Which Discourse features are most valuable to you as a community manager?

Hi, I just happened to read today about Discourse’s Timed Topics. What a great feature! This will definitely help with maintaining a consistent content calendar. It is much easier to pre-write posts a few days (or weeks) in advance, have time to sit on them and improve them, and know they are going to go out on at a specified time.

So I thought I’d put it out there: in your role as a community manager, what features of Discourse are most helpful to you - and why?

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Flags! Having a simple queue of things for mods to look through is super handy.

Watching Categories I appreciate how granular the options are for watching categories, so I can just get an alert when there’s a new topic (but not EVERY new reply).

Logs Not super exciting, but very useful and critical in some cases.

Staff Notes Really handy when you’ve got lots of folks having multiple interactions with users.

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I love:

  • Splitting topics. So useful.
  • Permissions framework
    • so good you can allow veterans to edit, whilst blocking newbs but allowing them to read, very useful in some circumstances
    • hide categories from people who aren’t logged in/don’t have an account
  • Wikis
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Whispers and staff notes for me.

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I like:

Flags: As a community manager, the flagging system is a useful feature, it helps keep trolls out, lets us moderate easily and effectively, and best of all it keeps watching 24/7 and does some of the moderation automatically

Banners/Pinned Topics: Useful for promoting events and changes easily in just a few clicks.

Wikis

Staff Notes/Whispers: Useful for private staff interaction.

Badges Super handy, badges show sense of achievement, so new users can contact them for help in the future.

Logs I find logs very useful and critical as a manager, if there is a problem in the future, I check the logs for any suspected problems.

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Trust Levels are by far the most groundbreaking feature for me.

  • It’s an incredibly elegant deterrent of human-powered spam
  • It makes it more difficult for new well-intentioned users to make a bad first impression just because they’re overly excited (resulting in excessive link sharing, mass posting etc.)
  • Creates an “engagement funnel” similar to the widely used sales funnel, making it very easy for CMs to tailor their outreach strategies to different tiers of users. (May be a creepy comparison to some, but a sales funnel done with good intentions is nothing more than a structured process for answering the question “are we a good fit?”)
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My favorite feature, both as a user and as a community manager, is “Your topic is similar to…”.

As a user, this often helps me find answers when searching for my question didn’t quite find results.

But the feature really “shines” (even though it’s mostly invisible!) for community managers: we know a lot of users don’t search before posting. By suggesting similar topics, Discourse not only drastically cuts on repetitive topics (by comparison, Facebook Groups are littered with the same thing asked over and over), but often helps new users find what they’re looking for without taking time from others, and without waiting for a response. Instant gratification win-win.

This feature is genius. Thank you Discourse. I’m really surprised competing platforms like Vanilla Forums don’t have this feature in core.

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Yes and this causes users to get lazy and avoid search because they are so used to the Facebook situation and just “jerk-posting”.

The Discourse situation is much much better but I still find myself dealing with many users who are to used to Facebook style interactions, so sometimes there has to be some explicit effort by moderators to remind people.

That said it’s not obvious that the Discourse interface can go any further here. There are plenty of hints!: perhaps a bouncing tool tip on the search icon when you hover over the New Topic button?! :sweat_smile:

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Right and I was just discussing this in some previous replies today about “why do users keep posting duplicate topics over and over?”

It’s a very difficult problem, and honestly the main solution is to make it much more difficult to post new topics, at least in certain categories… lots more friction.

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