Moderation: merging + splitting topics

thanks! Glad to hear this!
Personally I’m glad to get some feedback about these matters (both critique and praise), because it’s not always that easy to imagine how you’d perceive something from the other side. Meaning that if you do topic moderation you tend to have much more overview about what’s going on, your focus is more on the general thing, and maybe less on the particular. While when you’re actively engaged in a discussion you might have more focus on the particular.
Not sure it makes any sense, but I guess the bottom line is: we’re sometimes still learning. At least I can say that I am.


Yeah, I agree and as I’d missed the original thread I really appreciate the link being made so that I can read previous thoughts community members have had


right on, more communication the better :slight_smile:

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I still feel uncomfortable with the merging, splitting and renaming policy and I fear its not leading to something good. So I want to word my concerns here.

There was a thread about the recent downfall and the monetary issues of the Muff Wiggler forum. Then after more than hundred posts have been made it was renamed, then splitted. There are several things leaving a sour taste for formal, political and simply for human reasons.

So, I found an automatic splitting notification which leads me to the original thread but not to where my post was moved to. Also there was no notification how the new thread is named, so I had to guess again what might have happened and where I was moved to and why. This really sucks.

I tried to comprehend what happened and it seemed to me that someOne asked for a “heavy hand” in moderation and then the split was done “as requested”. I find this highly dubious and irritating. Eventually this is antidemocratic and manipulating communication, which is even worse in this case where also a political discussion took place.

I found the new thread to be named RIP Mike McGrath . Of course I am not a native english speaker so I am not sure how this feels for you in the US but to me RIP sounds comic and cheap, somehow disrespectful as an abbreviation for a sleazy commemoration phrase. What is wrong with people who have to abbreviate their condolence? I usually do not post in threads named so for that reason and have seen far better fitting thread titles - how about a simple ‚Mike McGrath passed away‘“. It does not sound so much like "Um, if you have to post something about that guy, please drop it here…“.

Personally, after reading about Mikes death in that original thread I felt the need to express my feelings in the context of that very discussion. I am an adult and I considered if I find this appropriate just there and than tried to find some (few) words to express myself. Getting moved to a place where I would not have done this or to a context where I would have worded it differently is disrespectful.

What could have been a better solution? Communication is an unfolding process between people. Topics change over time and that’s a good thing - otherwise it would be pointless to speak to each other. Also this in this special case it wasn’t about some technical question that still have to be perfectly and presumably quick comprehensible over the next years. But when someone has the feeling it would be a good idea for clarity sake to partly move a discussion to a separate place - why not just opening a new thread and suggesting to carry on there without breaking things in parts. Everyone who then feels inclined to do so can copy own contributions there or leave it or rewrite something better fitting for the new context. Also in this case, why not simply moving the vital discussion about sexual oppression to a reasonable place instead of putting the answer to ‘what happens over at MW?’ and the emotional reaction aside? Now the discussion about sexism and who is more right takes place under the heading MW’s future uncertain

I know that probably no one is trying to act evil here though I wonder if there is an American equivalent to the german saying "The opposite of good is good intentions“?




perhaps it would be wise to wait a few days/weeks before splitting topics being currently discussed.

For what it’s worth, to my US ears “RIP” does not sound comic and cheap. Of course, in popular culture it is often used this way, but the connotation is not always present.

I would say the US equivalent is “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

I actually see this as the main value of splitting threads into new ones, for what it’s worth. Topics changing and drifting into new threads is what allows Discourse to both approximate the actual flow of human conversation, while preserving the usefulness of categorization practices like tags, thread titles and so on.


Maybe, apart from that it’s not working when you can’t follow that flow - when you look at the ‘RIP Mike’ thread a lot of the contributions have irritating references… :thinking:

Tip: you can find any post you’ve written by navigating to your profile page and choosing Activity.

Yes, discontinuities occur when threads are split, but there are good reasons to do so, including protecting one ongoing discussion from a new emergent tangent.

The more thought people put into what they write and where, the less need for splits.


That’s great - I didn’t know that and it’s obviously incredibly useful.


@Leverkusen , I fully hear your concerns. There are always gaps between intent and perception – this even happens between the mods! This legibility is further obscured by the way that Discourse is structured. I totally understand how jarring + frustrating these actions can be. Does @mdoudoroff’s suggestion above help bridge this gap? Should we be investigating customizing Discourse’s software? Just let us know what you’d like to see in terms of alerts :slight_smile:

re: the title of the mentioned thread, this is in line with conventions established by others in our community. though the search term ‘RIP’ also brings up module chatter, it does include direct and sincere eulogies. I’m sorry to hear it came across the way you described, but I hope this info helps.

re: splitting that particular thread, my own read of the flow of events doesn’t raise any flags. I believe the interest (stated by a few folks in the thread) was in respectfully separating discussion about MW and discussion about losing Mike.

re: splitting threads + merging topics vs asking people to copy their contributions or rewrite, the difference is rooted in a division of labor. our “job” is to remove as much pain as possible from internet discourse, to foster conversations that will hopefully create community. moderating lines is joyous, but it is not something any of us does to flex power or ego – when one of us decides to merge topics or move posts, it is because we genuinely believe that (through our experiences watching thousands of posts unfold) it is in the interest of better conversation for the majority.

personally: when I perform moderator actions, it is with future visits/visitors in mind. I always ask myself if leaving things the way they’re unfolding will help someone who wasn’t present for the conversation easily stumble upon / search for the topics and feel like they’ve found what they need.

I am sorry that you find yourself on the painful side of our best efforts and I appreciate you sharing your perspective. I hope this message at least helps address your short-term frustrations.


As someone whose career is built on extending an open source web platform: highly recommend you think very carefully about this path. It can paint you into all kinds of corners, leave you unable to benefit from security updates, expose your users to bugs that the platform maintainers can’t or won’t help you with, etc.

(Realize this is a derail! But it shouldn’t really be on the table unless there’s a vital need that you know you have full-time people to dedicate to. With love, and recognizing the good intent behind the suggestion: it has very bad ‘code smell’. Carry on! :heart:)


oh, for sure not an informed question – just opening doors! thank you for the child lock :wink:


First of all, yes, your message and taking care of my concerns eases my furstration - thank you for that!

And I also see your points about what is manageable and possible from moderator side regarding how it is organized.

I suppose while probably sharing much in attitude towards those concerns; we just differ in practise. I think I prefer the general less active moderated MW style to the somehow more ambitious lines approach - mostly because I don’t have much trust in attempts to organize people to their own best. Though only from the perspective, that I don’t think it will work very well, that is - not implying any paranoid or ractionary-libertarian fears here. And also this does not account to some clear lines regarding racism/sexism, that sadly do not exist at MW.

Regarding the thread title, thank you for the clarification. I would still prefer a simple notation of the fact that is not implying anything but then I just file it under interesting cultural particularities. Same with the lines moderation style - I seem to just have to learn to cope with it.

I know that I can find my posts in my profile as @mdoudoroff suggested above - but: they are displayed with the title of the thread they are in. When the thread title has changed or they have been moved to another thread ( or both in this case :roll_eyes:) I find a list of threads in my activity stream, I never participated in. That is a bit confusing when I already am confused and try to understand what is going on.

What I wish to see in the forum software is that an automatic message is sent when a thread title has changed or own posts get otherwise moved, merged or split. That message should lead to the new location then - not to the old one, where it is not anymore.

The right way to handle these kinds of suggestions, without forking the Discourse project, is to filter them upstream to Discourse itself. Probably one of these categories is a good starting point:

If users and mods (especially mods!) think Discourse can improve, it would be helpful to ALL Discourse communities if you shared your concerns in the locations above.


I appreciate the moderation of the forum and believe most of the mods have the communities’ best interests in mind.

Could a possible cheap solution be to prepend a glyph to modified/moderated titles? I know this doesn’t solve the continuity thing…

as tempting as it is to create a meta vortex by suggesting to split some of the latest posts here into a separate “Moderation: splitting topics” thread could one of the mods rename this one to “Moderation: merging and splitting topics” instead to reflect the bigger discussion happening? (it’s not allowing me to edit my OP anymore).


(also, lolol, I subconsciously used + instead of and. smh. that wasn’t part of the request, Derks!)

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i kinda liked that actually :slight_smile: thanks Dan!

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we’re back to +.

– derail over


fwiw, i frankly support @tehn’s swift action in moving mike’s memorial out of the thread that was mostly highly negative critique of his work as MW’s creator / moderator. (and tbh a lot of good old soapboxing (*), because this is the internet.) because those really should not be stuck together - to leave them that way is not compassionate to the bereaved.

such a move is better done sooner and later and we don’t have the luxury of taking polls on every such decision. if a mod sees a request, and strongly agrees with it, it may just happen.

that said, the points raised here are totally valid; my biggest takeaway is that it might be a cool idea to create new threads as a separate step in advance of actually moving existing posts.

(there are some basically technical complications though; consider: 1) you make a new thread and encourage its use, 2a) new posts on new thread, 2b) new posts on same topic in old thread, 3) you want to move posts from (2b) but the timeline is now all scrambled in the new thread and can’t be fixed. that’s the argument for “sooner is better than later” doctrine of moving posts.)

[*] to be clear - i like soapboxing, aka being polemical. it’s just not always appropriate, or what someone needs to see in a google search.