Discourse forum software upgrade

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Kunda1
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Re: Discourse forum software upgrade

Postby Kunda1 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:43 pm

:+1: for instance of discourse
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dimitar
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Re: Discourse forum software upgrade

Postby dimitar » Tue Aug 13, 2019 5:39 pm

Kunda1 wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:43 pm
:+1: for instance of discourse
I've just bought freecad.community. Will set it up very soon and will let you know.

Hope you guys are alright with me as fairly newb to the freecad community taking the initiative. I've been using the forum daily quite a bit and my annoyance with tracking who responded to what lead me to reinvigorate this discussion.
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dimitar
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Re: Discourse forum software upgrade

Postby dimitar » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:51 pm

I've set up to be installed (digitalocean, and domain name and smtp server). However, I didn't use my regular hosting provider to buy the domain, since they don't offer .community. The company that i registered the domain with seems like it could be a bit slower to register digital ocean namerservers. I'll keep checking when it's done, and should hopefully be able to get discourse up an running soon.
triplus
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Re: Discourse forum software upgrade

Postby triplus » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:37 pm

yorik wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:29 pm
It would do good to start more and more to see these different "applications" we have around FreeCAD, such as this forum, not as one monolithic thing but as a constellation of subprojects around FreeCAD. In that sense, I don't think it really requires a consensus or official decision. It basically requires motivated people willing to do it, it's not small work. (Same for the documentation).
As we are talking about self hosted apps the situation is different compared to discussion if we/some should join some available service out there and build FreeCAD community. Self hosting both phpBB and Discourse is possible but realistically nobody really does that. For forum/communication purposes one solution usually gets selected and that is that.

ATM phpBB doesn't have "mentions system", that much is true. As for everything else there isn't much to complain about. Discussions about switching hosts are independent from decision about using phpBB/Discourse/... Discourse doesn't run on shared hosts and therefore hosting provider would need to change. On the other hand maintenance work would improve if we would have SSH access for phpBB. And last but not least currently this luxury still gets paid through some sort of donation system. Changing this therefore comes down to first establishing a source of funding. And i have a feeling all of this won't work good on some of the suggested "low cost" hosting solutions. In addition such migrations can take considerable effort. Currently we are still struggling with maintenance/administration. Whatever solution we choose therefore should end up being a low maintenance/administration one. Hopefully therefore Discourse fits in such category.
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Kunda1
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Re: Discourse forum software upgrade

Postby Kunda1 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:50 pm

triplus wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:37 pm
ATM phpBB doesn't have "mentions system", that much is true. As for everything else there isn't much to complain about.
I beg to differ. Here is just the tip of the iceberg:
  • lack of mention system cuts down on a lot of productivity time. Sometimes it's too much of a hassle and so communication suffers/stagnates
  • it has a very poor search capability. I just give up trying to find what I'm looking for very often and cuts down on productivity
  • I don't use the FC flavored phpbb UI because I can use the default phpbb blue theme more efficiently. I don't know how others tolerate it frankly esp. on mobile.
  • the moderation tools are very clunky and not flexible (splitting large threads can only be done one thread page at a time, + approving and banning are very time consuming (require many clicks)
  • hyperlinks aren't smart (they don't ping the thread they're referencing i.e. the way github issues do)
  • hyperlinks don't report how any times they've been clicked on
  • phpbb won't remind users to post their full Help > About FreeCAD version info (discourse can do this)
  • phpbb doesn't recommend previously posted posts on the topic that a poster is creating. This diminishes duplicate posts
  • phpbb doesn't have a 'tour' function to familiarize users with the community guidelines
  • phpbb doesn't have a badge reward system
  • phpbb community has many obsolete addons and the community is somewhat stagnant
Edit: I'm still using phpbb and am willing to suffer silently if needed. But if we have the capability to migrate especially as FC community is growing exponentially...i think this is a smart time to consider migration.
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easyw-fc
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Re: Discourse forum software upgrade

Postby easyw-fc » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:07 pm

I've posted to Chris Gammel, which is the owner and manager for KiCad Discourse forum.
Hoping he will chime here to give us some tips of his experience.
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Re: Discourse forum software upgrade

Postby ChrisGammell » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:23 pm

I really enjoy Discourse as a forum software. The difficulty I just had signing up for this forum (which wasn't terrible) makes me realize just how spoiled I have become with Discourse.

The good:

- Really good spam filtering. Users earn their way up and earn mod privileges without any input from the admins.
- The site seems like it is very easy to crawl by major search engines.
- The layout is simple and can be modified easily.
- It does really well on mobile without any input from the owners. Out of the box things look great.
- Backups are done regularly and are stored in S3 buckets without much hassle.
- Lots and lots of customizations on the back end. Simple to set up once it's installed.

The bad:

- Unless you're in "mailing list mode", it's hard to maintain engagement, IMO. The summary emails slide right by most peoples' inboxes.
- It's just one big mess of posts at the end of the day. There are also categories, but it's pretty dependent on the search bar (which to be fair, it does well)
- It's just different. People who are used to phpBB style forums don't seem to like the switch.

The ugly:

- It all runs on containers and with Ruby underneath (I think?). I am usually very hands off, which is great. But when things go wrong, I have basically one option: reboot the whole darn thing. I have messed things up a couple times and was very very very lost.

My default suggestion is to pay for hosting, depending on traffic. DiscourseHosting(dot)com works well according to people I know who do it. It's totally possible to get a pre-done server image on Digital Ocean or similar and run with that. That's what I did but then have been struggling to keep updates flowing after that (arguably because I'm not super on top of it).

With a good community, the site pretty much runs itself. I hardly ever have to deal with spam because the users are enabled to help take care of things easily and the mods are all superusers who have ascended without my asking. I recommend it.
triplus
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Re: Discourse forum software upgrade

Postby triplus » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:27 pm

Kunda1 wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 10:50 pm
[*] lack of mention system cuts down on a lot of productivity time. Sometimes it's too much of a hassle and so communication suffers/stagnates
Indeed this is something phpBB could do better in the future.
[*] it has a very poor search capability. I just give up trying to find what I'm looking for very often and cuts down on productivity
And does Discourse do this better? In my experience search engines are usually what ends up being used for searching the web content, as they are good at doing that. In addition good search capability usually ends up being resource intensive task.
[*] I don't use the FC flavored phpbb UI because I can use the default phpbb blue theme more efficiently. I don't know how others tolerate it frankly esp. on mobile.
Therefore this goes in phpBB pros and not cons section?
[*] the moderation tools are very clunky and not flexible (splitting large threads can only be done one thread page at a time, + approving and banning are very time consuming (require many clicks)
And does Discourse do this better?
[*] hyperlinks aren't smart (they don't ping the thread they're referencing i.e. the way github issues do)
Could be. I personally add reference link when i find it appropriate.
[*] phpbb won't remind users to post their full Help > About FreeCAD version info (discourse can do this)
[*] phpbb doesn't recommend previously posted posts on the topic that a poster is creating. This diminishes duplicate posts
[*] phpbb doesn't have a 'tour' function to familiarize users with the community guidelines
[*] phpbb doesn't have a badge reward system
Less spam is always a good thing.
[*] phpbb community has many obsolete addons and the community is somewhat stagnant
And does Discourse do this better? I doubt they have a stable API and no obsolete related issues occur? In my opinion we should use vanilla version anyway. Everything else usually adds to the maintenance/administration burden and unless more people get involved this should be avoided.
Edit: I'm still using phpbb and am willing to suffer silently if needed. But if we have the capability to migrate especially as FC community is growing exponentially...i think this is a smart time to consider migration.
If i look at Ubuntu community, using the classical forum approach and are still managing, no need to panic, phpBB should handle it. And i am not sure we are really suffering silently with phpBB. Are we? And when there will be some issues with Discourse. Silent struggling will continue? :(
easyw-fc wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:07 pm
I've posted to Chris Gammel, which is the owner and manager for KiCad Discourse forum.
Hoping he will chime here to give us some tips of his experience.
Yes, sharing some first hand experience is always a good thing.
triplus
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Re: Discourse forum software upgrade

Postby triplus » Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:19 am

This seems to suggest things like Discourse having better search and moderation capabilities, but also harder to set up and i guess can end up being costly?

https://www.slant.co/versus/2789/17561/ ... e_vs_phpbb

P.S. Flarum uses a more standard server stack, but who knows when a stable version will get released, likely not anytime soon.
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dimitar
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Re: Discourse forum software upgrade

Postby dimitar » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:09 am

ChrisGammell wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:23 pm

The bad:

- Unless you're in "mailing list mode", it's hard to maintain engagement, IMO. The summary emails slide right by most peoples' inboxes.
- It's just one big mess of posts at the end of the day. There are also categories, but it's pretty dependent on the search bar (which to be fair, it does well)

As a regular Discourse user, I definitely understand what you are saying in terms of finding out relevant information. The information is more dynamic in the sense that one has the ability to see all incoming posts in one place as opposed to in separate categories. However, I have found out that categories do also work well. And on blenderartists.org there some very long discussions, meaning that people still tend to find the right features

Besides search, the one other standout feature for is notifications:
- if i post a topic and someone replies, I immediately have a notification, no matter if they replied with @mentions (something like equivalent of quoting in phpBB)
- @mentions always make sure that a person that the users posting may think would be important voice to add to the conversation will be notified
- following important topics (equivalent for threads). You can either be "notified" in a discussion that someone's posted any direct reply in a topic and are you can set to "watch" meaning that a notification is received every time someone posts a reply, even if they don't reply to your post or mention you

triplus wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:19 am
P.S. Flarum uses a more standard server stack, but who knows when a stable version will get released, likely not anytime soon.

Flarum looks nice and clean as well! It would definitely be good for for someone to test it. If it doesn't require another digitalocean or similar setup (which seems that it can get expensive quickly), then I may try setting it up on my regular hosting provider, unless someone else wants to experiment? The fact that it's still in betais perhaps not too dangerous. In fact, the automated process through digitalocean automatically installs the latest discourse beta. On the other hand, if there are any updates to the final release that break with the code in the beta, then it could be an issue.

On a first look, Flarum's notification system seems to work similar to Discourse.

One feature that I am noticing that Flarum is missing is that it doesn't find relevant posts when typing a new topic. In discourse, similar to github issues and to stackexchange (the guys behind discourse run stackexchange),when starting to type a new topic, the system recognizes what you are typing and gives a list of potentially related topics. You are then free to browse through those related topics without worrying that you will lose what you have written.

In both platforms, markdown is a core feature. Topics in discourse can become wikis, so that multiple people can chip in. Sometimes they become really long. As per Yorik's discussions about modernising the wiki at some point, almost all SSGs (static site generators) use markdown due to its user friendliness and ability to apply styles without having them coded in the body text. In this sense, a wiki or an important topic in discourse, could be copied and pasted with styles and formatting to a wiki like github pages, responding to the theme set up in the wiki.