OK, the forum is coming..

Ortwin Regel ortwin at gmail.com
Mon Jul 23 03:13:57 CEST 2007

I don't like the tree style of discussion. It kind of makes sense on a
mailing list. However, I find it unnatural and exhausting to navigate. Old
school people who prefer threaded view have got the mailing list, I am of
the strong opinion that we should go with a flat forum for accessibility.


On 7/23/07, Henryk Plötz <henryk at openmoko.org> wrote:
> Moin,
> Am Sat, 21 Jul 2007 23:31:55 +0000 (UTC) schrieb Valerio Bruno:
> > I don't understand your sentence. Forums haven't threaded view ?!
> > Anyway...
> Yes, in my (and probably Sebastian's) part of the Internet, phpBB does
> not count as a threaded forum.
> Based on http://aktuell.de.selfhtml.org/artikel/gedanken/foren-boards/
> (sorry, it's in German, but there are clarifying pictures) I'd make a
> distinction between a forum, which is inherently threaded (not in the
> phpBB-sense), and a board, which is flat (like phpBB).
> A thread in a forum captures the more natural way of discussion: someone
> says something, multiple people reply, maybe focusing on different
> aspects of the original post, the discussion might drift away in more
> than one dimension, sub-aspects get discussed, maybe even the topic
> changes completely:
> (A, B, C are people; 1,2,3... are aspects of the subject)
> A says 1, 2, 3
>   B responds to 1, 2, brings up 4
>     C responds to 1, 4 (from B's post)
>     A responds to 2, 4 (independent of C's post)
>   C responds to 1, brings up 5
>     A responds to 5
>       C responds to 5 (from A's post)
> etc...
> Graph-theoretically speaking: Real[tm] threads are trees. (Well,
> actually, from a real-world point of view they should be directed
> acyclic graphs, meaning that one could reply to more than one posting
> at a time. But that just adds all sorts of headaches and is difficult
> to visualize. It's like multiple inheritance in the programming
> language of your choice. But I digress ...)
> A 'thread' in a board, like phpBB, is inherently flat, one-dimensional,
> restricting. There's always only exactly one subject being discussed,
> and it's harder to cherry-pick the aspects that you want to reply to.
> Especially if you want to reply to an aspect that has been brought up
> several posts ago:
> A says 1, 2, 3
> B responds to 1, 2, brings up 4
> C responds to 1, brings up 5
> C responds to 1, 4 (from B's post)
> A responds to 5
> A responds to 2, 4 (independent of C's post)
> C responds to 5 (from A's post)
> Trains of thought that ought to belong together are separated by this
> structure, and completely unrelated aspects are forced to stand
> together.
> And now imagine being a new person D and wanting to say something about
> aspect 3. That's why phpBB postings basically must make use of these
> "@poster A" forms, and even that doesn't help too much if the posting
> being replied to was 30 postings (read: 3 "pages") ago.
> There's a reason that the 'classical' discussion systems (usenet and
> mailing-lists) model real threads.
> Oh, and yes, some boards offer proper threads as an optional view. But
> that's hard, because replying in a plain-board style loses information
> about the intent of the poster. It's easy to transform a forum view
> into a board view by just throwing the "who responded to
> whom"-information away, but it's impossible the other way round.
> And finally: Should the discussion really be one-dimensional and flat,
> well that's just a special case of a tree and no problem at all for
> real forums.
> --
> Henryk Plötz
> Grüße aus Berlin
> ~ Help Microsoft fight software piracy: Give Linux to a friend today! ~
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