Making Sense of the Reverse

Something that IMDb has been doing has bothered me for a long time (since I've been browsing it since around 1995).

It's not even their fault. And once the examples are shown, maybe you'll be as surprised as I am that this hasn't been resolved or even figured out yet.

In fact, it's the governing body of HyperText Markup Language (HTML) itself that is has been to blame.

Let me guide you through the thought-process. We will need an example, and this is where we begin the discussion.

IMdb's most prolific actor list says Richard Whiteley has done the most acting to date. I've never heard of him, which does not make him any less notable, so the focus will shift to someone more timely. While Mel Blanc is well-known, you usually do not see him in a feature presentation as he almost exclusively did voices of familiar cartoon characters. I'll stick to one of my favorite screen actors, Morgan Freeman, for this example.

If you scroll to the Filmography section where Mr. Freeman is listed as an Actor, the first 5 films are (as of 2008-07-06):

1. The Last Full Measure (2009)
2. Rendezvous with Rama (2009)
3. The Human Factor (2009)
3. The Lonely Maiden (2009)
5. The Code (2008)

This beginning, interestingly enough, initially looks like the first film he worked on is "The Last Full Measure (2009)" since it is numbered "1", but in fact is the last. Scrolling all the way down his acting career you will eventually find out that he has acted in 87 films.

My issue with the presentation of this information is: Why should I have to scroll down to find out how many films in total? Furthermore, why is the timeline opposite to that of the list?

A better representation of the list would begin at the top with:

87. The Last Full Measure (2009)
86. Rendezvous with Rama (2009)
85. The Human Factor (2009)
84. The Lonely Maiden (2009)
83. The Code (2008)

and end with:

5. Blade (1973)
4. Who Says I Can't Ride a Rainbow! (1971)
3. Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? (1968)
2. A Man Called Adam (1966)
1. The Pawnbroker (1964)

Thus, the first movie that Mr. Freeman acted in was "The Pawnbroker (1964)", and the most recent would be "The Last Full Measure (2009)". With the organization in this manner, you can tell instantaneously that he has acted in 87 films. Also, chronologically both counts (film and year) are progressing in tandem.

Any information that can be presented, should be presented without having to think about it.

What is obvious to some, may become obvious to others with understanding. That is simply good design. Good design takes a keen eye and mind to make the obvious simple.

Thankfully, the W3 is proposing to incorporate reverse lists in HTML 5.0. I hope IMDb takes this new code on to reverse the confusion.

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