Is the shortcut to start AI conversation a user setting or not?

Talking about this icon, that users with bot access see:

The image shows a horizontal array of four icons, which from left to right depict a speech bubble, a robot head, a magnifying glass, and a stylized human face. (Captioned by AI)

We ran an internal poll and 25% of our company did not like it.

My assessment is that the people that do not want a robot on top divide into 2 groups:

  1. People who are deeply offended by the aesthetics of an extra icon in the header.
  2. People who see no value in leaning on AI conversation to add productivity to personal workflows on current site.

Regardless of which group people are in, the split … does make me ask the question on “Are we missing a user setting?”

I totally get the offense here.

Why does “create conversation with robot” get prime real estate when create a topic is buried?


I expect a button here to open an “interface” a place where all my AI stuff is. It is just a fancy “start a PM” button.

The reason we settled on the current location and mechanics is to reduce friction and provide an easy way to start these conversations on mobile, that said there are other options:

  1. User can use the standard “start a PM” with a bot
  2. We could ship an option to have “start bot conversation” in the sidebar.

So I am wondering here:

Are we missing a user setting for “bot conversation shortcut”: header|sidebar|none ?

Is header just really needed on mobile and we keep to sidebar for first iteration of a change here?

Is this a wider problem in Discourse where it is just too hard to start PMs?


I think allowing the user to choose the location is a good idea. Also I suggest adding an option of translucent floating button like the discourse-chatbot plugin.

I think adding a button on the header will make the mobile UI a little cluttered, considering there are already 4 buttons(chat, search, menu, avatar) there. I think the AI bot feature may not need to be accessed so frequently, so adding an option in the topic-creation composer is perhaps better.

IIRC, the only way to use the bot from the official AI plugin is through PM, while the chatbot plugin can be triggered by replying to it, or @ mentioning it, which I think could be more convinient.


This is certainly an interesting spot, it would have to be PM specific though, it is a bit hidden probably could just be there unconditionally for people with bot access:


@ForumHelperBot you are able to respond to mentions right? (and for context, we don’t have the referenced plugin installed here, we are using official discourse ai) … maybe dig up a link to a document that explains how mentionable personas work… keep your answer very short, I don’t want noise on this topic.


Found 1 result for 'discourse ai mentionable personas'

@ForumHelperBot is able to respond to mentions. For more information on how mentionable personas work, you can refer to this discussion.


Got it. I will have a try of bots with personas.


I’m in both camp 1 and 2 personally. First I’m in camp 2, I see no value at the moment for my workflow. And, particularly given 2, but for other reasons, I don’t like it taking up prime real estate on the header. If I’m never going to click it, what’s the benefit of it being there. If there’s going to be an always visible icon, I’d rather other options. Give me a create topic icon. Or create PM. Or a shortcut to somewhere. If there’s going to be an icon, I’d love to be able to choose what it does. Almost like a custom sidebar entry.


Maybe the issue is figuring out a good work flow for getting AI assistance when answering a question. My assumption is that the point is to use AI to help answer other people’s questions, not to have people visit a forum to just chat with its AI bot.

Say I’ve gotten this far in responding to a topic and would like to use AI as a sounding board. I’m not seeing an obvious way of doing that:

Clicking any of the other header buttons works, but clicking the AI button doesn’t do anything.

What I normally do in this situation is go to ChatGPT, and start a conversation by telling it that I’m trying to help someone with a problem they’ve reported on a forum. I then incorporate the results of that conversation into my answer. I think Discourse could provide similar functionality.

It might be worth noting that I’m also reluctant to use AI on a forum because I’d prefer my chats to be private. One of the values of chatting with AI is that there’s no shame, and lots of utility, in admitting to what you don’t know.

Edit: if clicking the “start AI conversation” button opened a chat window instead of started a new PM, I’d be all for keeping it where it is. That way I could keep doing whatever I was doing on the forum, but with AI assistance.


For my users, and for me too, starting PM per se is not difficult. Remembering all the names of AI-personas is hard, and that is the real issue waiting for solving.

And that’s why

Is actually its value.

It would be nice to be. But the reality is, outside of IT-smart people, users don’t use settings.

Why not have it all?

Replace the robot with a :heavy_plus_sign:

Clicking/pressing opens a modal with 4 options:

  • new topic
  • new dm
  • new chat dm
  • new chatbot message

None of these really happen at a frequency that would make 2 clicks cumbersome or annoying


I’m in a third group that might inform a potential user setting.

Here on Meta we have a ton of personas, and the icon-to-PM helps bring up a UI that assists in targeting the correct one of the task.

I do not encounter this issue on any of my other sites. :smiley:

There I just introduce each persona as the specialized tool it is, and put it behind a group, which I then automate a welcome message to introduce the tool:

Now, I can see at some point building enough useful, functional tools that having a special menu loading on the composer window is helpful. :+1:

Two things:

  • I think it will be a power user setting, and
  • I will want to change the robot head to something else (without CSS-ing the SVG :sweat_smile:)
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