I am currently mentoring Social psychology course, where this issue is taking up lots of time to discuss and unpleasantness that adds to unproductive waste of time to arrive at a decision.
Despite having 250 plus mentors, most of them are apparently not active, mentors who are active, face opposition when they try to unpin any thread. I am sure many mentors must be facing this dilemma, whether to unpin or not.
I would like to use the example of my forum, (please read it as use case only, so that we can relate to the real problem, no other intention).
Our forum's "all threads" landing page show 17 plus pinned posts. Since most of the learners use small screens (tabs, mobiles) it makes the discussion experience less conducive to participate in threads that see high activity but do not appear on 1st or 2nd page as these active threads cannot compete with the inactive pinned threads (the content of most threads is also not something falling in the category of "learner must know/ read/ participate").
I created a thread in the mentor forum to discuss this issue. Only 2 mentors participated and agreed to unpinning and repinning when needed. After declaring there, I unpinned 10 such threads and saw no opposition for the next 10 days. Then one of the mentors rightly felt that there should be some rule, set by TA or Prof. In my opinion, mentors are rightfully authorised to pin, unpin, repin thru discussion, giving reasons. This is how training course also trains us. I notified that I am unpinning. No one objected. All good. Then one fine day, I saw all unpinned threads repinned, without any added utility, notification or reason. All those pins are not active, most have only mentors interaction in the past, no learner participation. Since I had already unpinned them once, I kept myself away this time. Another mentor this time felt that the landing page is becoming difficult to navigate. So she again discussed it in the mentor forum. After 2 days, without any other mentor responding, except me, she unpinned a few. I know it is going to set a vicious cycle. Since we both notified, we are going to face unpleasantness. One who does this discreetly (repinned them) is better off, but it may lead to making a game out of unpinning-repinning and waste of time that can be put to better use by engaging learners. Meanwhile, despite bringing it to notice of TAs and Prof, they have not intervened. That leaves us to take a call ourselves, among mentors. (This all is just to give readers of this thread an example to relate)
Now my concern is
1. Learners experience of discussion forum must get priority or not.
2. Should we not evaluate pinning of a thread on the merits of its utility, instead of my thread- your thread?
2. If a pinned thread is created, shouldn't the creator review and unpin it when the thread has served its purpose. (I do that), and save others from this unpleasantness or accept other mento's discretion.
3. If possible, can the new platform be added with a feature or two to maintain aesthetics and the functionality of the forum, for example
a. Not showing all the pinned posts on "all threads" landing page, instead, they must only be visible on the respective forums where they are pinned.
b. Set a limit to pinned threads, say in a 6 weeks course, only 6 threads can be pinned at any given time. It is possible, fe, WhatsApp gives the option of only 3 pins at any given time.
c. More suggestions?
I would appreciate constructive discussion, how they solve it in their forums, so that many mentors are able to deal with this issue in a best and pleasant way.