I understand it’s quite far removed from the current focus and a major feature, but in the long term, I would absolutely love to see a way of integrating a content-creating community based on Discourse with a good set of tools for collaborative editing and managing content (using all the awesome things reputation-based access allows, and having work on collaboratively edited pages feed into the forum’s reputation system sanely. Which is hard, but I’ve been considering it for a few years… and have some ideas.). Forums are almost great for collaborative community projects, but no-one’s got the whole reputation feedback for generating content in a collaborative and open project thing right, and Discourse is going to have a large number of the parts needed to do it properly.
Handling reputation systems on pages created by a large number of people in a way which rewards them even vaguely fairly for different kinds of improvement to a page is fairly hard to do, and all ways I’ve come across have some issues. My current favorite idea is letting users tag their edits (with pre-defined tags, e.g. spelling fix, added new section, created stub, full grammar check) with each tag granting a certain amount of reputation. New users and those with low reputation would have the tags assigned to their edits checked and modified/approved by a high rep user who would get a small rep bonus for doing this much like users are rewarded for upvoting useful content on stackoverflow, and edits correctly tagged by the editor would give a larger reputation bonus than those which are initially mistagged to reduce the incentive to label edits with a higher earning tag. And users who don’t want to figure out which tags to put on their edits don’t have to, they could leave it to the higher users (though they would be encouraged to tag themselves).
Ability for topics to be promoted to pages/articles, which makes the thread use a different skin more fitting for content pages, makes it show up on various lists, become available on a different URL as well (www.wiki.example.com/page-title as well as than www.forum.example.com/page-title/12), and becomes editable by all those with the required access.
Various permissions granted at configurable reputation levels (suggest edit, suggested edits auto-approved (except on protected pages, different trust level), review edits and their tags, move page, protect and unprotect page, delete page (soft, hard, hide deleted version, don’t hide), promote thread to page, move page back to forum, access to various anti-vandal tools).
Good difference engine.
A templating system.
So, quite a few things. And some will require a fair amount of attention to do right, but on the other hand… the ideal community content collaboration system would include everything that Discourse aims to be, and many of the parts of this puzzle would enrich forums which did not use it as a CMS (a great difference engine for example would be useful for looking at post edit histories) since there is a huge amount of overlap. I think this would be an amazing draw to Discourse
Every forum community I have been active on (plus almost all I’ve lurked on, and at a glance, a large number of those on the big-boards.com list) has had some form of community content creation project and many areas ripe for being brought into a more organized form. Each I’ve been involved with has had to make do with inadequate and poorly integrated ways of publishing and collaborating on the content. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many of the communities which grew had some creative focus; people like projects they can contribute to. If Discourse provides tools to help this along, with a system of incentives akin to stackoverflow’s amazing one, it would usher in a new era of glory. Or at least make a lot of people very happy and parts of the web a much more useful places.
This would, in my mind, ideally be a part of the core since it interacts with many things and performance is important, but perhaps the plugin system could make it work well enough. Preferably it would be developed with at least a lot of guidance from some of the main devs. Which probably pushes it well into the future because there’s a million things more mission-critical things for them to focus on, and will be for some time.
But long term how open are the dev team to building something like this into Discourse? And what do other users think of the idea?