Call for Opinions: Topics for “Conversation Forums”

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vvbudh

Active member
Oct 1, 2020
38
10
Going with what @rfrazier said, I agree that information that someone has spent time on to assist another may be useful in the future. We don't know when, but it can be useful to someone in the future. I believe it'd be good to save it, just in case.

What if we had another category for off topic threads that are just for "RESOLVED" posts with the answer attached? For example, if someone does ask a question that many people have the same question to, if they're able to resolve their question, we can archive their post somewhere as RESOLVED and let it be searchable, but not directly accessible? Or something like that so it doesn't clutter up the forums.
 

Steve

(as in GRC)
Staff member
Feb 1, 2019
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Southern CA, USA
www.grc.com
But, I will say that I'm much less likely to spend that time if I know the thread is going to vanish. There are many times I've been doing research to solve some problem, and have come across forum posts that are years old that are still helpful.
That's quite a compelling argument, Ron. I'm persuaded. Self-Deletion is disabled.
 

PHolder

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2020
630
2
308
Ontario, Canada
But, I will say that I'm much less likely to spend that time if I know the thread is going to vanish.
[Replying in advance of reaching the current end of the thread, so here's hoping that's not a mistake.]

You seem to have a platform for your thinking already @rfrazier, so spend your time on your platform and continue to link to it, if you're worried that this space lacks the permanence you expect.
 

Steve

(as in GRC)
Staff member
Feb 1, 2019
351
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896
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Southern CA, USA
www.grc.com
I must be missing something. Why not pin the thread if it has useful information and let it auto-delete if it doesn't? People who believe they have posted something worthwhile for posterity (like @rfrazier) can always flag it for a mod to pin.
That would work, too. But I would have no trouble with moderators trolling the deep past and removing threads that are both old and devoid of anything worth retaining. It's probably not possible to automate the process if we want to avoid losing anything valuable.
 

Barry Wallis

Magician in Training
That would work, too. But I would have no trouble with moderators trolling the deep past and removing threads that are both old and devoid of anything worth retaining. It's probably not possible to automate the process if we want to avoid losing anything valuable.
Moderator culling seems like a lot of work for little gain. I would say make the auto-delete time longer and let the system do it. Missing something important in the Off-Topic Lounge seems like a low risk.
 

rfrazier

Well-known member
Sep 30, 2020
231
77
Interesting that this sub topic is gathering a number of posts.

I will point out that, for those concerned about seeing too many useless posts floating around, the forum software automatically prioritizes the What's New screens with things at the top that have had recent replies. So, things that aren't getting replies drop lower and lower.

As far as I can tell:

* If you click What's New on the brown toolbar at the top, you get threads you haven't read. Not sure of the sort order as that screen is empty for me at the moment. It's probably reverse chronological (newest first).

* If you click the OTHER What's New on the 3rd menu bar from the top, you get threads whether you've read them or not in reverse chronological order by last posting (newest first).

* If you click Forums then go into a forum directly, you get threads by forward chronological order by last posting (oldest first).

So, if you use the What's New functions, you won't ever see many threads that are not continuing to get replies.

However, Google and the forum's own search system can still find things, should someone search for those topics later.

Steve's forum. He can obviously do what he wishes with the settings. :cool:

Ron
 
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rfrazier

Well-known member
Sep 30, 2020
231
77
PS, re the What's New list, some of you may already know this. Some may not. But I didn't know it until I looked it up years ago. If you see a reply that just has the word "bump", that means the sole purpose of the reply is to bring the thread to the top of the What's New list without necessarily adding anything to it. Any reply, even another word, or symbols will do that. Some say "bump" means "bring up my post". It can be considered rude if done too often though.



Ron
 

Vela Nanashi

\//\/
Sep 16, 2020
90
36
I do not see it as a problem for a well designed forum to let old things sink to the bottom, the ancient forum software I helped with coding, we intentionally had a thread that tested the limits of things, it was basically our off topic thread that almost acted as a chat room to some folks that did not want to figure out a chat client, with the benefit of retaining old posts, kind of like discord today. Getting that to work well was a nice engineering challenge, and I am sure XenForo has managed that too, it would take effort to test though, as that single thread was bigger than most forums get :)

Also as stated elsewhere storage is cheap. Nobody has to swim to the bottom of the old forums to see the old posts, unless they contain actual spam or bad stuff they can be allowed to sink to the bottom, and should a truly useless thread be necroed by some new arrival its fate might be sealed then, or if it is a useful thread that is necroed that is fine I think, personally I really don't mind thread necromancers that bring back useful things or add some useful detail a decade later, often those can be quite useful.

As for people bumping threads, if they are doing it too much they can be handled (banned, or warned, their thread deleted if considered useless etc), probably best they be told to be patient, that bumping threads will rub some people the wrong way and make it more likely their thread is ignored rather than their question answered.
 

danlock

Well-known member
Sep 30, 2020
133
45
Nothing decays faster than computer technology. They only threads that should persist are those that pertain to technology that is still in use. If people are still using SpinRite 6.x in fifteen years, then threads that discuss how to use it can exist for fifteen years. There is no reason for a discussion about your favorite text adventure game to exist for more than fifteen minutes.
That might be true here on forums.grc.com for certain unrelated topics. However, I believe that certain topics have value far into the future. That "favorite text adventure game" is just as playable now as it was when it was created (although I think it's referred to as IF, or Interactive Fiction, these days). And threads regarding old computer hardware can be very useful both now and in the future, as any of us who have saved old hardware know, whether we store it in a closet or in Mom's closet or in the fridge/freezer. 😉

If it is possible using this forum software, I suggest archiving old threads if they contain potentially worthwhile, though possibly niche, information. Something without meaning to anyone after 28 days (or less) is probably a waste of space and should be purged, even if it's about something somebody found in their navel a year ago and it's in the Nerd Recreation forum!
 
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danlock

Well-known member
Sep 30, 2020
133
45
Not sure that you knew this, but it's ONLY within the Off Topic Lounge that we'll be pruning dead thread after four weeks of thread inactivity. I'm unsure whether that policy should also apply to the other forthcoming “Community” forums. At the moment I'm leaning toward not, and only having the Off Topic Lounge threads be self-cleaning. (y)
Renaming or tagging the Off Topic Lounge to indicate that posts within are temporary might be a good idea for people (like me) who are easily-distracted. Perhaps you could sticky/pin at the top of the Off Topic Lounge a version of the post I just quoted, which indicates that it's the only permanent message in that sub-forum.
 
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PHoganDive

Member
Sep 30, 2020
23
10
Maybe after a set time, the thread can drop off the 'active' list to an 'archive' list. That way it's still around if you want to go back to it, but it doesn't clutter up the active threads.
 

danlock

Well-known member
Sep 30, 2020
133
45
PS, re the What's New list, some of you may already know this. Some may not. But I didn't know it until I looked it up years ago. If you see a reply that just has the word "bump", that means the sole purpose of the reply is to bring the thread to the top of the What's New list without necessarily adding anything to it.

I've never heard of "bump" as an acronym, but I know it's frowned upon in many places, and that it's used to bump a thread to the top of a list of threads that use time-based descending order, especially if the thread asks a question which has not been answered and the person bumping the thread is the originator or someone else with the same question.
 
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danlock

Well-known member
Sep 30, 2020
133
45
Maybe after a set time, the thread can drop off the 'active' list to an 'archive' list. That way it's still around if you want to go back to it, but it doesn't clutter up the active threads.
That's an idea, although I'd thought the archived messages/threads would be compressed so they take less space than the active threads. Isn't there a free file system which securely compresses while also deduplicating its stored content? Something like that would serve that archival purpose while leaving the archived data in accessible form.

I still think worthless posts are worthy of one thing (contradiction intended): deletion.
 

Harry

Member
Oct 13, 2020
15
6
I think you should keep the subforums to a minimum for now. Add them as this place grows. For now, I would have:

The GRC Forum to discuss SN, your products, research, etc.
Security Forum: All non-GRC specific InfoSec topics.
Privacy Forum
Off Topic

You could also have a Technology forum to cover non-InfoSec topics or use Off Topic for this. I think 4-5 forums should be able to cover everything.
 
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danlock

Well-known member
Sep 30, 2020
133
45
I thought this was all Nerd Recreation. :geek:
Indeed... but there's nerd recreation (AKA Nerd Fun), and then there's the recreational side of Nerd Recreation, which would be the topical ideas represented in the subforum Nerd Recreation, I imagine.
 

danlock

Well-known member
Sep 30, 2020
133
45
This guy has some interesting nerd recreation... if you're into puzzles:
Magic, Puzzles, Vlogs, and a combination... sounds like it might be right up @Barry Wallis's alley. Which means it might be right up the alley of many of us who spend time writing messages here.