UI for Suggested Topics

The list of Suggested Topics at the bottom of thread pages in Safari is troublesome.

— It seems to always choose 5 random topics from the same category as the thread. If they’re randomly chosen, why are they suggested? I can read random topics in the same category without any help.

— They’re always randomly re-chosen. In a scenario where your reading pattern is:

Latest list -> thread -> Browser Back button

and you see an interesting suggested topic during the back animation, then you can’t ever see those same 5 suggested topics again. The browser’s Forward button takes you to the thread, but the suggested topics are now different. If the list of suggestions is worth anything, why can’t it be stable across page refreshes?

— In order to have a thread show gray (fully read) in the Latest page, you have to scroll down all the way to the end of the thread’s page. Because of the UI chrome after the last post, plus the half-page of suggested topics, plus links to the cookie policy, etc, it’s easy to leave the page after reading all the posts but not quite scrolling to the end.

This seems like a usability bug, and the main cause is the Suggested Topics list, because it uses so much real estate at the bottom of the page (while, I suspect, being routinely ignored).

[Edit: This third case appears to be a manifestation of a known but unrelated bug.]

Is there any hope of usability improvements in this area?

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This isn't true in my experience. As long as the last post is on the screen the thread gets marked as read without scrolling down past the suggested topics, etc. I do find you need to wait for the slow blue fade-out animation to complete when first clicking on a thread before closing it, though, which is annoying for things like CI failure threads.

The actual behavior is more unpredictable than I said. I’ve run into cases where:

— I seemed to need to explicitly scroll to the end of the page (my scenario)

— I seemed to need to only scroll the last post into view (your scenario)

— I scrolled to the end, went back to Latest, saw the topic turn gray, went to another topic, returned to Latest, and suddenly the original topic wasn’t gray any more (with no new activity)

The third of those things just happened to me on this thread, after I read your post. It was repeatable, until I explicitly refreshed the Latest page. So there’s something a bit strange going on here.

The topics reverting from grey to black on the Latest page is a longstanding Discourse bug. It's just cosmetic; the topic does get marked as read. (As you saw when you reloaded the page.)