I couldn’t find anything celebrating ~10 years of Discourse yet. I know we often like to keep it very straight to the point around here , but why not celebrate as we near the end of this year?
I was beginning to wonder if I had even remembered it right. I’m thinking to myself, I’m pretty sure it’s been public since 2013? There are posts on Meta since 2013, right? Didn’t awesomerobot make that theme once, saying it’d take you back to those 2013 days?
I checked Coding Horror’s blog for that “Rule of Three” entry that I remembered about the first three customers of Discourse, to check the timestamp. And I read this again:
With Stack Overflow, we didn’t set out to build a general purpose Q&A engine. We only wanted to solve the problem of programmers looking for fast, solid technical answers to their programming problems, instead of the endless pages of opinions and arguments they usually got. Oh yeah, and also to deal with that hyphenated site. One of the greatest pleasures of my life is meeting programmers that have never heard of this hyphenated site now. I hope you can forgive me, but I mentally superimpose a giant Dubya-style “Mission Accomplished” banner over their heads when they say this. I grin a mile wide every time.
I thought to myself, I’d also been one of those programmers who’d also never heard of that hyphenated site
And come to think of it – I also never signed up for forums before Discourse.
I’d popped in, done the reading/browsing that I needed to, and straight back out away from all those godawful interfaces, as Jeff describes in his seminal Civilised Discourse Construction Kit entry:
As much as existing forum software is inexplicably and terrifyingly awful after all these years, it is still the ongoing basis for a huge chunk of deeply interesting information on the Internet. These communities are incredibly passionate about incredibly obscure things. They aren’t afraid to let their freak flag fly, and the world is a better place for it.
I was pretty young when I first came across Discourse, so I rarely encountered those older sites, and I still wince all over now when I have to run into them.
So I, for one, am sooooo indescribably deeply grateful that Discourse exists.
For me, three major Discourse communities which are dear to my heart come to mind.
I was a teenager coding on the Hopscotch drag and drop coding app.
This forum means a lot to me — I helped to seed forum discussion when it was new, and was a volunteer moderator there, way back. And then when I was working at the company, I would interact with our community members & leaders there, and fix bugs that came in through reports from the community. The forum has gone through a lot of changes over the years, and I think Discourse has weathered those well while also facilitating a lot meaningful interactions between community members.
When I was younger, this is where I really started to first practice the skill of being open and explaining my creative projects and code to other people, which I have carried with me for the rest of my life.
And Discourse was so helpful in helping to encourage the community to share bug reports and collate information. The split topic functions, close topic, tags, the solution feature, more — it all helped. Especially for bugs where users didn’t have all the information to reproduce it. We would have a topic for it, and people would reply there over time with more and more information, until we could reproduce it and fix it. I also added a simple lightweight tag system to mark bugs as ‘officially reproduced’ & ‘in development’ (would close when fixed) which let users know from the topic list that we acknowledged & appreciated their reports.
Auxy is an iOS music app and they used to have a Discourse forum at
disco.auxy.co (not available anymore - that’s the
This is the absolute highest praise that I can give to Discourse:
On the discord servers that community members made, I would have to browse for hours across multiple occasional visits to find one or two interesting facts, from people whose messages I specifically would search for. So that’s why I personally never went there.
On the Discourse forum where people share their tips and projects, I would learn 10x as much for just 1 hour of reading, in a single occasional visit. Because people would elaborate in sophisticated detail, wikis were easy to find, most liked tracks are easy to surface by checking the Top topics, and more.
I learnt so much about different sub-genres of music, understanding musical terms as well as functions in the app that I didn’t know on my own, tips on making music and mastering, and much more. I got exposed to so many kinds of music from users which I totally loved.
I miss the forum not being around, but the development team for Auxy is also extremely small and they didn’t have the people resources / willpower to keep the forum up. Nevertheless, I always remember the Disco as one of my favourite Discourse communities.
This is a personal matter, but I decided I’m ok with sharing, because I do want to help break the taboo around psychosis and schizophrenia (SZ).
I have been experiencing likely psychosis episodes recently, and checking the SZ forum was one of the central factors in me seeking the help I needed right when I really needed it — alongside previous provisional diagnoses mentioning possibly schizotypal, and possible family history or risk, and so on. I do have support from local services here, even if that’s also been an uphill battle at times.
Not only that aspect of seeking help, but the forum is really comforting and supportive. It has been really nice to see people experiencing and struggling with things that I have been or am worried about.
So I’d probably never have joined these communities if they’d been on one of those old forums instead of Discourse.
And with that:
What Discourse forums have meant a lot to you, over the past 10 years?
Happy 10 years of Discourse!