Give discourse social media look

(Charles Wilmott) #1

One of the problems I find when trying to get new people
to join my forum is they say “I don’t do forums, only instagram, twitter, facebook, tumblr” :frowning:

I think the problem with discourse is the text teasers put people off.
They look too old school for younger audience that’s grown up with social media
It would be nice to have a option between text teasers or visual teasers :blush:

For example some of my content looks fantastic because it’s very visual.
But you couldn’t tell this by looking just at the title text

(Régis Hanol) #2

What are you suggesting? Mockups would definitely help :wink:


Great question. I have been thinking about this issue in general… how the new social media has made it difficult for forums to attract and retain members. I feel part of the issue is the UX, most forum software having not changed over the last decade. My forum is also very visual, with a lot of art and photos being uploaded, but it can be difficult to discover that content in the typical forum layout. Where are you asking these people to join, on the places you mentioned?

As far as a solution, a vague concept would be to have a gallery-like plugin that would make the forum a hybrid gallery/discussion place. But for it to work well, it probably would need to be part of the core to work seamlessly.

(mountain) #4

A gallery plugin could work. Maybe you can have something that pulls the first posted image from the OP of a topic and display it in the topic lists, like a gallery. Concept Art does this for their sketchbook board. It’s only changing how the topic list is formatted, nothing more. Each image leads to a topic where a member keeps posting their artwork.


That’s cool, a good match for someone who “owns” a thread as a portfolio. Looks like they need to maintain the OP in order to update it in the main forum.

I haven’t had a lot of exposure to discourse, but it seems more biased toward textual exchange. I find a lot of communication I happen to be exposed to is more image based. Many people like to share with photos along with text. Forums not only need to make it as easy as possible to get images in the content, but also represent the content visually in an efficient way when the thread has a lot of images. That seems to be the main feature of “I don’t do forums, only instagram, twitter, facebook, tumblr”. I think that’s an aspect discourse is missing is a way to present visual content, and why it might be better to be part of the core somehow, like an alternate view. I guess I kind of see forums more a collaborative blogging system with a community, since those contributing in forums now are more committed to trying to build-up a topic to discuss about and may even curate the thread. If the visual aspect is there, people will want to share threads more and maybe attract potential new participants.

Expanding OP Meta Bar (Images & Videos)
(Charles Wilmott) #6


Where are you asking these people to join, on the places you mentioned?


Because I have alot of twitter followers who are relevant to this niche

I’m regularly getting private twitter messages from twitter users saying “Can you share my video?”.
When I see their video animation they’ve made, I think this person really needs help form a community forum

because this person is still trying to learn how to do animation. They’re not going to get type of feedback they need to improve their animation skills on twitter.

Look at Reddit vs Tumblr.
The younger web users prefer the visual Tumblr to the old text based focused reddit.

Tumblr offers formats for posts quote, image, video and you still can have text comments discussions
but Tumblr not designed for long text discussions like discourse

This is a good example visual post with text question on Tumblr

(mountain) #7

I don’t think this has to do with age. There’s plenty of younger generation users on reddit. Reddit offers communities based on specific subjects. Social media, however, is based on networking with friends without a specific subject in mind, plain and simple.

You have to gauge if your intended audience is interested in discussing a specific subject (in detail), or simply to network with his or her friends and show off.

Tumblr, facebook and twitter, at the most, offer content curation which in turn allows more networking. That’s why things are based on custom post types and styling. It’s meant to be a visual cue for a user to understand without reading text that “this is an image post” or “this is a quote”. It’s meant for swift digestion because the content so much isn’t the focus. It’s the social networking between users and the relationships that form.

Did you originally want to use Discourse as a social media network? I honestly don’t know if that’s possible.

Furthermore, Discourse has plugins (Onebox, Lazy Youtube Loader) that help with things such as videos to be posed in-line a conversation. Discourse isn’t all about text, but the focus is discourse, which is conversation. Tumblr and all related are not meant for that in any shape or form. If your users want to learn more about video animation, then I would think they want to discuss how to be better and get feedback on their creations. Discourse works wonders for that. But not if your audience doesn’t want to discuss.

There are many software solutions that can be deployed to the cloud that allow someone to create their own social network. That might be more what you’re looking for.

Because I can tell you the online forum culture isn’t dead. It was held back by the crappy forum software it was usually hosted on that wasn’t hip with the times. Nowadays there’s trolls, spammers and unsavory folk who want to derail the conversation which Discourse helps with without intense manual/Human moderation. Reddit offers something to combat that (the points system) while also allowing specific-subject communities (reddits) to be created on the fly. Even though their threading system hurts my brain to focus and read, there was obviously a lot of people who saw the contrary and that’s why reddit has exploded in popularity.

Discourse is for discourse.


For that, I think it would be neat to have a small-thumbnail image gallery (and video gallery?) below the list of posted links in the OP’s meta info bar. In fact, that would be amazing, especially for media-intensive conversations, such as for art study (which is one area I am extremely focused on). EDIT2: This would help if each image didn’t post to the image itself, but instead jumped to the reply it was first posted into, for better context into why it was posted in the first place. If they need to see it bigger, they can click the image itself in that reply.

Expanding OP Meta Bar (Images & Videos)
Paid: Plugin 9gag clone for Discourse
See who all are writing replies to a topic
(Rick Cogley) #8

As a very, very new user to Discourse, I want to say I love the way it looks and works. I have used many really poor forum systems, which I basically despise. This works and works well, and it lets you “own your data” - a huge advantage.

I can’t imagine that making it look like any certain social media site will help in any way, especially if said site gets unpopular.

But, more ability to showcase linked media, or, for instance skillful conversion of various social media shares within forum posts, into “twitter card”-like embeds, would be more than welcome.

(Edit: looks like embedding is really easy. It appears you can either use the embed code from a site like youtube or twitter, or, the straight up URL. Nice!)

(Charles Wilmott) #9

Images get more engagement than text.

Ask a question on Facebook and twitter with image then with a link back to your wordpress website
and you will get more engagement than if you just used only text.

More engagement = more people are likely to join the conversation

(mountain) #10

Again, that depends on your intended audience.

(Charles Wilmott) #11

This sums it up

(mountain) #12

Honestly, it doesn’t. What are you trying to focus upon in those examples?

(Charles Wilmott) #13

For drupal, when I see post titled

“Ajax http error Occured. Http result code:200, Path: /views/ajax”

I know what this content is about. because all feedback about programming is text based. Their is no need for a image

Someone asking

Does anyone know what this lego set is?

I might just browse right past this post if was a text. I haven’t got the time to click on every text title to see if I know the answer to their question

but if the forum title was a image and text title.
I might recognize the set from the teaser image and answer their question.

Maybe your audience doesn’t require this
but there are other audiences that would find this useful.

People with those type of audiences don’t have a solution for this as yet

(mountain) #14

That is easily fixable by using the method I posted earlier in this topic:

If a person posts a photo inline a conversation about a specific lego brick, then a small thumbnail can be displayed alongside the topic title for further context. Text alone can’t do that, which I agree with.


Your opening post for this topic states:

From what I read there, it sounded like you only wanted images for the sake of having images. As in, a little visual stimulation so a person has incentive to click a link and investigate more. That’s a tactic used for marketing, especially abhorred ‘click bait’ which is rampant on social media. Online forum users do not need that kind of stimulation.

For specific context that requires images (such as a specific lego brick, a specific painting) that text can’t describe, then it is much easier to do a little theme editing so the ui can optionally add the first image posted in the OP to the topic’s listing with the rest. I already planned on doing this for my own forums. Mine sometimes delve into art and visual creativity where this would be a plus to have. But more often than not, it would be optional and I’d have a way for the ui to gracefully fall back if there was no image whatsoever in the OP.

(se oli tonnin seteli) #15

It must work - there are several reasons why someone would want to post multiple images in a topic or post and working with the images should be effective and simple to both OP and other users.

Simple enough use case is someone taking something apart, asking what THIS HERE THINGY is or someone else explaining how to put something else together after disassembly. It could be a brief travel report, or pictures from a forum meet that don’t need to be on facebook or flickr or, well, you get the point…

And I second this, again emphasizing the importance of visual customizations as this is a fight that is fought with looks, not just great features and revolutionary concept.

And to the point…

If I understood correctly, @purldator is making a fair point of using the right tool for the right job, while @CharlesWil would prefer that those tools were more like Discourse.

We had regular meetings with a group of people regarding an online community of sorts with people both providing content and discussing things.

Of course our first choice was to go with a CMS, but when we met, we couldn’t care less about features CMS’s provide - we would end up defining more and more features of the discussion forum itself.

We eventually ended up sketching pretty much what Discourse is now, feature for feature, but there was nothing like that back then, and we considered the discussions heart of the community, I ended up doing different things and we haven’t unfortunately kept up since.

So I suppose we could rephrase the original question like this:

Assuming simple image gallery plugin would not do the trick - what CMS would best complement Discourse and provide a social media like experience to the users, that would require equal or less work to set up as Discourse?

(mountain) #16

There is a gallery plugin, but not actively updated, which is a shame because I agree with the need for a bit more support for visual media, besides onebox. This is very applicable for art-based forums, such as for critique and art study. Even for tutorials on DIY projects, ect.

For social media? That’s difficult to say. Depends what kind of social media they desire. Pinterest? There’s a few pinterest clones out there someone can upload and host. Tumblr-like sites or even Twitter-like sites can use WordPress as the backend.

For just visual media, I truly believe Discourse should consider developing and adopting a few plugins that can help. Onebox is a great start.


The meta bar option you propose could be a good start. That would sort of turn the thread into a collaborative gallery.

One thing to think about is start with how the content is started. Replying has less friction than starting a topic. When I press “new topic” here, the box at the bottom of the screen has a lot of buttons, but it’s not obvious how to insert an image. If the input box could be adaptive to the content being inserted, that would be helpful. Also, the post type could adapt to the content as well. If it’s a tumblr image type post, it can go to a feed type view of the forum. If it gets a lot of replies and becomes a discussion, it could appear in the discussion part of the forum.

But discourse can include images not just words.

(Charles Wilmott) #18

All this info been so helpful :blush:

Does any have a live demo or screen shot of the “discourse-image-gallery”

I expect when theme developers start creating premium templates for discourse,
We’re seeing plenty of different variations styles of discourse sites that are suited for different niches

(mountain) #19

Images can be included, but images are made for the discourse/discussion. Social media uses images as a means not for discussion, but simply to network people. It’s a means to an end that I think Discourse was not solely made for.

That, and Discourse does handle images and it does a great job with handling images in discussion. I am very happy that it allows me to Ctrl + V an image on my clipboard into my post in progress. No longer is it a chore to save an image in photoshop, go to imgur, upload to imgur, fetch the url and then paste it using an img tag. Previous forum software put all the images in an ‘attachment’ section at the bottom of your post instead of allowing you to do it inline with your reply as was intended. Discourse’s way is perfect.

So I am truly unsure what the problem is. Discourse already handles images perfectly. As to utilizing them in the topic list? You’d want to do a mock up so the devs and contributors understand your aim. They cannot work from a vague notion.


I am aware of and like the gmail like image insertion functionality. The reply box does not make it obvious though. A lot of people aren’t very savvy with devices.

I don’t have a firm concept ATM, just relaying my similar opinion to the OP that a more visually rich forum view may be more appealing to visually oriented users that are engaged with social media. I see a spectrum of forum users where they are either programmers/authors vs visual artists and feel discourse is more biased toward efficiently displaying text information in the main forum view (index). But I think that bias is partly from the past legacy of the internet, when images were difficult to obtain and transfer due to device capability, cost, bandwidth and time so textual info gets a higher priority than visual info.