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Author Topic: When does a thread become stale?  (Read 813 times)
grahame
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« on: September 17, 2020, 06:46:20 am »

I notice a tendency to resurrect old threads, such as this one, where nothing has been posted for a few months, and I'm not sure of the merits of reopening a discussion on threads which appeared to have drawn to a natural conclusion, unless of course there has been some new information that would trigger it.   

Our server generates this message:
Quote
Warning: this topic has not been posted in for at least 120 days.
Unless you're sure you want to reply, please consider starting a new topic.
and always has done ... an acknowledegement of the often-poor merits of adding to a conversation on a thread that has faded from contributions many months, or year, ago.

The alert principle is (I have found for me) a good one - warning me that I am may be restarting something that has gone stale, but not preventing at any point the re-opening of a thread and linking together topics into a story over the years as a topic such as Stonehouse (Bristol Road) re-ignites. But I do wonder about the 120 days - set back in 2007 as the default the forum software came with; those were days when things didn't feel as fast-changing and the forum was new and not all that initially active.

It's advise only ... I am NOT proposing locking topics after "n" days of inactivity ... but how would members feel about changing that 120 day number as a guidance?  What would you think of (say) 45 days - or 42 as a tipping of the hat to Douglas Adams?
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2020, 08:39:03 am »

I think the 120-day reminder is about right.

Given how slowly some railway developments progress, I think it is essential to be able to reanimate old threads. Otherwise we'd have literally dozens of 'Portishead reopening' threads, rather than having it mostly in one place.
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rogerw
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« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2020, 08:51:47 am »

I agree that the 120 day reminder is about right.
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« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2020, 10:11:03 am »

I think the 120-day reminder is about right.

Given how slowly some railway developments progress, I think it is essential to be able to reanimate old threads. Otherwise we'd have literally dozens of 'Portishead reopening' threads, rather than having it mostly in one place.


I agree. I've had the 120-day warning several times, considered it, and usually gone ahead and added to the old thread, sometimes to add something new to the discussion or because my contribution fits neatly under the thread title.

It's not entirely comparable, but in the Great War Forum we often get new members asking a question that has been answered in one or more threads over the years. Sometimes I give links to the previous discussions (some as old as 2005!) to save the same info being given all over again.
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2020, 10:33:53 am »

or 42 as a tipping of the hat to Douglas Adams?

If you're thinking of Douhlas Adams might I remind you of how long Marvin was waiting in the car park at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe Wink
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grahame
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« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2020, 10:40:32 am »

Agreed - it is vital that threads can normally be woken up again by anyone ... there are a considerable number of appropriate times.

The warning at 120 days is a strong one; I will leave it at the level.  I could add an extra (more gentle) message such as "This topic has not been posted in for a xx days" without any "reconsider" for periods (say) over a week but under the 120 days.    Personally I would find that to be a useful reminder to hep me reset context as I write ... if I get a series of "please no" posts following this up, though, I'll drop the idea.
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grahame
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« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2020, 10:41:18 am »

or 42 as a tipping of the hat to Douglas Adams?

If you're thinking of Douhlas Adams might I remind you of how long Marvin was waiting in the car park at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe Wink

I'll bet his parking bill was phenomenal ...
« Last Edit: September 17, 2020, 11:00:14 am by grahame » Logged

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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2020, 11:38:24 am »

Where a thread is what might be termed 'informational' I think it's more appropriate to add to a pre-existing thread, however old, rather than start a new one. Red Squirrel's example of 'Portishead reopening' is a good example. Where it's a thread like 'Where was I last Sunday' then it's probably better to start your own thread. And then there are the ongoing drip-feed threads such as 'IET experiences'.

Put simply ? and this is the point, I suppose, of the 120 day warning ? 'If I post this here, is anyone likely to read it and respond to it?'
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broadgage
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« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2020, 01:47:31 pm »

I consider that the present arrangement is fine.

BTW, I am a member of another forum (not rail related) in which threads are locked after a certain time. This is IMHO a poor choice as numerous threads get started on the same subject.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
grahame
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« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2020, 02:48:15 pm »

I consider that the present arrangement is fine.

BTW, I am a member of another forum (not rail related) in which threads are locked after a certain time. This is IMHO a poor choice as numerous threads get started on the same subject.

There is ... no way ... that topics are going to be automatically locked after a certain time.  Many thanks to everyone for confirming my feelings on that one.  I had a quick look at the databases and of 21,276 threads only 288 are locked - the low number a sign of the good manners and sense of our membership.  Often, the lock was put on when the same subject was being discussed twice, but threads would not have easily merged.

75 threads (out of the 21,276) are "sticky" / "pinned" and I keep an eye on the informational ones there - such as the forum welcome at http://gwr.passenger.chat/1761 keep them all on one page.  17 out of the 75 sticky threads are locked - some providing links to associated discussion threads. 

Put simply ? and this is the point, I suppose, of the 120 day warning ? 'If I post this here, is anyone likely to read it and respond to it?'

I don't think that's the reason ... as a new post on an old thread brings that thread up to the top of the listings, the new post appears in "Recent Posts", etc.      I think it's mainly done to alert people who find an old thread through search and are about to start sharing stale news thinking it's new.   Many of us have shared something on Facebook just to realise late it was last year's news.

I remain tempted to put a little "most recent post on this thread was xxx days ago" message up on old but not stale posts ...
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« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2020, 07:22:56 pm »

I'll bet his parking bill was phenomenal ...

He was the car park attendant parking cars. Or more accurately, spaceships.

So no parking bill for him.
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« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2020, 10:02:23 pm »

I guess as the poster who raised the issue, it's appropriate for me to explain further my point. It's good to see that it has raised some discussion -  thank you for that.

The poster in question has, IIRC, on more than one occasion, suddenly issued a flurry of posts about old subjects. Not because there has been any new information (to pick up on the surfboard comment that I think broadgage raised), but just because they've obviously been having a bit of a trawl through. Where there's something new to discuss it's completely appropriate to bring an old thread back to life.

I'm not advocating any change to forum policy - goodness, far be it for me to do that.  It just felt a bit inappropriate to trawl through and then fire off a series of posts on long dormant threads. A bit like reopening a discussion in the pub with a group of friends when the conversation had moved on two hours ago.
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« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2020, 10:20:09 pm »

I thought the surfboard thread was commented on because of:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-54162329

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grahame
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« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2020, 09:04:07 am »

The Coffee Shop ... philosophy ... is to welcome everyone and that included guests, new members, and members who only pop in from time to time.  We welcome those who join us at the pub table, but perhaps doze off or have to take a call that pulls them away from the conversation for periods.  Sure, at times those of us in the core group have to fill the others in, but it's very worthwhile in terms of the future, and it gives us the opportunity to "checkpoint" ourselves and learn different approaches. Personally, very happy to do a big share of the filling in; I suppose that was my working life, enjoying informing and training people on some quite complex topics.

The Melksham Rail User Group meeting on Wednesday was an "interesting" one ( I won't go into detail here ) but one of the great points was the newcomers - people along on Zoom for the first time and catching up on local public transport news.  And for sure they helped make it "interesting" and time was taken to make sure things worked for them. I know that they'll be back on 18th November; in one case I know he'll need similar support again but that's a price worth paying, a somewhat minor irritant, and who's time taken can be mitigated by another member supporting him.
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bignosemac
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« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2020, 01:56:27 pm »

How about 125 days as a hat tip to the venerable HST?  Tongue Wink Grin
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