We’ve had a few cases recently where people unearth threads from over a year ago and start replying to them again. I’m not a fan of this. I think most of the time it would be better to start a new topic and link to the old one (if relevant). This will create links in both directions (discourse does that automatically), so people will still be able to follow what’s going on coming from the old thread.
It’s also annoying for the people who originally posted to the thread and now all get notified. I’ve manually closed one thread that I had started myself for this reason, but I’d like to institute some general auto-closing settings, e.g. close threads after a month (or two or three) of inactivity. Does that seem like a good idea?
no, leave open for all of eternity
I like the whole thread as context. I think that linking to a post and continuing would inhibit some discussion. But I certainly understand the problem of not being able to get out of notifications.
Could subscriptions to threads expire after some time delay? Then the thread would pop up on the list of discussions at the top alerting interested parties that more discussion is happening without pinging people with notifications?
I’d rather keep them. This forum software does a great job conveying time/context/structure, and if there’s a new reply, why wouldn’t I like to get notifications?
Maybe the ability to unsubscribe from a topic rather than closing the topic?
It is actually possibly to unsuscribe from a topic, so that argument is moot. I’ve thought about this some more, and what bothers is me is that old threads get bumped up, pushing down more recent content.
This is especially bad with some of the inflammatory topics. There are a handful of threads that every few months get pushed back to the top of the list, often without adding much value. These conversations have been had, but they are a temptation for people to drop their Hot Takes, or to quote something that someone said at some point, and then try to pick an argument.
If you really have a new perspective to bring to the table then why not start a new thread? Give it a title, establish some context, make your point, and let’s discuss!
It seems the poll is divided but leaning towards auto-closing. How about we put a pretty long time onto it, like six months? Surely a thread that’s worth keeping alive can gather two posts a year?
I think we shouldn‘t be discouraged by someones latest Hot Take on one of the more controversial topics on here. So far - in my opinion! - there‘s been lots of interesting (if not fruitful) discussion around Clojure‘s value/value propositions in contrast to what else is out there.
This is a forum and by that label we shouldn‘t strive to supress anything people feel the need to discuss, even if it‘s slander (which I really haven‘t seen). Is there any reason to be afraid of voices from the wider community? If anything, it should be an opportunity for „us“ to clarify counterpoints and even out discussions.
I‘d rather see a CoC that covers inflammatory headlines/topics and politely ask authors to frame questions objectively/neutrally. The Clojure vs Haskell thread that‘s currently seeing attention is highly interesting, and I wouldn‘t mind it being bumped every now and then.
From my own experience here, yes, there‘s some „old“ threads that keep coming up, but maybe that just means there hasn‘t been a satisfactory consensus?
If the alternative to old threads being bumped unnecessarily is that we have 10 shorter threads about the same thing, what‘s the difference?
I see no reason to close topics. Personally every time I see a topic being closed I feel like censorship happened (harsh word, but really my feeling). A forum is a place for maximally asynchronous discussion. It’s not the place of quick-live chat, there is already Slack/Twitter. If I want to reply to a discussion that stopped 1 year ago, it may be because one year ago I didn’t find it interesting or I didn’t have the knowledge to understand.
Concrete example: there’s currently a very interesting discussion about Haskell and Clojure going on. I don’t really participate because I was never able to do more than hello world in Haskell whereas I’m ok with Clojure. Maybe when I finally decide to learn Haskell in one year again I’ll be happy to share my feelings over there. No need to hurry. No need to shut it down. It’s just fine that the discussion sits there. And if I feel like I should open a new topic because what I want to say is slightly off-tipic but still related I know I can. I have the choice.
Other example: say you add the auto close rule after a period X. Then for this X no newcomer adds an entry to the “Introduce yourself” topic. The topic closes. At X+d a newcomer finally decides to post such entry but hey, too late. What does it mean? The place is full and accept nobody anymore?
And if you answer “Discourse offers the ability to select which topic auto-close or not” I would add “then only you have the knowledge of how the whole forum works”.
Please keep it simple and open.
I’m also in favour of keeping topics alive. If some specific topic is beat to death and needs closing, the moderators can make an executive decision to close it.
Discourse provides very nice and intuitive methods to unsubscribe from notifications on a per-thread basis so I don’t think it would be a nuisance to receive a mail out of the blue once in a while – you can choose to ignore it or unsubscribe from the thread entirely, while still letting someone who wasn’t part of the original discussion to chip in with all the context readily available.
Plus, for a relatively slow-posting forum, auto closing even after 6 months will lead to a large majority of topics being closed at any given time – meaning higher barrier to entry. I think psychologically it’s easier to reply to a thread than to create a new one of your one.
Maybe if we had a “new” filter showing the newest topics and a “active” filter which shows the topics which have had the most comments recently.
My concerns are if I have a new comment I would like to add to an older topic? Do I have to create a new topic with a “[Follow on]” tag just to add the comment?
Thank you all for the thoughtful discussion, I’m starting to be convinced we could keep things the way they are. The poll however is showing that two thirds of people would prefer to auto-close.
So far all comments here are for keeping things open, could anyone who’s in favor of auto-closing pitch in why they think it would be better?
The number of people involved in the survey was too small and the results were not representative.
I think this is likely to be one of those cases where folks opposed to auto-closing tend to have much stronger opinions on the topic and hence are more vocal.
Right now it looks like nearly 60% are in favor of auto-closing, no doubt for all the reasons you presented in your opening post. Should we all post “Me too!” responses to that?
When I first looked at the poll I was in favor of keeping threads open. But after due consideration of specific points raised, I think “just start a new thread with relevant context” is a superior solution. Threads get more difficult to moderate as they age, and just like Clojure is nice, so is a little topic…closure.
Thanks a lot for all the votes and input. We’ve changed our settings to close posts after 6 months of inactivity, and have archived existing posts that cross that threshold. 396 out of 2951 topics have been archived.
Topics may still be closed earlier at the moderator’s discretion, e.g. when requested by the original poster of a thread, similarly if there is good reason to reopen topics we may do so, but as a baseline I think this setting makes a lot of sense and will help us keep moderation duties to a minimum going forward.
We can also change this default per topic, making it longer, shorter, or removing it all together, so e.g. the Introductions thread will not auto-close.