For those who's instances have some long threads, how has the lack of pagination affected the experience?

Currently using an old PHP paginated based forum and evaluating Discourse. I recall there being a strong stance against supporting paginated threads(as well as reddit style nested discussion threads for a topic). I’d like to hear about experiences with how long threads have worked out on your instances, any problems?

For example, I was linked to this NodeBB forum thread(at first I didn’t know it was NodeBB, this style I only knew from Discourse), the thread is massive and has major UX issues if you try to scroll through it(especially upwards) due to image loading that is rife through it.

Is that something Discourse isn’t affected by, or does it run into the same problem? I’ve thought that the little scrollbar UI component near the top right of topics was a bit weird at times, but in this case I can see the value of it(as that NodeBB lacks such, I couldn’t seem to reach the first post without adjusting the URL).

If you’ve also migrated from paginated forum, how did the users adapt?

4 Likes

If you look at any other modern web app, they aren’t paginated. One popular example is a social networking site called Facebook.com. It is extremely popular and I haven’t seen complaints about infinite scrolling there.

To see how discourse handles long topics, see What happens when a topic has over 1000 replies? - Demo

5 Likes

If you use Facebook, the interactions aren’t exactly of the same nature. I mean, how many topics are posted with all the responses just consisting of users tagging other users or posting some meme/gif image response?

You can see some with discussions, but they to a degree support some threaded discussion in the comment section, whereas Discourse is against that. Facebook images are a fixed height in comments and you can only append one(embedded from a link or the comment itself is an image alone).

The example I linked to isn’t like that, as you scroll upwards(because you’ve been linked to a post deep into that thread), the images will make the content jump without you scrolling. So you’re reading a post for a moment, and then it’s lost because the images are loading in and pushing content down, you scroll down to find that post, but it gets pushed again as more images load in, it was a bad experience.

Regarding the news feed which is more of an infinite scroll(comments tend to be a subset and sorted by some metrics due to the individual comments with their own sub-threads not having any time relationship with other comments), that’s again unrelated content/posts, more like scrolling through topics.

Thanks for the link. That included a bunch of images and Discourse is handling that much better with fixed dimensions for images as they’re loading in so content isn’t forcing updates to layout repeatedly.

I’m not fussed about lack of pagination myself too much(I know some users get upset about it when you move from an existing paginated forum to Discourse, see Blizzard for example(who did a pretty amazing job customizing Discourse btw). I also came across a thread on here that brings up issues regarding pagination such as how it affected monetization via ads for someone(posts 82/89). Discourse has plenty of positives though, other alternatives aren’t really able to compete at the same level, so we’ll see how it goes.

4 Likes

I tried with Chrome and a slow connection, I didn’t encounter this issue. Seemed to me that the posts are displayed after the heights of the images are calculated…

My users didn’t complain about the lack of pagination after migrating from phpbb to discourse, but it’s a small community and the past posts from our long threads (we have some with thousands of posts) aren’t worth the read (they’re like day-to-day stories, sort of).

About the pro and cons of pagination and infinite scrolling, I have read about it and it seems to me that for a forum, infinite scrolling has way more pros than cons.
The major issues to me regarding the pagination are:

  1. On every page, the first post has more visibility than the others, and the last post has less. Some pagination systems avoided that by having each page’s last post being the next page’s first post.
  2. On some forums, each user can choose the number of posts displayed on a page. This is an annoying issue because when you open a pagination link from someone else (or a search engine result), you can never know (or you know it will not) if it will land to the correct page.
  3. The pagination is an arbitrary way to break the flow of a discussion, way which has nothing to do with the discussion content itself. I’m not sure I explain well tough since my English isn’t very good :sweat_smile:

I personally have no complaints at all regarding Discourse infinite scrolling. The way we share posts URLs and the right scroll behavior work nice.

I feel that most complaints from people about the lack of pagination are nothing but the results of a path dependance.

8 Likes

Just to clarify, this is with the NodeBB forum I linked to right? Not the Discourse equivalent that was later shared here? Discourse added posts without needing to recalculate the height/layout. NodeBB would keep shifting posts for me if I had scrolled up(scrollbar) and then stopped to read a post, images loaded on posts above it that forced the one I was reading down, and on my connection(with Chrome) that happened a few times as I scrolled back down chasing the same post.

3 Likes

Yes, I didn’t encounter your issue on NodeBB.

2 Likes