Every time I log into Stack Exchange Chat, I see the tail end of some monologue or dialogue that looks pretty interesting. Inevitably, this is what happens.

  1. Mouse over the last message that is a "reply" in the conversation. (This highlights the previous message.)
  2. Mouse over the previous message (without losing track of where I saw it!)
  3. Realize that I need to scroll up to go back any farther. Scroll up.
  4. Try to find the last message I read, then start again at step 1.

This works, but it's not very fun. Here are two ideas that could improve the experience.

Zoom to user

Show only messages sent by a specific user, and hide everything else. If somebody is telling an interesting story, this would make it much easier to read from start to finish.

This could also take the form of highlighting (eg. colours, icons), or of dimming all other chat messages instead of hiding them outright.

If you click a username in Chat, there is already an action for hide posts. I'm looking for an opposite command, such as show only this user's posts.

Zoom to conversation thread

This is similar to the previous idea, but intended to work with dialogue instead of monologue.

Allow the user to focus on a thread terminating on any specific post. This follow the conversation chain backwards, finding all of the replies (and @replies), and then displaying only the contents of that conversation.

This could be somewhat more troublesome to get correct because of the less precise definition, but I think it could be an equally valuable option.

  • 2
    This isn't an exact duplicate of this question (which is status-deferred), but the second half is. The first half I see no use for, personally.
    – user206222
    Jun 12, 2013 at 3:59

1 Answer 1


I have already implemented a userscript that colorises the posts based on a user. I believe it goes a long way towards making threads much more readable:



It makes sense to highlight more than one user at a time. Most discussions are dialogues, not monologues. While the script doesn't yet support selective highlighting of only some users or manual recoloring, I'm open to user interface suggestions (including different color schemes).

Also, I've looked at [ability to see linked chat messages separately]. While linking @replies the same way :replies are linked is probably easy enough*, I may not get to implementing the full functionality that Anna described.

  • Thanks, I'll probably use this.
    – Nic
    Jun 12, 2013 at 20:30

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