Discourse New User Guide


Thanks, Jay. This is what I was looking for. The how to category may be the model I want to follow for documentation I’m developing on Discourse for my app.


this is beautiful, well done.

any chance you could hit edit and copy paste the text including markdown into a code bin somewhere so we can copy/paste it directly into ours, assuming your intention of posting this was so others could rip it off to help users new to their site?

It’s a wiki topic so you should be able to grab that yourself (assuming your TL is high enough).

Why would they need wiki? Simply visit


That is, delete the middle part here and replace with “raw”



Nice one @robmc, it could use imho the following:

  • Setting Email subscription frequency
  • Setting personal profiles to private
  • Turning off PM function at the user level
  • Muting users
  • Downloading a copy of their data


I can see it’s a wiki but I’m not going to write all over it before mentioning it first.

Hey @robmc,

Just wanted to say thank you for this :pray:. It is a great starting point to be used on other communities. I’m Right now adapting it to use it in ours.


I also want to say a big “Thanks!” for what you’ve created, Rob! In the past, I’ve linked new users of our Discourse forums to a good, but a bit limited and outdated Discourse blog post. Your forum topic is more what I have in mind, and something that seems like you’re committed to keeping up to date.

If you decided to expand on your guide, may I suggest adding the following sections or sub-sections:

  1. Covering each of the tabs in the personal settings and information section (e.g., https://meta.discourse.org/u/yourusername/activity)

The Preferences tab in particular is a continuous source of confusion for our users.

  1. How Discourse groups work, especially when you use a sub-category for each group to have their private conversations. Most of our users expect a Facebook like group experience and Discourse is radically different from that (which I appreciate).

  2. How to get the most out of Discourse on mobile devices. We tend to teach about or take screen shots of the desktop view when we’re educating. But most users are on smartphones these days and would prefer their tips to be optimized for using Discourse on a smartphone.

  3. How to use the direct message feature, both in one-to-one messages and in one-to-many messages.


What’s outdated about it? It is perfectly up to date.


Needs 60fps youtube with dubstep.

On a serious note it’s a wall of text that could be better presented as a TOC with show-me-how screen records that are relevantly responsive. I know it’s got a technical TOC already, but having it down the navbar as the theme does is a real boon for user orientation.

Jumping via a tag to a 5 second video of “the thing” you’re trying to do is going to have way better knowledge transfer.

How to follow everything or ignore a topic/category


How to do something else


How to order a chinese


How to attack the crab's weak point for massive damage


How to lobby for custom cta


Something like the above would be better than having to go home from the content to find the TOC to go back down to something else. It doesn’t presume the user can easily handle long list form word content [which many cannot] either.

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Is it though? It has tons of pics and animated GIFs. Specifically I am referring to this blog entry: Discourse New User Tips and Tricks

In a general sense I agree with you, nobody really reads anything (and most certainly the people you would want to read, definitely do not), so everyone needs to keep that in mind. This is almost like ticking a box for the A students who don’t really need any help, but will complain unless you give them more A student work to do…


I am loving this guide, having just discovered it in the last few days for some reason. You are right that people don’t read but they complain if they are not given something comprehensive to read that explains everything. Some people get excited when they discover a new feature, others complain about it and act offended because it wasn’t told to them earlier. Go figure. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It would be nice to convert this to use DiscoTOC so it’s more fun and easy to click around in it.

I also wonder… revealing my ignorance here but is there any way at all to pause the animated gifs and only let them start moving upon mouseover? It’s pretty overwhelming to see a bunch of them going at the same time. It’s like hitting the jackpot in pinball and suddenly there are 5 balls going.

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The other thing is short and decent. Probably had as much information in it as we could expect someone to sit through without a DiscoTOC.

More generally though discourse whilst great has a lot of features and functions… Some people pick them up intuitively and some don’t. The order in which they get picked up can be very random seeming as well. New people might be using DiscoTOC and older members having no idea they can change the theme.

The guide here is good, lack of DiscoTOC makes the content inacessible at 11 mouse wheels to get through though and the general assumption that everyone can handle long text should be challenged. There’s a lot of generally lazy people out there but in terms of accessibility dyslexia etcetera can semi freeze someone legitimately trying to process the information. The language in an animation could be completely alien and the success rate would be OK I reckon because monkey see monkey do.

Perhaps a custom CTA :joy: could show bitesize thumbed tips with “never show me again” option built in. Depending on complexity it could assess what functions are not being used by a user and only show them things they’re not making any use of and prompt them to see if they know about it.

A 5 second 80x80 gif with nothing more than “This is how you use bookmarks!” would move the needles I think.

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I have found over the course of years and on several forums that most people would rather ask a question and have an answer directed to them personally than to read a guide which explains everything. They are less inclined to take their time to read a lengthy guide because in their mind it is simpler and more direct just to ask about one specific thing. That’s just the way most people are. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Like some websites with video ads plastered all over the page while you’re trying to read an article. I turn on my ad blocker and then get a pop-up from the site - which greys out the article and prevent scrolling - telling me to disable my ad blocker. Those are sites I don’t go back to.

Inserting that short, simple code for the animated GIFs is a good idea.


Simply respond to the new user PM and go through it with discobot interactively, which is vastly superior to static wall o’ text instructions nobody (statistically) is going to read. Sign up at try.discourse.org to give it a shot.


Very helpful guide, thanks for this!


It’s mostly little things, Jeff. For example, in the GIF below, the now default “insert date / time” icon isn’t there.

In the image below, it shows the category to the right of the topic title instead of the now default display of category below the topic title.

The last part of the blog post also isn’t applicable to our Discourse install as we don’t let our users choose among themes at the moment.

To change any of these defaults, including the choice of a dark theme, visit your user preferences.

It would be more accurate to say you can choose the dark theme or any other theme your admins have installed if they have configured Discourse to let you choose among themes.

This is all little stuff, which is why I said the 2016 blog post is a bit outdated. :slight_smile:


Fair, thanks for that, will get it updated!


Woah nice!


I think that’s OK relative to what it is showing. Basically minor trivia, and not at all relevant to the quote demo.

I’ve fixed the three images that had category displayed side-by-side. This one, I agree with!