Discourse mods and site testers

This is a new Discourse installation, and we’re experimenting with settings and plugins. If you have experience with Discourse, or are interested in being a temporary mod for the first few weeks, let me know. (Feedback on the rest of the humanetech.com site is also warmly welcome.)

:wave: Hi. I’m from the Discourse team. If you or other members have questions about Discourse please feel free to loop me in here.

That said, general purpose feature requests are better served on https://meta.discourse.org/ where the whole community & team can weigh in and follow up as needed.


Thanks, Erlend, great to have you here!

Currently we are mainly thinking about how to make the discourse interface itself more attention-preserving.

I do have a couple suggestions:

Right now there is a notification which pops up over the profile picture when there is a new message/response. I appreciate that it’s blue in color as opposed to the more urgent red or orange, but I think it would be even more attention-friendly if that notification just wasn’t there. Or maybe make it active only for direct messages (not post replies) if that’s possible. Additionally, the bright blue New! that pops up when a thread has new posts is pretty intrusive. Basically anything you can do to “de-metricate” the experience would be great!

We are definitely well aligned here. I see you’re already doing various theming experiments. Are you aware that Discourse supports themes? If you published an open source theme with your attention-preserving tweaks that could be a great way to bring more attention to these practices.

Keep in mind this notification will only happen if you Watch a topic. If you merely Track it, it will just appear in your Unread page. Being quoted, mentioned or replied to will however always trigger a blue notification as there’s no good replacement for making such updates discoverable.

What would you recommend instead? As mentioned above, the Humane Tech community could serve as an excellent testing ground for less intrusive UX, so step one here would be to change this with CSS in your theme.

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How good to hear. Is there a repository for popular themes? I was hoping to find existing themes to try, and ended up combining the best ones I found with a quick web search. I’m not great at CSS styling, if we have a designer who wants to try out different themes that would be welcome.

Some sort of calm-tech design that uses gradual gradients rather than popups, might help.

I think the tutorial could be done in a way that makes the user feel more in control. Currently, the discobot invites you into a message chain with the promise of a “gift” without being clear that this is the tutorial. There’s no way to pause the tutorial except to just stop replying, which feels rude even though I know it’s just a program.

Maybe be more clear that this is a tutorial and don’t nudge users to do it, and while it’s fun to have a very “human” chat bot, you should do your best to liberate people from any subconscious expectations that come along with that.


You can check out all the available themes and “theme components” (basically small theme-mods) here: https://meta.discourse.org/c/theme

Hopefully some day we’ll have a proper theme directory, but it’s still early days for our themes features.

Best two themes to look at would be:

Thanks. I agree, in its current iteration discobot is too much chatbot and too little guided introduction. Right now it’s in the Good Enough camp but I’m sure we’ll revisit this eventually.

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What is discourse? Is this an extension of Humantech?

Hi @healthyswimmer, Discourse is the software that runs this forum. Discobot is a bot related to it that you can ask tutorial questions, I think. Probably @metasj can tell you more on that :slight_smile:

Do you mind to delete the other topic on Discobot ( Discobot- real person? ) to keep the topic list clean?

Sorry I don’t understand. Those topics to a non tech person seem totally unrelated. Sometimes I feel like this site is just another tech site that isolates people from each other. We don’t speak the same language;)

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Ha ha, don’t worry. I got confused myself a bit. This topic is asking for moderators and testers for this (Discourse) forum and is therefore in Site feedback category. It is a technical topic.

Now I thought (not sure) that @metasj was testing with adding discobot to help new users, and you were refering to that.

However I’ll mix topics now and give you this link: https://blog.discourse.org/2017/08/who-is-discobot/ :wink:

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Thanks for your response. I seek out this forum because our community is too tech heavy.

For example I want to talk to people on how to load pictures on the yearbook site at my daughters school… back in the day people used to gather together in person to learn things together but now people want to email to figure things out. I’m a conversationalist by nature so this new world is so hard to live in… anyways- learning how to use something via tech Avenue is depressing!!

It’s a surprise and a total treat to have one person have a conversation longer than 5 minutes face to face once in a week. Break rooms at the hospital I work in have people buried in cell phones etc… I should start a thread on that one-


I just looked at discobot- it’s a great concept but I’m a little concerned about creating a “person” to be what I want them to be to interact. It seems impersonal if that makes sense-

I agree its a bit counter-intuitive to what humane tech stands for. Personally I rather have a good explainer page :slight_smile:

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4 posts were split to a new topic: UX feedback for Discourse

12 posts were split to a new topic: Moderation: why was my comment / account moderated?

I hate the “you’re posting too much to quickly” blocker. You wrote “That helps keep overall discourse a steady flow among people with varying amounts of time to invest.” I think “keeping the steady flow among people by limiting those who wish to contribute more is a bad idea for engagement”. and "why do you want to keep a steady flow among people with varying amounts of time to invest? that sounds like a bad idea from the first sentence from my User Experience design perspective. I usually try to build systems that allow people to contribute as much as they want when they want. "

I’ve seen this design solution anti-pattern (or call it a pattern if you think it works) before. It’s generally the result of a single or small number of mods getting overwhelmed with reading everything and it solves that problem for the mod well but at great inconvenience to users. Also sometimes the productivity limiting goals of the time outs drive people away which makes the mod’s job easier. Doing less is always easier, but why not just close down the site if your goal is lower mod maintenance efforts? sometimes your most valuable contributor have more bandwidth than the mods? the solution isn’t to lower maximum bandwidth, it’s to increase the number or capabilities of the mods. Ideally you should crowd source mods like on reddit? Or even more ideally, you should incentives and reward free agent mods with additional privileges or time saving tools. A system that let counted your upvotes or reading or other contributions and rewarded you for contributing to organization and acting like a mod would be ideal but maybe not built into the forum software?

I guess I’m asking a lot and honestly, I’ve been thinking about how to reform rating and organizing systems for discussion forums for a long time and I have some well worked out ideas that I feel strongly about. But realistically, Implementing them is asking too much from you or anyone? So I want to conclude by saying you, @metasj are doing a great job and my complaints are quibbles next to my appreciation.

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2 posts were split to a new topic: Please minimize the use of posting limits

Keep in mind Discourse does much less rate-limiting once you’ve attained a higher trust level:

These rate limits are also one of our best protections against spammers. Unfortunately in this day and age human spammers are prevalent, and one of the best ways to dissuade them from spreading bad content in your community is to make sure they can not do so with great efficiency immediately after signing up.