Request for Comment on Provisional Changes to the Forum

You are misunderstanding. I’m talking about the front page of the forum. See here:

Now that these changes are public, we may move #conversation into the muted state for everyone. For now, I will change your personal settings so you can how the forum looks to all new people. Anyone else can do this for themselves, or ask for helpm to see what this does.


3 posts were split to a new topic: Comments on Provisional Changes to Forum

Thought I’d comment on how things look and feel, after a few days of the new approach. I never really used the Categories view before, since I usually wanted to visit a few times a day to monitor any conversations of interest. I would instead use the Latest view. (Relying on notifications usually works but not if others in the conversation don’t know how to respond and tag.) But in the new model, with (to me) a stronger emphasis on semi-curated (and therefore higher-quality) conversations, I find the Conversations category a nuisance, and this can be mitigated somewhat in the Categories view, since the sheer volume of threads in the Conversations category can’t dominate the view.

Again, there’s the slight risk that I (and perhaps others) will start ignoring Conversations entirely. Since I can always be tagged and/or invited to a conversation, maybe that’s okay. Time will tell.

But just today I figured out the importance of Featured Conversations. In my standard views, this seems this is just a subcategory. But visiting incognito reveals what this category can do for my views: even when Conversations are muted by default, the Featured Conversations appear in every view. I now see the utility of Featured Conversations, and I am seriously considering muting Conversations to clean up my views (and thereby avoid my personal annoyance at spammy stuff.)

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@sfmatheson, yes that’s right. You are seeing how it functions now.

Conversations muted is now the default for new people. I imagine some people will not want Conversations muted, either to better monitor the forum, or because they like to get into the scrum of things.

At any time we can move a conversation into the featured Category section. I expect we will continue to see really good conversations arise unmoderated, but moving it to featured will protect them from degrading, and make them more visible.

One change that I will be making is swapping the order there, so that conversations is a subcategory of featured conversations. This will make it more clear to non-logged in users what is going on.

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I’ve now made this change.

“Featured Conversations” is now just “Conversations”
“Conversations” is now “Side Conversations”

@Moderators note this change, so you are not confused.

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@swamidass, what is the new user experience like with this? My understanding is that if somebody wants to do their first post they may not even see Side Conversations (since they aren’t on the front page) so they would naturally post to Conversations, which is now requires post approvals? Is that right?

I confess I’m having a little trouble keeping track of all the sub-categories because they don’t always show up. For instance, if I go to Categories - Peaceful Science I don’t see the Side Conversations category there. The only sub-category to Conversation is “Lounge” for me. Similarly I don’t see the Attic.

I think the changes are great, I’m just finding it a little hard to find things and I’m a little nervous about the new user experience if there is a high barrier to any posting.



This actually reduces barriers that new users have complained about.

  1. “Which category can I post in? Why can’t I reply?” Well, now they can post in any category and reply in any category. It will require approval, and may be moved to #conversation:side, but they can at least submit something without seeing a disabled arrow.

  2. “The quality of conversations is not very high.” Well now, the higher quality conversations are fore-fronted.

It is there, as a subcategory of #conversations. Look again.

Very good concerns. We will watch closely to see how it goes from here. I think this will actually help quite a bit.

Also @John_Harshman complained about the new link colors, which were not as obvious. That has been changed, and links are now underlined, making them very easy to pick out.


This is what I see:

I have to click into Conversation (Conversation - Peaceful Science) before I see it:


Try again now. I just unmuted the category for you. The reason it looked that way was because side-conversations are muted. That is intended functionality. New users have clues that #conversation:side is there, but they won’t see it unless they look. I’m pretty sure it will still appear in their “unread” feed, just not their “latest”.

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Ah yes, now all the sub-categories are showing up on the Categories page. I get it, thanks!

Good fix.


I think trying to improve the quality and professionalism of dialogue is a great idea.


Great to see you @PDPrice. As one of the few YECs here, I hope you try starting a moderated conversation on a focused topic you care about. I hope that it will be easier to make progress in understanding each other this time around.



It is not clear to me why Conversations-being-Muted is the DEFAULT setting for newbies. Can you explain?

Isn’t Conversations the one place where moderation of postings is not required? If so, is this the default position so that new people don’t START by thinking they have unlimited posting rights?


Ahhh… I think I understand now … Conversations have the least guidelines for good quality discussion… and so you don’t want to FEATURE that department.

I’m in sync… I gotcha now.

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Will new users still need approval to create new topics even on that “side conversation” category? Or will they still need to get to TL1 to post a new topic?

When new users join, will they be told that there is a separate category (called side conversations) which they can “un-silence”? Or will they just start to notice those as they use the site more frequently?

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Anyone can post in the side conversations at the moment. If we want, we can increase the trust level required to post without approval.

They will not be told.

We might produce documentation, such as topic, that can be sent to them when they hit TL1. Or perhaps not.

The philosophy behind discourse is that it is meant to be featured rich, but by discovery. So you can use the forum without knowning much about how it all works. But if you want to discover more, there is a lot of powerful things you can do if you start poking around. Our redesign follows this philosophy.

@sfmatheson and @Michelle: goes the same for both starting a new topic and replying to one that already exists.


Love the new green theme.


Institutional green was chosen to be calming.

Our branding is black, white, grey, with green highlights. We wanted something that contrasted with others (see below), but also evoked the idea of new growth and biology. Most others are red and blue, so green really fit the bill. But our main colors are really meant to be the black/white/grey.

The image in the background has some special significance that will be explained in due course.