Is the similar topics feature _ever_ helpful?

It’s hard for me to judge, but I find it more annoying than useful. I get the goal of reducing duplicates, but the algorithm doesn’t really seem to be doing what it’s supposed to. Do we think this really helps users find existing information before asking, in practice?

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Just to be clear, are you referring to the similar topics that get shown when you create a new post like this:

Or the suggested topics that show up at the bottom of the screen

My opinion on the similar topics is that they are fairly useless for the reason you mentioned. The algorithm fails to find actual relevant topics.

I think the suggested topics at the bottom of the screen are an even larger issue because they encourage people to post on topics which are often old or already solved. Additionally, the suggestion algorithm is equally flawed for the support forum use case.

I was referring to the top one. In my experience it’s just an annoying thing you have to clear away so you can see the real-time preview.

I agree it is an annoyance.

That being said, I think they should both be disabled :smile:

yeah, here’s the Suggested Topics related to this thread:

None of which are particularly relevant at all, and I clicked on the top post of that and looked it its suggested posts, and they’re also quite useless. So, I’m inclined to agree with you. Anyone disagree?

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Oh, and on that setting, there are a number of tunables:


I think at least we should

  1. Limit to current category
  2. Drop both of those limits to 90 days or even shorter.

The footer links are worth keeping as they help explore other topics.
I use them occasionally and believe that it’s not just me.

The similar topics can also be helpful if title is specific enough.
That should be particularly relevant to newbies and solved threads.


I also think before switch “st” off totally, we might consider to configure/use them better.
Many times users write about their frustration and not really about the problem and this already in the title. I guess also tags would help to give a better match in similar topics?

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Software product names and specific error messages should match pretty well.
I also try to rename and tag useful threads to improve search when possible.

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The problem is that the algorithms are not made for a technical support forum. They just fundamentally don’t match. I have never seen them be relevant on any of the Linux-related discourse forums I have been to across 100s of new topics. Even with a highly specific title which most newcomers wouldn’t have.

I agree fully with you. The proposed topics are often not suitable for a certain posting and so the user are not willing to look at this proposals and so the algorithm runs out of scope and the frustration about this proposed topics grows into the sky. Duplicates fighting is out of the range of an AI because the AI must understand the whole text (semantic and sense) over different languages and that is now to much effort for nothing. :slightly_smiling_face:

Here’s another example of it being utterly useless:

Search results are certainly relevant.
Less specific keywords obviously reduce the relevance.
But it can still benefit many newbies.

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The thing is, most people don’t put search terms in the title field. They put a full sentence in and often without something as specific as a model number.

That’s true to some degree, but it’s difficult to estimate without real statistics.
Since users do not create new threads when solving their problem in this way.


I agree with @vgaetera. Solving problems without posting is very common in a forum.

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