Splitting of the discussions

(Andrey Fedorov) #1

I personally find it quite confusing when a discussion is split/merged, or when messages are moved from one thread to another. This results in messages that lose context, and it is also possible that while moving a message into a new thread, other messages will lose meaning. So when I read a thread, I sometimes wonder where things came from, or whether they are in the right context. On top of that, for a regular non-admin user like myself, it is not even clear what are the capabilities of the platform in splitting/merging, and so I don’t know what to expect.

At the same time, I agree that conversations can take on topics that deserve separate threads.

What I suggest is that instead of “hard” reset by moving a message into a new thread or splitting, to split off an existing discussion, the relevant part of the existing discussion is quoted in a new thread. It probably also makes sense to add a reference to the original discussion where it originated.

Custom Slicer distributions
(Andras Lasso) #2

Splitting/merging is not a perfect solution for diverging discussions, but it’s quite good solution, as there is no duplication of information and cross-references are added automatically in both directions. Unfortunately, the cross-references are not that easy to see (you kind of have to look for them to find them).

(Andrey Fedorov) #3

Andras, the problem is that the message is removed from the original discussion when it is split into new discussion. This leads to the loss of the original context.

To start new discussion I suggest quoting an excerpt from the original thread, and explaining the reason for initiating new discussion to give context. I do not see any duplication or related problem here. My 2c.

(Andras Lasso) #4

Although two-way links are automatically added (both where messages moved to and from), I agree that it would make things more clear if these additional information are added to the new topic. Next time I split a discussion I’ll try this.

(Isaiah Norton) #5

I think the rationale behind the hard-split functionality, is that it helps prevent more replies to whatever is considered a “splittable topic” in the original thread, in which case you then have two separate parallel chains. I mostly use split when there is a self-contained (or off-topic) question that starts a new chain of replies.

(Andrey Fedorov) #6

Isaiah, I agree it has rationale, but in my personal view, the damage and confusion do not justify the benefits.

(Andras Lasso) #7

I agree that split/merged topics are not represented very clearly (links to related discussions should be highlighted more clearly; it could be shown on orphan topic pages what happened, why the page is locked).

However, I would let Discourse developers worry about improving this. We don’t use custom templates, themes, so we get all updates that are pushed out.

Since Discourse is a mainstream forum engine, with probably millions of users, and it is growing fast, we don’t need to teach people how it works, they will eventually learn it/get used to it by using it.

(Andrey Fedorov) #8

All I can say, speaking for myself, the result of splits/merges often times is very confusing to me.

(Steve Pieper) #9

+1 for minimizing thread splitting.

(Andras Lasso) #10

I don’t like them either, and I agree that discourse should display them more clearly, but even as they are, they are still better than having parallel discussions in multiple topics or discussions diverging from the original topic.

Maybe we should educate users more - warn them when they inappropriately post unrelated follow-up questions in the same thread? We could also just delete the post (and explain them in a private message what was the problem) but it seems more harsh then the current practice of just moving the post.

(Steve Pieper) #11

I agree there’s no perfect solution - for me it’s just sometimes surprising when I get email notification that looks like a new thread but then I recognize it from a previous thread.

(Andrey Fedorov) #12

A simple approach could be to start a new thread if the discussion veers off, and mention that new thread from the old thread.

It’s not that it’s just about confusion. As the owner of a comment in the initial thread, I feel it belongs to that thread, and I do not like when my comment (or its portion) is taken out of context and moved somewhere else. The result looks as if I made that comment in that new thread, and it mis-represents my actions.

(Steve Pieper) #13

Yes, it would be best to split the thread at the time a new topic is introduced, and not after the fact.

I don’t like getting email notifications of new posts when they pop up with new subject lines and no context.