A curated weekly newsletter for your community


(Dave McClure) #1

I’m starting to put together a curated, weekly “newsletter” on our forum, and thought I’d share something about it here.

The contents include:

  • Links to a few of the best discussions from the past week.
  • Sharing some high-level thoughts about things we can do to continue to improve the community.
  • One or two tips about specific features of Discourse.

My aim is to publish a new topic like this once a week. The topic title is in the format with “Some Title - Sitename Weekly No. X”.

I just published the first issue with the title Making sitename more welcoming - First Issue! - Sitename Weekly No. 1. It is also tagged with #sitename-weekly so it will be easy to link to a list to all of the issues.

The section that links to existing topics looks kind of like this:

Interesting discussions

This week

You can always check out what Sitename thinks are the top discussions this week, but here are a few in particular that we’d like to highlight:

…2-4 more like that…

Pots of Gold :rainbow::moneybag:

I occasionally come across some pots of gold at the end of the reading rainbow. Here’s one I found this week:

  • How we stay effective when your team grows in size
    Before @OG was running this place, she was working on projects like many of us here. Check out this post from ~5 years ago where she shares some tips for organizing on project teams as they grow in size.

The tips are aligned with the theme for this issue, “Making sitename more welcoming”:

But who are all these people?

We want this to be an inclusive and safe space for all to participate openly in discussions about things that matter to them, their teams and the organization. People are here from every office and every role, and that’s cool, but it can also be confusing and intimidating, especially to newcomers, but also to many of us who day to day work in much smaller teams with people we are familiar with.

One thing we think can help make our community more welcoming is to make it easier to find out who someone is when you come across them here. So here are a couple tips:

TIP: Introduce yourself (Update your user info)

Take a couple minutes to go to your profile and add the following information:

On the account tab:

  • Full Name
    Adding your full name makes it easier to connect who you are when we cross paths in othere places (like Slack) if you don’t use the same username. It also makes it easier to mention you.
  • Profile Picture
    If your photo didn’t automatically load from gravatar, upload it here. Use the same photo you use in Gmail and Slack. It’ll make it a lot easier to recognize you across the variety of platforms we use to communicate.

On the your profile tab it’s helpful to update these fields too:

  • Location
    Add your location so people know where you are. In addition to gaining a better sense of where we’re all from, it can help us understand who else you may work alongside (we might know some of them!).
  • About me
    Include your role and what you’re working on. Add anything else you want too. It’s a great way to show a bit of your personality in brief. The field supports markdown, so you can add links to your twitter profile or blog too.

TIP: Click on a user’s avatar or when you see them @mentioned

If you’re not sure who someone is when you see a post of theirs here, click on their avatar and a user card will pop up that will have more information about them, depending on what they’ve filled out in their profile:

What do you think? Do you have other ideas to make Sitename more welcoming?

What do you think? Are there other things we should suggest people add to their profile? Is it worth investing in some integration with Workday?

This text is included in the footer, to remind people how they can follow along via email (and to subtly remind them of that feature in general):


If you want these to get delivered directly to your inbox, go to the #sitename-weekly tag and select “Watching First Post” in the upper right. (Or “Watching” if you also want to be notified about every reply).

Have feedback about this issue or the weekly updates in general? Let us know here or reach out to us in #sitename on Slack.

The reason I’m using a tag instead of a category is that I think there are a number of other groups within our organization that may see value in this pattern and so I’m hoping to model it in a way that allows those groups to autonomously create their own “publication” by following this process if this is successful.

Also, I realize there is some overlap with what gets sent out automatically as the weekly digest, but my hypothesis is that having a shared weekly issue that points out some content humans are specifically identifying, will engender a greater sense of belonging among those having those discussions.

I’ve only done one issue so far, but the feedback has been positive. I’ll try to follow up periodically on this topic to share how it evolves (and feel free to ask me if you have questions).


Discourse Tour - do we have such one?
Should "Top" include topics older topics with new posts in the selected period?
Microblogging (the inverted Ask Me Anything?)
What is a notification?
How to enable your community to use Discourse as a (micro) blogging platform
Plugin: Monthly automated community report
Group admin dashboard?
New topic composer gets in the way when it auto-opens on the topic list
(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #2

Looks great! How long does it take you to put one of these together?

Will be interesting to hear more about this in a few weeks after you’ve received some feedback and reactions from the community.


(Dave McClure) #3

I made the silly mistake of not accounting for the time it took this first time around, but that question has come up in some of the feedback (basically, people are concerned about whether this is sustainable).

What I do know is that I put it together in one sitting on one morning. It didn’t feel like it took too long, but I’m guessing it may have been a little over an hour for this one. But I tell myself there was a bit of extra overhead since it was the first one, so I was simultaneously designing the “template” and the content.

I’ll be paying closer attention to that in the next few weeks, and let you know.


(Alessio Fattorini) #4

I’m really interested in :slight_smile: I usually creare a welcome topic every week so I will improve mine using your template.


(Dave McClure) #5

How long have you been doing that? What has it looked like so far and what has the response been?


(Alessio Fattorini) #6

Since the beginning, take a look at this: Welcome - NethServer Community
Sometimes is great sometimes not. The problem is that I need to make it valuable for regular users too.
I generally do it with a monthly newsletter where I collect all great content and discussions


(Dave McClure) #7

Nice, I think I’ve got plenty to learn from what you’re doing here too.


(Alessio Fattorini) #8

That’s my monthly newsletter :slight_smile: where I try to push people back to Discourse.

https://a2a4e.emailsp.net/f/rnl.aspx/?fec=qvpvuq/:0dh=ux&x=pv&d0=tnop_9-29.=5:6dg-.164ieac:c9&x=pp&rwb9e95g-d19hNCLM


(Dave McClure) #9

I’ve got a couple more weeks behind me now (I just posted the third one).

In these last two weeks, I’ve started separate posting a topic for the “tip” so that I can index and reference them separately in the future. I include a relevant highlight about that tip in the newsletter with a link to the tip topic for more details.

For example, this week, the theme of the newsletter was “keeping things connected”, and I highlighted how inbound links show up below posts that are linked to in the Tips section. But in the Tip topic I created on links, I covered all sorts of things about links (link counts, notifications when links are created, oneboxes vs. mini-oneboxes, the preference to open external links in a new tab, etc).

This week, I spent about 2 hours on it in total. It took me about an hour to put the Tip topic together on links, which I did in the middle of the week, and another hour to put the main newsletter topic together at the end of the week. I’m OK with that amount of time for now, but I kind of expect it to go down a bit in the future.

I’ve created a trello board for myself to capture ideas about what things to post in future weeks (themes, tips, pots of gold). I think that will help me further streamline my own process and eventually start including others in the process or rotate some responsibilities.


(Jeff Atwood) #10

I’d be interested to hear anything you learn that could help in automating the weekly digest creation!


(Jeremy M) #11

This is really a great thing you’re doing - as we redo our community I am interested to see the overall sentiment you get on these, along with % of readers, etc.


(Dave McClure) #12

It’s a little early to tell, but I think this feature request would be helpful. I have been using the data explorer query in that topic in the mean time to fill that gap, which had been working fine.

Another idea would be to revisit the summary email, and make aspects of it less personalized, where a copy of it would be posted as a topic, in addition to being emailed out to everyone who hasn’t recently visited.

There’s value in “common experiences”, especially in an organization where many people interact via other means (in person, in meetings, over slack, etc). Unlike the personalized summary, people can refer to “the last newsletter” and be talking about the same thing, and have the ability to share a link to the same thing.

Just spitballing… Not exactly sure what I’m suggesting in any concrete terms yet.


(Dave McClure) #13

Another thing that might be worth exploring are changes that would obviate the need to include the boilerplate I’m adding to the bottom of each topic that remind users about how to subscribe to the tag.

Maybe topics tagged with the any of the same tags could also show up in Suggested Topics, and include a note about how to subscribe to them.


(David Taylor) #14

To add another data point here: a discourse forum that I casually read, but am not regularly active on, is the Monzo forum. I log in a couple of times a week, so not regularly enough to read everything, but also not infrequent enough to receive the automated digests.

They’ve started doing something quite similar to @mcwumbly with a manually created weekly digest. Personally I have found this a very useful way to keep up with important things on the community without having to read everything. I like that it’s super short and to-the-point:

The two main thoughts I’ve had out of this are:

  • Human created digests could work well for a lot of communities - I fully agree with @mcwumbly’s comments on the value of ‘common experiences’

  • In the case where human-created digests are not happening, maybe there could be a setting which allows sending of the automated digest email, even if I have been active in the last week :thinking:


(Dave McClure) #15

I’d like this anyway. I maintain a separate sock-puppet account just to receive the digests on my own forum so I have some idea what gets into them without manually checking.

This is probably something I need to work on. :wink:


(Dave McClure) #16

I switched things up this week and it only took me 30m to put the newsletter together. We’ll see whether that holds in future weeks…


(Dave McClure) #17

Something a user brought up as a nice to have would be a single thing they could click to subscribe (eg. click a link to set the tag to “watching first post”).

EDIT: I now recall that this has been brought up before.


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