Discourse for forums?

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Discourse for forums?

#1 Post by Kaz » Tue Jun 23, 2015 6:02 am

Hey everyone.

So, as we are all (hopefully) aware, we finally made the jump to phpBB 3! (Woo!!)

The problem is (while phpBB is still really nice and reliable) that phpBB is getting old by forum standards. It doesn't have this or that, and it's just bulky all around (looking at you, pages).

Recently, though, I became aware of a couple forum projects: Xenforo and Discourse. Xenforo won't work too well because, well, it's way too expensive. Discourse, though, does look pretty good and we can do a lot with it. Maybe we can use this as our next step in the evolution of our little corner of the internet? It's not perfect, but it does have some really cool things:
  • No more pages (makes discussions easier to track, and everything's on one page)
  • Very easy for noobs to learn, and is quite powerful
  • Looks awesome, and is very easily themable (Twokinds background, anyone?)
  • Really fast
  • Shiny badges
  • User tagging system (@username)
  • Notifications when people reply to your post/thread
  • Live updates of threads (new posts are shown instantly)
The tradeoff would be:
  • No more pages (The Panel Shuffle thread would be a pain to load)
  • Not as much room for expansion
  • Fewer/worse moderation tools (no per-category mods yet, per-board permissions don't really exist, etc)
  • Very hard to set up, and can be annoying to maintain
  • Tagging system can be abused (fixable)
  • Old computers won't be able to really handle it
What do you guys think?

Sorry for making this sound so spammy. I just really think that it might be a good fit for this forum -- provided a couple redesigns are made.

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Re: Discourse for forums?

#2 Post by Vintage » Tue Jun 23, 2015 6:50 am

Kaz wrote:No more pages (The Panel Shuffle thread would be a pain to load)
...I'm not even sure how to react to that. A little alarmed, maybe. The shuffles themselves are the primary reason for me being "active" here, as I fail at most other topics of discussion. Not that the forum revolves around me (quite the opposite), but I would lose a lot of interest if pages weren't supported. Plus, the recent forum update caused a significant disturbance with other forum-goers, therefore this proposed change would be an earthquake comparatively. Of course, I have no technical experience with forum architecture, so my statements go mostly unsupported when I say cosmetics (current layout) are better than efficiency for the general crowd. How big of a learning curve are we talking here, too? Tradition seems to triumph over change around these parts, so adjustment might take a while.

To be frank, I like the current layout (phpBB subsilver2). I believe it gives the forum a unique look. Plus, all the graphics that we're allowed to use contribute to that fact. The only thing I don't quite understand is the bulkiness you're talking about. Could you maybe explain that problem a little more?

Oh, and while I'm at it, here's a sample of what the Discourse forums look like so y'all don't have to go hunting for it. (Random picture I found online)
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Re: Discourse for forums?

#3 Post by Myperson54 » Tue Jun 23, 2015 7:08 am

I would be surprised if these sites didn't have dynamic loading to alleviate the load of a billion images, like Reddit with RES. That said, I'm more worried about getting lost in conversations. I get that I can scroll back to wherever I last read, but I'd rather have the ability to read a topic and come back on the exact same page later. This would be especially useful in the RP board for sure.

Also, do these board support bbcode? Probably not. What about other formatting? Inline images/video/quotes that most people are used to?

I don't actually disagree when you say that aesthetics are more important than efficiency in some cases. Sure, sometimes I want a better way to do something, but if that requires learning a whole new system of navigation, I'm going to have a bad time. Ever tried switching from one operating system to another? OSX to Windows or vice versa, moving between iOS and Android, even going to or from or between different versions of Linux: I haven't had a single transition between OSes in any direction where I wasn't confused and annoyed for a day or so, or more. This would be very similar.

I'm perfectly fine with SubSilver2 on Phpbb, personally, and while I like the idea of Discourse, I don't think our forum is of the right type or fast-paced enough to require it, nor would the potential benefits outweigh the costs.
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Re: Discourse for forums?

#4 Post by Kaz » Tue Jun 23, 2015 7:16 am

The picture you have is pretty old. Ubuntu has a live version which can better represent what the forum can look like (the main categories broken down into subcategories and the like)

There's actually a demo site where people can make accounts and post to see what features it has.
That said, I'm more worried about getting lost in conversations. I get that I can scroll back to wherever I last read, but I'd rather have the ability to read a topic and come back on the exact same page later.
Play with the demo URL. Discourse "remembers" your position so you can come back to the exact post (at least when you click on it from the topic list while logged in)
Also, do these board support bbcode? Probably not.
They do support BBCode, as well as Markdown.

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Re: Discourse for forums?

#5 Post by puredeathly » Tue Jun 23, 2015 7:56 am

Setting up discourse is not as easy as moving the files at the right place. you have to fiddle around with Ruby on Rails and other things (Idk what's aj's view on this but I hate Ruby on Rails because it never works as it should :P) if you don't install it in a docker environment (I don't think we have docker on the server ^^).

I'm not a big fan of Node.js but I worked with NodeBB for quite some time and I really like it.
It is easy to set up and easy to use and it looks very clean and modern.

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Re: Discourse for forums?

#6 Post by aj » Tue Jun 23, 2015 3:53 pm

puredeathly wrote:Setting up discourse is not as easy as moving the files at the right place. you have to fiddle around with Ruby on Rails and other things (Idk what's aj's view on this but I hate Ruby on Rails because it never works as it should :P) if you don't install it in a docker environment (I don't think we have docker on the server ^^).
Based on the fact that a specific minimum kernel requirement is in the Discourse docs, nothing will be done until we're off the OpenVZ based server - It's still on 2.6.x, and because it's openVZ, we can't upgrade the kernel.

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Re: Discourse for forums?

#7 Post by TinyVoices » Tue Jun 23, 2015 7:27 pm

I know that I hate dA for removing pages. I used to memorize what page a specific thing was on, or else know that it was within a certain range of pages. But now that it runs on a "load more" system, it's completely bonkers. A lot of scrolling to look for stuff, and ctrl+f doesn't work because you have to scroll to load. Also, the more you load and attempt to load, the worse the lag gets.

Keep the pages, plox.

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