Ability to Follow and Friend other users



But it is made for social interactivity, no?


It’s a discussion platform so sure, that’s social interaction.

My response was tongue in cheek because a CMS is designed to manage content, which Discourse is not.

That said, our focus here isn’t on relationships – it’s on discussion – but how others use it is totally up to them, hence the #pr-welcome :slight_smile:

(Kris) #90

I’ve been thinking about it in terms of my local neighborhood association. Anyone from the neighborhood is welcome to attend and we take time to listen to anyone who wants to talk. We intentionally design our meetings to be inclusive, and seek out ways to involve others who may not know about the meetings. There’s some informal leadership, but it’s in place to plan and keep things on track, their personal issues are just as valuable as everyone else’s.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have friends, but we’re specifically there because we want to hear from everyone… friend or not. If we want to hang out with existing friends, or make new ones, the community meeting isn’t the right venue for that… and there are no shortage of ways to accomplish that elsewhere (and we do via email, phone, facebook, etc).

I’ve seen some similarities to discussions on Meta — for example: there are people I’ve literally never seen before who have come here and report bugs or post great ideas that we implement. If it were too easy to simply show up, only look at what people I “value” had to say, and then leave… I’d likely miss out on some of the quieter voices with these great suggestions.

And just like in my neighborhood, If there are people who I’m more interested in for one reason or another, I already tend to follow them on individual-centric networks anyway… because they’re better designed to prioritize various types of individual relationships.

What would it take to replace Facebook with Discourse?
(Guy Fawkes) #91

+1 for this feature as a plugin

(Blu McCormick) #92

What about following particular people for their content? ie. getting notified if they generate a topic in a category just like you get notified about activity in a category or a topic? It could be a particular person or a category of people (trust level). Is there concern that if this is possible people will develop clicks and not give their attention to people outside of members they particularly benefit from? I might want to welcome level 0s or follow a theme developer or follow a person’s post in a particular category due to the useful content above and beyond the feeds that I peruse. I favor notifications over feeds when in a rush already and that would still hold true with this added function if it was available. It is kinda the flip side of blocking people.

Would giving forums this option be a big coding commitment? Would it damage the topic-focused (versus people focused) culture? Would it attract the type of people who might otherwise choose Mastodon for the ability to follow people (I have no idea if that is the case). This just came up in the community category. Just throwing it out there because there appears to be an exodus from Facebook and discourse might not register as an option with people like me who are going for alternatives to Facebook and Nextdoor for community groups. Yet discourse is a great alternative platform and even stellar if you put in the time to tailor it to your specificatioms.

(Jeff Atwood) #93

It’s already possible to subscribe to the RSS feed on a particular user’s page in Discourse – point the RSS reader of your choice to their user page. That would give you alerts any time that user posts something.

Otherwise, this feature is not on our roadmap for the forseeable future.

What would it take to replace Facebook with Discourse?
(Blu McCormick) #94

Good to know. Thanks.


So, summarising these ideas:

a Stage 1 plugin to achieve this might:

  • Allow users to create their own groups, consider initialising with a single default group ‘Followed’
  • Add a Following tab as standard that would display the topic list, which appears with a drop-down to select a specific group and will look similar to what this currently does (without the unnecessary additional nav UI):


Stage 2 might deal with the opposite direction:

  • Scope/Privacy Level of posted Topics

Who can see your Topic? Needs an ability to hide from anyone not in specified Group.

This leads to a potential implementation-dependent performance challenge as to display a list of Topics in this scenario, even the vanilla ‘Latest’ list will need to join with user groups list to determine if the current user is included the in the permitted group for each topic live (or perhaps you’d bake this into a topic as it was posted).

So in summary, with stage 1&2 of this plugin, a user would be able to:

  • Define and edit the constituency of their own group(s)
  • Select a Following ‘tab’ and select from a list of own group(s) to see a list of appropriate in-scope topics.
  • On posting a topic, can choose to restrict those able to see it to a specific group

(Adrianbblk) #96

Or a Newsfeed page to show all content by the people a user follow?!

(Adrianbblk) #97

Sometimes we need to provide personalized content for users in order to keep they active. Not on the frontpage, but a newsfeed page linked in the menu doesn’t sounds wrong for me.

Or at least to leave they to create groups, somehow to able to organize they’r content based on interests.


Thats easy enought to do if you have a WP site using the Frenzy RSS plug in. We have about 50 discourse communities and are adding a WP landing page to each heres an example: http://www.livingwithraynaudsdisease.org/ The latest discussions is a feed from latest topics. We have it set for 5 but you can do any number.

In this community (not completed) which we are tailoring as a landing page for our entinre group of communities we have this page: Latest Posts In Our Communities – Living With Rare Disease

You can add a link from your discourse community to any of the feeds. Not sure if thats what you are looking for, but it works (well) for us

(Just another happy Discourse user) #99

I’d still like to have basic functionality to follow users within Discourse.

My main reason is to support the issue of authority. All sources are not equal and some voices are more expert and authoritative than others. This particularly applies within a forum that has a more narrowly bounded area of knowledge. I’d like to be able to follow those authorities without having to use software other than Discourse.

I’m reminded of this issue, yet again, when I read Richard Millington at Feverbee blog on " The Hidden Costs Of Pursuing High Engagement ":

Members want to be able to follow and easily find the discussion that matters to them. …
Highlight key members they might want to follow, share the best expertise ever created in the community, and make sure they know the community is a place they go to resolve an immediate problem they have or opportunity they need to pursue.

(Jay Pfaffman) #103

A workaround is to give each user a group that they are the owner of, and then they can add whoever they want to the group and be able to track those users through the group.

(Just another happy Discourse user) #104

Interesting as an admin-heavy workaround for site owners which isn’t quite the built-in basic functionality that all users can access.

(Jay Pfaffman) #105

If it works acceptably, then it shouldn’t be too hard to make a plugin that automatically created the username_friends group for each user.

(Just another happy Discourse user) #106

Although many of the hosted sites, including my own, have a limited set of plug-ins which is why I’d prefer something built into Discourse.


I am thinking of hiring a dev for this feature with an expected completion by Jan. Wondering if anyone is interested in collaborating for specs + funding?

I am also thinking of customizing a side bar for easily accessible links like profile, subscribed categories/topics/users, etc. Could bundle the two plugins together if there is enough interest.

[Paid] Watch User plugin
(Angus McLeod) #108

@p16 and @wishspinner are sponsoring the development of a Follow feature, which I’ll be building. We’ve worked on an initial spec which we’d like some feedback on, particularly given this has a #pr-welcome tag. We’ll initially develop this as a standalone plugin.

  • Users can toggle the following of other users from the other user’s user profile or user card

  • Following another user will be similar in structure to following a category, perhaps initially with only one notification level akin to “Watching First post”.

  • When a user a user is following performs a notifiable activity, the followers get:

    • An in-app notification
    • An email, according to the user’s email settings
    • A push notification, according to the user’s push notification settings
  • There is a new tab in a users profile (“Following”?) potentially listing:

    • The users a user is following
    • The users following that user
    • The activity of the users a user is following
  • New profile statistics (listed on the profile and user card), potentially toggled with a site setting:

    • Number of users following a user
    • Number of users that user is following

Note the current absence of a new topic list in the “Discovery” section of Discourse. @p16 and @wishspinner, this is something for you guys to consider, i.e. it might be preferable to have a new list (e.g. see the screenshot here), playing a similar role to a ‘feed’ on a social media platform, rather than a notification for every post, or a feed tucked away in the profile.

Any feedback on the above is welcome!

(Boyned//Kampfkarren) #109

I disagree with showing who/how many people are following someone. It sounds like this would quickly become a contest to get the most followers instead of as an actual productive feature.

(Jeff Atwood) #110

It’s super unlikely we would ever accept this as anything other than a plugin.