Who owns the title of a topic?

What do you think on this?

The Trust Level 3 (regular) is allowed to change title.

Is this a super power not to be used?


Discourse is around discussions. No one owns a topic, as being the OP in a topic doesn’t mean you are any more important than other users.

Allowing TL3 to edit bad titles is really useful, as correct topic titles are important so people can figure out if they should enter a certain topic.

Also, this specific feature can be disabled by admins using a site setting.


Thanks I agree with that.
Are there other opinions?

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No one owns anything except for the site owner that has permissions over everything and even to delete the site. Everyone that contributes to the topic title in my opinion gives them a share.

1/4 - site owner
1/4 - tl3 title editor
1/4 - topic creator
1/4 - random staff deciding to fix tl3’s rename


I love it.
The best is the edit of this threads title (move it to the right place) in less than 4min

Thanks a lot @anon89147131 and @Falco


As admin on a site for a software programming language with regards to topic titles and TL-3 being able to change them, it is meaningless. What I mean by that is that I don’t think anyone other than the staff has used that ability. I sometimes wish our TL-3 users would change some titles but they don’t.

With regards to who owns the topic. My view is that the community owns the topic but that the OP sets the tone of the topic. If the topic is drifting away from the tone of what the OP desired then as an admin I will sometimes step in and split some replies off into new topics. Mostly this is either as a request from the OP or a new user not realizing they should have started a new topic.

On a timely note, we have a category for announcements, and when the category was set up it allowed for replies. For one topic the OP really did not want any replies so I moved all of the replies into a new topic. But in talking with some of the other staff it was decided to change the entire category to not allow replies. So in essence when a user selects a certain category they pick up some conditions with that category, in the case of announcements, no replies can be made directly to the announcement. Other post are allowed that can link to the announcement.


I disagree with this, and don’t think it’s correct unless you make special TOS which would try to achieve that. No offence, but this seems to be the “dictator way” (or at least the childish way)

In most countries, every author has automatically a copyright claim on everything he creates. So every post is legally owned by its author (there may be group ownership regimes for group works, and a topic may fall under this). In this view, OP’s question is relevant as the topic creator would indeed have some copyright on his title. Now, a topic title is quite “generic”, and I guess you could argue nothing is done to the title, but it’s only replaced by another one. Thus, no copyright problem.

Copyright would especially be if you reuse the content rather if you modify it. And in case of reuse, it is content which was made publicly available for free, so I guess, it’s fair to be able to quote it, but with credits given to the author.

As for altering the work of someone, I guess some legal conflict could arise if it isn’t defined in the TOS and you mess with the wrong person. There may be some legal aspects often totally disregarded when it comes to forums.

I really don’t think you can say what I’ve quoted at the beginning of this message.

I’m pretty sure somewhere in the guidelines it states the site owns all your content if posted on it - could be mistaken though.

EDIT - Completely opposite.

Nothing in these terms gives the company any ownership rights in intellectual property that you share with the forum, such as your account information, posts, or other content you submit to the forum. Nothing in these terms gives you any ownership rights in the company’s intellectual property, either.

Hmm strong words. Maybe just a different way.

I agree that the content of every single post is strongly connected to the author, though the argument might be given that this is slightly less so if the user hides herself behind a pseudonym.

The edit of a post should in my opinion almost never be done by others (if I focus on good and open content).

My original question though was about the title of the thread. Which ownership we all as contributors share more or less.

I still think that talking about a change should be the best way but I would argue that the position that it belongs to the creator of the first post is very weak at least in the Discourse forums.

I think that really might apply. Furthermore the change is visualized and the first author is informed about it. And can ask the member why he did it.

I think it heavily depends on the goal in the forum.
A case in which a feature is deprecated might give the TL3 users the means to change the title or even simply the admin to archive a thread.

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In the spirit of live and let live :smile:

Please review my edit, it’s completely opposite and the site doesn’t own anything.

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Thanks for looking it up.

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To fully summarise everything we’ve been communicating about for future-readers;

  • None of your content is the site’s and fully belongs to you. As stated in the Terms Of Service under Your Content it states:
  • However; this only applies in the automatic Discourse communities that haven’t changed their TOS (found from Terms of Service - Discourse Meta) and this rule can fully be edited to the company’s discretion. I advise you to fully read their TOS before assuming and especially the Your Content part as you don’t want them to be selling your property.

  • As far as I’m aware, everything has to be professionally documented before coming into action leading to the next thought of company ownership. Check below.

  • From above: When signing up to a Discourse forum it explicitly states ‘By registering, you agree to the [privacy policy]and [terms of service].’ and due to that, you have to understand the at-time-of-your-registration TOS but if they update it without informing you via a Global Header or Announcement publicly viewable, you may not be aware of it thus not following it.

I won’t get too legal here but just read the TOS and kindly ask admins if you have some questions.


I get the thinking, but I’m pretty sure it changes absolutely nothing.

To get back to the subject: The TITLE. I guess there is an argument it’s only the “name” of a topic, and hasn’t any real importance. It’s short, it’s pretty generic. Copyright and/or ownership and modifications by anyone shouldn’t be very important.

That would be very wrong, and nobody should ever register on such a site.
Thanks for correcting and quoting Discourse’s guidelines.


You own the copyright to content that you post, but that doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not someone else has the right to edit the title.

We regularly edit titles here if they don’t make sense or don’t summarise the question properly. We do that because we want people to get the best answers possible, and that won’t happen if people skim a bad title and don’t click through.

You get to make the rules on your own forum, so my only advice is not to behave with malice, and to communicate change if it might cause confusion or distress.


That was exactly my goal. Conversations or topics tend to drift, what is great.
New users start with one question that evolves to something else.

All good reasons to change the title that should be a good handle into the topic.
Same with tags and categories.

And this is as I name it the knowledge base mind set. Community driven documentation. I like it!

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I feel that the initial topic title should define the topic’s subject (according to what the OP had in mind), and then, if/when it drifts substantially or new subjects arise, you should split into new topics rather than try to make the title “evolve” to match the evolving subject of the topic. Of course you could do that, but it’s usually not the spirit. And it risks to confuse people.

IMHO, potential title changes should be at the beginning for reasons HAWK mentioned, or when there are some changes, like for example a company mentioned in the title which changed its name (you would change the topic name with “new name (ex-old name)”.

IMO, title changes to “catch up” with the content of the topic should stay the exception.


Adding some knowledge that many don’t think about when creating a title.

Many people just enter a title for what they hope the topic will be about. Some will create a post and stay true to the title, while others will stray from the title by the time they finish writing the post and not go back and fix the title. One should check that the title catches the true essence of the first post.

But one major point I always consider when writing a title is that it is used by search engines such as Google when deciding the page rank. Choosing certain words will give you a higher rank, choosing certain phrases may also be better than certain words. I don’t know if length is considered by the search engines but I think if a title has more than about 8 words it is too long.

Another thing to remember is that, from what I can tell, posting anything in a Discourse forum seems to get a higher initial page rank than posting on a blog, which is why I encourage users to post on the Discourse forum in addition to posting in their blog. If someone has stats on this I would be very interested to know.

Also I suspect that changing a title could impact the page rank either positively or negatively.

So why the whole spiel about page rank? If you are posting information is not the goal for it to be useful and found by others? I guess some people just like to post because they can.


Since I don’t have the privilege to edit other post here and I don’t want to add another reply, putting the edit of adding the link here.


I do not want to stray to far from the core of this topic (though a moderator could split it)

I am wondering if the reason behind the TL system in Discourse is that there two major groups in very community.

The regulars do have in mind to increase the value of the content and have a great and good resource about the main topics.

The others (sorry that I do not have a good term for that) often (and I say not always) do want quick answers for themselves.
If someone takes “their” content and changes it (and we are still talking about the title OR the direction of the first question) they get angry or frustrated.

I do not want to say that they are less worthy in a community!
But they should be more aware of the intentions and goals of the Regulars and the comunity.

For me in this forum I am more like a “Other” but the quick answers and the great discussion shows me the work that the Regulars have put in the community.

In the other forum I am a relative new Regular and we are much less people there.
So the Admins goal to search for the lest common denominator may be advisable. In my own community I would try to listen to everyone but be more supportive to the Regulars who invest time to improve the community on the forum.

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What you’re talking about EricGT is in one word: SEO.
And that may be more a concern of forum owners, insiders and “regulars” as Andreas tries to express in his last post. There is probably a difference in the frame of reference: Posting for the forum users (“others” in Andreas words) whereas posting to potentially attract traffic through search engines on top of that (“Regulars” in Andreas words).

I’m not sure you can expect all users to take care of SEO when writing their title. This is exactly why some forum owners / moderators modify titles with search engines in mind (which IMO isn’t in most users minds)