I am distinctly underwhelmed by the new discourse.org. Not for the same reasons as other users but sometimes orbiting around similar issues.
On the positive side, Discourse should be defined by what it is and who you are - I could easily say "who we are" given the strong sense of community. So please don't waste your time looking at WordPress, Flarum or whatever. There are logical pitfalls in doing so. For example, free WordPress is an integrated service provided by Wordpress.com whereas free Discourse is not.
Some issues and unanswered questions
I've chosen three main issues and added questions for each - I've made an effort to be clear but I am watching sports games at the same time.
The home page lacks a passionate pitch.
Q. How to instil a sense of passion and stronger direction?
Free Discourse should be ABC.
Q. How to clarify access to the free DIY option?
Discourse doesn't need everyone.
Q. How to assist prospective users to self-select?
The home page lacks a passionate pitch so How to instil a sense of passion and stronger direction?
I feel that the home page lacks passion because it doesn't strongly suggest either action or clearly present problems resolved. Discourse.org so clearly represented passion that I committed to it before having any need for it. Perhaps I need to let go of this but I don't think so.
From @erlend_sh's blog entry, both early and late goals are presented but I don't see either realised.
What problem can Discourse solve for YOU?
We ultimately settled on three “pillars”:
1. Emails don’t scale.
2. Problem solving is best done in public.
3. Communities ought to be owned by their creators.
The structure and text simply doesn't make it clear. Instead I read three out of four as warm fuzzies:
- "your team"
- problem of "email silos"
- "solutions together"
- "your community"
Also the term "email silo" is relatively obscure - do a search to see - which is why I would leave it out. It is one step too far beyond more easily understood terms.
Free Discourse should be ABC so How to ease access to the free DIY option?
At a very basic level, the issue of paid versus free is confusing because free includes three very different concepts:
- free trials
- open source licencing
- self-managed installs on a non-Discourse host
Then there is the issue of using different language/imagery/concepts on different pages. I'd prefer to see basic and consistent descriptions repeated across various pages so less educated visitors can clearly make the right connection the first time they encounter each instance. For example:
Managed hosting seems less helpful than official Discourse hosting
Fork us on GitHub is cryptic compared with install Discourse yourself in the cloud. But confusion also arises because neither mention that you need to get your own host.
Here's a table quoting the text on the various pages for the four topics I've mentioned. The situation gets even more unclear with Digital Ocean and community installs added to the mix.
|On web page ||Paid ||Free trial ||Free install ||Free licence |
|www.discourse.org ||Managed hosting ||Start your free trial ||Fork us on GitHub ||an open source project |
|.../about ||official Discourse hosting ||Start a free trial ||install Discourse yourself in the cloud ||Uncompromisingly open source, etc. ||.../features ||? ||? ||? ||100% open source |
|.../pricing .../buy ||hosted ||Free 14 day trial ||self-install ||? |
I do like the etc. on the about page:
There is only one version of Discourse – the awesome open source version. There’s no super secret special paid commercial version with better or more complete features. Because Discourse is 100% open source, now and forever, it belongs to you as much as it belongs to us. That’s how community works.
Discourse doesn't need everyone so How to assist prospective users to self-select?
Discourse shouldn't appeal to everyone because everyone doesn't want or need Discourse. We should also remember that Discourse is represented by the quality and effectiveness of its installs.
- Select whether I really have a useful need for Discourse.
- Select the most appropriate Discourse implementation including the no Discourse option.
The best example of self-selection that I can think of is clarifying the "free" use issue above. Other examples would be show-stoppers that are disappointments when revealed or confirmed in the forum:
- hosting requirements that trip people up, i.e. versions of Linux, Docker, etc.
- clarifying supported versus unsupported installs
- cutting out those unprepared to leave behind traditional tools like PHP and mySQL