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The list widget in Careers is very handy--a simple and elegant design with the up and down controls to re-order elements. Kudos! I also was glad to see the new section to list articles one has written. So... I loaded up my first batch of 16 articles. I had only one decision before starting: what order to enter my articles? Realizing that the list widget puts each new entry at the bottom, and that I wanted my latest article at the top, I started entering in reverse chronological order, i.e. my latest one first putting it and keeping it at the top.

Time passes. Now I have a newer "latest" article. To get this to the top of the list is now substantially more tedious. Enter article. Move up. Move up. Move up. Move up. Move up. Move up. Move up. Move up... you get the idea.

At the risk of impinging on the simplicity and elegance of the list widget I would like to suggest adding move-to-top and move-to-bottom controls, as shown (I have highlighted the controls I added): revised list widget with move-to-top and move-to-bottom controls

I realize this makes the display a bit less simple and less elegant. As a mitigating approach, then, how about adding a checkbox to show or hide these extra controls, leaving them hidden by default?

2012.08.18 Update

Being optimistic that more exposure to this serious plight might gather some momentum for it, let me offer one more idea: Add a numeric input field next to each item where the number specifies the position in the list. One may then move an item to another position with a single edit (the system must then intelligently adjust the numbers in all the other items to suit). This algorithm is well established--Netflix, for example, has used it for a long time for its viewing queue. It is discussed along with several others at User interface for reordering a list items.

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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

We have talked about this internally a number of times. It is the consensus that once you add enough of any particular item to a section in your profile, ordering them can be somewhat cumbersome. Here are some ideas we have come up with and why we have repeatedly thrown them out:

  1. Exactly what you have shown

    In this case, there are too many buttons to keep the interface clean. Originally we had the edit and delete buttons there as well, and you can start to see the effect on the Stack Exchange answers widget which still has the delete button. Since you cannot edit a question on Careers, that one had to stay.

    Additionally, the move to top/bottom is only useful when you have more than 5 or 6 entries and even if we were to hide the unnecessary buttons until they would be useful, it starts to feel like an inconsistent interface. Also, mistakenly clicking the wrong button has a larger penalty. Lastly, very few users have enough content on their profile to take advantage of this feature. That's not to say we don't want a solution for the people it would be useful for, just that it gets a slightly lower priority.

  2. Only showing controls on hover

    This would be like hovering over tweets when viewing the Twitter website. With any kind of hidden interaction there can be problems with discover-ability. That's all I have for this one, and I don't particularly agree with it when using visual cues, but I'm also not an expert in these sorts of things, so perhaps someone could make a more convincing argument either way. Perhaps the next time Argue about minutiae comes up on our team to-do list I'll bring this up.

  3. Drag and drop list ordering

    This was shot dead almost immediately because the sections can get large such that only a couple show on screen at any time, making it so you'd have to drag it 3 spots, scroll, drag three spots, scroll, ugh! You get the idea. It's possible this feature could work if the UI was a bit more compact...

As for your specific problem where you just need the list to be ordered in reverse chronological order, perhaps something simple could be devised, like assuming last read or written items should show up at the top of the list and leave the other sections alone.

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Nick: I can definitely appreciate the need to avoid clutter. But with your final, unnumbered suggestion I think you are on to something. (And since it is unnumbered that implies it has not been repeatedly rejected like the others, right? :-) So brainstorming with myself(!) -- (1) on the "add new item" page have a choice to place the item at the top or at the bottom (radio buttons or checkbox, etc.), or (2) on the main page have a button to reverse the list (so adding to the top is 3 steps: reverse/add/reverse). I prefer (1) rather than (2); how about you? –  Michael Sorens Aug 26 '11 at 16:50
    
I expect your inbox/feeds/etc. are bursting at the seams @Nick so I am adding another comment here in case you missed my previous one. I am still hopeful you might find my response suitable... –  Michael Sorens Sep 6 '11 at 21:39
    
@msorens: We talked about it more due to this question, however we decided it was not an immediate priority. I expect we will address it in an upcoming iteration though. –  NickLarsen Sep 7 '11 at 1:23
    
Glad to hear it! In the meantime, excuse me while I go add an article and push it up about 20 times :-). –  Michael Sorens Sep 7 '11 at 16:37
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