Random Topics

While spam is a Bad Thing, it occasionally has the effect of drawing my attention to a page that I've never seen before, bringing old topics to the front for some fresh attention.

The current design of Lambda the Ultimate makes it quite difficult to locate old topics. The use of Search helps if you already have a topic in mind, but if your mind is at all like mine then you often browse LtU hoping only to find the topics at the top of the heap interesting rather than knowing in advance your destination.

I suggest adding support for bringing random topics to the top of that heap.

The possibility my mind seems to be stuck on is adding to the 'Active forum topics' and 'New forum topics' a third column entitled 'Random forum topics' that includes five random topics.

If the idea is accepted, these topics could be chosen randomly on a periodic basis (so everyone sees the same five random topics), and perhaps on a rotating basis (e.g. each of the five topics rotates off the top and a new random topic is injected periodically at the bottom). Alternatively, they could be random on a per-view basis. Some experimentation here is possible.

Are there other thoughts on this possibility?

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Not a bad suggestion, in my opinion

I find google's site:lambda-the-ultimate.org to be useful for locating old topics ;-) But this seems to have some merit.

One question is what would the probability distribution be for selecting random pages? I don't want to tilt the distribution heavily in favor of some predetermined set of topics, but I don't think a uniform distribution would be best either. Maybe it would be the best starting point though, at least until somebody has some insight into what a good probability distribution would be.

How about an "I'm feeling

How about an "I'm feeling lucky" button? ;-)

This gets me thinking...

If we prioritized topics based on:

  1. oldest topic first
  2. most unfamiliar topic first - number of people who have NOT seen the topic (marked as read, or responded to it)

And, if we found the right balance between these two constraints, then it might work very nicely.

Constraint #1 helps to keep linear the context, history, and pedagogy of the discussion material.

Constraint #2 helps to create the largest discussion-size possible.

Perhaps easier is to give a

Perhaps easier is to give a higher probability to threads with many comments and threads with no comments compared to all other discussions.