Limiting number of replies in a thread

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thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
The recent move of ASUS Merlin AddOns into their own sub-forum has brought something to my attention. Namely, the extreme length of some threads. I've found multiple threads with page counts over 100 (there are 20 posts per page), with the highest being 383 pages long with 7,644 replies (and counting!)

Threads of this length are not helpful for newcomers to a discussion, nor do they help with quickly locating answers to specific problems. They also put the entire discussion at risk in the case of accidental deletion (yes, it happens).

So I am considering implementing a limit on the number of replies to a thread. I'm thinking of 200 (10 pages @ 20 posts per page). The limit would be count-based only; there would be no time limit on when a thread could be replied to. This would apply across all forums.

In the meantime, please consider starting a new thread when you have a specific question instead of just adding on to a thread. And use the Prefix drop-down if the available selections match your post topic.
 

dave14305

Part of the Furniture
In terms of user experience, what would a thread look like when the max is reached? Would the reply button not be visible? Would there be a message at the end of the thread indicating the max is reached?
 

Adamm

Part of the Furniture
383 pages long with 7,644 replies (and counting!)
I wonder whose thread that is :p

In all seriousness, I see this as a bad idea for purely selfish reasons. Unfortunately these days numbers matter, and due to the lack of any other metrics those are the only set of numbers I can reference.

If it weren’t for that long thread I doubt I would have ever had the chance to work with Asus directly and other similar companies and supported Skynet for 6 years and counting.

Being a (free) open-source project I rely on these limited few partnerships to keep support and motivation for these projects going. So limiting the thread post count would be a huge detriment.
 

heysoundude

Very Senior Member
I would be completely fine with a limit as long as the topic was curated to remove out-of-date information/non-germane posts - the signal to noise ratio gets very low in some of these threads, and if someone is coming looking for answers, you can easily get lost...perhaps some (self-)moderation needs to be happening?
 

ColinTaylor

Part of the Furniture
I would be completely fine with a limit as long as the topic was curated to remove out-of-date information/non-germane posts - the signal to noise ratio gets very low in some of these threads, and if someone is coming looking for answers, you can easily get lost...perhaps some (self-)moderation needs to be happening?
Nice idea but I can't see how that could work in practice. Who would get to decide what posts to remove, the thread starter presumably? That's probably not possible without making them a site administrator (just guessing). Then of course there would be the inevitable accusations of unfairness, censorship, infringement of free speech :rolleyes:, etc. when someone's post was deleted.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
I don't believe an arbitrary reply/page limit is helpful at all. A single thread that is fully searchable is more useful than many threads with randomly connected 'keywords' that may have nothing to do with one thread topic or another.

I vote to leave the thread length go where it may and instead, fixing the search to work as people expect it to work. 'Common' words and short phrases should be searchable too. Particularly within a thread.
 

heysoundude

Very Senior Member
Post approvals, then? with a "karma level" to reach for, so that your posts are auto approved and rely on the poster to self-moderate?
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
I don't believe an arbitrary reply/page limit is helpful at all. A single thread that is fully searchable is more useful than many threads with randomly connected 'keywords' that may have nothing to do with one thread topic or another.
Personally I don't like long endless threads There are many reasons why I no longer leave my own release threads run rampant for months (384.19 is a special exception, and I'm about to close that one real soon as well). But here are two reasons why long threads are bad:


1) They provide a negative experience to end-users. Imagine you're a newcomer, and you are interested in maybe running an ad blocker. You got the router, the firmware, and now you head to SNBForums to check out your available options. You'd like to learn more about your options. Let's picture both scenarios:

a) You see one gigantic endless thread about Diversion. You may read the first post, maybe the first two pages (which contains mostly obsolete information because only that first post is actually kept up to date). Maybe the last one or two pages. And then you try to decide whether to use it or not based on what little you've learned.

b) You see one short thread from the author about it. Then you browse through the first two pages of the forum, and see 4-5 other threads, clearly labelled. You may click on one or two that seem related to your own questions, to learn more.

The second scenario is far more likely to be a positive and informative experience for the user, and lead to a potential new user, than the first one. The vast majority of people will NOT read such a long thread. Forum searches are also only useful when you know what you are searching for, not when you are just browsing for general feedback.


2) Another reason why I hate long generic threads: it makes it nearly impossible to follow 4-5 separate discussions all mixed in one thread, since posts are scattered all over the thread. Picture a 50 pages long thread. Five different issues discussed by 10-12 persons. When you jump into the thread after a few days, you end up not being able to follow discussions, because you need to constantly jump back and forth between the last 3 pages of replies just to get the actual discussion thread.

Or, you find one post in a thread that's related to your problem. You find that post through a search, great. Now try to find the answer to that post, or the previous post it was answering. Have fun trying to search both backward and forward to follow that particular discussion within that 50 pages thread. So for support purposes, these threads are unusable to people looking for an answer to their question, even if they used the search functionality.

And for the record, this is my case. When I read the last new posts of a thread, I can't be expected to remember what these posts where answers to, and I'm not gonna jump back to search through the last 2-3 pages to find what this guy was replying to. People don't always quote, and sometimes the quote isn't enough and you need to see the PREVIOUS post before that particular quote. With dedicated topic threads, you just lift your eyes, maybe scroll a little back up, and everything is visible.


I don't know if limiting threads is the ideal solution. But I do agree that some kind of solution needs to be found, for the benefice of everyone involved.
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
In terms of user experience, what would a thread look like when the max is reached? Would the reply button not be visible? Would there be a message at the end of the thread indicating the max is reached?
The user would get an Oops message that indicates the maximum number of messages allowed in the thread.
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
Unfortunately these days numbers matter, and due to the lack of any other metrics those are the only set of numbers I can reference.
Sorry, what numbers are you referring to, post count? You're saying you get interest because you have a single 7,600+ post thread?
 

Adamm

Part of the Furniture
Sorry, what numbers are you referring to, post count? You're saying you get interest because you have a single 7,600+ post thread?
Post count and views which shows user interest / interaction. I don't include any analytics (not do I plan to, it would be quite hypocritical todo so in a security orientated script) so I heavily rely on these numbers to make estimations.
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
Post count and views which shows user interest / interaction.
That can be misleading however, since you are still seeing cumulated views from years ago. It prevents you from seeing any tendency. Having a new thread for each release would be a much better metric IMHO - see the interest in each individual new release. See how many new "likes" the new thread gets, compared to the previous one. If the view count increases over the previous release thread, then it's another positive sign.
 

dave14305

Part of the Furniture
As a forum user (versus a thread starter), I like to "watch" the mega threads I'm interested in following (e.g. Skynet, Diversion, John's fork, et al.) to see when there's new activity in an "Unread Watched threads" filter of new posts. If multiple new threads can now exist for my favorite topics, it's harder (but not a dealbreaker) to keep track of those without "watching" the whole sub-forum. Once I've read through my favs, I remove the "Watched" filter and see what's new across all forums.

1602615964786.png
 

dosborne

Very Senior Member
Any thread over 100 posts or a couple of months is essentially too long or too old to be worth slogging through IMO. The only issue I see for some people is keeping the various links updated, but there are simple workarounds for that.

If I need to read a post of 5000 replies to get an add-on up and running, I won't be bothered. It would be easier to code it myself. :)
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
I read every single post here. Multiple threads on the same topic will just eventually repeat (a no-no) what is in other threads.

Reading a single thread, it is extremely easy to follow the different poster's perspectives and requirements and understand how/what/why a certain path is followed (or not).

No one has ever read five thousand replies to get an addon running. Even if necessary, many would find that simpler than learning to code even a one-line script (including myself). :)
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
Merlin has made all the points I would have made. I see no compelling reason to not do this. It will be enabled soon.
 

Adamm

Part of the Furniture
Merlin has made all the points I would have made. I see no compelling reason to not do this. It will be enabled soon.
I really have to strongly disagree with this decision. If there is no technical limitation behind it we should leave it up to each threads author rather then impose an artificial limitation.

Try have some consideration for open source projects like mine which will suffer from this and will most likely result in moving to another forum without said limitations.

I personally can’t name one other popular forum with similar limitations, take whirlpool and unraid for examples. Both have countless threads spanning hundreds/thousands of pages and are doing just fine.

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
 

ColinTaylor

Part of the Furniture
The user would get an Oops message that indicates the maximum number of messages allowed in the thread.
Would it be possible to configure it in such a way that once the maximum number has been reached the thread starter/owner can still add posts? That would give them the opportunity to post any final outstanding replies or add a "continued in thread xxxx" message.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
I must agree with @Adamm, imposing an artificial limit makes no sense at all.

RMerlin's points may seem plausible, but nobody I have pointed to in these forums has ever complained about any of the scenarios RMerlin points out.

When a systematic change such as this is deemed necessary, this indicates to me there are further (unknown) issues that are not being discussed.

I suggest that no changes happen 'soon' and instead, more discussion is allowed.
 

Butterfly Bones

Very Senior Member
I think this is a bad idea. I see posts from new users that are new, days old asking about one of the add-ons for Merlin firmware that are unanswered because the titles are often obscure. If I can, I reply, but often it needs the developer attention, so I suggest they post in the official release thread to get help (Diversion, Skynet, Jack Yaz) and provide a link.

The current search function is very limited due to ignoring three letter words, like "dcd crash" and more often than not do not find the post one is looking for. I search often to find answers I remember reading but cannot find it with SNB search. I have a large browser folder with SNB bookmarks that I save now due to the inadequate search function so I can post links to assist others.

I hope this change does not happen, if it does, @Adamm, @thelonelycoder, and others who have added tremendous value and support to SNB over the years, please, if you move to another forum, post where you go. I am on SNB because of your scripts and support you offer, without those SNB is of little value and I may check weekly for info, rather than multiple times a day as I do now.
 
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