Why is there a topic reply limit for new users?


(npruehs) #1

Okay, thank you for pointing me there!

Anyway, I’d suggest removing the limit for new users - it’s very frustrating to find yourself in the middle of a discussion, being asked a question by Jeff Atwood, and not being able to answer. The message says: “You could edit an existing post.” - but not even that is possible, with the same error message. Just an idea!

Again: Thanks for your help!


(Jeff Atwood) #2

First of all, this is a newly introduced configurable setting of newuser_max_replies_per_topic which can be changed to every forum owners’ taste but defaults to 3 for safety.

While we have always had global post limits, this new per-topic limit is in place because it is very easy for a new user to come in and ruin a single topic by simply posting in it over and over – even with the “right” intentions. It’s even easier with the “wrong” intentions. Just create a new account, be super argumentative, reply to every single person to replies to you at great noisy length telling them just how wrong they are, and… destruction of topic.

This is particularly true in flat discussions, where all new posts live at the same place, the end of the topic.

One thing that bugged me with this situation is that new angry users “win” – they successfully get moderators to close a topic just by signing up due to some topic that is a specific personal axe-grinding vendetta of theirs, then being excessively noisy and combatative in it. Primarily manifested as an endless stream of replies… remember that Discourse is designed to be stable even if moderators aren’t around to intervene.

More broadly, if you can’t say your piece in 3 individual replies to a topic, respectfully speaking… you ain’t trying very hard.

So as the new user types their 4th reply in the same topic, they will now see

You have reached the reply limit for this topic

We’re sorry, but new users are temporarily limited to 3 replies in the same topic.

Instead of adding another reply, please consider editing your previous replies, or visiting other topics.

As for support topics, it is more correct to edit your previous posts to include the requested information rather than posting many new replies in a row, bumping the topic over and over and spreading information that should be condensed together into a massive vertical sprawl that everyone has to piece through.

In the specific case you cite, starting a new topic was actually the right thing to do, rather than continuing to post in an unrelated topic, which would force the mods (me) to split your posts out into a different, new topic. So I would say the new user post limit worked.

(Unfortunately there were 3 other nearly identical topics that already existed, which we try to highlight in a pop-up as you type the topic. The algorithm is crude though and only matches on title so it might not have been a good title match.)


(Adam Davis) #3

The new user limit per topic is very interesting. Making it configurable sounds sane, some “support” style forums would be severely hampered by it, whereas established flame-early-flame-often communities would probably find it helpful to keep incendiary topics primarily amongst established members.

It does discourage new user participation though. I’ve seen some new users that choose to participate in just one thread, such as a game thread, or a cosplay thread and that becomes their primary home in the forum. It can take a long time to tease some of them out of that topic and into the rest of the forum. Posting just three times then receiving an error message would discourage them from participating elsewhere.

Seems like a place to tread very lightly in establishing a default other than off.


(Jeff Atwood) #4

I do not think that is a fair description of the copy I wrote, is it?

How do you teach users if they are unwilling to read even brief, well written text, presented at the exact moment of the behavior?


(Alexander) #5

This is a use case I’ve never considered. Would Discourse actually work for this?


(npruehs) #6

What I was just trying to say, is that I was unable to edit any of my three posts, either. I suggest taking a look at that :smiley:


(Jeff Atwood) #7

I created a new user on http://try.discourse.org and set this user to trust level zero (try defaults to trust level 1 so people can exercise a bit more stuff), then I posted 3 times in the same topic:

If I ignore the warning and try to reply anyway because screw you guys:

And yes you are absolutely right – I can’t edit my prior posts because I get “can’t reply any more times” when I attempt to save the edit@eviltrout can you look into that ASAP tomorrow.


(Robin Ward) #8

This should be fixed now, sorry!


(Jeff Atwood) #9

Note that we are amending this rule slightly.

New users can only reply 3 times in a topic until someone else replies to them in the topic. After someone replies to them, they can reply 3 more times until someone replies to them again. Repeat forever.

Note that new users are still subject to the new user post and reply rate limits, so this isn’t carte blanche to have new users dump hundreds of replies on topics.

@eviltrout should have this in tomorrow sometime!


What is the point of limiting new users to three replies per topic?
(Dave McClure) #10

What stops two new users from replying to each other ad intifitum? Is that the other rate limits you mention?

Or do the replies have to be from a non-new-user to reset the counter?


(Robin Ward) #11

I’ve just committed it, so it’s ready to try out!

For now, moderators. We might have to revisit it if we see that scenario.


(Jeff Atwood) #12

No, this isn’t true. If two new users reply to each other over and over they will hit the global post total limit for new users.

There are daily post total limits of two types: for new users (smaller) and for all users (larger).