In my ignorance, I would think both things are feasible, although the second would probably be much more difficult to implement than the first. However, I would also think that the following questions should have to be answered before doing anything:
1. Would these features satisfy a need for the majority of users? Or, at least,
2. Would these changes be welcome by the majority of users?
I remember that not so long ago several changes were introduced in the format of these pages, and this produced such an uproar amongst users, that everything had to be brought back to "normal".
I'm quite familiar with the whole "comfort zone" concept and the chaos it can create when people are not in theirs. I'm relatively new to this forum and was curious if the idea had ever been approached. Guess I got my answer!!
>Could they be sortable by date or alphabetical order?
The threads are strictly sorted, by date and time (PST) of latest post. This makes it very easy to follow threads and see what is new. This is the way.
Just imagine alphabetical order in a forum with some 1200 live threads: how often should you look for anything not beginning with A? The poor sods with questions beginning with W or worse would have to add an A first; and where would that leave us?
Edit: I realize that you mean sortable by the user, of course. But I believe it is much easier to use the Forum search.
Alphabetical sorts are useless as there is no consistency in how topics are worded. As just one example, an inordinate number of totally unrelated topics begin with the useless word "Help!" (One may safely assume that someone posts a topic question because he or she is indeed in need of some kind of assistance.) Other common leading words include "How do you..." or "OT", etc.
As pointed out, you can sort the topics by last time a topic is updated or by latest new posted topic, depending upon how you've set your forum preferences.