Discourse: Why and How

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#1

Why me?

I could not find any writings that addresses these common (on the IRC forum) questions:

  • What problem does Discourse solve?
  • What does Discourse do well?
  • Where can we improve Discourse?
  • How do we make suggestions for Discourse?

So, @jwf suggested that I open a pagure ticket and I thought it would be good to discuss the intent of the ticket here instead of in Pagure because:

  • Pagure is designed to facilitate and track source control activities, not distill requirements.
  • Discourse allows editing in place, so a comment can be corrected/improved, without messing up the sequence.
  • The discussion can be cross-referenced with other topics that might not have a place in Pagure.

I don’t know why CommOps selected Discourse. I was not involved in the selection of Discourse. IRL a few years ago I had to solve a problem at work and learned about the structure of communications and how tools address those structures. I can speculate why Discourse is useful in the context of CommOps.

So, why Discourse and not …(any of the existing tools)?

Discourse is designed for moderated one:many discussions that are the core of the CommOps mission. It’s possible that other applications might work as well.

Discourse is an open-source project under active development which includes some of the original Stack overflow developers. The project is relatively mature (ie: several iterations of a commercial release, multi-platform client support, public docker images, etc). The source code uses the conventional Ruby/Gem ecosystem and the application can be customized and expanded.

What does Discourse do well?

Discourse offers voting, so answers can be upvoted based on count AND on voter reputation. For example, an FAQ section could include multiple answers, where the best answers would be upvoted.

Discourse integrates the content so that it is one corpus and can be searched/referenced using different criteria. Even post facto Also, the discussion can be cross-referenced with topics that might not have a place in Pagure.

Discourse facilitates delegation of auth activities such as access levels to individual forums with read/write/moderate privileges.

Discourse allows editing in place, so a comment can be corrected/improved, without messing up the sequence.

  • I noticed in the comments section that @sanja will link others to this post. …If this were a mailing list I would be crying in my pillow at night because I did a careless job on the first iteration. Instead, I can make an effort to tidy up the language and improve the examples from time to time.

Where can we improve Discourse?

Ideally this section would include a link to issues tagged “Discourse-suggest” or something like that.
Some topics that are popular at the moment include:

  • Greater ability to “integrate” mailing lists
  • Improve the display of sub-threads in email
  • Improved search
  • Integrate the voting points with the Fedora badges
  • Federation with other Fedora forums

How do we make suggestions for improving Discourse?

Someone with more CommOps experience would be able to address the internal process for this.


#2

Thanks, @blaise! Definitely going to link to this post in various places.


#3

Thanks for taking the time to write this up, @blaise! I’m going to link this as a resource in the future too. :slightly_smiling_face: