually like:

One, the fact that the website no longer "forgets" to include old threads that I haven't caught up on yet when I click on "View New Content". In the past, when I clicked on "View New Content", I had to check out all the threads that came up within a day or so, otherwise, when I clicked "View New Content" again, those threads would no longer be there (unless of course they had been updated again in the interim). (The flip side of this is that threads I *have* caught up on now vanish from the list when I click on "View New Content", and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that... maybe I wasn't quite done with them yet, and maybe I can't remember which forum they're in, so if I need to find them again, I might need to do some searching... but anyhoo.)

Two, we can FINALLY see the entire thread again before we finalize our new posts. (We had this ability until maybe 2009, but lost it during the last board upgrade. Or did we lose it during the upgrade before THAT?) Even better, when you're working on a reply to a thread, and new posts appear in that thread, you can look at those new posts without moving to a new window or potentially losing the reply that you were working on.

Three, the mobile version looks very good indeed -- a vast improvement over the previous mobile version (which, if memory serves, was almost non-existent, apart from the home page). I haven't tried writing with it yet, but it's certainly a lot nicer to read. (Incidentally, the IMDb redesign, and Twitter, and Facebook's messaging redesign, etc., didn't make any sense to me at all when I first encountered them on my laptop... but when I saw them all on my mobile, it all made sense. Seems like a lot of redesigns tend to work in this direction, nowadays.)

On to other things:

opus wrote:

: The forum software does let you switch themes via the "Change Theme" link at the bottom of the page. But as of right now, the only alternate theme that is fully developed is the mobile theme.

Keep us posted!

: FWIW, the search results for "Malick" return topics/threads from at least as far back as 2006. The search results, however, are sorted by last update time by default, meaning that topics/threads with more recent updates appear first. (Although there are a few discrepancies, though I don't know why.) You can sort by other criteria, though.

Well, if I'm looking for a specific post by a specific person, I can't see any way to isolate that, now. All I get is the entire thread, and how do I know which post the website will take me to if I click through to that thread? This becomes especially pertinent when dealing with massively long threads like the Tree of Life one, for example.

I can't think of any particular searches that I want to run Right Now, but if, say, I remember that SDG once said something about a "spider" and I want to find the entire quote, the old version of the board would have listed all the posts that included the word "spider", and I could have scanned the column that listed the authors of those posts, to see which posts were written by SDG -- and I could have looked at the column with all the mini-excerpts from those posts to see if the "spider" reference there was what I was looking for. But now? Good luck! Searching for "spider" would turn up all our Marvel Comics threads (some of which are pretty huge), and perhaps a David Cronenberg thread or two, and various other things besides -- and all we'd get is the actual threads, without any breakdown as to which posts included that word, and who used it in those posts, and so on. If I can't remember WHERE SDG made his comment -- i.e. if I can't remember what thread it was in -- then I'm really at a loss to figure out how to find that information.

: : I also quibble with the way the site now refers to each of our threads as a "forum". Um, isn't a "forum" supposed to be a GROUP of threads, gathered under a shared heading, like "Film" or "Music" or "About this Website"?

:

: Where do you see this?

In "View New Content"; can't recall if I've seen it elsewhere. When you click on "View New Content" and you get the list of recently-updated threads, the word at the top of that list is "Forums".

: : Oh, it's also kind of weird to have the photo of the person who started a thread posted up there with the title of the thread. Most of the threads on this board are NOT that personal, and if we really mean it when we say that people shouldn't be competing to be the first to post a bit of news about this film or that film, or this album or that album, etc., then we might want to consider removing this incentive.

:

: I can look into changing this If this becomes a big deal.

Is there any reason it was added in the first place?

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Jason, thank you for all of your hard work on this upgrade. I'm really enjoying the look and the revisions. And I've had more success with searches this week than I have in a while. I'm sure there are some rough edges to smooth out, but for the most part, I'm liking this better than what we had before.

Edited by Overstreet

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One, the fact that the website no longer "forgets" to include old threads that I haven't caught up on yet when I click on "View New Content". In the past, when I clicked on "View New Content", I had to check out all the threads that came up within a day or so, otherwise, when I clicked "View New Content" again, those threads would no longer be there (unless of course they had been updated again in the interim). (The flip side of this is that threads I *have* caught up on now vanish from the list when I click on "View New Content", and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that... maybe I wasn't quite done with them yet, and maybe I can't remember which forum they're in, so if I need to find them again, I might need to do some searching... but anyhoo.)

I started noticing threads disappearing as well, but it's just a setting for you to modify. If you click "View New Content" when the list of threads comes up, you will notice on the left hand side a number of options "By time period" and "Content I have not read" and "New since my last visit" and "Past 24 hours" and "Past week" etc. If you click "By time period" all the threads, whether you have visited them recently or not, will appear in chronological order.

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Persiflage wrote:

: If you click "By time period" . . .

Um, I can't. It's not clickable.

But I think what you mean is "New since my last visit", which seems to more or less replicate the default "View New Content" format that we had in the previous version of this board: all the threads that have been updated since my last visit (i.e. this morning) are there, and NONE of the threads that were last updated PRIOR to my previous visit are there; and the titles of those threads that I have read are in regular type, while the titles of those threads that I have NOT yet read are in bold.

So, okay, that's one aspect of the old board that I can return to if I ever need to.

But I must say, I'm rather liking the way that "Content I have not read" lists ALL of the threads that I have not yet read, no matter how old (at least as far as I can tell); and the fact that it omits the threads I HAVE read, no matter how recent, makes using the "View New Content" page feel a whole lot like using Google Reader. Which is a good thing.

I mean, for one thing, this means I will no longer feel obligated to catch up on all the newly-updated threads before leaving A&F any more; it will be easier to let threads go unread, knowing that they will still be there waiting for me on the "View New Content" page, no matter how many times I log out and log back in.

Jeff, you say the search engine works better for you now, so if you have any insights into how to run the kind of searches that I used to do (as described in my previous post), by all means, let us know!

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Ah, "Past 24 Hours". That's a useful button, too, within the "View New Posts" list of options. I could get used to this.

But back to the actual design of the site. I mentioned earlier that the A&F redesign seems to be going the same route as the Google redesign and others that have added lots of white space, etc., which pushes stuff off the screen, thus forcing us to do more scrolling. The A&F redesign has also followed Google's lead in imposing definite sizes to the various text-boxes or whatever you call them, so that, when I narrow my browser window, the A&F thread does not narrow with it, as it used to do; instead, I now see only a portion of the thread, and I have to scroll back and forth to read the entire thing -- unless, of course, I enlarge the browser window, but there might be reasons why I might not want to do that.

One of those reasons is this: I like to play videos in one browser window while reading in another. But now my "reading" browser window has to be rather wide, unless I plan on scrolling back and forth a lot, and the result is that there is less space for the video browser window on my screen. This problem is compounded by the fact that the embedded YouTube clips at A&F are now Really Huge, so that if the video I'm trying to watch is on an A&F page, I am now forced to choose between watching only a fragment of the video, on the one hand, or doing a lot of scrolling back and forth in the text thread, on the other hand. (Actually, I think the scrolling-back-and-forth problem applies to the "Reply" boxes, too; they, too, no longer re-size when you adjust the size of your browser window. So I now have to do a lot of scrolling back and forth whether I'm reading OR writing.)

As a side note, the fact that the embedded YouTube clips are now Really Huge also means that we can no longer post YouTube clips side-by-side, as I sometimes used to do for the purpose of comparing and/or contrasting different videos.

Anyway. Changes like these drove me nuts when Google imposed them on Reader, Contacts, Gmail and possibly other pages of theirs a few months ago, so it's a little awkward to see them imposed here, too. But if there's a way to personalize the site and opt out of some of these formatting issues (similar to the way Google eventually allowed people to tighten up the spacing between news-feed items, etc.), then that'd be great -- even if we have to wait a while for it.

I do like the increased flexibility of the "View New Content" page, though. That IS awesome.

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: FWIW, the search results for "Malick" return topics/threads from at least as far back as 2006. The search results, however, are sorted by last update time by default, meaning that topics/threads with more recent updates appear first. (Although there are a few discrepancies, though I don't know why.) You can sort by other criteria, though.

Well, if I'm looking for a specific post by a specific person, I can't see any way to isolate that, now. All I get is the entire thread, and how do I know which post the website will take me to if I click through to that thread? This becomes especially pertinent when dealing with massively long threads like the Tree of Life one, for example.

I can't think of any particular searches that I want to run Right Now, but if, say, I remember that SDG once said something about a "spider" and I want to find the entire quote, the old version of the board would have listed all the posts that included the word "spider", and I could have scanned the column that listed the authors of those posts, to see which posts were written by SDG -- and I could have looked at the column with all the mini-excerpts from those posts to see if the "spider" reference there was what I was looking for. But now? Good luck! Searching for "spider" would turn up all our Marvel Comics threads (some of which are pretty huge), and perhaps a David Cronenberg thread or two, and various other things besides -- and all we'd get is the actual threads, without any breakdown as to which posts included that word, and who used it in those posts, and so on. If I can't remember WHERE SDG made his comment -- i.e. if I can't remember what thread it was in -- then I'm really at a loss to figure out how to find that information.

If anybody addressed this yet, sorry, but if you click the gear next to search to reach the "Advanced Search", or visit:

http://artsandfaith.com/index.php?app=core&module=search&search_in=forums

and then choose "Display results: As posts" (rather than "As a topic list"), and it will highlight the word within the post. If you hit F3 and type "SDG" or whichever user, you can quickly jump to his posts (although his mentions within other people's posts will also come up).

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Thanks, Dave. So this only works in the "advanced" settings, then? Which I would have to choose every time, instead of setting to a default or something?

Oh, one other thing I've noticed: We seem to have lost the ability to "preview" a post before posting it. Or is there some new button that I haven't figured out yet?

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Oh, one other thing I've noticed: We seem to have lost the ability to "preview" a post before posting it. Or is there some new button that I haven't figured out yet?

I'll try and respond to the previous posts ASAP. However, to quickly address this, you can preview a post via the "advanced" (for lack of a better term) reply form. This can be accessed, either by clicking in the big red "Reply to this topic" button at the top of the page, or by the "More Reply Options" button that is part of the "quick response" form at the bottom of the page.

When you're on the "advanced" form, you'll see a "Preview Post" button next to the "Add Reply" button.

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Three, the mobile version looks very good indeed -- a vast improvement over the previous mobile version (which, if memory serves, was almost non-existent, apart from the home page). I haven't tried writing with it yet, but it's certainly a lot nicer to read. (Incidentally, the IMDb redesign, and Twitter, and Facebook's messaging redesign, etc., didn't make any sense to me at all when I first encountered them on my laptop... but when I saw them all on my mobile, it all made sense. Seems like a lot of redesigns tend to work in this direction, nowadays.)

Agreed. Indeed, it might be favorite feature of the upgrade.

And yes, there is growing trend in web design to make mobile a focus, if not the primary focus, of web design due to the increasing popularity and functionality of mobile devices, including tablets. (Here's an article by one of the primary proponents of this approach, if you're feeling geeky.)

On to other things:

opus wrote:

: The forum software does let you switch themes via the "Change Theme" link at the bottom of the page. But as of right now, the only alternate theme that is fully developed is the mobile theme.

Keep us posted!

Not sure when this could happen -- certainly not until we solidify this design. If/when we move forward on this, we'll certainly solicit feedback, requests as to what people would like to see.

Just keep in mind that there's a difference between design and functionality. The forum upgrade wasn't just a visual upgrade; it was also an upgrade to a new version of the forum software, and so there might be features and functionality that have changed that a new theme simply can't fix or address because those things are outside of its scope.

: : I also quibble with the way the site now refers to each of our threads as a "forum". Um, isn't a "forum" supposed to be a GROUP of threads, gathered under a shared heading, like "Film" or "Music" or "About this Website"?

:

: Where do you see this?

In "View New Content"; can't recall if I've seen it elsewhere. When you click on "View New Content" and you get the list of recently-updated threads, the word at the top of that list is "Forums".

OK, I can see that example being potentially confusing. I'll see what I can do.

: : Oh, it's also kind of weird to have the photo of the person who started a thread posted up there with the title of the thread. Most of the threads on this board are NOT that personal, and if we really mean it when we say that people shouldn't be competing to be the first to post a bit of news about this film or that film, or this album or that album, etc., then we might want to consider removing this incentive.

:

: I can look into changing this If this becomes a big deal.

Is there any reason it was added in the first place?

Not sure. My guess would be to give forum posters more "ownership" over their posts and give the forums a bit more personality. Which isn't really a problem in our case. smile.png

But back to the actual design of the site. I mentioned earlier that the A&F redesign seems to be going the same route as the Google redesign and others that have added lots of white space, etc., which pushes stuff off the screen, thus forcing us to do more scrolling. The A&F redesign has also followed Google's lead in imposing definite sizes to the various text-boxes or whatever you call them, so that, when I narrow my browser window, the A&F thread does not narrow with it, as it used to do; instead, I now see only a portion of the thread, and I have to scroll back and forth to read the entire thing -- unless, of course, I enlarge the browser window, but there might be reasons why I might not want to do that.

One of those reasons is this: I like to play videos in one browser window while reading in another. But now my "reading" browser window has to be rather wide, unless I plan on scrolling back and forth a lot, and the result is that there is less space for the video browser window on my screen. This problem is compounded by the fact that the embedded YouTube clips at A&F are now Really Huge, so that if the video I'm trying to watch is on an A&F page, I am now forced to choose between watching only a fragment of the video, on the one hand, or doing a lot of scrolling back and forth in the text thread, on the other hand. (Actually, I think the scrolling-back-and-forth problem applies to the "Reply" boxes, too; they, too, no longer re-size when you adjust the size of your browser window. So I now have to do a lot of scrolling back and forth whether I'm reading OR writing.)

As a side note, the fact that the embedded YouTube clips are now Really Huge also means that we can no longer post YouTube clips side-by-side, as I sometimes used to do for the purpose of comparing and/or contrasting different videos.

Anyway. Changes like these drove me nuts when Google imposed them on Reader, Contacts, Gmail and possibly other pages of theirs a few months ago, so it's a little awkward to see them imposed here, too. But if there's a way to personalize the site and opt out of some of these formatting issues (similar to the way Google eventually allowed people to tighten up the spacing between news-feed items, etc.), then that'd be great -- even if we have to wait a while for it.

These are all fair points. I'm curious as to what other people might think about them.

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Jason, you rock. I genuinely love the new look, and thanks for your hard work on getting all of this smoothed out.

Noticed this today:

I tried to add a URL after I posted to a thread (via edit, then the add link button on the forum toolbar). It brought up a gray shade that covered the entire screen, and I couldn't click out of it. Browser: Chrome, OS: Windows XP

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opus wrote:

: When you're on the "advanced" form, you'll see a "Preview Post" button next to the "Add Reply" button.

Ah, okay. The thing is, I've been taking advantage of the (improved, I think) "MultiQuote" feature, and when you opt to reply to the multiple posts you've tagged, you get booted to the quick-reply box at the bottom of the page, rather than the "advanced" form. But apparently the quick-reply box has a "more reply options" button that takes us to the advanced form...? Ah, okay, then.

: : Is there any reason it was added in the first place?

:

: Not sure. My guess would be to give forum posters more "ownership" over their posts and give the forums a bit more personality. Which isn't really a problem in our case. smile.png

Well, ownership over our POSTS is what the avatars to the side of each post are for. Putting one person's avatar at the top of an entire THREAD is something else entirely -- and I'm not sure we necessarily want to give people any sense of "ownership" over entire threads. (I say this as one who has started more than his fair share of threads over the years.)

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I tried to add a URL after I posted to a thread (via edit, then the add link button on the forum toolbar). It brought up a gray shade that covered the entire screen, and I couldn't click out of it. Browser: Chrome, OS: Windows XP

Have you tried clearing your browser's cache, or logging out and logging back in?

Oh, and thanks for the kind words everyone. Believe it or not, this sort of stuff is fun for me, almost up there with watching movies, listening to music, and reading books.

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Have you tried clearing your browser's cache, or logging out and logging back in?

I have, but I'm going to try again.

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Jason - great work. Haven't tried the mobile version, but excited to hear of it! I was just responding to a post and got a pop-up notification of a new comment in the thread. That is a very cool new feature.

Now, if we can just add a "like" button for posts. I fear "social media" (Facebook primarily in this case) has forever altered my way of thinking about interacting online.

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Now, if we can just add a "like" button for posts. I fear "social media" (Facebook primarily in this case) has forever altered my way of thinking about interacting online.

FWIW, the new forum version does have a "karma" system that lets you vote/rank posts a la Reddit and Digg. However, it's currently disabled, and it might represent functionality and complexity that doesn't really benefit anyone here. Personally, I think systems like that sound nice in theory and principle, but unless the community as a whole really embraces them -- i.e., Reddit is entirely based on a karma system -- they don't really do any good. Plus, it might add a competitiveness that is contrary to A&F's spirit/philosophy.

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I'm not really versed in Reddit or Digg. From your description, I assume it works like many comment threads on articles (or YouTube) where "popular" posts get bumped up. I agree that wouldn't be a good fit here. But I do like the "like" system, where I can agree with something in a non-obtrusive manner that doesn't clutter the thread with a meaningless "I agree" post.

Also, what is the "Hot" button next to some threads. It seems to pop up on threads with a lot of replies. Is it just a reply count measure or does it also measure frequency of replies? In either case, what is it's benefit?

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I'm not really versed in Reddit or Digg. From your description, I assume it works like many comment threads on articles (or YouTube) where "popular" posts get bumped up. I agree that wouldn't be a good fit here. But I do like the "like" system, where I can agree with something in a non-obtrusive manner that doesn't clutter the thread with a meaningless "I agree" post.

Actually, I believe the specific functionality isn't so much a voting system for posts, but one for members. Basically, people can add or remove to someone's "reputation" based on the quality of their posts. The idea is that people who post high quality content get voted higher, and are displayed by the forums as more "reliable" posters. Which, again, is something that I think goes against A&F's spirit/philosophy.

Also, what is the "Hot" button next to some threads. It seems to pop up on threads with a lot of replies. Is it just a reply count measure or does it also measure frequency of replies? In either case, what is it's benefit?

I'm not sure, exactly, what criteria it uses, but it's basically to let you know which threads have seen a lot of activity recently.

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