Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Techno-quette => Topic started by: CakeEater on June 02, 2012, 02:47:43 AM

Title: Dredging up old threads
Post by: CakeEater on June 02, 2012, 02:47:43 AM
I belong to a craft-specific forum which has a page for threads with newest comments. There is currently a new member who is also very new to the craft who is obviously doing a lot of back-reading in the forums. Good idea - I certainly read a lot of old threads when I joined. Except new member is commenting on lots of old threads.

Sometimes when people comment on old threads, it's to give updates on situations, or to ask a new but related question. However new member is just making observations on long-resolved situations, or adding her opinion to debates that are long-finished, or even offering advice to posters on threads that are years old.

Obviously it's annoying me a bit, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's rude. I don't think it's top notch forum etiquette, though. What do you think?
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: Corvid on June 02, 2012, 03:10:16 AM
I see this in another forum that I check in on and, in the case of that particular forum, at least, I think it's ridiculous.  There's been a huge turnover of regulars participating there so when someone does this, they're talking to people who haven't been there for years.

Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: Lynn2000 on June 02, 2012, 09:09:10 AM
I guess it doesn't seem rude to me, unless they're bringing up hurtful threads that people wish could be forgotten--like if a thread contained a bitter disagreement about techniques which all the established members have moved on from, agreeing to disagree and dropping the subject. Seeing that pop up at the top of the "unread posts since last visit" list (to use the language from our own forum) might irritate quite a lot of people, bring up bad feelings, and start the debate once again. Even then I would guess the new person isn't so much rude/malicious as clueless.

Occasionally on here I've seen people respond to a thread they found, without realizing it started and ended years ago (probably done it myself!). Sometimes another member will add the next post in that thread, saying something like, "Hi, welcome to the forum! Just so you know, this thread was started in 2007. I think BeadLover10 resolved her issue, but if you'd like to discuss the topic again/ask your own question, you could start a new thread."
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: Two Ravens on June 02, 2012, 09:27:22 AM
Aw, zombie threads. Yes, they can be annoying. I for one have been reading a thread, found one post and thought "I totally agree with this" and then realize I actually wrote it years ago (I guess its better than thinking I was an idiot.  ::))

Maybe someone could PM the newbie and let her know this is generally frowned upon?
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: artk2002 on June 02, 2012, 11:20:29 AM
Ah Necromancers. One blog I frequent just changed software and it now locks threads older than a few months, so that people can't revive them.
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: Yvaine on June 02, 2012, 11:27:23 AM
Aw, zombie threads. Yes, they can be annoying. I for one have been reading a thread, found one post and thought "I totally agree with this" and then realize I actually wrote it years ago (I guess its better than thinking I was an idiot.  ::))

I've actually done this on here!  ;D There's some post, somewhere on the forum, where I tell the same anecdote twice about 2 years apart. I think a lot of thread necromancy is completely accidental; you're reading old threads and reply, forgetting that you were digging in the old threads in the first place.
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: squeakers on June 02, 2012, 11:39:57 AM
Ah Necromancers. One blog I frequent just changed software and it now locks threads older than a few months, so that people can't revive them.

A forum I belong to does the same thing except instead of locking the thread completely you are greeted by a Reaper who advises you that "this is an old and dead thread, do you really need to post to it or should you make a new thread?"  Because sometimes there is new info to be added (game maker finally fixed a glitch, celebrity discussed died, murderer confesses etc.)
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: O'Dell on June 02, 2012, 12:01:50 PM
My understanding is that "necroposting" is considered rude per techno-quette. It will likely taper off once the newbie is done reading the old threads. If you want to give her some friendly advice that it's better to start new threads if she wants discussion rather than bringing old stale threads to the top.
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: Venus193 on June 02, 2012, 12:13:16 PM
I have seen this at delphooey in a popular forum as a troll move.  The remedy was very unpleasant.
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: jaxsue on June 02, 2012, 12:53:50 PM
I don't like zombie threads. They should stay dead and buried - the only exception is if the OP has a vital update.
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: TheVapors on June 02, 2012, 01:13:25 PM
Thread necromancy. I can't say rude, but I would say (depending on the forum setting) it's in bad taste. More often pointless and annoying rather than rude.

Perhaps I'd call it a foruming faux pas.

I know that the few places I frequent it makes no sense to dredge up old threads, because the information was so long passed that things either have changed since the post was made, or the situation has already been resolved/forgotten.

I think that when new people do it, they either don't think about how the threads are years old, or they want to feel as though they are participating when they don't feel they can quite yet add anything to any newer threads.

I like the idea of software that would automatically close threads after a certain length of time. Or even a general sticky on the forum that requests people not necro unless it's to add some vital information.
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: MariaE on June 02, 2012, 03:26:24 PM
I think it depends a lot on the thread. If for some reason the "Special Snowflake" should go into hibernation for a couple of years (unlikely, I know ;) )  then I don't think it would be rude to revive it to post a new story. But the examples in the OP seem off.
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: CakeEater on June 02, 2012, 03:37:38 PM
Well, she's at it again this morning. Gave advice on a non-payment situation on a thread started two years ago, contradicted a very established and helpful member's advice to someone else on a new thread, and started a new thread complaining about the number of stickies in the forums, and that 'everyone hates stickies on all the other forums she's on'.

Will wait and see how long it takes for one of the very long-standing members to say something.
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: TootsNYC on June 02, 2012, 04:11:27 PM
Aw, zombie threads. Yes, they can be annoying. I for one have been reading a thread, found one post and thought "I totally agree with this" and then realize I actually wrote it years ago (I guess its better than thinking I was an idiot.  ::))

I've had this happen to me!

Quote
Maybe someone could PM the newbie and let her know this is generally frowned upon?


I wouldn't say, "let her know this is generally frowned upon"--that sort of unsolicited advice, especially if worded that way, is not that well received. I know; I just received a "you're doing it wrong" PM from someone at a forum I'm on, and I did not appreciate it at all.

You might have better luck if the tone is, "Hey, I noticed that you've been commenting on a lot of the threads, and I wondered if maybe you didn't realize how old they are," but I think you still run a risk of alienating her. That's unsolicited advice.

And I do like the comment that Lynn2000 suggested (and I think a public welcome like that is better than a PM):

Quote
Sometimes another member will add the next post in that thread, saying something like, "Hi, welcome to the forum! Just so you know, this thread was started in 2007. I think BeadLover10 resolved her issue, but if you'd like to discuss the topic again/ask your own question, you could start a new thread."

A similar wording could be used in PM--but please don't chastise or "advise" people via PM.

Otherwise, I think you just wait for it to die down. New people sometimes have trouble fitting into the group--they'll probably get it eventually.

One of the things that happens on a forum is that people may consider it to be a resource. So a thread on non-payment may pop up on a search for someone, and her advice might actually be relevant. (In some situations like that, I might have started my comment with, "I know this is old, but I had a thought that might be useful to someone who comes to this thread later." Or I've added a comment like that to the thread right behind the newbie, much as Lynn suggested.
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: blarg314 on June 02, 2012, 08:45:46 PM

It might be worth emailing a mod, and commenting that there has a been a problem with zombie threads recently, is there a possibility of locking threads that have been inactive for a certain period?

I do think that deliberately resurrecting zombie threads is generally rude, first because it clutters up the forum with things that older users have already responded to, and second because once a thread is resurrected, people tend to respond to it without noticing that it's old, so it keeps spiralling on.

It's different when an old thread is brought active for a genuinely new update, particularly by the OP. But if old threads are locked, they can always start a new post and link to the old one.

I'm on one forum where this is an issue due to the forum setup. At the bottom of a thread page it lists "Related Topics", but doesn't filter by date. So you look at it, see an interesting post, click on it, don't realize it's from ten years ago, and accidentally bring it back to life.
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: MasterofSquirrels on June 02, 2012, 09:52:25 PM
Toots,
I would have to say, I think the opposite as you.  On this forum, I have noticed posters will tell a new poster to put in paragraph breaks, not use ellipses, or even the proper way to use the quote feature all "in thread". A PM can offer the same advice without the embarrassment of being "called out" in public.  Of course it needs to be worded gently and not preachy. I think a PM can be a nice way to explain an issue without causing any embarrassment.
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: stargazer on June 02, 2012, 10:05:20 PM
Toots,
I would have to say, I think the opposite as you.  On this forum, I have noticed posters will tell a new poster to put in paragraph breaks, not use ellipses, or even the proper way to use the quote feature all "in thread". A PM can offer the same advice without the embarrassment of being "called out" in public.  Of course it needs to be worded gently and not preachy. I think a PM can be a nice way to explain an issue without causing any embarrassment.

Agreed.  Advice is sometimes best sent in a PM so the poster isn't "called out" in a thread, derailing it. 
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: whatsanenigma on June 02, 2012, 10:08:32 PM
What can also make this confusing is that often, new members to an online community are urged to read over the former postings, to see what's already been discussed so they don't start new threads for ongoing discussions.  Sometimes, it's even said straight out that if there is an ongoing discussion, new posts about it should go there instead of making a new thread...but then there ends up being an "unspoken rule" about how old that old thread can be before starting a new one is allowed.

And, of course, it kind of depends on the topics of the threads and the intent of a forum.  If the thread is like most threads here, where the topic is "This specific poster is posting about a specific problem he or she is having and wants advice" then after a certain amount of time, the dead thread really should stay that way, unless the OP comes back.  There is just no point.

But OTOH, if it's like some threads here in the sense that the topic is general and can be ongoing, then there is no reason why it can't be "brought back to life" if someone has a new idea.  Such as, a thread about a movie title might get started: "What do you all think of movie XYZ", right when the movie comes out.  Somebody doesn't get to see "Movie XYZ" until 6 months after the initial thread has stopped getting posts, but decides to read and post something anyway, and the discussion gets reopened.  No problem there.

What's really concerning me about the newcomer in the OP, though, is not so much that she's navigating this difficult area, possibly with less than desirable results.  It's the information in the update.  I fear that that is what will make her difficult to deal with and I hope it all works out well.
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: Instantkarma on June 02, 2012, 10:12:49 PM
Toots,
I would have to say, I think the opposite as you.  On this forum, I have noticed posters will tell a new poster to put in paragraph breaks, not use ellipses, or even the proper way to use the quote feature all "in thread". A PM can offer the same advice without the embarrassment of being "called out" in public.  Of course it needs to be worded gently and not preachy. I think a PM can be a nice way to explain an issue without causing any embarrassment.

Agreed.  Advice is sometimes best sent in a PM so the poster isn't "called out" in a thread, derailing it.
I agree too much kinder to point it out in pm then in a thread and less distracting
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: BabylonSister on June 03, 2012, 01:02:23 PM
In my experience, different forums have different rules re: old threads. Most forums frown upon necroing, but the other forum I attend prefers to not be cluttered with a lot of threads and if a discussion is started on a topic that was discussed recently, the new thread will be locked or merged into the old one. Necroing over there is not particularly discouraged. Maybe it's because it's not a "help me with this situation" forum, but one about a specific interest.
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: AdakAK on June 04, 2012, 09:12:09 AM
I wouldn't say, "let her know this is generally frowned upon"--that sort of unsolicited advice, especially if worded that way, is not that well received. I know; I just received a "you're doing it wrong" PM from someone at a forum I'm on, and I did not appreciate it at all.

Even long term posters can sometimes do things wrong.  I can understand that the knee-jerk reaction is to not appreciate it, no one enjoys being wrong!  I think it's a kindness, especially for those who have been someplace long enough where they are known, to send it via PM.  That way we are able to quietly look again at our post(s).  I know if I received a PM saying a post I had written was somehow wrong from someone I 'knew' here (vs someone brand new to the forum), even if it upset me I'd give it a bit to calm down and then reread my message.  It's likely that there's some truth to it. 

The person from the OP may be new to forums, or new to forums that frown on bringing up new threads.  I might focus on a few where the OP isn't a member of the forum anymore, and let them know that Forum has a fairly high turnover so people she's posting to on old threads aren't ignoring her, they're gone.  You could say that typically threads that are a month/6 month/year out of date aren't posted to anymore since it's likely that a lot of the original posters/commentors are not members anymore. 

edited to fix quote
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: pierrotlunaire0 on June 04, 2012, 10:07:45 AM
Well, speaking as one who did recently resurrect an old (one year) thread, I think it depends on the kind of thread.  I see nothing wrong if the thread is one in which we share experiences with a common theme.  The one I resurrected was the one asking if people had had experiences which led them to leave a smaller tip.  I recently had had a very poor experience in a restaurant, and so I deliberately posted there, although I did mention that I was pulling up an old thread.  Since those threads have no "resolution," I think that periodically resuming them is not a bad thing.  Kind of like re listening to the classics.

But one with a specific issue, and that has reached its end needs to lie in peace.  I don't see it as rude, necessarily.  But on those, I do have a tendency to think, "Oh, not that one again."
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: LifeOnPluto on June 04, 2012, 10:26:05 PM
I agree that it depends on the type of thread. If the OP was posting about a very specific matter, then giving them advice three years later seems rather silly. In that case, I don't think it hurt if a "regular" sent her a private message gently letter her know that the matter was likely to have been resolved a long time ago!

On the other hand, if it's a general-type thread, (such as "When do you leave a smaller tip?") I don't think she's being rude to add her comments. (Although I can see how it would be a bit annoying to other posters if the forums get "clogged" with such zombie threads.)
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: Klein Bottle on June 05, 2012, 11:31:00 PM
On some forums to which I belong, it seems like you just can't win.

If a person, usually a newb, starts a new thread about a topic which has already been discussed, they get told to UTSE, (with a couple additional letters added,of course),  :P, but if they pull up an old thread discussing the topic, they get accused of necroing and chastised for it.

I have not personally seen that it's much of a problem on our forum here either way, however.

On the gaming forum my son moderates, it seems preferred that a new thread be started.  I guess every forum has its own culture/written or unwritten rules.  I like the idea of locking threads past a certain expiry date;that solves the problem nicely.
Title: Re: Dredging up old threads
Post by: rachellenore on June 06, 2012, 01:59:55 PM
I am sick to death of necro rule mongers. Some forums are so strict one way or the other. One I go on does not allow any new threads to be made about a topic, regardless if it's been 6 years and the OP isn't even around anymore. Another will give you a warning for a 3-month-old necro even if the thread is still on the first page!

If a person started a thread and is still present on the forum, it shouldn't count as a necro. If the OP got banned or hasn't been seen in 3 years, then make a new thread.