Maybe just remove the "Community" header in the sidebar? (A plea!)

Continuing the discussion from Try out the new sidebar and notification menus!:

This is still troubling me. I know it’s hard to come up with a good catch-all title, but using “community” feels a bit like “eh, that word is already basically meaningless due to overuse and misuse, so it’ll do”. Which is actually kind of distressing to me. I know I can change it on my own sites, but it’s going to cause me pain everywhere else in the world I encounter it. :slight_smile:

I think, though, with the current menu, where the section shows just “Everything”, “My Posts” , and “⋮ More” , it works fine to have no label. Collapsing / condensing is already handled by More, so there’s not really a need for that. And as I think is already clear, there’s not really any consistency to what’s included so it’s not a meaningful grouping.

This also could solve the other oddity — the :heavy_plus_sign: for New Topic hanging off the “Community” header. Instead, that could just be replaced by “+ New Topic…”. Same overall space as now, and the new topic link is now clear, and also I won’t be so very sad.

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Basically you want ability to change texts per user?

Anyway — I feel you, someway anyway. Community is more or less just another hype. Sorry, but I’m not part of some special community just because I’m admining a discourse-forum :wink: I’m member in one forum, that’s it.

Some hockey or football enthuasists can build a community, sure.

But… should texts change world wide? No. I don’t value badges either but I don’t mind those here, there and everywhere.

Sorry, possibly some of my attempts at humor are not translating. I strongly believe that removing this text by default is the right thing.

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I think it is a bit of a misnomer for the items that get bundled in there. Have you got a preference for what it could be changed to?

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A picture may be worth a thousand words…

image

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I glossed over the ‘no label’ bit in my response (we have two Community Moderators now, so I only have to read half the posts :slight_smile:). I was thinking for keeping the collapsible bit, but I suppose that’s not set in stone either.

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The current state:

  • Confusing label which does not describe the items grouped there
  • New topic button is like a secret easter egg
  • Can collapse four lines down to one line to save a tiny bit of space
  • Matthew is sad

Proposed state:

  • No label needed!
  • New Topic link very handy!
  • Can’t collapse 4-to-1 (but all of the “More” items already collapsed anyway…)
  • Matthew is happy!
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If keeping something collapsible is crucial, one possibility might be “Shortcuts”. That would make most sense if everything there were individually configurable, though.

Personally, I don’t think that small amount of collapsing adds that much. If it’s important enough to be at the top of the menu, it’s important enough to be top-level. Or, move the whole section to the bottom, where it doesn’t really matter how much space it takes. (“More” as the very last item on the whole menu does feel a bit more “right”, anyway.)

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I like this, personally. At the same time, I’m not bothered by the current implementation. Maybe there is some reason why we created it as collapsible.

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I like this suggestion! IMHO, the items under the Community header are the core menu items. I find the Community header to be superfluous and would prefer it if it was removed—leaving more real estate on the sidebar for other items. Having said that, at least for me, this is a minor gripe. If removing that header is more complicated than it sounds, perhaps that energy would be better spent elsewhere :blush:

I think the current setup works great for everything else (e.g., Categories, Tags, etc.).

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Oh wow, only now I realized this button exists
I don’t understand why I need to collapse the menu and your version looks more reasonable.

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Really really really big +1 for that. It is close to perfect.

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I like your suggestion very much, but it would then have a different design than the new message button in the sidebar:

image

They both do the same exact thing at the core, so I think they should share a very similar design.


My opinion could be very different if I could see and try it for real though. Your suggestion could be very fine while keeping the current new personal message button.

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Yeah, I think I would put “New Message” there as a list item. Alternately, the + could move down to next to Inbox —this would also improve consistency, as the icon (if any) by all headings would be the pencil for “edit this section”.

(Personal chat is a little different — arguably that could have both a + for “add new chat” and a pencil to edit which chats are pinned to the sidebar.)

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At this time, I think we’re still in favor of keeping a heading so these sidebar sections are consistent in behavior and implementation. Others have been asking about customizing the links that show up by default in the Community section, so I think allowing it to be collapsed is probably still a good thing. + New Topic being a bit of an easter egg is OK with us for now as well given we nudge folks to read more than write.

All that said, I’m not attached to the name “Community” for this section if a clearly better alternative emerges.

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I’ll try one last time on the “no heading” pitch, and then call it over: I don’t think this section should be presented like the others, since it is inherently different. The others are logical sections grouping basically the same thing. This is a grab bag. So, “no heading” is conceptually best. /end-attempt

OK, this part I’ll fight harder for. Although I couched it in humor, I really, very seriously believe that labeling the hard-to-group items at the top of the menu “Community” is actively harmful.

It degrades and misuses a word has already taken a lot of abuse, but which means something important to me — something that has been a big part of (I know, dramatic, but I’m serious) my life’s work. Community means people, and not just any random selection of people, but people with a common interest. This is really, really important.

I can roll my eyes when I hear “Community” to describe groups of people that are marketing segments (if anything), and not communities at all[1]. I can try to gently correct when people conflate the idea of community with “we’ve got a forum people can post on”. Or when someone in an open source project talks about “the community” as the userbase, we can have a good conversation about what subset of users comprise an actual community, and whether the developers (or corporate backers) are part of that community.

But this is worse than any of those — it’s using “Community” intentionally to have no meaning. “Other” or “Miscellaneous” seem worse because they’re up-front about “We don’t know what to call this”, while if you squint at “Community” you can dissolve it into somehow covering:

  1. All posts [2]
  2. Posts I’ve made[3]
  3. Groups (for access control? Defaults? Nothing at all? Depends on the site!)[4]
  4. The list of all users[5]
  5. Badges[6]
  6. Anniversaries and Birthdays[7]
  7. Docs[8]
  8. About[9]
  9. FAQ[10]

But yet somehow discussion categories, chat channels, tags aren’t included?

I think that suggestions like “Other” and “Misc” seem wrong because they’re too on the nose. It seems bad to put something called that at the top. “Community” slides by that reaction because you’re treating it like it doesn’t matter what it means at all. Please, don’t do that.

On top of that, you’ve now consumed this label so it can’t be used for anything else. There are three major cases I can an see here:

  • As noted, many sites call their entire forum “Community”. I believe this is a mistake[11], but it’s at least understandable: the whole forum is there for the community to interact. But now, you’ve applied the label to a weird subset.
  • For other sites, a different subset might actually appropriately be called Community. The case where there is a Developers and Community split, for example. (This is really common!) Or, one might want to have Community-related topics as a category. Or, one might have a forum about different local communities. And as I mentioned above, I can easily think of some ways of building a Discourse forum where Groups are communities. Or Tags! But now, again, the label is taken — at best, I’ve got confusing duplication.
  • The forum might be part of something larger that is Community. That link should go “up” to whatever that is.

Sure, these sites could change the text for their own use, but 1) now they’re inconsistent with the rest of the Discourse universe, and 2) that’s really just punting the problem down to everyone else.

You’ve asked for “a clearly better alternative”. I think that’s an unfair bar. Or, rather, I think anything that isn’t actively harmful crosses it. I still really believe in the first idea[12], but I said I wouldn’t argue that further. So, let me offer some alternatives which I hope are constructive:

  • Discourse
  • Menu
  • Other
  • Shortcuts[13]
  • Site
  • Functions
  • Things
  • Stuff
  • Miscellany[14]
  • Mishmash
  • Medley

… and take the thesaurus to any on of those if you must. I think they’re all “clearly better”.

If you’re set on some header label for this design but no word seems to work, that might suggest a third possibility — there is a fundamental conceptual problem, and the design and needs a bigger re-think.

But whatever you choose: please, please, not the way it is.


  1. “We’ll have to see how the glasses-wearing community reacts to this news!” ↩︎

  2. “Everything” makes some sense if you’re in the forum = community camp. Please don’t hard-code that. For communities like Fedora, “Community Everything” should be a lot more than just Discourse posts. I might expect that to go to a project org chart or something. ↩︎

  3. Am I a community of myself? ↩︎

  4. Maybe relevant — but maybe in some situations Groups should be “Communities” ↩︎

  5. Okay. It’s people! Another one which could itself be “Community” — and an aside: on my site, I’ve already changed this to “People”. That’s because while “Users” makes total sense from a Discourse developer point of view — all of the accounts on the sites represent Discourse users — but for any site about a product, “Users” should be users of the product, and that might not be all Discourse accounts at all! ↩︎

  6. I can’t think of a reason for this to be community ↩︎

  7. okay, sure — people have these ↩︎

  8. Terribly wrong ↩︎

  9. only right in the “forum = community” conception ↩︎

  10. same as About, but weirder ↩︎

  11. not wrong because it’s pedantic — wrong because this misses out on potential ↩︎

  12. that this section conceptually should not have a header ↩︎

  13. as noted, works best if they’re editable ↩︎

  14. or Miscellaneous or Misc ↩︎

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I agree with everything you said, and especially this! We really should rework that section.

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I vote for these…

…or Tools.

I feel that we are ultimately not going to need much of this discussion.

We are just about to announce custom sidebar sections! What if long term all sections are custom sections? … you get to pick titles and which links you have in each bucket.

Want to mix up 3 tags, 2 categories and your bookmarks in one section… go for it…

I do though strongly support @awesomerobot here. I don’t want to introduce any new “entities” into the sidebar. The consistency of collapsible sections is a huge benefit here. Introducing a new entity "non collapsible section with no title, makes me uneasy.

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Okay. I hope that’s also taken as an opportunity to change the default, because making it changeable but leaving “Community” doesn’t really address my concern.

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