I think if you go back and look at my first two posts you’ll find that I agree threading and vote systems are optimal for that particular use-case. Again, I am pretty anti-threading but I can’t criticize Reddit and Hacker News and even Disqus for having those things given what they’re trying to do.
The problem, and the reason I’m so belligerent about this, is that there is clearly a substantial contingent of programmers and decision makers that don’t seem to understand this. Recently there was a blog post that made the front page of HN about why Facebook needs anonymity. I think a snide but accurate summary would be “I don’t understand Facebook and I haven’t talked to anyone who likes Facebook but I think Facebook should be Reddit.”
I have yet to see anyone say, “I think threaded conversations are good for my use-case so I’m using it.” I have seen plenty of people who effectively say “I’m using threading because I like Reddit and I think every site should be Reddit.” (10 years ago, you could replace “Reddit” with “Slashdot”) I am very wary of the opinions of people who think Reddit is a social network or even a forum. It’s a content aggregator with loosely moderated comment sections. It’s also something I’m not even slightly interested in.
This is also kind of a sore spot for me right now as I’m kind of a MOOC junkie and I recently came to the realization that most of the problems with MOOC forums can be explained by the assumption that their designers are badly mimicking Stack Exchange*. I’ve actually got thousands of pent-up words on this subject that I plan to send to the relevant parties after I’ve edited it down to something reasonable.
* Udacity is actually expertly mimicking Stack Exhange, which works for their model