Threaded conversations?

Is there any support for conversations? For threads, maybe for trees of topics?

I see two extremes.

  • On SE there’s one topic per page, i.e. one question plus one answer per person, and anything else is off-topic, and comments are “2nd-class citizens” (and discouraged, deleted, and/or punted to chat).
  • On other places – Discord, Slack, maybe Discourse … or SE “chat” – there’s an infinite chronological log without titles (maybe no apparent topic).

I feel inhibited here – I might like to get into various details, or post a minor reply to some detail within someone else’s post, but that wanders off-topic from the OP and so like a good SE citizen I refrain.

I used to like using NNTP – newsreader client software can “thread” conversations and/or display them chronologically, and/or users can change the topic title whenever they reply, you can follow or mute threads within a channel etc. I found that better suited for like organic (if that’s the right word – like “natural”) conversations with two or more (i.e. subgroups of) people within a public conference – both for participating and for browsing.

Maybe the opposite of SE’s,

This site is all about getting answers . It’s not a discussion forum. There’s no chit-chat.

You could get answers but in conversation form. We might have a study-group, talking about a book for example.

I see your point, and there are some open source projects aiming to do that (for example Zulip), however it seems to be incompatible with the goal of a Q&A site, which is what we want to build here.

Ultimately a Q&A site is about (as the name says) questions and answers. There may be comments and votes and that kind of things, but they are all secondary in comparison to questions and answers.

We had some similar ideas for comments, though. They are supposed to be threaded. See more in this discussion:


Plus there’s discovering topics of mutual interest – which happens during conversations.

SE isn’t meant for any dialogs, is it – so socially it’s almost like “parallel play” (you give me a toy/question and then I play with it), rather than “cooperative”.

Furthermore SE forces role-play, i.e. either “I question” or “I answer”.

But “Codidact”, I don’t know – traditionally a lot of learning comes from conversation about a topic.

Yes, well, the immediate topic, “What site do we want to build here?” And to do that you’re using this software.

What I’d like for that purpose might be “requirements management” software:

  • Create a topic (title and text)
  • Subtopics (details of the topic)
  • Discussion (“feedback”) about the topics
  • Hierarchical topics (information architecture, drilling down into topics)
  • Cross-referencing (e.g. between the UI design and the functional spec)
  • Editable, version-controlled

Your current documentation isn’t easy to get into IMO – I don’t have a big picture – and I don’t know where to find more details about decisions which people mentioned in passing (i.e. what was decided and why).

Perhaps one simply needs to have read everything, and possibly chronologically.

Oh, thank you for the link.

I do think we eventually should implement such threaded discussions for meta (not in MVP, though). And when the code is there, it is definitely worth thinking about making other uses of it. However I don’t think they would be useful on the main site (which is intended to be a Q&A).

What one might consider is whether for a community, besides site main and meta site there could be also a discussion site, which then would house general hierarchic discussion threads. This could also be a nice way to handle questions that are not appropriate for the Q&A format: Instead of closing them, they might just be moved to that page.

One might also consider enabling/disabling such an extra discussion site per community.

What that would mean for MVP would be to take into account for the design the possibility that at some future time we might want more sub-sites than just main and meta.