Merge Forum Topics
A member from the Commons suggested merging forum topics in an effort to reduce duplicate posts. He also suggested a “quote” function or some other method of only responding to a particular member’s post (which becomes important in longer threads.)
See original forum post here: http://commons.gc.cuny.edu/groups/wordpress-help/forum/topic/merge-forum-topics/
Updated by Matt Gold over 12 years ago
Shawn M submitted a reminder on UserVoice about this issue. Personally, I'm not sure what I think of this. Who should have the power to merge threads? Might there be other options besides merging? And what is the real issue here? It seems to me that the issue is search/findability, rather than merging; I'm not sure that merging, as a solution, will really help fix the problem diagnosed (people starting new threads because they haven't read/can't find old ones). Thoughts?
Updated by Shawn M about 12 years ago
Hi Matt, et al. Thanks for replying to my suggestion. We don't have a particularly busy forum, but I'm discovering our users are more prone to create new posts when they really mean to reply to existing ones. This is despite us hosting a workshop on how to use the forum when they first joined and posting a gentle reminder when new posts were created. Just today, a new post was created that was entitled, " Reply to Person X" in direct response to an original post. To date, out of my group's 23 forum topics, 13 of them are duplicate posts. My group is comprised of approx. 50 faculty members who probably have had little to no prior exposure to forums, aside from those who use the Discussion Board in Blackboard.
Merging would just be a simple way of tidying up a bit and would remind users of the presence of an existing thread for that given topic. As for privileges, I think anyone who can delete posts should be able to merge them (admin/mods).
I found a similar idea in the WordPress Plugins directory for BuddyPress: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/buddypress-forums-move-topic-planned-split-and-merge-topic/ ...this plugin offers a "move" option, with plans for merging and even splitting a topic.
Updated by Boone Gorges about 12 years ago
Ray - adding you as a watcher. Do you have any experience with forum-topic-merging solutions? Seems like there are three conceptual hurdles:
- UI considerations. Presumably you'd have a Merge Topic button available to topic owners, group admins, and super admins. But what does it do? Maybe a popup/lightbox/slider, which contains a scrollbox containing all topics in the group, from which one can select the topic to merge into? Or maybe two scrollboxes: "Merge these topics..." and "...into this topic", with the implication that topic titles, permalinks, etc will follow the right-hand box after the merge.
- Post ordering. Presumably, two merged threads would have their posts merged in chronological order. That will, in some cases, break up the flow of conversation. How to handle this?
- Old permalinks. This is not a blocker by any means, but could we come up with a sort of canonical redirect structure like WP has for posts, so that permalinks (from BP activity streams, as well as external links in email notifications etc) continue to work, and are redirected to the new topic?
Obviously, this will be a fair amount of work, so I want to see if there's any work out there that does at least some of it for us. (The plugin that Shawn links lists topic merging as a future enhancement.)
Updated by Raymond Hoh about 12 years ago
There are a couple of existing plugins that merges topics for BP; I remember reading on the BP forums that some have had success with one of them, although I can't recall which one it is at the moment.
Will need to test it to ensure it hits the three criteria you mentioned.
Updated by Matt Gold about 12 years ago
I think that merging forums provides one solution to this problem, but what you're describing sounds like a usability issue -- ie., people can't figure out how to reply to a thread or they simply don't seem them, so they click on the big "Create new post" button and post.
I've added Chris Stein, our User Experience Designer (a new position) on this ticket to see whether he has any thoughts about that.