With the new right gutter, where should "Reply as Linked Topic" go?

6 posts were split to a new topic: Link dialog New Topic does not always include context

I love this drop-down proposal!

In our case, since the "reply as linked topic’ link was dropped, it has strongly been the latter, but not just. Frustratingly for me (the moderator), new posts have decreased tremendously too. People just don’t feel like starting new threads now.

Continuing the discussion from "Reply as new topic" button next to reply button:

The lack of use of a feature doesn’t necessarily indicate a lack of importance. Think post import on Medium or InMail in the early days of LinkedIn. That small amount of usage drove far-reaching behaviours overall. From this data-driven angle, is there data that shows how droping this link has affected broader behaviours? Like:

  • change to average length / replies of topics
  • change to number of new topics per user
  • change to hunting and searching behaviour
  • even overall time spent

I’ve seen these change significantly for the worse on my forum. Particularly the last point, where people can’t find the message they want anymore. I hear, “stuff just gets lost on the forum” now that the thread length is growing and topics are generally off-topic and meandering. People are getting lost and giving up - so just hitting reply to whatever thread was last.

It’s like a tipping point in messiness. Since the few people who used this feature kept things roughly organised, the others could too. But now, its like when the dishes pile up in the sink, and nobody wants to start cleaning up. They just add to the pile.

This flexiblity between self-organising and structure was one of the key features that lead to me to choose Discourse, but it’s currently lost .

At this stage, I’d love it any of the suggestions here were implemented. The marginal difference in wording or UI placement is small compared to the fact without any way to remind my users to keep things on-topic, my forum is turning into a few, long, mixed up threads.

You guys are good at shipping and evolving quickly. So, you can always ship the drop-down and fix the wording or placement later right? :slight_smile:


I am a fan of @DeanMarkTaylor’s proposal for

Not sure when we’ll get to it. You should train your users to use the link button visible on every post, as in:

I want to link this topic… to a new topic I am about to create


Currently, the t key does not act as “Reply as a new topic”.

Some of advanced users keep asking me how they should reply as a new topic? They liked the feature a lot.

Yes it does…

But you have to use j or k to select the post you want to reply as a new topic from first.


you can also let them know about the :link: :arrow_right: + new topic feature.


You get the same box and “new topic” feature clicking on the timestamp. For some reason, I always prefer that way.


Train users? Maybe they were already trained to stay on topic by seeing a constant reminder about reply as new topic? A sign that says, good off topic points, please start a new thread before we lose the plot.

(Edit, this is not meant as a rant, although reading it later it I haven’t quite got the register right! )

It appears the stats say that we don’t use the feature, but have you considered that some things just work without any overt references to them. As car drivers we don’t get out and polish Stop signs because they are so useful, or say to passengers, hey that Stop sign is so useful isn’t it. And we tend not to argue with the message behind a stop sign either. Overall it is a silent sign which we certainly respect and benefit from being there. Would removing permanent stop signs and fitting a button in a car be as useful - Press this button when approaching a road junction to pop up relevant traffic control signs.

I have not closely followed developments on meta for a while, so I am not totally up to speed, but doing some belated housekeeping on my own forum, I noticed a few threads have got a bit sloppy. I tried breaking up those that merited a new related post using reply as new topic. As a clue to how that went, it is not nearly as intuitive as before, and I had to ask my friend Google how to get started! Then it was straight forward to break them up.

But consider the minimalist effect on users. I think I’m right in saying that the permanent sign we used to have for Stop posting rambling off topic replies, start a new thread served also as a really good “breadcrumb / related posts effect”, helping readers to discover more content.

I just set up 4 posts all related, I want the group members to go through each one and reply accordingly. Now that the visible listing and natural link effect from one post to another is out of sight out of mind, (based on the assumption we don’t use it), those forum posts are now less discoverable?

I understand the forum works as well as it does because you guys sweat every single detail, but minimalist can go too far. I read a great article about the difference in usage between a super roof deck and an average patio off the lounge. Can I find the link anywhere, but it was another analogy about drop in usage when great features or clues are less accessible than average features.


You’re saying that people can’t find reply as linked topic note that it’s on the link icon menu?


That pretty much sums it up, yes. It’s hidden. It isn’t deemed important enough to have its own space and requires users to remember it exists.

In a long winded way I guess I am questioning if the stats actually tell the right story to justify that approach.

I think that the current default applies to most communities. Of course, there will be many boards in the wild that used this option a lot more than the norm.

Maybe you guys can try to craft a plugin that makes this more prominent?

Could you do it with just CSS?

With my classes, I just told them where reply-as-linked-topic was and at least most of them managed to find it. Of course, a “community” where people are required to participate in very specific ways is a fairly unique situation. (And it was a course in which people were supposed to be learning about technology!).


I have published a training post to try cover all bases.

As admin it is amazing to have so much control re-organizing threads and moving off topic posts to new threads or existing threads. The simplicity after the fact is good but I recall one of the original aims was to reduce admin and cut out much housekeeping at the source through smart use of the software. In my case the change in this one element didn’t add to that story. Still, the best thing I ever did was moving to Discourse.


Nope. You need Javascript.


Discourse is currently training the users, intentionally or otherwise, that replying as a linked topic is the wrong thing to do:

  • Encouraging the “right” things by making those things intentionally easy to do.
  • Discouraging the “wrong” things by making those things intentionally difficult, complex, and awkward to do.


I see that an off-topic reply can course issues, even if it only happens a very small percentage of the time.

I really cannot see a scenario where a user would want to reply as a new topic and should be discourage from doing so by hiding the option in a counter-intuitive place.


Glad to see this thread bumped. I find myself forking topics a lot these days, and can’t help but think I’d be doing less of it if RALT was still an obvious thing to do.

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I really wish we tracked this sort of thing, because I have a hard time believing this change would drastically reduce the amount of RALTs (sure, let’s try that acronym on for size :smiley: )

Even the way it was before, we kept having to tell users about its existence, and we had to explain what it was. I think in the context of the link button, it’s easier to infer what’s actually happening when you opt to start a New Topic from there.

Furthermore, RALT wasn’t even available on mobile at all until this change.

By far the best way to encourage RALTing is to lead by example. There’s no dark magic involved, so when users see examples of forked topics following the convention of pasting a link back to the original topic, they’ll do one of two things when they run into a situation where they’ll want to do that themselves:

  1. Start a new topic with a plain link pointing back to the original. Not perfectly in line with the desired convention but the most important criteria of linking topics together is still fulfilled.
  2. Click the Link button when they’re trying to fetch their link; notice the New Topic option; RALT.

I new that it was possible to reply as a new topic and spent a quite few minutes trying to find that option, far longer than I would expect most users to spend. I then spent quite a few more minutes fruitlessly searching for the term “reply as new topic”.

If I am writing a response to a post then I am replying to that post, irrespective of where my reply is found. The suggestion of explaining to users that what they are actually doing is linking to a post as opposed to replying is rendered ineffective by demonstrably being crazy-talk. If that is how you want to use the word linking then I do not think it means what you think it means, or at least, I do not think it is used how I think it is used.

By far the best way to encourage XXXXX is to make it easy and obvious! I thought that was an underlying philosophy of Discourse.

If a user wants to reply to a post and then decides to replay as a new topic then they are in effect helping to curate the forum at the expense of their own time. There is no immediate benefit to them, they are making the altruistic decision not to derail an existing conversation.

Once they have formed that preference they have a finite amount of motivation to do the right thing, they are not going to faff around copying and pasting links as you suggest, they are either going to click an intuitively named button in an obvious place that is available “just in time” or they are going to give up and never try again.

If that option is going to appear “just in time” then it has to be part of the reply dialog, not something that has to be clicked before replying. Otherwise you are asking the user to decide how they want to reply before they know if they want to.

I really can’t see an issue with giving “replay as new topic” near parity with “reply”. Even if it only gets used a very small percentage of the time it should be seen to be a good and valid option for users. Perhaps more importantly, if it is hidden away, no one will know it exists! The aspiration for a largely self-moderating space for civilised discourse doesn’t work if users still use it like any other forum software. I have a chrome tab open next to this one for a forum running phpBB and every single topic seems to get derailed. The users don’t know any other way to use a forum and the software doesn’t give them a viable alternative.

Discourse has some perfectly good tools for dealing with troublemakers but so does pretty much every other forum software. The really intractable problem is getting users to talk (and listen) without shouting over each other and Reply as new topic is pretty much the only de-derailment tool that Discourse seems to offer users. It seems utterly bizarre to me not to want it front and centre of the user experience.


We’re in agreement here. The team is very much in favour of @DeanMarkTaylor’s excellent UX suggestion. We just don’t see this as a high priority change. If a front-end developer would like to work on this as a paid gig, please get in touch!


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