Discuss moving off-topic posts to a new thread

I think that we need to discuss moving posts which are off-topic to a new thread which has its own topic title.

Here are the previous posts to get this discussion started:

@taylor-williamc posted:

@DemBeesDoneStolenAll responded:


I’m supportive of splitting topics off. A prime consideration is the number of people who are passing by and looking for information. There’s an untallied number of eyes (likely but not guaranteed to be divisible by 2) that are merely looking for information. I was one such person for about 6 months before I opted in to the community. In my view, it would be a thoughtful way to approach the great question.

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Threads on the Purism forum almost always get sidetracked to other topics, which makes it very hard for people to find answers, because they have to skim over 100+ posts in long threads and the thread titles don’t correspond to the content in the threads.

I would like to see the forum moderators using their power to move off-topic posts to new threads. I understand that nobody wants to be seen as dictatorial, but it really needs to happen more often for the good of the forum.

PS: Ideally, someone in the community would develop a plugin for Discourse that adds a “move post” icon similar to the “like” icon, where people can vote to move a post to a new thread. Then, after 10 votes, the moderators will move the posts to a new thread, so it isn’t seen as a dictatorial decision. However, until something like that is developed, I think that the forum moderators need to exercise their judgment and start moving posts to new threads.

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I have been guilty of contributing to off-topic discussion :slight_smile:

Before addressing it with shifting posts around - which can be painful if a post is part on-topic and part off-topic, and can lead to post streams that don’t seem to make sense - I would like to suggest a few additional ideas.

  • greater personal discipline
  • sticky reminders / fixed text on the window reminding people to stay on topic
  • a specific flag operation that flags a post as likely to be off-topic and informs the user who made the post that it has been flagged that way (but not necessarily who flagged it) and is visible to everyone (so that people can choose not to continue the digression by responding to something that is already likely to be off-topic) - this is similar to the “move voting” proposed above, but different

imo off-topic is really not so difficult to combat here on the Purism forums.

some of the high ranked forum threads have almost 10k (one even 23.3k but that one has been locked due to deprecation) views but only less than 100 people are actively participating in the discussion (most times it’s way less than that)

but to be on topic here - sometimes off-topic is good for getting a clearer picture on the on-topic … imo it’s not a sin to diverge so long as the OPs question has been more or less answered or is in proccess of beeing guided to something more concrete.

the road from A to B sometimes needs to pass through C or D to safely arrive at the destination.

just my 2 lions


In the thread I’m quoted in, the issue was solved by post 50 or so, and then there’s another 50 posts off-topic for whatever reason.

I don’t see the need for those posts to be in that thread. I don’t mind some meandering if things converge back on the topic, and end once solved/addressed, but going off-topic once the thread already has its solution just seems senseless.

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I want people to feel free to meander off the topic of the thread, because that generates good discussion, but I also want the forum moderators to exercise their judgment and move posts to new threads.

I also think that we, as posters on the forum, should be starting new threads, so that the forum moderators bear less responsibility for keeping threads on topic. My recommendation is that when we see a thread going off topic, then we create a new thread which quotes the relevant posts from the old thread to get the new thread started. Also, I recommend posting a message on the old thread, asking everyone to move to the new thread. Does anyone see a problem with this approach?


That approach seems fine and reasonable, though it does require forum members to be reasonable :smirk:


This. It’s not like there’s a government tax per topic.

If you want to go off-topic then make it on-topic by starting a new topic on that topic - as long as it is even vaguely appropriate to the forum at all.

Some food for thought:

  • you can already mark (flag) posts as off-topic. If mods would agree to split off a topic that was marked as such by sufficent people: problem solved
  • reputable forumers have the power to rename & move topics (cool),
    but not to merge (5th person opening a topic bc they need WhatsApp or a refund) / split a topic (uncool)
  • the forum is more powerful than people realize: after clicking reply to somebody, you can choose to do so in a new, linked thread (arrow symbol top left)

The incident that broght this up was a bit unfortunate. IMO, there was a harmless, playful, tounge-in-cheek, mildly off-topic “but my gaming platform is better than yours” exchange that quickly became more off-topic and more serious (almost another Win vs Linux war :wink: )
It was almost like somebody would throw “2D is better” in the room and then somebody would seriously debate it. (Sorry, @2disbetter i had to :slight_smile:)
The original first off-topic remark was not off-topic enough to justify a new thread. Only in hindsight is it the post where it should be split off.

A complicating factor in splitting topics is that you can either only do it if all following posts are (still) off-topic - or (if the software allows it) you are willing to spend some time separating them.


I have replied to many topics in a diverting way, but I explicitly shame myself and give that content warning in the first line.

However, my diversions are connected to the main topic in some way, or they are branching off to add nuance to a smaller part of the main thread.

How about just a way to flag a reply as “should be a new topic”?

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“People” would include me. Thanks for the tip.

That could tie in with my suggestion that the forum remind people to stay on topic. That reminder could also tell them how to make an off-topic reply. Making it easier for people to do the right thing is good.


Other forum software that I have used applies a tolerance to a category (or equivalent concept).

So, for example, you might have a category for “Librem 15 support” that you want to be strictly on topic. This is break/fix. People have a problem / question with their Librem 15 and they just want an answer to the question or a solution, not my thoughts on Brexit. Sorry @caliga :smile: :rofl:

Then you might have “Librem 15 discussion” that would be a bit more tolerant of going somewhat off topic but still targeted at certain subject matter.

Then you might have “Open source ranting” that would be even more tolerant of going off topic.

However that approach needs to communicate clearly what the expectations are so that people can at least try to do the right thing.

I think it’s great that we’re having this conversation now while the forum is mostly people used to communicating online a certain way with a few exceptions. The anticipation is though is that, as the Librem 5 gains traction, the users of the forum will become more varied. Some not even having used a forum before.

I know the majority of you are used to confining your conversation to technical details or specific tasks, but many people see online communications like chat at a cocktail party (i.e. It’s acceptable and even expected to talk about things other than horses at a hunt breakfast even though almost everyone present is an equestrian).

Josh who works in retail who is forced to ask customers for their phone numbers might diverge on a conversation here with someone who works technical support/help desk about how ridiculously unrealistic customer service training videos are, Juanita who signs into her office temping gig by placing her index finger on the workplace smartphone might spawn an entire conversation on biometrics in the wild, and you all might have a tonne of questions for Marcia who works on a manufacturing line. Oh…and if adoption within the LEO community takes off, get ready to learn far more about UFC than you’ve ever wanted to know! I’m 99.9% sure it’s going to happen so it’s great that we’re preparing for it now.

As important as the technical details etc. of a phone are, the why is also very important when discussing a Free software/ privacy centric phone. Everybody has their own why. I originally thought that perhaps threads that had gotten off topic should be split, but now I’m doubting that’s the best strategy. Perhaps some sort of searchable tagging system for comments so if a comment fits a strict definition of a desired/traditional forum comment (HA! I don’t even know, I guess you gals/guys would be best to sort that out :slight_smile: ) it can be tagged as such. That way, anyone coming to find specific details, etc. can “sort by” and be shown those tags first to get the information they want quickly.

Well, we can go back 25 years and have a debate about top posting versus bottom posting!

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That exists in a very limited way with the “Solution” tag.

Alternatively, some forums have up-voting/down-voting of individual posts.

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That’s a good idea, you would only have to modify it slightly to say something appropriate (like on point, etc.)

You mean mobbing ? (seriously, sort by 'best" and look at the top posts and note the poor gal/guy trying to rationally disagree is ranked bottom)

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Very good point: some eyes are looking for very precise info, others rather chat “around the topic”. A solution might be to link/migrate topics to a wiki. A great job for a documentation internship at Purism. Most likely many people justhang around here because they are waiting for real product news from “official spokesperson”. Maybe this is the moment right now to “push the off-button and tead a real good old paper penguin until mid next year.”

I don’t know. Some of the best discussions stem from off topic banter. The other concern is that should moderation become so stringent so as to feel like a police state, it will hamper dialog more than it will prevent rampant discussions.

I don’t personally care either way. I can see the rationale from both camps here.

Regarding my handle here, I’ve used it for along time. It is a reference to 2d video games being better than 3d ones, specifically within the RPG realms. This is mainly a critique on format and presentation, instead of being critical of the actual graphics engine employed, (IE: 3d engine used with a fixed viewpoint not first person can work great.) although I think the use of bitmaps and sprites make for a better experience.


I agree with @2disbetter that there have been some very interesting off-topic discussions. I too don’t like the idea of things being overly restrictive. I personally don’t mind discussions going off-topic too much as long as the original topic isn’t neglected or has been solved.

In my opinion the best solution, should you want to contribute to a completely off-topic discussion in a way that doesn’t relate to the original topic, is to take the initiative yourself and start a new topic. Also, thanks @Caliga for pointing out how to reply as a linked topic. I didn’t know that either.