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Author Topic: So how long IS too long for a thread.  (Read 8582 times)
cranioscopical
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« on: March 25, 2008, 02:10:44 PM »


Recent material that's appeared, for example here and here has made me wonder about two things.

1) How long is considered to be too long for a thread?

2) What helps to keep a thread alive and interesting?

Or are the answers entirely subjective?

(Watch for my companion thread entitled "How long is a piece of string?")

Seriously though, what do people consider to be common elements that help to create and keep readers' interest?

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Chris
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« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2008, 02:20:06 PM »

Don't let 'em get to you suberboyac.    Thmbsup   tongue
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tinjaw
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« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2008, 02:40:06 PM »

1) How long is considered to be too long for a thread?

When somebody who hasn't seen the thread needs to spend more than 10-15 minutes catching up.

If there is a discussion thread on an interesting topic that has caught my interest because of its length, I am usually willing to spend 10-15 minutes catching up to be able to join the discussion. IOW if I think I can gain something from it, I am willing to put in some amount of effort.

2) What helps to keep a thread alive and interesting?

  • No "Me Too!" posts.
  • New information/opinion at least every other post.
  • On a topic I know enough about to contribute. Or..
  • On a topic I don't know much about and want to learn.
  • Being a new perspective on an older problem. (i.e. Should the Start Menu be completely revamped? or Since now days most people have replaced their computers, should people start making it a common practice to create a "home server.")
  • It's a thread that consists of people complementing boosting the ego of Tinjaw.
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mouser
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« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2008, 02:42:14 PM »

Quote
1) How long is considered to be too long for a thread?

when it's one post longer than your own personal interest in it.  Wink
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mouser
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« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2008, 02:44:18 PM »

in all seriousness, do you think if we added the "ignore thread" option to the forum, so people could mark threads as those that shouldnt show up in "unread topics" list, it might help this situation?
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app103
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« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2008, 02:55:49 PM »

How do you know when a thread has gone on too long? When you compare the discussion on page 15 to page 1 and find they are totally unrelated.  cheesy
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CWuestefeld
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« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2008, 02:58:58 PM »

A thread is too long when people can't be bothered reading the whole thing before jumping in. And the evidence of this is multiple posts making the same point. You can see this all the time on slashdot, or the comment stream of articles at the Volokh Conspiracy.

Is there a need to keep a thread alive and interesting when it's getting long? Why not let it die a respectable death, and let whatever aspects of it remained interesting get fresh life as new threads?
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Rover
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« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2008, 03:02:04 PM »

Quote
1) How long is considered to be too long for a thread?

when it's one post longer than your own personal interest in it.  Wink

Funny, but true.  Depending on the goal of the forum*, as long as more than two people are participating and enjoying the thread, carry on.  Two people can do the same thing in email without taking up our internet space, if only 1 person is talking it's called a blog.   tongue

*If the goal is to build a knowledge base, anything over 5 pages is too long.  Very few people will venture into something over 100 posts, so the information will be unusable.
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« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2008, 03:18:31 PM »


  • It's a thread that consists of people complementing boosting the ego of Tinjaw.

These do not exist.  Words cannot describe how awesome you are (ahem), so we never try.   Wink
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jgpaiva
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« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2008, 03:56:56 PM »

Even though we are entering the gray area (where a forum starts discussing the inner works of the forum more than the interesting outside matters), i think this is a good point.

I've noticed this problem myself with the giant GridMove thread, that became so big that any information in it is pretty much useless now.

I think app was "right on the money" there:
When you compare the discussion on page 15 to page 1 and find they are totally unrelated.  cheesy

4 out of the 10 longest threads on DC are development-related (5 if you count the "General brainstorming for Note-taking software"). This makes me think these are the threads that tend to grow and grow and grow.
I think it's a shame that happens, because even though it eases the development, people just end up repeating stuff that was already said in previous posts (i recall a specific post about gridmove that i had to link to 5 times, because that question constantly popped up).

Still, it's interesting how all the threads have managed to respect app's "not too long" rule, after all those posts they keep on topic (at least most of the posts do).
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superboyac
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« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2008, 04:20:30 PM »

In that brainstorming thread, i was initially planning on doing a roundup (similar to the first big Notetaking roundup) every time the thread reached a set number of pages.  The roundups would be an organized summary of the thread content.  But it was a lot of work, and since then I've gotten super, super busy.

On another note, I've been trying to find ways for me to contribute more to this site, but in a way that wouldn't be so exhausting, yet still useful to people here.
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2008, 05:39:56 PM »

in all seriousness, do you think if we added the "ignore thread" option to the forum, so people could mark threads as those that shouldnt show up in "unread topics" list, it might help this situation?
Personally, I find that a thread can run for ages and attract no more than an occasional glance (maybe once every 6 visits) and then -- suddenly -- something can appear in it that raises in me a considerable amount of interest.  Say, for example, someone joins in and offers a previously unrepresented perspective.

Quote from: CWuestefeld
Is there a need to keep a thread alive and interesting when it's getting long? Why not let it die a respectable death, and let whatever aspects of it remained interesting get fresh life as new threads?

Branching out to new threads sounds good, the tricky bit is deciding when is the right moment  smiley


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Chris
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« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2008, 06:43:09 PM »

I've come late to some very long threads and sometimes, when the subject interests me enough, have read the whole thread. Usually going backwards in time first and occasionally going through again forwards to make sure I have fully followed it.

Some threads though don't really have a single thread. The 'recent' Evernote thread for instance started on EN2.2 and ended on EN3, with the obligatory diversion onto SQLnotes for a time. Moderators on some boards would proactively split threads like that. Would that be better? It would certainly be a bigger workload for the mods.

Some of my favourite boards don't have separate forums and don't have threads. There is just a single continuous series of posts. One I am looking at now has nearly 250,000 posts. Now that is what I call a long thread.  Grin
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jgpaiva
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« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2008, 07:48:32 PM »

Some of my favourite boards don't have separate forums and don't have threads. There is just a single continuous series of posts. One I am looking at now has nearly 250,000 posts. Now that is what I call a long thread.  Grin
Grin Grin
I guess you're right, that IS a long thread. I had no knowledge about such thing. That must be a bit confusing at times, no?

The 'recent' Evernote thread for instance started on EN2.2 and ended on EN3, with the obligatory diversion onto SQLnotes for a time. Moderators on some boards would proactively split threads like that. Would that be better?
Around here, it isn't usual for mods to split threads unless stuff really derails (like going from a software product to beer brands tongue). Personally, i find that spliting threads gets a bit confusing to understand, because both threads are linked together.
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Armando
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« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2008, 08:16:43 PM »

I must say that I don't usually like threads that are tooooo long. The reason is quite simple  : it takes me too much time and energy to read and extirpate the good/needed buried stuff. Ahem : the notetaking and SQLNotes threads are quite a long read, and they're probably not always that... interresting... but there are some occasional gems in there. I'm quite happy I didn't stumble on them when they were already... 35 pages long !  ohmy

I've come late to some very long threads and sometimes, when the subject interests me enough, have read the whole thread. Usually going backwards in time first and occasionally going through again forwards to make sure I have fully followed it.

I'm sure many of us do that... I certainly do that pretty often, ahah.

in all seriousness, do you think if we added the "ignore thread" option to the forum, so people could mark threads as those that shouldnt show up in "unread topics" list, it might help this situation?

hummm... Could be useful. When I'm not interested in a thread, I often never look at it again. But, a the same time, it does happen that a thread I was not interested in suddenly catches my attention because a specific member posts something in it, or just because the threa gets more and more participation (and so I'm thinking "hummm... I wonder why this thread is getting so much attention...").

So... I'd probably end up not using that option very often... in fear of missing a precious bit of info or even a good laugh!  Grin
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« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2008, 02:26:58 AM »

Non sequitor: When's superboyac gonna get his radio show back?

He was the best!  Kiss  (Isn't it time to put together a 24-hour Sirius/XM channel for guys like him, and these dudes?)
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« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2008, 03:29:54 AM »

in all seriousness, do you think if we added the "ignore thread" option to the forum, so people could mark threads as those that shouldnt show up in "unread topics" list, it might help this situation?

It would definitely help but I guess there'll always be a niggling doubt that one may miss something significant by completely ignoring a thread.

There's also the "off-topic" factor which could contribute greatly to the size of longer threads, a lot of us are guilty of this and I have a small suggestion about this. What if you let a person posting OT, mark the post as such. OT posts could have their headers displayed inline but the post would be collapsed, so someone reading the thread would not be forced to read the OT posts & could just skim by them unless they clicked those posts to expand them, something like how gmail displays email threads.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2008, 03:32:20 AM by nosh » Logged
Renegade
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« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2008, 09:57:53 AM »

THIS thread is going on too long...

Wink
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superboyac
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« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2008, 10:34:48 AM »

Non sequitor: When's superboyac gonna get his radio show back?

He was the best!  Kiss  (Isn't it time to put together a 24-hour Sirius/XM channel for guys like him, and these dudes?)
You're crazy Zaine!  Even I got bored listening to myself.  It was tough trying to get a good rant out on command.  I should carry a mic with me to catch my spontaneous rants during the workday...now those are gems.
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tinjaw
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« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2008, 11:15:19 AM »

I should carry a mic with me to catch my spontaneous rants during the workday...now those are gems.
Call your voice mail and leave a message. Then you can grab it later and turn it into an mp3 and post it.
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #20 on: March 26, 2008, 02:48:36 PM »

Call your voice mail and leave a message.
[/quote]
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Chris
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« Reply #21 on: March 26, 2008, 03:54:06 PM »

haha!  Yeah, but this site isn't censored right?  A well placed curse word is very effective.
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Renegade
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« Reply #22 on: March 26, 2008, 05:14:31 PM »

A well placed curse word is very effective.

Abso--lutely!
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« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2008, 09:11:18 PM »

I think it all depends on the thread. Threads are a mean of communicating. As such threads can be:

1- Specific problem looking for an answer
2- Discussion on a given subject
3- Purely informational
4- Persistent chat (much like a conversation) on a specific subject (i.e. a program, a program category)

This last category can go on and on, for as long as people have things to contribute.

Never ending problems (information management and organisation is one of them) that can create never ending threads.
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« Reply #24 on: March 27, 2008, 11:25:10 PM »

...can create never ending threads.

Speaking of which... The Never Ending Thread

It's on page 504 at the moment.

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