Andrew, thanks much.
Relative to grading methods and what you mentioned in paragraph #2, Yes, "ratings" is the only way right now. Sure, this could be improved, adding more flexibility and of course, more complexity, which doesn’t bother me. I think what is needed is that when one creates a forum, for Scale:Type we need to add "Percentage," and of course, the maximum should then be 100%. Sure, we should still think through if aggregation types need modification.
Relative to some kind of “advanced grader” tool, yes, this could be useful. And as an "advanced grader tool", it might be fine to design it so that it is not responsive, and only useful from a computer. I too prefer a top/bottom approach, instead of side-by-side. But I suggest retaining the current forum grading tool.
Right now, it is possible to grade by student, using the current Advanced Search tool and filtering by the forum and specific student. Yes, a bit cumbersome because one needs to repeat the filtering criteria for each student. However, maybe adding one can produce a method that allows the instructor to conveniently step through each student in the course.
One can currently see a grade for every individual post by using the Advanced Search tool. I used the Advanced Search as a method of verifying that I have rated every post. But I do agree that some people might want a much better summary of what happened in the forum. The data is all there (via sql) but a nice report doesn't exist. (Maybe someone already created this report as an add-in? I haven't checked.)
Yes, developing these new features can be tricky, especially if we add more grading functionality like "per post," and as long as we are at it, whether the post was an initial post or a reply.
I think where I disagree is that I do not believe that grading forum posts by student is a correct approach! My argument is that the only way to accurately grade "discussions" is "in context." And Moodle is the only LMS that provides this ability!
Let me illustrate. My first attachment shows my initial forum topic and John's replies. The second attachment shows my initial topic and what Kathy said. How would you grade these? Aren't they identical? Furthermore, you should see how any automated method to "count words" would not be accurate because of that "Lorem Ipsom" post. This is why I also oppose grading by word count. And how about that last post "Thanks a lot." Should it get full credit as a post? If we simply count posts, it does.
I am going to let you and others think about this for a day or two, then I will come back and post the full discussion.