Backbars on social link-sites

thu11jun2009—24w162d44%— 23h07m00s—0utc
If you like this, check out also The Economist reader
and Backbars on Wikipedia tables

, from its UserScripts page. (You need to have the GreaseMonkey Firefox extension, version 0.8 or more, installed first.)

Backbars on social link-sites is a GreaseMonkey script to turn the headlines and comments of social link-sites into ambient bar charts (of votes/diggs/views/users…) It works on Reddit, Delicious, Digg, Hacker News, and Stack Overflow (and MetaFilter now!).

The idea is to give you subtle non-verbal clues to improve your browsing experience almost subconsciously. The backbars don’t replace the count they represent, what they do is convey you its magnitude unobtrusively, and, crucially, compare that magnitude to those around it. So you can now see, almost without thinking, that, say, some comment is popular, but that there’s a comment around that’s twice as popular.

Once you have it, just start browsing at your favorite social link-site: Reddit, Delicious, Digg, Hacker News, and Stack Overflow.

It’s the first release but it’s very usable already, I hope.

I hope you enjoy and find it useful, please let me know what you think of it in the comments.

Here’s what the backbars mean:

For Reddit, they are a headline’s votes, a headline’s number of comments, and a comment’s votes. For Delicious, the numbers of users that have bookmarked a link, or applied a tag. For Digg, a headline’s diggs, a headline’s number of comments, and a comment’s diggs. For Hacker News, a headline’s upvotes, a headline’s number of comments, and a comment’s upvotes. For StackOverflow, a question’s views, an answer’s votes, the number of users that have applied a tag, and a user’s reputation score. For Metafilter, an article’s number of comments and the number of users that have favorited a comment.

There are some other very minor special cases too, but hopefully they are self explanatory by their context.

(Javascript geeks might want to take a look at the source code, it can get messy as all scraping, but I think it’s a good example of the power and elegance that Javascript and jQuery allow.))

Changelog: June 12, 2009: Stopped messing Hacker News’ comment threading sometimes. June 12, 2009: Added support for MetaFilter! (Note that in MeFi, at most 200 backbars will be drawn, or not at all, for performance reasons.) Made comment author backbars more accurate. Jan 17, 2010: Added the script to github, http://github.com/elzr/Backbars/, to continue its development there. Everyone’s invited to pitch in! Changed to minified jQuery.

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