Successful examples of non-tech professional communities on Discourse?

Discourse has enjoyed great success in customer support, tech, gaming, other hobbyist groups, and many other spaces. But can anyone point to successful Discourse instances serving professional communities? Can you identify places where professionals or maybe researchers are sharing their latest work, learning insights from others, maybe exploring collaboration opportunities in a specific sector? Many of these conversations still happen on LinkedIn, list servs, in-person conferences, or even Facebook and Twitter.

  • The Motley Fool has an investing/financial advice Discourse
  • Non-Discourse forum Engineering Tips is active for many engineering fields, though it’s mostly a Q&A site (and would probably be better served by Stack Exchange)
  • ProTeacher in the education space

I’m hoping to learn from others and identify compelling ideas for attracting and retaining users. As we all know, launching communities can be hard. Users need a strong value proposition for sustained engagement, and that’s especially true for a professional audience. Appreciate any examples or insights you can share.

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I don’t know too many off the top of my head but I hope that Introducing Discourse Discover will make it easier to find such in the future.

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I worked with a professor that had an instance. I started using discourse to teach online education technology courses.

I’ve been thinking about trying to put together a way for organizations to use discourse as a membership management and communication tool.

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I’m involved in several professional forums in the digital health arena. Most are at least semi-closed, but here is one active public example:

I have found that the whole online forum concept is quite foreign to those who aren’t super IT savvy, and it takes a lot of work to move them past the social media and chat paradigms that they are much more familiar with.

Well Jay, I’m doing that with a couple of sites already.

Basically, they utilise a combo of:

  1. Subscriptions plugin
  2. Custom Wizard plugin
  3. Calendar plugin
  4. Jitsi Theme Component (with some extras)
  5. Shared Edits (for live ‘minutes’)

Some targeted improvements of these (especially of Subscriptions and Calendar) would go a long way to making this combo fly nicely. Does this deserve its own topic? Cc @pacharanero

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Thanks all for the helpful replies! You’ve confirmed my concerns, though I’m still optimistic that a non-technical professional use case is potentially feasible in the right situations. It would be an admittedly uphill journey. If I discover any lessons learned in the coming months, I’ll share them back here. I’ll also stay tuned for any developments on the Discourse Discover directory since that could be a tremendous resource!

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I guess I’m not feeling very sure what you mean by a “non-technical professional use case.”

I’m experimenting with a forum for people to continue the conversations I start on a podcast, mostly having to do with emotional leadership, conflict resolution, communication, and more.

I may know other examples of existing ones that might align with what you’re hoping to find…Will you explain more about the type of use cases you’re hoping to see?

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I think FeverBee is one that comes to mind for professional community consultants. They had a Discourse forum – not sure what happened to it, but it was at https://experts.feverbee.com/

The professionals were not necessarily tech-oriented – they were in community management – but yes here they shared insights with each other and so on.

Yeah i get what you’re talking about – having observed for tech & game industry connections and politics connections at meetings or conferences.

For the inertia with most of these conversations between professionals in their fields happening on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Discord (which is popular for professionals in the games industry here), etc. the main advantage of those platforms is the “network effect” a.k.a. “everyone is already on there”.

One of their advantages in this regard is that they’re centralised – whereby you make one account and have the same account for everything v.s. Discourse being decentralised (whereby your account on each instance is totally unlinked to your account on every other instance)

So when you’re sharing a business card or just your username or whatever, people usually share existing twitter, linkedin, instagram, discord accounts and so on, because it’s just a username to add as a connection on that site, rather than having to sign up to a whole new site.

I think Discourse could fit the mailing list case well because it has done that for existing mailing list communities.

But yep I get what you’re talking about - I think there’s definitely a good case to be made for trying to fill these spaces where professionals are having conversations with using a more discussion-oriented platform like Discourse. Discourse has done that for hobbyist communities, and it would be great to have more professional communities on board too.

I think the main trouble I would run into when trying to promote Discourse in the past is mainly that everyone else is on some other centralised platform – the Platform of the Day (even when it’s terrible for discussion), like first it was Facebook and now it’s Discord — and they can’t be bothered making an account on another site.

Like if i ask my friends or connections who are already on Discord to join a brand new Discord server, they will happily do that, compared to joining on a new Discourse instance (because they have to make a new account)

The question to beat is: why should I bother to make another account?

I think like what has been said often around here, “content is king” :crown: You would need to have quality content, resources or connections that people can’t get anywhere else. Then they will sign up for a new site.

You might want to see if you can get a few professional connections to start helping to seed content on your site, and modelling what you’d like it to be.

This can also be surprisingly a hurdle too though – like they might ask ‘why should i post there when we are already talking over here’. (And inside, I’m like ‘coz these platforms are horrible for discussion :sob:’)

But so what it means is that it has to be more compelling than that for them to join – it’s not just the technical benefits of the new platform, but the resources and connections that they can get there. (Which is hard when all the connections are already on another platform!)

Either way, I’m super curious now about what sort of professional non-tech community you’re hoping to start or keep developing, and I would actually like to be involved to help, if you’re up for that – regardless of the field. I’ve done community moderation (moderator & admin) on a Discourse forum, both volunteer and for work before.

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Another place to check for professional communities might be on the Discourse Blog, which covers a lot more customers and communities and in more depth, than on the customer page:

Here’s a blog post on Discourse for science and academia, for example:

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