What I want from a "civilized discourse construction kit":
- Build it for a real community and try to make it work within that community.
- Make it possible to close threads, write summary for threads, group threads together, explore a topic. In general: Don't make the threads all about real-time, but rather focus on how they can be useful in the future.
- Bring more structure than linear comments, but less complexity than threaded comments.
- Encourage longer responses.
There was recently a good thread on Reddit about this: http://www.reddit.com/r/programming/comments/171xod/the_joys...
Build it for a real community and try to make it work within that community
Ember used Discourse for the past several months. We provided a ton of feedback and I like to think that our participation served exactly this purpose: building Discourse for a real community.
Make it possible to close threads, write summary for threads, group threads together, explore a topic
I'm not sure how much of this comes across in the pitch, but these specific goals are focuses of the software. For example, Discourse supports a "Best of Thread" view (see https://github.com/discourse/core/blob/master/app/models/pos... and https://github.com/discourse/core/blob/master/lib/score_calc...), which is currently only triggered on a very high threshold. I like this feature a lot. You could easily imagine it being possible for moderators to hand-curate the "Best of" view in the future.
There is also an "aggregated links" view that aggregates all of the outbound links from a thread and shows how many times they have been clicked on.
Discourse has moderator tools for "closing" threads. I would expect that closed threads would work well together with the "Best of" view.
Bring more structure than linear comments, but less complexity than threaded comments.
I think this is one of the team's highest priorities. There is some innovation in the way replies work, but it's also possible to "reply as a new thread", with margin links between the threads. I have found this to be a very good compromise, and something that explicitly attempts to tackle your desire here.
In short, I think there's more depth here than you're seeing at first glance, and the things you want to see from Discourse are things the team is actively thinking about.
We worked with Robin and Sam as community members over the past few months as they worked on Discourse. Frankly, they're both rock stars, and managed the entire project with surprisingly little direction from us.
Were you involved in the development somehow?
I think the largest extent of direct code collaboration between the Ember team and Discourse was Erik Bryn's work on the `group` helper. Other than that, they asked us questions from time to time and we answered them.
do they use version 1.0?
Yes! I was insanely impressed by Robin's ability to get the (rather large) Discourse codebase ported over to Ember 1.0 pre4 within days of us shipping it. As has been mentioned on other threads, there has been a bunch of churn in the run-up to 1.0, and Robin took it like a champ. The code is largely idiomatic Ember 1.0 code, and reads well to me.
Your list of 'wants' mainly speaks to forums being a source of information. People ask questions, remark on current events, debate and discuss and create a long-term record of thoughtful discussions.
But Discourse appears to be geared more towards the community aspects of a forum. Mentions between members of a community are relevant in this case, since it gets users into threads and posting. Real-time features lower the friction of using the software and increase rapid-fire communication (we call that "banter") between members. Avatars on the topic index make it easy to see which of your friends are posting in which threads, so you can better decide where to go next.
For this group, forums represent a "Third Place" community outside of their home and workplace groups. I've been building forums software similar to Discourse, on my own for the past year, wagering that this second group of users is larger than the first, and that their needs are only accidentally addressed by the current generation of forums software. I'm anxious to see whether Discourse finds traction in this respect.
Probably the main visible entry point is flagging, so try flagging a post or topic.
It's also hard to see the moderation functions from the outside, but I assure you that they're as frictionless as we could make them! For example, multi-selecting posts, splitting topics, merging topics, locking topics, archiving topics, etc.
There's still a lot to do, we have no way of selecting multiple topics at the moment, for example. But I encourage you to try out the Vagrant image if you want to hack on Discourse quickly. It includes a small db, and you'll be a moderator there.
Looking at the demo page, I love how the threads are 1D, but you can still switch to direct replies if you just want to follow the sub-conversation. It's the best of both worlds.
Which brings up an interesting thought: why does a discussion have to be between two individuals? If we are all reading the two current sides to a discussion, are we not all entitled to share our opinion to continue the discussion? It's then a group discussion.
* It is harder to build mental model of opposing view as the number of people on the opposing side increases do to inconsistances in their view points, experience, and reasons.
* It can be harder to judge how much an influence your arguments have the more people who are participating.
* Reinforcement with a peer group. There can be a tendency to not examining a topic closely if there is a peer group that shares the opinion and is holding strong in their opinion.
There are many advantages to one on one conversations that are lost in group discussions. I would love to retain the benefits of one on one conversations but on a forum involving N people. I do not think there is an easy solution though.
Example: HN in that setting would be just one node, called Hacker News. Each submission would be a post/comment and all the comments from here would be just subcomments under that parent post. If someone posted here about new language for example, that post along with all discussion under it can be become a new "forum". If you move it away from under HN, you can still leave a hardlink there so it won't be lost.
Is the discussion there civilized though? Mostly not.
edit; ah, it has that - http://try.discourse.org/t/yo-dawg-heard-you-like-replies-so....
I like the new UX ideas. I'm wondering if instances will be able to federate, and the 'front page term[/hashtag](s)' for the discussion area of a certain website on a topic could be framed differently.
Some topics are going to get to crazy posting speed. Watching Reddit posts with new set on isn't that fun. An IRC/Jabber MUC format would be good for times, and Facebook autoupdates its newsfeed anyway. An IM system with text (and at least url) post and their replies upvoted, and maybe filtered in some tiling window like fashion?
There's my half-baked idea for the evening!
Because of that, your forum thread topic should really have two views (sorts, if you will): Top replies and chronologically (we'll call that the status quo). Either I want to engage in a thread's conversation, or I want to know what the meatiest reply of the conversation is (and its context).
One keeps a thread alive, and one serves to make it useful in a future context. I'm surprised this is completely absent.
Thought experiment: how does one quantify the 'best' posts on a discussion topic? Discourse has some ideas about this, and I bet you do too.
"Best" posts--those which are a good source of information--have a high view-to-interaction ratio. An inflammatory post on a forum or Reddit tends to see more replies than the average. A good reference piece or poignant story seems more likely to stand on its own--it will have more views than most posts, and have a high view/reply ratio.
What separates a good post from an insignificant one is baseline views. If a thread has been opened 10000 times and everyone has read a certain comment, it's likely to be informative or controversial.
The "best of", even within a single topic/thread, is also per-user and temporal. The best-of in a thread to me is no longer a best-of when I've fully internalized it. I really value Reddit's collapse button/link for this reason.
To answer your question, I'd have to agree with what was already written by eric-hu, except to say that bad or inflammatory posts also create a lot of response (trolls, as it were). I know it's maybe tired or clunky, but I think a forum can have both entertaining and useful replies, and thus should have a voting mechanism to indicate which are which. Yes, interaction can play a role in how important they are, and to maybe help massage ranking, but I think people are happy with and familiar with a system of voting for content.
That said, a token "good post" should be able to stand for itself. I envision a system where the top posts (be they replies to other posts or posts in and of themselves) sit flat among each other, ranked by their usefulness or entertainment value.
I think a forum moderator's real value in this situation is not to mess with the community's decisiveness, but to resolve matters of content relevance (to keep a community focused).
As far as building it for a real community goes; judging from their 'Buy it' page it seems that's exactly what they're planning to do next.
We view badges as alternatives to reading FAQs and community guidelines.
Definitely. I basically want a forum that looks like gitk (but flipped, obviously). Clear replies, multiple parents, but sorted chronologically and without indentation. Higher or lower rated posts could be marked typographically.
I don't know how well this would scale, though.
This. I'd like it on reddit. We have 7 years of back logs that just sit there.
Stackoverflow seems to me to be a giant case of post hoc ergo propter hoc. "We made a site driven by points and numbers and rules and gamification and it was success, therefore it was the numbers and gamification that did it". No, SO was a success because the tech world was gasping for a forum that wasn't a) mailing lists or b) expertsexchange. That's all. That's why the majority of their non-tech sites have bombed.
If Discourse is a success it will be because phpBB is hideous, not because of any merits shown here. A better model to ape would have been the truly successful community sites -- think the Well, or Metafilter. Flat. UI that gets out the way.
Humans are superb at managing conversations, tracking threads and managing state. It's how forums manage to be so good despite phpBB and the like. Let the humans get on with it. Get out the way.
The default design (by Matt Grantham, great work by the way) is only supposed to be "good enough", not so good that you never want to change it.
And I hope FOR THE LOVE OF FSM that we've created a default design better than the bottom of the barrel that is phpBB or vBulletin, otherwise, geez.. ouch.
The job here is to judge a thread. If a thread's good, people will post on it, and it will bump to the top. That's it. The only other things you need to know are title and size (number of posts).
Even the avatars are unnecessary here: either the community is small and it'll be all the usual suspects on every thread, or the community is huge and most of the avatars will be meaningless.
phpBB's deep problem is it overloads human conversation with metrics and geegaws that are there only because they were easy to code. They distract from the discourse, and I fear they'll detract from Discourse.
Edit: You can change both so neither are permanent.
Edit 2: Not disagreeing with you. Only mentioned that username and email can both be changed to say there's no reason not to use username for the MD5
To make it quick to add new icons I have a bunch of bookmarklets for finding the favicon for a site, doing a flood fill of the alpha channel from the corners and resize it to 16x16 if it is a newer larger favicon. So adding a icon generally takes less the 30 seconds.
I always seem to miss who's replying. In a sense it's great since we are treated as equals, but I sometimes miss a great reply by pg and others.
Take a look at the Pivory project - that's a great take on design that doesn't stick out, but doesn't hinder the usage either. Adopt something similar as your default theme, kill the badges and you will have a discussion software that is dramatically better than vBulletin, across the board.
This is a sight for sore eyes for someone who has to maintain a phpBB forum and its modifications (all of which, by design, require patching the source code with some bizarre XML-diff format).
Even with no formal plugin architecture, the decision to choose Rails is massively beneficial.
It's also beneficial from a security point of view.
Even if Ruby had a few security exploits recently, there shall never be as many issues as there have been with PHP.
I'm a huge forum users and they're regularly brought down (2+2, one of the biggest forum on the planet, was taken offline for weeks due to a PHP exploit).
This is a PHP bug: http://www.networkworld.com/news/2011/010511-php-floating-po...
Everything else? Bad code.
I think it's both bad code and PHP.. specifically bad code written on old versions of php on crap shared hosts where that's the only server-side language available. It should be harder to write insecure code with PHP but it isn't. A language whose entire purpose is to process requests and return content should have security baked into its core. I shouldn't have to wake up one day and find out that "oh, anyone who adds an ?-s flag to their queries can maybe read your source code or whatnot." Now granted, it wasn't that common, but it should never have existed. PHP may not be the great evil some claim it is but there are parts of it that jump out of the dark and bite you, no doubt.
A larger than average proportion of bad code is a fault of the language, the design choices/compromises made for the language structure.
Many of them are not (yet) household names like SO is around here, but they have thriving communities and provide real value, answering real questions, and providing legacy content that will be of use to people for decades to come.
This is the biggest problem with the current fad in web design. Designers are designing for their own sense of "look what I can do" instead of for users. People need to stop designing UIs for the sake of seeing how much crap they can stuff in front of my face and start designing UIs to be used.
I want a UI that shows me information I need and exposes actions I can take. That means (relative) timestamps and quote buttons, not client devices and administration buttons. It definitely does not mean the style previously known as Metro. If there's whitespace on the screen, stick something there that I will need eventually but wouldn't find without using it daily.
But actual web apps, where there has to be a user interface to let you interact with things I see mostly a "throw everything on there and who cares if it is usable" approach.
Jeff Atwood has more insights into how humans communicate in an hour than I do in a year. Those insights are built right into the software, and I think that will help many communities take off that would otherwise collapse under the weight of trolls and apathy.
EDIT: Obviously it has a modern, nice interface. That's a win. But I mean more specifically, what problem of human dynamics does it solve that Hacker News doesn't solve?
So one persons comment can effectively derail most of the people viewing the thread into a cul-de-sac of discussing one specific point.
And considering other forum options, Discourse has probably a killer feature, which is "Best of" a thread. Forums are horrible for documentation, after a meaningful discussion topics usually go dead, and if you want to read an old topic (but relevantt to you) with 500 pages (or even just 20), it is painful, you don't need to read every single comment, and Discourse's "Best of" will (should) fix that. That is powerful.
Whether used by hackers or not, these design features interest me greatly.
One way to think of this is as follows: what happens when posts get flagged? What's the sequence, who knows about it, and how? For that matter, who can flag?
We do have basic rate limits throughout the app, and they're all configurable as well.
Much of this has to evolve. I'd love your input on it, too!
Looking forward to see it in use. Hopefully this will provide a more modern way to ask all those important questions that needs discussion.
HN relies on a panel of hand-picked moderators, right? It works for HN, but perhaps not in other contexts.
But does the design feel incredibly busy to anyone else? So many little icons and buttons, and I can't move my mouse without tooltips and popups everywhere.
Or you are reading, absentmindedly moving your mouse cursor around and POP! POP! POP! things jump out at you, often blocking what you were looking at.
If this forum software is going to become popular, I'm begging the developers to set the default so that you have to actually click an item to bring up a popup window or menu, and you have to at least hover for a while (not just be passing by) to bring up a tool tip.
Books and magazines don't randomly throw things in your face and block your view as you try to read. As you reach up to turn the page, the book doesn't turn into a cell phone already dialing your friends' numbers, insisting that you tell them about the chapter you're reading RIGHT NOW! I'd like my forums to be equally well behaved.
Yes. My first impression was even worse than the usual PhpBB mess that you see every day.
At least your average PhpBB layout is relatively static.
In Discourse everything constantly flickers, pops up, slides out... The information I care about is buried under all sorts of noise; What are the 5 avatar icons in the thread-list supposed to tell me? Why is the thread-information below the first post? Why on earth are reply-quotes hidden by default and reveal with a painful sliding animation?
I love the simple interface of Stack Overflow. They added a lot of crap over the years but managed to keep it on the right side of the screen where it can be safely ignored (I'm only talking about the actual "question"-page, I haven't used any other SO-page in years).
That said, we want to have excellent skinning and theming support, and I'd love to see "even more minimal" themes. We ship a reasonable default theme for everyone to use, but it shouldn't be so good that nobody wants to replace it, right?
Only if you choose to make it so (and you have).
Hacker News demonstrates that it need not be.
Can you clarify how "100% free and open-source" relates to "For enterprises, we plan to sell licenses and on-site private instances." ? Specifically, the licenses part.
BTW. Tried posting a reply in some thread on try.discourse - it showed up, but then disappeared in a second. Is it some sort of spam filter in action? The UX made no sense whatsoever.
I remember reading a blog post, or maybe listening to a talk, where Jeff Atwood explained that this was on purpose because programmers like having lots of buttons and things (I'm paraphrasing really poorly here), but it seems to have carried over reasonably well to the other StackExchange sites.
People often make the argument about HN being ugly and hard-to-use vs. those who think it is perfect for what it does (even saying that making it simpler would make it too easy for non-technical people to get involved, which always confused me). Personally, I think all three of these services could be much cleaner and user-friendly without Fisher-Pricing it.
Apropos, my favorite suggestion for improvement in HN would be a menu item that lists direct replies to one's posts (something that Reddit does). Without this feature, some HN threads just expire because it becomes too difficult to follow them as time passes.
Edit: Now the reply link shows up. What's with the timer?
It's based on time. You can't reply immediately, you have to let some time pass. The idea is that it stops a conversation, a quick back and forth, and forces it to take a while, which should in theory encouraged more reasonable responses.
It turns the time stamps on a Hacker News comment page into buttons that hide/show comments that are the same age or older than the clicked time stamp.
It works on the threads page. There are probably some bugs, but it mostly works fine.
The design's being so busy has prevented me from exploring the site.
I wish I knew of a browser extension or a bookmarklet to make the site more sedate by, e.g., deleting some of the elements on the page.
The theme shops will appear if the software becomes popular enough.
It's definitely more along the same lines visually as the "traditional" forum but I'm hoping that the innovation in the future pops up in the small interactions. Replying, quoting, splitting threads, moderation, interaction via email, etc
Right now the basics are in place that I hope to build the really good flourishes around.
If anyone is intrigued feel free to ask me anything about it or find me on twitter - @thredded or @jayroh
Then you will enjoy this I suspect - http://pivory.com
As was mentioned, we have a hosted offering planned so people can set up a forum in a few clicks.
But besides that we actively want to work to make Ruby apps easier to install. Right now they're too hard and we're going to try and fix that.
At the very least we'll offer VM images and install scripts for various cloud hosts.
Awesome! I was trying to point out to someone that this is a critical market-share-limiting factor for Rails apps the other day. It's good to know that someone's devoting time to the problem.
For an example of the difficulty of installing Rails apps, take a look at the length of the installation guide for Gitlab . There are seven numbered steps, some of which involve multiple commands. Upgrading from 4.0 to 4.1 was about the same complexity.
Thanks to the thoroughness of its author, the guide largely worked as advertised. But being able to install and upgrade with apt-get would have saved me hours.
Please also keep in mind making it easy for people to upgrade your app -- that's just as important as installing it.
There is market for similar services based around phpBB.
If someone is going to setup and run a forum figuring out how to deploy a RoR should be a minimum barrier to entry worth an hour of research.
So no, this barrier of entry isn't needed.
There is a little more intelligence as links within a topic just replace the state, but links to other topics push the state.
Also infinite scrolling downwards is easy to implement. Upwards is a huge headache.
Database can't handle the load? Put caching in.
Ever tried to read a long article online? I have seen them split over 15 pages.
And yes, I always click the print/view on one page button.
And it is even more insulting with comments -- I am not going to click/scroll just to see ten more comments.
My ideal discussion forum software would support threading, would remember which messages I've read and which I haven't, would allow me to rate both messages and authors, would provide a personal killfile, and would allow me to use whatever client I prefer to access it. In short, it would be Usenet exposed via a web API. No discussion forum software I've seen so far comes even close in features and usability to what GNUS provided in the 1990s.
Discourse remembers what you've read and what you haven't. You can "like" posts or "flag" them as poor.
Our API coverage is almost 100% - our rich JS client consumes our own API for just about everything, so we actually know it's working because the client wouldn't work without it.
We also have an (admittedly undocumented) plugin system, where you can install rubygems that add or remove functionality from the core app.
Yes, and the reason people (mostly) don't use Usenet is because it was free, meaning you couldn't turn it into a property and make people sign up.
As you point out in your wish list, Usenet had a number of very nice usability features. And, notwithstanding a lot of time and effort, they haven't been duplicated in the modern era.
The clear need that the OP is trying to address suggests that Usenet might be monetizable now. Many web sites aren't going to want to store large amounts of historical text from their user forums. Perhaps there is a market for hosting forums using NNTP under the covers. Each site could provide a default web interface but also allow access via the users' preferred news readers.
Decoupling the GUI from the service is good practice in any case.
Just a few days ago Patio11 mentioned that the only good thing about the recent security issues was that Rails didn't have an app similar to wordpress that would be installed everywhere and never updated.
And now, this.
And what's, er, worse? PHP everywhere, or Ruby everywhere?
I'm concerned that the relative complexity of upgrading a Rails app with bundler and application server, webserver, etc is significant compared to the steps to upgrade the average PHP app (copy the new files over the old ones).
Then again, perhaps an even bigger threat is people who feel smug about security due to their choice of programming language, which is what you seem to be hinting at.
I dislike PHP as much as the next guy, but if your goal really is ubiquity, you've forgotten a decently large segment of the e-population. :-/
Though if I were doing anything installable I'd put a channel for security notices on the admin panel like Wordpress does.
That being said, I'm hesitant to try this until ruby calms down a bit.
The barrier to entry for deploying a Rails app is high enough that it's unlikely a significant number of deployments will be installed and forgotten like so many PHP packages.
(Not trying to be snippy, but really, what is your point?)
While I like this for viewing lists of threads, I'm not sure it's a problem that needs solving within threads. Maybe it's just a symptom of my confused mind, but I actually like reading a few pages of a really long discussion, then coming back later to read more. Here I come back to the top and hell if I'm going to try to remember where I was.
I no more think paging needs to go away than I think chapters in books need to go away. Or pages in books, obviously.
Gemfile gives a pretty good overview - https://github.com/discourse/core/blob/master/Gemfile
Vanilla is certainly much more mature since it's been out longer. Discourse is new as of today, so we've got a long way to go.
Vanilla is too, they just charge if you host with them and want customer support. Best of luck to you guys!
But what specifically about the user interaction and user experience is wrong about old forum software that is corrected in this new platform? The sandbox forum is very nice looking but does it operate much differently from old-school stuff? Ultimately I'm looking at a list of topics sorted by how recently they've been updated (and there doesn't even appear to be a way to change that order).
Just yesterday, I was evaluating a bunch of forum software and came out empty handed:
The OSS forum scene is just depressing, some of the more popular packages still use tables for layout. I themed a table based layout (vBulletin 3.x) once, _never_ again.
The paid packages are just full of shit no-one needs. vBulletin is basically social networking software at this point. These things are so complicated only geeks, and I say that with love, can possibly figure out how to use them. It's a pissing match between competitors.
However, no import (as far as I can tell) means I can't move over to Discourse. And, in your FAQ, you actually suggest that I shouldn't move. I think you underestimate how much hate I have for forum software.
As a developer, Jeff, what I really want is SO self-policing features, as a service that I can use in other products. Discourse is nice and all, but I want to build something more than a forum.
The great thing about traditional forums was that they made it possible to host discussions on controversial topics without fearing being culled by the platform owner. They also allow forum admins to be entirely free to set their own rules and create a marketplace in third party extensions.
Not that there aren't other forum choices, of course there are, but VERY few are 100% open source and even fewer are ones I want to use.
The good: It's got a lot of the automatic things that make Stack Exchange a pleasure to use - conversations slide into place nicely, infinite scrolling feels nice and new, and updates to conversations happen while you're watching.
The bad: The front page is already very noisy, and it's only in test mode. I expect that with time, the only way to use this properly will involve creating "channels" with tagging or filtering.
There are two major problems with this outcome. Firstly, if users select their own "channels", it becomes a reinforcing cycle where each "channel" (or "room") is only exposed to its own conversation. This is largely what happened with USENET (and to a degree what happens with subreddits), and while each one might be good if it stays small, if it doesn't it'll end up being as noisy as the front page. If managed well, on the other hand, I expect that the prettiness of conversations as they are now will follow nicely into each channel.
The second problem with the noisy front page is that as with every other general purpose discussion site with a front page, there will be a race to the bottom, where everything that makes it to the front page will be about grumpy cats or hot girls.
Maybe my criticisms stem from the very nature of discussion forums (look at the cycle of slashdot, digg, reddit etc.), but I don't see this tech fixing that problem like Stack Overflow claims to have solved the Q&A problem. I'd like to think it will though.
The big thing missing is a way to 'sticky/pin' posts, though Reddit makes use of the sidebar to similar effect.
How Discourse's conversation threading model is quite interesting though, I'll be interested to see how well it scales.
As much as I like stack overflow, I don't have high hopes for this project. I fully expect it to be even more full of the terrible metadiscussion about mod points, tags, visibility, and so on that seem to corrupt half the posts on places that implement similar systems.
You can like posts in this release, but it's mainly to prevent useless "me too" posts. Users don't have scores. Posts do, but that's just so we can calculate a summary view for mega threads.
Additionally, almost everything is configurable. We give what we consider sensible defaults out of the box, but you can disable/tune a lot right now.
We also integrated features suggested by goons like a global API.
I've been a SA goon for almost a decade. I really want to make this software good. Actually I'll probably post a follow up topic there soon!
I'd be interested to know how they came to the decision to use Rails. The goal here seems to be an application that is easy to deploy across PaaS/IaaS platforms such as AppEngine (no Ruby support atm, mentioned on the website though), AWS, Heroku as well as self hosted/installed.
All the apps in this space (behind the firewall, self-installed) to date have been either PHP (Wordpress, PHPBB, SugarCRM etc.), Java (Atlassian, Jive, Zimbra) or .NET (Telligent, FogCreek, vBulletin)
The only Rails app I can think of is Redmine (oh, and Diaspora).
PHP is easy to deploy while a lot of businesses are already running either Java or .Net. It may be more difficult to get Rails deployed, but then again having a simple virtualization or PaaS target could change that.
Part of the motivation for this seems to be as a way of supporting Ruby over php for ubiquitous webapps
EDIT: Nevermind, just found the answer to my question:
http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/07/jeff-atwood-bids-adieu-to-s... (I didn't realize Jeff had left SE.)
This is much more open-ended, and however nice it might be, there are other products attempting the same thing already.
In other words Discourse is only successful in the sense that it lets you be successful.
Been going through the assets/js and it's really amazing quality code.
I'm very interested in trying this out. Besides the nostalgic kick of having dedicated forums come back the potential for moving forums forward is pretty great.
You say it "remembers my place" but does it remember my place across all of my devices? What if I want to link my friend to a comment? What about SEO, will my community turn up in google/bing's results?
2. We use HTML5 replaceState to update the URL as you scroll. Just grab the link from the URL bar and it'll take you to where you left off. Or additionally click the "Share button" for a copy and pastable pop up.
3. Yes we render a lightweight version of the pages in a <noscript> tag for google indexing.
Can you explain it in more detail?
Are you returning different results to Google bots?
It's not much to use, but enough for google to get at the words and links.
We're not sure how well it works since the project was secret until today! We're going to keep an eye on it and adjust for maximum google-fu going forward.
(Shout out to Sam Saffron who implemented this!)
The fact that there's a permalink bar on every single comment was the first thing I noticed, since it highlights on hover anywhere on the comment.
If you `wget` the canonical URL of the page per the meta tags, it contains all of the comments in the HTML; everything is accessible to the search spiders.
And now I fear for the future of online discussion because I expect that Jeff will succeed.
Also, comments aren't threaded. They should be, because once there arem ore than a few, a flat form makes it hard to easily tell what is a comment to what.
So, while their is definitely room for better forum software, this isn't it. Personally I prefer the way my http://meowc.at/ website does it (obviously I'm biased), even though its a lot less polished.
I just came back to it and a Reply button suddenly appeared. I assume this is a bug.
Ember.js and Rails backend vs. C#/.NET
There are very, very few 1st tier forums that are fully open source, too. None that I know of!
Here are a few confusing things in terms of UX though:
the "New" button, expected: create a new topic, instead, took me to "You have no new topics to read." page e.g. it seems the "read new stuff" is merged with "create new stuff" (the "create new topic on the right")
the "item has x replies" thingy, I understand you want to have replies in context, but this duplication confused me, e..g I wasn't sure if it's a new "type" of reply. how to solve it? well I would do one of the following: either just link (via scolling to the right location via an anchor / scroll aniumation) or keep what you have right now but also have the link so pepole can see the original comment as well
So far so good, thanks for sharing this, I'm happy twice, both needed a Q&A forum at work, and also wanted to learn Ember.js (version 1)
And it's early, very early in our beta!
Mostly we expect early Discourse adopters to be of the "starting from scratch" kind.
Unfortunately, this is one of the major general problems with forums. You just don't have an option. Import of old forums might be one of the bigger impacts you could make.
This vision translates to the following functional commitments:
1. Support all contemporary browsers on the desktop:
Internet Explorer 9.0, 10.0+
Google Chrome infinite
2. Supporting the latest generation of tablets:
Android 4.1+ on 7" and 10"
3. Deliver support for mobile/smartphones as soon as possible:
Windows Phone 8
I've found that forum moderation sometimes fragments a forum audience across "boards" to no helpful organisational end. This reduces the value of forums for the casual conversation and debate uses (as opposed to retrieval of information later on).
Separately: For the participants, I think threads that discuss issue x for the hundred-and-first time are more often wanted than they are unwanted, because repetition of casual conversations is not a problem. This is despite the fact that participants often complain about such threads. The silent majority of readers presumably have a different view on it.
Oh man... :) it is a little busy interface. Let's see if this helps or gets in the way.
I think requiring people to answer a few of these correctly might raise the standard of online discussion, both by keeping dumb people out and setting a tone of reasoned debate.
Please steal this idea, as I don't know when I'll find time to do it.
Engaging in productive discourse is not associated with knowing the names of fallacies.
I think the chances of somebody learning to match the entries without understanding at all are fairly low. Computers could do it of course, but that's a different problem.
> Engaging in productive discourse is not associated with knowing the names of fallacies.
The former is not a necessary consequence of the latter and the latter is not a prerequisite for the former, but I think if your debate only involves people that know about common logical fallacies it's likely to be a better debate.
Slippery-slope arguments are only fallacies when they go against your own beliefs.
Of course, if you're willing to not care about that, it'd be cool.
(Unfortunately that requires letting go of us-vs.-them, and just speaking for myself, that's surprisingly difficult and ongoing work.)
Elevating everyone's contribution seems to be the thrust of much of the features in Discourse.
I wanted to try it, but because it's rails and I haven't gotten into rails, I won't. You have me for a few minutes of playing around and putting on a site somewhere but not for a multi-hour excursion into a big can of worms I'm not familiar with.
I know people are ragging on you and I don't mean it like that. I just thought it was important to point out that you are deliberately raising the bar for the community. Perhaps that's a good thing! Beats me. I am not complaining, just pointing out that this choice has consequences.
That said, open source forum software sucks, so thank you!
To see more answers, please login to Quora so we can show everyone what you've been looking at on Quora.
Speaking of the wordpress of forums, does anyone have experience with http://bbpress.org/ ?
I know they'll be improving on it later but I don't understand how UI was not a priority in the first release. One of the main reasons why the other forum software suck is that their UI sucks.
I'm halfway tempted to install it and learn the API just to answer this question.
No matter where in the conversation you begin, only a limited number of comments are preloaded into the page (before/after your current position), and the rest get loaded as you scroll down or up. If you're a search spider or other bot loading the canonical URL of the discussion, it's rendered in plain HTML and paged into multiple HTML pages if very long.
How does infinity scroll work with that?
Say what you like about the crappiness of php forum software, but their designs that haven't been updated since about 2001 just work.
(I also posted in the other topic, sorry for the double post but I'm really interested in knowing what people think since both apps have similar goals)
Install instructions: https://github.com/discourse/discourse/blob/master/INSTALL.m...
Having said that, this is very much an early beta right now. We expect to get a lot of feedback over the next little while, and we want to integrate that before we release a 1.0 stable that we'd be comfortable telling many people to install.
If you install it now, you'll have a more complicated upgrade path to our 1.0.
It's quite similar to what 4chan would be if threads were archived forever (which is actually the case for some boards), if 4chan had user-based moderation, and if anonymity was removed.
If I need a forum, I'll create a subreddit.
But the great things about SE are
i) strict moderation
ii) limited, clear, scope
iii) separated meta
Some of that can be helped by the software, but most of it comes from human involvement.
I'm still not sure how the new software will ease the problems that forums face.
i) Web searching a problem returns a hit for a forum. I visit the forum, to see someone asking my question, and someone else saying "Search the web, noob".
ii) People just love feeding trolls. It's trivially easy for trolls to disrupt forums.
iii) Vested_Contributors - forums have rules. New users get punished for not following the rules; long term users have people making excuses for them ("It's Bob! Everyone knows Bob! And he makes great posts normally, so let him off this time!").
iv) Signal : Noise - and this is made worse by having limited number of posts per page. A 29 page thread, with many people saying "Wow, great!!!" is a sucky experience. Especially since most forum search software really sucks.
If this kind of thing sounds interesting to you, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, granted, Postline still uses frames, and I know only one site that uses it (and I tried using it once, got too confused and dropped out)
"Well, I love .NET -- it is amazingly fast and incredibly well designed"
"But for open source projects, there's just too much friction in a Microsoft stack. So it was either Python or Ruby and @eviltrout had an extensive Ruby background, so... here we are."
(That forum is reset every day, so this link will expire soon)