Badges and general chattiness of Discourse

Carrying on with Your example, even if I hate it, I can not govern the store policy on employee behaviour for a store that I do not own.

Hence, I believe it makes perfect sense to let the store management decide what drives their sales the most.

The same could be applied to forums. If such encouragement drives engagement on a forum, there is no harm to it. If you’d rather not like it, maybe write a feedback to the store (forum) manager but theres only so much that could be done here.

Just to be clear, I’m not trying to advocate for the behaviour, I too believe the noise needs to be toned down a bit and such notifications be customizable to a do not disturb kind of low priority queue. However, I don’t see a harm with some encouragement coming my way if I am a newcomer.

However, that being said, once I’ve received the same set of badges and promotions on over three dozen forums, it feels very odd and redundant.

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Allow me to emphasize that in my example store’s decision to implement this policy is a conscious one. They weighed pros and cons and decided to actively push sales this way.

My subjective impression of multiple Discourse communities I saw is that they simply leave defaults as is or don’t know that setting disabling this exists.

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That’s very strange, it is fairly straightforward for an admin to locate the setting to disable badges.

And personally, I haven’t heard a similar complaint in my last 5 years of using discourse.

But I think this should be turned into an Opt-in setting during first setup wizard so admins could decide whether they want badges or not.

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I’ve just went though the experience of fresh install a month ago and can tell you that there is some degree of customization fatigue there. You initially focus on how the instance should look like, what policy texts should reflect and so on. It can easily slip through the cracks and, you’re right, generally no one will complain about it. Cause it’s easy to dismiss meaningless notification 10 times.

I agree on opt-in part. At least it turns this into conscious decision reflecting admin’s view.


Maybe I’ve remembered wrongly, but when you sign up to a Discourse forum isn’t there an option to ignore this stuff? And I’m sure not many people engage with Discobot.

With badges, maybe it could just become part of that - and/or maybe a setting available in preferences/notifications.

There is a per user setting to disable new user onboarding on a per-user basis and there is an admin setting to enable (default ON) badges globally. My understanding is that @max_gashkov is interested in the rational for the latter and wants it to be omitted as a default OFF.

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Yes that or the ability as a user to turn off badges/badge notifications.


In some ways, this forum is used to survey user’s reactions to Discourse. As an example, have a look at the discussion that initiated the “skip new user onboarding” feature: Let experienced users skip "new to Discourse" features.

For some details about the thinking behind this approach, have a look at the blog post that’s linked in the response to How does the Discourse team do usability testing?.


Thanks, Simon. I do like the concept of Complaint Driven Development, so I will complain some more!

I’m not sure that the ‘Skip…’ feature is working as intended then. On each and every forum I sign up on, after I check this option, I’m still notified about ‘Welcome’, ‘Editor’ badges and several others.

May I offer another way to address this? Slack did many things wrong, but some right: it differentiates unread counter in dock on desktop for direct messages and all others, displaying digit or dot on the app icon. Is it possible to do the same in the Discourse UI? Digit for all user-initiated events (replies to topics, mentions, user-to-user messages etc.) and dot for all automatic activity (badges and I’m not sure what else).


This seems like an oversight on our part, we will certainly get these suppressed with the setting.


It was happening because of a bug. It’s fixed here:


Nice one … good catch.

Catching Major League Baseball GIF by MLB


This is great! I am glad people are able to opt out of these badge notifications… I also get them on sites I join and have become inured to them. Good catch complaining about this and also good catch getting this bug fixed. Thanks @andrei! :hugs:

On Discourse for Teams, we have disabled badges entirely because there is no need for such incentivizing on a private site for team collaboration amongst people who are already be motivated to work together!

What happens on sites with discobot disabled? Is there no way for users to opt out except by going to their user prefs?

Actually, I think this is about discouraging shoplifting!


I’d just like to chip in to say that I find the badges and general system chattiness on Discourse sites pretty naff.

I suspect that many admins simply don’t bother, or don’t know how to turn it all off. I guess very few users bother to complain about it - its just a low level irritation that reduces one impression of the organisation running the site, so the overall effect may be negative but is never measured.

It would make more sense to me if all this stuff was OFF by default and it required the creator of the site to make a conscious effort to turn it on.

For me all the badges and encouragement are at best patronising and at worst insulting and always a distraction. The system is treating users like primary school kids (which is ok if that is what they are).

Overall there are more people on the internet that are at the primary school level of computer competency than advanced users.

Badges are definitely a love it or hate it type of feature… some sites have users that get a little competitive about completeness, and others as evidenced here, aren’t a fan! Maybe that’s a good indication that they should be an option in the site setup wizard?

Though, it’s certainly possible that improving the “i’m not a beginner” opt-out at account creation could cover most of the complaints here.


4 posts were split to a new topic: Allow skipping beginner tips when discobot disabled

Seems on all sites, users should be able to find an additional checkbox to turn off more than just the current checkbox.

There may be an age factor to the love/hate relationship with badges. The community on my forum tends to be of an older generation and some do complain about the badges being pointless and a little irritating.

There’s no right or wrong about them but it would solve the problem in one fell swoop if users could turn off the badges, or at least the notifications so the badges are more easily ignored.

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Lots of good points made by folk on the way through this discussion.

Standing back a bit to draw some principles which in turn informs the drivers for design decisions in software behaviour that then leads to developer activity to code features and switches

This fundamental question was addressed in the design of Unix and the decisions made for MS-Windows. Those once derived and understood principles may have been forgotten by a younger generation. Mobile phone UI/UX considerations constantly balance this dichotomy

The fundamental dichotomy is that on arrival in an alien environment one needs handholding in order to be able to prevent slips trips and falls. If your UI doesn’t allow immediate value generation then most users will abandon you very very fast. If somebody else’s marketing PR can point out that you don’t have a facility then you won’t even get the opportunity to compete as a decision will have been made before your users ever have exposure

As users gains dexterity or familiarity then the mechanisms required for a new user become impediments to efficient use. Psychology starts to label the aids stupid/ noisy/ chatty / lame… etc as an externalization of the frustration felt over barriers to accomplishment of known operations with the minimum of effort.

The badge system mixed and perhaps muddied two philosophical goals: one tapped into giving a dopamine hit to drive addictive behaviour, the other gave badges for first use of a feature- thus exploration of the user interface to expand familiarity- now tapping into the mechanisms that create an emotional response the frustration is to the fore - because there is no longer exploration of facilities they are now familiar. Forces are still magnetic but they’ve turned from being the attraction to now being the repulsion :frowning:

In discourse’s context a fundamental design decision buried in the past is that each instance of discourse stands alone. Indeed it may have been so encompassing and nebulous that it wasn’t even recognised as a decision at the time. One instance of discourse has no knowledge of the user’s prior familiarisation with the software.

An alternative design architecture, if the decision had been recognised might have put all forum below the users relationship with the discourse software. This architecture can be seen in the implementation of Mighty Networks.

To go back to the OP and the potentially annoying salesperson - the motivation for mighty networks was probably that this business decision makes every forum a recruiter of users that the mighty networks company has a direct ability to reach out to - in other words all your customers become recruiters for you centrally. Maybe you challenge the ethics of this (and note ethics is inescapable one of the factors in the background), whatever your opinion and choice in designing an architecture there are consequential effects - upsides and downsides. In this case it confers competitive advantage to them

Consider… .
Not THE solution but A solution would be to give of both the forum admin and the user switches to control the level of help given. Experienced users will know the switch is there and turn it off immediately. But note with just on/off for two interests there are four combinations - combinational explosion happens very quickly. It will increase software size dramatically. It has to be referenced within every other function even if only with the library call that immediately returns but with all the implications for load times memory usage etc etc - not in the silicon side (that’s probably a immaterial) but in the carbon side - there is an old acronym PICNIC.

IMH & ignorant O the entropy from the options in the discourse operating model is on the cusp of needing a simplification before it tumbles into complexity driven emergence that slowly gives new competing platforms incremental advantages of simplicity

I think this background stuff is foundational to competitive survival in the medium to long term. Not everybody in a company or a product needs to even appreciate that it is there but some people do!

I too suffer badge re-earning for skills I picked up in other discourse forum and non-discourse


At the risk of cherry-picking from the last post, the concept of badge-fatigue fits with the feedback I’ve had on my own forum. I don’t want to turn badges off universally but I also don’t want Discourse to irk members, many of whom are more used to ‘old style’ experiences like xenForo and phpBB.

The ideal scenario would be for individuals, perhaps at trust level 1 and above, to have an option to suppress badges for themselves.

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