Wish: Easy branching to keep topics clean

I have been following a technical topic. Someone commented on posting style, someone else suggested a new site feature and we’re heading off-topic and thereby both adding noise to the original topic and hiding good suggestions under an inappropriate title.

I know the mods can split topics, but they have day jobs to do. Why not have a feature where anyone can easily create a new branch for a secondary topic, so they can give it a new title and tags while the system handles the cross-references.

Maybe with a community edit feature like Wikipedia’s so people can add to, improve or undo such organisation.


Well, as a counterpoint to this, I would argue that this would release the potential for mass destruction - if anyone has permissions to modify topics in this way. Even someone well-intentioned could conceivably mess stuff up due to a improper manipulation or a misguided good idea.

Actually as far as I know this is already possible in Discourse, but it is currently switched off. We had a lot of discussions around who should be given permissions to do what when McNeel Discourse was created over 10 years ago - there was the idea that “trusted users” could have privileges to edit topics/posts and move stuff around, but that was eventually left aside. A few of us (myself included) do have privileges to edit anyone’s post title and category - and that is all.

There are a couple of people at McNeel whose job it is is to keep track of forum posts and respond to/direct inquiries including splitting topics if they deem necessary. Yep, sometimes threads get completely off-topic, but I don’t think the situation is so bad that it warrants a radical change. You can always sent a private message to one of the admins here that you think a particular topic should be split.


Hi Mitch, thanks for chipping in.

Yes, but would lead to actual mass destruction? Wikipedia has its flaws, but by and large community editing works and provides a valuable resource so the model works.

But anyway, that’s in the area of icing on the cake. Lets set that aside. My main wish is for a simple method for a post author to create a branch. I struggle to see downsides to that. Why would someone create a branch if they were writing something directly pertinent to the original topic? To be clear, I’m not looking for a facility like the mods’ to take a series of posts and recast them as a new thread, just to start one with a single post.



That applies to anyone with the “Regular” badge.



See, only 4th post in and we’re off topic! With an easy branch capability you could have started a new thread on the merits of the Discourse scheme for encouraging participation… :wink:

The permissions to separate out topics is based on Trust Level, which we may need to modify. If you have a high enough Trust Level, you can Select posts here:

and then, when the proper posts are selected, you can split those into separate topics:

And indeed, this is work. I feel - others may disagree - that it is work we’d appreciate help with from the community. I think adjusting Trust Levels is something that needs to be done carefully…but Discourse does make this process somewhat easy, if not terribly discoverable.

Separating out topics is very helpful to me because extremely generous and well-meaning members of the community report multiple bugs (oh woe there are so many bugs) in a single topic. This becomes unwieldy very fast from a developer perspective. Having each separated out into a different topic (or grouped in a sane way) would be very nice and…drum-roll please…is work.

PS: I should also note that I have in the past (inadvertently) caused a mess by separating out topics in a way that derails the discussion, so this is an art as much as a science.

Topic author or post author? I can think of some subtle downsides to either but I just wanted to double-check first which one you meant.

Hi Dan,

I hadn’t thought about the topic author (the OP I presume) being able to split off posts. I think that has its risks and might be better considered at a later date. For now I’m just thinking of the post author.

I am only looking at the point of creation and maybe in retrospect within some short time frame to allow for missed opportunity. Later changes should be reserved for mods.


Interesting. Thanks for the clarification. One more question. When you are replying to this very post, what do you see when you click on the little arrow next to my face…when I click that arrow, right now, I see this:

which allows me to branch as a linked topic.

Do you see that Reply as linked topic menu item?

Are we getting closer to what you’re looking for here? (I realize this probably doesn’t address the “some short time frame.”)

Hi Dan

Yes I see the reply as linked topic option.


Maybe the linked option should come second?

Great! Does that go a little ways to helping with the initial request?

Perhaps, but it seems like the discoverability of that button is the biggest potential roadblock to more widespread use. That said, both issues would likely require additional development from Discourse.

Thanks Dan, I look forward to experimenting with this. And thinking about how to get people on board…

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@jeremy5 This was posted on the Discourse “Meta” forum around the same time you did:

Just forwarding along because it’s a perennial issue (with all forums really) and one that Discourse grapples with in its own way. The (lack of?) discoverability of new topic branching comes up in there too :slight_smile: