Discourse feedback, pros and cons?

(Jess Burnham) #1

Hey all!

I see here that this Community is run on Discourse, so this seems like an appropriate channel to ask: What does everyone think? How do you get the most out of Discourse? Have you noticed any stand-out pros and cons?

I help manage an online community that allows our customers to discuss and enhance their experience using our product (trying so diligently not to turn this into a shameless plug).

We’ve recently switched over from GetSatisfaction to Discourse and I’m curious to know if anyone who has used Discourse before has noticed any specific quirks? Good, bad, or ugly. So far our experience has been great, and their support team is unreal. But I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts.

Also, hello! I’m Jess, I live in Vancouver, B.C. and I help manage the online community at Unbounce. See you all in the forums :relaxed:

[Facebook Community Consultant] Meet Diana Tower
(Sarah Hawk) #2

Hey Jess,
Great to hear from you. Welcome.

Are you interested in the views of general users (i.e. our members and their experiences on the platform here) or from people that have experience administrating Discourse communities.

We have both here – I’m just wondering who would be best to tag in, to fit your brief.

(Jess Burnham) #3

Hey Sarah,

Definitely both! I don’t know what I don’t know, both as an admin and as a user. I guess if I had to choose one (for now), I’d say I’m interested in how users are interacting with it. I’ve taken it upon myself to get more of my team involved in the forums, and they won’t be admins (as they’re in various other roles in the company, not necessarily in the Community department), so the more information I can provide to them the better!

Thanks! :blush:

(Sarah Hawk) #4

Ok, so what I think I’ll do here is wait until we get some responses from members before I jump in. This is my third Discourse forum so I’m likely to bias the conversation.

Once we have that, I’ll tag in a few people with different experiences (on both sides of the fence) of the platform to give their opinions and insights.

General populous – what do you like / not like about your Discourse experience here at Experts?

(Darren Gough) #5

Few thoughts (not sure if these are all Discourse or our build):

  • When you click an outbound link it loads into the Discourse window rather than a new tab. Would prefer to have it create a new window
  • I find the navigation isn’t always obvious how to get back or easily jump between topic areas.
  • It (very occasionally) logs me out. It’s very infrequent but it does happen.
  • The overall style is great - clean, puts content front and centre. At times I feel it could be styled a little softer- things feel a little too functional and clinical in places.

(Shreyas) #6

Some things that I like about Discourse are:

  • Community members can watch/track categories that they choose to along with the ability to mute categories.
  • Permalinks(got to be the best thing ever)
  • Email summary in case you’ve missed out on things.
  • Mailing list fans can use it like the mailing list including replying via email, with the exception of starting a new thread via email.
  • Ability to :heart: posts and replies is great.
  • Video/Image embed

(Travis King) #7

Agreed with what’s been said. Discourse has a lot of built in tools that that makes running a forum easier. The one thing we’re hoping to improve on is the overall look of our forums. Discourse forums tend to have a very similar look, but hopefully that’s something we can improve on once we get some of our designers working on it.

And nice to see another Canadian! Welcome :smiley:

(Jess Burnham) #8

Awesome feedback you guys!

@Darren_Gough I definitely know what you mean about outbound links, that’s something we’re working on as well because at the moment in our Community when you post a URL it navigates you away from that page entirely. Thank you for reminding me to change that. And as for logging out, yesterday I noticed that if I try to log in through my Google account, I received a 400 error. We’re also looking into that, perhaps it was just a one off and will never happen again but might be worth mentioning incase that’s happened to someone else?

Also, I agree about the style, it is so unapologetically Discourse, which I respect, but initially when I first land in the forums it looks a bit harsh and block-y.

@dun3buggi3 I totally agree! I think my all-time favourite feature is the email summary, it’s a nice little nudge, and I like the way it’s styled both in desktop and mobile.

@Travis Woohoo! Go Canada! I’ve spent a bit of time looking at different companies who use Discourse for their internal or external communities, it’s been a bit of an inspiration to see how Discourse can be modified to better represent your brand. But like I said earlier, I do respect that when you land on a Discourse page, it’s undeniably Discourse. However, have a look at how these guys are doing it, if you’re curious to see how Discourse can be modified a bit:

There’s also a longer list of well-known companies that are using Discourse here.

Thanks again for all that, I think I’m going to like it here. :blush:

(Jay Pfaffman) #9

There’s a user setting for this. You can change it in your preferences (click your avatar and the gear).

You can change default other external links in new tab in admin/site_settings.

(Sarah Hawk) #10

There’s a setting for that in your preferences :slight_smile:
I have it set system wide as not-default behaviour because it’s bad accessibility practice, but you have the option to make the choice for yourself here, which is cool.

That sounds like a cookie issue on your local machine (doesn’t happen to me), but I’ll check in with everyone else first. Does anyone else experience this?

@jess_burnham See not above about new tab settings. If your community demand it, then you can set the default behaviour under settings, but I wouldn’t recommend it as it’s bad accessibility practice. It might be better to communicate that people can change that setting themselves.

We migrated our site to a new server in the weekend and social logins broke. I fixed that yesterday afternoon so it should be ok now. Bad timing – sorry about that.

This is a bit of a catch-22. You can technically style it to look any way you like, but you need to be careful that upgrades don’t break things or you have hours of rework every time. We did that at SitePoint and ended up going back to basics because overheads were too high.

That said – the differences between here and here are pretty marked, and I’ve only written about 50 lines of CSS.

Edit: I wrote all this before seeing Jay’s response, so apologies for the doubling up of info.

(Sarah Hawk) #11

From a community management perspective, Discourse is amazing. I’ve previously managed forums on vB, vB Cloud and Drupal, and worked on customer sites on Lithium, Salesforce and Vanilla, and Discourse wins hands down.

The tools available, the flexibility of settings/configuration, the auto-moderation features, trust levels and solid analytics make it incredibly powerful.

The downside is that it changes rapidly and there isn’t a great communication loop so sometimes I don’t notice new features for weeks or months.

I make it a monthly practice to scan through the settings to see if I’ve missed anything.

(Jay Pfaffman) #12

You have an idea about how you’d like that fixed? It’s fast moving to be sure.

(Sarah Hawk) #13

It would be good to have that information on the Admin Dashboard. There is free space top right which could be utilised for change notification as WP do.

If that kept people updated of changes (both major updates and small fixes) I think that would do the trick.

(Jay Pfaffman) #14

That could work. Discourse moves fast, though and they currently do release notes only for major releases, though, so if you’re on tests-passed a whole lot happens in the 3-6 months before a major release comes out and you get those release notes.

Moodle makes you look at all new settings after an upgrade. I’d like to see something like that. Right now, the answer is to look at the commits in Github. :slight_smile:

(Sarah Hawk) #15

Yeah, and that works but it’s not a great answer for non-technical people. It should be more accessible. @erlend_sh

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #16

Adding to what has already been answered, this option should become much more discoverable once we’ve put some more work into properly organising user preferences.

Is this happening only on FeverBee or on other forums as well? We’ll definitely look into this if you can nail down the repro steps, but I suspect this is an SSO thing specific to FeverBee.

We’re working on it! :rainbow:

We do support this. We call it “incoming mail”. Hosted customers can skip past Step A since we run our own email servers.

Agreed. Adding info to the dashboard would be nice, but we have no plans for that right now. We do have plans for the immediate feature to establish some form of newsletter, which should help.

(Alessio Fattorini) #17

Do you have any reference for this?

(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #18

Not sure what you mean. It hasn’t been talked about much in public yet. I have other things on my plate for now, but I expect I’ll get around to working on our newsletter some time at the end of 2016.

(Alessio Fattorini) #19

I mean some public discussion about it

(Jess Burnham) #20

In regards to a Discourse newsletter :grin: