Help users start better topics

When I use StackExchange, I’m able to help someone who has problems with English or who isn’t used to discussing things in a technical setting with their question phrasing by editing their question. How do I accomplish the same thing with Discourse?

My lab currently runs a Discourse instance for our research topics and supporting our software package Nengo. Because Nengo is so small, we can’t really make a tag on StackOverflow for supporting it. Additionally, there are many subjective or open questions about Nengo, so having a Discourse instance makes sense. Academia being the international thing it is, we occasionally get international posters who haven’t totally grasped the subtleties of effective technical communication. This is totally understandable, however I would like some guidance on how to approach teaching them these guidelines, just as I was once taught them via StackExchange.

When I say guidelines, I mean things like:

  • Correct spelling
  • Not using greetings/sign-offs/signatures
  • Writing a good title
  • Breaking their question into understandable chunks
  • Inserting links to clarify obscure references

Possible Solutions
How should I go about informing them about these guidelines? A link to community guidelines as the beginning of a public reply feels a bit impersonal/rude. Messaging them directly seems better, but a bit impractical, since if I suggested an edit to them they wouldn’t just be able to hit a button to accept it. Would a “suggested edit” message template for moderators make more sense?


As an administrator or Trust level 4 user, you can edit posts in Discourse. The easiest way to accomplish what you’re trying to achieve is to edit a post and then message the OP using the “flag” button to tell them you have made some edits. Does this make sense?


This resolves my concern. Thank you.

Discourse also provides some just in time tips to new posters, as they start composing their new post. You can edit the language of this to add some tips specific to your community.


No need, a user is always notified when you edit their post already…

1 Like

They’re notified that edits were made, but not why edits were made. I always inform a user in some way if an edit is made, either right in the post or via PM.



Sure - but I’m not sure how many users read that (or know it exists). They get a notification that their post was edited, unless I am mistaken they need to open the edit log to see the reason.

We could change the notification to include it. I see no point in adding a lot of meaningless extra busywork PMs to “inform” people of edits.


That would be a very welcomed change! It would also encourage TL4 users and staff to use the edit reason.


I would also approve of this change! :smiley:


Me three!

I also often write a note explaining the edit, which I see as a great opportunity to personallunch connect and nudge/train the user. I don’t see it as pointless busywork. Ifthis were easier I’d appreciate it.


Pretty sure the notification today links to the actual edit, I recall we changed that