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Forum Moderators: rogerd
Even though super-long threads no longer cause browsers to hang or forum software to crash, I think there are still some real issues.
Usability. Often, these long threads develop into extended chat rooms, with individual subjects rising and fading away. An interesting topic buried in the middle of a 2000-post thread is hard to find even if you have an idea of where to look. Newcomers to the forum are unlikely to find it at all unless they spend a large amount of time reading the entire post.
Search Engine Indexing. This is actually a double issue. Internal site search engines may not be able to find or point to buried content as easily, although some do allow displaying search results in "post" rather than "thread" format. And for those who count on search engine traffic for their forum, it seems unlikely that these giant threads will be indexed as well as a number of smaller, more focused threads.
On the other hand, members often seem to love these giant threads, and seem disoriented if the admin shuts one down and continues it in a new thread.
So, do you have a rule of thumb for how big is TOO big? When do you draw the line and close a popular thread?
Yes, this can be somewhat disorienting. But once it's off the first page, it cools off quickly and new threads grow. I don't believe in one or two threads dominating for weeks on end.
I've considered building a "score" for each thread and sorting by that, and this score would take into account both newness and activeness. I haven't gotten to it, but basically a new thread would start out with a score = to that of the highest scoring thread + 1. Every time a thread gets a post, it's score increments by 1. Active, older threads would have to constantly battle it out with new threads to stay near the top of the page and eventually would die a natural, gradual death as newer, more vibrant threads grew.
This seems logical both from a user and search engine standpoint, but I don't have any research basis for doing it this way.
The trouble is, shutting any of them down would be a bit of a slap in the face for that user.
Perhaps contacting them directly might be a way to do it?
I got a few complaints from members who couldn't figure out where "their thread" went, and initially a restarted general thread drew most of the posts. As a few months went by, though, members took to the idea of their own forum and began starting topics focused on single issues. It's now a busy subforum and the leading resource in its narrow field.