As pointed out in the other thread, most users don’t take a lot of advantage of style text in their posts. This would be particularly true for our patients. Think about the typical patient to doctor interface such as myhealth - all you get is a vanilla text field, no styles allowed.
(Try to imagine your grandmother with some illness and there’s an online forum that’s offering assistance, community, and possibly answers. Imagine what kinds of UI that she would find intuitive vs ones that she would find confusing.)
Anyway, I’m wondering how difficult it would be to have an option to disable the editing toolbar completely, at least for new users. Or perhaps just hide them, sort of like what gmail does. Of course, they could still enter markdown text manually, but the chances of that happening are fairly low. And they might wonder what’s the purpose of having a preview window next to the compose window, but I guess I can live with that.
My one concern about this is attachments, which are an important part of our use case. As we envision it, a forum will have both patients seeking answers and doctors and researchers who may be able to help provide those answers. Often the patient will be asked by a doctor to include some test result, such as a genomic analysis (which of course the patient owns and thus has permission to disclose), as an attachment which the doctor can then examine. We would of course customize our discourse settings to whitelist files of these types to allow them to be uploaded, but you still have the problem where the attachment becomes a long puzzling string of letters embedded in the compose window input field, and the less-sophisticated user might see that as a mistake and try to delete those letters. I guess I’ll have to do some experiments to see how likely this is.