Users deleting their post then reposting because it does not show who they replied to when immediately above

Sorry - couldn’t help myself

You're welcome

so you're saying there's a chance

That being said - I’m fine with it not being a default personally


I think it would be an extremely noisy default. The point of Discourse is to keep extraneous information on the screen to a minimum, so people can focus on the conversations. If you want zillions of meaningless infoturds sprayed all over your screen, try phpBB :wink:


Perhaps try an alternative, such as something from here:

Functions by clicking to jump or scroll to the post it is replying to.

The fact that this happens a lot tells me the default is not as intuitive as we might like.

It does not happen a lot, in our hosting. People just think they’re right, when it comes to “more information presented on everyone’s screen all the time is always better”. But they aren’t :wink:

I’ve been using Discourse in various places for a while. I’ve been very confused on a regular basis thinking that I clicked the wrong reply button.

I don’t think anybody who wasn’t told could ever guess what’s going on. I’m also guessing that most people wouldn’t notice, though.

However, once you notice that there are two reply buttons and that the one specifies who you are responding to by displaying it graphically onscreen, then how is anybody supposed to figure out why it doesn’t show up sometimes?


I don’t know. Is this a reply to you, or isn’t it? How could anyone know? It is perhaps one of the greatest mysteries of the universe.

hint: if people really care about making sure people know they are replying to them, they should use a quote or a @name mention, so this default implicitly encourages that good practice as well. If you want to be specific, then be specific.


I think what muddies things is that people get used to it - because most of the time (especially on a fast moving forum) they are not replying to the post directly above theirs - so the indicator is present most of the time.

On other forums, where there is no such indication, people do quote or @the_user… but here, they feel they don’t need to, even when they experience the phenomenon themselves because usually it just works.

I think it’s also worth pointing out that even to those of us who know it doesn’t show if the post is directly beneath the post they are replying to sometimes question whether it actually is - on numerous occasions I have pressed the edit button to check whether they are or not :joy: (of course that’s not something others can do).


It’s obvious that you are replying to me. Just as it’s obvious you are insulting me. What is not obvious is the UX for the user, which does not behave consistently based on the same action, leaving users confused and doing things like deleting comments because the UI indicates they accidentally clicked the wrong button. Which I have done recently on this very forum.

Among other things, it’s not clear whether the person will be notified like you are expecting.

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No insult was intended. I just have EXTREMELY strong feelings on this particular topic. You’ll need to kill me to change this default in Discourse. Literally. It will not be changing while I am still alive and breathing air… and working on the project.

I have no problem with the site setting existing, though.

Sometimes foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

Other times consistency just keeps people from thinking that the forum software is confusing. (The commenter, not the reader.)

I’m glad I finally figured out how this most basic aspect of the software works after using it for years so I won’t be confused any longer.

I suspect that a simple solution that doesn’t compromise your position is actually possible. Just display the response icon for the user that just left the comment, and just on that page-view.

Confusing inconsistent behavior gone. No need to clutter up the UI with needless information. And I agree that having it there is bad. That’s why I don’t want to change the setting, but do want to find a way to fix the UX for the commenter.


In my very strongly held opinion, real world conversations work this way too. The person who talks directly after you talk, is very likely to be replying to you, such that it can be safely generally assumed to be the case without extra conversational clutter. And if that person wants to make it super clear, they’ll add a name mention …

To Harry’s point…

or they’ll quote the person

When Sally said “This doesn’t seem fair to me”…

Also worth noting is that if someone is NOT replying to the post directly above, that is always indicated, because it’s more unusual.

My UI philosophy is that common stuff should be clean, simple, clutter free and only the exceptional cases need calling out.

And I’m right :wink:


Mine on UX is that it should just ‘make sense’ i.e. feel right/natural with little or no surprises or head-scratching :stuck_out_tongue:


Most people are terrible at UX design, and a common mistake is to add “everything and the kitchen sink, just in case”. People fall prey to loss aversion here. It’s completely natural to assume in a conversation that the person who speaks directly after another person was replying to that person unless they expressly indicate otherwise.

Remember that this choice is also “tough love” around getting people to quote and name mention if they really want to be specific.

It’s the right call as a default for Discourse, where the philosophy is to keep discussions simple and clutter free, and to nudge people into doing the right thing. If you don’t think it is, either change the site setting, or build your own badly designed forum software, like all the others that came before :wink:


No I actually agree with you about the UI for reading. I’m just trying to improve the responding UX. I’m not sure if what I suggested above is technically feasible. I just want to make sure you understand the suggestion.


I may be an exception, but I often don’t pay much conscious attention to either the post sequence or the reply indicators. Most often being aware of what was said by which member, I can know from the context of a post to which other post it was addressing.

Kind of like a conversation in a group of people where the focus shifts from one to another as it will.

I wanted to add that I can be completely reasonable on many other topics. Just not this particular one :crazy_face:


You’re not fooling anyone Jeff :rofl:

Ok back on topic, here are some alternatives:

Original (with suppression off):

I agree with you here Jeff, it’s a little too noisy for my liking too.

Alternative 1:

Alternative 2:

Another thing that I think would help is not showing these when someone has been quoted - because they become superfluous. They also become a problem when multiple people have been quoted - so the reply is directed towards all of them, not just one person (who probably just happens to be the first person they quoted).


Both of these mocks are easily doable on your site with a simple CSS rule plus site setting


Can we use conditionals in themes now then Sam?


if this post is a reply to the post immediately above it
  show the short version (just text)
  show normal version (text and avatar)

The only time I want the shortened version is when the reply is immediately below.

FWIW: indeed, sequentiality is an absolutely crucial resource for making sense of ordinary conversation. There is even a well established research approach in sociology that builds on exactly that. But (!) this strong connection between turns applies to informal conversation. Things get much more complicated in more formal settings where turn-taking is organized differently, e.g. in a brainstorming session, consecutive turns are not heard as responses to preceding turns.

So I’d say it doesn’t quite work to transfer this principle of ordinary conversation to discussion forums. Indeed, one of the great advantages of forums compared to “real” conversation is that there is no obligation to respond to the immediately preceding turn (post) as there is in ordinary conversation, because this entails that people don’t have to wait for the right moment where their contribution fits in sequentially. (Of course, that also introduces new problems, but that’s another issue.)

So, if there is no necessary connection between two consecutive posts, how/when does their adjacent position matter when we make sense of their content? I’d suggest something like this: if there are no other clues regarding who/what is being referred to, we assume that it is the preceding turn.

If that is true, then there are two potential sources of confusion in the default configuration of discourse:

  1. If there are references (e.g. quotes) to other posts, but the post is intended to (also) respond to the preceding post, it is unlikely to be understood as such.
  2. Since a reply to topic also lacks any reply indicator, they are indistinguishable from a reply to previous post.