Replying as a linked-topic

Continuing the discussion from Invitation to Participate in Research Study on Code of Conduct in Open Source:

It’s just more of the same problem of noisy off-topic posts to post “keep it on topic” posts on topics. Discourse has a great “reply as linked-topic” function, and people should use it, including when replying to say “let’s keep things on topic” or “let’s move this to a new topic”, that is the time to use the function.

Unfortunately, the function is hidden in a way that NOBODY discovers it. It’s here (you have to click the arrow that doesn’t look like a button):

Screenshot 2024-01-23 at 09-35-05 Invitation to Participate in Research Study on Code of Conduct in Open Source - 📣 Sustainer Talk - Sustain Open Source Forum

And I posted a long time ago to ask Discourse team to fix this bad UX: Highlighting the reply as linked topic functionality - ux - Discourse Meta

(though searching I see others repeating the issue themselves: Highlighting the reply as linked topic functionality - ux - Discourse Meta )

I suggest both to the facilitators and to regular users to be aware of and use this. Also, moderators can select posts and move them even when others failed to use the linked-topic feature. In other words, this can be done after-the-fact, leaving topics cleaner and less noisy!

(Incidentally, I considered using this in the original topic linked at the top, but I chose to bring things back toward CoC topic at least slightly and see if that would end the tangent. @abitrolly replied in a way that I then think really justified the linked-topic direction and he said “Yes, spin up about Jitsi and BBB discussion into a new topic. You have all rights to do that. I don’t.” which is not true, he could have done the linked-topic reply himself initially, but he indeed doesn’t have the rights to fix it all after the fact, @RichardLitt could select multiple posts and move the lot to a new topic…)

Even after looking at the screenshot I couldn’t find this button. :smiley:

Who would expect you need to hit reply, then in the reply form look for another reply button, which is not the actual reply button that you hit to finally reply.

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which also does not look like a button nor is it in a place where buttons would be expected

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Thanks, @wolftune. I wasn’t aware of that functionality in Discourse. It’s useful to know now.

In all honestly, I didn’t create a new topic for a pretty simple, selfish reason. I don’t enjoy talking about improving workflows so that people who work on OSS should only use OSS, and I didn’t want to talk about it. I thought making a thread about that would be disingenuous, because I would end up in a situation where I’m talking about something I don’t want to talk about. That’s never a useful place to be, in my lived experience.

I don’t know if @abitrolly is unable to create topics. If that’s the case, I would suggest emailing or DMing the moderators of the forum, at or

Edit: I should’ve had dinner first, I’m sorry. This was too strongly worded.

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There’s also the idea of making a new topic for the topic of staying on topic.

But actually you as a moderator do not need to participate, you don’t need to start the new topic as a reply. You can use the little wrench icon moderator thing to select posts and move them to a new topic, as if the others of us had done reply-as-linked-topic. That achieves the goal of keeping the original topic on track. And if you feel it appropriate, you can PM someone to explain that you moved their post. This is related to my points about CoC: I know this sort of curation of conversation is often seen as heavy-handed in today’s online norms. However, I think it is superior to the noisiness of having meta discussion within a topic (discussing staying on topic in a topic). Ideally, someone reading a topic doesn’t have to go through off-topic stuff and people talking about it being off-topic etc.

My ideal (recognizing that I can’t just impose new norms, transitioning is a process socially) is one where people in general learn to appreciate online conversation curation with editing and moving and other things helping everything stay high-quality, on-track, respectful etc. And for now, it’s at least a step to educate people about the tools and about considering these contexts while participating.

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Thanks for explaining.

I hear that curating and moving posts is a really useful tool. I also recognize, as you do, that social norms can’t be changed over night. I am imagining what it would feel like to have my post moved into a new topic, and I’m not sure I would like it very much; I would feel controlled. That may just be me, and it may not actually feel that way in practice. I also feel, now, that it’s a bit heavy-handed on the admin side. I’m trying to do less moderating, largely because I already post here very often and I don’t like the idea of this discourse being dominated by a few voices, even if they are the moderators.

I’ll keep all of this in mind when the topic comes up again, though. :slight_smile:

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Sympathies and agreements to all that.

Yeah, that is common feeling.

Besides shifting norms, people can be PM’ed and asked for permission.

My actual dream/wish-list/feature-request for forums here would be a formal opt-in to certain moderation type things. So I could say that I want my posts more readily flagged and hidden (I want to edit and fix things ASAP if anyone has an issue, I don’t want potential misunderstandings to stay public), and I want my posts moved if anyone is concerned it is derailing a topic. And others might not opt-in. That way, everyone is being treated as they feel comfortable. Maybe seeing the value, people will then both learn to think ahead and use the linked-topic reply function and embrace the norm of accepting helpful moderation actions…

On keeping diverse voices

Making this collapsed to reduce noise and not open a new topic again, at least for now

A solution to that is to use more PMs. There are also ways here to set up unlisted categories (or categories for only higher trust-levels) as a way to have semi-public posts that do not get in the way of the rest of the main conversations.

Another that is better but harder is to proactively coach more people into participating. My ideal dream is getting multiple people excited about facilitation and they then in turn actively take interest in getting to know people in the community and then they PM people who have opted-in [socially more than technically] — as in “hey @X, I noticed this topic that is really something where your voice would be helpful, would you maybe reply there” with the idea that everyone celebrates diverse perspectives, noisy people make space for others, and quiet people learning to chime in a bit more.

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