Using Discourse as a social media platform

I get why you say this but I’m not sure I 100% agree. It’s true that any given Discourse forum is unlikely to have wildly diverging Categories, like a fully generalized social media platform. But you could easily use Categories and Subcategories to organize discussion of extremely different topics if you wanted to. If this is not happening, it’s useful to question whether it is simply because of convention, or actual functional/design limitation. I suspect a strong dose of the former, with some of the latter. But Discourse is flexible, and if someone wanted to make a single forum with strongly separated discussion areas, e.g. a separate “home” for each, like Facebook groups for example, I think this could be reasonably accomplished already. It would make the main topic stream (e.g. “Latest”) even more of a social media “feed”-like experience, too.

More or less, yes, although like Facebook and others it also has other random stuff thrown in there that Reddit thinks you might like. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

You do have groups in Discourse, but of course you can’t use those as the sole organizational concept to which you can publish content. They need to be attached to Categories, which is where content “lives”. In a sense this may also begin to identify some difference between Discourse and most social media platforms: Discourse has a greater amount of formalized structure. Even if you make everything “Uncategorized” (i.e. make no categories), you’d be fighting the UI to make it a frictionless experience, I think. Categories are somewhat fundamental to how Discourse works, I think. So that’s an interesting insight.

I’m still wondering about your thoughts on the “feed view”, as well as any other key differentiators of what “social media” is separate from G+. Google Plus may have some great lessons, but I think it’s important to consider more broadly what “social media” is to understand how Discourse can potentially represent some of those features. If we look at multiple social media experiences together, we’re more likely to find the commonalities that transcend any one platform’s potentially idiosyncratic model.

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As things stand, Categories would be the main tool, I think. It’s possible to visit a Category, and see its feed. That would then work a little like Communities in G+. I think perhaps there’s already per-category moderation, so even more so.

The shape that would then take is the shape of late-era G+, where Communities are the focus. It’s not about talking to friends, it’s about talking about topics, and some of your friends will crop up on those interests which are shared interests - and that did happen, for me, on G+.

And with a suitable plugin, one could have previews of the content of the head posts, with their image, which would make for an interesting feed, and the option of diving into those particular topics which might host an interesting conversation. I haven’t installed or used such a plugin, although I thought I might at one time. (And that’s because of the possible workload on me, as owner, if the plugin needs attention or sometimes misfires.)

I have my own view, of course: I’m an intellectual, in the sense that I’m interested in ideas. Topic-centric discussion is good for me. If a person wants social media because its about people, they will want a different shape of tool. If someone thinks of social media as a way to stay in touch with family, again that’s different. Or if its about reading the quips of the famous, that’s different again. I think “social media” is not well-defined.


I wonder if groups could be modified so they work that way?

Is it possible to “disable” categories or “hide” them per se? Maybe make them work differently (just like I mentioned with groups)?


What about turning the activity field on user profiles to be interactive (for a lack of a better term, like Twitter)? You know… how you can like, reshare, and see the entirety of a post without clicking on it?


I like that the different discourse forums are almost little worlds of their own. They share a similar set of underlying ‘physics’ that make them easier to visit and absorb (once you’ve familiarised yourself with one), but they have distinctive branding, rules, tone of conversation, etc, etc. They seem like solid entities in their own right. I think anything that dilutes those bounderies would be a move in the wrong direction.

In my ‘DiscourseDiscovery’ land I can imagine a feed made up of latest activity grouped by forum (but summarised/abridged), with the ones you’re a full member of being ‘pinned’, and the order of the rest measured on the level of interaction (topics followed, likes given, bookmarks, etc, etc).

There’s a possibility that what I want is a BIGdiscourse, that has all the functions and features of a regular discourse, but with forums instead of topics. :slightly_smiling_face:


I wonder this too…

Not that I’m aware of. You can just make everything Uncategorized, and then e.g. hide the Category view and just leave the Latest, Top, etc. views. Then use CSS to hide the category indicators I guess… Workable, albeit imperfect.

Interesting idea, yes. But to me this actually gets away from some of what seems more interesting about “social media”, the intermixing of content from multiple sources. You can already subscribe to someone’s activity feed from Discourse via RSS, so if you’re really interested in just what one or a few people say, that’d probably be the way to do it. There is also the Follow plugin:

It’s good to know you don’t want those boundaries eroded. But can you explain specifically why? Hopefully not just in terms of simple preference, “I like the way it is”, but specifically why, or at least how the existing setup makes you feel in interacting with it vs. the alternative.

Yes, that makes some sense…

Mmm, yes, interesting! Meta-Meta Discourse. :wink:


I really want a #plugin like that if it’s possible! What a great suggestion from @Decorbuz! :clap:

As an addition to that suggestion, what if you wanted users to be able to create their own categories (to essentially function as either “Circles” or “Collections” or “Communities” if that makes any sense)?

Some people don’t like Twitter recommending random posts or other garbage you might not care about in the slightest. The intermixing of a somewhat specific (large) interest from multiple sources seems more ideal to me (and that’s another thing that Google+ did well in my opinion).

As a side note, I want to see this…

…be turned into (something) like this! :wink:


I agree, but that’s an outdated screenshot.

Have you considered how something like this could possibly be implemented into Discourse?

You’re showing a different view than they are though. This is more of a “Category” view, and there is category thumbnails that would work to create something similar. They’re showing a person activity view, for which a solution to spruce it up doesn’t yet exist as far as I know. But I too would like to see one, even just for Discourse in its forum context…

Actually, that’s sort of similar to what I was looking for (not exactly though).

Also, here’s an up-to-date video of the Google+ profile page.

One thing I liked about the old version of Google+ was that it allowed you to display a lot of information about yourself on your profile (education, work, occupation, skills, etc). Is there a #plugin out there that allows you to display that kind of information?

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Through a plug-in like @anon73664359 seems to be suggesting?


I think you could do similar with custom profile fields though, right?

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Actually, you’re right. I had no clue about that. Thanks for sharing!

Does it support icons?


I found a better example of what you were looking for. Could it be organized into blocks like Google+ did?


Using CSS? Possibly, but I’m not sure.

Discourse already has profile view counts and post titles, so that’s a start! :smile:


Wouldn’t a basic theme or theme component suffice?

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It could be requested in the #marketplace category, yes. A basic #theme that attempts to replicate Google+ would certainly be better than nothing!


Unfortunately no, not as far as I can tell:


But perhaps a plugin could extend it to do so. I think that would be a nice addition! Custom image fields…


A #plugin for a #plugin? :laughing:


I wish I had the money to request such a thing (or the programming skills required for such a matter)!

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