Pin-unpin-repin threads: who and when issues | Coursera Community
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Pin-unpin-repin threads: who and when issues


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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.

6 replies

Hi Namrata , I saw this but didn’t get involved because it seems there are different opinions on this subject. I can only really tell you my personal angle on this and one of the groups I have mentored in the past. Personally I don’t think there is any need to pin posts unless the person needs to draw attention to what the person has posted . We have recently as guides gone through the forum unpinning several because once they lie dormant in the portal after they have been read by the majority they just sit there serving not the purpose they were intendended for - as information to the majority they were intended for. But others may disagree and those such as the professors as you say in my opinion need to make a definite ruling on how they should be used.
Userlevel 3
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Thanks, Paul. I agree with what you say, but Prof apparently is not interested to set any rules, else by now, he would have intervened, because my thread's link (where I sought opinion to decide by majority), was also posted in a thread that Prof and TAs follow regularly, it has been a week since then. Then it only needs mentors to decide, by the majority or using discretion.
Everytime unpinning leads to unpleasantness and argument, so consensus can not be reached. So what is the way out? One more idea, that just came to my mind, There could be one dedicated forum named "important threads" or something similar and do away with "pin" option. It is difficult not only for learners but also for mentors to scroll thru so many pages to reach a thread. (Between two of us, I have unpinned your and my thread, respectfully, it is possible.)
That’s no problem unpinning ours because it we composed when there were flvery few in the forum and as far as I’m concerned if one is pinned after about 1 week it should’ve been read by most. As for the Prof. not really making anything of it I think you’ll find that as long as nothings done the majority will agree with him , tongue in cheek I think it’s called ‘ not everyone thinking for themselves or thinking they’re a little inferior, which as far as I’m concerned
, if they’re a mentor especially, they need to think for themselves a bit and as we say in the UK ‘take the bull by the horns more 🙂 but as I say that’s me talking lol
I think there are quite a few different problems around pinned threads and I do think in your case, Namrata, that you may be experiencing all of them in 1 course making it probably impossible to get a good resolution here. The one suggestion I do have would be to create 1 or a small number of new pinned threads that serve as an index for all the other threads which are currently pinned. Without being able to communicate with the person or people who keep re-pinning you're pretty stuck but perhaps if all those threads are still highlighted in this way that will be enough to satisfy them.
Userlevel 3
Badge +2
@Claire that is a good solution, I have used it in another course that I mentor. I will try to do that, means once more I must prepare myself for unpleasantness and criticism, not an issue though because I play mentor for learners.
A thread like "what is your reflection for week 4" is good for discussion, but not worth pinning, for all sessions, especially if in 4 sessions it attracted very few responses, less than two digit in most, mostly from mentors and not learners. There are many such threads for each week. We wanted to unpin 7 such threads and a few more, these threads are still there but unpinned. After unpinning them the forum saw increased activity. If responses appear in them, they will reach page one like other threads, by competing with them, if not, then that is how discussion forum is. We are not questioning quality, but only need to pin it based on utility. Else there are several threads that need to be pinned, considering heavy engagement in them.
I hope things get sorted. Worst part is that we do not know who repins them, so that we can discuss our perspective with that mentor. Thanks
@Namrata Tejwani , as Guides, as Paul said, we have gone through similar issues. At one point this year I felt the forums has lost their welcoming and motivational function. Looking over what we had and discussing it with our team members, we decided that we could combine many into one and then lock it so it didn’t create endless discussions. It would be a thread that highlighted important information, a “Helpful Hints for Success” kind of thread. As we thought of more ideas, more could always be added. This worked really well. The forums became popular again. We also felt that if no one had responded to the pinned thread in a while it needed to be unpinned. As long as a thread remained popular and active we kept it. A forum needs to be vibrant and exciting. At one point, I thought we should have a new pin of the week, that would last a week, then be unpinned.There needs to be a really important reason why a thread should remain pinned for any longer.
I think you are doing the right thing by discussing this with everyone. Ultimately, coming to a decision as a group will be best.

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