Community / Neighborhood Forum Examples?

(Phillip Duggan) #1

Has anybody seen this used for neighborhood / hyper-local communities yet? Most seem to be using email lists, Facebook Groups, or NextDoor. All of which have their own issues… And I’ve been curious about other options thinking more outside the box.

I’m especially curious about how user-friendly it is with a non-technical group of people.

(Jeff Atwood) #2

Do you mean with an audience of people that don’t use computers at all, traditionally?

Not sure what you mean by non technical exactly.

(Phillip Duggan) #3

Well, it varies a lot. No computers yet is the extreme example. But mostly I was thinking about people who haven’t used a traditional forum and might only be comfortable with email and possibly Facebook.

(Jeff Atwood) #4

Well here is some feedback from people switching from a Facebook Group:

I am part of a group which is about 2000 users who are all mothers living in {city}. A few years ago, someone created a group on Facebook and since then, it has blown up to huge community of people that share ideas, thoughts, suggestions and help each other on all things motherhood-related. It has become such an invaluable resource for all the members and its the go-to place when a question arises, or someone needs help. The Facebook group is no longer a viable method to host all this information since its not easily searchable and doesn’t offer much functionality on a mobile device (many of our users frequent the forum when they’re up late at night with newborns, etc).

After ~30 days

As you know, I started {discourse url} to try and move a very large group of moms away from the current Facebook group. Moving people over has been a lot harder than i thought! But, the overall feedback from people that have joined, has been overwhelmingly positive. People really like the simplicity of discourse, the search features, the email digest and most of all, the mobile compatibility. It’s been very exciting seeing the community grow little by little and I think it will continue to grow organically, albeit slower than I had hoped.

After ~60 days

What people liked:

  • Much easier to scroll though and much more organized
  • very easy to use the search feature
  • easy to reply and follow a thread
  • loved that it was basically the same on the phone and the computer

What they didn’t like/found confusing:

  • One person commented that posting was a little confusing (the create topic button and then when you want to publish, you click create topic, but since they had already clicked they, they thought you should hit upload and they couldn’t figure out how to post).


The FB group has over 2000 members. I would say there are about 100 members that post and about 20-30 that post/comment on a very regular basis. With such a large member base, you can usually get an answer almost immediately. This is especially important with issues dealing with feedings and diapers and other time is of the essence questions that usually happen at 3am. Until we can create the same sense of community, it will be difficult to get members to switch. I also believe that people are creatures of habit. They are on fb anyway and if a question pops up on their feed that they feel they can help with, they can take two seconds to answer it. Having to go to a separate forum to post/answer takes time to make that habit as well. The main reason this site is better is the search feature. There are so many questions that are asked over and over again - what pediatrician do you like, can you recommend a lactation consultant, where can you get shoes for your new walker - that it seems silly that all the wonderful data and advice aren’t in a more searchable format, so the same questions and answers get repeated. Our continued goal is to try to build this forum to make all of this wonderful information accessible.

We are continuing to introduce the site to new moms and current members. I believe with time, it will become a very valuable resource and people will see the strong advantages of this vs. the fb group.

Why use Discourse over Linkedin, Google, or Facebook Groups?
Mobile editor reply button on right vs. on left
(Caue Rego) #5

Sounds very interesting. Which group is that?


The group you brought together on Facebook will be totally different from the group of Discourse. At least in my experience.


The organization. Impossible thing on Facebook.
Participation. People see more topics.
Simplicity. No other tool is simpler than that.


People forget to enter the Discourse (facebook you enter every day, unlike the email).
Active participation is lower (creation of topics).
The sense of community is lower. Many people come to me and says, “Damn, I entered the forum today, but had no one.” On Facebook you add people see when they are online, chat, etc…

It’s a choice you have to do.

On Facebook you create more friendships. In my case, there were meetings, travel and couples formed. In Discourse you have better conversations, and more organized.

(Caue Rego) #7

Which group are you talking about, @Devanil? I was asking @Jeff about the mom’s group.

By “you” you mean “kids”, or at very least younger than 30 anyway. :stuck_out_tongue:

But it looks like you’re posting in the wrong topic. Try that one -->.