Using private / personal messages as long term chat

I am still uneasy about lifting the restriction for staff OP, cause this means they will be less aware of the problem and not push for getting “chat” implemented on site which is what we want. (or moving content to private/public categories where it probably belongs)

That said, I don’t feel violently against a bypass for staff OP, on stonehearth there 1 PM out of say 30 that would be shielded ( @jomaxro ask 8bitcrab about it, it feels like this topic actually belongs in a private category to me and it is abusing the pm system and hiding information that should not be hidden)

I also would be fine for the default to be a bit higher at like 1000.

@codinghorror your call. But in stonehearths case the topic at hand really should be in a category, very odd use of PM system.

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That seems fine, then… if a staff member starts the PM topic, it can be immune from this rule. (I think on another site we saw problems where the enormous endless PM topic was from mods?)

No, the default should be 200 (maybe even lower, really, but I wanted to start generous). Sites can adjust it at their risk / peril to taste.

I see your point on this and I worry that @jomaxro is talking in abstract terms rather than actual real world data. Since we will have a site setting for this, perhaps make sure it’s two site settings, one for staff, one for everyone else?

I don’t use any of mine as a substitute for “chat”

Maybe it would be better to not use “staff” as the discriminator but average “word count” ?

That is, if it is being used as a “chat” (I’m assuming the replies would all be relatively short) then close it.

Yes, I am completly abstracting this idea. I don’t have real world data, and as I mentioned above I cannot think of a good example of a 200+ post PM (8bitcrab is reading this thread now to get context and answer my question, so I might have an example soon), my concern is more to the restriction of staff than this one specific issue.

Let me ask this, what is the difference between a 200+ post group PM to @moderators and a 200+ post topic in a category restricted to the moderators group.

Edit: @sam, is the PM you’re talking about the “hair models” PM?

yes it is that.

The big conceptual difference between private category and PM is around visibility. PMs are more hidden and tucked away, it is harder to get to them or even be aware that they are going on. These days with “group” PM the distinction is blurred some which I agree complicates things a bit.

I am fine to add 2 site settings here for now. (one for staff OP and one for the rest) leave both defaults as 200.


As far as the hair models PM goes, 8bitcrab just told me he didn’t realize how long it got, and will be closing it.

As for the private category vs PM difference, the other distinction is that one requires a group to be previously created by an admin (the category) where the other can be thrown together on the fly by simply listing usernames.
I know this is slightly off topic, but if the idea here is to get long discussions out of PMs, can you make it easier to create private categories by allowing moderators to create groups. In the case of the hair PM, that was 3 or so users discussing a mod, and didn’t need to be public. However, even with a moderator involved in the discussion, the only way to keep it private was with a PM…(without escalating the request to an admin)


I think this is the crucial question. A staff OP shouldn’t really make the PM immune (things can derail even if started by staff) – but staff should be able to manually override this once if needed.


I just discovered a different kind of massive private chat.

Some people are using it to share some holiday photos and stuff like that. Large files and totally irrelevant to the forum topic, eating up disk capacity (or increasing cost if infinite). I never thought about this kind of use case, but sure - this is rather convenient platform to share a file of accepted type.

I can easily see how this kind of activity has potential to escalate, even in a closed/corporate community.


OK! This change is in 1.6 beta 1, with the following default limits:

  • 500 max replies in a PM topic
  • 10000 max replies in a topic

These can be changed (or disabled, by setting to 0) via auto close messages post count and auto close topics post count in Admin, Site Settings.


I chat with private messaging, but I always talk with the community.

The error messages here seem to be wrong.

This is a long public topic on my forum which has just locked itself but it’s referencing the 200 post limit that applies to a PM topic.

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Yep, that was a bug that we fixed – it swapped the 10k and 200 (now 500) numbers unfortunately. @sam we should redeploy to reach the sites that have the bug. Very, very unfortunate bug there.


Yes all are deployed.

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So I’m a bit confused. As originally, I thought the plan was two settings for PMs, one for regular users and one for staff, now it also affects public topics?

My concern with the public topics, although, a topic being over 10,000 posts is likely to not be on its original topic and more than likely shifted a hundred times over, but rather it kills any discussion immediately. Just bam, shuts it down.

However, I do like that it can be disabled. As we do have a few that are over 10,000 posts, but they are quirky fun related topics, not serious discussions.

I am still uneasy about adding a separate setting for staff here. It kind of feels like cheating.

Regarding public topic, this is a temporary measure.

Yeah we can defer on the staff override there for a bit.

Yeah, that makes sense. I honestly don’t see the big need for two separate settings, was just trying to figure out how it went form 2 settings regarding private messages to 1 public 1 private, but your second statement, answered that.

I half wonder if a better approach would have been to set Auto-Close to an hour once it hits the threshold, so people can quickly finish up whatever discussion they had on-going and not get a it is shut down response. However, many this is being done in sideqik in which case there might be a “time period” that will still run letting it exceed 10,000 posts for a bit before it flips to close. I may need to play with this feature a bit by setting it to a relatively low number to see how it behaves.

It would be nice to document how it behaves, be it sideqik (and how often the job runs) or immediate based on the post that forces it to exceed the threshold.

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As this solution seems to continue the performance issue is there any other way to keep the TL3 chat alive (that one specifically) after the 10K limit has been reached?

Just asking for a canonical HOW-TO I can point the mods from my community ¹ to without kicking the can down the road continuing the original problem as the Discourse platform will run into this issue eventually for all TL3 chats ².

So an easy way of posting a link in the old TL3 chat inviting all current and future TL3 users over to the new chat with an additional 10K post limit would be beneficial to both the Discourse platform and the mods out there…

Note 1: Yup, the Discourse Easter present from the Easter bunny in 2020 was a frozen TL3 chat room… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: :crazy_face:
Note 2: ITIL definition of “Problem” = “Multiple issues having the same Root Cause”

The solution is to use an actual chat… otherwise you’re going to be swimming upstream forever :fish:

Remember that megatopics are incredibly dangerous for so many reasons.


Note that chat will be released in Discourse 2.9 as an oifficial, albeit beta (and possibly default off) feature. So if you feel the need … the need… for speed, aka rapid-fire chat, we will meet that need soon!