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A thread is term for a post on Metafilter and all the subsequent comments by other users of the site. The discussion that occurs allows users to add their own links or share their own personal experiences to help enlighten the topic addressed in the post. Most activity within a thread happens within the first day or two before the post falls off the front page.
Duration of Open Threads
Threads remain open for a certain amount of time before they are archived and closed to new comments.
MetaFilter - 30 days
MetaTalk - 30 days (except the Meet-up category which stays open for six months)
MetaFilter Music - 30 days
Ask MetaFilter - one year
MetaFilter Projects - never