I’m a freelance animator and have never been an active forum user, but Discourse is changing that for me, and I am eagerly monitoring its development.
For an average internet user like myself coming primarily from a social media environment, visible Markdown or BBCode within the reply box feels disorienting. For most forum users, I imagine that this goes virtually unnoticed, but for the average person it could be overwhelming at first and potentially dissuading to new users.
I started wondering if maybe there was a way we could offer a simplified reply box as an optional setting, and I did a few mock-ups incorporating some of my favorite elements from the functionality of Basecamp as well as Gmail and Facebook.
The simplifed reply box would basically look like an email, and you would also have a slim option that would shrink to the width of the sidebar, so you could easily read responses while formulating your reply.
Here’s the expanded version:
And here’s the slim version:
The expanded version would be quite similar to the current reply box except that it would have the code-less functionality of an email. I removed a couple of the formatting icons such as horizontal rules in my design, but as to which functions would and would not be present in the simplified view, that could be the topic of an entirely different discussion. My main suggestion is just this notion of an optional, code-less reply box, and the possibility for a slim setting.
As I am new to the discussion, I apologize if I am suggesting something that has been already been proposed. Either way, I am very much on board with Discourse and excited to see it continue to unfold!