Forking topics

Danyl Strype Public Seen by 157

Could a discussion which starts to go off on a useful tangent, or cover too wide a topic area, be forked into multiple discussions?


Danyl Strype Sat 8 Dec 2012

In one of my groups there is a person who doesn't really understand the tool yet, and will post lengthy off-topic rants on whichever discussion thread is most active. These rants are often good discussion starter, they're just out of place.

* I'd love to be able to select a comment, and click a button which removes that comment from the discussion, and starts a new discussion, with that comment as the first post (and leaves a note and link to that effect).
* I'd love to have the option of doing this with a selected part of a comment (eg part of the comment is on-topic, and another part is good starter for another discussion)
* I'd love to be able to choose whether the comment (or fragment) is removed from the original discussion, or left there and cloned into the new discussion (in case it's relevant to both). This one is less important though.


Jon Lemmon Sat 8 Dec 2012

Yeah, people have been talking about this for a while now. It definitely seems like some of the discussions are getting a bit unwieldy and could benefit from something like this. The main issue I see with forking/branching discussions is that if it's used improperly it could potentially cause more harm than good (a whole bunch of scattered conversations everywhere without necessary group focus).

Anyway, @strypey are you keen try making some mock-ups for what you imagine this feature might look like? I've just added you to our balsamiq account. Balsamiq is what we use for quickly mocking up feature ideas. It's super fast/simple and is really useful for getting the group to engage with ideas for upcoming features.


Danyl Strype Sat 8 Dec 2012

Maybe one way to avoid the fragmentation in large groups would be to limit the forking power to admins (and maybe in larger groups, topic-minders empowered by the admins?)

Thanks for the invite, I will check out Balsamiq. However, I don't think this would be visually complicated. I envision a button with fork logo on it, visible only to admins (and topic-minders), which appears next to every comment. The process would be:
1) Admin clicks the Fork button, which open a new discussion page, with the forked comment in the context field.
2) The admin adds a title.
3) The admin clicks a tick box if they want to remove the comment from the original discussion (and the 'email group members' tick box if appropriate)
4) Admin clicks 'Start discussion'
5) The new discussion is created
6) A note like "this comment has been forked into a new discussion called 'Foo'" is inserted into the original discussion where the forked comment was (or still is), and linked to the new discussion


Danyl Strype Sat 8 Dec 2012

I'd also like to have another button - again maybe on visible to admins - which allows a comment to be linked to an existing discussion which is relevant to it. Maybe with a knot logo on it? The process would be:
1) Admin clicks the Link button
2) A data field opens up for the admin to paste the link or title of the relevant discussion into
3) Admin clicks a 'Link Comment' button under that data field
4) A linked note is added, similar to the fork note, "The Foo discussion contains information relevant to this comment"


Richard D. Bartlett Sat 8 Dec 2012

Sounds good. Just wanted to +1 the idea of doing a mockup. In my experience the act of drawing the feature always changes the design of the feature, regardless of how small it is.


Jon Lemmon Sat 8 Dec 2012

@strypey regarding mock-ups... it's not about the visual complication of the feature, it's the fact that mock-ups are inherently a way better language to use to discuss features than text alone. With balsamiq, anyone can easily propose alternate versions, move things around, rename stuff... and just get a general overall feel for the feature and the various possibilities.

It's also a way of progressing the feature forward into the next stage of development (design). Anyway, point being, if you post a mock-up you'll get better engagement from the group around the idea, and it will be easier for the feature to progress into the next stages of development.


Danyl Strype Sun 9 Dec 2012

Fair 'nuff. Done and done.


Jon Lemmon Sun 9 Dec 2012

Sweet. Cheers for that.

@strypey's mockup is here:


James McCann Mon 10 Dec 2012

These look really good.

Just adding a few comments - I like the idea of linking the discussions as Strypey proposed. Does the comment become duplicated into each discussion? E.g. a new comment is added to the 'link discussion' saying "Comment linked from XXX...' etc?


naught101 Wed 11 Mar 2015

Is there any way to view those balsamiq mockups without having to log in?


Alanna Irving Mon 16 Mar 2015

@jonlemmon could you screenshot them and post them here?


Philippe Jadin Fri 29 May 2015

Any progress on this feature? We really need a way to move replies to another thread. Deleting is not an option if you want to keep the plurality of voices. Moving is much better :-)


Matthew Bartlett Sun 27 May 2018

Neat that this feature is live now.
I wonder if a less techie way of talking about it would be 'split' rather than 'fork'?
I'd love to be able to move proposals, not just comments.


Danyl Strype Mon 28 May 2018

I agree, this is a feature I started clamouring for when the Loomio team were still using Yammer, and it's fantastic to see it go live.

@matthewbartlett 's concern about using terms from Ancient Geek is totally valid, but IMHO fork is a fairly self-evident metaphor, given that most people are familiar with a fork as a piece of cutlery, and as a way of describing what tree branches do, or "a fork in the road". I also think using it for discussions could help people better understand the way the term is used in tech.


mike_hales Tue 29 May 2018

I'm with Strypey - Fork is jargon, and it's good to share the languages of skilled trades, they enrich our awareness of how stuff is done, and they're poetry. Anyway, fork is a pretty ordinary notion for road users and walkers, and it is a path that we're waymarking.


Gerard Cooke Wed 24 Apr 2019

I find the 'Fork Thread' function to be very useful, to pull a selection of comments to start a new thread with.
However, it would be very useful to also be able to transfer comments into a pre-existing thread, where perhaps the subject is more relevant.
Also, it would be good to be able to merge two threads, while keeping the chronology of the comments. On occasion different threads are started by two members on the same topic, and it would be good to bring the conversations together.
Is there a way to achieve these things, or is this in development?


Rob Guthrie Wed 24 Apr 2019

Hi Gerard, the current plan is to rename "Fork" to "Move comments" and enable people to move selections of comments between threads (either new or existing)

Right now we're finishing our rewrite of the Loomio frontend rewrite (switching from AngularJS 1 to Vue). Once we've switched to the new client we can make functionality changes again.

Expect to see a beta release announcement in the next few weeks.


Gerard Cooke Wed 24 Apr 2019

That's excellent, thank you.


mike_hales Wed 24 Apr 2019

Robert . . When the change to Vue comes, does this brings changes in searchability of comments?


Rob Guthrie Thu 25 Apr 2019

No, it brings in almost no new user facing features - except a WYSIWYG editor with much better file and image handling.

The intent is to reach feature parity, as both clients need to work against the same server until the new one is ready to replace the old one. Then new feature dev can resume once we've moved everyone to the new client.

The benefits of the the new framework include
- ongoing support (Angular.JS and Angular Material are both discontinued libraries)
- faster to develop features with and better existing components (such as Vuetify)
- much better mobile support (we're able to introduce mobile apps built on this shortly after beta begins)

I hear you about the need for greater search support though.


Gerard Cooke Sun 11 Aug 2019

Any update on this please @robertguthrie?


Rob Guthrie Sun 11 Aug 2019

Sorry, no progress has been made on moving comments into existing threads - however it is still something we will do.

Loomio 2.0 releasing is coming up though and I expect you'll see move comment come along in the few months following the release


Gerard Cooke Mon 12 Aug 2019

Thank you for the update.


Gerard Cooke Wed 29 May 2019

Further to this, will it be possible to move the context text from a new thread, to become a comment within an existing thread? Too many times, someone starts a new thread, on a topic that's already being discussed elsewhere, with all of the pertinent new info within the 'context' field.


Rob Guthrie Wed 29 May 2019

yikes! thanks for letting me know.

One idea that comes to mind is changing the start thread form to a page, where you fill in the title, then can add a comment or set the context... meaning that if you're just following the flow you'll just add a comment, which could be moved easily.


Danyl Strype Tue 11 Jun 2019

I notice that people in groups I'm active in are hesitant to use the context box as an evolving TL;DR summary of a thread as its goes on, which from memory, was intended to be its function. I suspect it's often because the someone put a lot into work into the discussion starter that becomes the initial content of the context box, so editing the box feels like vandalizing their work. With the 'start thread' form tweaked as @robertguthrie suggests here, such discussion starters could be posted as comments, with a TL;DR (or nothing) in the context box, freeing it up to be used as a summary space. To facilitate that, I suggest the order of the form go; title, comment box, context box, with an 'optional' label on the latter.