Creative Uses of Discourse

As I learn more about Discourse, I have realized that there are a number of ways it could be used beyond a typical Forum. These are some ideas I have considered… what other creative uses have people made for Discourse or thought of implementing?

  • Newsletter signup and distribution

  • Personal To Do List

  • Personal Email Archive

  • Internal company project manager

  • Small group file sharing

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I run an online game that’s been around since 2000, and we use Discourse in a way that maybe isn’t obvious or “typical” for most forum solutions.


1. I dissolved my mod team and now rely 100% on post-flagging.

We have a history of waaaaay over-designed processes for moderation, and a whole lot of drama to go along with it. Since training our players to use flagging, moderation has become a breeze largely because it now happens without much staff involvement at all.

This has been a huge win for gamedev time not only because the community takes care of itself, but also because I no longer incur the overhead of managing a team.

2. I replaced the mod team's game-design duties with a trust-level-based Think Tank

Through trust levels, the people who become “The Team” are indirectly dictated by the community itself instead of by existing staff. This group is our TL3, just renamed. This has been well received as very empowering for our players.

Instead of The Lounge, they get a private forum where we have more thoughtful conversations about our game’s issues, development, and our public roadmap.

3. We use badges to redirect negative feedback energy into productive bug reports and ideas.

Our players can be grumpy, and some even downright hostile about changes we need to make. I’ve found success in using 2 automated badges for posting bugs and ideas, called Creative Thinker and Bug Hunter, respectively. This is complimented by a manual badge awarded for actual code changes made as a result of the posts, called Change Maker and Exterminator.

This has had a profound impact on how players express their feedback. Instead of being angry or frustrated, they now feel hopeful and proud to display these badges.

4. We use Discourse's wonderful API to improve ingame communication.

We have groups and private forums for the different teams in the game. It’s round-based, so this ends up being a constant change to grouping of long-time players. Setup now happens without any manual effort on my end. It just works alongside our game’s existing player-grouping logic.

We similarly provide a “Congress” forum for elected team leaders, that is also fully automated and in sync with the game’s voting mechanic.

Lastly, we use the API to inject topics directly into the game’s interface:

5. We use Discourse as a community wiki.

Our players are obsessive about our lore and in-game war history. We previously relied on MediaWiki but are now porting over to Discourse. The experience has so far been great, especially with DiscoTOC - automatic table of contents!

As an example, here’s a wiki page on a war that happened over a decade ago. This is incredible user content: Clash of the Titans - IC-Wiki - Imperial Conflict


Individually, these might not sound too crazy, but I’d imagine that Discourse did not set out to have such a large effect on a game like mine. I also run a community for other gamedevs who run similar games, and often recommend Discourse specifically because of how it can elevate the experience we provide to our players.

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This is a great topic!

We use Discourse in a number of ways that deviate from a standard discussion forum. Over the last 6 moths or so we have been exploring the concept of Discourse as a tool for teamwork. Right now we use it

  • as our customer support inbox
  • to schedule our weekly calls (using discourse-chronos aka local dates)
  • to do our weekly check-ins (or equavilent of stand-ups)
  • as a management tool to manage our teams and workload (using discourse-assign)
  • as a policy and compliance monitoring tool (using discourse-policy)
  • to manage the onboarding of new team members (using discourse-checklist)
  • for learning games ( e.g. fix a bug from our logs and then assign to the next another team member)
  • for collaborating on documentation (using saved drafts)
  • to track holidays/leave (using discourse-calender)
  • for system alert monitoring (custom plugin to port alerts as topics into a private instance)

More details on some of the above in this blog post: How Does Team Discourse Use Discourse?

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I’ve really enjoyed using Discourse as an Evernote replacement across all of my devices. The only downside is that there’s no offline mode, but each year that becomes less of a problem.

I’ve been using Discourse this that way for over a year now, and it really works great. Actually will be deleting my Evernote account soon :wink:

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I’m actually conceptualizing the use of Discourse as a personal project management tool. It would not be a to-do list, per se, as I personally use a Bullet Journal for that right now. Rather, it would be focused on keeping track of bigger projects that need tracking over a longer period of time.

Plugins/theme components I’m looking at incorporating:

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We use Discourse to support the products we are currently dealing with. We have a large team, but it is divided into people who are engaged in different projects.

For each of these mini groups we created separate groups (categories in them).

We have Rocket.Chat installed, where each group (category) has its own channel. Rocket.Chat also has common channels.

Integration with mail, chat, and all the available Discourse tools very well fit and work smoothly and together, complementing and expanding the overall capabilities of the team.

The most important thing I see is the ability to create both closed spaces and common spaces, which makes the interaction more interesting.

discourse-assign, discourse-chat-integration... - do an excellent job with their tasks.

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