There are two ways that you can display the contents of a discussion, flat or threaded. There are advantages and disadvantages to both ways and as the site administrator, you'll need to decide which way is best for your discussion forum.

You can choose either flat or threaded for each separate discussion in the forum (so some could be flat and some threaded) although it is often best to choose one way and use it for all of your discussions. You can also change the discussions from flat to threaded (or the other way around) if you change your mind.

Flat discussions

A flat discussion only displays new replies at the end of it. This can make it easier to see the latest messages added to the discussion but can sometimes make it harder to work out which message someone is replying to. An example of a flat discussion might be: 

Group outings: discuss where you'd like to go for the next group day out

- I think we should go to the London Eye (Andy)
- I'd prefer to go to Brooklands Motor Museum (Barry)
- The London Eye can get busy at this time of year, perhaps it'd be better to go later in the year? (Carol)
- I agree (Dave)
- The Eye will be okay if we book ahead (Andy)
- The London Eye is near lots of other attractions so I'd like to go there (Elaine)
- How about a summer picnic instead? (Fiona)

Threaded discussions

A threaded discussion allows people to respond directly to any of the messages in the discussion and their reply will appear next to that message. Although it isn't as easy to immediately see the latest messages added, it is helpful for larger discussions or when there are several topics being discussed. If the discussion above was threaded, it might look like this:

Group outings: discuss where you'd like to go for the next group day out  

- I think we should go to the London Eye (Andy)
   - The London Eye can get busy at this time of year, perhaps it'd be better to go later in the year? (Carol)
      - The Eye will be okay if we book ahead (Andy)
   - The London Eye is near lots of other attractions so I'd like to go there (Elaine)
- I'd prefer to go to Brooklands Motor Museum (Barry)
   - I agree (Dave)
- How about a summer picnic instead? (Fiona)