New users aren't starting the discobot tutorial

I’ve had discobot enabled for two weeks and am running into problems with it. Not a single new user has responded to discobot’s “greetings!” message, and my own moderators are having a hard time understanding what it is all about as I nudge them to write to discobot with “start new user”. One of them thought she was going to actually create a new user! <sigh>

About the new user narrative message, here’s what one of them wrote today:

It would be nice if the function was more “dummy” friendly and explained what it is there for, etc.

My suggestion would be to replace the last sentence of discobot’s first message from this:

If you’d like to learn more, select below and bookmark this private message. If you do, there may be a :gift: in your future!

to something like this:

If you’d like to learn more, reply to this message and say hello. If you do, there may be a :gift: in your future!

If the bot receives a reply, it would then start the narrative with the bookmark task:

Why hello there! I’m so glad you want to learn more. Let’s start with a handy trick. Select below and bookmark this private message.

This does make it longer but at least new users will have something of an idea what they’re embarking on.


The goal is not to force everyone to do it; the new user tutorial is something new users should opt into. I think you have a different expectation around this feature than we do, and it is a fundamental disconnect.

Are you absolutely sure the first message spotlight is working on your site, e.g. this? Can you sign up as a new user and verify?

I don’t expect most users to read the instructions, decide to go the extra mile, and bookmark that initial message to trigger to new user narrative, the same way I don’t expect every student in class to sit in the front row and earn an A+ grade in the course.

What would be concerning, and what @tgxworld and I look at, is …

  • if there is any particular step that people get hung up on in the narrative.

  • if people can’t even open their first message containing the essential information that discobot provides:

Remember, the new user narrative is completely optional and something that new users have the choice of completely ignoring if they want to. Maybe they’ve joined 20 discourses by now, so this tutorial is old hat to them. It is not a requirement and I would expect most users to ignore it. Heck, if they actually read just the 3 bullet points that discobot gives them, that’s a win!


Same here. Well, actually not as bad. I’ve had three out of 90 new users reply to the bot, one of them completed the entire tutorial :tada:, one did a couple of steps and one reacted to one of the three bullet points but probably didn’t see that there was a tutorial waiting.

Of course users are entirely free to decide whether they want to do the tutorial or not. But what we don’t quite know at the moment is whether they are even aware of that choice. My feeling is that most are not and that there is room for making them more aware of it.

As a start, I have modified the first bullet point to mention the purpose of the bot (rather than “I’m just a robot” it now says something like “I’m a robot that can help you learn how to use this forum”). If that doesn’t increase the ratio of people who at least reply once, I might try to move the bookmark task into the first bullet point.

If the team is open for exploring alternative ways of starting the tutorial, my suggestion would be to make the first message extremely short. Something like “Hi, I’m a robot who can show you how to use this fodum. Would you like me to show you something?” If that doesn’t raise people’s curiosity then I’d give up and accept that most people are simply not interested.

The three bullet points would then come up in the second message and if the user doesn’t reply to the first one, there would be a special timeout message delivering the three bullet points.


I have been following this closely from the beginning so I am pretty sure I understand your intent and am on board with it. My new users get what you call a “first message spotlight” - the functionality is working.

This is my issue - it seems to me that right at the outset people don’t know what to do with this “Greetings” message from discobot. Happy to let it play out longer but it seems the first action is too confusing if not impossible to grasp by my users…


I suspect they are TL;DR-ing the message and not reading to the bottom even though it is just three bullets and a last sentence. It is at the bottom for a reason though.


Thanks, Jeff! you’re probably right. and it’s not the end of the world for them to ignore it.

I just did another test and noticed one discrepancy - on my site, as a new user I don’t need to select ... to see the bookmark option on the post menu. It’s just right there. So that might be confusing some folks as well. See screenshot.


So I suppose you changed the welcome message accordingly?

But I think there is more to it:

I think so too. Or maybe they are scanning it for something interesting or apparently important and don’t see it. And I understand why:

  1. Even if they actually read it all, there is no reason to assume that bookmarking the post will lead to anything interesting.
  2. “There may be a :gift: in the future” is somewhat obscure. It does not really encourage people to actually do the bookmarking task.

@tobiaseigen, why don’t we change this last sentence and report back in a while whether it helped?


Good suggestions here @tophee - thanks!

I try very hard to avoid customizing my discourse at all, and prefer to trust the judgment discourse team. If my feedback is not accepted then there’s usually a good reason for that.

However, in the interests of science I have changed the text to remove the reference to ... and the present so we’ll see what happens with that. It now reads:

If you’d like to learn more, select below to bookmark this private message.


Well, you have evidently customized the visibility of the bookmark button so customizing the bot’s instructions is only a logical consequence.

You don’t want to try changing the last sentence into something like this below?

I can now show you some cool features of this forum. :sunglasses: Are you ready? :rocket: Let’s start by bookmarking this private message: just select below and then hit .

(I had considered using :nerd: instead of :sunglasses: but I figured that joke would go unnoticed by most…)


hmm… I don’t remember doing that. Good point. Let me find it and change it so it looks like what discobot expects.

sure! that’s better. I will try it. Are you doing the same on your site so we can gather data together and share it back in a week or two?

Search for “menu” in /admin/site-settings

However: are you sure you want to change that site setting (for everyone everywhere) just to make it coherent with discobot?

Yes, just changed it (You’re looking for discourse_narrative_bot.new_user_narrative.bookmark.instructions)

thanks Christoph! This is the language I used, which flows a bit better:

I can show you some cool features of this forum right now. :sunglasses: Are you ready? :rocket: Let’s start by bookmarking this private message: just select below and then hit .


Someone call me out as a dumbo, but where do I find this if I’m NOT a new user? Any way to force this upon everyone now that it exists? Why exclude all existing users from ever attaining the certified/licensed badges? Or am I missing something? :slight_smile: How and where do I talk to this bot?


I was using a new Discourse site and wanted to get the badges for the tutorials. I had no idea how to start them as I ignored the welcome message. Saw it but didn’t read it. :slight_smile:

Had to come back here to figure it out.

Actually I still can’t figure it out once going back to that new site. :slight_smile:

Just a data point for design consideration…

1 Like

It could be that they have it disabled, and if they do, the badge still exists.

Turns out I had to send a message to @botname with the command start new user in the message body … :confused:

1 Like

How did you figure it out? (We already know how you got confused, but knowing the helpful clues is also beneficial)

The site I was using didn’t have the bot sending out PM’s to new users AFAICT. But there was a regular post “from the bot” in the site’s “introduce yourself” topic, telling folks how to trigger the tutorial via a PM to the bot with the special command. I don’t admin that site so can’t say how exactly it’s configured or how the instructional post was created. :slight_smile:

I’m sure it won’t be popular for everyone, but what about a “Tutorial” link in the hamburger menu that would pre-populate a message to the bot with the start tutorial command, and also telling people to send the PM to start the tutorial? (Random brainstorming.)


If I’m correctly assuming that you’re referring to this post, I wrote the post as my user and then changed ownership to the bot. Truly new users do get the bot tutorial but because we did a mass import, most “new” users aren’t actually new but were created when they joined the original Google Group. I still wanted a way to trigger the tutorial for those who wanted and that post was the best I could come up with. Plus, it made me laugh. :robot:


Aha! In that case, thank you for doing that! :trophy:

I definitely would have been lost otherwise, although I suppose I was an edge case. (Imported users, but that might also apply to SSO-created users too? Not sure.)