Discourse is growing rapidly into the WordPress of online communities

Discussion in 'Forum Software' started by R0binHood, Jan 11, 2018.

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  1. R0binHood

    R0binHood Fan

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    Prompted by this thread on XF.com I started researching more into discourse this afternoon and I'm quite impressed with what I've been reading.

    Here's what I wrote in the that thread to begin with, and then after I had done some more research along with a few extra thoughts I had when creating this post:

    I think it's pretty good, and has a fair few decent built in features than XF lacks. I've seen some very good active forums built on it.

    There's a good built in newsletter that sends out emails with recent topics, and it even includes images, providing quite an enticing email to encourage users to click through and visit.

    It's got desktop browser notifications.

    I like that you can include emoji just by typing shortcodes and it will auto suggest and complete them for you.

    The link expansion can be quite useful.

    Built in community moderation is useful.

    It's got a decent chat plugin that works quite well and follows you around in the nav bar so you can access it from any page.

    I never noticed the official App before, that looks good and enables push on mobile. Something we're sorely lacking on XF sites. It looks like it only works for Discourse hosted forums though.

    Not cheap to go the hosted route at $1200 a year.

    But they managed to get a lot of the basics for a cross platform message board working really well, and a ton of useful features out of the box, if the app is good that could end up being pretty good value.

    It looks like they've got a decent selection of 1st party plugins now too that I hadn't seen before

    Standard:
    • Akismet anti-spam
    • Solved — mark a reply as the solution
    • Slack — real time chat notifications
    • Cakeday — celebrate join date or birthday
    • Google AdSense / DFP
    • Patreon integration

    Advanced:
    • Data Explorer — run live SQL queries and ad-hoc reports
    • Assignment — assign a topic to staff for handling
    • Topic Voting — vote up favorite topics
    • Staff Notes — annotate user accounts
    • Canned Replies — automate common staff replies
    • MathJax — detailed math annotations
    • General oAuth 2.0 and LinkedIn login support

    The app will by why it's taking off on on mobile communities, looks like they've added better oboarding to it in the latest release too, another good feature.

    I remember when they first started out 5 years ago, it was only a small 2 man team, it seems they're growing pretty darn fast with 20 employees now.

    I decided to look through Wikipedia an seems their hosting model is working pretty well for them, as of 8 months ago they were taking in $125k per month and anticipated being at $160K per month by 2018. (Interesting read with lots of real numbers about the company as they grew)

    Good quote here too on how they perceive themselves growing into the WordPress of communities. Sounds like a good idea.

    Some interesting info on the app here, it looks like it uses OneSignal for Push.

    Honestly, after doing all this research and realising they have a mobile app I'd make them a serious contender if I was starting a new community. If they end up with a plugin repo as good as WordPress it could end up being fantastic.

    The only thing I see it currently lacking to really compete with Facebook Groups is that there's no video upload and after reading some recent threads on their forum it doesn't seem to be something they're looking to add to the core of the hosted platform imminently.

    I wonder what DigitalpointDigitalpoint's commercial forum cookie tracker would look like if it included Discourse. The problem is it would have have to only track sites hosted on the Discourse servers, as the software is free and open source so there will be a lot of non-commercial sites out there. To be accurate it would need to only count the hosted the commercial hosted ones.
     
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  2. pierce

    pierce Habitué

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    Onesignal? *Pushes privacy alarm button"

    Honestly, installing discourse is quite different to the lamp stack so I can understand why the hosted option is popular.

    An old quote replace regex for discourse.

    When you realise you need to use regex you now have 2 problems instead of one.
     
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  3. haqzore

    haqzore Habitué

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    Really interested in a cookie tracker to see usage statistics that include this and similar platforms.
     
  4. R0binHood

    R0binHood Fan

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    Even if it wasn't possible to track which Discourse sites were commercial paying clients hosted on the Discourse servers, I imagine it would be possible to track site migrations and the growth of that platform in general in comparison to the other platforms.

    Seems like it's definitely one to watch at the rate their growing and with their philosophy of becoming Wordpress for communities. I can totally see that working.

    I do really quite like one Discourse site I visit regularly, and it's grown very quickly indeed recently.
     
  5. Pete

    Pete Developer

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    I wonder if it still has some of the bugs I saw a couple of years ago where you could bring a 4GB VPS down with a single carefully crafted post.
     
  6. R0binHood

    R0binHood Fan

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    I'd be surprised if it was still susceptible to a bug that's many years old. Was it reported so it could be actioned and fixed?
     
  7. Pete

    Pete Developer

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    It was fixed and found to be broken in a different way shortly thereafter. I assume it's been mostly fixed at this point but it's still fairly easy to do stupid things with their weird mashup of HTML, bbcode and Markdown all at the same time.

    I also wonder if the auto-give-moderation-powers has been changed yet either.
     
  8. pierce

    pierce Habitué

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    Isn't discourse brought to us by the same people of coding horrors?
     
  9. Pete

    Pete Developer

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    Yup. And is full of a fair few along the way. Plus a lot of 'Jeff knows best', which is really funny when Jeff decides to join a newly moved-to-Discourse community as a moderator and moderates on top of how the existing moderation team handled things. Like splitting topics, moving topics and replying to existing moderators with meme images in an attempt to be funny, or just more accurately enforcing his idea of what forums should look like (no long topics, amongst other things)
     
  10. R0binHood

    R0binHood Fan

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    Okay, so slight bug report here first of all - I clicked the link from my alert drop down to Pete's recent post and his post had been marked as 'Also Wondering' by me already, which is super weird.

    Going back to your post though Pete, why do you say their approach is a weird setup of HTML, bbcode and Markdown? Genuine questions, I don't know why any of that matters, all I know is they seem to have tried to take a modern live javascript driven approach to loading new and recent content quickly, which seems to work quite well. Especially in this particular instance where we have yourself, myself and pierce replying, I'm getting alerts as I'm composing and I'm having to open multiple windows to see what's going on before I submit my final reply.

    piercepierce, yeah, Jeff Attwood is a co founder, and originally of Coding Horrow and Stack Overflow
     
  11. pierce

    pierce Habitué

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    Hmm don't know if id appreciate that!
     
  12. Pete

    Pete Developer

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    I'd like to think Jeff has moderated his behaviour (pun intended) but imagine that this was a community where Jeff actually offered the admin money to move off Discourse...

    The Daily WTF are... not to be messed with (and soon moved to NodeBB which feels less broken)
     
  13. R0binHood

    R0binHood Fan

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    Okay yeah that sounds weird, but how many communities is he actually doing that too?

    Surely this isn't some random commercial forum that has signed up to their platform?

    I don't know the guy and have no affiliation, but it seems like a very weird anecdote.

    So what if has an idea on how he envisions forums should be. That's kind of his job as a forum dev, no?

    Even if a forum has moved their platform, he has no right to join the staff ranks unless the other forum admins grant him access.

    So any sites he's trying to impose his ideals upon must have surely already made a decision to make him an admin, no?

    Okay, so this was an isolated public case where he pissed a forum he was a member off then? Or he was created a moderator of?

    Then they fell out and he wanted them off the platform?

    It seems there's a lot of info missing here. I'm not doubting you, just not quite grasping the whole picture here from what you've posted.
     
  14. pierce

    pierce Habitué

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    Hmm infinite scrolling...

    That doesn't sound like something id want.

    Some threads on my site are near 1000 pages long...
     
  15. pierce

    pierce Habitué

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  16. haqzore

    haqzore Habitué

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    It's far better than pages. It wouldn't load 1000 pages at once, but a set amount automatically once you scroll to the end.

    It removes the pointless task of clicking to the next page.
     
  17. pierce

    pierce Habitué

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    What about when your regular and xenforo and the like bring you to the newest post.

    I actually read threads backwards sometimes particularly on a developing or evolving story?
     
  18. Pete

    Pete Developer

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    He was an admin of the community "while it was getting set up" and then decided he would play moderator as well. Without being asked. It continued even after being asked to stop. It took the moderators threatening to quit to get Jeff to stop doing things. Note that their team being admins is normal for their hosted environments and even for some of the self hosted stuff as TDWTF was, and for a while was done automatically on install. I don't know if it still does, but I'm pretty sour over the experience, and it's not like Discourse was particularly good then, it was a server hog and drained mobile battery so fast with all its JavaScript stuff.

    Then of course there were the incidents where bugs were reported, declared not bugs by Jeff, declared bugs by other members of the team and finally most people from TDWTF were subsequently banned for the next 300 years. Not even kidding, there are people with ban messages until 2290 or similar.
     
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  19. pierce

    pierce Habitué

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    So your saying the software is good, but the management of said software is a bit iffy?
     
  20. Pete

    Pete Developer

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    I'm saying that at the time, the management was a huge problem and the software was usable but buggy and legitimate bugs were dismissed as users not doing it how Jeff envisaged and therefore wrong.
     
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