Discuss Forum Clean Up Proposal

(Josh Stanley) #1

Hi IATI Community,

As IATI’s new Business & Data Analyst I am pleased to be adding my first post to the Discuss forum!

Discuss is the main tool for members of the community to converse and engage about all things IATI. As such we need to ensure that it is presented in a way that best encourages productive discussion.

There are a large number of old/dormant topics that are currently visible to users when they access the platform.

For example, almost three quarters of all topics (totalling 182 topics!) in the Community Zone category have not been replied to since Jan 2018.

Please see this spreadsheet for more info (all stats correct as of 07/02/2019 PM). The ‘% Topics not updated since 01/01/2018’ in particular shows the volume of ‘old’ topics:

Because of this, when someone accesses Discuss, it can be difficult to understand where to start, and the especially important posts might slip out of sight.

Therefore, the IATI Technical Team propose a ‘clean-up’ of the platform, to ensure that only relevant and current conversations are immediately visible, without losing content or inadvertently closing down discussion.

Our proposal to achieve this consists of the following:

1) ‘Close’ all topics which have not been updated in over 12 months. Closing a topic essentially means the following:

o A ‘lock’ icon is displayed next to the topic

o Users are no longer able to reply to the topic

o Users are no longer able to use the ‘invite’ function on the topic

The following functions are still available on a ‘closed’ topic:

o Users’ ability to read all posts

o Users’ ability to delete a post

o Users’ ability to ‘like’ a post

o Users’ ability to vote on a poll

2) Create an ‘Archived’ sub-category within each existing category in Discuss. All closed topics will be moved to the appropriate Archive sub-category.

This will allow users to easily access closed topics, while ensuring that they are still in an easily accessible place for when a user wishes to retrieve an archived discussion.

Interacting with old topics

  • Archived posts will still be available for retrieval via Discuss’ Search function

  • If you would like to restart discussion on an archived topic, a new topic should be created which contains a link to the archived topic in the original post.

As ever, we welcome the community’s input on the proposed clean-up: will the suggestions have any adverse reactions on your use of the platform? Do you have any further suggestions to improve how topics/categories are presented?

We expect to begin the clean-up exercise on Monday 18th Feb, so please offer any suggestions for the process by then.

Many thanks,


(Yohanna Loucheur) #2

Hi Josh, and welcome to the IATI community!

2 initial reactions to the proposal:

  • The delay for the community to react is too short - what is the rush? Giving us only 2 business days to think through the potential issues is likely to lead to unintended consequences.

  • I want to think about the implications of closing down and archiving so many discussion topics. But I can say right away that “no reply for 1 year” is too restrictive as a criteria. For one thing, it would not be aligned to some of the “natural” rythms of IATI. For instance, discussions are much more intense ahead of TAG meetings, and that is often when we go back to older (unfinished) topics; there is usually more than 1 year between TAGs, so it is very possible that a topic will be dormant for over a year and then come back to life. In these cases, it is much easier to continue a thread (quoting from older responses etc) then having to refer back to an older one. Topics can also be dormant while awaiting follow up from the Tech Team; again, in these cases it makes more sense to leave the topic open until the issue comes to its conclusion.


(Josh Stanley) #3

Hi Yohanna,

Thanks for your response.

With regard to the date for commencing the clean-up, we are happy to push this back to 20th Feb to give the community ample time to offer their feedback.

In terms of the proposed 1 year window for closing topics that haven’t been replied to, please could you provide some examples of topics where there has been reply more than 12 months since the previous one, so that myself and the team can review these? This would help to determine whether simply referencing a closed topic is a feasible approach.

We are actually able to vary the ‘auto-close time’ between different categories, so if it makes more sense (for example) for topics in the Events category to be closed after a time-frame longer than 12 months, this is achievable.

Are there any other Categories where you think the 12 month auto-close time is not suitable?


(Andy Lulham) #4

Hi @JoshStanley! Welcome!

The default view sorts topics by “recently updated”. More recently updated topics are displayed first. So if a topic is dormant for a long time, it will naturally slip down the list.

Locking topics doesn’t remove them from the list of topics. It just stops people replying. So I’m unsure how locking will help solve the problem you’re looking to solve here.

(Mark Brough) #5

Hey @JoshStanley, welcome!

I also agree with @YohannaLoucheur that locking topics is generally a bad thing (I think auto locking is also really unhelpful), because it means you cannot post updates in context.

I understand that moving to archive would remove the existing categories on posts, which I think would make it harder to look back and find such posts again? So I think that would also be a bad idea.

But definitely keen on the tech team having a more active role in curation and engagement with the Discuss community! I wonder if another useful thing would be looking back and pulling together a list of seemingly important but unresolved discussion posts?

(Siem Vaessen) #6

Hi @JoshStanley, welcome!

Just recently I bumped a March 2015(!) discussion on licensing which became relevant. One could argue linking should be sufficient for that case, having the ability to bump via a reply still makes sense. Could you not create a sub-category 'Inactive’ where +12 months old post automatically disappear to? That way, users could still interact with them.

Old topics may resurface as relevant in a new context. Closing them sounds like a waste and kind of discouraging tbh.

(Josh Stanley) #7

Hi all,

Having considered the above replies, it seems that there is not an appetite for the archiving/closing of topics, so we will shelf that plan for now.

However, we still feel that there could be some improvements to how easy on the eye Discuss is!

Firstly (and the stats I posted earlier in the discussion bear this out), there are a number of sub-categories which have hardly any posts in them, and are rarely (if ever) used.

I would welcome everyone’s thoughts on which sub-categories (we are happy that the main categories should stay as they are) could be merged into another, or removed altogether?

Would a ‘Miscellaneous’ sub-category be useful for topics which don’t naturally sit in the larger sub-categories that we decide to keep?

My second suggestion would be that we change the ‘home-page’ for the site to the ‘Categories’ tab, instead of the ‘Latest’ tab. I feel that the structured lay-out of the Categories tab looks much less cluttered and daunting to a casual/infrequent visitor than the Latest tab, and of course anyone could add a short-cut to the Latest tab anyway!

Looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts.


(Josh Stanley) #8

Hi all,

You will now see that when you first navigate to Discuss, the homepage displays the Categories, as well as the latest discussions.

As above, I think this makes the site look alot more structured than if you land on the Latest tab.

Hope this works for everybody!