Writing Feature

I’m an admin at NaNoWriMo. We are looking at ways that we can allow our participants to write directly on the forums similar to the functionality on our Young Writers Program site. Maybe a LibreOffice or Dropbox plug in so they can save it offsite but write it on our forums.


We do allow end users to download all the content they created on the site using the “Export your data” button in preferences → account.

I am not aware of a “sync” style plugin.

Maybe the workflow of downloading when they are done and then transforming the CSV into something they can print would be a good approach?

Another possibility may be data explorer query where users type in their username, but with that any user could export any other users stories.


We’re looking for something like this. The ability for our participants to write their projects on the forums (without it being an actual post) On our YWP site the kids can write their novels directly on the site, and then back up and save offsite.


If they aren’t going to share it what’s the point of writing it on the site? They could write it as a draft, perhaps?

Have you got a budget? I can imagine a wide range of solutions if there’s a budget, but without knowing the budget it’s hard to know what to suggest.

If they were to write in markdown (and if they aren’t, discourse is a terrible tool), a plugin or some markdown editor could convert it to pdf. Some editors might also be able to pull the latest version from the raw post endpoint. Or maybe a clever github action could pull all of the posts on a topic (maybe even a private topic) into files that could then become a pdf or static site.


Yeah this is going to require a bunch of custom work to get going, contact team@discourse.org with a budget and spec, we can see what can be done.

Keep in mind, as @pfaffman said: post is is a very important implementation detail in Discourse, it can be a PM or post in a private category, but without having it as glue a lot of stuff falls apart.


I don’t handle the Young Writer’s Program, but as a moderator of the regular site’s Discourse I have some insight here.

NaNoWriMo, or better known as National Novel Writing Month is a series of writing events that happen in April, July, and November of each year. It’s a self-challenge, and one thing the users ask for a lot is a way to write their stories directly on the site/forums so that they can easily and automatically update their progress.

The YWP program does this because, as the name implies, it’s used by kids and teens, sometimes independently, and sometimes as part of their school curriculum. Most users know this function exists on the YWP site and regularly ask why it doesn’t on the regular site.

For the record, I actually do sometimes write on the forums in self-PM, and later have a tool that will sync the Markdown to a Scrivener project, so I get why users want that functionality.


So that sounds like the free solution. You want exactly the same thing but not to have it in a PM?

Personally, I’d be very wary of writing anything important in a message or draft. I’d want something with several levels of undo, and preferably something which automatically saved. More the sort of thing you get with an online word processor, not the sort of thing you get from a forum.


Sounds like what they want is some kind of hybrid PM/wiki.

FWIW, I’ve been reading the O’Reilly GIT book and one of their ongoing examples seems like it might be what they’re after.

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Well, I just tested that I could send a PM to myself and make it a wiki (though I’m an admin on that site, so something special might need to happen to make that work for all users).

I was able to turn a PM to myself (on a non-staff test account) into a wiki on my testbed server.

And if I enabled viewing edits I could see some of the change history, but oddly enough only for the last edit. (These were minor edits, maybe they were treated as in-line edits?)

Followup: Even if I do a bigger change, I still only see the history of the last edit.

Followup2: Even as the admin I only see one edit.


Yes, what we are looking for is more of a word processor/google docs setup.

Literally just a place where they can write their novels, or other projects on our forums and then back up and save them offsite. Not anywhere near as fancy as that picture. Maybe in their profile, there is a toggle to go into their own personal writing space, and if they wanted they could share their work in a very specific thread, like our Critiques and Feedback category

It’s what the users want, yes. I’m perfectly happy doing what I do, but I also mostly use a custom client that lets me easily switch between my test accounts when posting so I’m not exactly the “typical” user in any sense of the word. :slight_smile:

We don’t want it to be in a PM. As Claudia mentioned she has access to a few things our typical participants don’t, so using the PM system works for her in that regard, but it wouldn’t work for our 200,000 or so participants.