Could the devs consider a change to the “Reply” options please.
As is, it’s unclear to users, even experienced users, which “Reply” button to use. I’m not saying that experienced users don’t understand the difference, but I am saying that the wrong button is being used.
The one suggestion made was to rename the two Reply buttons to “Reply to User” and “Reply to Topic”, although I’d suggest that a clearer way would be “Reply to Post” and “Reply to Topic” (for the blue button), as per the Tooltips.
I don’t see that there is (or there wasn’t when that post was made, four years back) a plugin, rather it could be done via a CSS hack, which I know is not a simply turn-key solution, but it’s an improvement that I’d like to see.
I’ve definitively seen this confusion as well (and accidentally used a different reply than I intended when I wasn’t paying attention). Instead of a local hack, maybe this would be better raised on Discourse Meta to consider a proper fix? @SamSaffron , thoughts?
Related problem: If you reply to an entire post, the system edits out the quoted text, and then it’s unobvious what you’re replying to. So if “Reply to post” is to be improved, I’d want to see the linkage more visible there too.
(Or just remove that “feature”. I end up working to bypass it eg by deliberately omitting one character from the post I’m quoting, just to stop it from suppressing the quoted text.)
Interestingly, one of the things which seems to be working well
with Discourse’s “mailing list mode” is that the Message-ID header
embeds the specific post ID number from the forum, and so any reply
to a message with a competently-implemented MUA will include a
corresponding In-Reply-To header which Discourse uses to determine
where to thread that within the topic. The upshot of this is that
normal replies work like a reply to the post, while removing the
In-Reply-To header can serve as a reply to the topic more generally.
Generally we opt for minimalism so adding the “to User” 100 times on the page would make us uneasy.
I think in this particular case just changing “Reply” at the bottom of the topic to “Reply to Topic” using a site css customisation (I think it shares parent with other reply words so you could not use locale overrides) is the way to go. You can experiment with that and see do a cost benefit on “extra text on screen” vs “increased clarity”