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Communications Open Source The Internet

Discourse: Next-Generation Discussion/Web Forum Software 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the web-2.0-is-attacking-your-words dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Jeff Atwood has a post on his Coding Horror weblog about his latest project, Discourse, 'a next-generation, 100% open source discussion platform built for the next decade of the Internet.' Along with Coding Horror, Jeff is most well-known for his work on Stack Exchange and its family of related sites. In the same way that he tried to improve Q&A sites, he hopes to make forum/discussion software better with a team of folks he's pulled together for the task. They're using the 'Wordpress model' of offering both open source software and commercial offerings. The software interface is an in-browser app via Ember.js, with a Ruby on Rails and Postgres backend. I wonder if it will ever have an NNTP gateway."
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Discourse: Next-Generation Discussion/Web Forum Software

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  • Interesting idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by meburke (736645) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:41AM (#42805583)

    I just found the link to Discourse on Coding Horror by accident about 20 minutes ago. Then I see it mentioned on /.

    Well, Discourse should get rid of some of my favorite annoyances about forums like /.

    For instance, today there were four good articles that I'd like to comment on, but by the time I get my arguments together, the people who could contribute the most to a meaning ful discussion will have moved on and been drowned out in a flood of idiocy. continuing a thread or an interest ove longer periods of time would acutally contibute to our mutual benefit.

    A couple of things are missing:

    Technical articles and opinions should have a level of proof and logic behind them. Incomplete arguments should be noted, and invalid arguments should be immediately identifiable. Furthermore, authors should be forced to stand on the merits of their arguments rather than some alleged claim to authority such as, "I've been a teacher at a major University for 15 years..." And they should be forced to create psudonyms that don't imply and opinion. (For instance, no one named "Alexander Hamilton" should be allowed on the forum, and certainly not to comment on the Federal Budget.)

    Any other ideas?

  • Re:Interesting idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by meburke (736645) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:52AM (#42805643)

    Another thing about forums like /. that tick me off: I have seen some references to articles and links that have interested me, and even though I've bookmarked lots of them, the bookmarks have sometimes disappeared due to computer crashes, software changes or updates or other reasons, and then I can't find the original article again. Marking it "Interested" on the forum host itself would be great, an adequate search engine behind the forum is better, and both would be terrific! I can go to Microsofts tech forums and find out which topics I researched 10 years ago. (Comes in handy when an old fart like me starts thinking, "Didn't I have to solve a similar problem back in...")

  • i want to see (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:54AM (#42805649)

    more anonymity
    more encryption
    more control over my data

  • Re:Interesting idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stephanruby (542433) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @01:57AM (#42805667)

    Well, Discourse should get rid of some of my favorite annoyances about forums like /.

    Do you really think so? Did you take a look at it? [discourse.org] What's the point of putting all those avatar pictures on each row? Each forum row looks too busy as it is. And why are they trying to do everything with Javascript? In my opinion, they're just repeating the mistake of Slashdot in that area.

    Hopefully, they'll listen to user feedback, and iterate away from what they have now. Their forum is not bad, but for now it's not that great either.

    A couple of things are missing:

    Technical articles and opinions should have a level of proof and logic behind them. Incomplete arguments should be noted, and invalid arguments should be immediately identifiable. Furthermore, authors should be forced to stand on the merits of their arguments rather than some alleged claim to authority such as, "I've been a teacher at a major University for 15 years..." And they should be forced to create psudonyms that don't imply and opinion. (For instance, no one named "Alexander Hamilton" should be allowed on the forum, and certainly not to comment on the Federal Budget.)

    Do you think your advice would also apply to a forum on Legos or Barbie dolls?

  • Re:Interesting idea (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xenobyte (446878) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @03:12AM (#42805943)

    It looks horrifyingly bad. Just looking at their test forum makes me want to run away screaming.

    FidoNet was better.

    Agree. FidoNet was amazingly functional given the technical limitations of the day.

  • by pclinger (114364) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @03:14AM (#42805949) Homepage Journal

    disclosure: I'm the President and CEO of ProBoards, my company creates forum software.

    From TFA: "When I looked at forum software again after leaving Stack Exchange, I was appalled to discover that after four years virtually nothing had changed."

    This is a great sound bite, but unfortuantely is just not true. There is a lot of innovation in the forum space going on. A few recent software releases come to mind that offer new, unique functionality. XenForo, vBulletin 5, and my company's new forum software ProBoards v5 that launches on April 29th.

    I can't speak in depth to our competitor's products, but I can tell you how we have taken forums to the next level:

    -Live Search. Most pages have a search box you can type in, and the threads/posts update live on screen.
    -AJAX pagination - switch between pages without needing to load a full new page.
    -Integrated Notifications. We push content to you, you shouldn't have to seek it out.
    -Integrated mobile site
    -Clean, simple UI (while keeping all functionality available)
    -Enhanced privacy. More control over what you see and who can see you.
    -Activity feeds for staying up to date with your friends on the forum
    -Single signon for all ProBoards forums with the ability to easily switch between forums
    -WYSIWYG editor
    -"Conversations" instead of PMs -- you can have multiple people in a discussion
    -Better moderator tools that make it easier than ever for mods to get stuff done with fewer clicks.
    -We launched a new section on our homepage that shows you all forums you are a member of and information such as how many new messages you have, notifications, if any of your participated topics were updated, and more -- many forums, all on one single page.
    -and a whole lot more.

    You can test these features in our new software yourself at http://support.proboards.com./ [support.proboards.com]

    My main point is this: There is plenty of innovation going on. Go look for it.

  • by marcello_dl (667940) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @03:27AM (#42805993) Homepage Journal

    Why you need usenet?
    Because it is better to focus on a tree of subjects instead of roaming a hundred forums with different logins about the same subjects.

    Usenet needed improvement, not death. The big problems were efficient distribution of articles among servers, and moderation. Both solvable (i'd have left to server/discussion admins to kill articles based on readers feedback, and the option to accept the kill recommendations from other servers with some degrees of trust). It obviously was too free for the interests driving the development of the net, namely advertising, the telcos and media companies.

    One group I used to follow was polluted by very persistent trolls without fantasy, the most prominent one was found to be linked to the telco running the server, YMMV.

    If somebody thinks about reviving a low bandwidth web 1.0 instead of js sites on a handful of bloated browsers, please tell me where do I sign up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @03:29AM (#42806003)

    > You're asking for technology to solve what is essentially social problems. A common mistake amongst geeks.

    I don't think that's entirely true. Sure, you will not solve the social problems via technology, but are these really social problems?

    Just to give an example: If a platform like ./ offered a moderation system in which posts aren't simply upvoted or downvoted, but the platform remembers *who* voted, and lets me "connect" to other users who I think contribute in a meaningful way, and applies a higher factor to their posts *and votes* than to some random poster's votes. Plus points if the system works in a transitive way, i.e. if I "connect" to someone and he connects to someone else, then *that* person's posts/votes are still more important than the masses' votes to me, but not as much as the votes of somebody I directly "connected" to.

    The above is a technical solution, but still sensible (I think) because what it addresses *is* a technical problem -- filtering information. It sure wouldn't stop random people from posting useless brain farts on ./, but it would help me ignore them.

  • Roll your own. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Seumas (6865) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @04:37AM (#42806239)

    I have never felt that packaged forum systems were robust enough or integrateable enough to be worth it. In every situation, I have rolled my own. Including when deploying it for a community of 100k+ users. I'd also much rather roll my own functionality as a project grows into the individual application of the forum rather than go out and grab someone's plugin/module to stick into it and hope it answers my needs.

    Also, what the hell ever happened to nested-threaded discussions? Why is EVERY god damn forum out there in the last decade just this obnoxious flat-thread full of quotes of quotes of quotes of quotes of quotes? Is it because the developers are too lazy to add a minimal amount of recursion in their engine or . . . what?!

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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