This post is my attempt to understand the rationale behind Badges feature of Discourse and general behavior of the system towards new users.
A little background: I’m by no means an experienced Discourse admin, I have a single instance that I’m successfully running for my org’s community for about a month now. It was a learning curve for me to setup the system and make it behave as it’s applicable to our needs, but once set up, I’m very happy with most of its design decisions.
This brings me to a seeming contradiction that I’ve encountered during my short tenure as Discourse instance admin and a long-term Discourse user of several independent instances.
On one hand, Discourse’s UI is minimalistic and slick, both on desktop and mobile, truly a primer on UI design.
On other hand, the system is incredibly chatty and constantly requires my attention for quite a while after a new signup. I’m talking about endless stream of badges, notifications thanking me for a first like, first post and I expect for the firstborn if I ever have one. I will make an assumption that there was a serious rationale behind this upon the dawn of Discourse. It was a beast much different from most of the forum software those days. And you probably have had to come up with a way to educate complete newbies to how use it well and how to behave well.
Fast-forward to present day: now Discourse is almost a de-facto standard for any community that cares. And having no system of federated accounts, you have to sign up to each one. And on each one you will be greeted with a new badge. And another one. And UI tips. And this little unread counter that always has a (1) on it, always about some badge or helpful tip that system has for me.
‘Skip new user onboarding tips and badges’ setting in ‘Interface’ section of the Preferences helps somewhat, but I still see some new attention-grabbing notifications even after I activate it.
Maybe, just maybe it’s time to start moving in other direction in terms on defaults for this whole feature when there are a lot less people unfamiliar with the Discourse software now? I mean don’t we have enough of distractions in our lives?