For or against a "Lounge" category for regulars

challenges

(Eoin Ó) #1

Hey,

I’m configuring my Discourse installation, and it has an interesting idea of a Lounge category.

That category is only available to “regular” members (on the Discourse trust level 3).

The benefit I see of this is that when members do get to this membership level, they will see explicitly that they have been “promoted” in the community.

The disadvantage (my fear, that is) is that regular members would end up only posting in that private group, thus splintering the community and possibly making it useful to the community as a whole.

Any experience with having “regulars-only” community areas?

Eoin


(Richard Millington) #2

Hi @eoin

I don’t have a really strong opinion on it. A few things I would note:

  1. If there is anything that is a ‘general’ category - people tend to put more posts in it than they should out of laziness (or to get their posts seen by the largest number of people).

  2. There are a few ways to promote people in the community, I think if you’re going to create a lounge I’d try to make sure that you have the capacity to run it extremely well for years.

  3. Have a clear purpose for it :slight_smile:


(Joel Rangelle) #3

I’ve seen the Lounge concept on quite a few concepts, my site included, and I think it can be a compelling part of the community experience. In fact, in many communities, the off topic / lounge area has some of the most active conversations by regular users since it provides a relaxing place to “chill out” and discuss either informal topics or current events. Its a strong dactoe to build the community experience and to let users learn about each other outside of the professional areas.

I think you need to be vigilant though on how “informal topics” might creep into “informal professionalism”, where members might become a little too casual. I think, as Richard stated, you need to do it in a right manner, instead of just a dumping ground for any and all topics. It needs to still be a value added experience to the community.


(Sarah Hawk) #4

I think you’re talking about a different concept to that which @eoin is referring . This sounds like a public Water Cooler/off-topic category rather than a Lounge (which is a private category for super-users).


(remah) #5

I’ve been an active participant in two Discourse lounges for sites that I’ve given a lot of time to,

The Lounge is a good place:

  • To discuss controversial issues with a smaller, more focused audience.
  • To present ideas that could benefit the forum or owner.
  • To develop and refine topics before presenting them in other categories, e.g. help topics, how-to topics, user manuals and the like. This is like creating workspaces which remain hidden for most users.
  • To feel like my contribution is noticed.

But I agree that the Lounge needs a clear direction because the early impetus soon dissipated at both sites.

The lounge may also be a good place:

  • To give positive feedback.
  • To hand out rewards. I’ve been given free software by email. It would be good to do this in the forum so other uses can see exactly how their involvement could lead to rewards.
  • To share more of a roadmap or plan with your most interested users.
  • To prepare groups of users to perform volunteer moderation duties.

(Nick Ivanter) #6

I had had a similar concern about enabling the Lounge category in Discourse.

Well, I enabled it since then, and my concern didn’t materialize. I.e. the conversations didn’t move to the Lounge in any significant way. Yet, the old-timers who received the access there did appreciate this opportunity for them to have a more private way for discussions.

So, this was a positive thing for our forum.


(Joel Rangelle) #7

I actually meant it as an offtopic forum/ hangout lounge. I’m not familiar with Discourse’s Lounge (with a capital L) although I think its neat that that its built in.


(Eoin Ó) #8

Yes I was referring specifically to the Discourse Lounge, which was created automatically in my installation. I has access to Level 4 members, so superuser a @HAWK said.

I do like the idea of a private area that allows people who are already familiar with eachother to communicate a bit more privately.

I find it hard to come up with a purpose for such an area apart from private area. I did run a forum before ( irishgaelictranslator.com ) that I believe had no private area and that didn’t seem to be a problem, although private messages were used quite a bit.

Its interesting to hear experiences here that:

  • Such areas fell out of use in two sites
  • and that having a private area didn’t seem to detract from the community as a whole in another case

As Seth Godin said in Tribes, part of our job is to provide forms of communication between tribe members, and that could easily include a more restricted access area for longterm members.


(Joel Zaslofsky) #9

I forgot all about Discourse’s built-in Lounge feature until, 13 months after going live with it, a member posted in the Lounge forum category saying how much he liked that the Lounge existed. I did a double-take – “Wait…what is this Lounge thing?!” – read up on Discourse documentation about the designer’s intentions for the Lounge, and then set out to define it’s role in our Puttytribe.

It was initially confusing because you need to explain Discourse trust levels to people who are automatically added to the Lounge, why some prominent community members weren’t in the Lounge (i.e., they didn’t click the Like button enough and the Discourse algorithm to add them didn’t kick in), and take them more behind-the-scenes at the platform level than people are used to.

This hasn’t been my experience at all. Our Lounge – renamed the Putty Tank – is a supplemental, additive facet of the community. It helps that we allowed our members to define it purpose(s), rename it, and take some ownership of the conversations within it.

We’ve had conversations in our Lounge that we can’t easily have in other places. For example, we talk about our scholarship program, the forum taxonomy, deciding what kind of chat option to use for the community, how and when to create wikis (and on what topics), and more.

For what it’s worth, I modified the Discourse admin settings for automatically adding someone to the trust 3 level, change the badge name associated with being at trust level 3, and made some other admin tweaks to make the concept of a Lounge less confusing to our members.

Here’s how the edited “About the Putty Tank (formerly known as The Lounge)” pinned topic reads in our community:

Congratulations! :confetti_ball: :fireworksgoogle:

If you can see the Putty Tank forum category and this specific thread, you’ve been promoted to Consistent Contributor status in our forums (a.k.a. what our Discourse platform defines as reaching “trust level 3”).

Dual Purpose

This is a place for our best contributors, longest members who’ve been consistently active, and our Puttytribe team to discuss all things Puttytribe related. The select nature of the Putty Tank allows for candid conversations that are either annoying to, irrelevant for, or too sensitive for most non-Tankers.

It’s also a place to have advanced conversations about multipotentiality with a peer group who’s embracing, confident about, or otherwise content with their multipotentiality. It’s your space to have intimate conversations with other multipods who have been there, done that, have the badge to prove it (literally in our case), and are now deciding what’s next.

Being a Consistent Contributor means you can do things like:

  • Edit the title or category of most threads.
  • Have access to this private Putty Tank category for special puttypeep who have also reached trust level 3.
  • Hide threads or replies with a single flag.

Here’s the current list of fellow Consistent Contributors.

Thanks for being an all-star puttypeep and continuing to contribute in wonderful ways!

Note: For more information on Discourse’s trust levels, see this topic in their Meta forums. It can get a bit technical and you don’t need to understand how the trust levels work.

Yes. And it’s best to define that purpose before one of your forum members discovers/remembers it exists before you do. :blush:


(Eoin Ó) #10

Thanks for sharing your Lounge intro. Interesting to hear that you modified it for one step lower in Discourse levels.


(Jay Pfaffman) #11

Be default, Level 3 users have access.

I’ve used it some on meta.discourse.org to discuss issues with site organization and/or to announce new projects that I’ve been working on to a very particular audience.

Since it’s available to only a relatively small group, I think that it’s not likely to have a huge effect on the community. I’d recommend leaving it.


(Eoin Ó) #12

Yes you are correct, it’s set for Level 3 users.


(remah) #13

I’ve surprisingly returned to regular status at meta.discourse.org so I can see that the Lounge is still mainly used the same way as other Lounges I’m in:

Only 1 in every 400 or so signed-up users has access because of the consistent contribution needed to maintain Trust Level 3. As @Jay_Pfaffman says, that’s “only a relatively small group”.

The table is for those who like to see the numbers:

Trust Level Number Ratio to TL1 % of TL1 Ratio to TL0 % of TL0
0 33,641 1 100.0%
1 16,029 1 100.0% 2 53.4%
2 1,869 9 10.9% 17 5.8%
3 61 216 0.5% 405 0.2%
4 22 817 0.1% 1,529 0.1%

The counts are from users and badges:


(Sarah Hawk) #14

The thing that makes Meta a bit of an outlier here compared to CoPs is that we don’t actively manage, strategise or grow Meta. We only have the Lounge because we dogfood the product. There is no real motivation for people to use it.


(remah) #15

And yet it does get used even with so few users who can access it. So there must be a real problem it resolves and hence a real motivation for the three activities I observe there.