Similar threads - not

Discussion in 'Comments and Suggestions' started by sdgraham, Mar 27, 2017.

  1. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    I find the new "similar threads" "feature" about as useful as teats on a boar hog.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
  2. velisarius Senior Member

    Greece
    British English (Sussex)
    Yes, the ones I've looked at inEO proved to be annoying distractions more than anything. I think it's an old feature that's been reactivated.

    (Mind you, the ones below this thread do happen to be useful.:cool:)
     
  3. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    I think the feature works best when the titles are accurate and meaningful. I see many meaningful suggestions, and also some that are not so helpful. So maybe this feature is a also good to flag badly titled threads.
     
  4. mkellogg Administrator

    South Florida
    English - US
    SD, let's see how it goes and see if it gives us relevant threads from time to time.

    A few notes:
    - It bases its matches on the first three words in the title. If the title is not good or the first three words are not the most important, it won't do a good job.
    - Don't expect Google quality. I don't have a billion dollars per year to invest in it!
    - It also appears when creating a title for a new thread. The idea is to avoid duplicate threads by showing people that their question has already been asked and answered.
    Hmm. How did you figure that out? Maybe you looked at the bottom of this thread and saw some very old threads that discuss a previous version of this feature. ;) This is actually pretty funny, in a thread complaining about the feature being useless, it shows useful threads at the bottom.
     
  5. velisarius Senior Member

    Greece
    British English (Sussex)
    Harrumph... I saw a lot of these irrelevant threads being flagged before I went ahead and commented. Any threads I recommend in a post are carefully sorted and picked by hand; these are thrown up more or less at random.

    The threads below have relevance, but "Even a stopped clock...":rolleyes:
     
  6. mkellogg Administrator

    South Florida
    English - US
    Again, getting back to my lack of a billion dollar budget, it would be nice to hire you or somebody to find relevant discussions, but that isn't an option. I also hope that people would follow your recommendations much more often than these automated links!

    Feel free to give me examples of threads where the matching was rather bad and you know of a better thread that it should have shown. I will then see what I can do to tweak the matching algorithm. Again, understand that it only matches based on the first three words in the title and nothing else.
     
  7. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
    Count me as a supporter. I suspect it won't help much in Fr-En Grammar for the reasons mentioned above, but the Fr-En Vocab titles tend to be more succinct, and I think it has a lot of potential there. I don't find it distracting, so I see it as positive overall.
     
  8. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    In this thread
    <Yonder> come day, day is <a breakin’>
    the primary question is about 'a-breakin' but, of course, all the related threads are about "yonder".

    For this feature to be useful:
    A) You need to advertise the "rules" for forming titles. I was surprised that there was no announcement in this forum when this feature appeared.
    B) Moderators need to take on the responsibility for correcting ALL titles. (Speaking of million dollar budgets... ;))
     
  9. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    I did edit the title of several threads based on the suggestions. Those suggestions show whether the threads are related or not, when they're not, I change the title. When they are, I sometimes merge similar threads.
    It is a time consuming job, so don't expect everything will be perfect in no time. But it is at least a start, for everyone, to notice things that we didn't notice before.
     
  10. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
    Members, meanwhile, can take on the responsibility of facilitating that job. ;)
    I routinely report threads with bad titles, and I suggest the title I would find the most useful. I do a LOT of forum searches, so there's a great deal of self-interest involved, but I do hope it makes life easier for other members, too.

    I say routinely, but I don't think it's so often that I'm making a pest of myself, and I haven't been asked to desist yet.... :D
     
  11. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)

    I agree with Chérine on this point, and as a moderator looking at duplicate or poorly worded titles, I now make changes through this option every day. Our Forums are mostly mature enough at this point that in our roles as moderators, we regularly need to do this kind of clean-up and consolidation so that future users have an easier time of searching for an answer that is already there.

    For those who don't find this feature useful, Mike has conveniently placed it at the bottom of the page. If you don't look down there, it will never be in your way. ;)
     
  12. Gemmenita

    Gemmenita Senior Member

    Azari
    That's a very good feature, and very useful indeed. Full of advantages (even if we see irrevelant threads due to the first three words which are not the most important.) I fully support it. Thank you very much, @mkellogg.:thumbsup:

    (Just a probable solution -since I don't know what is going on in the program of this feature - for those who like relevant threads:
    Maybe, by changing the conditions of match, it would be possible to base matches on other factors, for example on the first three words which have more than 2 letters (or some other factors like that). Because the words which have 1, 2 (or even 3) letters at the beginning of titles are usually or sometimes prepositions, articles, subjects or words which are not the 'key word' of the title so are not the most important. I think this limit of number of letters, if doable, would increase the number of relevant similar threads. I thought of this after this thread: (à l')avenir / (dans le) futur, where the similar threads were based rather on à l' of the title which are 'a preposition' and 'an article'.)

    However still that's not a problem if the threads are not exactly relevant since this is the nature of 'similar threads' = similar in appearance not in the meaning.
    Sometimes in those similar appearances, we can find many other and useful new threads related to the 'key word' of our subject.
    'Similar threads' system is not a Google search...
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
  13. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    California
    English - US
    I think the automated search is likely to be more helpful for translation questions than for questions on grammar and usage, like those we answer in English Only. For grammar questions, we need a couple of words for context to indicate the focus of the discussion of a given word or grammatical structure to know whether the thread will be useful.

    Now that we know the search formula, we can try to work out a pattern that will produce good results and see how that works.

    Once we have a formula, we could add a note to the title field they fill out when they start a thread. Teaching members how to give useful titles is an on-going project now, and it always will be. Many threads are posted by new members, and it takes them a while to learn forum rules. In addition, learners may not know which words go together or make up the structure they are interested in.

    It seems to me that the list of previous threads is most useful at the point at which the OP creates the thread. If people would check those threads before they post their new thread, we might avoid a lot of duplication. (Of course, they are already supposed to search for previous threads before they start a new thread.)
     
  14. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    A thread title on the first page:
    The coach - The question is about articles, but the links will be about coaches. This suggests that many thread titles will need to be "coded." so the first three words need to be: "Definite article <third word which won't create any suggested links>" or perhaps "The vs a." Regardless, there are so many threads on definite articles, it will be very lucky if a random sample is useful.
    Perhaps a thread can be titled "{Don't even try} the coach" so the system doesn't try to link it. ;)
     
  15. velisarius Senior Member

    Greece
    British English (Sussex)
  16. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2017
  17. siares

    siares Senior Member

    Slovak
    Poor Mike! All these moanings, including the mine.
    He and helpers, however gets back at us:
    S: Can we have feature X?
    Mike/helpers: Why do you need it?
    S: 17 excellent arguments for X
    Mike/helpers: Can't you just do Y?
     
  18. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    Italian
    Precisely.
    The En-It mods have been editing poorly worded titles and asking people to choose meaningful titles for years (we have a specific tutorial to help users choose relevant titles) so the good news is that in the En-It forum this new feature works pretty well.
     
  19. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
  20. Gemmenita

    Gemmenita Senior Member

    Azari
    Hi sdgraham, :)

    I tnink that's because there are times that there is no similar thread at all for a thread.
    The thread 'A hangfire' is unique in all the Forum. So the only word which remains is 'a' and 'ha'
    >>>This means that our 'similar threads' system is very intelligent too and functions very well.
     
  21. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    Similarly, there was a thread yesterday "light carter" and, of course, the mystery word is "carter." Since no one has ever asked about "carter," useless threads on "light" are returned.
     
  22. bearded

    bearded Senior Member

    Milano
    Italian
    Sometimes a paradox may arise from the method adopted in this ''similar-threads'' feature, for example here:
    Crossword troubles... (closed for moderation)
    The thread title now reads Crossword troubles (closed for moderation)
    The ''similar threads'' read (first tip) Keep the door closed.
    :D
     
  23. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    It's just a temporary thing, Bearded. :)
    On the other hand, and from personal experience, just the past few days I got to discover many threads based on those suggestions, and I edit and merge a good number of them to make them more meaningful and accessible. As a forum user, I benefited from the suggestions, and as a moderator I found a number of bad titles that had slipped my attention at the time. :)
     
  24. bearded

    bearded Senior Member

    Milano
    Italian
    Thank you, Cherine.
     
  25. Sowka

    Sowka Senior Member

    Hannover
    German, Northern Germany
    Hello :)

    It was indeed a temporary thing.
    I agree. I often use the "similar threads" feature to find and improve thread titles that escaped my attention when they were new. And I hope that starters of new threads will look at them before posting their new question, to see whether a very similar topic has been covered before. This will help us keep our forums well-structured.
     
  26. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    My thoughts exactly. If you don't like it, just ignore it.
    Did you not read Mike's explanation? It's based on the first three words. The first two words of both of those threads are "She was."
     
  27. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    Italian
    Exactly.
    I really can't see any reason why this feature shouldn't be implemented - even when, now and then, it returns irrelevant hits it doesn't do any harm.
     
  28. velisarius Senior Member

    Greece
    British English (Sussex)
    To save fruitless clicking on titles that may prove to have no relevance, it would be nice if we could see what the thread's about simply by hovering the cursor over it. At the moment, that information is tantalisingly only half-visible (the right hand side). I wonder whether it would be possible to show it normally, (as when we hover over the thread titles on a forum home page).
     
  29. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    California
    English - US
    That is weird. I hadn't even noticed that it was there.

    The useful information is already there, I hope it's possible to make the pop-up bubble go to the right of the cursor rather than to the left.
    That would really improve the usefulness of this feature.

    Added: I just checked. On the forum pages, the contents of the first post appear directly above the title, which is perfect.
     
  30. Gemmenita

    Gemmenita Senior Member

    Azari
    More power to your hands, cherine. :) As a member, I appreciate and thank you.:thumbsup:

    ***

    I think, now that we have the opportunity of access to Similar Threads based on the first words of the title, if a Moderator who wants to edit the title of a new thread, chooses a suitable title not as before but this time regarding the importance of those first words, it would help to have a well organised and more relevant list of Similar Threads.
    An example : today I created a thread about the translation of a special verb in a particular domain.
    As a relevant title, I chose that verb with its special usage in the parenthesis.
    But right after, I saw that a Moderator chose only the part of the sentence where my verb was inside (maybe as an ancient habit in the forum for questions about translations) and this part started with : 'each time it + my verb'.

    The result was that a list of similar threads starting with 'each time' appeared under the page (as if the main question was 'each time') and then when I checked the dictionary, I saw that my thread was below the word 'each'.

    So, a thread about that particular verb which would be helpful for those who might have the same question as me, lost totally its track in the whole Forum!
    I know that Moderators are sometime overworked and it is natural that they miss sometimes such small things, so I would like very much to re-edit that title but I did not do it: first as a respect to the Moderation of that dear Moderator and then because I was not sure that members are allowed to re-edit a title edited by a Moderator, therefore I think that if the members have the permission to re-edit the title created by a Moderator within the Title editing deadline or to report it to the Moderators, would be a great help to Moderators as well as in increasing the number of relevant threads.
    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2017
  31. Paulfromitaly

    Paulfromitaly MODerator

    Brescia (Italy)
    Italian
    No, it's not a good idea, so please do not re-edit threads titles that have been previously edited by a moderator.
    Users are allowed to edit their threads title only to fix spelling mistakes or make the original title more relevant.
    If you can't figure out why the title was changed, get in touch with a mod and ask for clarification or report the thread, but don't roll the changes back.
    Thanks
     
  32. Gemmenita

    Gemmenita Senior Member

    Azari
    Oh, of course, of course that we shouldn't do as I never do it. It was just an idea with the good intention of helping in creating relevant titles if allowed.
    Thanks for reassuring me, Paul.:)

    No, I don't want (and have never wanted) to figure out why a title is changed because I am sure that the title chosen by a Moderator is always the best.:thumbsup:
    (furthermre my titles are seldom or rather never changed completely or replaced by a new one by Mods. This was the first time.;))

    My question or rather my doubt is this:

    If a member realizes that the title chosen by a Moderator has misled a Thread - without his knowing it (= à l'insu de ce Moderateur)- as my thread yesterday and therefore could increase the number of irrelevant Similar Threads, can this member report it or this would displease to Mods?

    Since 'Similar Threads' is new feature and there is no rule yet about reporting messages concerning them.


    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2017
  33. mkellogg Administrator

    South Florida
    English - US
    Hi everybody, I saw that the Similar Threads feature was causing server problems and removed it from existing threads. You will still see it suggesting other threads when you create a new thread. I might be able to bring it back at some point, but it would require a lot of work to fix the issues.
     

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