In forums which have a high number of users threads can get quite long.

I have noticed that if I see a large thread I often avoid posting due to not having the time or patience to read all the responses currently posted. I also avoid posting in large threads due to thinking others will have the same attitude.

Does the amount of posts shown affect whether the user will be more or less likely to post?

3 Answers 3


It Depends

On many factors:

  • The subject matter of the thread/forum ("Who else is having problems with the latest Windows Update?")
  • The click-bait quotient of the thread title ("Who else hates Windows?")
  • The informality quotient of the thread's topic ("Let's Talk Coffee..!")

Obviously, the longer a thread is, the lower the probability is that people will read all of the posts before deciding if what they want to say will add anything constructive to the thread (and the community as a whole).

From long experience of forums, most users will either:

  1. Read the first post and reply without reading any following posts
  2. Read the first post and then argue with whoever posted last in the thread

People generally join forums/communities to type things and to share their own opinions on others - stopping and thinking (am I really adding something here) doesn't really equate that much.

I digress.

To put things simply, people are led by the thread title and (occasionally) by the contents of the opening post).


This is probably due to information overload, basically.

The scenario is that you would enter a thread and see that you have n-amount of posts to read through.

If n is lower than your reason to answer the post (effort-reward) then you would be more inclined to post your answer. This is likely due to the fact that the more you have to read (the more information the user has to actively process), the less likely the user is to contribute. The use-case is simply not interesting enough, due to the shear amount of effort having to be put into it.

However, if n is higher (there are fewer posts to read through before making a meaningful contribution), then I'm sure most people would be more inclined to post their answer.

  • "If n is higher than your reason to answer the post (effort-reward) then you would be more inclined to post your answer." Do you mean less inclined? Commented Sep 30, 2016 at 23:41
  • Indeed. Wrote that initially and changed it. Too much coding in one day. Thanks!
    – geostocker
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 8:49

I don't think users are discouraged by long threads as people like to have their say. It's commendable of you to want to read the thread before posting, but many people are not so assiduous.

I do believe that the quality of replies goes down as threads get longer. I don't have a reason for this, it's just an observation.

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