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bagkitty bagkitty's picture
Thread size

Wherein bagkitty holds forth on why he thinks threads are tooooooooo looooooong.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

I am going to be really bold here and suggest that, in most cases, threads should have something like a "best by" date attached to them.

Since the practice of closing threads at about the 100 post mark has ended, I have noticed a large number of threads that have grown to the point they are essentially unmanageable.

Case in point: the thread "latest polling thread - 5 july, 2012" has, at the time I am writing this, 644 entries and runs some 22 pages on my browser. Let me assure you that in the (roughly) nine months since the thread was created, it has strayed significantly from the OP (which bore remarkably little connection to the actual title of the thread... it is not until about 5 hours after the thread was initiated that the first mention of polling actually appears).

Yes, it is broadly on the same topic (polling), but it is well past its best by date. If someone wants to refer to a previous discussion about polling they can always link to the previous thread.

Also of interest is the Liberal leadership race thread, (803 entries and 27 pages at time of writing and roughly of the same vintage as the polling thread). Yep, it is (mostly) on topic... but I, for one, would probably be more likely to follow it if it were broken into something like chapters.

I understand that the bouts of thread proliferation (usually around elections or incidents of "breaking news") has been a problem in the past, but I have to wonder, is the nuturing of gargantuan threads the answer to that problem?

Without going into specific examples, I would also like to observe that the practice of closing threads past a certain size was a practical way of discouraging not only drift, but also the "getting in the last snarky shot" competitions. Leaving threads open indefinitely has, as I perceive it, been coupled with an increase in the pissing / dick waving / faeces smearing contests.

For what it is worth, I would be happy to see at least a partial return of the "closing for length" comments from the moderators - I believe they managed to avoid (most) accusations of "shutting down discussion" by creating (or inviting others to create) continuation threads...

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Because babble doesn't use drop-down menu pagination, where a drop down menu on the pagination allows us to get to any page in a thread with a single page change no matter how large they get, babble threads will eventually get to the point where some of their pages require multiple page changes to get there. Once threads get to that point I see a valid case for closing the thread for length. Until that point, not so much.

The issue of off-topic threads, also brought up by bagkitty, is the result of more than just straight up thread length. Prior to pagination, it was quite common for babble threads to be started on very specific topics. Some examples might be an individual comment by an MP, ore one babblers opinion on a topic ect. The threads that were x opinion on y topic (the antithesis of omnibus threads) would often devolve into a more general discussion of the topic, which would lead to thread titles that were a bit off topic. Though at least the 100 post limit would mostly stop us from having months on end of an off topic thread title showing up on the TAT.

Now, a lot of old threads never made it to the 100 post limit, so there's a lot of old still open threads on babble. What I have noticed in recent months, maybe partly because threads are no longer closed for length, but also I suspect partly because we lost the ability to tag new threads so they can be found with the search function, many babblers are going back to old  threads and resurrecting them with posts that are multiple degrees of seperation from the original thread title. And because we only mods can edit thread titles, and we don't want to bother them with changing every partly off-topic thread title, we have threads with content that is multiple degrees of seperation from the original thread title, going on for multiple pages over many months.

Not to mention that even when new threads get started they're sometimes on a very narrow aspect of a topic (sometimes this isn't a problem depending on how the topic plays itself out and sometimes it's just a case of old habits die hard) and then wind up on a broader topic that's multiple degrees of separation from the thread title.