Improve suggested topics for regular users


(cpradio) #1

Okay so our users are being shown a lot of old unread or recently closed tips in their suggested topics feed.

Is there anyway we can improve this? Are closed topics excluded in latest? I know some changes were made semi recently (trying to find which version it is included in).

I see new being demoted:

Is the plan eventually to make these suggested topics more meaningful to the individual user?


(Mittineague) #2

I’m thinking that what a member is “Watching” may have a big effect on what’s Suggested.

For example, this topic is in Support
I have just finished reading all the “new” and “unread” posts made in other categories and topics that I am Watching here.
Suggested now shows other topics in the Support category

The logic that since I’m in Support I’m likely to have interest in other Support topics may not be perfect (no app can read my fleeting interests) but I can’t really see where it’s all that bad.

Though true, I do think Closed topics should get a lower weight to them.


(Stevie D) #3

The one that is really bugging me is that any topic that I’ve looked at are marked as ‘tracking’, which is fine, but when a moderator closes the topic, rather than doing it quietly and unobtrusively, it creates a post in the topic which is then highlighted in the “unread” list. That’s just plain wrong. I want the “unread” list to show me new posts in topics that I’m tracking, I don’t want to be told that a thread has been closed because it has been dormant for months or is attracting nothing but spam and drivel.


(Sam Saffron) #4

@codinghorror should we simply exclude closed from suggested, I see no reason to have them there.


(Mittineague) #5

Personally, I don’t mind them. In fact I like seeing them when they indicate a [solved]

I’m sure any algo would be extremely complex and even then not everyone would be happy. But if not excluded at least if given a low inclusion weight factor I think it should help.
eg. unless topic title closely matches current topic title, exclude from Suggested if closed.


(Sam Saffron) #6

Since it is still in unread, I don’t see a huge risk of loss here


(Mittineague) #7

Yes, their being included in Notifications and Unreads also annoy many. I don’t know how they tie in together or how easy, if even possible, it would be to make improvements


(Justin Pierce) #8

I simply turned suggested topics off – for new users, I think they’re confusing and make things feel cluttered. Was going to try enabling them later when the community was more mature and used to Discourse.


(Jeff Atwood) #9

@sam No, I don’t support a change here, this was already changed to reflect BBS, e.g. if a topic is auto-closed and you are tracking it and it has unread replies it should not be suppressed. Suppressing it the second it is closed is wrong so that would be a regression.

The feedback in the OP is quite unclear, for closed topics to show in suggested you must be tracking or watching them. You can easily test yourself to see that this is true (it is).

@cpradio you can turn on the site setting to limit suggestions to only the current category.

@JP_ if you disable suggested topics, users have no sane way of jumping to their next unread or new topic without constantly pogo sticking back to the topic list. Not recommended.


(Mittineague) #10

Not to mention that many of those complaining are well past Trust Level 0, some are former or even current Staff.

Maybe a Profile Preference thing would help?


(Justin Pierce) #11

I like the idea behind them, but they just make Discourse feel really cluttered when you’re used to more traditional forums. I had been using the Soylent Discourse for months and was still uncomfortable (assumed it was the default theme). After I turned suggested posts off for my own Discourse, my brain was at ease and I felt more at home.

What if instead of them being in the footer, they’re in their own space at the top right near notifications (icon with alerts and a dropdown, just like notifications)? So they’re always within reach, but not intrusive.

My other suggestion would be to rename “Suggested Topics” to something more descriptive (I didn’t know it prioritized unread/new) so it feels less like spam. Currently, the way they’re presented reminds me of the referral links on clickbait news sites and my brain intuitively tells me to ignore them.

I’m just speaking for myself, though – not sure if others have the same reaction.


(Mittineague) #12

As I’ve said, I have no problem with Suggested Topics as they are now. But I do know others do.
And I use it often to navigate to other topics. I would miss it if it were gone.
Do you think if the indicator were a different color to indicate that the “unread” was only a “now closed” that would help?
I think it might, but members would also need to know that they can Dismiss Unread to be able to clear them.


(cpradio) #13

Seems to already do this. Doesn’t help those that are complaining.

They are irritated because what is suggested is old or closed. It serves no purpose to them, sure they could read it but they can’t respond to it.

Therefore they see the suggestion as useless clutter.


(Jeff Atwood) #14

As previously mentioned, suggested being closed is because that user was explicitly tracking or watching the topic before it closed. This does not happen for random closed topics – the user must be watching or tracking the topic.

Not sure why that user had tracked topics from 2012 either, was it an import issue?


(Mittineague) #15

Might it be they are Watching the Category ?

Again, I have no problem, so I’m only guessing.


(Jeff Atwood) #16

No, since watching a category only affects newly created topics in that category. Hard to see how a topic from 2012 would be watched…


(cpradio) #17

Is this something @zogstrip can check? As I have no idea. If there is a problem with the import, we should identify it so we can either run a maintenance to remedy it for most of our users, and potentially fix the problem in the importer.


(Jeff Atwood) #18

What I am getting at is that user has problems specific to that user and their watched or tracked topics. There is no global issue for users with closed topics showing up in suggested topics. Doesn’t happen.


(cpradio) #19

We’ve had multiple comment on this on our install, it isn’t one person being loud, it is a collective. So what I’m interested in is if it is tied to the import process done by the Discourse team with our devs (a door you opened, that I hadn’t thought about)