HomeQ&AIs there a way to view posts in a thread in chronological order?

Is there a way to view posts in a thread in chronological order?


While the voting system is advantageous for taking "better" answers to the top for purposes of searches, etc., it makes reading a thread very confusing for, say, those signing on after being away for a few hours, and wanting to read all the new threads.

Is there/could there be a button to rearrange the posts in chronological order? Answers that are "voted" to the top sometimes appear incoherent, as they refer to content of prior posts in a manner that assumes the reader has also read those prior posts. That then forces the reader to do what moving that post to the top was supposed to make unnecessary--read the entire thread.

updated MAY 20, 2011
posted by hhmdirocco
I hadn't noticed that this morning (or maybe none had been shuffled around) but I certainly agree that such rearrainging would be very confusing. - samdie, AGO 7, 2009
This is VERY confusing and it makes absolutely no sense why the posting is not in chronological order. - --Mariana--, AGO 7, 2009
I absolutely sympathize, Marianne. There's absolutely a chance we got this decision wrong. But personally, I'm sticking with it for now. Already I think you can begin to see how votes are making it much easier to find the best answers. - Toph, AGO 7, 2009
One example from the front page: http://www.spanishdict.com/answers/100168/what-does-the-h-sound-like-in-spanish/ (compare sorting by votes vs. oldest) - Toph, AGO 7, 2009
After the passing of time and some getting used to, I must agree that this was a good decision, Toph. It better suits the purpose of the forum and at the same time gives the option to view the thread chronologically (or reversed) when that's desirable. - hhmdirocco, MAY 20, 2011

2 Answers


Great question! (+1 smile) It's going to be interesting to watch how this unfolds. You've hit on an important difference between the new Answers and the old Forum.

Short answer: yes, there is such a button. Right under "# Answers", between a question and its answers, there are three tabs: Most Votes, Oldest, and Newest. These change how the thread is sorted. What you're looking for is Oldest.

Current users have been trained that thread replies will always appear in chronological order and phrase their responses accordingly, responding directly to the posts that came before them. This sort of back-and-forth dialogue can be very helpful, and we certainly don't want to stifle that. You can, of course, still view posts in chronological order.

But you're right: this behavior doesn't work as well with voting. Thanks to answers being sorted by votes by default, it will now often make sense to reply to other users' answers simply by leaving a comment, as some users have already started doing. When every answer is self-contained, the order of the posts no longer matters so much. This is fantastic when you come across a thread you've never seen and want to quickly find the best content. (If you wanted to read more, you could then sort chronologically and go through the whole thing.)

In the same vein, it will be nice to more of a 1-to-1 correspondence between threads and questions, if you know what I mean. A little more structure goes a long way toward making the forum useful to visitors of all sorts.

But there will still be plenty of threads that are more conversational, and where voting is less relevant--e.g., there's no "correct" answer to De Dónde Eres?, so votes (and their cousin, the Accepted Answer) have less of a place there.

updated AGO 7, 2009
posted by Toph
Excellent thoughts, and thanks for the info. I had seen that earlier this morning before votes had moved some answers up, but had forgotten it was there. This new format definitely calls for a different way of responding to questions. - hhmdirocco, AGO 7, 2009
I hadn't noticed the "Accept" button, either. Now I understand why another question had a green check mark in the list, and why one of its answers has a blue background. - hhmdirocco, AGO 7, 2009
I missed that. Why is there a green check mark and why do some answers have a blue background? - --Mariana--, AGO 7, 2009
Hi, Marianne. The original poster has an "Accept" button so he can choose his favorite answer to the question, so it is then considered "answered." However, you can still post to and vote on that thread. - hhmdirocco, AGO 7, 2009
Also, if you click "Oldest" above the first answer, the responses are arranged chronologically (except for the Comments, of course). "Newest," then, orders them in reverse chronological order, similar to the "Thread Review" button in the old forum. - hhmdirocco, AGO 7, 2009
Ahhh...I get it now! Thanks, Rocco. - --Mariana--, AGO 7, 2009

Thanks, Rocco, I understand much better now.

p.s. I tried to add this as a "comment" but it didn't take...hmmmm...

updated AGO 10, 2009
posted by --Mariana--
It did take, but only the first 5 comments are shown by default... yours was #6 and the "View more comments" link wasn't showing up properly. - Toph, AGO 10, 2009
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