This is partly a how to and partly a statement of what I haven’t figured out yet. I’m going to talk from the perspective of a desktop/laptop computer rather than a mobile device, but I’ll point out some mobile specific things as I go.
When you look at any list of topics (nee threads) in a category (nee board) you’ll be presented with some info in columns. Desktops get the topic title, a handful of avatars (up to 5), the number of replies, the number of likes, the number of views, and something called “Activity”. Mobile devices get a subset of this info. They get a single user avatar, the topic title, a number (circled or not circled) and a time reference which is the desktop Activity column.
Topic Title: Pretty self explanatory. Grey means you have read (or at least scrolled to the bottom of) the entire topic. Black means there is something you haven’t read.
But there is one bit of added info there. If you have read some, but not all, of the posts, there will be a number circled in grey at the end of the Topic title. That generally bears some resemblance to the number of posts you haven’t read on the Topic. (There’s another unexplainable - why the resemblance and not always right?) A grey dot at the end of the Topic title means you have read none of the posts there.
Mobile users will see the gray circled number in the top right of the block for each topic. If there are no new posts to a topic you have looked at before, you will instead get the count of replies in that spot. (Explanation of that is below.) The gray dot indicating a new topic will be at the end of the topic title just like desktop users.
User Avatars: Desktop users will have up to five. The first one will be the person who started the topic. The last one will be the last poster on the topic. However, if the person who started the topic is also the most recent poster, you will instead see a fuzzy halo around their avatar in the first position. If there are less than 5 unique posters, all of their avatars will be shown, with the last poster on the right and older posters in age order as you move left. If one poster has more than one post in the last 4, their avatar will be in the position of their most recent post.
Most of the time. This isn’t hard and fast, and I can’t seem to figure out the reason for some alternate order. The only two that seem to be consistent are the thread starter (on the left) and the most recent poster (on the right).
Mobile users get only one avatar - that of the most recent poster.
Replies: You guessed it. The number of replies to the original post in the topic. Note that this is replies and not posts. It will always be one less than the number of posts because the OP is not a reply.
Mobile users sometimes get this and sometimes don’t. It will be in the top right corner of the topic’s info block. If there are unread replies in the topic, the count of unread replies will replace the count of total replies in that location. You can tell the difference by noting whether the number is in black (count of total replies) or white on a gray circle (count of unread replies).
Likes: The number of likes on the whole thread. (Darn it, topic. Yes, I’m going to keep every reference to the old terminology as I make them along with the correction.) Mobile users - sorry Charlie, only desktop users get this info. To read, or not to read, that is the decision. Mobile users will have to make that decision without the benefit of this bit of info.
Since this is the total number of likes on a topic, you’ll have to do some interpretation. Or long division, to get likes per post. And don’t forget to add 1 to the reply count to get the right number for the divisor. Or you can drop the mathematical rigor and simply compare the likes to the replies on a more touchy-feely basis to decide whether to read or not. Keep in mind that one really well liked post in a long thread can get hidden with this kind of analysis. And that lots of likes in a long thread (TOPIC, Peter, topic) may or may not indicate quality. And it might help to compare “likes” to the next column, namely…
Views: Again, not too tough to decipher. Or is it? Is this the number of unique views? So if I read the topic today and then read it again tomorrow to see the new posts that would be 2 views? Or if I read it now, then move away and read it again 5 minutes from now, then move away and read it again after another 5 minutes can I rack up crazy number of views? I don’t know. If you do, please share. I haven’t done the testing.
One thing I do know is that mobile users don’t get this bit of info.
Activity: There are so many potential better names for this column. Last activity. Most recent post date. But we’ve got what we’ve got. And by making fun of the name you probably now know what it is. A time reference to the last post (I think post - I don’t think someone clicking on a like button changes the time stamp) on the thread. Most of the time you will see this data by age. 14m for 14 minutes ago. 3d for 3 days ago. After 30 days, it reverts to a simple day reference, e.g. Jun 23.
Desktop users can get more info by hovering over the data with your mouse. That will give you a pop up with the date and time (to the minute) of both the first and last posts in the topic. That date and time is also displayed in your local time zone. No more dealing strictly with US Eastern time. Sorry mobile users. No soup for you. You get the ordinary time reference but no hovering for details.
And that pretty well covers what I’ve been able to figure out. Corrections and additions welcomed, as long as they are cordial. Or come with a cordial.