Getting Started with this Forum

Welcome, we’re so pleased that you’re here!

Our forums are built in Discourse, a wonderful opensource project and community. We use Discourse as our community building and communications hub. You can imagine it like a shadow of our platform. Everything on the platform has a discussions section like a sexy shadow behind it.

As a new user of Discourse, we hope you will find this site intuitive and clearly structured, but here is some guidance to get you started:

0.5 Making Posts Correctly: Tag-Pages Guide

  1. Basic Terms Used by Discourse
  2. Browsing the Forum
  3. Navigation Tools
  4. Reading Topics
  5. Taking Part in Conversations
  6. Actions and Reactions
  7. Notifications

0.5. Making Posts Correctly (Tag-Pages)

Due to excellent work by @ArtyS on the kanban plugin we can begin switching the entire forum to run on tag-pages.

We’ll keep the category structures for now, just design navigation of the forum around tags.
What that means for you in general use is to be very specific with the tags you use when creating a post as those will determine where your post is listed within the forum. One of the biggest advantages of this is a fluid multi-level and cross-team experience.

For example:
You can now create a collaboration on a task simply by tagging it in both like this:

‘ux, reactjs, sprint’

. Now it appears as a task for discussion in both teams ‘sprint’ list.

You can also use top level overviews like this:

‘ux, reactjs, web-dev, backlog’.

Now clicking web-dev will show all dev related tasks in all teams to give a quick, powerful overview.

To make things even cooler you can also spin-off sub teams whilst remaining in the main team, like this:

‘web-dev, ux, homepage, backlog’

Now you can have a few team members in the UX team collaborating on the homepage and still being available and engaged in the wider UX team.

Probably at some point an existing task in their ‘homepage’ sub-team will benefit from some UI or Graphic Design support - often its easier to create a new task/thread, but if not it’s still easy - just add a UI, Graphic Design tag to your discussion and it’ll appear in their Kanban board. A comment saying hello and explaining what you need support with in that thread/task would be a good idea at this point as new community members from a different team will be coming in to read whats going on.

1. Basic Terms Used by Discourse (Nomenclature)

Here are some very basic terms that will be helpful to keep in mind as you use Discourse or read this guide:
  • Topic:
    The collection of messages grouped together in a meaningful conversation, with a title, listed in a category, beginning with an Original Post, and including all replies in chronological order.

    Elsewhere this might be called a ‘thread’ but Discourse uses ‘topic’ since thread is used for linked elements that can go off in many different directions (and be confused with programming terms).

  • Post:
    Each element of a topic is referred to as a post. Each post has its own author and can be moved to a different topic if necessary, or even become the start of a new topic.

  • Original Post (or OP):
    The first post in any topic. This is key since it determines the focus of the topic and is what the title and tags will link to.

  • Category:
    The primary means of organizing topics. Each topic is placed in exactly one category. Categories have permissions which can restrict which users can create, reply, and see its topics. You can also configure notification preferences per category or even mute them as explained below. Categories are a similar concept to a ‘forum’ on other sites.

  • Tag:
    A marker placed on a topic to describe it. While a topic can only have one category, it can have multiple tags. New tags can be created by some users. You can read more about the differences between tags and categories.

  • User:
    Discourse sites may be private or public for anyone to read, but you will always be required to register in order to create posts and record any actions such as bookmarking, liking, tagging, and flagging. Most site activity, therefore, is based around registered Users

Click here for the full Discourse Nomenclature (in progress)

2. Browsing the Forum

Topic lists

By default, the Discourse homepage will show all Latest conversations in the community but you can filter this list in a number of ways:

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  • By category: in the menu line, click the ‘all categories’ title and a list of all the categories appears.

  • By tag: in the menu line, click the ‘all tags’ title and a list of all the tags are used will appear.

  • By level of activity: if you click on ‘Top’ the conversation topics will be listed in order of most activity (views and replies) for a specific time period. You can choose whether this is for all time, or select a specific period such as quarter, month, week or just today.

  • By what’s ‘New’ to you: by default, new topics are those created in the last 2 days that you have not opened yet to keep the list fresh and relevant. New topics show a small blue dot next to the topic title

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  • By what topics are “Unread”: by default, unread topics are those that you have previously opened and read for at least 4 minutes, and that have new posts (replies) submitted to them. Unread topics show a number in a blue circle indicating how many new posts are in the topic.

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See who is participating

There are several ways to see who is involved in topics.

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On the homepage you will see a selection of avatars (profile pictures) of:

  • the user who started the topic (always the first photo);
  • a selection of the most active participants;
  • and, who created the most recent post (usually the last photo).
  • in some cases, the first photo has a blue border or blue halo to indicate that the original poster is also the most recent poster
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The box at the bottom of the OP tells you; who created the post and when, gives a count of the replies and views in this topic to date, and a display of the avatars of the most frequent participants.

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3. Navigation Tools

  • For Search, the Menu, or your User page, use the icon buttons at the upper right .

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4. Reading Topics

A healthy community needs members to be posting new content, but this activity is not everything. Readers are the true indicators of how healthy the community is. What’s the point of posts that no-one reads? Discourse encourages and tracks reading habits so community managers can keep a healthy balance.

Keep scrolling

Click a topic title and read down the list of replies in chronological order, following links or previewing replies and quotes as you go. Use your mouse to scroll the screen, or use the timeline scroll bar on the right which also shows you how far through the conversation you’ve read. On smaller screens, select the bottom progress bar to expand it.

Jump back in

  • Selecting a topic title will take you to your last read post in the topic. To enter at the top ↑ or bottom ↓ instead, click the reply count or last reply date.

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  • Topics above the light red line on a list are new or updated since your last visit. If you have read all the way to the end of a topic, the title will be light grey instead of black.

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Sometimes conversations are clearer if topics are split, where posts are moved to a more appropriate topic, or two related topics are merged. If a post is moved, a link will appear that will allow readers to jump to that comment wherever it has been moved to, and the person who posted it will also be notified.

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At the end of the OP you will also see lists of related topics that link to the one you are reading

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5. Taking Part in Conversations

Replying

Press any Reply button to open the editor panel at the bottom of your browser. You can continue reading (and even search or navigate to different topics) while you compose your reply.

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Discourse shows all posts in the order they are published. It does not make you chase down multiple threaded paths. However, it still gives you lots of ways to follow the context of conversations.

To reply to a specific post in a topic, clicking the grey Reply button at the end of each post and your reply is linked to that post.

  • If your reply is the next one published after the post you are replying to, this will appear next in chronological order
  • If yours is NOT next, then two things happen after your post is published:
    • Your post will include a new link in its header with an image to show what this is ‘in reply to’ - clicking this link displays that previous post for context next to your reply
    • The original post includes a count of replies at the bottom - clicking this link displays the content of the replies

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Drafts

Drafts will automatically be saved as you write. If you minimise the editor or navigate to a different topic, the editor might disappear. To open a draft, return to the topic you were replying to or click the highlighted bar at the bottom of your browser, and the editor will reappear with your draft.

Quoting

To insert a quote, select the text you wish to quote, then press the Quote button that pops up. There is no need to quote the a whole message, it helps to be specific. Repeat this for multiple quotes even from different posts and different users. The quoted text will point to their original source.

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Mentioning

To notify someone about your reply, mention their name. Type @ to begin selecting a username. This search will also search the name fields in case you don’t know a particular username.

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Emoji

To use standard Emoji, just type : to match by name, or traditional smileys ;)

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Alternatively, click on more to see a complete list of emoji to select from.

Oneboxes (Link Previews)

Read details about this feature in: https://meta.discourse.org/t/rich-link-previews-with-onebox/98088

To generate a summary for a link, paste it on a line by itself. To start a topic with a link, paste the link into the title field.

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Formatting

Your reply can be formatted using simple HTML, BBCode, or Markdown:

This is <b>bold</b>.
This is [b]bold[/b].
This is **bold**.

For more formatting tips, try our 10 minute tutorial.

6. Actions and Reactions

There are action buttons at the bottom of each post:

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  • To let someone know that you enjoyed and appreciated their post, use the like button. Share the love!

  • Grab a copy-pasteable (permalink) link to any reply or topic via the link button.

  • Use the button to reveal more actions. Flag to privately let the author, or the site staff, know about a problem. Bookmark to find this post later on your profile page.

7. Notifications

When someone is talking directly to you — by replying to you, quoting your post, mentioning your @username , or even linking to your post, a blue number will immediately appear over your profile picture at the top right.

When you have been sent a Personal Message you will receive this in your Inbox and a green number will appear over your profile picture to the left.

Click your profile image to scroll through all your notifications .

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You can optionally receive all these notifications as push notifications to your desktop browser or Android device. Simply allow the site to send you notifications through your browser when it asks permission.

Don’t worry about missing a reply – you’ll be emailed any notifications that arrive when you are away.

If you want, you can get notified about other things happening on the site as well, either at the category or topic level.

Topic notifications

You can change your notification level for any individual topic via the notification control at the bottom, and right hand side, of each topic.

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Category notifications

Notification level can also be set per category. To change any of these defaults, see your user preferences, or visit the category page, and use the notification control above the topic list, on the right side.

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Thanks to Robert McIntosh for creating this wonderful getting started guide

https://discourse.angusmcleod.com.au/k this is a very awesome idea/plugin for knowledge-based articles like these. Kinda creating the separation between an empty looking thread at first glance and “oh this isn’t a conversation, this is a destination for KNOWLEDGE” concept. Like a Wiki. Without the visual clutter or confusion of comments!

@danyalamriben if we close replies then our documentation becomes fixed. It doesn’t progress when others find better ways to do things, or it becomes outdated.

I think the plugin you found before looks better, and allows people to comment improvements which can be added to the top post.

Perhaps we can change the default view to be the 1st comment in documentation pages. We can also enable voting on comments to allow users to decide what is a good idea and should be included in the 1st post, and see the best alternate ideas quickly.

Another idea of a different flavor is the plugin which makes the category operate like stackoverflow.com. that would give us a deeply evolving and community led documentation. Most big sites do this now rather than paying a support team (Facebook for example). Often it’s infuriating as you can’t reach decision makers. In a platform building towards everyone being a decision maker, that might actually be a really intuitive solution.

I don’t think our documentation should be fixed.

@danyalamriben I’m begging to think that the documentation should be a subcategory nestled in each category, given that users will usually arrive directly to the category it should perhaps hit their awareness right away so they instantly know where it is when they need it. Rather than its own silo as it is now

If you agree that’s an easy change to make

1 Like

I do agree with the more relevant docs being located closer to the target category. I think there’s more to discuss regarding the documentation in general though because I think that knowledge base being more of a document than a thread doesn’t negate the ability to take suggestions

‘Suggestions’ is what bothers me. We’re building a decentralised governance community so who are the suggestions to? The site admins can moderate that I guess.

As we expand we need an adaptive solution where the best ideas float to the top. A community knowledgebase would serve that, although perhaps we’d need both?