Discourse understands communities

I’ve been reading a lot of reviews comparing Discourse to other forum software. Inevitably the reviewer will mention the Trust Level system. A typical example:

Discourse aims to meet the needs of modern communities with features like a trust system that grants tiered access to users based on their ongoing community contributions. This feature helps brands regulate the behavior of new and existing users and reduces spammers from negatively affecting their online community.

Sure. Sounds useful, I suppose. It’s just this blurb papers over the nuance of Trust Levels. In order to earn basic rights such as sending private messages (PMs) or post links on their profiles, new users must spend a few minutes reading posts on the site. That does a lot to prevent spam because spending ten minutes on a site just isn’t worth the effort for people who don’t care about the community.

But Discourse didn’t stop there. When a new user joins, fills out their profile and doesn’t read anything on the site, the system automatically flags the user for moderator attention. With a push of a button, a moderator can delete the account and block their IP address. While handling flags on College Confidential, I never saw a false positive from this automation. The people who design Discourse understand how spammers behave and set up defense in depth to stymie them.

Discourse could have used a number-of-posts threshold to identify new users and checked off that feature box. What separates adequate from excellent community software is the degree to which it guides community members to good decisions. Joining a site and posting before reading is a sure sign you aren’t interested in being a part of the community. So if you want to send a PM, you need to spend a bit of time understanding the community first.

Discourse isn’t perfect, of course. I wish it did a better job organizing hundreds of categories, for instance. But the company that develops Discourse continues to improve the product. I have every reason to believe that will continue since the company uses Discourse themselves. To steal a line from Warren Buffet, they eat their own cooking.

It’s a real plus that Discourse has an active community who happily assist people who run into difficulties using Discourse. Most questions get answered within a few hours. It’s also a good place to find people who can provide more extensive advice for a fee. Several expert consultants monitor the marketplace category on Meta Discourse for leads.

This post is an edited version of a review I wrote on my blog. That version is longer and a touch self-promotional.


Hey @jericson thanks a lot for these kind words and appreciation!

Can I use some parts of your post to build a LinkedIn post of my own?
I’m more than happy to send a draft for your approval beforehand.

Let me know your thoughts.

1 Like

In no particular order:

  • Feel free to quote from this or my blog post.
  • I appreciate a preview though I doubt I’d suggest any changes.
  • Would it be possible point people to my LinkedIn profile or my business site? One of the reasons I wrote the review was so I could show it to potential clients who might be considering other software. Given a choice, I’d prefer to work with Discourse communities.
  • I did have an order in mind as it turns out, but now I’m committed to bullet points rather than a numbered list. :wink:

Really appreciate the quick reply.

Once I have something I’ll forward it to you and rest assured I’ll credit you for it.


1 Like

Hey Jon,

So, my draft is ready. If you are ok with it, I’ll post it next Thursday.

:star2: Celebrating praise for Discourse! It’s always rewarding to receive accolades, especially when it comes to our community platform. Recently, Jon Ericson penned a comprehensive review highlighting what makes Discourse stand out in the realm of community software. :rocket:

Jon’s commendation on our platform’s robustness against spammers is a testament to our commitment to providing a secure and trustworthy environment for online communities.
:left_speech_bubble: “Discourse understands how spammers behave and sets up defense in depth to stymie them.”

He then highlighted our continuous improvements echoing our dedication to evolving and enhancing Discourse. The fact that our team uses Discourse itself underscores our commitment to delivering a top-notch platform.
:left_speech_bubble: “Unlike what I experienced using Vanilla, the company that develops Discourse continues to improve the product. I have every reason to believe that will continue since the company uses Discourse themselves.”

Dive deeper into Jon’s insightful analysis: Why Discourse

What aspects do you prioritize when choosing community software? Share your thoughts! :speech_balloon::globe_with_meridians:

#CommunityPlatform #Discourse #OnlineCommunity #CommunityEngagement #CommunityManagement #LinkedInNetworking

Let me know what you think,

Looks great! I appreciate your emoji game. :wink:

I said I probably wouldn’t have suggestions, but my use of “continue” twice in this pull quote bothers me. I think I will update my blog post to say:

“Unlike what I experienced using Vanilla, the company that develops Discourse continuously improves the product. I have every reason to believe the software will keep getting better since the company uses Discourse themselves.”

Funny how seeing something highlighted makes me way more critical of it. Let me know if you like the change or if I should leave well enough alone.


Hey Jon,

I don’t really think it is that important, however, I would prefer to go with the option you’re more comfortable with.

So I’ll leave it to you.

I edited on the blog. Thanks!

1 Like

Hey @jericson

Hope you’re having a great week.

As promised:

Thanks for your help and availability.