What determines the order of frequent poster icons in the topic list?

TL;DR: Anyone able to enlighten me on how the frequent poster icons - presented between the ‘original poster’ (left) and ‘most recent poster’ (far right) in post listings - are exactly chosen including their order-determinants?

What exactly determines 1) their presence, and 2) their order?

The following I understand from the tooltips, when hoovering over the users’ icon-column icons in a topic listing (and cross-referencing this with what is actually present in the topics itself):

  • Original (first) poster is presented to the far left.
  • Most recent poster presented to the far right (unless it regards the original poster then it is signaled by a blue “glow” around its icon).
  • User icons in between are “frequent posters”.

So far so good, however; the icons “in between” (the frequent posters) seem fairly randomly chosen. As in: they are not always the most frequent posters, nor are they presented in chronological order.

What am I missing here (what is the logic behind the presentation)?


I looked a bit for the “featured” ranking algorithm but gave up looking for now.

Using Topic Ratings Plugin as an example

The avatars are

angus - Original Poster, Most Recent Poster (28)
fackelwind - Frequent Poster (10)
zogstrip - Frequent Poster (2) [2/ 1]
envieme - Frequent Poster (4) [1]
repz - Frequent Poster (next to last)

So it looks like the number of posts in the thread is important, as are the “last” posts.
i.e. a combination of both post count and post sequence.

The odd man out here is zogstrip who has only 2 posts in the topic yet is before envieme who has 4 posts in the topic.

Reason? My guess would be that Staff or maybe Trust Level are weighted more.

I suspected the number of Likes might be a factor, but if it is it doesn’t look to be in this case.

1 Like

Yah, it must be something like that and your guesses seem very plausible. Thanks (at least now I know I haven’t overlooked something very simple / I’m not going crazy)!

One would think weights for presentation order should be functionally described somewhere (or even configurable).

Sadly I can not dig into the nitty gritty details (me not being a programmer). Maybe an official developer can shed some light on the deployed algorithm’s specifics?

No, it is very simple. First poster leftmost, last poster rightmost, then the three most frequent posters in between from left to right in descending order. Anything else is a bug.

in chronological order, not decending, I changed that ages ago.


For topic X top repliers are Bob, Bill, Fred.

After that we may display it as Bill, Fred, Bob … IF Bob happened to make the reply prior to last.

There idea is to keep chronology in the list.


Ah, I forgot about that change completely. Sorry. My bad.

I think I’ve found the file and the explanation for zogstrip with 2 posts coming before envieme with 4 posts.

in app/models/topic_featured_users.rb


  def self.count


  SELECT id, user_id, ROW_NUMBER() OVER(PARTITION BY id ORDER BY last_post_date ASC) as rank
  FROM cte
  WHERE rank <= #{count}

That is,
the OP is always first
then members that made more than 4 posts ordered by their number of posts descending
then chronological
last avatar always the last poster unless also the OP

Like or Trust Level are not considered.


Hmmm… If one looks at the Api documentation topic none of the explanations seem to map onto it (or I am overlooking something):

Topic overview:

Banner (within topic):

Post order: both when I start from the beginning and reverse from the end; I can not seem to reverse-engineer it to any of the explanations (not even when grouping by amounts of post and chronologically ordering them within those groups).

Am I overlooking something? Is anyone able map his/her explanation on that (or another) existing topic, in order to enlighten me?

The first/far-left (OP) and last/far-right (LP) ones are clear, but the three in the middle are not. They are usually the top posters, but esp. the presentation-order still confuses me (I do not seem to recognize a chronological order, nor a descending based on their relative amount of post).

e.g. - the Api documentation topic - how come pjv is preferred over Jared_Needell in that case?

That list sorts by number of replies, not chronological order.


The banner does yes, I am still talking about the the small icon list in the Topic overview; so:

So far I can confirm:

  • far-left = OP
  • far-right = latest poster
  • the three in between: frequent posters (min.lvl. 4 posts?)

Did you have a chance to look at the topic_featured_users.rb file yet?

Are you having trouble understanding the SQL logic?

        MAX(p.created_at) last_post_date,
        ROW_NUMBER() OVER(PARTITION BY t.id ORDER BY COUNT(*) DESC, MAX(p.created_at) DESC) as rank
    FROM topics t
    JOIN posts p ON p.topic_id = t.id
    WHERE p.deleted_at IS NULL AND
          NOT p.hidden AND
          p.post_type in (#{Topic.visible_post_types.join(",")}) AND
          p.user_id <> t.user_id AND
          p.user_id <> t.last_post_user_id
    GROUP BY t.id, p.user_id

In the API documentation topic there are enough members that have made more than 4 posts in the topic so the <= 4 bit isn’t needed.

p.user_id <> t.user_id takes the OP out of it
p.user_id <> t.last_post_user_id takes the last poster out.

What remains is a result sorted by post count and post date.

What might be confusing is that both Jared_Needell and pjv made 7 posts.

The code needs to “pick one”.

At first it might look like because Jared_Needell has more recent post dates that he would be chosen.

The clue as to why not is in

GROUP BY t.id, p.user_id

With a little digging it can be found that the user_id’s are
Jared_Needell 16325
pjv 1176

That is, pjv has a much lower user id.

1 Like

AH! That was the answer to my last question mark! So indeed it then is:

[OP] [top3-posters (when identical then "oldest member"): chronologically ordered] [last poster, unless OP then another frequent poster and op gets highlighted].

Thank you all for taking the time to dig into it and - moreover - explaining it to newbies such as yours truly!

Is this a bug then @sam? Is it picking based on user id sequence, rather than last post order sequence? I guess that is correct if they “both have 7 posts” but it’s not correct if you maintain that the order should not be based on number of posts, but last post date within the top 3?


looks like topic.id and then post created at… so seems right to me.