I am so enjoying discourse facilitating my writing and thinking and community

I first started using Discourse on the Nanowrimo forum back in 2021, and I found it a little difficult to find documentation of how to use it.

I’m old school, I still want the VAX/VMS orange wall of binders when I go looking for documentation. Don’t mind me. I can search, too.

Once I got the hang of many of the do-dads, though, I came to like it, and I’ve been happily using it. For the most part it has become invisible, with two exceptions I’ll mention elsewhere as feature requests.

Recently, as it started to look like my little community on Nanowrimo might lose our forum home, I’ve been scrounging around the internet for new places to move us to, and that has really provided some contrast to Discourse, given me a much strong appreciation of what it allows me to do swiftly.

One major annoyance that rarely crops up in Discourse is the “which scroll bar? there’s more down below the bottom bezel of my screen but how do I get to it?”

I love the overlay editor, I love being able to start a draft and then go looking in multiple topics for the quotes I want to pull in. I just did that over on Nanowrimo, adding a link and a quote before closing the draft to go cut a big chunk of text from another topic and bring it back and edit it into place.

I love being able to throw away a draft I’ve decided against, right down there where I can always find it, right next to the only other button in that nice clean uncluttered space but clearly distinguished form the “Reply” button.

I don’t have to think more about the interface than what I’m saying to my friends, and that gives me that much more working memory to sort out my thoughts and get them down and reread them and edit.

There’s lot’s more, especially about finding topics and friends and seeing all my notifications, but a lot of the features have become invisible to me, and that is the best kind of tool, the one that just doesn’t get in my way but is right there when I need it. Extension of my mind outside my body, like all my favorite tools when I go to make something in my workshop.


I’ve also grown into enjoying my interactions with Discourse since I tried it about 18 months ago. I moved my own little community (8000-ish users with 700,000 posts) to it earlier this year and I’ve enjoyed the the experience. I think most the users have too.

I’d give an extra like for the VAX/VMS reference if I could. I recenly re-discovered some VMS source code on microfiche in my ‘archive’. I think it’s v3 so I think dates back to about 1982. I don’t have access to a fiche reader though so it’s not much use now.


Ah! VMS. I keep a couple of the manuals around, just to touch them once in a while. I was a system manager from late 1983 to October 2000, getting rudely dumped into it about five months into my first real job at a small college. The system manager who dumped the Orange Wall into my lap didn’t want to have to do it any more, so I spent a very long weekend in a state of panic with manual after manual after manual, while doing my first upgrade, I think that would have been version 3.?

I’ll get started reminiscing, this probably isn’t the place for it, but I’ll tie in Discourse: the sense of being in a software environment that a bunch of folks have really thought out as a tool for facilitating doing whatever, and are continuing to do that, and doing it well: that is a big, and welcome, parallel between VMS and Discourse.


That’s one of the big things that attracted me to Discourse once I discovered it. Having come from ‘big IT’ and having managed some pretty complex multi-million pound software/hardware projects in the past I understand how you go about designig and developing reliable code. Discourse is the first forum software I’ve ever used where I feel that the team not only understand how to do that but actually do it too.


I am all over reliability. As a former software tester, and also just a user who hates it when things fall out from under me.

A developer liked another post of mine over on another topic, I was just over to look at her Activity, and went exploring a developer discussion about queries: this is so cool.

I’ve never, ever been privy to developer discussions for a such a big product. I did go to a lot of bug triage meetings, but most of my development work was alone at my desk at the small college, alone at my desk at a couple other tiny companies, and ultimately, alone at my desk developing testing software – in Perl, gratefully – at the last software job I had before switching careers.


I think this is another great thing about Discourse (and working for Discourse). I’m always by myself working away at my desk, but I’m never alone. :slight_smile: :discourse:


That is exactly how I feel these days about my writing community. I am retired, I write in the comfort of my solitary home, I am a serious introvert, but I check in with my community several times a day, and I don’t have to do all the things that make me an introvert: process faces, hands, voices.

I love relating via the written word, on a page that is visually much like a good old fashioned book, but this Discourse book happens to be the most amazingly instrumented book – I also play musical instruments, and it’s that same kind of learning a thing, a hand motion, a twitch, and then having it disappear into the unthinking reflexes: I like that a lot. Like being able to hit the high B on my baroque recorder at full speed without risking a horrible squawk – but that took years of practice. And a lot of horrible squawks and even more dropped notes.