Forum Suggestion Show list of similar threads when posting new thread

Discussion in 'Feedback and Suggestions' started by tjohnson, Mar 16, 2015.

  1. tjohnson

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 23, 2014
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    Many newbies (as well as more senior members) often ask questions on this forum that have been asked before. As an example, in the past few weeks two people asked for suggestions for a thesis topic, and I also posted a duplicate thread myself recently.

    Because of this, I would like to suggest a feature that I have seen on many other forums. When someone is posting a new thread, a list of similar threads could appear after they type in the thread title. There is a free, actively developed, and highly rated XenForo add-on that does this. I think this feature would be extremely useful, and could potentially save time for both moderators and active members.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2015
  2. bertus

    Administrator

    Apr 5, 2008
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    Hello,

    We do have the similar thread and similar page add-on installed.

    Bertus
     
  3. tjohnson

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 23, 2014
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    Hmm, I wonder why I never see it? When is it supposed to show up?
     
  4. bertus

    Administrator

    Apr 5, 2008
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    Hello,

    You are showing version 3.9, but we still have 3.3 installed.
    Perhaps that can make the difference.
    I have asked jrap if he can take a look at it.

    Bertus
     
  5. tjohnson

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 23, 2014
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    OK, I see. Thank you, @bertus!
     
  6. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    So I just did a test and the current forum software does not seem to bring up suggestions for similar threads when you post a new thread. The old software did.

    When you view a thread it DOES bring up a list of similar threads down at the bottom of the screen (if it finds any), but these are almost always old threads that people frequently click on and then necromance the thread. It possible, this search should be time-constrained to only bring up threads with acceptably recent origination dates.
     
  7. tjohnson

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 23, 2014
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    I was talking about having suggestions appear after a thread title is typed in, like this:
    [​IMG]
    Bertus said that an old version of this add-on is installed on the forum, so hopefully if it is updated it will work.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2015
  8. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    But I still think it needs to be better filtered. Look at the dates on the threads of those suggestions. Only one of them is less than two years old and most are over five years old. A lot of necromancy occurs because people respond to threads that the forum offers up as suggestions to them -- they then go and read it and reply to it.
     
  9. tjohnson

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 23, 2014
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    I agree. People do have to select the "I understand this is an old thread, but want to reply anyway" checkbox at the bottom of the page before they can reply to a thread that's more than 365 days old, but that doesn't seem to be very effective.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2015
  10. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    It's probably more effective than we realize. We had a period where that checkbox wasn't there and I think we saw a lot more necroposting than we do now.
     
  11. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    Yes, a lot more. A lot of it was people not really seeing the date of the post they were answering.
     
  12. atferrari

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 6, 2004
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    Myself, in all forums fitted with that add on, I always thought of it as a warning like "Hey, somebody posted about removing bearings; look here first" to avoid eventually repeating a question on the same subject.

    It never crossed my mind to contribute to them. After all, if you are a prospective OP (or is it TS?), you do not have in mind replying others' posts. (I reserve the right to change my mind on the spot, anyway...:p :D )
     
  13. tjohnson

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 23, 2014
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    Just to be clear: I do see a list of similar threads at the bottom of the page when I'm viewing a thread that's not in one of the AAC Community forums. But I don't see a list of similar threads when creating a new thread, which is why I started this thread.
     
  14. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    We understand that.

    The point that has been made by a few of us is that with the prior vBulletin forum software you DID see such a list when creating a thread and you were specifically requested to see if any of those threads answered your question before starting a new thread. The present Xenforo forum software, as we have it, does not do that.

    Most of the discussion has been on whether adding this feature is a net benefit or a net detriment. The benefit is from the potential for people to find threads that might answer their question and thus reduce the number of redundant threads. The detriment is from the potential for people to necropost since, far more often than not, the threads that are recommended are years old. I think the jury is out on which effect wins, particularly when keeping in mind that people are already supposed to search the forum before creating a new thread.
     
  15. bertus

    Administrator

    Apr 5, 2008
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    Hello,

    Having the option of similar threads during a thread start might lead to necro posting.

    Bertus
     
  16. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    But this argument applies, possibly even more so, to having a list of similar threads appear at the bottom of the page when reading a thread since almost always those threads are long dead. What is needed -- and I don't think it would be too hard, but I don't that for sure -- would be to have the search in either case only bring up results for threads that are less than a certain age (say three months) with an option to expand the search to older threads (possibly with a comment that such threads should be used for information gathering but probably should not be responded to).

    There is some difference between the two cases and I don't know how to accommodate it. When you are starting a new thread you are generally looking for answers to a question and it doesn't matter if that answer is found in a five year old thread. The same might be true if you are just browsing threads and are interested in following a stream of threads on similar topics. But if you are looking to engage in a discussion, then having older threads show up in the search results is an invitation to necroposting.
     
  17. tjohnson

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 23, 2014
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    @bertus: OK, I understand. Sorry for not making my original post clearer.
     
  18. tjohnson

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 23, 2014
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    Here's my opinion about how the problems of necroposting and duplicate threads could be solved on this forum:
    • Since (1)the yellow banner that currently appears at the bottom of the page for a thread that's over a year old doesn't seem very effective to prevent necroposting, and (2)I don't really see a need for people to be able to reply to threads that are over a year old, I don't think it should be allowed at all (except by moderators). I think the thread should basically be locked, and a banner shown at the bottom saying something like "You cannot reply to this thread because it is over a year old. If you want to discuss this topic, please post a new thread."
    • If this was done, then necroposting wouldn't be possible, and my idea of similar threads being shown during posting a new thread could be implemented. I think it would likely reduce the number of duplicate threads on this forum.
    But as I said, it's only my opinion.

    EDIT: I just noticed that the Mozilla Support forum closes old threads and shows a banner above them that says, "This thread was archived. Please ask a new question if you need help." I like the word "archived" better than "locked," but couldn't think of a better word to use when I originally wrote this post.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2015
  19. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    Some time ago I recommended something similar, noting however that there were some forums, such as Projects and Completed Projects, where posting to old threads might be reasonable. There is also the issue of what the "1 year" is measured from. If it's from the thread start date (the easiest one to put into a rule) then that would close some very active threads. If it's from the data of the last post, then a thread that has been dormant for just under a year and gets necroposted now has a new lease on life for another year.
     
    tjohnson likes this.
  20. tjohnson

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Dec 23, 2014
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    I like that the updated version of the forum now shows a list of similar threads when posting a new thread, as I had suggested.

    However, I don't like that now there are no restrictions at all on necroposting, and I'm surprised that no one else has mentioned this. Was this the result of a discussion among the moderators, or what exactly happened?
     
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