Hi, we’re rebuilding our Discourse forum and would love to rename it. We simply called it “Discourse” in the past but want to change it because it’s not immediately intuitive what Discourse is.
We’ve considered calling our Discourse a “forum” because that’s instantly understandable and easy to say: “Post that on the Youth Power Coalition forum!” but I think people may have pre-conceptions of what a forum is that’s not in line with our vision of our forum being a full collaboration and learning platform.
We’ve also considered “hub” but every time we say “Post that on the Youth Power Coalition hub”, we’ll need to explain what the “hub” is, and that explanation may very well become “It’s our online forum”.
What do you think? Are we completely overthinking it? And, what do you call your Discourse forum and why? What are the pros and cons?
Edit: You can also create a wikipost and ask your members for name suggestions, letting them add their suggested name(s) to the list. If they like a name already given, have them indicate that by adding a number after the name. Others can up the number if they also like it. By the end of a certain time period, you’ll have a list of possible names to go by.
I thought about a poll or vote, but you’d already need to have a list to start off with… and would have to add names afterward which could skew the results. Before we started our forum (made up of members of a now defunct forum), everyone suggested names (even multiple names). This enabled us not only to decide upon a domain name, but the forum name as well. This worked for us.
On my forum, I (and occasionally other users now that I think about it) have sometimes used “Discourse” on some posts without thinking about it, but users with little knowledge of IT stuff could be a bit puzzled, so we (my community and I) usually refer to it at “the forum”.
The forum itself, though we moved to Discourse in 2017, is old: created in 2004, and has always been known by the community as “the forum”.
Funny stuff to think about it though… “Forums” are sometimes considered as something from the ancient Internet era by youth who are massively using social networks (and, obviously, Facebook groups…).
I actually don’t feel you are overthinking it, because the word “forum” became a bit tainted over the years due to how out of date the traditional forum software got, and how erratic spam control and moderation was in the old software. When you think “forum”, you think…
ehhh this might kinda be old, out of date … and suck?
That’s one of the things we set out to fix with Discourse! To rehabilitate the very word “forum”! But it’s gonna take a long time, even though we’ve been at this for 7+ years, we have miles to go before we sleep, and miles to go before we sleep.
Even divorced from the negative software connotations, forum is also kind of an abstract, old timey Latin word, and sounds a tad formal.
Some of my suggestions are
Youth Power Coalition talk
Youth Power Coalition community
Youth Power Coalition hangout
Youth Power Coalition group
Youth Power Coalition camp
Youth Power Coalition clubhouse
Youth Power Coalition chat (this is a bit risky, if people are expecting actual real time chat, but Discourse is reasonably chatty)
I dunno, you can riff on that theme, use synonym generators to explore, maybe brainstorm with the group itself in a Discourse topic! People love having a say in what their community is, and the name is a big part of that.
It also depends how serious you want it to feel and be, versus how fun / entertaining. It can be both!
I don’t know your site or what you’re exactly doing, but by reading your above post here, it appears to me:
Long name =
You would especially try to use this when directed towards people who do NOT know you. Yes, it’s a bit long, but it says a lot of things. Probably far more than can be said with one single word (unless your brand becomes one day a common word for it, but it would need to be just one word, which it isn’t. I’m not trying to tell you to change your name. Not at all. On top of that achieving this kind of thing is rare and difficult. Think “Kleenex” or “Google”).
Short name, directed towards people who do know you =
That’s it. “Post it on Youth Power Coalition”. Why do you need an additional word ?
For “insiders”, users knowing your site pretty well, they can refer it as “YPC”. “Post it here on YPC”.
If you really need a “word” for some use, I would use “platform”. You came up yourself with it in your long description.
Thank you for the input so far! I went ahead and posted it to our Youth Power Coalition members (was always the plan but y’all gave me the confidence I needed to just throw it out there). The post has been up for only a short while so it’s early days yet, but here are some interesting things that have come up:
Yes! How a name makes people feel definitely factored as a reason for members liking one idea over another. A reason given for liking “Hub” was because it “sounds very inviting”.
I really liked this concept of making the forum name synonymous with our name, but because we use Slack as well, and because we’re not just an online forum, it’d be confusing to say “Post it on Youth Power Coalition.” One member brought up the idea to keep only the “Youth Power” part, though! So, instead of saying something like “Youth Power Coalition Hub” it would just be the “Youth Power Hub”. I personally love this idea because then the Youth Power Coalition as an organization could maintain a consistent brand across our website, programs, and online forum, but also be just one of several partner organizations that come together to create the Hub which is very much in the spirit of how we work as a coalition.
Again, early days yet, but thank you, this has already been so illuminating!
You’re certainly not overthinking it - it is very important to get the name right if you are migrating people from something else or attracting new people. We went through this process in the early stages last year.
“Discourse” got a big downvote because it was even more obscure than Forum (ok, our users are UK English and probably in the top half in terms of education level).
Lots of ideas were kicked around but in the end we settled on the “XYZ Forum” for the overall name, or “the Forum” for short. “Discourse” is understood to be the name of the underlying system (like say Windows, or Android or whatever) by those who come across it.
There was no apparent feeling that “forum” was old fashioned or tainted by previous experiences (most of our users, apart from the techies who set it up and run it, probably have never used bulletin board or forum systems in the past - indeed many are tech-phobic, but do have an idea of what a forum would be in general non computer terms). It could be that the Discourse experts here are themselves a bit stuck in a rut over this, but maybe things are different across the pond, and it’ll certainly be different if most of your users have experienced previous forum systems.
In addition it was felt that the term “category” for the individual discussion areas was unhelpful. We still call the dozen top level categories “Categories” but they are all read-only information areas with no live posts or replies. Everything happens in sub-categories which we call “forums”
The real confusion comes with getting people to understand the relationship between “groups” and forums. We have ended up with a pretty much 1-1 mapping between groups and forums which is much more comprehensible.
Incidentally we also use the term “Hub” for a central custom system that links together the discussion forums (long term, considered debate and information) on Discourse, and the instant messaging and ephemeral chat (for which we use Mattermost, but Slack was one of the alternatives considered) and file storage and collaborative editing - for us on Nextcloud. It has been a battle to get things like single-sign-on and more or less seamless working between the different system, but we are 80%+ of the way there.
Do involve your users in the decisions, but beware of only asking early adopters as they may well have more ‘baggage’ colouring their judgement.
With more than 10 years in the universe of forums and “virtual communities”, I can assure you the following:
You must know your audience.
If you still don’t know them, your space is a forum.
A digital forum, space for discussion, isolated topics published by strangers who seek to quench their thirst for knowledge guided by a certain selfishness (they will publish but they will not give back).
If you know your audience we are talking about a different animal.
You can speak of “community” like that, or call it community because you will be in a position to give personal value to each person who comes to it.
Each person will not be in the forum after their own satisfaction but will seek to immerse themselves in the community, help other people, contribute their grain of sand, and thus achieve personal growth. In the middle of the participation, you will be able to ask questions and seek answers, but it will no longer be a simple isolated “discussion forum” on the Internet.
I agree that said I have been tussling with this. My issue is that I am building a niche community site that will feature, articles, blogs, podcasts, etc. The whole website will be branded as a community. Do you think it will be correct to still name the discourse subsection as ‘community’ rather than ‘forum’ given the fact the website will be branded as community?
Also, I was thinking about seo too and I know if I was doing a google search and wanted to look for a place where X people convey and discuss matters, I will type ‘forum for X’ rather than ‘community for X’ I might be over thinking it. But then again I over think everything haha
For ours, we call it ‘community’ - because at its heart that is what it is.
We strongly considered calling it ‘deckchairs’ because our main site is called ‘decksender’ and this forum was meant to be more of a relaxing place to shoot the breeze, ask peers for help etc. A more general thing. That name also has some branding with the seaside theme.
Only point of advice is really choose something more general over something more specific (that’s what categories and topics are for) and humans will take specific and turn it into generalised banter at every opportunity.