It is about the general practice of thread closure and how to make it less damaging. My previous thread was posted in the wrong section - apologies. But it actually illustrated its own point. The analysis and suggestion below never got a single comment. Instead there were hooligan posts throwing around rubbish. Which got it closed !!!!!! you couldn't make it up that a thread suggesting improved management of thread closure was rapidly - and rightly - closed due to users acting out of order. Let's hope this one fares better.
The specific example I used there to illustrate, has been removed from this post to make more sure that the general nature of the suggestion gets a hearing.
This is an issue I've thought about for many years.
Thread closure is a brutal tool which does almost as much damage as the existing offence, or actually does more damage. Often new threads just pop up. Or the same offending content appears on other existing threads. So little is gained except redistributing the content, as we often saw last year when people were bashing XF itself in a very unfair way.
Thread closure grossly insults all the participants of the thread, both active posters and its often larger pool of lurkers.
They are being told in the most rough handed way that their rights and interests are nothing but rubbish. Our painstaking and unending efforts to persuade, seduce, stimulate, reward more activity go sharply into reverse - and it is not only the few offenders who are being punished. The innocent majority suffer for the careless or nasty few.
Since we spend endless time trying to make our users feel that their rights and interests do actually matter, in order not to drive them away, this is flatly contradictory to our work as admins.
One option is instead of thread closure to place a mod post warning the offending participants exactly where they are offending. Usually this is a minority anyway. This gives the innocent parties a route to continue and is useful solid educational work.
This is often very effective especially where a mod has won a status of respect and is known to have a firm and decisive hand. Their restraint in giving warning rather than rushing into closure, will be appreciated, and there is always the ultimate sanction of thread closure still there for them to use.
What about placing a thread in suspension?
This would allow a 'cooling off period' for a mod warning to sink in. The well behaved would not feel abused, in fact they'd be pleased to see 'justice being done' without punishing them. The thread could resume after say 12 or 24 hours.
I also think there is a case for the OP to share some responsibility for their thread.
Some OPs can be very active in informally 'moderating' their own threads with warning comments, but even so they don't have the real authority and I don't suggest they should. But they do have sleep and work periods so it falls back on the mods. Who may not have time at that point to check the thread aims in detail. Plus not all OPs are that active, and it's not their duty to be.
However perhaps OP involvement could be tapped to assist mods who are often very overworked.
If a mod were able to suspend not close, creating a cooling period, with a warning as to why, the OP could be alerted to their thread being at risk of closure and rally to help.
Better than the rough damage to community goodwill of thread closure.
Good discussion cannot be imprisoned into safe areas only. To explore and create we must step sometimes on risky ground. We could do with the tools to help us do that and I think that the current binary of open/ close thread is too blunt a tool.