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"Discussion" versus "Topic" versus "Thread"

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Jorm (WMF) (talkcontribs)

I think most everyone is agreed that the word "Thread" is not as user-friendly as we would like. To that end, I've been standardizing on "Discussion". However, there are some places where that word becomes awkward (at least in English). I have thus been thinking about using the word "Topic" as well, though I'm not keen on using both terms simultaneously.

Right now, I'm leaning towards having it be a "Discussion Page" that contains multiple "Topics", which are comprised of a single "Summary" and n+ "Posts":

  • Page
    • Discussion Page
      • Topics (n+)
        • Summary (0-1)
        • Posts (n+)

The big value here is readability of buttons and actions ("New Topic", "Drag Post", etc.) .

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Kghbln (talkcontribs)

Hi Jorm, I am not very happy with threads either. Your proposal sounds good. Why not saying dialogue page instead of discussion page? I think this is what it is all about. Discussion has a slightly negative touch. Cheers --kgh 10:18, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

Nemo bis (talkcontribs)

"Topic" is hardly translatable, please avoid it. What's the problem with "Discussion"? A discussion, multiple discussions in the discussion page, or talk page if we use the same name as now (in English).

Kghbln (talkcontribs)

Why should topic be hardly translatable? Discussion it pretty narrow to be quite frank. Cheers --kgh 11:13, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

Nemo bis (talkcontribs)

For example there's no translation of "topic" in Italian. Literal translation would be "argomento", but it can't be used for a discussion.

Jorm (WMF) (talkcontribs)

Is there an italian word that has a similar semantic concept? What does phpbb3 use? If I recall correctly, they have "Forums", "Topics", and "Posts".

Kghbln (talkcontribs)

There is another way out. As I understand this is about English. However, all of this will be localised at betawiki. Thus every language may choose what fits best? --kgh 17:39, 4 August 2010 (UTC)

Nemo bis (talkcontribs)

phpbb uses "argomento", but that's not a valid example (they don't have many/good translators to Italian; I was asked to help but I didn't have time). Sometimes "topic" is left untranslated. Yes, translation can be adapted, but if you choose such a "problematic" word as source you can be sure that many translations will either 1) be misleading or incorrect, as "argomento" in Italian, 2) be in some jargon that general public doesn't understand (while your aim is to improve usability), 3) be a loanword (topic itself) or maybe a neologism – and that's even worse.

Anyway, I'm not sure that "topic" is good in English: the "topic" of the talk page is the associated page; there are multiple discussions on several sub-topics (or often on recurring sub-topics). On a forum, you would often use only one thread/topic for such related discussions, and if we borrow this term I'm afraid that people could do the same on wiki. Actually, an analogy is impossible: you can call the thread "topic", then the talk page would be like a "subforum" (or "section" in some forum systems). Even if phpbb3 has unlimited nested levels, you won't find any forum with hundreds of thousands or millions of subforums.

Anyway, I appreciate that you're considering these linguistic problems: obviously, "thread" is even worse in that respect, e.g. in Italian there's no translation at all, apart from a neologism.

Jorm (WMF) (talkcontribs)

I don't know that finding a single word that matches perfectly; we really need to come up with a concept that matches, something that flows naturally and implies a parent-child relationship.

This is the type of thing where knowing fifty languages would be useful.

Nemo bis (talkcontribs)

I agree, and I think that "discussion" is the best concept to adopt. :-)

Kghbln (talkcontribs)

I do not know if it will be possible or useful to cater for all languages even though this would be the best case scenario. At some point we have to rely on what the translators do. The English should make sure that the wording is ok for them and describes the situation best as Jorm already wrote. E. g. to directly translate “thread” into German, though there is a matching word for it, would lead to disaster. Thus “thread” was ignored in favour of a word that describes best what is meant. I think this should be possible in all other languages, too. Just speaking as a foreigner, but Jorm's proposal still sounds good to me.

He7d3r (talkcontribs)

Indeed, the portuguese translation currently is "Tópico" (topic), because the words corresponding to thread are not that acceptable in this context.

Thorncrag (talkcontribs)

Hmm, when I think of Wikipedia and so forth, I think of "opening a discussion" and really a thread is just referring to an entire discussion right? The problem I have with "topic" semantically is that it's fairly broad, because you can have multiple discussions on a single topic. For instance, a proposal which encompasses a topic can be opened, then closed multiple times. The topic is the same, but multiple discussions have taken place on it. If this makes any sense or helps...

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