Discourse

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  • I literally just came here after reading the same thing. It doesn't have the capacity for selling stuff that Velocio is embedding into Microcosm. Maybe not polls and that kind of thing, either.

  • Exactly... they aren't solving any of the same problems.

    In fact, what they're competing against is effectively phpBB... their whole positioning is "We're building something like Wordpress, for forums". Which is strange, as they aren't actually offering the communities that use forums anything that helps solve their problems.

    And here I am in SF talking to onetwentyeight of sffixed.org and finding out what their problems are, whether they match our problems, whether Microcosm is solving those issues... and almost nothing that concerns onetwentyeight or myself is addressed in any way by Discourse.

    And Discourse have said that they want a rich ecosystem of plugins, but that's what Vanilla did and so many of the plugins ended up clashing with each other or slowing the sites down.

    Discourse is also heavy into tagging content... but I think tagging things is a symptom of a problem, a problem in itself... rather than a solution. The problem that tagging attempts to solve is that search sucks. So the key is to fix search, not add ever more layers of crud and metadata to work around the flaws.

    I'm kinda pleased that they are pitching themselves as the Wordpress of discussion boards, because Wordpress is a decade old technology that has recently been roundly trumped in all consumer markets by Tumblr.

    And guess what it says on our business cards and http://microco.sm/ ? Yup... "Like Tumblr, for forums".

    I'll keep an eye on Discourse of course, especially with regards to feedback from their customers, shared pains, etc. But the communities market is huge, and there is space for many players, I don't feel that what Discourse are pitching is in any way a direct threat to Microcosm... at the low levels you could argue we're both just forum software, but our goals and future targets are wildly different.

  • PS: I knew this was being announced over a week ago as Leah Culver mentioned it on the YC alumni mailing list.

  • Oh well, in that case we are all peacefully relieved.

  • So Discourse would be "the same forum software you've always endured, with fresh plugins and hopefully less buggy and hack-prone than WordPress", the latter point by dint of being led (or at least figureheaded) by Jeff Atwood (prev of StackOverflow, CodingHorror etc)

  • I don't want to diss it, but it sounds a little coarse.

  • Some random just edited one of my answers on StackOverflow to add a ludicrous and unnecessary ellipsis to one of my carefully-constructed sentences and I am blaming Atwood personally for it, so both Discourse and Atwood can suck my saggy balls. Viva Microcosm!

  • So Discourse would be "the same forum software you've always endured, with fresh plugins and hopefully less buggy and hack-prone than WordPress", the latter point by dint of being led (or at least figureheaded) by Jeff Atwood (prev of StackOverflow, CodingHorror etc)

    And one of the problems with the existing forums is that they get deployed by people into their interest (i.e. someone into flyfishing wants a community, isn't technical but follows the instructions word for word and it works), and those people are not actually skilled enough to update and support the installation... so any security issue that is present, isn't swiftly dealt with.

    The issue isn't whether Wordpress or something else contains bugs... all software does. What matters is how quickly the bug can be patched for the vast majority of users.

    That and removing a lot of the technical barriers to setting up a community is why I think the hosted model works better. And a full separation of the backend storage and frontend presentation layers means we can still keep security whilst allowing 100% customisability (for those who want to host just the front-end bit).

  • It's great that there is someone else trying to do things in the same space. Don't forget that Vanilla are a relatively new outfit too (at least compared to vbulletin and phpbb) and are techstars alumni (one of the incubators we applied to).

    I think it'll help confirm some of the problems we've encountered with the current software, and show that there is sufficient demand for change.

    That said, I think the goals (and hence what we're trying to build) are quite different. I don't think we'll have any trouble differentiating ourselves.

  • There's another company in this space: http://moot.it/

    I far prefer the look of this over discourse. They're also emphasising search as a feature: something we've thought about a lot and want to implement very well.

    Overall it's quite a different beast: no API that I can see, and it seems they're going for the embeddable approach, i.e. easy integration into existing pages. Not sure how they deal with different item types either.

    On their "about" page it mentions 3.5 years of development which does seem like a long time.

  • Just talking to DK about this... it's almost feels like they're offering what disqus do, but have spun out the idea of comment threads into a larger structure that acts like a forum but is still fundamentally a grouping of comment threads. That's one way of seeing it anyway.

    Another thing... it doesn't seem possible to delete comments. (from their about page)

    Content is forever

    Posts or replies on Moot are permanent. Once they are more than 2.7 minutes old, have any replies, or have any likes, they may not be removed.

    I wonder if that means that an identity is always tied to that particular comment, or if they take the reddit approach where you simply see [deleted] where the username was (if you delete the account without deleting the comments).

  • I'll just leave this here

    http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2013/07­/rule-of-three.html

    (the comments are also a giggle)

  • Heh, I prefer the rule of three that is:

    1) First time you do it, just make it work for one thing
    2) The second time you do it, copy the first and hack minor adjustments
    3) The third time you do it, re-factor with the knowledge of #2 to make sure it's right

    It takes him three times longer as he tries to do #3 without doing #1 or #2. A premature optimisation, who is to say that you ever needed to do #2.

    And I also think Discourse has caved in a bit, I think Vanilla is really what's doing well.

  • And I also think Discourse has caved in a bit, I think Vanilla is really what's doing well.

    I suspect that's because Vanilla have actually released something that people can use, whereas Discourse really haven't. It's interesting that Atwood says that they've been working on it for 8 months - back in February when he "launched" it, they'd been working on it for almost a year. It seems they're discovering that rethinking the forum model isn't as easy as people might imagine.

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Discourse

Posted by Avatar for Emyr @Emyr

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