Visually distinguish reply-as-new-topic and split-into-new-topic links from other link-backs

Triggered by the above little incident, I wonder if split-into-new-topic links (i.e. the link back to the original topic) could not somehow be visually distinguished from “ordinary” link-backs, e.g. with a different or additional icon. The same would make sense for links generated by reply-as-new-topic.

A more generic way of putting this is to say: why not distinguish different types of link back?

I am not entirely convinced that this would improve the UX as it’s really a matter of trying it out, but my reasoning is that different link-backs have different meanings/functions and distinguishing them might provide useful cues for better orientation. It might actually suffice to distinguish link-backs that somehow originate from the same topic (via splits or replies) and those that don’t.

To use the example referenced above: the “incident” may have been avoided if it had been more obvious from the start that the OP is a split from another topic. (I’m assuming that most users don’t routinely pay much attention to the link-backs under a post but might want to be alerted to the kind of links discussed here.)


Mockups would be greatly appreciated here!

The lowest hanging fruit that I’m strongly in favour of is the addition of a “This topic was split from…” text for split topics, same as we do with reply-as-new-topic.


Okay, here you go.

Back link generated by split:

Back link generated by reply as new topic:

Note that I flipped both icons to indicate the link “directions”. But that may not be necessary.
Perhaps there could be a mouse-over tool-tip indicating what the icons mean.

The lowest hanging fruits are not always the best ones, though, because there might be a reason why they’re still hanging there… In this case, my feeling is that a “This topic was split from…” - text at the beginning of the post (if that’s what you meant) might make the split too prominent. After all, the difference between a “reply as new topic” and splitting a topic is that the reply explicitly wants to associate itself to the other topic while the point of splitting is often to dissociate the two topics to some degree.

Also, the author of the reply is free to delete that auto-generated text while a split is done by staff so that one might want to minimize the intrusiveness of the split.

Having said that, these are obviously details, but I think the icons would do the job (though I don’t know how high they’re hanging…)

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I’ve been trying to encourage forum users to “Reply as a Linked Topic”, but users respond that the links are too subtle…

At the same time, links when we administratively move topics somewhere else are too prominent…