[Users] [Bug 2939] make Sort By/Thread Date the default

Albert ARIBAUD albert.aribaud at free.fr
Wed Jul 2 08:31:06 CEST 2014

Bonjour Paul,

Le Tue, 1 Jul 2014 23:48:53 +0100, Paul <claws at thewildbeast.co.uk> a
écrit :

> On Tue, 1 Jul 2014 22:14:14 +0200
> Albert ARIBAUD <albert.aribaud at free.fr> wrote: 
> > ... And /that/ sounds almost like an entirely valid reply until you
> > realize that not everyone uses the default.
> /Everyone/ does, until they decide to change it.

That argument is (almost) a logical truism, or almost: indeed, formally
everyone uses the defaults until they don't any more (although whether
they decided to change it or someone else did in order to help them get
the setting right is debatable).

And because that argument is a truism, it is therefore ineffective
since by nature it does not demonstrate anything that was not already

Trusim aside, that argument also fails to address the fact that the
defaults settings are not the most acclaimed by users, but the most
agreed upon by developers; we don't know, and cannot know reliably, how
many of the CM users change some setting from default; we don't even
know how many of them dislike some default setting but fail to change

IOW, just because there is a default does not mean it is the Right
Thing, because there is no Thing that would be Right for everyone.
Default are not the Right Thing, they are just Good Enough for most

We do know, however, that some people bothered enough to post to the
list or file a bug report about a given behaviour did so because they
did not know they could change the setting responsible for this
behaviour from the default that they disliked to a non-default value
which actually suits them.

This is not limited to CM, mind you: I also witnessed this on various
mailing lists where long-time users of more widely used mail & usenet
client, which they've been using for years, suddenly discover features
or settings which they had no idea they could use, but would have if
only they had known earlier.

Long story short: we don't know if default settings are the best. We
don't know if they are being used. We don't know which settings are
being used by the most users, or the most often (we don't even know
what's more important: used by most used or used most often, or some
other criterion).

I'm not going to put formward my own case as an example of the
best settings, or as a proof that not all people use defaults,
as this would not be very useful. Suffice to say that my settings
include the default "DO mark selected mail read" because it saves me the
time to mark them manually, but also "DO NOT select any message on
entering a folder", because I want to be able to navigate between
folders without "randomly" marking "read" some mails I didn't actualy
read and process.

[which, incidently, raises an interesting issue about defaults: some
default settings are Good Enough for someone only as long as some other
settings remain default too; change one, and others becomes A Nuisance.
But I haven't got a solution to this problem, which doubly depends on
each user. IOW, defaults are a global *and* subjective concept.]

Back to the sorting threads by oldest message *or* by newest message,
and which could be the default if one must be:

- by newest thread message, when I want the context of each discussion
  (thus I want threading) and I want to process the most active
  discussions first (thus I want the thread with the newest message to
  be "the newest");

- by oldest thread message, when I want the context *and* I want to
  process the topic that has been waiting the longest first -- think,
  for instance, patches posted on a ML, and you want to process them by
  order of submission.

- which one should be the default? That's a good question, but as I
  said earlier, a tricky one, since we don't know, or not factually at
  least, what is the most useful to users. IMO, which is arguably NSH, I
  would *tend* to say that the default should be "Sort by thread newest
  message first" *coupled* with "Display messages threaded", on the
  rationale that it keeps the context together and it shows recent
  discussions first.

> with regards
> Paul


More information about the Users mailing list