"Sunken" threads

LostInTranslationLostInTranslation UKMember Posts: 5,520
edited May 2012 in Forum Operation
I understand that sometimes when a particular thread is deemed to be irrelevant that the Mods "sink" it so that even when a new comment is posted, that thread is then not bumped back up. However, I have just tried to resurrect a thread that I think is interesting (as I've been told that if I want to read interesting discussions, I have to be pro-active about this) but it hasn't been bumped.
( http://www.bricksetforum.com/discussion/1794/greatest-minifig-of-all-time#Item_4 )

Has this been deliberately sunk? In future, could the Mods/Admin maybe indicate somewhere when they have sunk a thread and give their reasons for doing so, otherwise either I'm going to be wasting my time trying to bring back interesting (to me anyway) threads or wasting your time by duplicating threads that you believe should be discouraged.
Maybe in this case it is a bug, but either way, some info would be appreciated.


  • atkinsaratkinsar Member Posts: 4,272
    edited December 2011
    It was sunk, but I have just unsunk it to see if it can spark some interesting debate, so go ahead and contribute, it should now be bumped.

    I will raise the question of indicating and explaining reasons for sinking threads with the staff.
  • LostInTranslationLostInTranslation UKMember Posts: 5,520
    Cool, thanks Andy.
    If nothing else, I think it would only be polite to those people who start the threads for them to be informed that their thread is being sunk, and why.

    Feel free to sink this one now :)
  • LegoboyLegoboy 100km furtherMember Posts: 8,702
    ....but before you do!!

    As naive as I might be at times, I didn't even though what the 'sunk' feature was until this morning.

    Other than for commercial reasons or if it was a contentious topic and was in the forum's interest for it to slowly disappear, I can't think why a thread would ever be sunk. 'Closed' yes but not sunk. If a thread is no longer of interest to the users, would it not just find its way to the bottom of the list and eventually disappear anyway?
  • YellowcastleYellowcastle Member Posts: 4,401
    Just for an overview...

    With our new "split/merge" capabilities, we rarely need to close threads these days. If they're duplicative, we simply merge them into existing threads. If existing threads go seriously off topic, we simply split the tangent into a new thread.

    The "sink" feature is really a misnomer as it would be better named "don't rise.". If there were no activity, it would remain exactly where it began. But with new threads and new activity on existing threads, it gradually loses ground. People, however, can still follow it and post in it ad nauseum.
  • LostInTranslationLostInTranslation UKMember Posts: 5,520
    edited December 2011
    If there were no activity, it would remain exactly where it began. But with new threads and new activity on existing threads, it gradually loses ground.
    Ok... so I guess mine and Flump's point is, "why even bother to mark it as 'don't rise'?"
    If it's not so irrelevant as to merit closing, then surely it's just kinder and easier to let nature take its course, but leave the option open for people (like me!) to resurrect at a later date without having to make a fuss? :) If there's still no interest then fair enough.
  • YellowcastleYellowcastle Member Posts: 4,401
    ^ Well, you see, I was trying to avoid your question. :o)

    As Andy said, we'll definitely discuss it's usage. That being said, I want you to know that I personally feel it's a valuable moderating tool in that it gives us options. I would equate it to a jury trial where the DA charges a defendant with both murder and manslaughter. Without the secondary charge, you're going to see an increase in both acquittals and murder convictions. Personally, I like having the option of sending a borderline thread to minimum security prison with a chance at parole. :o)
  • LostInTranslationLostInTranslation UKMember Posts: 5,520
    @yellowcastle: I'm sorry but I don't understand your latter point.
    As I read it, "murder" = closing the thread, and "manslaughter" = sinking it, but how does marking something not to rise accomplish anything that isn't achieved by just letting it sink naturally, especially if the people involved in the thread aren't even told why it's not getting bumped? Your phrase "chance at parole" presumably means if someone asks to unsink a thread (like I did) then it may be resurrected. Surely this just means more hassle for you guys?

    I'm glad you're going to discuss it, and I'd just also like to point out that if there really are certain topics you don't want discussed here, maybe @Huw needs to change this tagline:
    "Get more out of Brickset
    Visit our thriving discussion forum to discuss all things LEGO-related!" (emphasis mine)
  • LegogeekLegogeek Orange County, CaliforniaMember Posts: 711
    I know I've lost track of several discussions because of this (and because I didn't flag them).
    It's like someone decided, let's ignore it and maybe it'll go away.

    I totally agree with what @LostInTranslation and @flump6523 are saying.
    Letting a conversation die on it's own accord is one thing, but deliberately "holding it back" is really kind of unfair. It's like saying 'the topic is there, under that pile of papers, so you can try to find it if you want' - what makes it even worse is the current lack of functionality of the search feature.

    I can understand that perhaps the mods and admin see some sound reasoning for this, but to us members it comes across quite differently and troublesome... :o(
  • YellowcastleYellowcastle Member Posts: 4,401
    Not to sound like a broken record, but we are indeed trying to do something a little bit different here as collectors have mostly been underserved in the community. We are always open to revisit things and as such and IMO, the forum should always be considered a work in progress. But it would be a misnomer to think any and all LEGO topics are encouraged here because many may stray from this collecting ethos such as MOC showcasing while others may simply offer limited value and/or opportunities for discussion.

    With over 2,000 members, an accessible but somewhat rigid platform and hundreds of active discussions, it will be necessary at times to make administrative decisions so as to minimize clutter while guiding the ship in the direction we want to go.

    Unfortunately, that is about all I can add at this point. I realize it may not answer your questions but I hope it gives you a little more insight into our thought processes.
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,258
    The staff will discuss this; I agree with YC, however, that it gives us an option.

    Moderating is seldom black and white as some have insinuated. Sometimes there's a thread which, at face value, appears to be going nowhere, or which is in our opinion borderline inappropriate for other reasons. Without 'sink' we have no option but to close the thread. On occasion, however, such threads can be rescued by a couple of posts which, for instance, shift the emphasis, in which case we then have the option to unsink the thread, perhaps rename it, and remove it from limbo.

    So would people prefer instant closure of these borderline threads, or the use of discretion and a possible second chance ? Because if we stop sinking these threads then we'll just close them down. Like the example at the start of this thread, for instance. There would not have been a second chance for that one.

    And regarding providing a reason for sinking, it's almost invariably that the thread is, in the opinion of the staff, of dubious value or relevance. In an ideal world it'd be nice to be able to send a polite message to the poster explaining exactly why this is the case and respond to the challenges back that would result. Except that none of us do this full time, and as such it's probably not going to happen.

    So the reality is, if people don't like sinking then we'll most likely just default to closing threads down instead. Which seems a shame to me.
  • LostInTranslationLostInTranslation UKMember Posts: 5,520
    Obviously if you feel that removing this option will result in more closed threads then I am against that. I don't want more closures. I won't bore you by repeating my other points/suggestions in this respect.

    I have other comments to make but I won't go off at a tangent here. I'll mull them over, then either start a new thread or PM the relevant people.
  • georgebjonesgeorgebjones Member Posts: 224
    Aha! I wondered why that topic didn't get more responses. Thanks @LostInTranslation for identifying that. As the creator of a sunken thread, I agree it would be courteous to be notified of the "sinking" and perhaps some reasoning behind it. I have never really understood the "silent hand" approach to moderating, regardless of how prevalent it is. It seems like a contradiction. Moderation implies interaction. Closing or sinking threads without giving notification, reasons or reprimands is no interaction. Don't get me wrong, I am not offended, or upset, or intending to criticize, etc. I am merely stating how I do/don't understand moderation of internet forums. :)

    I, for one, would like to get a reason so I can take that into account when creating future topics. i.e. "We sank your topic because we have bricklists on the main site, don't put this garbage in the forum. :)" I know moderating a forum is difficult and time consuming and I wouldn't want to do it myself. I am thankful for the moderators and the forum and think you all do a great job.

    I know in one case, @Yellowcastle changed the title of one of my threads, and just dropped a comment in it to tell me what and why he did. I really appreciated that and it was very appropriate.
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,288
    Count me as another moderator that is in favor of the use of the 'sink' feature.

    My most common use of the 'sink' feature is when a discussion devolves into a conversation between just a few interested parties but is frequently updated. The 'most recently active' nature of the discussion list (which, in general, most people seem to like) will keep it at the top, where my contention is that it does not belong. Sinking it allows discussions to supplant it while keeping the discussion open so the participating parties may continue.

    Some examples would be marketplace threads for ongoing trades and an MOC-planning discussion. In both instances, the number of participants were small, but the updates were so frequent that the thread remained at or near the top of the global list.

    I do wish that the VanillaForums framework were better in certain aspects (more accurate search, ability to exclude categories from the 'all discussions list) so that sink were not needed or less intrusive, but until then, I remain convinced that sink should be a moderation option.
  • aplbomr79aplbomr79 Member Posts: 159
    Hmm... this is an interesting debate.

    I am an active member on numerous forums/sites (outside of the LEGO realm), and have run into the 'sink' method a few times. I understand that many discussions run dry/are argumentative/are soliloquize/redundant... and I always wondered why the admins deem a subject 'sinkable'.

    I apologize for my perspective, but I always adhere to allowing all parties participate (whether it be vocal or as an audience) in a constructive conversation. To 'sink' or suppress the conversation is a misnomer to an open forum.

    As an educator, I am always searching for the 'teachable moments' - experiences, conversations, happenstance - where there is a moment of brilliance that I can expound on. I also realize (through my years of teaching and coaching) that many times these 'moments' are nothing but dead-air. But even though these 'dead-air' moments arise, I allow them to be exactly what they are - and will continue my lecture/teaching after a subtle pause.

    I do realize that there are times where legalities come into play - but we are not discussing this here. We all realize (as mature adults) that legalities play a part in open forums - so I will digress.

    Why not allow discussions to prove themselves over the course of open conversation? Allow them to develop - or allow them to sink under their own weight. Brickset Forums has evolved into a platform that allows for this (with the numerous discussion categories), so why not let the unwashed masses decide what is not worthy of further discussion?

    This is just my humble perspective on 'open forums'. However, I do not direct my lectures or labs in this nature, so I expect it from other institutions/people/open forums (I know my prerogatives as an educator in a free-thinking bastion are influencing my reason).

    Sorry if I offended anyone... nope - I retract that, I am not sorry that I offended anyone.
  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Brickset's Secret HeadquatersMember Posts: 1,766
    Is there not an option to notify you when someone comments on the topic but you can always just turn it off if you don't want to know or if its a very active topic. So someone who wrote it can contribute to their discussion if people say something and not have to trawl through other stuff to find it.
  • LegogeekLegogeek Orange County, CaliforniaMember Posts: 711
    Is there not an option to notify you when someone comments on the topic but you can always just turn it off if you don't want to know or if its a very active topic. So someone who wrote it can contribute to their discussion if people say something and not have to trawl through other stuff to find it.
    If a person starts a topic, they are automatically notified if there are replies to it. People can also bookmark a topic. But if the purpose of a topic is to get new people involved, the fact that the topic is sunk is not likely to generate new contributors....

    @aplbomr79 - well said. And, I wasn't offended ;o)

    @rocao - in the case of those truely 'private type' of discussions that keep going, wouldn't it be better for a moderator to intervene and advise the commentors to move the discussion to PM (where those types of discussions should be in the first place)? Just a thought.

  • YellowcastleYellowcastle Member Posts: 4,401
    @Legogeek - Closing a thread such as the one you reference above is indeed the alternative option to sinking and if we were to ever discontinue the sink, that would indeed be the way to go. The sink, however, allows the thread to be revisited at a later point should the discussion rebound in such a way that the staff feels it should be moved to the top. Should that discussion be closed, it would never get that second chance.

    One thing to remember is that this function is used relatively infrequently so we are really expending more energy discussing it than is likely commensurate to its actual impact. That being said, I feel it is a valuable tool when administering this forum and would thus probably not support it's retirement.
  • LostInTranslationLostInTranslation UKMember Posts: 5,520
    @yellowcastle: it might seem to occur only rarely but it's happened twice in three weeks that I've tried to revisit a thread that was sunk...

    I'm also interested by your comment about unsinking a discussion if it takes a relevant turn: do you flag the sunken discussions so that you can track them and undo as appropriate?

    You've all sort of convinced me that you need to have this tool at your disposal, so all I'm really asking for now is for some kind of marker or indication that said tool has been used. I know I can bookmark discussions, but I'm interested in most discussions on here and I can't just bookmark all of them on the off-chance one might be sunk - I'd be inundated with notifications! :)

  • YellowcastleYellowcastle Member Posts: 4,401
    ^ Now you know how difficult it is for us to keep tabs on every discussion too. :o) To be honest, we just can't keep track of them all so we're reliant on the community to help alert us...whether it be a discussion going off the rails or a lagging discussion that needs another look.
  • LostInTranslationLostInTranslation UKMember Posts: 5,520
    ^ So basically I'm to continue pestering you if this crops up again?
    Ok boss, will do! :D
  • YellowcastleYellowcastle Member Posts: 4,401
    ^ Via PM :o)
  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Brickset's Secret HeadquatersMember Posts: 1,766
    @legogeek ah cool that helps. True its not going to encouage new people but can help you keep track of who your talking to and not seem rude or look like your ignoring someone
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