Auto-lock old evolution threads?

@Nicole_Jacque Is there a way to have a bot auto close threads just like big projects in github do it?

I'm on another Discourse forum that has topics set to close after a month or two of inactivity. This is a built-in feature of Discourse and can be enabled/disabled on a per-category basis:

Ok, is the general sentiment that we should do this for evolution threads, or all threads. I note that this conversation was reopened on a pretty old thread...

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My threshold for old is probably 12+ months. I would say all threads. I think less than 6 months is too short so anywhere between 6-12 months would be ideal. The original issue was that people were bumping three year old threads.

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I'd say just Evolution threads, and I think three months is probably a fine threshold.

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Is there possibly a second constraint that we can adjust? I would say that threads should be closed only if they are old AND huge. If it was a short thread which received no traction it should be okay to bump it.

For example, why shouldn‘t I be able to bump this thread?

I don't think this is really necessary (I only recall a couple of really old threads surfacing each month) and it causes its own issues. e.g. If there's a way to easily quote posts from locked threads then I haven't found it yet, which means I've had to resort to manually converting the post back to markup and hand-tagging it with the correct username, thread and post IDs. Presuming there isn't an easy way to quote locked threads, this makes it very hard to do the right thing by making a new thread that summarises the old one.

Imho there isn't a real problem, and I definitely prefer old threads being resurrected over new threads that are created without looking for previous discussions about the same topic.

Especially in the evolution-category, there may be ideas that have been out of scope when the discussion started, and which profit from other proposals that have been implemented in the meantime.

In many cases, creating a new thread might be the better option - but a warning should be enough to nudge people to do so.


I think the real “problem” has been when people bump threads that existed before the forums—thus sending email notifications to people who might not have even created an account on the forums at all.

Seeing as it has been well over a year now since the forums were created, I think we should do a one-off auto-lock of any thread whose last post occurred prior to the forums existing.


I don’t see it as a problem to solve. Specially since Discourse clearly shows ‘1 year later’ which is pretty useful.

And if it’s something I really don’t care anymore I just unwatch the thread.

If it got not traction that is a clear indication that it probably should not be bumped later specially when the landscape has already changed.

That is completely incorrect. The flood of information is immense since we have the forums. Nobody can handle every possible topic or does share interest in every idea. I can be certain that you don‘t follow every possible thread in the forums. Locking down small threads that didn‘t catch the momentum and forcing copy pasting for revival of the threads later would be simply unnecessary.

I‘m fine with lockig down huge AND old threads though.

This would become a yearly chore that nobody is going to want to do.

I guess what I really want is some form of policy on what to do with old treads. So far the loose goosy policy is, don’t bump old threads otherwise somebody might come and tell you not to bump it and lock it. That’s is a waste of time. If the policy is to not bump old threads then why not make that policy automatic? If that is not the policy then why are we enforcing it manually by telling people every time to make a new thread?

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To be clear, all I wanted to say is that the "crteria" for locking down threads should not be only TIME but include things like message count or other things.

Hope I don‘t sound offensive in any of my replies because I‘m a little bit in rush in the moment.

Sometimes I know a thread exists but still cannot find it, because I cannot find the right search terms to trick Discourse into showing me what I was looking for.

That means if I find a locked thread I am interested in, and a separate continuation exists, there is a reasonable chance I won’t find it and will start a concurrent new one. That is not helpful for anyone.

I think one of the following two brainstormed patterns of etiquette could be established instead of autolocking, and would do a better job:

  • Strategy 1: Any given topic should have a single, centralized thread. Any duplicates that spring up out of oversight should be redirected to the central thread as soon as the redundancy is discovered. Users who no longer care about a topic should be encouraged to put the Watching/Tracking/Normal/Muted switch to good use, (and/or set up e‐mail filtering rules).

    • Advantages:
      • Information is easy to find and not scattered.
      • The rules for new users are simple and the same no matter how old the existing posts happen to be: search first, create a new one only if it doesn’t already exist. (Everyone has a different idea of old; I have been politely scolded for creating a new topic and redirected to continue a two‐year old one instead.)
    • Disadvantages:
      • Threads can get very long. (Though there is nothing stopping someone from posting periodic summaries if they feel it would be helpful.)
  • Strategy 2: Whenever someone wants a thread to be dead, they “close” the thread with a request that any new poster create a new thread including a summary, and then post a link to the new thread at the original thread. Once that link is there, the thread can be manually locked, and older participants will no longer be bothered.

    • Advantages:
      • Both threads point to each other, so the continuation is easy to find in either direction. This is especially important since search engines prefer to direct users to established threads, so they will almost always find the older one first.
      • Threads can be kept short.
      • The definition of “stale” is obvious. If a previous participant posted that it is stale, it is stale, otherwise it is not. New users don’t need to learn a particular age at which a thread becomes “stale”.
      • It is opt‐in, so the extra shuffling of information only happens on certain oft‐revived topics where some user really feels it is needed.
    • Disadvantages:
      • It relies on everyone reading the end of the thread before posting, in order to notice the request to transfer the topic.
      • It is a new element of etiquette to learn, even for old users.

Because locking threads seems to make it impossible to easily quote posts from them. If you have a technical solution to that significant issue, or I'm mistaken here, then automatically locking old threads seems unnecessary but fine.

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Any response can be linked. If this was a problem then none of the threads should ever be locked.

For example here I am linked to a response I did a thread that is currently locked.

They can be linked but I don't see a reasonable way to quote part of a post. And no, I'm not saying that no thread should ever be locked, I'm saying that there are both benefits and costs to locking a thread and I don't think that the benefit of auto-locking all threads outweighs the cost.


They can be linked but I don't see a reasonable way to quote part of a post.

Copy-and-paste (which I have used here) seems like a reasonable workaround for this conundrum. If not having Discourse’s quote button is the biggest technical downside to auto-locking, then I think there aren’t too many downsides. As for patterns of etiquette, they have to be enforced by a forum bully that intervenes to tell the newbie that they’re doing it wrong; that is much less welcoming than encountering a small technical roadblock such as a locked thread.


I've raised the issue with Discourse, although I wouldn't expect a quick turnaround.

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