what to do with no reply threads

Discussion in 'Community Organization' started by dethfire, May 4, 2014.

  1. dethfire

    dethfire Fan

    What do you do with no reply threads? Over time they add up. Sometimes big boards get so many new threads and some especially with my science forum can be quite technical that no one can answer. any ideas?
  2. darnoldy

    darnoldy Curmudgeon

    Uh...answer them?

    Seriously...i have a rule that every OP gets a response within about 24 hours. If staff can't actually answer the question, they can perhaps ask clarifying questions, suggest lines of inquiry. If the post has a less-than-optimal title, or could have been posted in a more-appropriate section, staff will fix it, then reply to the post telling the poster what they have done.

  3. Num7

    Num7 Adherent

    I was about to say the same. Answer it!

    Usually, when I notice that a thread doesn't get an answer after a little while, I do my best to reply by asking some more details, or asking a few questions, depending how knowledgeable (or not!) I'm on the subject.
  4. cheat_master30

    cheat_master30 Moderator

    Always answer them.

    In fact, do what this article does:


    Make sure every discussion receives a reply within 24 hours. Makes people feel far more at home in your community than just letting topics lie empty with no responses.
  5. dethfire

    dethfire Fan

    Yeah I know. It's just not easy to answer 200 new very technical questions a day. My staff have enough to do. I've been thinking of ways to reward regular members who are the first to reply to a thread.
  6. Greg

    Greg TAZ Rookie

    For a big board, it's just not realistic to put it upon the staff to make sure that every thread has a reply right away. Especially in a situation like PF where it's inherently technical, you never know who's going to be able to answer them.

    In this situation, I'd try to address it in two ways. For one, you probably want to try incorporating some sort of StackOverflow type system where people get scores for good answers, especially with specific subjects. People like competing for points. Give out contributor titles in different fields.

    Then on top of that, I'd start collecting no reply threads into a big sticky that's sorted by type, and give extra incentives towards people posting in them, especially answering questions. That way you're making your community aware of two things. One, there are these threads there and you think they should be answered, and two, if they post they know that their threads are going to get highlighted if they don't get posts in it (so it's a good place to post).

    Note that this advice is specific to your situation.
  7. Greg

    Greg TAZ Rookie

    I also want to give my thoughts on this subject in the general sense.

    The first three responses in the thread all said "answer them". The viability of this is very dependent on the type of threads they are (in the case of technical questions, maybe no one can answer them) and the activity of the forum (the bigger the board, the less viable it is). However, even if you're in a situation where it is possible, I think that handling no reply threads should be done delicately. Think about how many threads there are that have no replies. Are they discussion threads or question threads? Are they just turning into one reply threads? Why isn't anyone answering them? You don't want to end up in a situation where staff are the only people replying to threads. Staff can (not always, but sometimes) dominate discussions. Knowing when to pull back is just as important as knowing when to put in. If the administrator is jumping in and answering all questions right away, other members might not get an opportunity to answer or may even not feel comfortable because it seems like answering questions just isn't their job. Having an index full of "Last reply by Administrator" is just as bad as tons of orphaned threads.

    It really comes down to why threads are going unanswered. Sometimes the topics just aren't interesting and don't foster discussion. In that case you want them to fall off the first page quickly so that casual visitors see interesting topics. Eventually those topics clutter up the main pages; in that case you'll eventually want to consider pruning or moving them elsewhere. Or maybe things are just moving too fast, and you want to highlight the threads somehow before they disappear and the people who should see it miss it. Or perhaps people are just afraid to talk and there are people who should be sharing their expertise and aren't, in which case it might be a good idea to shoot them a PM saying they might be interested in it.

    I suppose my main point for this giant rant is that it's very situation specific and there's a ton of different approaches to solving it. I don't believe in one size fits all solutions.
  8. Zero Numbers

    Zero Numbers Adherent

    Also, people might not know about a particular item/subject/topic, so they only have to little to share or not at all.
  9. darnoldy

    darnoldy Curmudgeon

    When, in my earlier post, I said "answer them." I did not mean "provide the information the poster is requesting."—I agree with those above who say that that best comes from the general membership.

    I do, however, believe that someone (and I see that as part of staff's responsibility as good hosts) should at least acknowledge the post.

    My experience tells me that the most-common reason posts are not responded to is that they have inadequate titles. If this is the case, staff should rewrite the title, then respond to the post, "I have rewritten your title to help you better attract a response." Another is that they post in less-than-optimal section. In that case, "I have moved our post to the XX section, where I hope you will find more people who can answer your question." Either way, the poster doesn't feel ignored.

    Another common reason is that they ask a too-vague or poorly-framed question. Asking follow-up questions or for clarification can help the poster get an answer.

  10. Jura

    Jura Devotee

    I love making threads when I come up with em, but my forum doesn't have the activity for too many. I'll now and then remove no-reply threads I've made. It makes things seem less active than it actually is and as if I'm the only topic maker.
  11. Empire

    Empire Devotee

    • Ensure every discussion receives a reply within 24 hours. This boosts activity as much as any other tactic on this list. Keep track of all discussions and ensure every one receives a rapid reply. Get people into the notification system and coming back frequently. Encourage responses from others."
    24 hours seems too long. Why not 10 hours?
  12. dethfire

    dethfire Fan

    I have been doing much better getting threads replies over the past year, but my forum is 15 years old and I have nearly 25k old threads with no replies!
  13. Empire

    Empire Devotee

    What did you learn over those years? How have things improved since you started replying?
  14. cpvr

    cpvr Tazmanian Master

    One thing that I like to do when I have the extra funds to do so is I launch a month long $100 posting contest. Everytime I run one, my community always receives over 4k-10k new posts and over 300 new members. I've sucessfully ran over 11 of these type of contests since 2011 and I'm planning to launch another one relatively soon. After the contest, google was sending us over 20k monthly visits for about 8 months.
    What's your forum's niche? Perhaps, I can help you.
  15. Sockio

    Sockio Aspirant

    You can also promote regular members who know the answers to questions, if you have administrators/moderators that don't know the answers, then you simply need to promote more members.
  16. Shawn Gossman

    Shawn Gossman Tazmanian Master

    I always try to answer threads that are empty even with further questions but addressing it to the entire community to get people engaging on the topic. It is usually my own topics that at times go without replies and I just ignore them, let them age and then create them again with different wording and a unique twist to it to try to start the conversation again at a later date.
  17. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

    One rule I have for all my staff on the forums I run is that no first post goes unanswered and that provides the best answer to it I think.
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