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The old style forums are showing their age and need to be modernized but not abandoned. See the Archlinux forums based on Fluxbb. It's fast and effective.

The newer ones led by Discourse, Nodebb and Flarum have completely gone in another direction in reinventing how discussion forums should be and perhaps gone too far. They feel strangely 'rootless' and completely lack the 'community feel' of user forums.

This looks promising for something fast, lightweight and easy to deploy.

The UIs on those three should be dialed back (animation, JS), but Discourse is pretty good otherwise.

I've looked at all three:

* Flarum had nausea-inducing animation, and now it overrides natural scroll behavior. (Please never do that to users.)

* NodeBB had some problems when I was using it. If JS is disabled, even the homepage links don't work. Forums should be server-rendered.

* Discourse could be improved by removing most of the animation and Material Design creep (bad for motion accessibility), but other than that, it's the best at the moment. It would also be nice to have easier, full theme customization. Maybe it's in there somewhere, but I haven't found it yet.

I would like to see forum software that has the feel of classic forum software (like Flux), not in PHP, that is server-rendered, with a very minimal default theme (no animation) and minimal JavaScript, and that has many of the modern features of Discourse.

I guess this is as good a time as any to mention that something like that exists (and to toot our team's work over the years):

I started the project years ago and in the last few have gotten really great support from glebm and some others to get it to the point where it's a really lovely, stable, and fast piece of work.

We consider it the best Ruby/Rails-based alternative to Discourse out there (as an aside - wewere honored that Ryan Bigg would point people our way when he stopped maintaining Forem[1])

You said:

  √ I would like to see forum software that has the feel of classic forum software (like Flux)  
  √ not in PHP  
  √ that is server-rendered  
  √ with a very minimal default theme (no animation)  
  √ and minimal JavaScript  
  √ and that has many of the modern features of Discourse.
I think those check out. In any case I suggest you check out the website[2], the repo[3], and the demo[4].

[1]: https://github.com/rubysherpas/forem#no-longer-maintained

[2]: https://thredded.org

[3]: https://github.com/thredded/thredded

[4]: https://thredded.org/thredded/

Interesting. Looks as if you're two people developing it (you and 'glemb', right?). Can I ask is this a startup, or is it a side project? (or something else?) What are your long term goals?

(Your about page says a lot about the forum software & its features, but nothing about who you are or why you're donig this, e.g. vision & goals.)

What about providing hosting? (for people who don't want to / cannot install themselves.) And what about Gmail & FB login, what are your thoughts about supporting that?

Not a startup. It's just an open source project. I wrote it by myself at first but Gleb joined the project several years ago and has pretty much taken stewardship of the project. He's been the spark that the project needed.

There are others working on it as well (much more than I have, or will be) and they're all doing an excellent job.

As far as vision and goals, it depends on what's needed. It's pretty loose for the time being although I could see it maybe changing in the future depending on everyone's circumstances.

No hosting for now, no.

Then maybe you'd be interested in EffectiveDiscussions, like, item 4 in your list:

https://www.effectivediscussions.org (I'm developing it)

I have copied ideas from Discourse — so yes it has some of Discourse's features. Plus features from Slack (i.e. chat), HackerNews (best comments rise to the top) and StackOverflow (question-answers) & Disqus (embedded comments).

More things you mentioned: It's not PHP (it's Scala instead, in Docker containers), it is server side rendered (React.js), fairly minimal Javascript: 150 kb JS on page load.

Looks good. One suggestion: it doesn't work with JS off, so I don't see content when I arrive.

I made a personal commitment not to use Facebook's software (React) whenever there are suitable alternatives available, because I don't want to support that awful company in any way, but hope that your project goes well.

Interesting commitment. Can I ask which URL didn't work for you, & which browser?

For me, when I disable JS in Chrome Dev Tools, the website still loads properly, incl homepage, forum index and discussion topics. (but one cannot leave comments, that still requires JS). I tested a bit in Lynx also.

And regarding the commitment not to support FB, it's because using FB's software supports FB, and FB is terrible for society. I don't want to support them (wherever possible), even if just in a small way.


I went here: https://www.effectivediscussions.org/forum/

    Uncaught TypeError: debiki.internal.startDiscussionPage 
    is not a function
        at (index):257
Feel free to email me (see my profile) if you would like screenshots and more details about the errors.

Wow! Seriously, you're doing an excellent job. It looks GREAT!

Ok thanks :- ) (If there's any particular feature/benefit you're especially interested in, it'd be interested to know. Or if something seems missing.)

Discourse does not run on an Ipad 1. It uses a noticeable amount of memory and cpu on any machine. If it is bad for the first world, it is bad for everyone.

What happens on an iPad? Do you mean memory and CPU on the server or on the client?

I do wish that it were server-rendered by default. SPAs are not ideal for content websites for several reasons. And one shouldn't need a recent browser version to read and participate in the WWW.

Discourse uses too much memory on the client and crashes the browser.

As you said, someone shouldn't need latest gen hardware to use the WWW. I personally don't have a lot of control in what the predominate platforms are on the internet, but I have remarked to myself in my bunker that Discourse is a first world echo chamber because no-one else can run it.

Look at hacker news. It isn't pretty and it has lots of glaring usability problems that are trivial to fix, but it could literally run with Firefox 1.0 on a P3-500 just fine.

I love HN's design. It's the "Craig's List school of design" -- simple presentation of information with no distractions.

The WWW has been heading in a terrible direction (animation, over-saturated colors) over the past few years. People use too much JS and CSS3 because it's possible, not because it's a good idea.

Have you tried turning of JS on Discourse forums? It should render a minimal HTML page via the <noscript> elements. Maybe they should do feature detection -- if a browser isn't capable of running the application, turn off JS and serve the minimal HTML. If it works, you could open an issue in their Github repo or post on meta.discourse.org.

HN is no where close to Craig's List in terms of design. They are both minimal, fast and task driven, but Craig's is a work of art. HN is a roughshod hackers tool.

Frankly, it never occurred to me that Discourse could ever run w/o JS. Next time I am near my ipad, I'll definitely test it out. I'd use a combo of allow/deny. Remember when we used "gradual enhancement" ?

I think there should be a standard way for the client to request the low resource usage version of an app, the hack is say you are a phone or request the m.dot site, but it should just be in the accepts header.

The low resource usage version is a great idea.

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