How to avoid an explosion of sub-topics in a topic

Here’s a thought: In a forum which prefers narrow focus, a small collective which wishes to indulge in broad discursive brainstorms could choose to convene a group PM conversation. If and when they come up with conclusions or proposals, each of those single ideas could be posted as a single-point new topic. Which could then be elaborated on in public.


I think that works but has one drawback.
As I understand it a PM has to have individuals added to it whereas a group or public thread allows individuals to add themselves?

So maybe it’s the best viable sub-optimal answer at present?

That seems to be basically true, with the group feature I haven’t seen if there are specific talk pages for those or the system just starts a new pm topic if someome writes a message addressed to a group (such as the @ team discourse group)


It seems worth a try. Not entirely unlike an assembly convening a committee to write a report.

In the case of PMs on discourse, I might suggest firstly sending one to one invitations. If an invitation is accepted, that person can be included in the PM discussion when it is created. I think there’s a limit to the number of people on a PM conversation.


For this we would need to extend the current pm system to be more robust. One method would be to enable dm tagging. However still not very good for those types of broader conversations.

Now a special category using Topic mod plugin could be useful in part to that end to explore with a more general say tl3 category with reduced need to moderate unless there are problems.

  • Flagged posts
  • snipes re site policies or of course legal misuse of the site.
1 Like

This can be a topic itself to focus on in an appropriate topic category or dm.

Sometimes when a preferred option is unavailable we need to explore other control methodes we can use client side to achieve a desired end point .

1 Like

Let’s step back from diverging back to this. The main complaint is that the topic is not focused enough for our host to allow certain level of broad potentially pi level topics. For example we now know one of your actual maun focus is how discourse could be used for a medical forum.

But lets get back to this topic’s purpose being philosophies on how to manage topics with potential to have exploding sub topics.

1 Like

I proposed one above, and another in forum site feedback

  • as a conscious management choice - allow to run and sample periodically for emergent convergence [possibly using techniques that were made common by the agile software development movement, EG retrospectives, backlog grooming,…]
  • create a space, like those for theme & plugins authors were interested parties can work up ideas to the point that they can be put into open spaces

I am interested to hear other suggestions.
I think the suggestions that equate to " don’t allow it" face the very challenging question of where is the liminally ok/ not ok boundary and then " is the judgement used around that exercised well (whatever that is defined as) " (& and perhaps " seen to be". All of which is difficult, and emotionally fraught (is it more necessary when one is holding “civilised” as a watchword?)

1 Like

This is a key important statement here, describing when things have really descended into chaos or unreadable madness no one can understand.

Primary challenge with this kind of a forum platform is that it is by default always online, unless manually shut down or on a set schedule.

What people generally want to talk about can change a lot over the course of a day, week, months seasons and years. Also how a conversation goes is generally completely dependent on who someone is talking to.

Post something on a forum, who will reply? Who is online? No one knows, can only guess based on history of if there are active moderators or members who usually reply to posts within a few days.


This one has 2.9k replies from 22 users

This one 3.6k from 27

There are others

the thread that was the parent of this one had a post that said “[things are] highly context dependant.” And it’s true here too

1 Like

Surely you don’t enjoy reading those thousands of posts though. Those are write-only topics.

Has anyone ever temporarily engaged Discourse Restricted Replies (or something like it) to help regain control of a thread that has begun spiraling?


Personally I have them set to ignore but plainly others like them

I dunno if the TL4s know about restrict replies - prolly only 1 & I’d even doubt that & the user culture would prolly not countenance it’s use

The point was no sweeping statement will be correct- “all generalisations are wrong including this one”

1 Like

I had that plugin in a support category. So only support members could respond to an Op.

Meant to reply to @mbauman


Yeah, I was pondering (ab)using that plugin to move a spiraling topic into such a more restricted category. I keep coming back to @simon’s “maximum number” comments and think it’s spot-on:

I think it could make sense to have the concept of a “full room.”


I can definitely agree. While some will have difficulty seeing this.

The more participants in a topic the more likely to have pocket discussions. Though even if not pocket discussions can make following a topic more difficult. Reddit comes to mind with the often noisy topics. Though we could likely have an explosive sub topic discussion of pros & cons of the reddit platform. :grin: