Different approach to Essay-based/categorised topics?

I would like to suggest considering an alternative format for topics starting with essays.

As I noted in a previous message on a similar essay-based topic (link), the fact these essays end up being followed by hundreds posts it becomes quite hard to engage readers from elsewhere in the web.

The reality is that most of the hundreds of posts which follow these essays usually fail to fulfill the requirements of an informed, impartial and respectful discourse.

Maybe it is the case that every essay-baded topic comes with the time restriction for reply.

Any thoughts? Does anyone know of established approaches used elsewhere in similar discourse based forums?



Perhaps general discussion inspired by the essay but not directly addressing the essay should be split away.

Another possibility would be to limit the number of replies to a reply. This may help in limiting subconversation, if this is desired.


From your comment in the linked thread:

I’m not quite understanding what the real issue is. As long as the essay is first (which of course it is) and as long as you link to the OP and not farther down, why do you think people don’t read? Discourse only loads the first few replies, so even someone looking at the scroll bar wouldn’t think that they were facing all those replies. I’m not saying there isn’t a problem, I’m just trying to understand why you think people aren’t reading your links.

Discourse does have the summary feature. I’ve used it before, but I don’t know anything about the algorithm it uses. Likes? Not sure.

It’s really hard to moderate these kind of things. Especially when discussion doesn’t clearly fall outside of the ToS.

Are you saying that people don’t even read the original essay? Because I can’t see how having lots of comments (which they couldn’t even see when they go to the page, right?) would prevent them from reading the essay.

As a side note, perhaps if you sent them highlights it might entice them to read more.

The other Discourse based forums I use are more around software development, so they tend not to have essays like this. You could also try posting a question on the Discourse Discourse forum, appropriately named But you will need to explain your use case very clearly.

One option might be to have a website that was something like or and essays could be re-posted there. Essays can kind of get lost to the universe on a forum.

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We have a core group of users here who are able to discuss and dialogue on a reasonably civilised way, usually enriching the conversation.

But at the same time, we have handful of personas who to me seem to be sock suppet-like users of a small group of very dedicated trolls who are becoming very good at spoiling the conversation.

Yes, you’re spot on. :slightly_smiling_face:

I therefore insist on my suggestion to both venerables @sujato and @brahmali to consider archiving for a cleaner reference their very good essays on a different platform. Ven Sujato could use the Lokanta website and venerable Brahmali could use BSWA’s page. :man_shrugging:

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Some authors might want the discussion regardless of where it goes ( still close enough to the main thesis I mean)
But if the OP doesn’t want any comments/discussion at all (if they are worried about obscuring their essay), they could request to lock the thread after posting it. 🤷🏽


Perhaps it’s a peripheral observation, since people coming here for the first time wouldn’t login, but one of the downsides of a long discussion is that the Discourse interface means that you have to do quite a lot of scrolling up to get back to the top (I may be missing some shortcut, of course). For discussing, it’s great that you get taken to the first unread message, but I have noticed that when I want to go back to read an essay with 100 comments, it’s not so easy…

If the author of an essay wishes it to stand alone, I would have thought the obvious solution would be a locked thread with a link to a discussion thread.

I’d hate to see no discussion. I notice Bhante Sujato’s essays often get modified as a result of the discussion and crowd-sourcing of information…


You can press the topic title on the title bar to jump to the first post (scroll up a bit to unhide the title), or use the post selector tool (with a handy preview) to quickly jump to any desired post.

And if you prefer using the keyboard, simply press ? to open the shortcuts dialog (desktop only).


Wow! I had no idea!
Thank you, Musiko!


You can also use this slider on the side. I don’t know what it is called. That may be what Musiko is talking about:

If you don’t see this, it means you are on mobile mode.

Yes, the slider I know about, but the problem is that it takes a lot of sliding to get to the start of a thread with 200 posts, as the whole page is not loaded at once. So clicking on the title is a really useful tip.


Mobile mode also has a slider: click on the post selector tool at the bottom right to open it (the indicator showing the current post No. / all posts count).

That shouldn’t be the case: if you grab the post selector slider in the image above (not the browser slider) with the mouse you can instantly jump to any post within the topic, the posts only start loading once you release the slider.

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Ah, OK. I see. That slider goes away if the window is not wide enough, or I make the text too large…

In this case you’ll find the post selector at the bottom right, same as on mobile

Same as above, but this only happens if you adjust the magnification in the browser to more than 100%, depending on screen size.

You shouldn’t really need to do this as Discourse enables each user to enlarge their display elements, including font size natively via Text Size preference.


If much of this is news to longterm users like Mike and me, what are the chances that newer users know it? A help page with advanced shortcuts for laptops and phones would be a great idea, tho I don’t know where the best place for it would be @musiko.

It seems like Discourse sites sometimes have a how-to category with wiki items that serve as help items. Not sure people would be able to find their way there, but I notice people do tend to welcome newcomers. If when they do they linked to the how-to category it might help them and older users. There’s a bunch of features in Discourse that I think a lot of people don’t know about.

There are indeed many slightly known features, but their different threads are so meandering … it would be nice to present a one-screen summary.