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MN - What to do with zombie threads?

(35 Posts)
WhatchaMaCalllit Tue 05-Jul-16 12:41:08

I was reading a thread that was set up in 2011 and was revived a number of times since then with lengthy gaps between dates of posting.

How workable would it be to lock threads that are older than 2 years? Then if someone wants to continue the conversation, an option to create a new thread linking it to the old one (hyperlink in the first post) would be available?

Is that something that MN could look into doing? Please??


KatherineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 05-Jul-16 18:43:55

Hi whatchamacallit,

We've just released the zombie warning - which will show up at the top of any old threads. While we don't lock older threads, we hope this will help signal to new posters and prevent any accidental revivals.

If you report to us, we can hit the 'exclude from block' button to stop an old thread from appearing from in trending.

WhatchaMaCalllit Tue 05-Jul-16 21:18:29

Thanks KatherineMN! Good to know

cozietoesie Tue 05-Jul-16 22:54:08

But why aren't they capable of locking, Katherine? Surely it would prevent deliberate circumvention of the zombie status by those who wanted to do so for whatever reason? (I'd actually rather old threads were simply culled unless put on Classics - but that's another thread, I guess.)

MalcolmTuckersEyebrows Sat 09-Jul-16 14:12:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tribpot Sat 09-Jul-16 14:17:09

I'd also like to know why threads can't be locked after a suitable period of time. Is this is a technical limitation? The time taken to respond to a report of a zombie thread often means the damage is done before anyone from MNHQ gets to it, and half a dozen people or more have started replying to a thread not realising it's from 2006.

cozietoesie Sat 09-Jul-16 14:26:24

AIBU currently has 3701 pages of threads. At - say - 50 threads par page that's what - 185 thousand threads on AIBU alone?** And that's just AIBU.

UnGoogleable Sat 09-Jul-16 16:34:35

I wonder why they can't be culled as well - I think of the thousands upon thousands of trash threads that are there for posterity... what's the point in keeping them?

BertieBotts Sat 09-Jul-16 17:06:00

They don't want to lock them because occasionally it's useful to have an old thread revived. And the problem with only allowing the OP to update is that sometimes a poster needs to re-register. New email, forgotten password, etc.

It would also be a massive job to go back and search through all old threads and see which ones are trash and which are worth keeping, so it's not possible to only delete old rubbish threads. Google searches are a huge source of traffic to the site - MN are not going to delete old threads. I wouldn't want them too either as old threads are very useful to search through when you want to find information.

Zombie warning should be permanent though, not only for the first couple of posts. IMHO smile

cozietoesie Sat 09-Jul-16 17:40:16

For how long do you intend to keep them though, Bertie? 2020, 2040 - ad infinitum? I wonder how many ASs are actually carried out each day by people who genuinely want to reference a useful old thread and not just to check whether a poster has any significant posting history before referring to MNHQ? Besides which, there's Classics which might be made more of.

People seem to have this instinctive resistance to disposing of information that doesn't 'appear' to be difficult to do. Almost on a 'You never know' basis.

The Cloud has actually done a disservice in my view. Managing teams no longer feel the pressing need to dispose of data or enforce data discipline and don't seem to notice the implications for actually processing the stuff that's sitting on some remote server.

usual Sat 09-Jul-16 17:48:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cozietoesie Sat 09-Jul-16 17:52:23

There are many many boards where I would be most reluctant to take any advice without checking most thoroughly. At least any technical or legal/informational advice - you might encounter serious problems if you tried to follow such advice that was given - say - back in 2006 on some things.

BertieBotts Sun 10-Jul-16 12:38:18

It's not me keeping them - MNHQ have said in the past they have no intention of ever mass-deleting old posts.

Storage is cheap. It just keeps getting cheaper. It's not an issue that it will run out. Likely the internet will be replaced with something entirely different well before then anyway.

The point about advice changing is why there is a culture on this forum for new posts to be preferred rather than resurrecting old threads. But some advice stays the same - suggestions for recipes, ideas to help babies sleep better, relationship advice. As said, it would be a mammoth task to sift through what is relevant and what isn't, and that's not a job a computer can be programmed to do, it makes more sense just to leave them there, archived, so people can do what they want.

AYD2MITalkTalk Sun 10-Jul-16 12:43:52

I hope none of you are archivists!

Just imagine being a social historian in 2116 and knowing that you could have had access to a huge database of intimate personal posts, political debate, childrearing advice, etc., representing a particular section of society, their opinions and lives, in great detail, from 100 years ago, but it was deleted to save a few pence on storage.

AYD2MITalkTalk Sun 10-Jul-16 12:45:24

I'm just imagining how fascinating it would be to read 1916 MN.

cozietoesie Sun 10-Jul-16 12:53:48

There would be no need to dispose of the data of course - MNHQ would likely need it in any case for various purposes. (Leaving aside the social historians and archivists.) it would only be necessary to delete it from the publicly accessible site.

I'd best sit on my hands, now though. The connection with the OP relates only to the notion that culling would actually dispose, largely, of the zombie issue.

AYD2MITalkTalk Sun 10-Jul-16 13:05:24

That's a relief cozie.

Yeah, don't think any of us can be under the impression that MN stores and serves all these threads merely for our edification and enjoyment 😂

I don't have a problem with locking old threads.

AYD2MITalkTalk Sun 10-Jul-16 13:08:49

I'm still sore about the BBC throwing away some of my favourite TV shows, and the time it seemed like Yahoo were just going to toss all of Geocities.

KindDogsTail Sun 10-Jul-16 13:10:46

I once found some useful information I had never seen anywhere - MN or anywhere else - on a Zombie thread.

I have responded to one or two by mistake though, even though the sign is clear enough.

BertieBotts Sun 10-Jul-16 16:57:20

Is geocities not gone? I had a geocities site. I can't remember what it was though.

AYD2MITalkTalk Sun 10-Jul-16 17:07:40

It was archived, I think? At least I hope it was. There was a big campaign and effort to get it archived before yahoo just threw it all away.

What if the Pokemon website of the future president of the united states was on there, or the manifesto of a mass-murderer to be? It was an enormous part of internet culture at one time. I think I had one too grin

GarlicStake Tue 12-Jul-16 03:10:08

I agree with AYD2. Whenever I click on one of my bookmarks and find it's dead, I think of that oft-repeated phrase "It's on the internet forever". No, it bloody isn't!

It feels like when you go to buy the only lipstick that's ever suited you perfectly and find the bastards have discontinued it.

Data storage is just expanding all the time - there's no practical reason to delete old things, and it's already amazing to read discussions from as few as 12 years ago.

I don't see anything wrong with zombie revivals. Some have taken on a new life 2 or 3 times. As long as someone's getting the discussion they wanted, who cares whether they started it or not? It's annoying when a spammer wakens the dead - but spam's annoying on any thread.

FastWindow Tue 12-Jul-16 03:18:24

I suppose it depends on the subject of the thread. The cat shit thread recently reanimated was pointless : the op had probably long since lost any input or interest.

But a thread regarding, oh, i dont know, pregnancy fears, top tips, etc: useful bumping. Maybe.

However, I wonder if we've had a spate of reanimators recently. A new type of troll?

RustyBear Tue 12-Jul-16 03:25:58

I think that now there's a zombie warning both ends of the threads it'll be much better, as it'll save people wasting time on threads they don't realise are old.

GarlicStake Tue 12-Jul-16 03:47:44

I loved it when someone accidentally posted on her own zombie thread grin She agreed with the OP!

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