Continuing the discussion from Threaded discussion is ultimately too complex to survive on the public Internet?:
Okay, so, we have two Discourse sites for the Fedora Project.
One, Ask Fedora is for end-user troubleshooting, and by nature the topics tend to either be short and sweet because they’re general and simple, or manageable because they’re a small number of people going back and forth on one issue still topping out at ~ 30 or so. Most “top activity” topics still tend to be in the dozen-replies range.
The second, Fedora Discussion I would, eventually, like to convince everyone ought to entirely replace our development / contributor mailing list. (This is kind of a long term goal; people have … attachments. And to be fair, plenty of good reasons.)
For a lot of conversations, Discourse is great. However, we sometimes have topics like System-Wide Change proposal: Make nano the default editor which attract … quite a lot of comments. Now, that looks positively awful in the Hyperkitty archive interface, and I imagine it’s horrific in Gmail, but with many fancy email clients (as preferred by many of our community members), it’s, well, at least working as designed.
Now, I do think that we can probably get people (and moderators, and high-trust-level users) into a better habit of splitting into new topics instead of expecting threading. But, that’s definitely a change in practice, and I don’t think comes naturally to any of a) old school mailing list users, b) old school (since the 90s counts, surely) web forum users, or c) new users. Really, it’s a new way of doing things and a new habit to develop.
Meanwhile, I was looking at the Tablo TV forum, and they’ve got some crazy topics like 'Tested' Hard Drives - General Discussion - TabloTV Community — 510 replies, and basically acting like a database (badly). But they’ve got a ton of topics like Tablo Ripper - Automatically download new recordings - Third Party Apps (Rippers etc.) - TabloTV Community which has been going since July, 2015 and has 1.4k replies, or Dolby 5.1 - General Discussion - TabloTV Community (May, 2015; 375 replies), or Antop Antennas! - Off Topic - TabloTV Community (July 2018, 305 replies).
Not to pick on Tablo too much — that’s not my point, it’s just that they happen to have these real-world examples — but, these topics seem pretty unmanageable, and while the “Summarize” button reduces these topics to 100, 77, or 63 posts, the result is pretty random and not a comprehensible summary.
So, other community-interested folks, how does this work in your community? How do you deal with long topics? In your experience, what’s the reasonable maximum length? And once a post reaches that length, do you close it (using the
auto close messages count setting, or manually?), or if not, how do you handle it?