As @jomaxro mentioned the core thing about Discourse that it was built around topics and ideas. But no one can deny that there are actually two global things in each forum: topic and a person. And one thing cannot exist without another. When user creates a new topic in 70% of cases he expects the feedback on his thoughts, and he expects that this topic is important for peoples around him. The essential measure of human’s gratitude is a ‘karma’ or ‘reputation’. If I like person’s topic I press on ‘like’ or ‘thumb up’ button. And this immediately is being reflected in person’s karma. And, you may not believe, but sometimes karma is the main reason why people come back to the site day after day and continue to share and discuss different thoughts.
Better let’s get to an example. I think David is a great man in real life with a good impact on a community, but let’s take a look on his profile step by step. When I open topic’s page, I see following picture:
For now it’s not clear for me who have bigger impact Mitchell or David. But I am ok with this, I am pressing on avatar image to check for details, and following pop-up appears:
Now I am looking at some additional info about David, I see where is he from which is good, and I know for now that he has some badges. But still at this stage my mind wants some numerical characteristic of this person. So, I give it a chance one more time and click on ‘profile’ link to explore full user’s statistics and I see following:
I expect to find few (actually one-three) numbers which would describe David’s impact but I find instead tons of numbers and I am losing my focus after first line of David’s achievements… then I go to ‘badges page’ and it finally blows my mind, I am reading first two lines with badges descriptions and deciding to get back to the topic and not to visit any user’s profile anymore.
Why? Maybe it sounds paradoxically but I didn’t get what impact is David having on this forum, because his profile contains too much statistics information about him. And when it gets to compare David with someone from the same forum – I even don’t want to think about it, because to compare all these numbers - is like a nightmare. So for now I am continue to read my topic and starting to divide all peoples on two categories: 1) newbies, they have nothing in a profile 2) all others, they have many stat numbers and badges…
Now, let’s take a look on some other examples:
Stackoverflow. So, I can look on a person and it’s clear from first sight what impact is he have here and I can compare his impact with impact of any other member.
If we are talking about any of social networks like facebook, twitter, vk and so on, they all have strict and relatively measurable impact index – it’s a number of friends/followers. If we take a look on any forum-like sites, for example reddit or gamespot they all have karma or reputation. Reddit example below:
IMHO, karma feature (or plugin) could be very important for Discourse. Karma calculations can include likes(+1 to karma), posts(if post got 5 or more likes this means additionally +2 to karma), created topics(if they are popular - also +somenumber to karma) and so on and so on.
I wouldn’t write so much text to tell you that Discourse’s stats is bad. I love this forum and I see how much you guys are doing to keep it so cool. Honestly, I think Discourse now is the best free forum software in the world, and the reason why I am writing this post is because I believe this forum software can be even better!
FYI: I’ve read these branches. The idea in first one(by @AdamCapriola) seems good, but not finished as I understand: