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Flat discussions have their own problems. Threads go off topic in the middle. In a nested discussion you'd have some indication that it's off topic, in flatland you don't. Such problems are easy enough to solve with a system that lets a mod or cohort of users to split off topic posts from the old thread. That's a rare solution though. Instead we have dumb nesting that doesn't require mods or complicated cohort voting to take action on reorganizing thread. The thread organizes itself into a nested mess. So it's not that we must choose between two unnaturally limiting options of nested or flat. Neither choice is adequate. They are just easy to implement, familiar to users, etc. Better ways of organizing discussion can be designed, we barely scratched the surface. But more importantly, why are there so few attempts to improve the level of discussion online? Because outside of concrete topics like on StackOverflow it has little value. So they become some write only emotional outlet, a place to relax and not think too hard. Does it matter if those are flat or nested? Not really. And you don't have to force a potentially productive discussion into the same interface, use right tool for the job and all that.
Toggle Commented Dec 25, 2012 on Web Discussions: Flat by Design at Coding Horror
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Dec 24, 2012