Difference between topics, posts and replies?

I’m still new enough to using Discourse that this leaves me completely confused and makes me realize I don’t understand the basics.

I’ve had in my mind that a “Topic” differs from a “Reply” in that Topics are first, everything else under it is a Reply. But that both Topics and Replies are both considered “Posts.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but what I’m concluding now is that “Topic” is synonymous with “Post” and that “Reply” is distinct in that it comes under a topic/post. If that’s correct, then why would you ever need to refer to a “first” post? Posts are always first.

I have a feeling I’m still getting this wrong. I apologize for getting this far without understanding the basics. Please help me out.


If you click or tap on the date in the upper right hand corner for any post.


You’ll see the post number.

  • Topics are collections of posts.
  • Replies are in response to some other post, so the first reply would be post #2 by definition
  • A topic has zero replies when created, but it has one post

Distinguishing the first post in the topic, from the topic itself, when it is impossible so far as I know to create a topic without simultaneously writing the first post, is confusing for users.

Nobody wants to be notified of the first post in contradistinction to the new topic. What they want is to be notified of new topics. Just using that language will clear up all sorts of potential confusion. Besides, that’s what the feature actually does.

If you want to refer to new topics, just talk about new topics, without adding the qualifier “First post.” If me and my co-admin couldn’t figure out what it meant I’m willing to bet most users have no idea.

I know you closed the issue before I could give a suggestion @codinghorror, but I have a suggestion just the same. :slight_smile:

Replace “Watching First Post” with “Limited Tracking” or “Notify About New Topics”

Replace “You will only be notified of the first post in each new topic in these categories.” with “You will be notified of new topics in this category but not replies to the topics.”

Just my two cents.


I do like this suggestion, so I think I’ll add that copy. OK, that is done.


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