What Is Threadjacking?

Threadjacking (or threadjack) is often used in forums to describe the action of a user posting a response in an attempt to change the subject or intention of the original thread. In most forums, this is considered rude and may result in your participation in that forum being reduced, your comment removed and if done often enough, being banned completely from making comments. At worst you can be completely banned from the forum altogether.


threadjack v. thread-jack (n. and v.), threadjacker [ < thread and hijack. Twuz I, the original Threadjacker A.K.A. SoCal_Dan- who coined this phrase on www.boatertalk.com] To move a thread away from the original topic by bringing up another, which may or may not have any relation or bearing to the original. Example: "The thread was about apples, and you begin talking about oranges. Soon everyone else begins talking about oranges. You threadjacked this." Threadjacking is typically done by either: 1. newbies who don’t understand what they’ve just done
2. Internet trolls who intentionally post unrelated or inflammatory posts to steer the topic away from its original intent.

What Wiktionary says about Threadjacking

Threadjacking is taking over a thread with a subject unrelated to the original posting.

Example An example of Threadjacking would be someone posting a message to a mail list related to an online music service that someone turns into a discussion about music devices (such as iPODs) without starting a new thread. As such, the original posting under the subject of “Online Music Subscription Services” is now a discussion about iPODs, Dell Jukeboxes, and Zen devices. These new postings under the original thread are completely unrelated to the intended subject.

What the Urban Dictionary says about Threadjacking

To take over the content of a message thread by changing the subject of discourse to a topic outside the purview of the original subject and/orforum, while maintaining the subject line. A form of amusement for trolls. Threadjacking is distinguished from flaming, as flames are a quasi-personal attack on a poster or on a poster’s style of discourse, where threadjacking is deliberatly steering the discussion offtopic.

Drive-by Threadjacking

I haven’t seen this in the FAQ but it is something that gets on my nerves: Threadjacking.

Threadjacking is when someone posts a question/request for help etc, and then someone comes along and posts in the SAME thread: “I have a similar problem (only different), Help me with MINE!”

This bugs the hell outta me.

If your problem is the same as the Original Poster, then simply watch the thread and see if anyone posts a response.
If your problem is different than the Original Poster, post your OWN thread and ask for help.

I’m not exactly sure why it bugs me, just that it does, and I have been seeing it a bit more here recently, usually by new members who don’t know any better.

I call these Drive-by Threadjackings, because most likely, they searched on google for their problem (which is a GOOD start), found their keywords in a post here, and posted a reply.

It is my opinion that threadjacking disrupts the continuity of a thread, and therefore I propose that threadjacking be addressed as a “no-no, BAD DOG, No Biscuit!” in the FAQ.

Commercial Threadjacking

The original poster may be asking about the benefits of Product A or even extolling the virtues of Product A and then another member replies and talks about Product B.

This may be of benefit to the readers of the discussion if the original poster was searching for alternatives. However if Responding Member has affiliate links to Product B he or she may make a commission by hijacking the thread.

This sort of tactic is frowned upon in a lot of forums.

Seemingly Random Threadjacking

Some discussions can naturally veer off-topic. And others can completely jump the rails. It is the latter that is a concern to experienced forum users.

The usual offenders are those that deliberately use the post to plug and promote their site. They may be desperate for traffic for either: a) the sake of traffic, b) the hope of potential sales of their product, service or affiliate links, c) clicks or page impressions on the PPC or CPM advertising program they use for getting advertising revenue.

Depending on the forum rules they may be cautioned (usually for the first or second offense) or banned (if they are repeated offenders, which is also known as forum spamming).