How do you deal with very long threads?

Stuart Wright

Well-known member
Some of our threads get 15,000+ replies.
I don't really like long threads simply because I don't have the time to read through hundreds or thousands of posts. I don't think other people want to read through them either. Do people use the search function to find what they need within the thread?

One solution for question threads could be to have the highest voted answer displayed under post #1. I have requested that functionality.

Where there are thousands of replies, is there a significant load on the database when people navigate around in and reply to that thread?

Is there an argument for splitting the thread up? We currently start a new thread after 1,000 posts and close the old one with forward and backward links so people can navigate through if they want.
Problem is that it's a manual operation taking up the moderators' time and we end up with several closed threads covering the same topic. People can't quote posts in the closed threads, of course.

which is part 8, so over 8,000 replies to the original topic spread out over 8 threads.

How do you manage hugely long threads? Or do you just let them run?
It may be best to limit long threads to "x" amount of pages, close the topic and allow it to continue in a new thread. That way if people are landing in that thread due to a search, they don't add to it.

There's really no "best" way when it comes to threads that have a life of their own.
We put in the add-on to close the old ones. I think we set it for 6 months or more for starters.*******-auto-close-move-delete-thread-inactivity.1366/

I had some errors when using the add-on - I think it's too much to ask it to close the old ones all at once, so if you use it, do it manually and start old (like 3 years or more).

You can probably do a sql query to do the same thing if you want to close them manually once in a while.
We had ~20 Chit Chat threads which were very popular and which were seperated via an addon automatic after 5000 replies.
If somebody posted the 5000. reply, the plugin
  1. closed the thread,
  2. createad a new thread with a link to the old one,
  3. took the last 5 posts from the old thread and moved them to the new thread (even it's 100% spam, it's bad to lose the context)
  4. And last but not least => the old thread got also a automatic reply with the link to the new thread
We had to do it because of the performance!
Whatever you did in the big threads, it took much longer. vB Search & Moderation were "impossible" in the big ones
Large threads do present XF with some challenges.
They're currently pretty much impossible to move, and I recently had to bump up the maximum memory per PHP process as posts to a huge thread were failing.

I'd be interested in an add-on that would auto-close and restart threads based on number of replies or day of month (for monthly chitchat threads).
We have several threads > 10000 posts and -as long as you don't do anything with it- there are no performance issues if people just read them and add new posts.

However all moderation tasks to the thread itself will take seriously more time due to the amount of posts to be handled. Moderation to single posts are no problem.

However such an add-on like havanaclub described would be interesting.
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At first I was considering creating a sub-forum for extremely long threads to break up the thread into smaller ones (either manually by moderators, or through an add-on), but that might break the flow of discussion too drastically.

The other thought I had was, if forums could have sub-forums, why can't discussions have limited sub-discussions for times when people want to stick with a topic but go on a tangent? Implementation would be something along the lines of having a section below the title of the discussion at the top with "sub-discussions" (which also get displayed in small-ish text under the title of the discussion in a forum-view), then when that sub-discussion becomes long enough automatically convert it into a regular "discussion" thread, because after 20 replies to a sub-discussion you could assume it has become a topic all it's own.
I was actually sifting through a long thread here the other day and thought about this same question. The best answer that I could come up with is a post-rating system like Slashdot or Reddit (and many other places) use. But that takes a culture shift on the site to work. It also works best with threaded commenting.
I like the idea of locking and creating a new topic after n posts. I have never had this problem but if I did, that is what I would do.
Bildschirmfoto 2013-03-21 um 19.44.57.png

That was our biggest Thread, but we closed it due to server problems. :D But we have several other large threads with up to 50000 posts. Probably we're gonna lock them too (and create a new one) sooner or later.
I was actually sifting through a long thread here the other day and thought about this same question. The best answer that I could come up with is a post-rating system like Slashdot or Reddit (and many other places) use. But that takes a culture shift on the site to work. It also works best with threaded commenting.

Maybe they could have 2 modes for Discussions, standard and compact "threaded". When a Discussion hits say more than a specific # of responses, make it automatically turn on a super slimmed-down "threaded" mode for that specific Discussion (i.e. turn off avatars, text only 160 character sigs, post-rating and ofcourse threaded commenting). Then, if a specific comment gets a certain length, it gets locked and converts into its own discussion based on moderator approval if the comments go into a completely different topic than the original Discussion.

Point if it being, easier to skim through and follow compacted threaded discussions, than have 1000 pages of full-sized random posts that you have to start at the top of to follow. Would probably take a lot of core recoding though.
Our biggest thread has over 100, 000 replies, but it keeps all the chit chat in one place
I have a 100 page limit, and then normally start a part 2 of that thread with highlights of the first in the OP of the 2nd. Ridiculously large threads are unattractive and unwelcoming in most circumstances imo.
You can do "search this thread" with long threads which is useful but a lot of members don't notice it. Maybe make it more visible.
We have always communicated with our members to report asap when something escalates and this has been effective for both normal and long threads. IMO there's no need to split long threads, they come naturally and people generaly like that they exist.
I think it's not just server load but switchoff on readers. If I look at athread with 10 pages or less I might scan it. More, I won't. So repetition is much more likely.
I'd suggest a time period - a year? a month? making the thread into chapters. Add Part 1 / Part 2 to the name, or April '13. Put link to the old locked thread in the new starter, aith a couple sentences summary what the thread is about, maybe copy the old starter.
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