Is there any way to show approximate reading time in the topics list?

I’d like to experiment by making it clear to readers that this topic and that topic and that other topic wouldn’t take long to read, so go ahead and read it now!

I know that at it encouraged me to read more, so I believe it could encourage some else.

In order to do so, I’d like to display the approximate reading time in the topics list.
Is this possible to achieve somehow?

that would require a fairly complex plugin

Readers can already do this; post count is a very reliable indicator of topic length.

When I click or tap on a topic with 5 or 50 or 500 posts I know what that means in terms of length, and I’m quite sure every other user does too.

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To be fair, I’m the one who hasn’t ever estimated reading time by post count.
So I suppose there are other people like me.

In my mind, there is no big difference between 20 and 30 messages.
But there is some between 7 and 15 minutes.
We can feel time better than the number of messages.
In the first case, I have to calculate / estimate it in my mind.
In the second one, I just get it explicitly.

What is more, it would be interesting to hide the number of posts entirely and show reading time instead, which could make more sense in some cases. I.e. when it comes to 50+ messages, chances are the reader doesn’t care anymore who many more - 60, 70, 120? Does it matter? But when it says 30 minutes or 50 minutes - that could make some sense for the reader.

I caught myself reading more at just because they inform explicitly that a particular article is only 5 minutes reading or so. So even though the topic may sound not so interesting, why not to give it a try. Then in the middle of the text you find out it was worth starting to read. And you’re more engaged after all. I caught myself doing so, and that’s why proposed this as a feature / plugin for Discourse.

After all, it seems that some topics can have little messages but with really long reflections and write-lover authors engaged, while others can have plenty messages but one paragraph per each.

Conclusion: I’d use it with pleasure if there was such a plugin.

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I certainly won’t try to stop you from writing a plugin (or userscript) but such a thing would have problems for me to find it useful.

How would it know if it was something I wanted to simply skim or read and fully comprehend?
i.e. “skim” time would be much different than “comprehend” time.

Going by Title to get an idea of content and post count (though true, post content does vary) works fine for me.

Yes, there is a minor disconnect between:

  • 60 posts that are 2 lines each
  • 10 posts that are 3,000 lines each

But it’s negligible in practice; most posts are small to extra small, and those that aren’t are extreme outliers.

We do estimate read time in the topic summary, of course, as previously noted – but that read time estimate doesn’t show up in the topic list.

Also, small topics are likely to not have good enough data to make a good estimation.

1 and less minutes could always show “1 min”?

Since we do this now for topics, I guess you could create a plugin to inject the info into the topic list:

I worry though that this would introduce enormous levels of noise.


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