What is the best way to run a support channel?

After a long time trying fruitlessly to get my users to use the #site-feedback category, the addition of Discourse Chat makes me wonder how to set up something more effective.

The problem

I think that the major impediment for folk is not wanting to look dumb on a Forum in perpetuity. And also, for newbies posting on a Forum is a pretty daunting task (us experienced souls forget this). I find this especially so with my relatively non-technical userbase who are pobably having their first online forum experience.

The solution

A channel gives the allure of a more private way to do this. And as a community manager, I love that I can move a chat to the Support (what I’ve renamed my site-feedback category) Category if it needs to be searchable (with the consent of the punters).

But I’m not sure how to do the setup.

:discourse:'s approach

Currently meta.discourse.org has Chat #support which allows anyone to join. I’m not so sure I like this as

  1. There is some friction for new users (is it okay to join this?)
  2. Once they have joined, they have to unjoin or mute to stop getting the little blue ‘there is action here’ colour thing
    • currently the UI is tricky for this (hopefully to be improved shortly)
    • many users will just leave it on their channel list

Alternate approach

Have a channel which autojoins @everyone.

  1. Great for accessibility
  2. Terrible for always advertising activity
    • I’m not sure how much this matters with the default Only for mentions


  • What has worked well for you on this front?
  • Have you got an effective support channel?
  • Are there other approaches that might be more effective?
  • Can I force my @moderators to have notifications on for the support channel (without impersonating them)?

Have you tried throwing a link in the navigation which opens a prepopulated PM to a support mailbox?

That’s our usual go-to and it’s very effective.


Where do you put it? And what do you label it as?

I’d love to see an example or two!!

Historically in header links, banners (for new users) and in any intro posts. Consistency is key, so we would only offer one avenue for support and signpost it as clearly as possible.