Continuing the discussion from How can we make more nutritious soup for more people?:
Here is what I will say on this topic:
- First, I blame Discourse for HIDING the "reply as new topic" feature in the link button of every comment (completely counter-intuitive as this is mostly to share a post with the buttons or with the URL provided. I would NOT expect the "+ New Topic" button to be there).
- Sometimes instead of replying to a comment, it would be better to start a new topic, even without using the reply as new topic feature, but from the user's perspective, it is more demanding (finding a title, making sure it is in the proper channel & tag appropriately).
- This translates to missed opportunities of having topics dedicated to a given discussion, kind of like an email thread can derail with multiple replies that will keep the same subject even when the subject is no longer relevant. The same exists with other platforms, like with Slack where you can discuss something and end up overlapping with a subject covered by a different channel altogether.
- Longer discussions with mixed topics makes it harder for people to know what to expect out of a given topic (if you are not part of the discussion, you rely on the title to determine if you want to know more or not).
- A long hiatus can probably prevent a reader from finishing reading the whole discussion, if he assumes the topic has shifted from him main interest, even if the discussion gets back on track. This can also be true of someone who is originally familiar with the discussion, but reads it back after some time, not being familiar anymore.
- The search feature can be forgiving to some extent as it is looking for content in title, OP and all comments.
- If members do not have the reflex and / or discipline to start new topics, we then have to rely on moderators & administrators to apply this after the fact. But this is far from the best scenario or the easy scenario in my book:
- Not being familiar with how this is managed in Discourse, I do not know if it is easier to split a discussion into multiple topics or to merge 2 topics together, but I can only assume it is more work than when performed by the author(s) himself (themselves).
- Is a comment just a comment or should it be a new topic? Some calls may be clearer than others, but overall this is subjective. That question is most likely best answered by the author. An admin will have to guess the author's intent and can draw false conclusions. Leaving things as they are can be a good default option here.
- Something else a moderator has to evaluate when applying decision like this early (perhaps attempting to avoid additional work or relocating following replies) is the likeliness that the comment will spark a "new off-topic discussion". Your crystal ball is good as my magic eight-ball.
- I suspect keeping everything on track would require a larger number of moderators / admins. I believe @Malcolm and @Cecile to be the only ones at this time.
With all that said, I guess I can say that I see this more as a problem than something we should "keep around", but I fail to have a solution for it.
Happy to hear what everyone else thinks about it, that is for sure...