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rac
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2002 6:20 pm    Post subject: Duplicates forum? Reply with quote

The first page of each forum is very valuable real estate. When we reorganized the forums in mid-August, we moved a lot of old threads, especially out of the old GCC3 forum and into the new Multimedia one. I noticed a couple of things during that process. First, there are a lot of unanswered questions in the archives. Second, people don't see them very often because they're not on the top page.

So I have an idea that I think will help the moderators make the first page of every forum more useful than it is now, and I would like feedback from people on it.

We create a Duplicates forum. There are a lot of four-post threads that go something like this:

Question: Why can't I su to root?
Answer: Have you looked at the FAQ and the Newbies sticky?
Question: :oops:, should have searched. Sorry.
Moderator: Locking thread.

Even though these threads are locked, they take up space on the top page, which pushes a useful thread off of it. After a duplicate thread like this has been locked, the locking moderator could move it to the Duplicates forum, freeing up a slot in the top page of the original forum.

The duplicate threads would still be preserved so that the questioners can find them, and sometimes duplicate threads can be useful by providing different keywords for future searchers.

What do you folks think?
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pizen
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2002 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing I can think of is that people will probably look at these threads before asking a question just as much as they search. Thus, there will still be many duplicate threads and this forum will fill up with duplicates of duplicates which will just be pushed off the front page of the Duplicates forum and the non-first page of threads in the Duplicates forum will probably be the place where threads go to never be read again.
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rac
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2002 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pizen, are you saying that you think the Duplicates forum would make things worse, or just that it won't make things any better?
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2002 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pizen wrote:
Thus, there will still be many duplicate threads and this forum
Meaning the new Duplicates forum?
Quote:
will fill up with duplicates of duplicates which will just be pushed off the front page of the Duplicates forum and the non-first page of threads in the Duplicates forum will probably be the place where threads go to never be read again.
Threads rolling off to other pages in the Duplicates forum wouldn't matter.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2002 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Something that might be more effective than this (or could be used in addition to this) is an auto-bump feature. Anything that drifts off the main page gets bumped by phpBB automatically (it adds another post to the thread to bump it). Since it has an additional post, it only gets bumped this way once (if it drops of the main page twice, it's probably never getting an answer anyway). Actually, since that would be a hard-to-maintain custom addition to phpbb, there could be an auto-bumping bot. It periodically browses the second page of each of the forums and bumps threads that have zero responses.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2002 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eliminate "page breaks" ;)
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2002 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First, I want to mention that I'm a supporter of this idea (just because it gets junk out of the Support Forums).

Lets say the Duplicate forum is created, and we hunt down the duplicates and get them moved. I'm guessing few, if any forums, will have less than "1 page" of posts. Does this not detract from the goal of getting rid of duplicates? Eventually the duplicates will sink to the last pages.

Again, I'd prefer to shift them over anyway.
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rac
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2002 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kanuslupus wrote:
I'm guessing few, if any forums, will have less than "1 page" of posts. Does this not detract from the goal of getting rid of duplicates?

Sure, but at least during the time that the duplicate threads would have been sitting on the top page, if there's someplace to park them, for every duplicate thread, another unique thread can sit on the top page for that period of time.

And maybe people would venture beyond the top page more often if there were less duplicate content on them. If we improve the variety and relevance of each forum, maybe readers will be more inclined to read deeper into them.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2002 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree... just thought it might be a question someone would ask. Still trying to come up with other benefits/drawbacks.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2002 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rac, I think things will stay the same.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2002 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stay the same in what way?
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2002 5:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another question that I'd like to ask related to duplicate threads is how other sites handle them. If anyone participates on a board that has a really innovative or effective way of dealing with duplicate threads (short of deleting them outright), please post the URL here.

--kurt
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2002 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kanuslupus, my impression was that a duplicates forum would help reduce duplicates over time because popular questions would have answers in a central forum and people would eventually learn to look there before asking a question. My opinion is that this won't happen and people will continue to ask questions that have been answered many times over just like they don't search before asking a question. That is all based on my understanding of what this forum would be for. If I am mistaken, my opinion may very well change.
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rac
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2002 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pizen wrote:
my impression was that a duplicates forum would help reduce duplicates over time

If it does, that's a side benefit.

Quote:
people will continue to ask questions that have been answered many times over

You're right, some people will. But if there's a Duplicates forum, and you don't want to see duplicate threads in the forums that you do read, you wouldn't have to, once a moderator gets ahold of them.

This proposal is more about making the existing forums cleaner than it is an expectation that anybody would regularly read the Duplicates forum.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2002 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rac wrote:
This proposal is more about making the existing forums cleaner than it is an expectation that anybody would regularly read the Duplicates forum.

Ok, then I'm all for a duplicates forum.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2002 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think this would be a really good idea. Here are the benefits as I see them:
  • Unique posts get more airtime in the forum where they would best be answered.
  • The duplicates forum would be like a real time faq where people could check, without having to search, to see if their question has been answered.

Here are the disadvantages, which I think are outweighed by the benefits:
  • There would be more work for the moderators. :)
  • Posters who didn't search and posted something like this would 'lose' their post if they didn't have email (or PM) notification.
  • Unless there's a separate duplicate forum for each of the current forums then the duplicates forum would be pretty hard to read.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2002 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tristam29 wrote:
There would be more work for the moderators. :)
Actually, there wouldn't be any extra work for us.

Quote:
Unless there's a separate duplicate forum for each of the current forums then the duplicates forum would be pretty hard to read.
The duplicates forum isn't really intended for reading. "I can't su" would be a thread that found a home in the Duplicate Threads forum.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 13, 2002 4:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kanuslupus wrote:
Tristam29 wrote:
There would be more work for the moderators. :)
Actually, there wouldn't be any extra work for us.

So it's the same amount of work to lock a thread as it is to move a thread and lock it?

kanuslupus wrote:
Quote:
Unless there's a separate duplicate forum for each of the current forums then the duplicates forum would be pretty hard to read.
The duplicates forum isn't really intended for reading. "I can't su" would be a thread that found a home in the Duplicate Threads forum.

If you simply dump the thread into a forum where readability isn't a concern, you might as well be deleting the post in the first place. This is simply something I hope the forums doesn't ever do. Readability should always be a concern of the forum. It helps no one to have an illegible forum. If they were organized in some format, at least then you might be able to lower the number of duplicate threads in the longterm simply because people would easily be able to read the most commonly asked questions. This is another part of the work that I was referring to. More forums, even duplicate forums, would require more work. What happens if someone posts a non-duplicate topic into the duplicate forums on accident? Will a moderator be able to save this post or will that forum simply be a dumpster of crap that might as well have been deleted?
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rac
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 13, 2002 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tristam29 wrote:
So it's the same amount of work to lock a thread as it is to move a thread and lock it?

Since the Duplicates forum is locked, we don't have to lock threads first - just move them in there.

Quote:
If you simply dump the thread into a forum where readability isn't a concern, you might as well be deleting the post in the first place.

Not really, because they will still come up in a search, and we have made a rule that all threads in Duplicates must contain a pointer to an unlocked thread somewhere else in case someone wants to post a followup. I will be writing a sticky post that goes in Duplicates that explains this and some other things soon.

Quote:
Readability should always be a concern of the forum. It helps no one to have an illegible forum.

Threads that go in Duplicates would have been locked anyway. By definition, there is a better/older/longer/clearer thread that addresses the same subject somewhere else.

Quote:
If they were organized in some format, at least then you might be able to lower the number of duplicate threads in the longterm simply because people would easily be able to read the most commonly asked questions.

That may be done later, but the primary goal of the Duplicates forum is to make all the other forums more browsable and readable. Deleting duplicate posts (not exact duplicates, but rather similar) would be (a) rude and (b) counterproductive when sometimes the duplicates have good search keywords in them.

Quote:
What happens if someone posts a non-duplicate topic into the duplicate forums on accident?

They can't. The forum is locked. If somebody sees a thread in the Duplicates forum that they believe should not be in there, they can PM a moderator and make a case for it to be moved out, similar to how it works now with locked threads.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 13, 2002 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I didn't realize that you could simply lock an entire forum. This certainly eliminates a lot of the mod work I was envisioning as well as preventing the chance that a poor sap would have posted in there. I would support having a duplicates forum. I would like for it to be helpful to someone browsing for a solution as well as for someone searching for a solution, but even without this caveat it appears as though the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. :)
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2002 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having been ill and off forums for a bit, I didn't know about the duplicates forum--an excellent idea.

One suggestion--what about changing subject lines like stupid newbie question, how do I, and the like to descriptive ones so that people coming to the forum can quickly scan the subject lines and see if their question has been asked.

For instance, that first "Stupid N00b question could be renamed Adding items to Gnome Menu,
New article possibly to Release 1.4.

That's just from the first page, I wasn't ready to go through all 10 or whatever of them. I am at work after all. :)

Scott
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2002 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A nice idea, but not practical. I'd prefer to just delete them, which isn't reasonable.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2002 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

scottro wrote:
Having been ill and off forums for a bit, I didn't know about the duplicates forum--an excellent idea.

One suggestion--what about changing subject lines like stupid newbie question, how do I, and the like to descriptive ones so that people coming to the forum can quickly scan the subject lines and see if their question has been asked.

For instance, that first "Stupid N00b question could be renamed Adding items to Gnome Menu,
New article possibly to Release 1.4.

That's just from the first page, I wasn't ready to go through all 10 or whatever of them. I am at work after all. :)

Scott


There's a topic about the subject lines: http://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic.php?t=16817&highlight=

I think the duplicates forum is an excellent idea, but I would exclude the forum from the search function it are all "useless" posts anyway since they have already been answered. There only in the way if you search for something.

~Progster
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2002 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh, I saw that one too, and posted another impractical suggestion. :)
(That for the first few posts, you get a popup box reminding you to search, title line etc)
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 18, 2002 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

progster wrote:
I would exclude the forum from the search function

I disagree. I think one of the main benefits of keeping the duplicate threads around is that sometimes they contain search keywords that are different from the original thread. Maybe a searcher will choose a set of search terms that would miss a thread in the main forums, but picks up a duplicate that links to it.

That being said, if a generic "exclude forums from search" capability were added, progster could choose to exclude Duplicates, and that would also make some people happy who would prefer not to get results from non-English forums also.
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