Discourse makes difference when it comes to a very tiny niche market

(Anton) #1

As of today, in the beginning of 2017, I’ve been using Discourse for ~2 years.

The wide range of Discourse tools, as well as its intelligence that comes out of the box, made it possible for our community to thrive — despite the fact that the number of potential users is very limited.

I run an online community of Ukrainian goat keepers.

Not only do few people from Ukrainian villages have good Internet connection — many of them are not good users of computers, and many are just too old to start the learning curve.

Ukraine is struggling in a war now, people are very much stressed and think about where to get enough food and money for living rather than enjoying communities on the Internet.

What is more, keeping a goat is now becoming popular, but it is still not so when compared to focusing on cows for milk production.

In simpler words, an adequate person (not me) would not start such a community and would predict total failure.

Despite all these obstacles, we managed to build a self-maintaining and growing community with the following statistics:

  • 90k messages
  • 3k topics
  • 30 signups / week with zero marketing (!)
  • 200-300 active users daily
  • 500 new messages daily

I DO believe that one of the key factors in achieving our goals was and still is using Discourse.

I’m saying this despite the fact that I (a developer) hate Ruby language (Discourse uses it), I don’t have time to write my own plugins and customize the platform to my own needs; and the fact that there is still few good high quality plugins for Discourse.

We literally use a lot of features that Discourse has to offer out of the box, and all of them add a bit to the successful outcome.

There is some magic in what people feel when they get used to the Discourse-way of doing things. It irritates almost everyone when they try it, but then it gradually makes people happy, then extremely happy, then they become addicted to this discussion engine. I know what I’m talking about — I spoke to tens of them, and absolutely all of them, even the most haters, eventually fell in love with our forum, and can’t use competitors forums anymore. I realize it might be specific to our mentality or nationality. And I realize we are actually lucky in that in 2 years time, no single competitor decided to try Discourse as well. So we still are alone on this market using Discourse, and it makes big difference in terms of user experience, being part of why we became No.1 in this niche.

I should not discuss great Discourse features in this post — you can find a lot of detail in Discourse blog and here in Meta. What I wanted to do instead is to encourage people to try Discourse for their new or existing communities. When you use a tool that you love, you will actually do more with it and with more pleasure, and thus will achieve more.

Discourse is worth the effort and time you spend on learning its features. Your productivity will boost. You will be able to do much more with fewer team members compared to other discussion engines. JUST USE IT.

(Jeff Atwood) #2

Fantastic feedback @meglio. :goat:

The key thing, the absolutely key thing, is to keep generating and curating amazing content specific to your niche. The longer you do this, the better your prospects will be, and those prospects will continue to improve over time as more people access the internet, get smartphones, and search for what they need.