Auto-close topics after some period of time?

Lately I’ve been seeing an increasing number of years old topics resuscitated by necro posts. Although this can make sense, I’d much prefer a new topic linking to or quoting from the old topic when it is more than a year old. Allowing discussions from different points in time to be referenced independently is helpful to see how viewpoints and decisions change over time. Many things were different in 2014 than they are today.

To this end, I propose we enable the Discourse setting to auto-close topics after a certain amount of time. I’d suggest 1 year to give plenty of leeway, but prevent new discussion hundreds of posts down on a 10 year old topic. It looks like there is also a setting to ensure that the last post meets the time threshold. This could also be enabled if there are topics that truly are active for longer than a year.

There have been a couple of necroposts to old forum topics, but has it been that much of a problem?

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It has not been a huge problem, but in the cases where it has happened I find it unhelpful. For example I’d find it much clearer if this post 8 years later had been a new topic linking to the old topic. Then it would be clearer that time zones were discussed in 2016, and then again in 2024. If auto-closing topics is not agreeable, perhaps moderators could split topics manually when this happens.

I am in favor of continuing old threads. IMHO more often than not, the arguments are the same as they were 5 or also 10 years ago. I never understood the idea of closing old threads just because they are “old”.

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Arguably that applies to regular forum posts, but when it comes to questions and answers you can guarantee that a technical answer from 10 years ago won’t be valid. This was/is a real issue with the OSM help site from time to time. It’s also an issue with StackOverflow sites - a quick test with a fairly vanilla question (“linux efi boot”) brings up answers from 6, 8 and 10 years ago. Not necessarily “wrong” but surely missing caveats and nuances that are relevant now but were not then.

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The mailing lists have no problem resuscitating topics with the same arguments, even though threads are effectively closed at the beginning of every month (or however a given list is spooled). One reason people almost never necropost is that other subscribers would find it almost impossible to look up the original thread.

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And some StackOverflow posts from 5-10 years ago are the top Google results when looking for an answer to a question that people still ask today.

It’s helpful when there is a reply that says “actually it’s 2024 now and you would do it this and this way”.

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Perhaps that would be most universal considering those resurrected discussions occur rarely.

For situations where users would benefit from new messages it being split to new thread, I believe any (regular?) user could click on :black_flag: icon below necro-post and choose “Something Else” to suggest to moderators to split the thread at that location to a new one

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Please do not auto-close old threads after some period of time – at least in the subcategories for Germany and Austria. We do have long threads that get updates from time to time. For example, if we have a long living vandal with lots of sockpuppets, it makes sense to keep the whole discussion together.

Some (experienced) users tend to reactivate old topics but this can be handled by moderators better and more precisely than a simple timeout can. Please leave this decision to the moderators.

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It might be nice if we could make the “n months later” text that Discourse includes when a new post is made to an idle thread more prominent in some way (though obviously one can go overboard with that sort of stuff too), and if opening a thread that started months or years ago if there were a prominent notice at the top (rather than just hoping one notices the date on the first post). I’ve seen those sort of things work in other forums, though I don’t know if I have on a Discourse-based one.

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