I think that this is a great feature for Discourse. If an exception can be said to prove the rule then, for me, this is it.
I will enable this on my forums because it has so much potential for topic types. I provide some concepts further below which you can get to by skipping til after the two quotes below.
I honestly couldn’t work out what this feature would do for people because it is so anti the way I work. Normally I fully read a topic before responding, draft a reply and fill it while I keep reading, use bookmarks to remember where I was up to.
Six months later, it was still a mystery until I read this comment:
But hold on, there’s no obvious attempt at systematic organisation of topics apart from organizing a box for all the topics to be thrown together. We could more accurately describe it as a topic where everything is disorganized in one place. It seems that the effort required to organize the discussion is perceived to be greater than the benefits.
That’s exactly why this feature is not consistent with what I’d call Discourse’s discussion by design:
So while I agree with the critics that this feature allows bad habits, instead of opposing it, I argue for this sort of desultory engagement to be allowed.
What this feature will allow me to do is to:
provide another feature I can use to promote Discourse …
… and engage desultory users more easily
but most importantly operate with some new topic types where reading and responding are asynchronous or out of step and where topics are more reflexive in other ways than usual:
Logs where the reading is a journey but I need to be able to interact with the latest status report. I both want to read everything and interact with the latest notification.
E.g. in a travelog where the author is writing it and I am reading it but never up-to-date. I can personalise this one because I want to setup a family forum where our family members can post their travel notes. My wife wants to reply to those updates or request an update without losing her reading place.
Diagnostics where there is a payoff to getting an early solution
E.g. problem solving where Windows has crashed with certain error codes then I’d always suggest checking drivers are updated even without reading the entire. I remember many times where I’ve seen a reported problem and only had time to dash off a quick reply before heading off to another commitment.
Spoilers as already discussed.
Mystery games where being first to guess the result is the goal. This is kind of opposite to avoiding spoilers because there is one spoiler we’re all seeking to reveal.
E.g. a competition where each user only gets three replies or guesses - a plug-in would help enforce this the limit.
Adaptations where replies are designed to suggest a new path for the topic. Again the opposite of spoilers but there is no limit to the number of accepted suggestions.
E.g. Writing a serial story where readers can introduce keywords or themes that affect the story as it is serialized. This is like the movie of the same name Adaptation
E.g. a live interview where I can follow the interview and ask questions at the same time. It may be tidier to have questions in a separate topic or via PM but this way everyone can see what other readers are interested in, can catch the mood of the crowd.
There are some practical issues so go ahead and suggest more uses and improvements.