We all know quite well that topics on this forum often ramble off into unrelated areas, which means that newbies (and others) looking for answers find topics which match their question, but in which they can’t find an answer because it’s buried in among dozens of posts which aren’t actually related to the topic.
On another Discourse site, where I’m an admin, I’ve begun carefully using the ‘split topic’ feature, which allows an admin or moderator to select posts from within a topic and move them into a new topic, giving it a suitable title. Discourse leaves a link in the original topic to the new one so that it’s apparent to readers what happened, and people who had participated in the original topic will get notifications for both the old and new topics (but can then suppress either one, if they really only wanted to follow part of the conversation).
I wonder if the admins/moderators of this site should consider doing the same, after making a suitable announcement to the users that this will start happening, so that people aren’t surprised when this happens to topics they are involved in. Thoughts?
This rambling is annoying when the original problem hasn’t been solved or question answered. On the other hand, if it has, I don’t see much reason to be so strict if the OP has already got enough information and the discussion starts to spread.
I also expect the OP to be active in his/her topic. Oftentimes it happens that the OP doesn’t give enough information or doesn’t respond back and the discussion spreads because of speculations leading to different directions. It’s of course annoying to those who afterwards search for solution to their problem and try to read that thread, but the OP can blame him/herself.
We also have to remember that this is a community and human communication. Part of that is that this isn’t only robotic spreading of facts and answers. Rambling is part of the nature of humanity and shouldn’t be squelched.
One example of a thread where I feel keeping on topic is especially important and where I asked that the moderators would move offtopic discussions is here: Post-v5 new features and development news. The moderators (or was it only one, Rene?) responded and I’m thankful. Anyone, especially original posters of threads, can do that if they feel their threads have been mistreated. In my opinion the original poster kind of “owns” the thread until the question has been answered.