Indeed, I’m quite surprised myself that no one has made a bet on this type of (premium) plugin for Discourse yet. Literally hundreds if not thousands of Discourse forums are product-centric, and most of these would benefit from a more formalised platform for feature requests.
I suppose one major detractor for prospective developers is that how to implement it is not abundantly clear. There are different roads you could go down:
Repurpose the native Likes for feature requests
Likes could be selectively stylised as “Votes” for a given category.
Problem: “Post likes” and “Feature likes” don’t always overlap well. If a company makes a popular Android app, the first person to type up a 70-character long “Make an iOS port” feature request could quickly garner 1000 Likes. In this case the number of likes does not accurately reflect the quality of the post nor the user’s community participation, which bothers me.
Make a separate, custom voting system
Would allow a more tailored solution, e.g. something that closely mimics UserVoice’s more flexible rating system.
Problem: Yet another points system is added, which can get confusing. There’s also the matter of whether Likes should remain, alongside the custom points system, as a way to acknowledge high quality posts.
Create a Likes archetype
Piggyback the same system, but treat them as separate entities, so that votes on features don’t count towards Trust Levels and such. So while the average post can have “Likes”, a special category could allow “Votes" instead. Maybe that’s what @strager had in mind in the first place but I thought it important to point out these subtle but important differences.
Problem: There’s still the issue of “how do I acknowledge a post of high quality?”, but…
In conclusion, I favour the last option, the “Likes archetype”. It is conceptually close to what Discourse users are already familiar with, it shouldn’t be as complicated to do as a completely custom rating system and when it comes to post quality I’ve realised that, as far as boosting your community rep goes, it’s actually kind of cool if the way to play the “feature game” is to make valuable additions to other people’s feature requests, as replies would receive Likes instead of Votes.
Also, it would still allow for some important customisations:
- Votes should be revokable at any point in time
- The plugin would be activated per-category, just like Solved.
- Individual topics could still be unflagged as a feature request, to remove the votes counter and use it purely as a discussion (alternative workaround is to have a sub-category for feature discussions).
- A user should only be allowed to have 10 active Votes (see below).
- The plugin would add “planned” and “done” buttons for moderators to click on, which would do a combination of actions like “close topic + apply ‘done’ tag + return active votes (while retaining vote count)”.
- The Votes button should be viewable and clickable by unregistered users (want to vote without registration? just attach your email to your vote and we’ll keep a staged account for you, no fuss)
I’ll keep this separate from the rest of the list since this one might not be as straight forward to implement, but I’d love it if users could also have 3 “Super Votes” as a way to differentiate between popular wishlist items and MUST-HAVEs. Both types of votes would count towards the same grand total of “Votes” (so technically the Super Vote is just an ordinary Vote with a special flag attached) but say;
If one feature has 50 Votes and 3 Super Votes, while another feature has 10 votes and 6 Super Votes, that’s interesting data.
Furthermore, only fully registered users (perhaps even limited to a TL, but this could be tweakable per community) get Super Votes, so it could work as an added incentive to participate as a real member of the community.