Consider not being so quick to close threads

THIS IS NOT A CRITICISM OF MODERATION!!

I offer this as a suggestion for the powers that be to consider revising the policy on closing threads.

Threads are really conversations on a series of topics. Given that CC wants to increase usage, it seems to me a primary goal would be to encourage conversations.

If an OP goes away, but the conversation continues, what’s the harm?

If the conversation meanders a bit, what’s the harm?

If an old thread is revived because someone wants to post on that topic, what benefit is there to closing the thread and making them start a new one? (The downside is that very likely they won’t start the new thread, and their participation will accordingly drop).

I have made this point before: CC needs to ENCOURAGE people to post and share their thoughts. Prematurely closing threads SHUTS DOWN conversation, exactly, I would think, what you don’t want.

So here’s my plea to leave (nonheated!) threads open.

@CCadmin_Jon

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This is an excellent post. I’d like to add my perspective.

As a moderator, and with the move to the new platform, we have had to close a LOT of old threads.

So why do we close old threads? Many reasons:
The original poster hasn’t been active or even logged in for months or years.
The thread was started years ago.
The thread is so old that there isn’t any context for a new comment.
So many other reasons…

What happens is that someone does a search, find a thread, doesn’t look at the date, and adds a comment. Others don’t realize right away that it’s an old thread. Eventually, someone flags it, we are alerted, and then we close it. CC is working to resolve the issue of long-closed threads from being reopened.

Sometimes old threads are pinned because they continue to be relevant as time goes on and people keep adding useful or relevant info to them.

Some threads are closed because posts are repeatedly flagged. We will try to keep them on track. If that doesn’t work, we will close the thread.

Some threads are closed because maybe the OP has a specific and valid reason for wanting them closed. That isn’t common though.

Some threads are closed because the OP does a “hit and run” and/or is there using a duplicate account, not revealing their true identity.

Sometimes threads are closed and then reopened.

As you can see, there are many different scenarios. To address your concern of non-heated threads remaining open, many users aren’t aware that a thread did become heated and posts were flagged and deleted or edited. At some point, it becomes unmanageable. Leaving threads open when it’s a hit and run poster, or a duplicate account, isn’t ideal, especially when the original post asked a question that was long since answered.

One of the best ways to keep a thread going is for the person who posted it to respond. Provide feedback, ask questions, keep the dialogue rolling. The most productive threads tend to happen when the original poster (OP) is an active participant in the thread.

Hopefully this addresses some of your concerns.

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You should definitely reopen the Yale Clam Fart thread that was closed last week. It is many years old, but a classic. I never would have seen it if someone hadn’t posted on it last week. I laughed my a** off. It’s as timely now as it was when it was originally posted - maybe more so. It should be required reading for every student and parent on CC.

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I can’t quote on my phone (erm, annother suggestion to fix!). Thanks for your detailed reply. It’s really the scenarios in your 1st paragraph about why threads are closed that I’m talking about.

Specifically – if the OP hasn’t been active or logged on. But, so what? If the conversation continues, why do we need the OP to continue to participate? Isn’t it enough that the conversation continues even if the OP doesn’t? Similarly, if a thread was started some time ago, becomes inactive, and then is reactivated – where’s the harm? (Sure, a 20 year old thread is probably out of date, but even then the topic could be so general that it doesn’t matter. I keep going back to: where’s the harm? Your audience is fairly discerning-- give us credit that we’ll figure out if a thread is old, or too outdated. So I see little downside to keeping threads open, and a bigger downside – stifling conversation-- to closing them.

Examples of what I’m talking about: Partying at Boarding Schools (thread only a year old, information absolutely not out of date), and the Frat Disaster thread. That thread’s a good example for me, because I have 3 sons. Thankfully none have been involved in an incident like that described in the thread, so I’m not starting a new thread on the topic. But why not let the conversation continue? Lots of us can learn from it.

Anyway, thank you for what you do, I know moderation is a tough job, and we only see the tip of the iceberg. I am just thinking it wouldn’t be a bad thing for whoever sets the policies to stop and think about CC’s end goal, and whether modifying some of these policies might be in CC’s interest.

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Hahaha, that thread is hilarious, but yes, VERY old. So old that the kid submitted a paper application, shock horror! If we left that thread open, it would probably end up at the top of Latest Posts for years to come. Don’t worry, that thread is pretty regularly mentioned here on CC. If you google clam fart, the top option is the link you posted.

Just saw your latest reply @cinnamon1212 . I’ll be interested to see Jon’s response.

We get a LOT of requests from people asking for their thread/comment to be deleted. So many people post, forget they posted, a random person responds, and suddenly the thread is up and running again. I guess eventually, the OP sees an email notice that there is a comment on a post that has been long forgotten and the person has been out of college for 5 years. It doesn’t make any sense to leave a thread open in that case.

One important reason is that the older a thread is, the more likely it is to have info that is now inaccurate or irrelevant. And we, as moderators, don’t have time to read every old thread to determine whether or not it is still relevant in 2021.

Also, we like having new conversations, not just rehashing really old ones. Every thread that gets commented on bumps another thread further down the list. It’s good to have fresh threads appearing. Example, an old thread, originally created three years ago, naturally died out, just like the dinosaurs. People moved on to another thread. It isn’t that the thread was deliberately closed in the first place. Most threads on the old platform were automatically closed after a certain amount of time or inactivity. So why bother to keep commenting on a thread that doesn’t need any kind of response, because it’s old?

In regards to the frat thread you mentioned, numerous posts were flagged, edited, deleted, etc…and the original poster was not responding but had indeed been on the site. The OP had many useful responses and the thread began to diverge in an unpleasant way. Often, when a topic diverges from the original thread, we will split those comments into a new thread. Such was not the case with the thread in question.

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Okay, so I agree there are good reasons to close down threads, but when the reason is something like “The OP appears to have gone away”??

This has happened recently to a couple threads I was following pretty closely because I was learning new stuff in the discussion that the OP started—and then suddenly, bang! No more learning.

And the original post in this thread isn’t requesting for threads to not be closed, it’s asking for them to not be closed quite so precipitously—it isn’t a binary choice between closing threads and not closing them. And yeah, those of us participating don’t necessarily get to see what’s going on in the background, but maybe that’s a communication issue rather than a problem with the threads themselves?

(Very seriously, though, I’d like to request that of all the reasons I’ve ever seen for closing a thread, the OP going away shouldn’t ever be the primary rationale for doing so if there’s an active and civil discussion still going on.)

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As mentioned, threads have closed because the OP is a duplicate account holder or is a fake poster (maybe they don’t technically go away, but they have no intention of returning). So maybe there is a legitimate conversation taking place with users who are not aware that they are talking to a fake. That is a valid reason for closing a thread because TOS state duplicate accounts are not allowed. A great thing about the new platform is that it makes the moderator’s job of spotting fake or duplicate accounts a bit easier. Usually when that happens, the thread is closed without comment.

We are humans too, btw. We try to use our best judgment based on the situation. If enough people really want a thread to be reopened (that’s happened) it can be considered.

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I agree that it would be nice to see threads not get closed so often. I understand when it’s an old thread, but it seems like since the switch to the new site a lot of threads are closed because a moderator feels like it’s boring discussion or run it’s course. Often I am quietly following the thread because I find the topic interesting, but I don’t want to comment.

An example is a thread on the U Chicago board about which boarding schools send the most people to UC and what it means about UC’s prestige. I get that it’s a silly discussion, but I found a lot of the data posted interesting. Seems like leaving active was harming no one.

Anyway, it would be great if y’all could leave them open. Thanks.

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I am a relatively new member here. From my past experiences, it is evident that not every member is treated equally in this forum. For example, when some members deviate from the main topic, that’s perfectly fine in my opinion, a moderator says, " … can we return to the original question?". But for some members, messages get deleted immediately without a request.

Here is one recent example:

I saw this thread ( Are there any party boarding schools? - #10 by Penguins75) and responded to it earlier today. I guess it was against the forum rules to reply to a post after a year! As soon as I posted, the thread got locked, and my post was deleted without any explanations! So I create a new post now. Who knows, maybe this will be deleted too!

“Based on the forum rules and out of respect for moderators”, my posting was edited and the above part was deleted. I mean, really?

I was just debating whether to post with a similar suggestion, about closing old threads. I know when “the change” happened, all the old closed threads were no longer locked. In a lot of cases it seems perfectly appropriate to relock them - maybe they were talking about college choices for a kid who’s now graduated, or the situation has clearly resolved, or there’s outdated information.

But some things it seems like there’s no harm, and maybe some benefit, from leaving them open. One example I noticed was an old Book Club thread, where the book had been recently made into a movie, and someone posted to note that. Then it got re-closed. Another was where someone posted about some obscure bar in I-forget-where. That seems like the kind of thing that doesn’t need closing. If someone posts and generates interest, fine. If nobody replies, it will just drop down in the list again and no harm done.

Just my opinion based on what I’ve been seeing over the last couple of months.

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If your post was violating a rule of the Terms of Service, then yes, editing your post is necessary. Your initial post was probably posted right when the post was closed. A mod then saw your post and deleted it because the post was closed. We don’t always provide an explanation when a post is deleted. BTW, I was not a moderator on the post in question and I don’t know the context.

A thread got closed today right after I commented, the reason given that the OP hasn’t commented since early December. I didn’t really believe that - I just assumed that moderator didn’t like what I had to say. I guess I just learned that maybe this isn’t the the best forum for folks like me, at least to comment. Since I am not a moderator doing any of the work, that’s OK. I can still look and read and learn a few things. This will probably be my last comment though (message received).

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My post posted then the thread was closed. Also, can you explain how the italic part I posted above is violating the rule of Term of Service? I mean even that much of feedback is seen as being disrespectful according to “Out of respect for both moderators and policies, discussion of moderator actions and forum policies is welcomed via private message or e-mail; these issues are off-topic for the forums.”?Really?

I don’t know, as I have no context for any of it. I suggest getting in touch via pm with the moderator who was handling it if you want more info.

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I simply gave all the context and explanations I received from the moderator via PM.

@Lindagaf I think you do a great job! I would hate for this thread to devolve into a back and forth between us and moderators, because I don’t actually think that’s what the dynamic should be. I do think the moderators are just applying the rules that the Admins set – the moderators don’t themselves make the rules. So my plea is to the Admins to consider altering the policies on closing threads.

Also I’d echo what @dfbdfb said, which is that I absolutely understand there are times that threads should be closed.

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Omg, I saw your post and was about to comment that the OP was posting in other groups so he either did not get into that school or if he got in couldn’t afford to go so applied elsewhere. But when I went to respond, I couldn’t understand why the thread was closed. That was a relevant thread to others, and people often want updates for other people to see what’s been going on, I too wondered for what reason that forum was closed as it was not old at all.

that was a classic thread!!!

Let me start by saying I appreciate this sentiment. And I completely agree that encouraging real conversations is an important part of our goal.

Some background that many users might not know: on the old platform threads were closed after 6 months of inactivity. That didn’t transfer to the new platform, so there are ~27k topics that are open now which weren’t in November. The vast majority are topics that are no longer relevant to anyone. It isn’t helpful to talk about the chances a person will get into a school when they’ve been out of college for years. We have a plan to close those old threads automatically and I don’t see any reason to leave most of them open.

This is, of course, a classic. It’s almost a rite of passage when someone new to the company rediscovers it. I’m so glad it brings people joy. It’s also from 2008. Closing that thread doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Nor does it mean you can’t talk about it in a new thread. All it means is that the thread is encased in amber for future generations to read.

The thread was revived by someone with the screen name “cLaMFaRtZ4LIFE”. I’m just going to postulate that this person is not interested in real discussion of the topic. :wink:

That’s like when someone turns off the lights while other people are still in the room. When that happens, it seems fine to speak up and let the energy-conscious person know they were over eager. :slight_smile: Seems like the best choice is to flag the thread and ask for it to be re-opened. Stuff like this happens and it doesn’t have to be the end of the, um, thread.

I’m sympathetic to keeping threads open longer, but I do think sometime off-topic or antique threads do more harm than good. Sometimes I look at other sites where people discuss college admissions and I see comments about CC. For instance, this conversation on the A2C subreddit. I’m proud to be working with a community known for honesty. But I worry about intimidating teenagers who just want help making the best decisions about their future.

I guess I’d like to suggest that talking about someone who is no longer on the site or diverging into off-topic areas might discourage lurkers from starting on-topic threads about their current situation. If that could happen to someone else’s thread, it could happen to mine.

Wait, this is an option?!

For future reference, what would be the best way to do this? Would that involve using the flag on the last post in the thread, or something else?