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Author Topic: Automatically Close Old Threads Back to Topics
MadFueler

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Message Posted: Dec 11, 2012 8:22:30 PM

The forum guidelines ask us not to post to any threads that haven't been posted to for two months or more, but those of us new to the forums might not find that out until after we've already done so a couple of times (as did I). If that's a hard-and-fast rule, why not have such topics close automatically?
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scoutmaster
Champion Author Pittsburgh

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Message Posted: Jan 21, 2013 9:59:40 AM

Read #13 in this topic at the beginning of this category.
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djp071158
Champion Author Detroit

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Message Posted: Jan 20, 2013 12:33:24 PM

I did not know about the 2 month rule. thanks.
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sarasotasingle
Champion Author Sarasota

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Message Posted: Jan 3, 2013 11:27:21 PM

I agree
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scoutmaster
Champion Author Pittsburgh

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Message Posted: Jan 3, 2013 2:48:57 PM

I agree with Gas_Buddy. The expiration time should be standard across the forums.
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Gas_Buddy
Champion Author Maryland

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Message Posted: Jan 3, 2013 2:34:43 PM

GoGoGoodyear:

"The age of a thread that causes prompting could be set per forum according to how busy each forum is. This would allow a seldom-used forum to allow posting to older discussions if all the threads in that forum tended to be older because of infrequent updates."

Isn't this somewhat contradictory, setting different thread closure dates? If a thread is "seldom-used", and has "infrequent updates", there's a reason it's seldom used or has infrequent updates. Either people aren't interested in the topic or they didn't have anything to add to the discussion that hasn't already been said.
If a topic has continuing discussion, however inane the responses are or however many "ok" responses keep it on-going, it wouldn't be closed.

Seems to me that there should be one standard, regardless of what it is (or what I think of the standard), not making exceptions for "seldom-used" topics or topics with "infrequent updates". That defeats the entire idea of closure.
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GoGoGoodyear
Champion Author Los Angeles

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Message Posted: Jan 3, 2013 5:07:45 AM


The age of a thread that causes prompting could be set per forum according to how busy each forum is. This would allow a seldom-used forum to allow posting to older discussions if all the threads in that forum tended to be older because of infrequent updates.
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TxJeans
Champion Author Tampa

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Message Posted: Jan 2, 2013 6:56:39 AM

I like that idea GoGoGoodyear!

<<<<"Maybe posting to an old thread should first prompt the user to the effect of:
"this thread is more than X days old, are you sure you want to post to it?"

This isn't the same as locking but could help remind someone before they dredge something up.

The same code that prompts the user could also alert the mods that an old thread has been dredged and needs to be checked into.">>>>
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scoutmaster
Champion Author Pittsburgh

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Message Posted: Jan 2, 2013 5:05:18 AM

That is a very good idea GoGoGoodyear!
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GoGoGoodyear
Champion Author Los Angeles

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Message Posted: Jan 2, 2013 4:42:37 AM


Maybe posting to an old thread should first prompt the user to the effect of:
"this thread is more than X days old, are you sure you want to post to it?"

This isn't the same as locking but could help remind someone before they dredge something up.

The same code that prompts the user could also alert the mods that an old thread has been dredged and needs to be checked into.
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Gas_Buddy
Champion Author Maryland

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Message Posted: Dec 16, 2012 4:31:40 PM

Part of the "common" problem is that there continually newer members who find and read topics that might have languished. Some may have intelligent comments worthy of restarting a topic that's...for lack of a better word...not been common but has been productive.
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DiannaFan
Champion Author Utah

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Message Posted: Dec 15, 2012 11:41:50 PM

That's where the "dead topic" definition comes in. If it's something that's common it won't get old enough to where we have to worry about it. If it's a topic from a year ago, it's not common. I don't think the viewpoints are mutually exclusive.
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Gas_Buddy
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Message Posted: Dec 15, 2012 10:54:32 PM

CampKohler:

It's not a question of new members rehashing an issue; it's a question of new members (and older members) starting yet another topic on the same issue. For example, how many times do we need a topic on "...there should be more prizes; divide the $250", "which do we post, cash or credit...", "people posting diesel prices for stations...", and so on. That, to me, is unnecessary rehashing.

And I don't think anyone is suggesting, even remotely, that everyone should have a unique opinion. Your post, "How are you going to stop new visitors from expressing the same opinions that we have previously seen? Should they have to take a test and thereby be vetted as holding only new opinions?" That last line is, for lack of a better word, ludicrous. But, while I understand the logic of closing old threads, I wouldn't disagree with your suggestion "I recommend that the bumping rule just be abandoned; the fallout would be harmless." if for not other reason than (to me) it makes sense to have people contribute to an on-going issue/topic than to dilute (hopefully) constructive and intelligent discussion among multiple topics on the identical issue. If anything, I'd rather not close old topics unless the discussion has veered significantly from the original post; if that's the case, I have no problem with members asking the moderators to review the thread and consider closing the issue (hopefully with the moderator comment, "Discussion has veered significantly from the original issue". I think I can go along with each moderator having a different tolerance/interpretation level or standard.
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scoutmaster
Champion Author Pittsburgh

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Message Posted: Dec 15, 2012 4:56:08 PM

If you look at Alien6500 other posts in other topics, the answer would be he is just posting for points.
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CampKohler
Champion Author Sacramento

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Message Posted: Dec 15, 2012 4:54:29 PM

Don: I don't see anything negative about "rehashing." It could be said that if someone is going to the trouble of rehashing, then that is the opinion they wish to express (even if it has been said before by others).

How are you going to stop new visitors from expressing the same opinions that we have previously seen? Should they have to take a test and thereby be vetted as holding only new opinions? Of course not, that's a silly idea, so one soon comes to the conclusion that rehashing is just something that is to be expected and should be accepted as what happens when new minds drop by. And if topics are closed to prevent it, they can simply start a new one, so it's hardly worth all the fuss. I recommend that the bumping rule just be abandoned; the fallout would be harmless.

The only thing more troublesome than herding cats is herding minds. At least cats can be expected to behave (roughly) alike.

There is something that could be done to aid readers, though. And that is to implement a previous suggestion to include in the category index each topic's starting date in addition to the last-post date. It wouldn't have to be the full date and time, just as is much as would be necessary, i.e. the year is not necessary for the latest post and the time is not necessary for the OP.



[Edited by: CampKohler at 12/15/2012 5:00:48 PM EST]
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Gas_Buddy
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Message Posted: Dec 15, 2012 3:28:32 PM

DiannaFan wrote:

"...Let's see. There was a topic that had x number of posts last year. Let's say 20 as an example. You tack on a new post #21. To figure out what's going on in the topic...I have to go through all 21 posts. The alternative is to create a new topic and start over from scratch and I only need to read your one post to figure out everything that's going on with that topic.

Adding to an existing topic by definition incorporates the discussion that's come before it. If you just read this post by itself for example you would have no clue what I was talking about."

To use that example, and assuming that reading through 21 posts is "excessive", isn't that better than having a 21 post intelligent discussion but closing it and starting an identical one on the identical issue? For example, someone starts a thread on releasing the strategic gas reserves, and there are 21 pros and cons, some perhaps explaining the logic and reasoning for the reserves, etc. Even if you didn't read any of the responses and simply added your own "while I haven't read anyone else's opinions or facts, here's my position...", isn't that better than a new topic that asks "What about the reserves" and your comments to that one simply because it's newer? Wouldn't adding to an even slighgtly older topic add more perspective (yours) to what others have said? It's different if you're creating a new, dissimilar topic.

Said another way, would you really rather have more topics on "I received an e-mail from a Coca-Cola executive...everyone sends 10 e-mails...300 million Americans would force the oil companies..." or having to respond to the already numerous "...if no one buys gas on this certain date, the oil companies will have a glut and reduce prices by 50 ckeep ents the next day like they did in 1997..." There are already wonderful, intelligent comments. To me, I'd rather the thread continue with your (and other's) wonderful responses than to try to bring in all the reasonable responses from prior threads into the new one, starting all over...again.

Asking the moderators to allow an old topic is a reasonable suggestion, for that matter a very good one. But, most members don't want to wait (especially, in my opinion, newer members) a day or more to get a response from a moderator saying they can post to an older topic; that defeats the spontaneity of discussion boards. (Especially when the response is "I agree" or "Okay" or "Boycott the gouger who charges more than another gas station...")

I like maxstar's suggestion of a "pull-down", just that I would increase the current two months to either 90 or 120 days (3 or 4 months), simply to allow newer members a better opportunity to take part in what may be an older topic, but one of interest, adding their contributions to those of others. I would, for that matter, be amicable to a 6-calendar month "locking", subject to moderator approved re-opening.

That said, Alien6500's entire post reads:
"agreed"

As there are multiple comments in this topic, of varying opinions and
reasoning, what or who is Allen6500 agreeing with? The original post? kwzh or my posts, or what? The only time such a comment would make sense would be if Allen6500 was the first to post a reply. And even then it doesn't add to the discussion. In my opinion.
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Alien6500
All-Star Author London

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Message Posted: Dec 15, 2012 9:10:21 AM

agreed
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scoutmaster
Champion Author Pittsburgh

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Message Posted: Dec 15, 2012 7:26:12 AM

Very well said DianaFan.

I think maxstar's idea bears looking into but I'm not sure if it should be under Report Abuse.
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DiannaFan
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Message Posted: Dec 15, 2012 12:23:47 AM

Maybe I misinterpreted. Let's see. There was a topic that had x number of posts last year. Let's say 20 as an example. You tack on a new post #21. To figure out what's going on in the topic (because even if I had read the topic last year I wouldn't remember it) I have to go through all 21 posts. The alternative is to create a new topic and start over from scratch and I only need to read your one post to figure out everything that's going on with that topic.

Adding to an existing topic by definition incorporates the discussion that's come before it. If you just read this post by iteself for example you would have no clue what I was talking about.
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kwzh
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Message Posted: Dec 14, 2012 3:36:06 AM

DiannaFan, I think you must be misinterpreting my example. It's intended to *avoid* having to wade through pages of stuff.
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maxstar
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Message Posted: Dec 13, 2012 12:50:51 AM

I would agree with the idea of automatically closing after 60 or 90 days of inactivity. However I would amend the "Report Abuse" drop down to allow a choice to request that a topic be reopened. That way if a member has something to further a discussion and the moderators agree with the members reason, it can be reopened.

DiannaFan made some good points on topic that have veered off track or have long since run their course.
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DiannaFan
Champion Author Utah

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Message Posted: Dec 13, 2012 12:12:37 AM

In my experience in running forums (I've run several) I find that the longer a topic remains open the higher the chance that it's veered off the original topic. At that point trying to follow it is difficult at best and the new topic should be split off on it's own. This is separate from the issue of someone resurrecting a long dead topic with something that has only vaguly something to do with the original topic. That's a whole monster in itself. kwzh's example #2 is a perfect example of what NOT to do. There is no reason to wade through pages of posts to get to what's really a new topic.

My point was that IF the choices are leaving topics open indefinitely or closing after x days, the auto-closing is preferable. Closing after inactive for x days is definitely the best solution though.
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MadFueler
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Message Posted: Dec 12, 2012 8:19:40 PM

Glad to know it's not a hard-and-fast rule, and that I can use my judgement if I want to reopen something. I always try to look and see what's been said before so I don't just rehash or say "Me, too."

This is just the first forum I've participated in where such a rule about old topics exists, and I thought I committed a grand faux pas when I found out about it. Now that I see the reasoning behind it, it somewhat makes sense; however, I thought the beauty of Internet forums was that you can react after seconds or think for months and either way just pick up where you left off. Granted, I am posting for points, but also trying to contribute substantial food for thought in the process.

I appreciate your thoughtful responses to this and look forward to participating in these forums more.
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Don
Moderator
Message Posted: Dec 12, 2012 3:29:27 PM

Scrapheap,

IIRC, back before the forums were expanded and became as active as they are now, this used to be something that was once manually queried into the database (ie. if topics have been inactive since date/time, close those topics).

CampKohler,

You are correct, bumped topics remain open or are closed by a moderator's discretion. If a topic is bumped picks up on being an active topic of discussion again, most times it doesn't seem necessary to close the topic off unless it looks like the same discussion is about the be rehashed. If a bumped topic only sees only a few responses after being bumped (or sees no responses at all after being bumped) then the topic is most likely going to be closed.

Gas_Buddy,

I'm positive that such a feature being implemented would only be after a topic has been inactive for X amount of days. We wouldn't automatically close a topic only because it's 60 days old, but we could look at automatically closing topics that haven't seen a response in 60 days.

As kwzh has said, some topics are low traffic by nature and do see occasional responses in order to keep an event up to date with recent developments (these are normally the kind of topics that we would ask users to contact us about getting green light to revive a topic).

The amount of time a topic should be inactive before closing itself off is certainly something to think about.

I know there are some forums that operate very much the same way our topic threads work, our topics only show the four latest pages of responses, maybe I can suggest the amount of pages available in each forum be decreased as well (ie. Suggest a GasBuddy improvement has 21 pages of topics, this could be reduced to a maximum of 5-10. This would allow the majority of the topics available be most "recent", older inactive topics would filter out and disappear).

I'll pass this suggestion toward the developers for further review.

-Don


[Edited by: Don at 12/12/2012 3:32:18 PM EST]
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CampKohler
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Message Posted: Dec 12, 2012 2:57:05 PM

Yes, but I have seen a newbie post to several old topics, apparently because the subjects attracted his interest (there is nothing in the posts that would warrant labeling them "stirring up trouble") and yet they were quickly locked. What other conclusion could be drawn from that but than it IS a hard and fast rule?

Perhaps it all depends on which moderator is analyzing the situation and so no amount of guessing on our parts could possibly hit upon the correct formula. Ah, sweet mystery of life....

You know, it all comes down to this: what is the harm of bumping old topics? Does it cause wear and tear on the hardware? Is there a forum bug that pops up when bumping old topics, one that nobody wants to take time out of their current projects to track down and fix? Does it eat up too much storage space? What? What? What? Perhaps if it was made absolutely clear EXACTLY what harm bumping did, we could all parrot the mantra to newbies (like "always flush after you use the toilet") and all this hubbub would be permanently put to rest. I can't think of any reason (other than just a perverse desire to keep the puppets jiggling on their strings) against such transparency.

[Edited by: CampKohler at 12/12/2012 3:05:29 PM EST]
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scoutmaster
Champion Author Pittsburgh

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Message Posted: Dec 12, 2012 6:40:32 AM

I think this is a good idea. It would prevent old topics from being resurrected which happens frequently. Usually these topics have run their course and should not be restarted.
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kwzh
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Message Posted: Dec 12, 2012 5:43:55 AM

MadFueler writes,
> If that's a hard-and-fast rule, why not have such topics close automatically?

That's easy. The answer is that it's *not* a hard-and-fast rule.

Example #1: Someone goes searching in the deep archives and posts a new message to a topic that's already been settled, just to stir up trouble; several people respond to the top post, without looking at the date, thinking that since they don't recognize the discussion, it must be new. This is inappropriate behavior.

Example #2: Someone returns to a low-traffic topic that tracks some type of event, and reports that a new instance of the event has occurred. This is appropriate behavior. (I just did it myself, last month, to a topic that has been quiescent for over a year. The regulars track it using the Favorite Topics List.)
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Gas_Buddy
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Message Posted: Dec 11, 2012 11:28:26 PM

DiannaFan:
"If it has to be automated, I'd suggest just closing a topic after it's x days old regardless of when the last post was. If there's really something pressing someone wants to add, just start a few topic."

Why would you want to stop allowing discussion in a topic that's on-going simply because it's X number of days old, and then having members start a new topic to continue discussing an issue of interest, not only losing the continuity of the discussion but losing the history and/or background and/or intelligent responses (regardless of points of view)?

I understand topics being closed after a lengthy period of non-participation (though I don't necessary agree with the suggestion because some topics are worth continuing with by new members, but that's a different issue), to start a new topic on an issue, as DiannaFan suggests, simply because "we have to close this topic because it's been open for X number of days...please feel free to continue your discussion somewhere new and somewhere else" makes absolutely no sense.

CampKohler's comment, "If it is known that a topic will be locked after a set period of time, then there may be the temptation to, as the time for locking nears, bump topics to "rescue them"" makes sense, though I doubt that many members will bump topics for the sole reason "the deadline for automatic closing is near". I would rather take the chance that, yes, some members might "rescue" a topic, than to have year old topics restarted for the sole posting of comments such as "I agree...", etc.

What's happened, of course, is that some very interesting and intelligent discussion has been dropped to page two or further back with the influx of new topics, and (say, in MadFueler's case) a dedicated member looking backwards might find a topic worthy of restarting. For that reason, I'd rather take the chance that old topics are "accidently", or intentionally, restarted. Alternatively, extend the "don't post after" date to something closer to 4 or six months. I would much rather have continued discussion in an older thread than to have multiple topics on the same issue.
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Scrapheap
Champion Author Virginia

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Message Posted: Dec 11, 2012 11:21:35 PM

The system used to do that. I am surprised this changed.

[Edited by: Scrapheap at 12/11/2012 11:22:19 PM EST]
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CampKohler
Champion Author Sacramento

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Message Posted: Dec 11, 2012 10:45:04 PM

Boy, was that a Freudian slip or what? By starting new topics just to contribute to an older one, you would be generating a "few." :-)
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DiannaFan
Champion Author Utah

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Message Posted: Dec 11, 2012 10:36:22 PM

If it has to be automated, I'd suggest just closing a topic after it's x days old regardless of when the last post was. If there's really something pressing someone wants to add, just start a few topic.
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CampKohler
Champion Author Sacramento

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Message Posted: Dec 11, 2012 8:56:18 PM

This suggestion has been added to the Suggestion Tracking List as a new topic on an existing subject.

Why indeed? Some guesses:
1. It's no fun operating a speed trap if all the vehicles have governors limiting them to the speed limit.
2. If it is known that a topic will be locked after a set period of time, then there may be the temptation to, as the time for locking nears, bump topics to "rescue them" from a fate about the same as death.

[Edited by: CampKohler at 12/11/2012 9:03:56 PM EST]
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