We need an off-topic category

I asked this previously, but here I am asking it again after a long time. Can we please get an Off-topic category?

There are a huge number of threads that are already tagged as #off-topic and it won't stop there. The issue is not that there will be more threads, but rather that they don't fit any of the currently available categories. #swift-users has become the store for these topics. I'd wish that I could move them into a dedicated 'Off-topic' category instead of #swift-users even if it's not belonging there or anywhere else.

In case that we'll get such category, can a site admin please bulk-move all #off-topic tagged threads into there?! :slight_smile:


I'm all for it! I've formulated a whole bunch of swift-specific design patterns that I've partially scavenged piece-by-piece from the internet and partially invented myself. I'd love to share these with the Swift community! I'd like a place in the Swift forums for these kind of "articles" that people can post that would not get lost in the sea of more short-term discussions.

I think that’s a separate issue. Maybe we can have a subcategory #article inside #swift-users for that.

Maybe we could do both? An off-topic category and a "knowledge base" category...

Personally, I really don't see the need. Looking at swift-users, the supposed dumping ground, I see only a small minority of threads tagged off-topic (some of which I consider on-topic!) So they're not adding much noise, and some of them have useful answers, even though they're off-topic.

If we did want to more aggressively keep the forums "clean", the work of moving a thread to an "off-topic" category is no less work for a moderator than simply deleting the thread. So I guess, if you do see a need to police things more rigorously, why is having an "off-topic" category better than removal?


I consider a removal a bit to aggressive, nor do I have rights to do that. Tagging a thread with #off-topic is not always the ideal solution. Some topics are posted in other categories. I can move them into #swift-users but I only do that if it more or less fits into there, otherwise I'll just tag the thread and leave it where it was spawned regardless whether it fits that category or not.

Some folks including myself may still reply to off-topic threads and provide some help or hints. I consider that as a good sweat-spot on our forums, but to me it feels wrong how #swift-users has become the dumpster for #off-topic threads.

I just went through the top few threads in Using Swift. Half the threads marked #off-topic were not off-topic, and the other half were indeed off-topic but needed to be politely redirected to the Apple forums, which most community members seem to be reluctant to do. I am not sure when the community decided that the right thing to do with off-topic posts was to add a tag vs. flagging the post, but I would prefer if people just went back to flagging.

An off-topic category is going to be interpreted by many people as a section of the forums dedicated to off-topic chat. The moderator team has no time or energy to moderate that, and you can't leave something unmoderated on the internet or it'll get overrun. This is a non-starter.


Not to be too off topic in this off-topic thread, but, personally, I don't suggest that anyone go to the Apple forums due to its low traffic, low involvement from Apple engineers, and generally terrible UX. I certainly don't use them often. You're more likely to get an answer to a question on StackOverflow, but many of the off-topic posts here are the type of vague or low energy question StackOverflow discourages (and we probably should too). So perhaps instead of (or in addition to) just shunting people to a forum that probably won't help them, there's something else we can do here? Help them ask better questions, point them to SO, I'm not sure.


If you'd prefer to forward people to SO, that's fine. Just actually do it instead of marking the thread as off-topic and then ignoring it, please.

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Is there maybe some kind of a 'template' feature that can be enabled through Discouse settings, so that we can create some template answers for these things? Would be a good start.


@John_McCall maybe this is silly question with the same intention, but can we reuse #uncategorized category? I just randomly found it. Is it possible to configure it in a way that we can move threads in and out of it, but not create new threads for that specific category? This would encourage people to post things in more appropriate initial categories, but if the topic happens to be off-topic for the forums we can move it to #uncategorized and let it float there.

Edit: I 'could' move posts out of #uncategorized, but not into it, just quickly tested.

This is the first I've heard of that category; it must be something built in to Discourse. It does avoid the invitation-to-chat problem of an Off Topic category. The problem is that I'm not sure how posts would end up there in the first place. I don't think we can reasonably require all posts to start there, and with all due respect, given the results of my quick check on the use of #off-topic, I don't want community members to be able to unilaterally move topics to an unlisted category without any review.

That's a great idea, I'll dig around and see what I can find.

if swift forum was open sourced and expand to apple’s other dev/support related forum, make the whole apple’s forum ecosystem consistent and with the same ux/ui experience which can attract more users to the specific forum instead of this Lang focused forum.

I didn't meant to say that posts should start in #uncategorized. They should start in any other category, but if a moderator considers a topic to be off-topic and not fit any category, he/she would move the post to #uncategorized. This category should obviously remain listed, but disallow new posts to be explicitly created in it, but it would be okay to move posts in and out of it after moderation.

Okay, Discourse does have a Canned Replies feature, and it's already enabled on the Swift forums. I created a "Please ask this question on the Apple forums" canned reply; can other people see it, or are they user-specific?

I don't see it. How did you created a canned reply? Are those category specific?

Can you not use canned replies at all, or just not see the one I made? From scanning the rest of that thread, it looks like the whole feature might still be locked down to just staff. I can ping them about that if it's still true.

I don't have that button at all.

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Unfortunate, okay. I'll raise it on Meta.