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You and a small group of friends are sitting around talking about the newest HDTV's. Someone mentions how great the ball game was on their set in HD. Another mentions they saw that game and thought the referee was an ass for making that horrible call that cost them the game. A side conversation starts between the two, while others continue their conversation about HDTV's.


In this senario, do you


a) continue your discussion about HDTV's while not paying attention to the others side talk


B) tell them to "stay on topic" or move away to another part of the room where you won't be bothered?


I've never seen choice b, unless the two start arguing so loud that it distracts the others. In fact, many would consider choice b as being rude.


So why is that people so quickly jump on the stay on topic in forums? Why must someone start a whole new thread if a couple of posts later the conversation is resolved. Is it that hard to scroll past something you don't want to read? Conversations branch off, it's natural. Maybe we can all agree to label an off topic post as OT so others know to ignore it.


Now I can see if numerous people joined in the 2nd conversation and it becomes too hard to pick the on topic posts out. Usually those are split off since enough people participating warranted it. But I tend to think some people jump on the "stay on topic" post too often. There are times I just want to comment on something that isn't part of the subject matter. Am I alone?

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So why is that people so quickly jump on the stay on topic in forums?

It is often times very easy to lose the point of the original discussion on a forum due to offshoot topics that appear regularly, Mike. Folks who click on said thread will invariably wonder why it's called "Playstation 2 goes online" when people have started discussing all kinds of other subjects that have little to do with the point of the thread. My question would be, why *NOT* branch off those "off-topic" discussions that derail a thread into it's own area? It's not something that needs done on every occasion (I see little problem with commenting on something off-topic in general), but in many instances it's the best course of action to take and in my opinion it allows for what would normally be a tangent item to become it's own organic discussion (hence benefitting everyone).


You said it best; conversations will inevitably branch out into other subjects. However, when these tangents become the focal point of a thread and no longer bare any relevance to the original topic of discussion, I see little reason to have to label posts "OT" when we can simply branch it off into it's own area and continue it undisturbed. The recent Xbox Next Rumormill thread is a perfect example of this. Discussion moved so far away from discussing the Xbox360 and it's features that it was a good time to branch it off and allow for the Dreamcast/GPU discussion to take it's own form.

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why *NOT* branch off those "off-topic" discussions that derail a thread into it's own area?

I figure sometimes the side conversation can resolve itself in a few posts so it wouldn't be worth the trouble.


My point is we seem to jump the gun well before the tangent becomes the focal point, that's all. I was hoping to elicit a bit more conversation from this post, but I guess not.

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My point is we seem to jump the gun well before the tangent becomes the focal point, that's all.

I suppose I'm curious in what instances Mike? If the recent Xbox Rumormill thread is an example, we let the "non-focal" point conversation go on for almost two pages before splitting it off into it's own thread. It wasn't being taken care of in a few posts. By that point we had several people asking for a split to get the conversation back on track.


Also worth mentioning is that I am not a fan of huge overbloated threads. I despise them in fact. I find they can be a task to read through and usually anyone wanting to jump onboard of a conversation would need to wade through pages and pages of conversation to do so. It's not something I personally enjoy and it's why we usually will close and restart a thread that borders on something like 400-500 posts and reference the original threads for anyone wanting to read through them. We do it regularly for the MMO posts in the computer area. I did it yesterday for the Xbox360 thread. The only threads we usually leave alone in that regard are game related threads like Forza (though we have at times in the past had multiple threads for multiple subjects).

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Off the top of my head, we started talking bits in the next gen gpu thread and you jumped in about that. I'm not trying to single you out, or LCVG for that matter. I'm talking about forums in general; you see alot of "stay on topic" posts when some people stray.


I wanted to see other peoples views, because when you compare it the senario I presented, it's seems overbearing to some extent. But I suppose the issue is we are mixing conversation and information together, so the rules of pure conversation go out the window.

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But I suppose the issue is we are mixing conversation and information together, so the rules of pure conversation go out the window.

That's a good point really and where some of the immediate "stay on topic" stuff comes from. It's difficult to get the flow of conversation in written word on a forum of course. General conversation amongst friends in a room moves so frequently and can change so suddently, it can ends up felling kind of all over the place when you read pages of discussion on any forum.

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I'm not sure your comparison (informal verbal conversation vs. forum thread) quite fits, Merlot.


An informal verbal conversation is an entirely organic and dynamic beast. Topics can come and go like the wind. The discussion may or may not ever go back to the original topic. There is no defined topic to an informal verbal conversation and people joining in on the conversation would have no idea what the original topic was if the current topic was different. To me, scenario b is rude as unless everyone agrees ahead of time to only discuss one thing, it should be expected that the conversation will go off on tangents. It is an informal conversation afterall.


A forum thread, on the other hand, is like a conference. The conference has a specific title/subject matter ("HDTVs and You") and conference-goers assume that is what will be discussed (much like threads and thread-readers). In this case, situation b should be applied. If someone wants to change the discussion to "Baseball and You", then they should make their own conference (thread). Forums also keep a running record of the discussion so it's not like someone seeing the thread for the first time has no idea what the original topic was. It's much easier for everyone to follow and participate in a thread discussion when the thread has a specific topic and everyone tries to follow it. Now I don't think we should be thread-nazis about being off-topic though but I think that's the thinking behind trying to keep things on-topic. :D

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