I think this is generally true for a lot of us here, and you bring up a good point. We were just chatting about it, and seeing if we could improve anything here.
We have a really flat forum structure, because we don’t want to have to move stuff around or categorize it so finely that the info-lepidopterist in me starts yelling ‘off topic!’ all the time.
This flat structure generally works pretty well, but it is not so ideal for:
- New people feel excluded or at least less keen to add something to a 500 post mega-topic.
- Stuff is hard to find in the mega-topics, as in some gems get lost.
- The beginning of topics tends to age badly, e.g. an announcement post from 3 years ago to a new member isn’t a good intro to a topic they know hasn’t just been announced.
Our topics are subconsciously being organized for those here the longest. That can be a barrier for new people, even if we don’t intend it.
What I think is happening is that because we don’t have tiny/fine categorization of subjects (other than just broad terms like #flight-sims) we make virtual sub-categories using these big topics. We don’t have a ‘DCS’ forum, we don’t have a ‘F/A-18C’ forum under that, so we try to keep things tidy with a big ol’ “DCS F/A-18C” topic that now has 2732 posts in it. We use the title of the topic as the ‘sub forum’ bits.
Because we have big topics, we’re in a sort of learning/reinforcement loop where people think they should only be adding to the big topic. People here are remarkably polite, and want to follow conventions where possible.
We are also in the situation where sometimes it is ok to have big and meandering topics, as in if the original poster is ok with it (like I am with the wild ‘Where You Are’ pictures topic, which I enjoy seeing meander around a bit) then it would be daft to start cutting it up into ‘Northern European (Grassland) Pictures / Early 2017’ for no other reason than organization-porn.
So, what to do?
Generally I think we should create new topics a bit more, as I personally don’t want to go down the hierarchical formal route. When we post we should probably be aware of it something is a decent enough nugget to be outside of the main ‘mega-topic’. If the info has value and is independent then should be spun off in its own specifically described topic.
Example: I played with the F/A-18C Instrument Carrier Landing System (ICLS) last night as it had arrived in a recent patch. I could happily add it to the main ‘DCS F/A-18C’ topic or I could hover over the ‘New Topic’ button and start a new one. My suggestion is to describe the new topic quite tightly, i.e. ‘Playing with the new DCS F/A-18C ICLS Bits’ and do it that way.
The @moderators also sometimes do some ‘gardening’ like this and weave stuff out of big topics, and we rely on people to flag stuff if they want to see more of that. A quick PM is ok too, if flag sounds a bit much. . It is also something the OP can decide themselves, i.e. flag if off-topic and stuff can be moved out - it’s really up to how you want your topic.
Anyway, just wanted to hijack @komemiute post to raise this, as it is something I’ve noticed in the last couple of months.
What do people here think?