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Re: Changing the subject of threads

Ed Greshko wrote:
> 1.  If one wishes to change the name of a topic it is not sufficient to
> simply reply to a given topic and change the subject.  The headers in the
> reply to the original topic will remain intact and will not be broken into a
> separate thread by some/most (I didn't take a survey) mail readers.

I asked:
> Is this actually desired, though?

Ed said:
> Usually it is.  Otherwise, why mess with the subject line at all?
> Normally the subject line is altered to say:
> "Now talking about this" (Was: Talking about that)
> This happens normally not with the OP but when the content of the message
> strays from the original question/subject to something entirely
> different.

OK. What you'd *like* is for the subject to change and the thread to be
cut when the topic drifts. This also assumes that the topic drifts in
one post -- this isn't a given. And that poster should always change the
subject and cut the thread.

Good luck!

In practice, this *doesn't* often happen -- even when you have "net
police" reminding people to change subjects.

As I wrote:
> But usually, a topic will drift over a number of posts. My experience is
> that on most forums the subject will drift and only some time later
> someone will think to change the subject line.

Ed said: 
> Correct, and since they are changing the subject line they are indicating
> the topic has changed it is logical that the a new thread is desired.

Only if one could have the existing posts on the drifted topic in the
new thread. That's not technically possible.

Ed wrote: 
> If the new subject is of the one I described above, it is easy to determine
> the original thread.  Search on subject.

Then yes, if you come across the new thread before the original thread,
you can find what the original thread was.

If someone comes across the *old* thread first, not only will they be
unaware of the new thread, they may well contribute a new response to
the old thread saying substantially the same things as the first post in
the new thread, but *still* forgetting to change the subject -- or
changing it to something else!

> Sorry if I was not clear.  But I'm talking about situations where the
> original topic was "How do I clean an oven" that has stray into "Why a Ford
> is better than a Buick".

Good example. That one might go via "cleaning methods", "what sort of
chemicals can you use to clean certain types of car paint", "you
wouldn't want to use X on a car -- it's OK for cleaning ovens" and "you
should *never* use X on an oven!"

Assuming both subjects are on-topic for the forum, some of the
intermediate posts are at the same time part of *both* topics. And you
can't cut the thread at "you should *never* use X on an oven!" without
removing it from context and risking readers just seeing "X is OK for
cleaning ovens" and ruining their oven...

And if the poster of "you should *never* use X on an oven!" forgets to
change the subject, you're likely to have several responses, some with
different subjects, and some in different threads. That's not ideal,

Or we could look at this example. I've changed the subject of the
thread, because it's drifted. But it's a close response to yours, and
belongs with yours. I can't go back and change the subject of your post,
or of my previous one.


E-mail:     james@ | "As for Nitel, the state telephone monopoly, the less
aprilcottage.co.uk | said the better, which might well be the company's
                   | motto."
                   |     -- The Economist, about Nigeria

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