A more social Discourse layout

If you mean any way to have the option of pm’ing me about help with a plugin you’re building, sure happy to help.


In particular, I’ve found the following to kill true discourse on FB:

  1. Having a non-linear display of comments.
  2. Having multiple levels of comments under a single post.
  3. Having a “read more” button displayed inside a comment (or even 2, 3 or more “more” buttons in a single comment)
  4. Not even loading all comments that are part of a single discussion (as in they aren’t found in the DB or something). I can’t guarantee 100% that FB does this occasionally, but I’m virtually certain that I’ve run into it multiple times.
  5. Upon clicking through, only loading the comments under a single top-level comment, thus completely removing from display all other top level comments and their responses.

(I think I’ve got more for this list, but can’t think of them. I’ll update if I come up with them.)

What these things cause is people missing parts of the discussion without realizing it. I’ve personally carefully read every word of every comment in some discussions prior to responding, only to find out that I still accidentally missed substantial portions of the conversation. The “more” links within a single comment are particularly insidious, especially when you’ve already clicked one or more of them in the comment and you come to the end of a paragraph that seems like a conclusion.

These UX decisions are especially damaging in discussion where emotions are running high for whatever reason. When the comment with the apology doesn’t get displayed, or when it is accidentally left as a top-level comment instead of a response, thus dropping it out of view either by pushing it down the page or, even worse, not loading it at all because of issue #5 above.

The number of clicks required to see everything just goes up and up and up, and I’m sure it drives up the amount of “interaction,” but it also destroys discourse. I will say that some of these things—like the way that top level comments get their own thread—definitely have arguments that can be made for them for certain usability use cases. However, if you want to have serious discussion it is an outright nightmare.

I would urge the Discourse team to be very careful about what kinds of changes they make in the search for “social” features or “familiar” features (from social) or simply increased “interaction.”

I love Discourse precisely because it doesn’t have these things.


I am with you :100:% on this.

I see and understand the need to be “more visual” for certain communities that are already highly visual by nature, but as a central tenet of what we stand for? It would literally break us.


Yeah, awful! One advantage of having a smaller scale community where I’d argue such behaviour is unnecessary.


I see the thin line Discourse has to walk here. And I do agree this has to be carefully weighed and probably be the job of a plugin. However, I think there is another, more overarching challenge that Discourse should consider and weigh in as well. It’s that of an overall shift in the web that happened over the last many years, away from websites, blogs and message boards on to Facebook and other proprietary platforms, which have come to shape and form users’ expectations as to functionality and usability. These platforms have become the home for people, their view of the web and unfortunately more often than not a golden cage. I do not think that Discourse should ever try to copy that or become kind of an open source Facebook clone, don’t get me wrong. However, and that’s why I brought up Buddypress’ timeline view as an example, I don’t see anything wrong in offering an optional view to Discourse users (in addition to top, latest, unread, categories…), that depicts, without any algorithm and whatnot, a linear, reverse chronological, feed timeline of what is happening in that particular discourse community, and a more “familiar” entry point for some and also a useful indicator to visitors of the activity that is going on. Such a feed would not only list things like “XY posted in topic Z” or “Topic X was moved to category Z”, but also “X, Y and Z joined the forum today” or “A was rewarded Badge soundso for his excellent post in topic D” etc. So much activity types that such a feed could display that would trigger a lot of interaction and help build a community… I think for those of us struggling to get people back into message boards like Discourse, this would be a huge step up.


This feature has been available for years in vBulletin 5 and people hated it.


Interesting thread. Where I work we build all sorts of Communities and this type of social layout vs. traditional forum view comes up often. For me it really hinges on the type and volume of content. One Community we worked on (Telstra’s Aust. Community) took on the “social style” feed in place of a normal thread summary. The results have been received well by new users but not so by super users. Being able to personalise the feed helps make this type of layout shine too.

Sounds about right to me, I am thinking of this primarily as a tool to onboard new users. The main challenge of today’s special interest communities is to lure people back out from the Zuckerberg prison…


Hi there,
are the efforts of feed layout still there?

@awesomerobot has built a theme for social lovers :heart:


found an example by the way


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I would also recommend taking a look at this topic.

Me and a few other users have shared a ton of examples there.

This link is out of date, use: Topic List Previews Theme Component