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-   -   Stigma against necroposting (http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=326403)

junglebeast Jul22-09 12:33 PM

stigma against necroposting
 
I never understood the stigma against necroposting.

On the spectrum of knowledge repositories, you have things which are dynamically changing and updated by all like wikipedia on the left, and then more controlled fact-checking sources such as textbooks on the right. This spectrum is important because you can get hard facts on the right, but they are less dynamic and less accessible..and you can get good hints on the left, due to being more collaborative and dynamic.

Forum topics are on the "far left", and it is not uncommon that by searching forum databases I am able to figure something out that I couldn't get from other sources. This is usually when dealing with rare or seldom known topics, which by nature become old forum posts..but this does not mean that they are useless.

Necroposting is a way of updating that knowledge to make corrections or to continue a timeless discussion. Even if the thread is as simple as one person asking a question, and then people years later repeatedly answering it...it does not matter that the OP will never see the answer, because the answer is not for them..it's for anyone with a similar question who pulls it up in search results in the future.

The fact is that nobody would have revived the topic if they didn't feel they had something worthwhile to contribute, so why should they be disallowed? Nobody is disallowed from creating a new topic of their interest, and it only makes things more confusing if a new topic has to link to a dead thread.

If the revived thread has become a nuisance, it can be manually locked...that's what moderators are for...but automatic locking only serves to prevent the proliferation of knowledge and openness.

My 2 cents.

Evo Jul22-09 12:49 PM

Re: Necroposting
 
We are actually discussing this right now to come up with a consistent rule.

The main reason we lock old threads is that our guidelines have changed over the years, and changed quite abit in some of the subforums. Resurrecting a thread with discussions that are no longer allowed is confusing. A member can always start a new thread on the topic if they wish.

Integral Jul22-09 01:41 PM

Re: Necroposting
 
What I see all to frequently is someone necroposting without being aware of it. They post as if they expect a response. All to often they are attempting to converse with members who are no longer active. There can be reasons for dredging up old posts but for the most pare old threads are best left buried. I would like to see auto locks on year old threads.

Ivan Seeking Jul22-09 01:56 PM

Re: Necroposting
 
Quote:

Quote by Integral (Post 2281133)
I would like to see auto locks on year old threads.

Why? We have many viable threads much older than that. I like having the ability to follow the history of a story like, for example, the Indonesian hobbits.
http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=50063

Also, why reinvent the wheel each year? Old threads are a reservoir of useful information. The issue of old threads is valid wrt changes in the forum guidelines, but I hardly see an occasional obsolete thread as being a problem. It takes all of five seconds to delete or lock an old thread.

Evo Jul22-09 02:27 PM

Re: Necroposting
 
Yes, there are great old threads that I keep open, the threads in GD classics, for example. But Philosophy and P&WA had major rule changes. The point was to have members start a new thread on the subject if they were interested so that it was in line with current policy. The thousands of threads was the deciding factor. Not really a concern in other sub-forums.

I think that we need to come to a decision on old threads. It's not fair to our members to have their posts deleted just because it was an old thread. If the post is not appropriate, or if it is re-starting a thread that is in violation of our current guidelines, yes, deleting and warning may be appropriate. If it's just an old thread that a member wants to discuss, I don't see the harm.

I do agree that the majority of the necroposts is a new member that doesn't realize how long it's been since the thread was discussed. I don't think that alone is enough of a reason to delete their post.

I'd like to see some feedback. There are pros and cons that need to be weighed.

Integral Jul22-09 04:28 PM

Re: Necroposting
 
By "year old" I mean a thread that has gone a year without a post. You can still read and link to a old thread if you have comments which are not directed to a specific member. Threads like GD classics which gets read and posted to with some regularity would not be affected, since they are living, not dead.

Moonbear Jul22-09 04:40 PM

Re: Necroposting
 
I don't think it's necessary to automatically lock down a discussion just because it's old. I have no problem with someone finding an old thread on a topic and adding a new post to it because they found something new that's relevant and addresses an unresolved issue in the post, or shows the latest progress in an area of research. In fact, in that situation, I would prefer they post in the old thread rather than create a new one without the benefit of the previous discussion; this both gives perspective to the issue and saves people who were previously involved in the discussion the trouble of having to rehash the same points again.

I can think of three situations where necroposting is more annoying and perhaps inappropriate. First, the obvious situation where a thread that pre-dates existing rules gets resurrected with a lot of violations of the current rules. In that case, yes, a lock and split of the new post to a new thread seems fitting, to make it clear that the old thread should be read with caution and doesn't fit current rules. Second, when someone has asked a question that is of only short-lived interest and has become moot. For example, if someone asked for advice about particular university choices based on specific information about their academic or personal background or interests, there is no point in replying to the thread perhaps even 6 months later, and certainly not by a year or more later when they would have already made their decision and been enrolled in university...definitely not 4 or 5 years later when they are already graduating from that university.

The third situation is when someone replies to an old thread with a post that is only very superficially relevant to the original topic, or with something that adds nothing to the old discussion. For example, responding with, "Hey, that's cool, thanks!" is pointless and not worth reviving an old topic. The other part of this type of situation is really more of an off-topic post problem than just a necroposting one.

Redbelly98 Jul22-09 06:17 PM

Re: Necroposting
 
I don't think old threads should be locked as a rule, I would just like some obvious indication that a thread is old and I may not want to spend time contributing to it. For example, I am thinking of homework (or non-homework, for that matter) questions that were asked by somebody who has not checked in to PF in years. Somehow, new members are good at finding and responding to these threads. Then I see it in the list of recent posts, and want to contribute helping an OP who will either will never read the new posts, or who has already finished whatever course they were looking for help in.

I don't mind that occasionally new members accidently spend time where it is not needed. I'd just like some kind of conspicuous signal so that I don't waste my time. Like if year-old threads could be highlighted in red, for example.

Of course, threads that do not fit the above description can have legit reasons for getting necroposted. That's why I'm against some kind of forum-wide, auto-locking time limit. I'd rather put up with the occasional, minor nuisance than lock them down.

Astronuc Jul23-09 07:00 AM

Re: Necroposting
 
Just adding my thoughts to:
Quote:

Quote by Moonbear (Post 2281378)
I can think of three situations where necroposting is more annoying and perhaps inappropriate. First, the obvious situation where a thread that pre-dates existing rules gets resurrected with a lot of violations of the current rules. In that case, yes, a lock and split of the new post to a new thread seems fitting, to make it clear that the old thread should be read with caution and doesn't fit current rules. Second, when someone has asked a question that is of only short-lived interest and has become moot. For example, if someone asked for advice about particular university choices based on specific information about their academic or personal background or interests, there is no point in replying to the thread perhaps even 6 months later, and certainly not by a year or more later when they would have already made their decision and been enrolled in university...definitely not 4 or 5 years later when they are already graduating from that university.

If a thread is locked, but one wishes to respond to a post, then one could start a new thread and link back to the post. It would be advantageous if the forum software would simply indicate that a thread is locked and then initiate a new thread.

Whether or not it is appropriate to respond to an old thread is perhaps content dependent, but at some point a thread is so old that it's better to follow up with a new thread, and simply link back to the old thread. Yes/no?

junglebeast Jul23-09 07:46 AM

Re: Necroposting
 
Quote:

Quote by Moonbear (Post 2281378)
The third situation is when someone replies to an old thread with a post that is only very superficially relevant to the original topic, or with something that adds nothing to the old discussion. For example, responding with, "Hey, that's cool, thanks!" is pointless and not worth reviving an old topic. The other part of this type of situation is really more of an off-topic post problem than just a necroposting one.

Quote:

Quote by Redbelly98 (Post 2281493)
I don't think old threads should be locked as a rule, I would just like some obvious indication that a thread is old and I may not want to spend time contributing to it.

Redbelly, I think that's a good idea. This could be done by making the topic written in brown font to indicate that it's old. Moreover, when a person clicks "reply" to a thread that has not been replied to in over a year, they could get a little warning message saying,

"This is an inactive question that has not been replied to in years...please do not post unless you feel you have something significant to contribute."

Moonbear Jul23-09 09:14 AM

Re: Necroposting
 
Quote:

Quote by Astronuc (Post 2282104)
Just adding my thoughts to:
If a thread is locked, but one wishes to respond to a post, then one could start a new thread and link back to the post. It would be advantageous if the forum software would simply indicate that a thread is locked and then initiate a new thread.

Whether or not it is appropriate to respond to an old thread is perhaps content dependent, but at some point a thread is so old that it's better to follow up with a new thread, and simply link back to the old thread. Yes/no?

I don't think so. Just because it's old doesn't mean it isn't worthy of continued discussion. I'd rather someone start up where an old thread left off rather than rehash all the old discussion again, especially since we do have plenty of topics on some basic content.

I think locking old threads and allowing the discussion to restart with links to the old thread also leads to confusion. People aren't mind readers, and won't necessarily know if a thread was locked just because it was old or because it had violated PF policies. If someone sees that some threads are allowed to link to and restart previously locked discussions, and in their naivete about the subject, restart a thread that was locked because it was crackpot, it makes it harder for members to make that decision. I would MUCH prefer to be able to tell new members to search for their topic and find an old thread when they're asking a question that has been asked and discussed in depth previously.

I prefer Redbelly's suggestion that as threads age, something automatically be applied to them that makes it clear they are old. I'm not sure that just changing the color would suffice, though, since someone new who finds an old thread via a google search may not have seen enough of the board to realize the color signifies anything. Maybe changing the color of the date on posts would bring attention to the date the thread was started.

I wonder if, more simply, having a column in the forum index that indicates the thread start date alongside the most recent post date would help...especially if the start date changes color with age.

OR, how about using one of those icons that appear next to threads to indicate an old thread. Perhaps a clock symbol of some sort would be distinctly different from all those ambiguous envelopes...or a skull and crossbones. :biggrin:

Astronuc Jul23-09 09:44 AM

Re: Necroposting
 
Quote:

Quote by Moonbear (Post 2282187)
OR, how about using one of those icons that appear next to threads to indicate an old thread. Perhaps a clock symbol of some sort would be distinctly different from all those ambiguous envelopes...or a skull and crossbones. :biggrin:

That's an idea. I was thinking of a gravestone icon for an old or dead thread.

Re: skull and cross bones - that conjers up the Jolly Roger. That would be appropriate for a hijacked thread. :biggrin:

Evo Jul23-09 10:02 AM

Re: Necroposting
 
Quote:

Quote by Astronuc (Post 2282104)
Whether or not it is appropriate to respond to an old thread is perhaps content dependent, but at some point a thread is so old that it's better to follow up with a new thread, and simply link back to the old thread. Yes/no?

This is why mentors should ALWAYS post the reason a thread is closed when locking it for a guideline violation or just being out of control. I see threads being locked every day with no explanation. Threads get locked in GD with no explanation, then members pm me to ask why the thread was locked, and I have no idea. Come on guys, let's post a note when you lock.

Redbelly98 Jul23-09 08:10 PM

Re: Necroposting
 
Quote:

Quote by Moonbear (Post 2282187)
I think locking old threads and allowing the discussion to restart with links to the old thread also leads to confusion.

I agree.

Quote:

I prefer Redbelly's suggestion that as threads age, something automatically be applied to them that makes it clear they are old. I'm not sure that just changing the color would suffice, though, since someone new who finds an old thread via a google search may not have seen enough of the board to realize the color signifies anything. Maybe changing the color of the date on posts would bring attention to the date the thread was started.
It may be that no matter what is done, new members will be oblivious to the "old thread" indicator until after they have spent some time here. But I'm okay with that, I am thinking more towards benefiting members who have been here awhile already. Many new members simply take a while to catch on to our rules and customs, so I doubt we can really stop them from necroposting.

Quote:

I wonder if, more simply, having a column in the forum index that indicates the thread start date alongside the most recent post date would help...especially if the start date changes color with age.
Yeah, that might help.

Quote:

OR, how about using one of those icons that appear next to threads to indicate an old thread. Perhaps a clock symbol of some sort would be distinctly different from all those ambiguous envelopes...or a skull and crossbones. :biggrin:
To be useful (to me, anyway), the Old Thread icon would have to look very consipicuous in comparison to the others icons we already have, and kept separate from them -- i.e. not combined into the single all-inclusive icon as is done for indicating if a thread is (1) hot, (2) has posts by you, and (3) has new posts.

Moonbear Jul23-09 10:00 PM

Re: Necroposting
 
Quote:

Quote by Redbelly98 (Post 2282978)
To be useful (to me, anyway), the Old Thread icon would have to look very consipicuous in comparison to the others icons we already have, and kept separate from them -- i.e. not combined into the single all-inclusive icon as is done for indicating if a thread is (1) hot, (2) has posts by you, and (3) has new posts.

I agree. I wouldn't want it to just be another miniscule symbol on top of the flaming, open, red envelope with a person sitting on it, but just something where the symbol changes completely to something obviously different once the original post has aged to some pre-set time limit.

GeorginaS Jul24-09 12:08 AM

Re: Necroposting
 
Not to get entirely off topic (or probably to get entirely off topic) (and likely someone else has already asked this) but is the word "necroposting" specific to this forum? As in: did someone here invent the word? I've never seen it before.

I'm a huge fan of the word too. It's wonderful. But I'm curious.

NeoDevin Jul24-09 01:22 AM

Re: Necroposting
 
My suggestion would be to leave old threads open. In the case where someone posts in a thread where the previous discussion violates the current guidelines, that post could be moved to a new thread (with a link to the old), and the old one could then be locked (with a note indicating that it violates the new guidelines, and a link to the new thread for anyone else who comes across it), and some sort of automated message sent to the poster. If there is no violation in the old discussion, there is no reason to lock the thread.

Maybe, when a thread, which hasn't had posts in over a year, is posted to, it could automatically be flagged as necroposting for review to the mentors, who could then decide if the old discussion violates the guidelines? I don't know how frequently old threads are resurrected, so I don't know how feasible this is. It could all be automated except the actual reading over of the old thread. When it is flagged just give mentors a "separate new posts" button. It could even be set up so that it flags threads which haven't had posts since the last rules update, instead of a fixed time of a year, though that might be too many headaches for the mentors.

arildno Jul24-09 02:24 AM

Re: Necroposting
 
One simple way to distinguish old threads from current threads is the following:

When a person clicks on fast reply/reply/quote, a window pops up explaining that he is trying to post in an inactive thread.

He has to actively agree once more before being allowed to post.

Just my thought..


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