Discourse

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MJ Feb 2019 Review

  • Legend: Check.png = exists, Check.pngCheck.png = good, Check.pngCheck.pngCheck.png = great
  • Check.pngQ&A plugin appears to be adequate, but does not have downvotes. Downvotes are important, as a knowledgeable person should ideally be able to downsize bull****. This is important for collaborative learning - and should be developed to approach the usefulness of Stack Exchange and Reddit. Would need to put development time into this.
  • Check.pngCheck.pngCheck.pngRating - appears excellent - [1]
  • Check.pngCheck.pngCheck.pngCommenting plugin - excellent, up with Disqus. [2]
  • Check.pngCheck.pngCheck.pngBug Tracking - a simple wiki/Discourse hack can be done by a Bugtracking or Known Bugs category on the wiki, and embedding a thread on that bug from Discourse, so discussion can happen, and when resolved, thread can be closed. We'd have to see in practice how this looks. That is the simplest way to go without installing yet another pieces of software, and using Discourse and Wiki hold most of the weight, the rest being Wordpress.

Cons

  • Free to try rather than really free? See last con at [3]

OSE Use Case

  • The generic OSE use case for transparency is using the Wiki for embedding all kinds of content, where the wiki is a proven and scalable tool for collaborative development - and a core tool in OSE's usage. With this said, it is useful to have various forms of content embedded in the wiki, so that we don't have to use many different platforms for different functions: we can just embed content from other common platforms. The intent is modular design where content can be reused and mixed throughout OSE's web presence.
  1. Embed individual Discourse threads on wiki pages. This way we upgrade content from wiki pages to live discussion - where content for discussion can be edited right in the wiki page. The intent of this is to improve the use of the Wiki as a development platform so that the wiki is more intuitive. See embed of thread example - [4]. This must allow any single thread from Discourse to be embedded.
  2. Rating of a service or product - in an open source franchise, products/services of collaborators can be rated. A simple tool like the wiki can have a rating feature - without having to use any other software. This is yet another way to make the wiki more functional and user-friendly. See example - [5]
  3. Upvoting - no evidence of Discourse serving this function well compared to Askbot. By upvoting, we mean simply that all the content remains visible, and a single solution is not marked. This allows users to pick nuggets from different answers - while allowing bulk filtering to occur before looking at the answer. From the OSE perspective, marking a question as resolved is not inclusive or abundant. What if someone else has a better solution? It may be that Discourse can be modified to do upvoting readily, or can simulate this function well - but we would have to see in practice if this is feasible.

2018-09 Review

In 2018-09, I (Michael Altfield) had just learned about Discourse as I was working on the phplist project. phplist's forums use Discourse. At the same time, Alex Au recommended to Marcin that we setup a replacement forum using Discourse.

Pros

  1. Very pleasant interface
  2. Very nice functionality ootb. Badges, user trust system for easy moderation, climbing ranks, love, at-calls (@), etc -- co-founder Jeff Atwood also founded Stack Exchange, so expect similar functionality
  3. Very popular. Many, many forums have switched to Discourse over the past several years
  4. Great selection of plugins & integrations (though no decent db/index for searching them) https://meta.discourse.org/c/plugin https://github.com/discourse
    1. ie: replace wordpress comments with a discourse thread. This may or may not be good.
      1. Example wordpress blog post: https://blog.discourse.org/2018/06/understanding-discourse-trust-levels/
      2. Corresponding discourse thread for the comments to the above post: https://meta.discourse.org/t/wp-discourse-dysfunctional-shows-only-start-the-discussion-at/36016
  5. Looks like we can import our content from Vanila https://meta.discourse.org/t/how-to-migrate-from-vanilla-to-discourse/27273
  6. Well-funded org that hosts their project (think wordpress.com) for many of their customers. The good here is that Discorse can pay a salary to devs, unlike many open source projects. But it's worth nothing that people choose to pay for hosting probably because it's Ruby on Rails, and a PIA to self-host.
  7. While not officially supported, it looks like users have setup Discourse behind varnish 4 [1]

Cons

  1. Ruby on rails
  2. They openly state that they're hard to install, and therefore _only_ support installation via a docker container [2]
  3. I'm seriously worried about the security of a project that thinks it's acceptable to use wget -qO- https://get.docker.com/ | sh as a step in their install guide [3]
  4. Discourse explicitly states that they only support newer devices. I'm concerned that means that we may make our content inaccessible to, say, that 6-year-old desktop running windows xp in the machine shop. Indeed, discourse only supports IE 11+, which came with Windows 8.1 in 2013--5 years ago. [4]
  5. If javascript is disabled, the site is read-only. JS is a requirement for posting, replying, etc. But because Discourse also functions as a mailing list, JS-free users can still contribute content in a limited way by replying to threads via email [5]

Neutral

  1. Project has been around for 5 years (initial release in 2013) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discourse_%28software%29

Noteable sites using Discourse

  1. Ubuntu https://discourse.ubuntu.com/
  2. Phplist https://discuss.phplist.org/
  3. Whonix https://forums.whonix.org/
  4. Manjaro https://forum.manjaro.org

See Also

References

Links

  1. Civilized Discourse Construction Kit - positively biased post about Discourse - [6]
  2. https://www.slant.co/options/2789/~discourse-review
  3. https://forums.whonix.org/t/change-whonix-forum-software-to-discourse/1181