PROBLEM (or minor annoyance, depending how you see it):
Hierarchal forum threads,
... as opposed to linear threads...
(e.g. HB annotations)
...allow sub-threads to open up within threads, and presumably this is better because it allows for better organization and enhanced discussion yada yada yada. The problem with these hiercharchal outlines is that they completely destroy any temporal linkage, and it is very different for the brain to piece together the general evolution of the discussion over the lifetime of the thread. In fact, because their sub-threaded nature splits the "temporal front," it actually ENCOURAGES divergence from the thread topic. Scripts allow for users to switch between linear and hierarchal forms, but this takes the time of going into a user profile and is generally annoying. Modern PCs, however, have ridiculous amounts of processing power, so I think it might be a good idea to put some of it to use to organize forums.
Radial forum organization combines both linear and hierarchal designs in a 3D virtual space, connected by lines, to form a web. All posts are represented by icons. When you hover over them, a two-line summary appears. When you click on them, the whole post is opened in a popup window (all contained within this 3D space.)
Each post is represented by two icons, save for the topic, which is represented by one, and is located and the origin. Projecting as a ray in the +z direction, all icons (posts) are arranged in temporal (linear) fashion. Projecting radially in a 2D web in the X-Y plane, icons (posts) are arranged in a hierarchal manner. Concentric circles mark the dates of the posts. You can rotate this 3D space in anyway you like, or you can click buttons in the toolbar to arrange the camera so that the screen looks perpendicular to the z axis (i.e, linear organization) or at the x-y plane (i.e, threaded organization).
WHY THIS WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA:
-You have that 3GHz quad core processor sitting on your table. Might as well use it.
-Switch between linear and hierarchal views without going to a user control panel.
-Because you can utilize 360 degrees, hierarchal displays are easier to follow.
-Visual model and ability to condense/expand posts at will means you are more familiar with the discussion. More information on the screen means peripheral threads are closer to origin, thus discussion should veer off less.
-You could probably expand this to link different topics together, different subforums, etc., but I don't think it would help outside of one subforum.