Why isn't Discourse more frequently recommended as a "community platform"?

This is a wonderful discussion. We certainly are well aware that the complexity of the user experience (both for site admins as well as for community members) is a challenge that we have in front of us (and have had for some time).

As has been mentioned, we have a few goals that are sometimes at odds with each other - we want Discourse to be highly configurable and customizable, and by doing so, we hand over significant control to the admins of each community in defining much of the user experience for their members. At the same time, we want it to be easy for newcomers to understand, but we also have found that experienced users want a fair bit of control over personalizing their own experience.

We have our work cut out for us, but we are putting a fair bit of focus on these problems. In the last release, we put some effort into the site setup experience in particular. For this coming release we have focus areas on improvements to the admin experience more generally, as well as on the extensibility of the platform.

The latter effort is an interesting one as it relates to this conversation. On the one hand, it could be said that it could lead to further increasing complexity, in enabling more customization. But it’s also a goal to enable us to define themes that are better tailored to specific use cases, or even a simpler default experience, while maintaining backward compatibility for existing sites. For example, it’d open the door to more seriously considering ideas like this one: CDCK should develop new default Discourse themes on a regular basis to keep it looking current

I don’t want to get too in the weeds about development process in this topic, but since it’s come up, I think it’s also worth mentioning that with our growth over the past couple of years, Discourse also now includes product managers and designers that are working alongside developers on all of these efforts.

As for how we position open source on the website, it is something we have been discussing. The site has been in a bit of flux as we’ve introduced the basic plan and have been trying to be more forthcoming about what we offer on our enterprise plan. There are a number of options here and we’re trying to lead people towards the one that is likely best for them. I agree it got a bit lost in the mix and deserves to be more discoverable. It is on our pricing page right now under one of the FAQs, but that itself may change as pricing alone is likely not the main reason to choose self hosting.

Lots of stuff to do!

Again, though, I’ve really enjoyed the discussion here and am happy to see how new life can be breathed into a discussion that was started more than a year ago. That’s one of the things I personally love the most about this platform.