Automatically expiring topics?

I’m sure many of you are aware that topics are able to be set up so that they automatically close after either a fixed number of days, or after a number of days past the last reply.

So far, I’ve not implemented those limits for any of the categories here. Is anyone interested in having topics close automatically? Should I set up one or more polls to determine the policy for each category?


How about after 30 days of inactivity? It doesn’t matter much now, but as we attract more users it seems reasonable. I always thought that five days after opening (the BBS standard) was too short.


I’m fine with topics not expiring myself.


I have never understood the tendency for internet topics to be valid only for an arbitrary length of time. Perhaps for a specific event it is a good idea. But with recurring topics and such that develop over time, I do not see the need. It seems to actually make less clutter IMO to “revive” a months-old topic with a few new posts than to start a new similar one every time.


i’m cool with topics expiring after a period of inactivity. they can always be restarted.


I feel like 30 days is too short, but never closing doesn’t feel quite right either. I’d rather see something like 6 months of inactivity.

Ya’ kno’, for what it’s worth, which is not even hot air, because I’m typing rather than talking.


I don’t understand the value of having topics automatically close. Since it happens in some blogs, someone must, but who benefits from that?

I say, let discussions continue. Leave it up to users, not predetermined site policy. If people keep adding to a discussion over long periods, that’s a good thing, reflecting the will of the commentariat. If no one adds to it, it doesn’t matter whether it’s closed or not.

As I see it, keeping track of where things are being discussed is already a ton of work. Closing topics just makes it worse.


The only thing I can imagine is that if you post multiple topics a day, every day, like at the other place for blog topics. Then keeping up with the comments would be an ever more difficult task.

I would lean toward not having a default expiration until someone see’s a problem that needs fixing. Is there an option for expiration when creating a topic? I can see specific topics having an expiration in some circumstances.


As far as I can see, it’s per category.

I seem to remember Jeff(@codinghorror) having some justification in the early days of discourse. I’ll see if I can find it or an updated explanation.

Even with our relatively small number of topics, there are clearly those which are no longer active. I’m not sure why we wouldn’t just close those. There’s nothing stopping someone from creating a new topic and referencing the old one if they wanted to re-open the discussion.


But there’s ​also nothing stopping them from ressurecting an old topic as well. At least this way you don’t end up with a new thread for the same topic with the same arguments every year.


It might be annoying if you start getting a lot of replies from random people who want to join conversations you forgot about years ago.


I know there were also issues with old topics being resurrected by hit-and-run spammers, which could clutter up the topic list for no good benefit.


That’s true, but isn’t it spam no matter where they post it? If they can’t post in one topic, they’ll post in another? That how it looks to me anyway.

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Yes, but having 1000’s of topics open to spam versus only a handful reduces the surface area spammers can attack and most importantly that mods must go clean up.


Yes. The problem with this specific scenario isn’t (just) that it’s spam… it’s that the spam ends up promoting an old, disused topic into the recent list of topics, with nothing new to add but the spam. I’m pretty sure that even once the spam is cleaned up, you’re still left with the old topic cluttering things up until enough topics that are actually being used get updated to push it back down. And (though I’d hope it wouldn’t be a problem here) if people end up responding to the spam before it’s cleaned up then that keeps bumping up the topic without any new substance.

In an active thread, it’s not too much of a hassle. With one that could be years old, you’ve now got a very old topic that people are clicking on because it looks like it has new activity, just to discover that the only real substance is far out of date and the new is just trash.

(also, what @garymon said.)


As an intermediate step, why not take a cue from how handles their articles…

  1. Once a topic has passed a defined time-without-an-edit threshold, (a) anyone, or, (if we’re concerned about gaming) (b) a particular category of staff, puts a comment in the file proposing closing it to new edits.
  2. Then everyone has a say. In the file. (For, say a week)
  3. Then admin close it or not depending on the feedback (and cases) from the populace.

This lets old topics get closed, (If such a thing is needed) but also lets people who think the topic has long-term value in remaining open, say so.

  • Note that this shouldn’t be a strict majority vote (Though there may be a vote module used), as we should be looking favourably on the argument that a topic has long term value being open, and so err reasonably on the side of remaining open, if the case is made. (Unless there’s good reason not to.

(On a not-deleted topic, the deletion discussion itself may need forking elsewhere, of course, maybe just leaving a note what the result was.)

It’s transparent, errs on the side of caution, and is flexible enough to handle odd circumstances. And even if the wrong decision is reached, the topic can always be reawakened from its slumber by mods/admin should circumstances warrant.

I do have a question, though: Should a topic starter have the right to have a topic closed at their request? :slight_smile:


Oh, the downside: It’s not automatic. That’s also the upside, mind you.


(Backlink to

…as the new Discourse version appears to have beefed-up topic closing/opening/management facilities, which might help us here.)