More on "Mark as Read"
[Posted to on March 18, 2003 06:22 AM| Links to this post ]
I've been thinking more about "mark as read". I'd like this to be really simple from a readers perspective. There are primitives and cues that already exist that would make it easier to for users to explicitly indicate what they have already read and what they haven't. Note that this is different that an "already visited" cue in a link - "mark as read" must be an explicit function - perhaps even one that can be reversed by fickle readers.

Here's the idea. Put a character beside each headline, something that doesn't otherwise have meaning like the tilde ~. Link it to a script that sets a cookie for the user indicating that the headline has been "marked as read". Headlines that have been marked as read would then show up in a strikethrough font, but only for that particular user. A reader that clicked a second time on the tilde would be marking that headline as unread thus reversing the initial action.

This sample from the comments here on Random Bytes illustrates best what I am referring too. Unfortunately, I don't have the skills to write the code that makes the tilde functional, so squint and pretend.

Doug Re: Congrats to Me ~
Arnold Kling Re: End to End and Top to Bottom ~
Ross Re: Spam, Accordians & And - Docflocking Redux ~
Michael Re: Spam, Accordians & And - Docflocking Redux ~

Nothing simpler, neh? Of course, this should also extend to regular headlines and not just those of the comments...and the primitive should be consistent between as many tools as possible. This kind of stuff only works if users view it as predictable and familiar.

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