I’ve picked out a few quotes which resonate with me, and the problems we’re facing with Mozilla’s Discourse instance:
We’re at about 200 categories in total at the moment, and it’s a mess.
The first area that’s observable for us is the /categories page, which we use as our homepage. Redesigning it has been on my radar for a while, but I haven’t got round to it yet. My general idea is to make it a lot like the following: Forums — Mozilla, adding a level of categorisation above the category level, an instant search bar, and a category-categorisation above all others containing categories you’re subscribed to.
I think this category-categorisation would particularly help with a problem we share, which is having a huge number of subcategories in a category which itself doesn’t get a lot of posts: (I assume no-one is posting in “My Branch” directly)
Moving all these subcategories to top level categories (with a ‘Communities’ category-categorisation) will make other areas of the UI completely unusable and requiring of a redesign, but they’re barely useable at the moment:
One thought I’ve had is replacing these lists of categories with lists of the category-categorisations instead.
I think for forum setups like ours there’s a need for “Normal” categories to behave a lot more like “Muted” ones, in that its topics shouldn’t appear in quite so many places. On Mozilla’s instance, Latest and New are basically completely useless, containing topics ranging between add-on development, Swiss VR and non-English posts.
No user should be assumed to be interested in all those things by default, and I think on forums like ours the behaviour of Discourse needs to change with that in mind: not assuming you’re interested in every topic by default, but only ones which you’ve explicitly expressed an interest in (by subscribing to them, or the category they reside in, in some way).
My previous thoughts in this area has been to make a tab which does what the above paragraph describes, and I’ve thought this should be the Unread tab. It seems for technical reasons that’s not possible.
My new thought is to move away from having a single tab which does all that, and adding a new ‘my categories’ value to this drop-down:
This allows the existing UX to be followed: the current value of the drop-down filters what appears in the tabs following:
On the Reps category, the Latest tab shows the latest topics from the Reps category, the New tab shows new topics in the Reps category, and so on.
On all categories the Categories tab shows all categories, the Latest tab shows the latest topics from all categories, the New tab shows new topics in all categories, and so on.
And, similarly, on my categories, the Categories tab would show my categories, the Latest tab would show the latest topics from my categories, the New tab would show new topics in my categories, and so on.
I think the solution here is a combination of Watching the higher priority stuff, Tracking the lower priority stuff, and having the ability to receive emails for both (where currently you only get emailed for stuff that’s Watched).
With the ‘my categories’ drop-down idea, my thought would be logged in users would, if subscribed to a category, see ‘my categories’ by default where they, and a logged out user, see ‘all categories’ by default now.