Do we need a help button on the composer?

Also, this was written before the new outlet (that Canned Replies uses) to display help text at. So it could be improved to use that same location instead of a modal now (if someone has the time PR welcome).

Right-aligning the button might require a new outlet or a new option to the toolbar component (PR welcome for that too).

But those would be the only necessary improvements to make it meet the UI mock ups above.


None of that is new; I worked with Ben to add that in 2010/2011. See proof here…


Yeah it fealt eerily familiar. I guess I think there is merit for a help mode that kicks out once you posted a bit

But sure this can be plugin territory, agree that for seasoned users a help button is largely noise


For what it’s worth, I appreciate the comfort of being able to find some kind of formatting help, even if it’s rarely used.

It’s good for bootstrapping new users unfamiliar with markdown (like communities coming from more bb related forms, or with wysiwyg editors), and a nice reminder for when I just can’t figure out how how to do something simple like code formatting, and have been deep in JIRA or Sharepoint or something with vastly different formatting options.


This is nice as well


Cross-posting a more recent request for similar - Hard to find the Markdown help button


My opinion on this:

Inexpirenced people don’t really know how to use the markdown features.

A markdown help would make it easier for novice users to learn markdown. Other users have posted things for markdown help. I believe it would be useful to have this feature, as it would help with ease of access

As an alternative, we can also add more markdown buttons on the top for novices. However, the problem with that is that it makes the layout more confusing.


I think it would be a great idea to add this section (toolbar) to New User Tips too as Jeff mentioned above. :slightly_smiling_face:

With a little description and a configurable link inside. It can go to an own topic about formatting like Discourse New User Guide

Or can go directly to Markdown Help Markdown Reference


Users see:

Type here. Use Markdown, BBCode, or HTML to format.

OK, they use Markdown, BBCode, or HTML, but find some things don’t work,
and there are other things other users use that work but they didn’t
know about.

So there are different versions of Markdown, BBCode, or HTML.

So in Help, Discourse should say what versions.

Or instead of that, simply have the full list of markup items that
Discourse uses.

Or at least have a link to where in the source code it is.

But normal users couldn’t understand that source code,

So it still would be better to have a full list, or call it cheatsheat,
of Discourse implemented markup operators.


So where is the [details=summary][/details] syntax documented?

  • It is not mentioned on any of the pages referenced above since it is a custom Discourse feature.
  • A search for “[details]” on meta shows that it exists and that it might be described as “hide” but gives no hint about how the summary syntax works.
  • A search on the web shows the discourse-details repo, but this now contains no information except “Plugin deprecated, now part of Discourse by default”.
  • I finally found it in Details in topic styling changes - Feedback. Not where I would expect to send users to learn about the syntax.

I would have really liked a help button linking to some sort of official documentation…

It is part of the discobot tutorial

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If you click the gear it will offer to insert it for you

So people who won’t click the gear probably also won’t click a help icon. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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There is a discobot tutorial? I have been using and advocating Discourse for many years and have never once come across this, or the idea that it is where one should go to learn about how to use Discourse. Even now, I have no idea (looking at our Discourse instance) how I would go about running this.

I thought I must be missing something, or maybe the discobot was introduced after I first started using Discourse, so I went to the Discourse New User Guide. No mention of either the discobot tutorial, or [details]. There is Markdown Tutorial - Introduction listed, but only for common mark.

@pfaffman I now see that option under the gear. It is not that I would not click the gear, but that I thought that I knew what the gear meant - to change settings. (I was wrong.) That combined with the assumption that there are probably a whole bunch of Discourse-specific features like [details] I convinced myself that they would not all be listed under some hidden menu, so started looking for a manual.

I would certainly have clicked on a help button if one of the buttons was obviously for help (i.e. a question mark). I would also have clicked on a button if it was obviously for inserting things. I just subconsciously had convinced myself that it could not be the gears…

Perhaps I am an old-school, but I really want an authoritative source to read where I can learn about all features and refer to inthe future. Does such a thing exist, or is learning through bots the new thing?

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Create a new account on a Discourse site.

Customize Discobot

Not other than keeping up with announcements here. There has been increased effort to document stuff here in the docs Docs but I don’t know if it feels authoritative.

Thanks. So if I create a new account, then I indeed see the discobot. However, it is very confusing how to interact with it for a user like me who joined before the discobot started. This is perhaps a bit off-topic, but highlights a potential need for a help button, so I will keep the discussion here. Please feel free to move, or direct me to a better topic if you think it is appropriate.

Having newly discovered the discobot, I tried to use it on our sites. As per various discussions and mentions, I expected I should be able to somehow type @discobot start tutorial somewhere and learn…

  • I tried this in the site chat on one site. Nothing happened. I tried to initialize a personal chat with @discobot, but it could not be found.
  • I then tried to send a “Personal chat” to the discobot. I could not.
  • On one of our sites, I was able to add discobot to my Personal chat list, but asking it to “start tutorial” did nothing.
  • Finally, I created a new account on this site, and was greeted by the bot, which made it clear that there should be a Topic with my interactions with the bot (and that I should bookmark this topic).

Now I see that I can search for discobot on our site, go its user page, and then send it a message, where I confusingly need to enter a long title and some content. Finally, after this message is created, I can ask it to “start tutorial”.

Why is this so hard? Why does the bot not respond to requests to start the tutorial in chats, or private chats, etc? What of someone starting on a site skips past the notification settings and does not notice the discobot? How do they get help later on?

I don’t know what the best solution is, but a help button somewhere that directed me through this would have been very helpful.

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Did you disable Discobot in your settings? Are you running very old discourse?

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No: the discobot is running. Even on this meta site, if you click the Chat and try to send a message “@discobot start tutorial” nothing happens.

I see what happened on one site (which I don’t administer): It has a “Personal chat” which appears below “Messages”, and I tried to use that by mistake. When you click on + in Personal chat you get a box that says “#a-channel, @somboy or anything” where I tried to type @discobot start tutorial. This failed because it is a search box.

It does work to type “@discobot start tutorial” in a topic, but then it seems like you are starting a tutorial in the middle of that topic, which is probably not what I want.

The verbiage in various places implies that I should be able to use @discobot anywhere and it will work… but this does not seem to work in the Chat for example. I ran through with a few other users to see what they would do to try and find help, and – even after I told them about the discobot tutorials, it was painful watching them try to start the discobot.

Similar issues are discussed in New users aren't starting the discobot tutorial - #32 by Dax.

Thanks for the help: I at least know now what to tell people to do. (I still think that an appropriate help button somewhere would be useful.)


Well, IMO that’d be expected, since discobot is intended for private messages not private chats.


If your users are anything like the teachers, students, and everyone else I’ve seen use computers for the past 40 years (including myself, sometimes when I’ve written the instructions) still think no one would read it. :beer:


I was looking for something similar to your request. I recently installed this plugin GitHub - cpradio/discourse-plugin-composer-help-button: Add a Help Button to the Composer Window in Discourse on my forum instance. Although the ? button appears as one of the message editor buttons, it is not active. I still haven’t found a solution to this problem(