Please stop closing forums and moving people to Discord

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28549739

Huge discussion on Hacker News, with discourse mentioned lot of times.

With the noble goal of discourse and COVID pandemic discourse can play a bigger role in this world.

There have been posts directly from founders asking for what can be improved, the above discussion has a decent number of suggestions/complaints

one of them being having to reload on new topic.

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You just hit the notification and new topics are added to the topic list without a page reload?

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Nah, no founders in there just me.

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The dreaded

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And Thank you for that :slight_smile:

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That’s dreaded?! People need some real hardship in their lives! :smiley:

As a developer I appreciate the elegance of that solution: it’s convenient for the user whilst at the same time the server doesn’t have the cost of streaming new topics to all open browsers, most of which might be unattended.

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Latest didn’t get enough love and thats why chat platforms like discord and slack are replacing forums which as discussed in hacker news post is not good, one main reason being quick response at the expense of repetitive questions and knowledge struck in search queries

What do you mean by that?

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The advantage of chat platforms is quick replies which in discourse equivalent is latest posts, if that needs reload friction to get answers to new posts is high.

It’s not just because of latest not getting enough love, people are moving to chat like platforms ranging from hosting issues to ancient UI (thanks to Discourse air theme now we have rounded edges )

Your reply took 30 minutes: how much were you delayed by Discourse? :wink: I don’t see how a chat medium would have helped?

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:slight_smile: I was writing detailed answer on what can be improved but felt it’s tangential to the topic and sent a smaller text

I would bet, average time taken to answer on discourse is higher than chat platforms, it’s the UX they went with providing a huge editor with send button at the bottom vs a small text field or text area to reply also influences but that’s what a forum software wants to go for well thought detailed answers not quick replies

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I agree.

I really dislike Slack & Discord for knowledge management, which is usually where forums excel.

It’s partly an education problem?

People see platforms like Discord and are attracted by how quick and cheap it is to set up a ‘community’ on there (how many times do you hear “Join our Discord” on YouTube these days?).

These people may be ill-informed and I suspect they don’t know all the options nor the potential downsides to going onto closed chat-based products.

Do they consider the closed nature, the lack of exposure to internet search engines, the inferior knowledge retrieval and management, the focus on ephemeral chat and how that encourages bad habits and ill-considered, repetitious, low value posts? (And probably a bigger headache for moderators due to the sheer volume of messages?)

Probably not.

I see some unreasonably dismissive statements about Discourse without considering the totality of what Discourse sets out to achieve, why, what features it has, what constraints they have and the sometimes hidden benefits of the way things work:

  • exaggeration about the complexity of self-hosting
  • total exaggeration about instability (hint: it’s usually a rock solid experience)
  • ignoring the sophisticated moderation features and the importance of moderation to a good end-user experience for all users.
  • missing the potential to create a very unique and customised experience using the base forum as a starting point.
  • lack of respect for the nature of the technology:
    • It’s a web app which is largely platform agnostic (whoop!) and will work immediately on almost any modern device, without any installation and no need to visit an appstore.
    • lack of understanding about the interface needing to be touch capable across a variety of devices so controls have to be chunky with enough white space to make good finger-click targets etc.

On top of this, the whole ‘free community’ thing encourages people to expect too much for free, e.g. customisation, features, etc.

I’d like to understand more of the statistics behind “people closing forums and moving to discord” - are they - did I miss the stats?

Anyone who’s managed a forum for a decent time would be crazy to do that, no? And give up:

  • all their lovely SEO built up over the years? (& search engine results bringing new users for free …)
  • their valuable domain name.
  • their future potential ad revenue …
  • their very own userbase that they are now just going to hand over to a big corporation for free?

Just some of my thoughts for now …

(Good share btw @Noone, very interesting to see how people outside the ecosystem think).

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Absolutely agree with you and thats how it’s supposed to be, yet people seem to move to discord and slack which shouldn’t happen and not good for internet and I think discourse can be the cure for it.

Here are my thoughts why people are choosing discord/slack vs discourse

Problem 1, getting started options are
Self hosting or discourse 100$ plan where as they allow users to create a room with click of a button.

Discourse can actually do the same… by leveraging groups invitation links and permissioned categories, not many look for complete discourse admin, they just want to create rooms, invite and manage their users.

Problem 2:
UI cosidering the background gradients, rounded edges in those tools discourse is little behind and with modern themes like discourse air, it’s catching up… The mobile user experience can use some work, like a back icon in header.

Problem 3: sense of loneliness if questions go answered, discourse who is online solves it a bit( GitHub - discourse/discourse-whos-online: A plugin for Discourse which uses the messagebus to display a live list of active users ) where as in chats we get a fake sense of togetherness as active chats flow by and showing online users even if our question goes unanswered…

In the current pandemic situation Just solving Problem 1 can be a huge thing for lot of people who are trying to create their own community while getting all the advantages you mentioned above

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If you’re in a topic you don’t need to reload - new posts show up. You only need to click/reload when you’re browsing a topic list - new topics float to the top. Could you imagine the UI nightmare of being on a site with topics moving around all the time? :nauseated_face:

That’s great! It means that people (in theory) take more time to consider what they are writing and how to structure it so that it will be usable in the long-term.

Chat is for right now. We (Discourse the company (CDCK)) also use chat but treat it as ephemeral and discardable (we actively purge chat logs older than X days - if it’s meant to be long-term it goes into Discourse).

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Thought a lot about how to overcome that problem but dont have a solution yet…feel reload doesn’t seem like a good compromise.

I’m a fan of forums because of the ability to share everyone, archived on the web and the content is much more informative, usually.

Discord and chat platforms are usually 80% noise and searching is a pain. Questions are being repeated a lot and barely anyone reads older information. Also older posts usually don’t get updated and rarely reviewed, so there is the issue if outdated information if you actually use the search function.

Maybe costs are the thriving factor for larger communities, some Discord communities sometimes have 5000+ people online during peak hours (mostly crypto projects). It would cost the server admin zero funds to host events and stuff in here. What would it cost to run a Discourse instance with let’s say only half (2500) users browsing the website?

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I understand the sentiment and have seen it myself, I want to wholeheartedly thank them for what they already shared with the world and the above customisations we want to do it ourselves thanks to the amazing theme and plugin system. If my discussion somehow gave you that opinion, I don’t mean to ask for any freebies they already did a lot… :slight_smile:

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The discussion seems to be going towards why forum is better than chat, definitely I agree with the arguments put forward but still people are migrating towards these chat platforms when they truly need is a forum, and it’s bad thing for all the community knowledge to get struck

So the discussion is why is it still happening , what needs to be done to stop