Encouraging User Participation - Some Ideas, More welcome

I agree.

But you cannot use Facebook data as evidence to support your stance. This is comparing oranges to hammers. I understand you really believe this feature will help Discourse. This is me wanting to help you make a better presentation to that belief, for your benefit.

I suggest employing a different set of data not related to large corporate businesses and/or social media sites.


As I said earlier @BCHK

That would be far more compelling.


The issue is that this type of user-driven customization only happens at the social platform level - individual forums / small medical markets are never going to justify this type of unique investment - the numbers are way too low.

And ultimately - I don’t believe the behavioral psychology fundamentals that are driving this for the broader population are any different for my subgroup. This is a human issue - people don’t like “noise” - and at some point when the noise level becomes to large they tune out.

That’s fine, then work on reducing the noise on your site. You can do this by posting a meta topic about what “noise” is and means for your community, PM’ing users who generate noise, or ultimately moving them away from your platform.


Wow, sorry, I thought you were asking for additional ideas on “engaging user participation”. For what it’s worth, those who are offering additional ideas in this topic that aren’t algorithm-based are, as far as I can see, successful & award-winning community professionals with track records of building and sustaining huge online communities. :confused:

For the others participating in this topic who are interested in discussing such ideas, remember that there is actually a science to community management, and (IMHO) it begins (before building or changing any software) and ends with human engagement, which can be measured, quantified, and tracked over time. (The most successful community managers do this.) If there isn’t compelling, trustworthy, interesting content for a majority of people to keep coming back, they won’t. :family:

Social networks are popular because those compelling reasons (friends, colleagues, favorite brands) are there. The expensive algorithms mentioned here only amplify (hopefully, maybe) the right stuff. If there was no compelling content to be amplified, Facebook would become a ghost town just as MySpace and others before them.


An idea:

Moved to new topic because this thread is hard to follow


Played around a little with smoothing today, in case anyone wants to explore further:

    var smooth = function(data, windowSize) {
      var smoothed = [];
      var movingWindow = [];

      for(var i = 0; i < windowSize; i++) {

      for(var i = 0; i < data.length; i++) {
        smoothed.push(movingWindow.reduce((a, v) => a + v, 0) / windowSize);
      return smoothed;

    var samples = rawData.map(r => r.y);

    var data = {
      labels: rawData.map(r => r.x),
      datasets: [{
        data: samples,
        label: model.get('title'),
        backgroundColor: "rgba(200,220,240,0.3)",
        borderColor: "#08C"
        data: smooth(samples, 7),
        label: '7 Day Moving Average',
        backgroundColor: "rgba(0,0,0,0)",
        borderColor: "#C80"

This isn’t always bad, so long as it doesn’t just become nothing but spam. If it’s good discussions then it can bring members closer and make them more loyal to the site. I’ve seen this time and time again on larger forums, they have places to unwind that are off-topic for the site’s niche, the relationships made there greatly increase engagement.

When users make friends on the site they tend to spike up to the top 1% of active community members, coming on often and becoming better contributors overall.

That still pushes them outside of the site, back to their email app, then back to the site. maybe just some sort of mobile banner that has the login already pulled up so they can enter their information, maybe allow users to have a PIN for when on mobile that they can set themselves that would speed up login.

This. Unless the platform can read and manipulate your mind as you visit the site, it’ll never be perfect. You could love certain topics and not be in the mood for them when you’re on the site that day. And if anyone ever found the solution to that problem they’d take over Facebook and all other social media sites or get paid a lot of money by one of them. It’s a HUGE ask of Discourse to be able to do this when the king of social media (Facebook) still can’t.

Emails don’t have much of a high tolerance rate and it’s far more common for people to ignore it than pay attention to it.

“According to ZipStripe research, it takes a recipient an average 6.5 hours to view an e-mail, but only 15 minutes to view SMSs and push notifications.”

By the time people open the email, if they do at all, the conversation will likely have died down. Getting users to engage quickly with content will keep the conversation going, keep the other parties involved as well, thus furthering the discussion since the people that are part of it will all be notified at the same time via a method they’ll actually notice quickly.


A relevant tangent was discussed a bit ago, with using trust levels to “reward” users who post to particular categories, or not reward at all when posting to other categories.


General discussion boards and participating on them would offer no in-system incentive with this idea of mine. But these off-topic boards do offer a needed psychological-related outlet; one I feel every niche discussion community should have if it wants to survive for very long.

This may be part of a sound remuneration strategy: “Why should I post on-topic and offer free original content for google to attribute to your website. Give me incentive to stay. Oh? I can make friends who be as passionate as I on this same niche topic, and talk off-topic on other subjects to mix things up a bit? I’m game.”


One problem I notice, is that users aren’t reading their messages. Maybe make the notification bubble for unread messages to remain up there until the messages are read (not just the notifications)? I send a lot of personal welcome messages and other things that would drive engagement up and satisfaction with discourse, but if these messages aren’t being read, then that’s futile.

Another thing I notice is that some users try to reply to digest emails… anyone else notice this?

Just a few things on top of my head. I am pondering whether at some point I want to switch back to the category as main entrypoint of my community because that would force folks to make a few clicks. The situation I am observing right now looks a bit like people lose interest in the forums to some extent because with the default few they see very plainly how little is actually going on sometimes, whereas before, the inactivity wasn’t so much in plain sight, and users just kept clicking through to what they were interested in and then started posted nonetheless…


I believe if it’s a private message then it stays until it’s been read. At least that’s my experience over the last week.


You are right, the bubble remains, but what if there are other notifications, then maybe a not well-informed user will see the bubble, click on his avatar (if he ever set one, another problem), but then not see a notification in the list that pertains to the bubble (from his/her perspective)

In this example (my own), I see a message at the top of the list. What would even be better, is if the envelope symbol (slighly yellow because I moused over it) would somehow change its look as long as there are unread messages, I wonder what @eviltrout thinks about that… might be helpful?

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Totally agree on this! Bring members closer and help them becoming friends is always a good thing :slight_smile:


This is a great idea - allow mods/admins to identify the higher priority categories, and have more varied and more frequent rewards for those categories. Definitely a good idea.

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I’m using the in-beta Discoursemetrics.com to track my site data better.

Here is the key issue i have in terms of user participation - I have great DAU / MAU numbers (Daily Active Users / Monthly Active users) - almost up to Facebook levels (in the 60% + level) - but have a huge issue with DAU/ TAU (Total Active Users). DAU / TAU is down at the sub 10% level - which I view as absolutely terrible.

There is a huge drop off for a large number of users who come in, read the site, get motivated to join, join, then drop off.

For some reason we seem to be losing a huge number of after they’ve gone through all the hassle of signing up - which I find strange.

With most of my users on Gmail - I suspect part of the issue is that all our notifications go into the “forum” category in Gmail - which most people rarely check.

@codinghorror - I wonder if it would be possible to implement an SMS gateway API option - for example something like Twilio - https://www.twilio.com/ for some less frequent reminders of interaction. Perhaps for personal messages, and periodic updates - and have that as part of the standard signup to increase engagement.

Here are my stats from DiscourseMetrics.com right now (which is looking better all the time)

Have you compared that to any other forums? discoursemetrics.com looks like a cool project, maybe you could invite them to this topic to share some data with us!

Personally I’m not surprised by the 10% number. Even before I was a Discourse employee I was registered to a large amount of forums. Let’s say I had 50 unique forum accounts:

  • 40 forums I only registered on in order to correct Someone who was wrong on the internet. Unless the topic I subscribed to got bumped, I’d never visit the place.
  • 5 forums I’d casually check up on every week or so
  • 3 forums I’d check on daily, posting if I found something related to me.
  • 2 forums I’d be a regular on, reading and posting to daily.

Hi :smiley:

I’ve had to temporarily hide the Daily Active Users chart for users of DiscourseMetrics (sorry @BCHK!) because I don’t think the numbers are accurate for all forums. I have posted a bug report here: User visit stats are not correct? I’m looking into other ways of fetching the data, but I would really appreciate if someone knows what the cause is for the weird stats in /users.

The DAU stat ends up being almost the same as the 7 day active users stat, so something is weird. How do you calculate TAU, @BCHK, is it the number of users who have ever been active? Due to natural churn, wouldn’t this number always go down as your forum grows?

If anyone else wants to join the private beta, head on over to http://www.discoursemetrics.com

Thanks :smiley:


Ehi man, just to know. You ask the api master key to fetch this data, have you write permissions on my forum as asmin? Or just read permissions? Is this a Security issue?
BTW great work indeed!

Hi Alessio, yes the API key gives full access, and it is needed because we use some of the data available in the admin section. It would be nice to have read-only API access, perhaps this will be implemented at some point :slight_smile:

Of course, we don’t change anything on your forum or use any data other than what we need to generate metrics.

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Not yet - I’m hoping that DiscourseMetrics does this soon - includes the ability to compare my site’s stats against the pool of sites (anonymously) that use their site for stats.

Erlend, Wow - 50 unique forum accounts - I suspect that is an order of magnitude more than the average user, if not more.

Its hard to know what the right engagement percent here in the DAU/TAU ratio is - very hard to identify variables to test and help identify the issues. Any feedback on ways to do this would be appreciated.

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