I like the idea behind them, but they just make Discourse feel really cluttered when you’re used to more traditional forums. I had been using the Soylent Discourse for months and was still uncomfortable (assumed it was the default theme). After I turned suggested posts off for my own Discourse, my brain was at ease and I felt more at home.
What if instead of them being in the footer, they’re in their own space at the top right near notifications (icon with alerts and a dropdown, just like notifications)? So they’re always within reach, but not intrusive.
My other suggestion would be to rename “Suggested Topics” to something more descriptive (I didn’t know it prioritized unread/new) so it feels less like spam. Currently, the way they’re presented reminds me of the referral links on clickbait news sites and my brain intuitively tells me to ignore them.
I’m just speaking for myself, though – not sure if others have the same reaction.