There is huge potential here, for sure. The possibilities and feasibilities warrant thorough and sober consideration.
This might be Xanadu territory… (Read Jeff’s post above and follow the link in it.) Such broad integration is also probably undesirable to most admin/operators of Discourse instances. A formal survey of admins & operators is in order (as opposed to “survey by traffic level” in discussion forums).
This looks like an invitation to security hacks since it dangles the “keys to the kingdom” of anyone who can hack the user credentials of any one of the federated sites. At the very least these features would have to be turned off by default or explicitly loaded as plugins–with most security features enabled and locked down. Zoom taught us this lesson by rightfully leaving their platform open and easy to use (to quickly gain and cultivate users on ramp-up) but then had to quickly lock down once the ruffians found the front door unlocked.
Nevertheless, a micro-federation of sites would be a boost to Discourse implementation. If I could create a circle of sites for my municipality that unites the same pool of users (county/city citizens for example), this would put people in communication and could enable some positive outcomes in local governance and community life. This same principle also applies to any business large enough to justify the overhead of administering multiple Discourse instances so that each division can have its own Discourse container with easy navigations to other divisions. THAT would be the embodiment of meta.discourse.
Jeff, Sam, and Co. [@codinghorror @sam] and/or their Steering Committee would first need to decide, however, whether Discourse is a social platform or an enterprise platform. My vote is for enterprise because I see the most potential there for both sides of this split. Enterprise will produce the greatest financial reward and immediate social benefit by improving businesses’ ability to support employees (take good care of the business and the business can take good care of you). Some of those commercial funds could probably then support a
social.discourse.org foundation. It’s also very likely that features useful to an enterprise will carry over well to the social domain. These two factors make for an overall win-win.
The two domains need to be distinct, though, because they’re so different. And nice-to-have features will necessarily need to favor whichever version is the primary use case.
Happily, the benefits flow both ways since anyone interested in
social.discourse.org gets their reward from the social aspects of community building and being able to pursue community-related activities, so will work–and often work hard–for these non-financial rewards. This
social.discourse.org work will inevitably lead to development and features that are useful in the enterprise context and thereby return value to Enterprise Discourse Incorporated in exchange for non-profit support of the Social Discourse Foundation. Even more win-win.
Notice that there isn’t a single exclamation point above. These are just plain facts and statements of likely outcomes. Very pragmatic.
I’ve been looking for a suitable GroupWare platform for my businesses for several years now. Slack briefly inspired high hopes since it was developed for internal business use (and has a very interesting origin story) but didn’t even make it through first-round screening. I’m very impressed with Discourse and optimistic about it.