Some quick thread statistics from the nntp newsgroup


…that might help in some of the discussions about threading, etc…

I just looked at the month of May 2013 and did a quick and admittedly rough survey of how long threads were.
Out of more than 800 posts - I discounted “announcements” - I found the following:

  • There were about 160 threads started
  • The overwhelming majority of threads (about 140) had ten posts or under.
  • The most often found number of posts in a thread was : 2
  • The average number of posts in a thread was about 5
  • There were two threads that went to ~20 posts
  • There was one thread that went to ~40 posts

So, I conclude (YMMV) that for this community, the worries about hierarchical threading may be a bit of a tempest in a teapot - considering that the vast majority of threads are short enough to see on one page… The 100+ post discussions only happen a few times a year, usually on some sort of hot-button subject - like nntp vs. http… :smiley:

Anyway, maybe this will put a different perspective on it and help calm things down a bit… or not…

–Your humble nntp statistics keeper (retired)

(Willem Derks) #2

Damn, all the time, (when NING was still a thing) I saw you replied a lot.
It made me wonder who you were…until now.

Are you going to merge your accounts or discard the other?
(I like this cat better)



Yeah, I kinda thought that all who knew me could make the connection with all the clues I left in there (Switzerland, dinosaur, my signature as ----H (the first four dashes represent the left out letters of my name); at the time all that was sorta my private joke/protest about going http and being “forced” to have an avatar (you can’t participate on a Ning without having uploaded one).

I kinda like the Helvetosaur nickname, I think I’ll keep it… My real name is visible on the “me” page anyway. As far as “grumpy cat”, no I think that will change, again its my sort of closet humor about being “forced” to come over here… That cat is sorta like me, looks grumpy but really isn’t, and I do love cats, so it fit. But my SwissRhinosaur avatar will probably make an appearance soon, and most likely be (more or less) definitive.


(Willem Derks) #4

I never investigates your credentials on NING and as I was not at all a regular visitor also missed all the obvious clues.
I indeed laughed when connecting the avatar and you!

see you around


The issue is not whether long threads are required. All your statistics show is that nothing was discussed in much depth in May. June will be different. Back in March when users were asked to give what the wanted to be developed for Rhino6, that was a pretty long discussion topic.

The thing that I find a little disturbing is that the developers have made it pretty clear that they don’t like long threaded discussions and they not only won’t consider making it easier to have that type of discussion, they will be doing there best to discourage such activities.

I’ll ask you the same thing I ask Brian. Why did you feel the need to start a new topic?

If this discussion had been in the Rhino newsgroup it is unlikely that you would have started a new topic just because you had something you felt was important to say.


OK, I just took May because it was the most recent full month, but I can go back and do another month if you like. It takes me around an hour do do this (it’s pretty much manual) so I’ll do it later on. But I’m pretty sure the average won’t shift all that much.

Yes, that was a VERY long discussion, I read all those posts and despite the threading, it was also almost impossible to follow who was answering who at a certain point. If 25 other posts separated the post you were replying to, it was nearly impossible to try and line up the levels of indentation and see what post was being responded to. I recall very clearly reading a post and then spending several minutes trying to find the one above it that it was responding to. Long discussions by many participants are really difficult to follow in the rectangular framed, flat 2D environment of our computer screens, threading or not.

I don’t agree there either, if I had something I wanted separated from the rest of the discussion, I would start a new topic.

(Steve Baer) #7

Oh, I thought we were playing hangman and you needed me to choose the next letter. Based on your initial posts, I was going to pick “B” for the first letter but I would have been wrong :wink2:

I do like that the grumpy cat has changed his motto


Don’t worry, it wouldn’t be the first time… :wink:


What [quote=“Helvetosaur, post:6, topic:226”]
Yes, that was a VERY long discussion, I read all those posts and despite the threading, it was also almost impossible to follow who was answering who at a certain point.

You should use a better newsreader… I can follow any thread upwards by just clicking on the header links.

My prediction is that in the future the result of a question like that will be a lot more like the Ning newsgroup. If that is what people want…


OK, indeed May was a bit “light” with around 900 posts total, January had around 1090, February around 1150, March 1530, April 1240… since statistically April seemed to be in the middle, I did that one:

  • There were about 240 threads started
  • The overwhelming majority of threads (about 230) had ten posts or under.
  • 160 threads had 4 posts or fewer
  • The most often found number of posts in a thread was : 3
  • The average number of posts in a thread was around 4.3
  • There were three threads at 20-25 posts
  • There was one thread that went over 40 posts (42 to be exact)



So you are trying to convince us that the reduced productivity some of us will incur in parsing the forum threads will happen once in a while and that the amount of time spent in the anti-threading arguments is not a tempest in a teapot. (only the threading arguments are tempests).


I’m not trying to convince you of anything. I posted the statistics. Up to you to draw your conclusions.


One of my own observations is the following:
Statistically, the Rhino newsgroup gets (got) an average of 10 new threads a day, with an average of around 4 posts per thread, or 40 new posts per day. That quantity is relatively easy to manage in a newsreader, as you can choose to show only unread POSTS (and not necessarily the whole thread each is associated with). Normally, you can see the headers for all those on one single page, and maybe less if you have all collapsed.

In this format (as is true with pretty much any other web format I’ve seen) you can only see unread THREADS (topics). In order to see the unread posts themselves, you have to open each thread in turn. (It also doesn’t always go right to the last unread post, so sometimes you have to find where you were and continue reading.) This does take time, as I read everything, I am spending quite a bit more time navigating than I did in the text-based newsgroup.

When this thing actually becomes the only place that you can post support stuff, there will be even more activity. Which brings me back to my original concerns about the “overseeability” of it all - nobody has experienced that yet. Are there examples of a Discourse platform with that many entries a day?


this sounds like a bug to me, the intention is always to take you to the last spot you read. Can you repro this on


One trick I strongly recommend using is the “suggested topic” list at the bottom. I is constantly trying to should you the list of unread/new topics you should be looking at. My general navigation pattern usually involves avoiding the front page and bouncing between topics using the suggested list.

I am interested in visual mocks for the idea of viewing all unread posts in a big dump. I worry that it can get a bit overwhelming.


That points out part of the problem with NNTP… most people will just use whatever is handy, including myself. There’s no standardization. I frankly wasn’t going to install yet another program just to read the one and only newsgroup I’m subscribed to. I just used the built-in reader in Thunderbird. And it was pretty lame.


Very handy info, Mitch. I appreciate the effort. I was wondering that myself with all the tree talk. It is handy for huge threads, but it does seem most threads are at most ten posts deep or less.


I’ve honestly found I can move through the new posts way faster here. So… can we at worst call it a draw between us? :wink: I’ve got 15 years of catching up from using that crappy NNTP system! :wink:


Yeah… I don’t think that idea will go over well with this group. We want an overview of everything new… not some algorithm-driven list of what a computer thinks we’ll find interesting. I’d say that’s a non-starter for most of the power users of Rhino.

(Brian Gillespie) #20

I’m using the suggested topics, and i try to read every thread. It is working great for me. Better than the front page, IMHO.