Lessons from Colossal Caves

(I wrote “IIUC” when I should have written “If I understand correctly” - a bad habit.)

1 Like

They don’t currently get counted the same as Likes (though there is a feature request for it Reactions count as likes?). I think it would be better if they/some were, as the Likes count does feed into lots of different things.

Though for Trust Levels I don’t think they count as much as you’d think. You only need 1 given and 1 received to get to TL2, and people don’t generally lose that one once they’ve got it as there’s no automatic demotion for it. For TL3s you would need to have given 30 Likes and received 20 over 100 days, also not too significant (and they’re configurable too, if you found it was a blocker [1]).

Reactions aren’t going to be for every community, but it’s nice to have the option if you want it. :slight_smile:

I think having a community that uses the different features is the best way to show new members what’s possible. Nobody really wants to read a forum manual, so having practical demonstrations scattered around is a really good way to surface all the different things that can be done (and ‘used in context’ has some much added value too).

Though some communities are quite happy keeping it simple, and that’s okay as well. :slight_smile:

  1. tl3 requires likes given and tl3 requires likes received) ↩︎

1 Like

I really don’t see this. If you find yourself in a culture where everyone uses reactions and no-one uses likes, you’ll not get the Trust Level behaviour you expect. The two facilities behave very differently, and there’s not much hint of that, other than the display of reactions on the left and likes on the right. Which is something, but not self-explanatory!

The :heart: is also a reaction, but I understand your point. I’ve not seen it borne out myself in other communities, as the :heart: is still a popular choice, but I agree it would be better if Reactions could count the same. I have high hopes for the feature request. :slight_smile: :crossed_fingers:


I’m one of the 12.4K.

That’s mostly what I think, but maybe I’m just old. (I remember “You’re in a twisty maze a passages that all look the same” from Zork; I also learned Fortran on a DEC PDP-10—thankfully I was able to use terminals that printed on paper rather than punch cards).

I’ve seen people make compelling arguments that “liking” a sad post is inappropriate, and I have to agree. For me, though, I’m willing to assume that if someone “likes” my post it could indicate acknowledgement, agreement, I’m with you (in which case, a “like” for “my mom died” is just fine), as well as “I like what you posted”.

Mostly, I’m annoyed at the extra clicks that the reactions take, but am willing to put up with them because some people think they’re cute.

EDIT: But from now on, I’ll just choose the most absurd response and go with that. No more :heart: s for me. I think that :rocket: may be my favorite. What on earth does it mean?


Perhaps I’m repeating myself but the simplicity of the heart was one of the genius fresh approach things that attracted to Discourse in the first place.

I definitely give my users the benefit of believing they understand the meaning of a heart is dependent on the context of the post to which it is applied.


I disliked smilies at first when they came all over the Internet discussion systems until I started to use them and understand they were helpful in conveying emotions and brought something to communication.

The same happened with emojis; I now consider them an important part of online communication.

I also disliked “likes” on Facebook, then reactions, because I found having only one way to react was good enough, until I started using them (not talking about Facebook, but multiple reactions in general), and found out they were great to allow us to express a range of emotions or feeling to a message without having to reply.

My own experience seems to repeat itself. And, of course, as the previous paragraph implies, I didn’t like reactions on Discourse until I liked them. :smile:


I think this might just imply that you’re a bit of a reactionary and it takes you a while to acclimatize to change (?)

And I’ll just append a very simple emoji so that you can take its overloaded definition to be any one that you find pleasantly acceptable


My experience with reactions mirrors @Canapin - I didn’t like reactions until I liked them. same with emoji and hearts and the like (pun intended).

On the forum where I am admin, the demographic are mostly manly men guys who have explicitly reacted negatively to reactions and hate the heart like icon. so not only are reactions disabled but the heart is replaced by a thumbs up. that’s it. no other possible visual response to a post. I have tried to enable reactions twice at the request of some users but a very loud group of regular users won’t have them.

1 Like

Same here. I used to think it was just ‘effort’ to add a reaction but then I realised ahh this is pretty neat because regular likes don’t cover other emotions etc whereas, reactions do.

1 Like

hah Zork for real, but the one that became a real time sink for me was Oregon Trail. I was telling my teenage gamer daughter about it one day and so she went and installed it on my ipad. how is that game still alive? I am very scared to tap that icon for hours of dissintry and broken wagons.

Interesting. I don’t know. I feel that reactions are a part of communication like many others.

In real life, we have many physical communication assets to convey emotion (facial expressions, gestures, voice changes, etc.) that we don’t have from one computer to another besides standard punctuation or stuff like this: “great.” “great!” “great…?”.

Even those can also be very ambiguous depending on factors like the relationship between the people who are communicating the context or their personality traits.

Some people accommodate very well with that, but in the end, I think smilies, emojis, likes, reactions and all of this converge toward a single goal of being able to express ourselves more like in real life.

1 Like

Maybe then I should have asked whether anybody remembers rogue…


And something else that occurred to me in reading your exploration of the ideas was that maybe when a like was the only visual indicator it stood for every reaction - so the liker and the likee knew to interpret It’s use in a way that allowed a charitable interpretation.

But with the introduction of visual indicators that provided more explicit messaging maybe the ambiguous messaging ceased to be interpreted by either or both parties as a charitable ambiguity- almost a devaluing or derailing of the generic indicator because one COULD have used more exact reinforcement?

I suspect that this contextualized interpretation of symbolic messaging amongst a group of people who share the meanings is a component of the establishment of culture. - I think culture is the shared perception of something being acceptable, not acceptable, normal,…

So you may not like them when they were introduced because at introduction they are not within the culture. But their introduction changes the culture and as a member of the community you feel that morph and become comfortable with it?

Or maybe these are just ramblings :slight_smile:

Just to clarify, what is this topic about?

Sorry Jammy but i had to. ask Claude that is...

This forum discussion reflects on lessons learned from the classic text-based adventure game Colossal Cave Adventure.

post 1 @51mon reminisces about playing Colossal Cave Adventure on mainframe computers in the past. They note how secret words like “Plove” were passed down by word of mouth, creating a sense of mystery and exploration.

post 2 @JammyDodger points out that Reactions are a relatively new addition on Meta, which may explain the lower usage compared to Likes so far.

post 3 @51mon wonders if making site stats publicly visible could encourage more community participation.

post 5 @Ed_S chooses not to use Reactions because Likes seem more integrated into Discourse’s systems.

post 6 @merefield shares links to play Colossal Cave Adventure online or via bot in Discourse.

post 10 @JammyDodger explains that Reactions don’t impact Trust Levels as much as Likes.

post 13 @pfaffman sees Reactions as unnecessary bloatware but will use them for fun.

post 14 @merefield argues the simplicity of a Like is part of what makes Discourse great.

post 15 @Canapin initially disliked Reactions but grew to appreciate them over time.

post 17 @Lilly finds many users dislike Reactions and prefer a simple thumbs up icon.

post 19 @Lilly reminisces about the classic game Oregon Trail.

Overall, the discussion reflects nostalgia for early text adventure games while debating the merits and adoption rates of Discourse Reactions compared to Likes. There is no clear consensus, with some preferring simplicity while others have grown to appreciate Reactions over time. The conversation explores how features like Reactions spread through communities and gradually shape culture and norms.

Summarized with AI on Sep 6


Hmm, so there is indeed a heart reaction, and guess what, it’s distinct from the heart as a like. Terrible choice!

I fully see that as a forum admin one might want to replace the Like icon, using a thumbs up, heart, +1, star or something else which fits the community culture. I don’t think that’s presently available to us as an option. Instead we have reactions, and now we have them, we’re unlikely to see them go away. The best we might hope for is to have an admin table which associates some reactions with a positive score so they can act like a Like.

It is indeed difficult to express approval of a negative post. Over on MeFi, death notices will conventionally get a parade of replies each of which is a single “.” and I think as a piece of culture that works very well.

Of course agreeing with an angry or complaining post could be seen as positive, in that it rewards the poster for bringing the offending fact to light.

1 Like

Well there is this theme component and it’s generally pretty easy to replace the heart as a like (or any icon) with some api.replaceIcon code . But replacing or disabling the heart in reactions specifically seems to be a bit of a pain.



The this in the above was, in my head when I wrote it about the spread of features and their uptake (speed of, or rejection of,…) by participants and thus the shared conventions that establish culture. That was why I posted it under the community category

1 Like

I think things are getting muddled. When Reactions are enabled it includes the heart by default, and by default it will be mapped as a Like. :heart: = Like

But if you don’t want to enable Reactions on your forum (for reasons practical, moral, or philosophical) then that’s completely fine. :slight_smile: