= T =
topic drift n.
Term used on GEnie, Usenet and other
electronic fora to describe the tendency of a thread to drift
away from the original subject of discussion (and thus, from the
Subject header of the originating message), or the results of that
tendency. The header in each post can be changed to keep current
with the posts, but usually isn't due to forgetfulness or laziness.
A single post may often result in several posts each responding to
a different point in the original. Some subthreads will actually
be in response to some off-the-cuff side comment, possibly
degenerating into a flame war, or just as often evolving into a
separate discussion. Hence, discussions aren't really so much
threads as they are trees. Except that they don't really have
leaves, or multiple branching roots; usually some lines of
discussion will just sort of die off after everyone gets tired of
them. This could take anywhere from hours to weeks, or even
The term `topic drift' is often used in gentle reminders that
the discussion has strayed off any useful track. "I think we
started with a question about Niven's last book, but we've ended up
discussing the sexual habits of the common marmoset. Now
that's topic drift!"
--Jargon File, autonoded by rescdsk