What is essential content for a new community?

What content do you find essential for starting a new community?

In Discourse we have the setup wizard that prompts some questions to leave descriptions on the about page and such, but then it is up to you to create the content your users will experience when visiting your site.

For me this step can actually hold back a project, since no one wants to launch a live, empty site. :sweat_smile:

To get past that bump in the process I’m building a content list so I can check off items as I’m setting up new sites. And that’s where your wisdom comes in! :star_struck:

Here is a short list of content to help me get started, please respond with ideas (and linked samples) so I may develop a more full list to help visitors to my communities. :slight_smile:


It’s not really content, but I’d say: some people. The first thing I noticed setting up an instance is that I was missing moderators and even the first users :sweat_smile:


That’s a fine a step (or two) to have in the checklist!

I know the setup wizard always asks to invite moderators, but I don’t at that point: I want to at least provide them with some guidance on what we’re doing, otherwise they also hit a blank site. :slight_smile:

As for users, I normally invite a core group, and I teach them to use the invite features, so I’ll add that to my list!

When do you invite moderators to your community? First thing?


An interesting topic!

I prefer to start with a team so the staff there are established and can then invite users.

I found this blog post helpful too when starting out.


Possibly useful, but it could make Discourse seem overly complicated. If it needs to be copied to a new site, be sure to install the DiscoTOC - automatic table of contents theme component and add a table of contents to the topic.


When I need one. Not earlier. My forum is not that busy and I don’t need any moderators. Same thing as with connected Facebook-group — 25 000 members, really active and I don’t need extra hands.


What I always have, is a Discourse Category. Here I store How to guides, links to official guides, and provide a point for users to provide feedback on the forum or ask for help etc.

Additionally, I have a “Best Practices” Topic, which includes things like how to ask a good question, based on the stack overflow rules.


Yeah, we might break that down into smaller docs, and have that topic serve as an index; then each sub-topic could be copied and pasted as needed… not the most straightforward process, but would be helpful to allow folks to generate their own doc(s) for their community. :thinking:

Definitely don’t want every Discourse community to appear as complicated as what it is capable of. :slight_smile:

Here’s a really great example of a Discourse community using the FAQ topic to explain how it works for their users:

Good idea, I updated the info box there:


In an ideal world, that kind of documentation would be available directly in the Discourse instance in a “help” sidebar. Similar to what Slack do. In the non-ideal real world, copying the docs to a topic on the site makes sense.


This is what I’ve done for my community. It means when people search “How do I embed a video” for example, they get a topic which covers exactly that, and nothing more. If you don’t allow video on your site, then you can just omit such a topic. Additionallity they can just reply to this specific topic if they have an issue with it, documenting only issues which are related to that topic, instead of the mixture of topics a larger guide contains.

A second advantage of this, is that you can cross reference it in multiple larger guides, taking advantage of the oneboxing of other Discourse Topics.

Here’s an example of a Sailing Guide I have where the topics are broken down into separate topics but unified under a “main” guide. In this case, SBF SEE is s topic for one type of License. SBF Binnen is another topic(not seen here) which has exactly the same navigation information. So I maintain one Navigation topic, and link it into both Guides.

Sadly not everything renders well with the oneboxing, but it’s none the less a great way to combine topics, and create a single point of edit, that updates all topics which need to reference that same information.

Completely agree. I find having a Discourse Category better than a sidebar(although it could be accessable with a sidebar) simply because it encourages users to raise issues with the setup of the community, and admins to modify topics to better match their community. For example, replacing default images, with images that relate specifically to their platform.


Surely this depends on niche, but in general most of users never see sidebars. Well, in Europe anyway. Here in northern part most of ordinary jane’s-john’s doesn’t even own a desktop/laptop anymore, they are using phones.

Totally different topic, but most of sites should design layout and UX for smaller screens and after that, if a designer/coder has extra time left, put some effort on desktops/tablets.