Creating a community culture of marking topics as solved

I manage a community support forum (we encourage member to member support, rather than member to employee at the company support).

Currently, around 10% of topics are marked as the solution - the number of potential topics that could be marked as the solution is higher (the exact number, I’m not sure about).

How are others creating a community culture where topics are resolved - member to member - without relying on admins to dedicate time to doing this?


Hey Noah :slight_smile:

I can’t really give much advice as I don’t run a support community but I’ve had a gander around meta and found some ideas.

Perhaps make it more obvious to members something needs solving? empty box on unsolved site setting or if you want something a little more fancy, this theme component listed below?

How active is the community and how often do the staff rush in to solve / mark issues as solved? Maybe the users are expecting staff to do the work or a kind of ticketing system (if that any makes sense? :sweat_smile:)

A little reminder that users are more than welcome jump in and help solve other member issues and to mark appropriate answer as solution doesn’t hurt in my opinion.

Interested to hear what others have to say.


There are some great thoughts here :thinking: I appreciate it :slight_smile:

Currently, there are ~500 new topics MoM, which based on other changes in our support funnel we’re estimating will increase to ~2500 MoM by the end of the year.

Of the topics that are responded to, ~30% have an admin/employee response.
Of the topics that are marked as solved ~25% are marked solved by admin/employees (we’re normally marking them resolved beyond 24hrs after the solution is added)

Naturally, with the expected increase in topics MoM we want to try and begin shifting that community culture (which we know takes time), or else we’ll be left in a position where a large proportion of conversations appear not solved when in reality, they likely do have the answer.


Hi @noahl

How are you currently encouraging the culture of self-marking and peer to peer marking?


Currently, not as actively as we probably could be. Things like when resolving a topic, replying with a note encouraging the OP to make their future topics as resolved if they find their answer.

We’re also using the built-in badges that reward replies marked as solutions (it’s the reverse behaviour since it’s the person who replied who gets rewarded, not the person who marks the reply. But hopefully, there’s an element of ‘I want my replies to be marked as the solution, so I’ll do the same for others’).

We are exploring additional ideas such as:

  • Triggered emails that once a criteria has been met (e.g. a topic has received at least one reply, and 24hrs since the last engagement has happened), the OP will be encouraged to mark a post as the solution if they’ve found one, or to continue the conversation instead of leaving it.
  • Working closer with our top engaged users - since community culture is often determined by those who are most active.

Although we’ve been doing community for a little while, this type of community (forum) is fairly new-ish to us. Sort of looking to understand how others have encouraged this, what they’re doing, what works/doesn’t, are we thinking along the right path sort of thing


I think there’s already some built-in features which encourage users in this regard. Extending that to an email notification might be an option, particularly to the owner of a topic, but I can see that fatiguing many users – I would personally ignore the messages

I’m not sure if this means 75% are marked by members, or not marked solved at all, but from context I’ll assume it means 75% are not marked solved.

I wonder if staff doing this work is part of the problem. I can’t remember the last time I marked something solved on our instance; by contrast I’ve reached out and privately guided two or three users this month towards updating their own topics. It takes more upfront effort, but in almost all cases has far more benefits than ticking the box yourself:

  1. Most users will be happy to have validation from an expert “yes, you have found a valid solution now”
  2. It’s just ticking a box, so super easy for them to do(providing they have the time)
  3. Encourages them to explore and improve their ability in the platform(this often increases their curiosity of “what else can this platform do?”)
  4. They know how to mark their topics solved now, and that the owners of the platform value such behaviour

Ticking the box yourself is a quick and easy fix – but it removes an opportunity for the user to step up their game and learn how mark it solved for themselves.

Have you thought about experimenting with a few weeks of only reaching out to users about this privately?


These insights are great! I somehow missed the marked solution reminder :exploding_head: definitely going to explore this.

The assumption is slightly off, but the thoughts still apply. (10% of forum topics that can be marked as solved are marked as solved. Of that 10%, ~25% are marked by admins/employees (~2.5% of all solvable topics) and ~75% is marked by the community (~7.5% of all solvable topics)

It does seem like a little more upfront work, but I think the long-term gain here is far more valuable.

We’re definitely open to experimenting - but these insights are already very helpful! Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.


I thought this setting was enabled by default?

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It appears it might be actually :sweat_smile: although I’ve not actually started a support topic, so haven’t seen it (I believe it’s shown only to the OP)

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I’m pretty sure it is as well. @noahl I suspect you may have missed this because you aren’t the one creating the topics.

Circling back to the email notification, and the approach to solved as a whole, I stumbled across this quote from Sam as part of my search:

I share both of these views. I would even go further and say marking the problem as solved is most valuable when the Topic is two or more pages(~6 posts) long. For shorter Topics the user is likely to scroll through each post anyway and make the judgement for themselves.

This sounds pretty good in terms of member contribution. It looks like the issue might be that the quantity marked as solved overall is low, rather than just the ratio.

Have you considered once a month/week, going through the list of unsolved topics and reaching out to the owners privately? The other question is, how useful is it to rely on the user’s contribution for this? In other words, is this user going to come back and ask 10 more questions, or are they only here for the one question and then leaving?


Another idea to remind users (which also bugs them a bit) is to edit the in admin → customise → text and change the educate until posts site setting to higher number so it lets them know every time they create a new topic.


Exactly this. One of the KPIs we’re tracking is the impact that community support has on our support funnel. We’re aiming to reduce tickets that end up with our support team that could be answered by the community - after all, a question asked to a community is limited by the knowledge of the community. A question asked to a support agent is limited by the knowledge of the person they are connected with.

The percentage of topics marked solved is one indicator of this KPI.

We’ve considered once a month/week going through and marking things as solved, but not reaching out privately. With a canned message, this could be equal the length of time but have stronger results and build that culture.

We’d looked at the overall benefits of marking something solved (there are a couple of other KPIs and initiatives we’re planning - not 100% relevant for this conversation), but not specifically the benefit it brings to community members on an individual basis.

We have a fair mix of 1-off questions and returning members.

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I can see why the number of topics marked solved would be of interest for that, but does it communicate the impact on support, or does it show what number of topics were marked as solved? Richard Millington does a fantastic talk about this if you haven’t seen it already Data Driven Community Management.

If you want to see the impact on your support team, maybe you could measure the number of responses from non staff which have been liked? That would indicate how many helpful contributions are coming from non-staff(not every like is a helpful contribution, so maybe take 30-40% of that number)

It’s always been worth the investment for me, but my users are colleagues so they are far more likely to return. However, in your case, high-touch customer service like this can be the difference between a user coming back and contributing further, or simply leaving after one visit.

I see it as offering users the following benefits:

  1. There is an answer, and the answer is in here
  2. A somewhat official stamp of approval “look, our specialists agree that this is the answer!”
  3. A quick path to the answer when the Topic is long and the answer could be hard to find amongst the posts.

Coming from Q&A site Stack Overflow, I have some questions for you and thoughts about this that might help frame user engagement or give you some ideas for how to look into the data to understand community members.

What I would encourage is that you think about the people using your Discourse for support and answer some questions about them:

  • How objective are the support requests/ questions you typically get? Are solutions generally clear and unambiguous or are they more subjective with subtle differences that benefit from deeper discussion and weighing the costs/benefits of various options?
  • How reusable are solutions in your community? Will other members find a solved support request is applicable to their situation?
  • What level of expertise does your average topic creator have? Is it likely they feel comfortable asserting that one specific answer is “correct”? Might they be concerned that the solution that worked for them may not work for others
  • What level of engagement do topic creators have in your community? Do they come by just to ask their question after being directed there from your company website or do they use the Discourse as a general reference?

In my experience, the value of a solution marker depends on the aspects in the non-exhaustive list above.

The more objective and reusable the request, the more valuable it is to have (and encourage) a clear solution. Subjectivity makes it less likely there is one solution that works for everyone and indicators of a best solution may frustrate people in slightly different situations or who are different people with different needs. Requests that are too specific to the asker may be solvable but the value of having an obvious solution may be reduced if no one else ever has the same issue.

When it comes to the expertise and engagement levels of your average topic creator, low-expertise and less engaged users may not be confident about marking a solution as the correct one or may be unaware of (or never return after getting the solution) the community’s expectations. Particularly with low expertise creators, they may not be able to adequately judge the solutions they get - for example, a proposed solution may technically work but simultaneously introduce security issues that make it a bad solution. How likely this is will depend on the scope of your specific Discourse.

One other aspect that may be worth considering is the format you’re using for these support requests. I can understand wanting the topic creator to indicate an issue is solved particularly in a support-type forum. If the solution is hidden somewhere in the middle of a discussion thread, readers may struggle to find it. The Solved state and its additional quote of the solution directly below the first post in the topic addresses this neatly.

If you’re using the standard Discourse discussion topic format, I’d be curious if that’s an aspect of why people don’t think about marking as solved since (for me, at least) it’s odd to think a discussion can be solved at all.

In May, Discourse officially released the post voting format plugin, which resembles a more traditional Q&A or support format where the initial post is a question or issue and each reply is an answer that may solve the problem. This format moves requests for additional details, supporting comments (e.g. “I have the same issue”), and other interactions to a comment section on the question and answers also get votes and comments to indicate whether the solution worked for them or suggest improvements to the solution.

Votes on answers allow users to quickly find what other community members feel the best solution is since it would be the highest-scoring answer. Assuming you have active members able to vote on the best solutions, this format presents the community-recommended answer at the top, similar to the solved state without the asker needing to do anything extra.

I’d be curious to see whether more people mark Q&A as solved and whether you think this format type would address your concerns.

Whether you use the Q&A format or stick to the classic forum topics, sometimes it’s worth understanding your community to better determine whether your unmet expectations have solutions. If you struggle to retain topic creators as regular visitors, you may not see an uptick in solved status on those topics, even if you send reminders inviting them to return and share any updates with their issue.

Absolutely work towards educating and increasing engagement with your community members but also consider what expectations and goals are appropriate based on the community you have and consider how to address concerns without expecting the users to change their behavior. That way leads to madness! :rofl:

You stated in a recent message:

I agree with @Tris20’s take on this but I think it’s worth emphasizing - you seem to be in a spot where you’re looking for ways to adjust user behavior because of your KPIs. Changing user behavior is hard without big changes to the platform that may upset an established core community.

By taking your community’s needs and behavior into account, understanding and being creative with the data you have access to, you can work towards understanding what’s missing. Then you can consider whether there are Discourse implementation changes that will increase community engagement, lead to different behavior patterns, and give you more data to work with. A change could be something small like a custom Like type that indicates “This is correct” or bigger like testing the Q&A topic format, or you may find that you have everything you need already.