How to set Minimum Topic Body Length?


(Mohammad Mustafa Ahmedzai) #1

Many of new users on forum often post one-liner questions on our Forum which often does not explain well the Topic itself. We therefore want to force users to write a topic with a body length of no less than 500 Characters, in order to encourage useful content and avoid spam.

The Admin settings page has options for min post length but it has no option for setting min Topic length.

There are options for topic title but no option for Topic body? Didn’t you guys missed adding this important option?


(David Maxwell) #2

Looks like it should already be there, but it’s based on character length, not word count.

That being said, his comment is valid - minimum post length can actually be a hindrance for conversations, and people will throw junk in just to get to that minimum post length, if they don’t leave entirely. It’s almost easier to just have the people responding asking for more information.


(Mohammad Mustafa Ahmedzai) #3

There is no option other than min post length. I agree that it is more like a hindrance. It would be much wiser to manage post length and character length differently.


(David Maxwell) #4

But why force a certain number of words? Number of words means nothing towards quality of posts. Do you want to force it on topic creation, or all posts

Your first post has 92 words
My reply has 65 (not counting the quoted text of course)
Your third post has 31

Do you mean to say your first post is not high quality? A well thought out post is effective, regardless of how many words it has in it. Otherwise you’ll find people who will make their posts, and will fill the rest with garbage (like the word “the” for however many words there are left).

A better approach would probably be to have a pinned topic with a “template” of what a good topic should contain (regardless of the word count), with an example of a good post and an example of a bad post. “Training” your community usually works better in this case rather than putting up barriers to prevent them from getting involved.


(Mohammad Mustafa Ahmedzai) #5

I agree to the word count restriction. That is surely not what I want. That is surely a restriction of characters. I will edit the topic to remove this confusion.

All I want is to force readers to create a meaningful post under some specified character limit. This is good also when it comes to forum SEO because Google Panda is meant to penalize poor quality content which is smaller in length and is not descriptive.


(David Maxwell) #6

Planning discussions worrying about SEO is a mistake. Meaningful conversations is what you need to be fostering. What discussions do you want to take place? What topics/themes/ideas is your community interesting? That’s what you need to concentrate on.

If you do those things, the SEO results will take care of themselves.


(Jeff Atwood) #7

So you want an independent character minimum limit for the first post versus replies. It is not an unreasonable request but I do not think it will magically solve the problem of “bad” first posts.

I agree that the first post is quite important as it is the definition of the topic, but I worry more about the title being wrong or bad or misleading, which is in my experience the more common problem than “first post was insufficiently long”.


(Mohammad Mustafa Ahmedzai) #8

Discourse has already solved the title problem by giving so many moderation options but what about the content. In terms of SEO the first post matters a lot because that is the starting paragraph that gives the brief description of what the title Topic is all about.

I am still waiting for this min topic body length option without which , manually informing posters about their low quality post would be no less than a headache. :disappointed:


(David Maxwell) #9

Again, if you’re worrying solely about SEO, then you’re looking to use the wrong tool.

In less than two minutes, I found these threads have OP of less than 500 characters, and all are of perfectly acceptable quality. Forcing them to place more characters in them to reach a arbitrary limit would probably have lessened their effectiveness, and probably would cause some users to leave, as the more barriers to usage you put into place, the less likely they are to stay, which will mean fewer posts, which means lower SEO, which means it’s all for naught.

(Number in parenthesis are the number of characters in the post).

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(Mohammad Mustafa Ahmedzai) #10

You are right, my priority is never solely based on SEO but how will you deal spammers or new users who would post one-liners?
The Character limit restriction is the only way to demotivate them from posting questions with no clear explanation. My forum is receiving dozens of posts on daily basis and it is more of a headache, manually informing members to post full description of what they want to ask and not just one-liner questions like

  1. I did try this XYZ tutorial but I can not make it work - Plz help!!
  1. Hey I need help installing this widget XYZ

Now these are not titles but actual Topic content posted by new users!! Still you think I should not ask for a min Topic character limit option?


(David Maxwell) #11

If it’s a spammer, we mark as spam and delete the user and their posts. If it’s a new user who seems to just be clueless, we try to re-train them. We probably un-list the topic until the poster has a chance to fix the post.


(Mohammad Mustafa Ahmedzai) #12

Then you are surely showing me what I am already doing i.e. Take all the headache myself!

I would really appreciate if @sam or @codinghorror would help me in this case


(Kane York) #13

I wouldn’t call deleting a spammer a headache when Discourse lets you do it in 4 clicks, including banning their IP. It’s pretty slick.


(Mohammad Mustafa Ahmedzai) #15

You read me wrong. I meant training new users on how to be descriptive each time is a headache


(cpradio) #16

Welcome to the role of community manager??? Hence why I’m not one :smile:


(Jeff Atwood) #17

I actually kind of support this setting. @techapj can you add it to your list – a new site setting for minimum first post length that is independent of the current minimum post length.

Let’s default it to 30, whereas the current minimum for posts is 20. That seems reasonable.

(Make sure this does not affect PMs as they have their own length rules…)


(Sam Saffron) #18

Agree, topics should be a tiny be longer by default. The change though is not trivial, cause there are concerns, what happens when you edit an old OP and the new limit is in place, stuff is going to get a bit weird and error messaging needs to be smart here, especially if we are raising defaults.

Almost tempted just to keep the default at 20 just to avoid a huge PITA.

Eg. go to retitle a topic and now you get an annoying and confusing error message you can not correct as TL3


(Jeff Atwood) #19

Oh true, so let’s keep the default at 20. I am fine with that.


(Mohammad Mustafa Ahmedzai) #20

Thank you jeff, at least you agreed with me and thought of it as useful. I so badly need it and of course everyone who is expecting a useful first post would love it! :grinning:

The default 20 is fine, the admin can then set a custom minimum First Post lenghth from seetings as he likes using this new option


(Arpit Jalan) #21

Okay, added new site setting min_first_post_length :ribbon:

https://github.com/discourse/discourse/pull/3284