Monday, September 10, 2012

Necroposting

At least 90% of internet forums out there have a strict rule against so-called necroposting. This is defined as responding to a thread that has not had any activity in a long time. (The amount of time varies from forum to forum, ranging from years to just a few months.) Necroposting is somehow considered a really bad breach of netiquette or something. If anybody necroposts, an angry swarm of people will immediately castigate the culprit with angry reminders that the original thread died several months ago! In fact, a few forums even go so far as to automatically lock threads that have not had any activity in a given amount of time.

I have never understood (nor will ever understand) what exactly is so bad about "necroposting". None of the arguments given against it make any sense.

So what if a thread has not been active in many months, or even years? Someone might still have something new to add to it. It could be a new perspective, a new idea or even an update of recent events related to the subject of the discussion. Posting it in the thread that discussed the subject keeps it in context, keeps the forum better organized and doesn't scatter discussions on the same subject on different random threads.

Someone might respond with something that has already been said in the thread (eg. because of only reading the first post and responding to it, instead of checking the rest of the thread first). However, this has nothing to do with necroposting. People do that all the time even in threads that have had abundant activity even during the last hour. Reprimanding such a person for doing that just because the thread happened to be old (but not doing so if the thread happens to be recent) is irrational, inconsistent and outright mean.

Fortunately there are some online forums that do not have any such nonsensical rule. Yet even in those you can see people complaining if someone necroposts (and then regular users telling them that "we don't have such rule here".) The irrational hatred of necroposting wants to spread even to forums where it doesn't exist...

There is also another, potentially positive aspect to "necroposting": It draws attention to old threads that might be of interest to new people. When a forum has thousands and thousands of threads, nobody is going to wade through all of them. If someone, however, makes a post to a years-old thread, it's often because the thread is interesting, and the post will bring it back to the top (or at least to the list of threads with unread posts.) Some people who had never seen that thread may find it interesting. (And this isn't just speculation. Recently in a forum I witnessed exactly this happen. Someone "necroposted" on a very old thread, and somebody else commented that the thread was actually interesting, and expressed gratitude on drawing attention to it.)

The aversion to necroposting needs to die. It makes no sense.

5 comments:

  1. Necroposting.... where do I start. IN technical support forums its frowned upon. The original poster's question usually gets answered within a few posts once questions are sent back to get the OP to elaborate the problem. Even when a correct solution is given, many other people still go ahead and post the same answer for several months. The thread then dies a death, and is silent for a year or so.... then some twit comes and answers the question without, one looking at the dates, or reading previous people answers, whom have already given the answer. This is what gets peoples goats up. if you can't see that then you surely have blinkered vision.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Technical support forums... yeah, because that's the only type of forum out there.

      Besides, how common is it for people to respond to a months-old post without reading any of the responses below it, and without adding any new information?

      Yes, I see how this is surely such a pandemic and such a disrupting behavior that stern measures have to be imposed to stop it, not only in technical support forums, but all forums regardless of topic.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It seems to me that people who complain about so called 'necroposts' do not understand that sometimes there is a NEED to post updates months/years later.

    I do appreciate that frequent contributors to particular forums get upset when a thread they themselves have already read pops up again and again at the top of a forum list. This happens. It is not something (I feel) we should get upset about. We are not all talking about the same thing at the same time. To counter the perceived issue of 'necroposts', many forums feature an 'ignore' function. This feature eliminates the possibility of having to reread a topic. Otherwise, you should have the ability within yourself to recognise an aged topic and simply not click on it.

    Although not the same thing, I also appreciate that before posting a new question, the individual should take a little time to at least search to see if there is an existing and current answer to their query.

    In some cases, it shouldn't matter about time expired since the original post. For example, let's say someone queries a technical issue. They are hoping that a helpful individual will post a full, concise, and timely reply. If you think about it though, 'facts' can change over time.

    A few cases that fit the above explanation might be changes in legislation, best practice, attitudes, or consumer feedback. I could post an answer to a specific question today, and it would be 100% correct. As time passes however, my original post may become 'outdated'. In such circumstances, an updated post may be appropriate. I would not mind at all if someone reviewed my original post and offered an alternative reply months/years later, so long as the facts at a current date checked-out.

    The idea is quite simple. When someone posts, it is there for all to see and comment on (appropriately of course). It might be years later before I myself am faced with the same issue, and therefore looking for advice. If the post was answered at the time, then fair play. But if the contents of the original answer would not be appropriate today, then why not post an update?

    If I'm reading something years later, then it is of great benefit to me for someone to post new information (e.g. a new labour saving device or method). It saves myself and others getting in to difficulties that could otherwise be avoided by reading the newest information available.

    Note: the original date of the post was September 10, 2012. The reply seems to suggest that 'necroposts' are wrong - no exceptions. According to the date of the post, they did not lodge their protest until May 2, 2014 (some 20 months later). Either, the respondent appears to have missed that they are contradicting themselves, or they have a very dry sense of humour. Either way, it amused me!

    Reading back the original post, all that seems to be suggested here is that there isn't any need to get so wound-up about the issue. I happen to agree, and it's good to debate as it forces us to examine our own beliefs and behaviours.

    Let's face it, this platform of communication (the internet) is still in its infancy in the grand scale of human interaction. I'm fairly sure that in the goodness of time 'necroposts' - and the idea that they are somehow all bad - will end up a footnote in history. As it would appear, currently 5 years since the original post is not enough just yet for opinions to change completely, as I still come across people complaining about 'necroposts'... but I am seeing an improvement in attitudes.

    If you are NOT a fan of debate or new ideas, then maybe the internet isn't the place for you to express your opinions on such matters. By all means, please continue to contribute to the debate, but perhaps try thinking of an occasion where someone (not you) might find 'necroposts' useful.

    I am a necroposter, and proud.

    ReplyDelete