5

Now that moderators gave the ability to lock comments, I’m encountering many more questions where I can’t leave a link to a related (but not a duplicate) question. In the past, I’ve also seen links to related questions removed when a comment discussion was moved to chat (that is not a complaint; the tools for comment moderation suck and related question links are easy to overlook).

I’m going to conflate “linked” questions, which are questions from the site users have linked in comments or answers, and “related” questions which are generated by an algorithm. I don’t find the “related” questions that useful for most of the sites I participate on, but I’m not specifically asking for this to be a replacement. I am mainly asking for folks to think about “related/linked” questions as more of a community curated list than it currently is.

I would like a feature that allows users to add a related question to the list in the sidebar even on comment-locked questions. If the question is locked for all interactions, that lock should prevent this one as well. Linking related questions should probably be a privilege similar to “comment anywhere”, but maybe the reputation required could be lower if the links were limited to existing, not-deleted questions on the network.

It would be nice if the questions could be from other Stack Exchange sites, not just the current site. Maybe just from sites where there is a migration path to or from the current site.

It would be nice if the community could vote on whether or not they were truly related, and if the order they were listed depended on that.

There should also probably be a way to flag a link as unrelated or no longer needed, but that may be overkill. Moderators will need a way to be able to manage the list though since they won’t be able to just delete a comment to remove a linked question.

Comments are not a good place to preserve this information. However some of the comments have made me consider the advantages of comments for adding related questions, namely:

  • comments ping the author and bring the related question to their attention
  • comments under a question have more visibility to the community.
  • A new comment pings people following the question

I don’t think they’re insurmountable problems, but they are something to think about if we ever decide to make related questions a full-fledged feature instead of a bit of an afterthought.

19
  • I thought at one time related links were preserved even though the comment was deleted, but I have seen at least one recently that didn’t stick around.
    – ColleenV
    Jul 19 at 17:30
  • 1
    Linking related questions without commenting... where?
    – Ollie
    Jul 19 at 17:34
  • 2
    @Ollie In the same place related questions are linked now :) but I see your point and will edit to be more explicit. I really should do these at home with a keyboard instead of during lunch on my phone.
    – ColleenV
    Jul 19 at 17:36
  • 1
    Gotcha. I like the idea of linking questions from across the network; more often than not I find duplicate-targets on MSO/U rather than MSE. If we're going to do that, perhaps the system that auto-finds related questions could search the network instead of just that site as well.
    – Ollie
    Jul 19 at 17:47
  • 1
    Do you have a proposed UI for how this would work?
    – bobble
    Jul 19 at 18:05
  • 2
    @bobble Nope, I try to just state what I want and let the folks that know their code better than I do figure out what’s best. Unless what I want is a UI change, then I have opinions lol
    – ColleenV
    Jul 19 at 18:06
  • 1
    If we do this, I'd want it to be a 10k or higher privilege to avoid most of the conflicts this could bring. Last thing we should want is create another source of confusion to new users and conflict to those relatively new to the site. Having comments leaves at leas the pretence of accountability, a source of what provided the link.
    – Mast
    Jul 19 at 19:18
  • 3
    @Mast Anyone who can leave a comment can add to the related questions link currently. I think 10k is counterproductive. If I can suggest a duplicate, why would I need more rep to suggest a related question?
    – ColleenV
    Jul 19 at 19:22
  • If we allow moderatos to modify they need domain-specific knowledge, which is something we (currently) don't require from moderators. Perhaps we could levy the power of tag-badge holders here, silver ones perhaps?
    – Luuklag
    Jul 19 at 19:22
  • @Luuklag We allow mods to unilaterally close questions, but not to remove irrelevant related questions? They can already remove them by deleting the comment, if we don’t use comments we need to preserve that ability some other way.
    – ColleenV
    Jul 19 at 19:24
  • Im not saying we shouldn't, as there surely are moderators that do have the required domain knowledge, but that perhaps it isn't the best avenue.
    – Luuklag
    Jul 19 at 19:25
  • 4
    @Luuklag Why do you think think mods would need more restraints than they currently have simply because adding a related question link doesn’t involve commenting? What if someone abuses that system to link all of their questions to an HNQ? Mods can’t fix it? Frankly I’m surprised people haven’t figured out how to abuse related questions yet; that just goes to show how few people look at them I guess.
    – ColleenV
    Jul 19 at 19:31
  • 1
    Related: meta.stackexchange.com/q/199989/346823
    – LShaver
    Jul 19 at 21:32
  • Because of the comments, abuse of the related questions would be fairly obvious. That might be why it isn't abused as much.
    – Mast
    Jul 20 at 15:08
  • 1
    @Mast I think you overestimate how visible the abuse would be. I think it’s just not very apparent to most folks why they would bother trying to abuse the system. Regardless, I think linked/related questions should be treated as content worthwhile enough to merit community curation instead of it just being a list of any random thing someone wants to link or a list of questions with similar words/tags that aren’t even remotely relevant because computers are illiterate.
    – ColleenV
    Jul 20 at 15:24

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