Should topic threads stay open or be closed after 90 days?


#1

This comes up a lot so I’d like to hear your thoughts/opinions… should threads close after 90 days of inactivity, or should we leave them open for future discussion?

From my understanding, the reason they’re closed after 3 months is to prompt users to start new threads instead of continuing to revisit the same old topics over and over. I assume this is to keep content from getting stale or off-topic (as often happens.) Especially, for example, if a product or hardware changes and the answer or solution has changed from the original thread.

I don’t have a strong opinion either way, so your feedback is definitely appreciated.


#2

And so we are now in the sixth thread on this subject (because all the others were auto-closed) …

And as I said in the fifth threadTopic automatically closing… system new message:


#3

You said it first @Caroline :wink:


#4

I think a topic should stay open until someone indicates that it is the correct answer with the “Solved by” check mark (which most don’t bother with). However, I have sometimes read a post and replied to it and, afterwards, realized that I was replying to a two-year-old thread. Oops. Maybe if it’s been a month since the last reply, a popup could warn you that the last post was more than thirty days ago (or some-such). Similar to the one that warns you that your topic title is similar to another one. After six months and no check mark, maybe “someone” could come along and pick a best answer as the solution.

Or, before someone makes their very first post, a popup could alert them to some tips about checking the solution, etc. These are all ideas that have been tossed around before, but it still seems that some threads should live in perpetuity and not be retired. Maybe keep the auto-close function but add a “forever” option for those topics that might fit the nebulous forever criteria?


#5

I would prefer that topics were normally left open for future replies indefinitely. As a user (but not administrator) of forum-like systems for over 30 years, I have often seen value in continuing discussions that are many years old. I don’t see the value in deliberately provoking redundant topics via forum policy.


#6

One more vote for staying open.


#7

Just the other day I started a new thread discussion about something in layout, because all the other threads that I could search for had been closed - some without being answered. If these threads were still open, I probably would have asked the question in one of them, to save starting another thread.

I think I am agreeing with folk that permanently open threads are fine and needed in some circumstances. However, some can be closed, and some need to be closed for sanity reasons.


#8

This already happens in the right edit pane. The popover will ask if you are sure that you wish to revive this thread after n days. People just start to ignore these popovers as they are often wrong.

I don’t know what the day warning trigger is. Perhaps something set by admin ?


#9

TL;DR: Unless a case can be made - and agreed to - for a specific Category or type of post, all threads should remain open until manually closed.

@DanRathbun Makes some great points.

I’ve been on the fence on this for quite a while. Now I’ve been persuaded: If the choice is auto-close all categories or none, I’m on the side of none - leave 'em open!

I can see the reason in marking “Solved” threads as auto-close in 30-90 days, but I have no idea if that’s easily done in Discourse as it exists now. If not, it’s probably not worth the effort.

For threads that usually appear as an attempt to gather together feature requests for the “next” yearly version release, they should be manually closed as soon as version 20xx is released. If someone cares enough about a feature not implemented in 20xx, they can add a reply in the “Feature Request for 20xx+1” thread.


Yearly "feature requests for the next release" threads
#10

I should add: Whatever the decision is, effort should be made to apply retroactive consistency! What do I mean by that?

If the decision is to stop auto-closing, then any threads already auto-closed should be reopened, and any threads already in an auto-close countdown should have the auto-close removed.

If the decision is made to keep auto-close in any category, then an effort should be made to manually close all old threads in the category that meet the criteria (no posts in XX days).

Once I became accustomed to the current status quo (almost all categories auto-close in 90 or 180 days), it irritates me when an extremely old thread - say 2 years since the last post - suddenly reappears because it wasn’t manually closed when the auto-close was enabled for that category.

So, whichever way the decision goes, go to the effort to find already existent threads that need manual changes to conform to the new policy.


#11

Except for admin threads like each category’s About thread, or announcement threads where the admins don’t really want them to be discussion threads.

The way I see it, only the technical problems and feature request categories (and perhaps the tutorial request category) that can be precisely solved (and marked as such,) should have the close feature enabled, but only after being marked as solved.

So, basically I can think of 4 kinds of user threads, … Q & A (solvable), Bug Report (solvable/loggable), Feature Request (solvable), and Discussion (which doesn’t actually have any certain solution, only opinions.)


#12

@Caroline The above thread is a great example of a “Solved” thread that should be closed either manually or algorithmically no matter the result of the discussion here.


#13

… and it is a weird thing that the Mobile Viewer does not have it’s own Feature Requests sub-category like the other products do.


#14

I disagree. Even in this case, threads should remain open.
Even if the OP thinks they solved their issue or got an answer to their question, someone else can bring new interesting insight to the discussion.
Or a user can ask a follow up question on the same topic, because they didn’t understand how to apply the provided solution, etc.

Apart from spam and similar issues, I really don’t see any argument for automatically closing threads.
Old threads can have great value. If they are always automatically closed, this value sinks to the abyss of the forums. If they are revived once in a while, this value can come to the eyes of new users.


#15

I had proposed something like this in one of these old threads on closing.
But I think the opposite, ie OP checks a box making the thread solvable and closable.


#16

As I see it auto close is only causing issues. It leads to multiple threads discussing the exact same thing, it makes it hard to add new info to an old topic that still is the first one you find on Google (e.g. saying the issue is fixed in the most recent version of SU) and it makes it hard for extension developers to write about updates in the thread they’ve already started for their extension. It just creates a mess.

On top of that I don’t see what it is good for either. New users quite often write whatever random question they have in whatever random thread they find, How does it matter whether they do it in a thread that has been inactive 3 years or one created earlier the same? It is equally off topic regardless.

Regarding solved topics users often mark topics as solved even for answers that don’t tell the whole story, and sometimes are wrong. A topic being solved can be a useful indication, but I don’t think it should affect how the forum works.

EDIT: This said I think the forum could be a lot better at showing how old a thread is. You very easily get into old threads, either from Google searches or from the Suggested Topics list. Sure, when you start write a reply you get a warning but at the time you have started writing you have already decided more or less what you want to say and how to say it.

When a posts says “September '14” I have often misinterpreted that as September 14th, not September 2014. Why can’t just the whole year be written out? It takes just one more character and the possibility for misunderstanding it is gone.


#17

+1 for that.

and that.

It seems that the autoclose feature may have been implemented in response to this:


#18

No, closing doesn’t prevent a poster from deleting or editing there previous posts.

DenisRoy’s activity could be muted via a user’s notification settings.
(EDIT - Steve had shown that this was not working well at the time.)

ADD: Another thing I hate is when the system avatar “edits” a thread by closing it. The closed thread worthlessly pops to the top of the Latest list.


#19

Oops I should have checked that one out before posting. I had seemed to remember that the auto close issue came up around that time.


#20

"From my understanding, the reason they’re closed after 3 months is to prompt users to start new threads instead of continuing to revisit the same old topics over and over." @Caroline

Sometimes people visit old threads because the information is still helpful. And if something related comes up…it’s nice when a person can go to a current thread with the new question. Sometimes there is a good measure of continuity by allowing a thread to remain open. When people are forced to start new threads:
1. those less experienced then have to bounce back and forth from the closed thread that might hold a lot of good info and the new thread that now might have differing opinions, differing arguments, or even explainations
2. there is always the occasional self-important know-it-all that will simply slam the link to an old closed thread into the new thread, curtly telling the “newby” to go read it
3. there tends to be multiple closed threads - some of which, if old enough, a new person doesn’t know exist - all on the same topic. If a person finds all those closed thread, perhaps they will eventually find the answers they seek…but if the miss one or two, they may miss something that could have helped.

"I assume this is to keep content from getting stale or off-topic (as often happens.) Especially, for example, if a product or hardware changes and the answer or solution has changed from the original thread." @Caroline

I’ve often seen people told their question or comments were off-topic…of course I don’t know how this forum handles such situations. I am a moderator of a forum, and when I run across a post that is too far off topic, I have the capability to “split” the off-topic post from the thread, and set it up as a completely new thread. Perhaps this would be helpful if you have that capability here. Likewise, I can also take a newly created thread, and merge it with an on-going thread on the same topic. The merged material is placed in an order as if it had been a part of it’s new location all along. I can then leave a link so that the merged content can be found. That link automatically expires after 30 days.

I would think that if a new post is related, whether something has changed or not, there is useful history, and could possibly cause a better understanding of the situation all the way around.

JM2C