A Topic Lock is what happens to a topic when it reaches 500 posts, gets closed by the creator, or is closed by a moderator. A small picture of a padlock appears next to the topic title when it is locked.
A topic can only be closed by the creator if it has not been posted in for five minutes.
A moderator can choose any post in the topic to close the topic itself. The common reason given is Other, but it can be closed for any reason. Topic closure moderations are not considered real moderations and they do not count against users in any way. Lead Moderators and Administrators can close a topic without needing to moderate a post.
While a topic closure is not counted as a moderation, it is kept as a record in the user's moderation history. Topic closures were the only action that could be taken with "Other:" being the only reason selected by Moderators. As messages cannot be marked or moderated with "Other" as the reason, topic closures were unique in being carried out without a reason being required. Due to a supposed loophole in the system, any topic closure performed with "Other" being the reason automatically selected a random ToS violation to report in the user's history. This resulted in some bizarre reasons, such as topics being locked for Impersonation or Underage User.
A closed topic can not be posted in by a regular user. Moderators are able to post in closed topics; the exact limitations are mod-only info. Although this has been occasionally abused, it is often more accidental. Moderators have on occasion been typing up a message when the topic creator or another moderator closed the topic on them. However, the ability is sometimes deliberately used. The Sticky topic request on Site Suggestions is one such occasion, where lead moderators report on the backlog after the topic has been locked with 500 posts.
Originally, topics were closed at 1000 posts, but this was shortened to 500 due to server reasons.
Users originally could not lock their own topics. They could, however, delete the first message in the topic. This ability was later removed, as a topic without its first message was pointless. Users were instead given the ability to lock a topic after a one-hour period of inactivity. This was then shortened to 20 minutes then to the current 5 minutes.
On one occasion the topic was not automatically closed within a few seconds of it reaching 500 posts. LUE discovered this during a topic in which LunchLady9 was giving away $10 to every 20th poster. Within minutes, after LUEsers realized that it was not closing, the topic was flooded. It ultimately reached 4145 posts until it was closed. The event was dubbed LUEmit Break.
When GameFAQs merged its game board with GameSpot, the Topic Lock was thrown out of whack, with users unable to close their topics after 20 minutes. After a lengthy period, the 20 minute waiting time was restored. The Topic Lock still does not function accordingly, a topic will not lock after 500 posts unless a GameFAQs user posts in it. Meaning GameSpot users can continue to post as many messages as they want, one such topic went on to reach over 38 000 posts on August 9th, 2006.
Often times, moderators have used their power to post in closed topics. On March 6, 2005, KatThePoet posted in a closed topic ten minutes after it had been locked . On April 21, 2005, a bunch of moderators also posted in a closed topic .
With the introduction of Sticky topics, moderators and users intentionally locked their topics. They were still on the top, and locking them prevented inane posts and kept the topic from being flooded with unnecessary posts. On October 20, the Message Detail function was improved, thereby preventing topic closures from appearing in the moderation history. In addition, the time required before a user could close their own topic was reduced to five minutes after the last post.
|Regular Moderations||No Action | Topic Lock | No Karma Loss | Notification | Warning | Suspension|
|Special Cases||Ban | Purgatory | Profile Wipe | Usermap Axe | Kill On Sight|
|Disputes||Dispute | Accept Moderation | Uphold | Relaxation | Overturn|
|Misc.|| Account Suicide | Generated Message | Mark | Marked Message Accuracy |