In this case (as the off-topiccer), I had no real way of knowing if the off-topic stuff I posted would be interesting or not, so I had no way to know to cross link it. In this exact case, you splitting the 40K stuff off and putting it somewhere else with a note letting us know where would be a fine solution, but not one that we could do anything about without near-mod powers.
Or a report to moderator
That is what that feature is for
! It's not for getting people in trouble, it is for bringing moderator attention to the things that need moderator action.
Alternatively, if you intend to be the second person to reply to something interesting but off topic (or rather, the first to continue
going off topic) then make the new topic where it belongs and crosslink. Surely if you feel the need to reply then it must be interesting enough...?
Part of the problem (for me, anyway) is that alot of the stuff I'll write isn't strictly off-topic (in this case, directly referencing the OP's problem topic), but that it is a separate discussion. As I mentioned earlier, bringing it up elsewhere wouldn't make any sense (I don't necessarily have the attention of the OP in a new topic), and PM's don't make sense, since I'm fine with the community weighing in on the discussion. So (for now) it's easier to go off topic inside of a thread; though I'd use a sub-thread, tag, or self-flag off-topic posts if those options were readily available.
In this case (with respect to the off topic part), you were indeed referencing the OP's problem topic but in an off-topic manner. What does 40k's ship size have to do with kaptnkrunch's troubles? It is tangentially related
but still off topic. It shouldn't be hard to determine something like that would be best suited as a link to a new topic ("Related to your thread, I have an issue with 40k's ship sizes. Read about it here!"), or perhaps even bring it up in the existing 40k thread
. Making an offhand comment about something off-topic is fine; going full-bore into detail (especially when its content is longer than the on-topic stuff!) is not.
You don't need the attention of the OP directly in a new thread. If you put a link with a teaser as to the content that would be sufficient; if the OP (or any other reader, for that matter) were interested he or she would voluntarily follow. This is not intended as a personal jab (I believe you yourself meant well with it) but "I don't have the attention of the OP" is objectively a selfish attitude, and effectively hijacking an existing thread does not bode well for the merits of your own discussion. Just because something is "easier" doesn't make it right, so long as the alternative option isn't overly complicated. Having to deal with sub-topics and flags and bookmarks (none of which are currently implemented, and to who's benefit? such a system only works if everyone participates) is much more complicated than reporting a discussion which needs to be moved or creating a new topic when appropriate (both of which are already in use on this forum, by the members).
However, that isn't how forums work; people come to them to discuss.
"Not how forums work" is a matter of opinion, of which there are varying degrees across the Internet. Obviously my opinion on the matter differs from yours but I do not exclaim that this is how forums are supposed to work. I merely stated that is not the intent of this
forum. Yes, people come to forums to discuss. Curated discussion is still discussion, and curated discussion is also productive
discussion. Most forums are not social free-for-alls, they are established for a purpose. Discussion can still be had within the scope of that purpose, and most forums also provide a section explicitly for discussion which is not.
Which brings us back to the topic of this
thread: self-policing. Both of our proposed systems require active participation by the community to achieve the the goal which we all share. Can a collection of self-tagged posts and self-moderated member community be effective at keeping discussions useful? Of course it can. But if the current community cannot already police itself in following the very simple forum rules then please forgive me for the lack of confidence in its ability to voluntarily adhere to a system of self-organization. Some members will (and do), but just as it is "easier" to go off topic it will be "easier" to just ignore tags and flags entirely - both systems have the same weakness. At that point it comes down to the preferred style of site moderation (self, or by appointed delegates) determined by the owners/administrators of the forum, ZanMgt.