Information Overload - Some insight through qualitative interviews

I don’t think it will be enough. I’m always amazed by how easily people forget such information. Users are often impatient and skip the intro, and even when they don’t they forget much of it after 10 minutes.

This seems easily fixable: a change of the title to “latest topics” would help imho. “New topic” is imho clear enough, but how about, for example, “New conversation”?

Agree. Here’s my small contribution:

The messages icon can change the color and shape depending on unread messages: (I guess it could be a grey comments-o icon for no unread messages and a blue comments icon when there are)

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A few notes from my mobile use:

  1. I really miss the username of the last poster, if we are suppressing it out of the box it should be done in CSS to make it very easy to enable without fully overriding templates.

  2. Alignment feels off

  • excerpt is too narrow should take full width imo
  • title is too narrow feels like there is too much white space between it and the number
  • avatar is 5px to far to the right
  • pinned / closed icons take up 2 lines

Just pushed a change to use the avatar to the “last poster” instead of the “topic creator”.

Also, removed the 5px margin on the avatar :wink:


For pinned topics I wouldn’t show the avatar and use the full width for the text.

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I found the “last poster” avatar change to be really confusing because we’re trained to associate the main avatar with the content “creator” or “sharer” in almost every other application (Facebook, Twitter etc).

Furthermore, when a user happens to reply to a number of topics in succession, his avatar will occupy a large portion of the topic list making it seem like there is a lack of activity on the forum.

It looks like Jeff created those 3 topics no matter how I look at it. :kissing_heart:



I think it is unavoidable, unless we show both the avatar of the topic creator as well as the last poster – which would be very busy – we have to pick either

  1. Topic creator
  2. Last poster

I think creator is more problematic because it will stay the same forever, even if there are hundreds of replies over a period of a week it would always be the same avatar displaying.

So I agree with @sam on this one it has to be last poster. Last poster is more dynamic and more interesting over time.

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We got to fix the bugginess though it is showing the wrong avatar in quite a few spots

@zogstrip confirmed the bug… If the OP made the last reply and there are more than 1 participants in the topic we show the wrong avatar.


Fixed per:


I was under the impression that @sam only wanted the last poster username back or at least make it easy to enable with custom CSS instead of changing the avatar to the last poster. :sweat_smile:

Sort of, if I have to choose only one I prefer to see last poster, my personal pref is avatar of creator + username of last poster


Currently we have just the last poster on mobile, seeing it as avatar or text don’t cut any information. I prefer avatar BTW, and the last poster. I check always it also in desktop view

Well… we could do a pie chart :wink: (left half being the first poster, right, last two)


I’d personally choose the reverse: avatar of last poster + username of creator.

I kind of like the piechart idea. :slight_smile: Or how about showing the OP avatar big and the last poster avatar smaller and toward the bottom right, like a moon orbiting a planet?

If we reflect for a moment on the original post, we will realize that the crux of the matter was the initial information overload for a certain demographic of users.
In this case I think it would be best to show the avatar of the topic creator. The fact that it is more stable (less information) is a plus in this user case.
Now, maybe once the initial barrier is overcome, or for regular forum users, having more information is preferable. I don’t know how this dichotomy can be resolved.

I wonder if “progressive reduction” may not be employed here. For people that use Discourse a lot and use it daily, some labels could be toned down.

On the opposite hand, for first-timers, we could have a progressive increase in information.

Start clean, with very low amounts of information but a very clear interface (labelled buttons, etc.) and slowly start to increase the information shown while decreasing the UI-overload.

May be way too complex, and the advantages are not clear-cut. Yep, bad idea.


I fixed that just now.

I agree on @zogstrip’s plate, pinned topics will not show avatar on mobile, but retain full width for title + excerpt.

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is now in :peach:


After a few days of retraining my brain. I actually like the change because I can decide whether to read a topic depending on who last posted in it. :+1:

Though I still think there are no clear indicators for users to easily deduce if the avatar refers to the last poster or the topic creator. One solution I thought of is to utilize the reply icons which I personally do not think will add to the information overload.



I think a far better approach here is:

  1. On mobile stop showing excerpts for pinned topics, they provide very limited value anyway

  2. On desktop stop showing excerpts as soon as you visit a pinned topic

The change makes the list look real odd for cases like this

And pins take up too much vertical space by default

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