Replace the term “user”


I’ve never felt comfortable with calling people “users.”

I understand people use a product or participate in a community. But “users” can have a negative connotation as an identity statement.

E.g., common meanings from

I’d like to suggest Discourse have a new default setting. Perhaps “Member”, “Participant”, or “Contributor”?


Discourse has such a wide range of use cases that I don’t think any of those are generic enough to work.

Is this a big problem though?

It’s still the norm in modern operating systems to refer to accounts as users, and sifting through my mailbox a lot of big online services use the term interchangeably with accounts.


Member is already a default trust level, so you kinda already have “members” on your site. It’s just a matter of opinion anyways, to be fair.

And from your screenshot, definition #1 to user is what it’s meant to be… somebody who uses a service


I see your point. It’s common language. And it’s not the end of the world.

I still think there’s room for improvement here, and changing the default is a nudge towards a higher level of civility.


I agree, and I think this has come up internally a couple times lately. We don’t have an initiative to retroactively replace all the occurrences of “user” at this point, but we’ll more often be using alternatives like “member” or “person” when we’re adding new text or making updates to existing text.


I agree with the sentiment here. Discourse uses some terminology that makes us seem complicated and technical, out of reach for non-techical people, and the word user is one of them. We also use some common words in uncommon ways, or in ways that are particular to Discourse. For example staff and groups, and the labels we put on trust levels.

Cakeday is another, meaning “member since” - though I am told that originated on reddit. Just came up again in Usercard Redesign Experiment - #10 by tobiaseigen.

Even the use of the word software is a bit problematic. Yes discourse is open source software, but we do not need to emphasize that fact everywhere.

We wouldn’t want to rush into changing these from the defaults for the reasons outlined above, but it’s a good idea to create a list of them and start thinking about introducing new words that are more accessible to non-technical people.


Continuing the discussion from Maybe just remove the "Community" header in the sidebar? (A plea!):

This is a tangent from the thread above, and not nearly as important to me, but while I’m making that point, I thought I should record this one as well.

Discourse uses the term “Users” fairly promently to refer to the list of user accounts. If you are Discourse developer, you’ve maybe never thought about that — all Discourse forum users are your users, naturally.

But, many Discourse forums are deployed to handle conversations for products or projects, and those products and projects have users of their own. Those sites might very well have users and developers as different groups. Or users and testers. Or users and potential buyers.

As we are merging the user-support site Ask Fedora into the formerly-mainly-for-project-contributors Fedora Discussion, this potential confusion stood out — we’re literally going to have a section of the site that is for users, and it isn’t the thing clearly labeled “Users” on the menu.

I’ve renamed this to “People” on my site, and I think that actually might be a better general default.

(Unlike “Community”, though, I have no emotional attachment to this one — I think it would make sense, and I hope you do to, but I don’t mind if you don’t agree or don’t care.)


[The thing you are: Neighbors, Readers, Colleagues, Gamers]
[Something social: Friends, Comrades, Travelers, Pals]