Likely Reasons for Unintentional Creation of Duplicate Threads


Likely Reasons for Unintentional Thread Duplicates

At least one person has asked how duplicate threads come into existence.  While the following list is not necessarily comprehensive, it’s what I’ve been able to determine so far from detective work.

For either e-mail or web participants:

·         Changing the subject in any way at all.  Correcting spelling, adding capitalization, or introducing a new subject when replying to an ongoing thread all cause a completely new thread to be created.  It is best to avoid any change to the subject other than what the software or most e-mail clients add automatically (which, by the way, is an, “Re: “, in front of the original subject) if your intention is to keep it associated with an existing thread.  When you really intend to spin-off a new thread based upon a sub-topic or tangent from an ongoing thread then changing the subject will cause this to occur.

For those participating by e-mail:

·         If your e-mail client does not follow the standard “Re: “ addition, and uses the equivalent abbreviation from a non-English language (I’ve observed “AW: “) it will cause a new thread to be generated.  This is also the case if your e-mail client “stacks” the “Re: “ or equivalent.  There have been messages with, “AW: AW: “ in front of the subject and I doubt that anyone is typing those by hand.  The stacked reply notation is now extremely uncommon and can most likely be turned off in a given e-mail client.

·         If you are responding to a plain-text digest and are not using the “Reply to this Message” link at the end of a message and filling in the web form I am guessing that often an unintended new thread is being created most likely due to cut and paste errors for the message subject when composing an e-mail reply.  As I mentioned earlier, using the Full-Featured digest gets around this issue because the “Respond to Group” link at the end of each message is set up to open a new message in your e-mail client with the subject formatted precisely as it  should be to avoid a new thread from being created.  It’s also nice that if you want to reply privately to the person who wrote the message you’re responding to you can simply use the “Respond to Sender” link instead.


None of the above is meant to be accusatory toward any individual, but is based on what I’ve clearly seen happening in the online forum.  I will be happy to assist anyone personally if they need to figure out how to tweak their e-mail client or in any other way to stop duplicate threads.

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