Huge useful topics optimization


Huge topics problems:

  • It’s very very often problem when users ask the same questions many many times inside 1 topic just because they are too lazy to read the whole huge topic or even search inside it.
  • Also when topic grows and get 500-1’000-5’000-10’000 of posts it’s really very hard to find the correspond and correct(!) answer to your question inside it. If you never have seen topics like this - just navigate at next tech forum where a tons of threads with 1000-2000 of posts, and this particular link especially (you can use Google Translator if you need): Ноутбуки, нетбуки и ультрабуки - Конференция - for example for the very old but very popular notebook Lenovo Thinkpad X220 there are 5 * 2years topics-parts, each with about 165-167 pages, each with 10 posts… so overall this thread have about 8’300 posts. Or like this: - 600pages with 20posts on each = 12’000 posts. Try to find what you need there! :rofl:

How to resolve those problems?


Solution #1 - Maybe we can use the Best Answer function?

Yes, but not really, because such huge topics can have tons of “BestAnswers” for different questions. Also over time often many “BestAnswers” becomes “OutdatedAnswers” because a new better solutions arrive.


Solution #2 - Treelike structure.

Historical background:
a) All forums and Discourse too are starts from top; list messages by date from top to bottom; have linear structure.
b) Most world Comments systems and most popular Social networks - starts at the end of the main Post page or post; list messages by date from bottom to top; have treelike structure with all reply under each comment. It’s newer and more personalized style.
c) Some communities as Reddit or for example: Быстрый, железный, горячий: сильно пользовательский обзор ноутбука HP ENVY 15 / Хабр or Хитрые соседи нарвались на принципиального | Пикабу - combine two those conceptions - starts at the end of the page/post; list messages by date from top to bottom; but have treelike structure with all reply under each comment.

First of all it’s obvious that more familiar listing is from-top-to-bottom (as books, magazines, news, etc) - so it is better to keep it.

++ Such tree-like hierarchy can make topics more compact on scrolling.
– The standard treelike posts listing does not really help with search and logical structure because: some users will still repeat questions again; some users just can’t express the question clearly enough from the first phrase/message and thus others reading their question can’t understand what it is about; etc.
– Suppose such tree-like hierarchy can not be covered completely by current Discourse navigation bar. To resolve it you need to add navigation bar to each 1-st level post to navigate through all answers, overall it will change already familiar Discourse listing too much.

So this solution as not ideal also.


Solution #3 - make the manual FAQ at 1st topic.

Many forums use the manually created F.A.Q.'s at 1st topic, for example as (expand collapsed text 3):

++ Can significantly lower the same questions repeating from different users.
– The main problem is that the admin/mods needs to read each message at each topic and then think properly about each one - is it useful enough for FAQ or not? is it better then previous solution or not? does it deserve a new F.A.Q. record or not? how much I tired of all those useless messages? :slight_smile: etc
– It will not really make huge topics more compact because it will not change the messages listing.

So this solution is not ideal again.


Solution #4 - Just make new forum sub-Categories for each devise like Smartphones/Apple/iPhone4 and create different topics for each question.

It will make a real mess and overload forum by tons of topics - which will lead to more identical messages, highly fragmented discussions about complex things, etc.

It’s bad again.


Solution #5 - Maybe Tags can resolve it?

++ Messages Tag’s can really help to find some info inside huge topics.
– Users often forgot to use them;
– Tags will not help huge topics to be more compact;
– Truly say at the one topic-page tag’s does not help a lot due to the presence of a in-topic search.


Solution - Best all-in-one

What if we will give a new option to topic starter and admin/mods and all users to create the “dynamically auto updated F.A.Q.'s with treelike structure”… something which also can be named as “the topic of the topic’s topics”. :smiley:

Solution simple specs beta:

  • Place F.A.Q. Table of contents after or even before the first topic message. Display it with treelike structure: [Subject > Question >> Answers].
  • Add possibility for all user to create in-topic F.A.Q. Subjects. Or maybe better to preset Subjects per forum Category by mods. For example for Mobiles/IPhone4 topic subjects will be: style, screen, battery, charging, speed issues, firmware update, etc.
  • Add possibility for all user to create new in-topic F.A.Q. Questions inside F.A.Q. Subjects.
  • Add possibility for all users on message creating to set their new message as answer to already existed F.A.Q. questions, or to set new F.A.Q. Question: F.A.Q. Subject, Question short title.
  • Use standard forum likes to rate F.A.Q. Questions and to rate the best F.A.Q. Answers for each F.A.Q. Question to sort them at treelike F.A.Q. structure by best-at-top rule.
  • Add new Flag type for each question and each answer - useless F.A.Q. item or improper F.A.Q. place. It also can be automated with Likes/Dislikes to hide answers/questions from F.A.Q on 0/-1 count.
  • Also will be nice to add some new always visible on topic scrolling “F.A.Q.” button (at page header or near navigation bar) which can jump to topic start or just open a popup layer with F.A.Q. table of contents.
  • Finally it’s possible to add the new “Archive function” which will hide-collapse all messages for previous periods per year/month. On scrolling of those periods the only questions and answers which was added to F.A.Q. can be displayed. Open all messages for each period can be made possible only one-by-one by clicking on shortcuts for each period like “Open - 2020 - April”. Or on jumping from search results. (Most forums users really does not need all 1’000-5’000-10’000-15’000 messages of the huge topics.)

Overall this solution at once can SIGNIFICANTLY:

  • speedup users to find proper answer;
  • lower the same questions repeating;
  • make scrolling faster&easy;
  • lower server load because of less messages loading.

What do you think about it?

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The only real solution here is strict moderation to avoid megatopics.

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