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
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?)
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).
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.
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
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?
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).
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?
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…
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
…or hosting anywhere else–there’s more than one Discourse hosting provider.
let me summarise the thread, people are moving chats platforms even when they truly need is a forum…due to usability of chat platforms with one click they can create a room, invite users and bam…due to that ease of use people are preferring that than discourse because an average user can’t selfhost
I was suggesting instead of giving full discourse admin acesss, using groups, group invitation links and private categories the same can be pulled off
Some one else can do it as a startup or discourse itself can do it offering plans from 0$ because this way it’s not too heavy and they can handle multiple communities per discourse installation, community admins expect to have user management and data export functionality not all need the complete discourse admin functionality
I’m guessing they only want one place to maintain and are choosing chat because then you can effectively ignore history and don’t need to maintain or curate anything.
We do offer this! But not for everyone who thinks they need a forum since communities take time and effort to build:
A thousand ghost towns benefits nobody.
If one is willing to put in the effort, then there are even free options for anyone.
Messaging platforms are completely different beasts. Discussion forums are not intended for quick messaging.
It’s not like the are lack of hosting solutions, it’s the usability for an average community owner and managing discourse is kind of over whelming.
Imagine a flow where I tell my community name ( and description) it creates me a link which I can share like a discord link. And if they want to create a new room, they create a new category/sub category. This way single discourse instance can handle multiple communities and as a hosting provider it can be offered without too much load of spinning up a discourse instance per user, there by offering competitive pricing of 0$ to small communities.
The 0$ thing was mentioned as a effect not a cause. An average user doesn’t need all the features provided by discourse admin, they need user management, data portability and few UI related settings.
I think my whole point is lost and it may be easier to show what I mean than trying to explain it.
This is such an important topic. I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way.
Speaking as someone who did a couple years on email lists before moving to forums 20 years ago, I’ve seen so many communities fail in the last decade. Far as I can tell, it’s a combination of factors.
- Eternal September. We drove the newbies away with our expectations of self-reliance.
- Facebook did to the Internet what Walmart did to Main Street, making the forum “an extra stop”.
- A decade of social media has eroded our collective attention span to that of a 5-year old.
- So many forums sprung up out of spite as hosting/implementation became more accessible.
- The eternal struggle between being niche/focused and too general/off-topic.
I wish I had the answers—but here’s where my head’s at these days.
Go heavy on trust, privacy, and security. We’re seeing unprecedented lack of trust in the foundations of civilization in general. We don’t trust our elected “leaders”, Big Banks, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Wall Street, or even the next door neighbors.
– The forum doesn’t just represent better knowledge curation and access, it also allows for selective membership, relative privacy, and a safe space to be yourself without fear of being tracked/tricked.
– Recent comment from one of our forum members: I wouldn’t give my home address out to a regular commenter on my 20-year old blog—but I wouldn’t hesitate to share it with a member of this community. (It’s all in the rules.)
Ride the wave of tribalism. This growing lack of trust in the status quo is driving people back to more primitive, tribal ways of thinking. Facts no longer matter unless they support your personal opinion. And while the bad guys are already using this as a recruiting tool, it’s something we could and should be using for good.
– Tap into the vulnerability behind this sentiment. Find the others, as Seth Godin would say. Bring them together, and organize around values that actually matter.
– Done right, our communities become beacons to others seeking a slower, more meaningful experience; aka: all the stuff we thought we were getting with social media before the marketeers* showed up and ruined everything like they’ve done with every other media ever invented.
Empower the user base. This is where Discourse naturally excels compared to the forums we all cut our teeth on back in the day. Automatic promotion and empowerment of our most engaged community members? It’s a damn shame more people don’t realize this is possible.
– In my experience, most people—even those who grew up with, love, and miss forums—struggle to grok this one. We’re all used to joining the 2nd Generation, Non-Turbocharged DSM forum, what do you mean by the more I do here, the more I can do here? Isn’t this ‘just’ a car forum?
*Source: Am marketeer by day. Historically, advertisers have been the only ones willing, if not able, to pay for all these forms of media. So there’s also a case to be made for building communities around value worth actually paying for. That’s our model.
In any case, I’m doubling down on the paid forum model. Slashing our prices. Losing the niche focus. And going big on personality, privacy, safety, and trust. We have three rules:
- No assholes. Everyone you meet here is cool.
- No politics/religion. We’re all friends and lead by example.
- Time well-spent. Feel good about spending time online.
We’re going from $50/yr to $10/yr to keep the lights on. Other than that, pretty much anything goes. I’m looking forward to our tl4s creating their own categories one day and seeing how our community evolves.
As for Discord, I wonder what the VideoCompiler ( loud/f-bombs) is up to these days? Maybe the hero we need?
Just tried to move a bunch of messages to a different channel yday on Discord. You’d think that would be trivial, right?
Even the related feature request, is hosted on a forum. Enough said!
Interesting article and discussion: Use forums rather than Slack/Discord to support developer community | Hacker News
So much demand for a good forum software, few of the replies mention what they like to improve in discourse. With recent funding news and articles like this hitting top of the page on HN it’s a great opportunity
I moved my previous football forum to Discord and now considering moving to Discourse. The problem with Discord is that it’s just message after message and no quality discussion. If you ever want to discuss something in more detail, the message is off the screen.
This is our solution: