What's more important on the categories page, topic count or post count?


(Jeff Atwood) #1

I was thinking about axing one of the default columns on the /categories page:

As you can see, we show both topic count and post count per interval.

That feels like a bit too much information by default to me. Example: http://discuss.tractionbook.com/

If you had to make a case for one of those columns being more useful than the other, which would it be? If you’re browsing categories, is it more useful to know the number of new posts in that category per week or new topics in that category per week?

Defend your choice!


(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #2

I’m in favor of topics. Topicsu-shoryuken!

  • Latest is micro-view, Categories is macro-view.
  • Posts are a more volatile metric. Even if Category A has a steadily higher post count than Category B, one thread-gone-wild in CatA could skew this for weeks.
  • When logged in, all other info on this page refers to topics. 13 unread, 1 new ... new

(probus) #3

I guess that depends entirely on the forum in question. Some have longer topics and new topics are rare. Some have lots of new topics that never or rarely develop into long ones. I don’t see the problem in having both and you can easily hide either with css.

Just to counter @erlend_sh, topics is the one which can be 0 even when there has been lots of discussion in that category during that time period. I wouldn’t want that to be the only metric that is shown. And all the info shown isn’t about topics. The topics shown are the ones with latest posts.


(Dave McClure) #4

Currently you only see the topic counts on mobile and I think it works pretty well, but I see @probus’s point.

I vote for topics, or keep them both and let the forum owner decide.

One other idea:

Instead of putting the data in columns, use a single sentence in the first column like:

8 topics and 44 posts per week

For each category, automatically choose the time period based on some lower bound threshold (if a category gets < 5 posts or topics in a week, show the per month stat instead).

Lastly, there is a small bug on mobile. I will open a separate topic for that.


View all n topics shows wrong count on mobile category page
(Michael Downey) #5

Neither column is important to the topic itself. A category by definition is a semantic grouping of topics. The metrics belong to the topics themselves, so for UI consistency the columns should be the same as in the other “tabs” such as /latest (i.e., each topic featured in the category should show # of posts, # of views, start and last date).

I can’t think up a scenario where someone would actually care about the average activity per category. Maybe someone in this thread will surprise me. :slight_smile:


(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #6

I tend to agree, but this would imply a more drastic redesign of the categories page than what this discussion is intended for.

Considering how close we are to 1.0, friction - no matter how well intended - won’t lead to innovation, only delays. Incremental changes are the only thing worth discussing at this point.


(Jeff Atwood) #7

I see your point but perhaps the lower number is less intimidating, as well? That is one of the goals here, not to scare folks away with too much information.

When you talk about categories they are groups of topics so that seems to be a more logical association.

Overall consensus is topics column, so I will remove the posts column.


(Jeff Atwood) #8

OK this is done! Thanks for the feedback.

Just trying to simplify a few more things before V1 is finalized.


(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #9

I like it. Why is there no stat for Uncategorized though?


(AstonJ) #10

Post count signifies how busy the category is, whereas thread count shows the number of discussions. If I had to choose, it would be the former, but both are useful imo.

I don’t think we need per interval though, or, show it just for admins. For everyone else, it could act as a negative - by highlighting a bit too much how quiet some areas of the forum are.

What I think is useful tho, is last post details - whether the thread contains new posts, whether you’ve posted in the thread, and perhaps who the last poster is. Some people actually draw more people back into a thread…


(Jeff Atwood) #11

Look more closely, the interval “expands” to produce a useful number. Slow category? Topics / year. Busy category? Topics / day.

Sure can you post mockups?


(AstonJ) #12

Tbh I think the whole page could do with a bit of a refresh - do we need that much space dedicated to the description for example? Maybe for guests, but regular members?

I reckon it would be a good idea to cater to two distinct groups of users; guests and members. The page as it is is probably ok for guests (apart from a few tweaks, and there are some things that need to be considered - such as logged out users), but for regular members the descriptions don’t need to be so obvious (we still need them, but perhaps they can be a click away). Additionally regular members could benefit from other info as detailed in my post above, to draw them back into a thread.

One of your posts in another thread recognises the topic Should views column be removed? and while it could be argued that we should cater for 90% of users, we shouldn’t forget that those 10% are crucial - because they are the content creators, and, if anything, they are more important to the site because if they decide to make some other forum their home, ours would quickly die - there would be nothing there for the remaining 90% to look at.

I know that perhaps, it may be a bit bold offering two distinct views, but I believe it is something that could help elevate DC above the crowd.


(Silver Quettier) #13

I’m late as you already changed stuff, but I would have went with customization on that one.

I understand the reasons making topics generally more important, but I think this depends on the type of community a Discourse install hosts. I would have went for a radio button in the admin to select either topics or posts count.


(Jeff Atwood) #14

I think it’s a good idea, just need mockups.


(AstonJ) #15

Cool. I’ll try to get something sorted for next week.