Dealing with Off Topic posts or not

Mr Lucky

Well-known member
Just wondering what people do when a thread gets (too many?) off topic posts.

I find there are generally two important perspectives: from admin POV and from thread starter POV. There’s is of course also the general member experience as well.

Some thread starters consider themselves thread owner, however I always consider the admin is because we are responsible for overall forum quality including both user experience and SEO. Both are necessary to survive and flourish.

I usually ignore the occasional one-off post that is often just (an attempt at) interjecting humour, I’m more interested in what happens when a OT post triggers a whole new discussion that goes off at a tangent.

If the tangent is totally different, I would often just move those posts to their own thread (but never quite sure whether the participants get notifications or do they have to specifically watch the new thread???)

But sometimes it's more complicated, so for example here is a current decision I need to make.

There is a discussion among residents about a proposed traffic scheme that would close off a high street to motor traffic and supposedly be better for cyclists, pedestrians, e-scooter etc. This huge implications because even though the idea is appealing for environmental reasons, people are concerned about where the through traffic will go and whether it means more on the residential streets...

All good so far, lot's of opinions, but then someone posts about the City's proven for cyclists in general and so the tangent discussion has gone away from the specific scheme into a whole big discussion about where is good or bad in the City to cycle.

So in one way it's irrelevant, in another it isn't.

NB: I don't mean to start a discussion about that., just using it as an example of something that I'm sure many of us get from time to time.

What's your opinions and how to deal with it?
 

Nicolas FR

Well-known member
Hello,
Perhaps detect as soon as possible when a discussion takes a different tangent and publish a warning message of the type: please stay in the initial topic X, topic Y can be treated in a new thread. And if really topic Y is interesting create the discussion and put the link to it in thread X.
 

Mr Lucky

Well-known member
Hello,
Perhaps detect as soon as possible when a discussion takes a different tangent and publish a warning message of the type: please stay in the initial topic X, topic Y can be treated in a new thread. And if really topic Y is interesting create the discussion and put the link to it in thread X.
Yes this is what I tend to do at the moment. I do get a few members who get the hump as they think going off topic is fun. The tricky think is when it is all vaguely related but still a bit off the main discussion.
 

PatriotGB

Active member
I think it depends. I'm generally one who believes in letting the conversation go naturally wherever it goes.

However, if the thread bifurcates into two simultaneous conversations, and the tangential topic becomes a distraction... I think you could mark those posts for moderation and then put them in a new thread, right? That would divert the folks engaging in the tangential topic to the new thread.
 

MapleOne

Well-known member
I undermoderate instead of overmoderate

You cannot control conversation, you will just alienate users with overmoderation.

I might comment underneath and redirect the topic by posting relative information to the original post stating...

and back on topic
 

Wildcat Media

Well-known member
Just wondering what people do when a thread gets (too many?) off topic posts.
If it's a few nudges towards off-topic, we attempt to redirect the thread back on topic, and it often works.

Otherwise, we split the off-topic posts to their own thread. And I will often copy posts to a new thread if, for example, a few posts are on both topics and the new thread makes no sense without the context. It probably depends on each forum's membership, but we've only very rarely had a complaint about splitting up a thread.

If the topics are closely related, however, conversations are so intertwined that it's better when we leave them in one thread.
 
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