What's feasible as per users perspective- a forum with a number of random threads or the one with only a few main threads? Why it's impossible to keep a track of too many threads?
I like to participate in a general forum, so actually this is just my 2 cents...
By the way, usually, before forum goes to threads, there's also Subforum. Let's say StackExchange is a forum. Then, a Question is a thread. Then, Stackoverflow, User Experience, Ask Ubuntu, etc, act as subforum.
As far as I see, the problem with big amount of threads is, how many of them truly relevant with their forum, or say, subforum? The big amount of threads could also mean there's many of these threads:
- multiple threads with same topics (duplicate)
(in a forum I participated, if there's a big news, in just some hours, there could be >5 threads with the same topic, even same title. Even the difference between the time they're made is just about some minutes)
- threads made for advertisement that being posted in many subforums (spam)
- wrong thread in a wrong subforum
- newbie that hasn't understand/read rules and make irrelevant thread
(like, say, in a Fiction Novel subforum, users expected to make a thread discussing a series/novel, one thread for one series, and all the related things discussed there. But then there's someone make thread that the content is asking "anyone knows where I can buy X series"), etc etc.
So, what I don't like with too many threads is that means I will also see so many unnecessary threads, and if the forum has bad search engine or has a bad thread index, it'll be so hard to search for a particular thread or keep track of the threads we're interested with if we forget to subscribe/bookmark them (though, usually I just use Google and add the forum address to the keyword). But AFAIK that bounds to happen as the forum grows. As for small amount of threads, I agree with what Gus said. I could only imagine there'll be many posts cramped in a thread, and there'll be a very wide range of discussion in a thread, and that's even more confusing, at least for me.
Another problem with too many threads is that the mainpage that shows those threads, will be very, very dynamic. In forums I participated, the default sorting of threads is the-latest-reply. You open a popular subforum, the first page. Wait a moment, maybe 1-2 minutes, then refresh it. You'll see a page with totally different threads from before you refreshed it. If you make a thread, it'll be drown sooo very fast. Either you bump it yourself (which lead to/could be counted as spam), or you pray someone replies so that your thread will go to the earlier page.
Actually I'm confused with this part
Why it's impossible to keep a track of too many threads?
Who's keeping track of what?
Keeping track of threads, from technical side, should not be hard. What's hard is how you force or make users to keep track of the threads that have been made to prevent duplicate threads, or keep track of the content of the thread to be relevant to the forum/subforum topic/rules. StackExchange does the first by giving suggestion when users made a question, but as for the latter... either you implement a very good natural language/information retrieval (sorry if I said the wrong discipline) to recognize the content, or a very dedicated moderator and community to keep track of the content.
If what do you mean how user keep track of threads, well usually in a forum there's always feature to subscribe, either manually (clicking button) or automatically (replying there automatically add them to your subscribed threads) to a forum. Then there's a page where user can see all of their subscribed threads.
That's all, I'm sorry if my tl;dr post turns out irrelevant with your question.
It depends on what the forum is trying to accomplish.
In order to function as a reference, users need to be able to search for old threads, and then read them in a reasonable amount of time. Finding a specific answer requires that there be many threads, but that the threads be specific and to the point.
In order to function as a social space, users need to be able to find each other. In this case, they won't be reading back through what was said last week or last month, they will be interacting with the people who are currently in the forum.
Most forums find a happy medium by providing a few sticky threads that are for general, ongoing discussion, while allowing for many other threads which answer specific questions.
Take StackExchange Q&A network for example.
In posts that have too many answers, do you really get to the bottom of the post to see all of them? and if you do, do you actually read them?
I think that SE does a great job on gamifying the platform because the users maintain the quality of the content by upvoting the best answers, the best questions and best comments too.
It's important to notice that the sorting feature that places the most upvoted answer at the top of the post, helps the visitors to get the most out of the discussion that the post generated.