The moderators wouldn't have to react any more than usual. The users would be responsible for coloring their post or header or whatever (thought: you could have text colored but that'd easily make things way too complex), correctly. No color for on topic, some color for off topic, a second color for both on and off topic.
Deletions would still have the same effect, but in practice they are a non issue: here on this forum they don't happen except once in a blue moon when an Isochroma happens.
Just two colors as described above. Color of a post header being a simple (simple as you could make it) heuristic so that it would take negligible brain power to skip posts you're not interested in. It'd work both for readers interested only in the original topic, or in the tangent. It's really a knock-off of the threaded topic arrangement.
Really didn't mean to be facetious suggesting the color-coding scheme, but it served both as a quick brainstorm and (but mostly) as a fair but roundabout way to show that the cheapest best solution to topic drift on this forum is self-moderation. Start new threads once a tangent gets in the way of the original topic.
MSimon's impartial moderating is non issue, and deletions are too (they don't happen). Topic drift is a so-so issue for a couple of reasons, but whatever the case its solution is dead simple - just start new threads.
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