It’d be really nice for analytics purposes to have an API endpoint for any new topics updated since a particular date/time. The documentation just shows a “new” topics endpoint, but it’d be really great to have finer-grained control over how far back to go.
- A way to report a thread as spam without opening it would be nice…
- Instead of asking the user if they’re sure they want to do something destructive (e.g., delete a draft), allow them to undo the action for a period of time (this is what most modern UIs do as it’s less annoying in the common case).
Other than that, I’ve been very happy.
I hate that Ctrl+F is hijacked on internals.rust-lang.org. Somehow it isn’t hijacked on users.rust-lang.org. I would like Ctrl+F to always bring up the browser’s “find in page” interface, not the forum search.
This is probably not very actionable but I still miss the NNTP gateway from the old mailing list.
I remember there was an effort for adding an NNTP bridge to Discourse at some time, but that was a few years ago and probably dead by now.
EDIT: speaking of which, the mailing list is still in zombie mode and receives some messages from time to time. Maybe it’s time to finally shut it down?
I also dislike this behavior. Weird that they are different. I looked the the forum settings and didn’t see anything that would control it.
Here’s an upstream thread on the ctrl-F hijacking. It looks like urlo and irlo are not actually configured differently and discourse only does the hijacking when there are over 10 posts (which seems really confusing), or perhaps when there are more than 10 posts left to display. Pressing CTRL+F twice hands control back to the browser’s search function.
I don’t understand why it still accepts posts. Perhaps that’s standard procedure for shutting down Mozilla lists. I spent several minutes trying to remember how to use bugzilla, just trying to find the bug that shut down the mailing list, got frustrated and gave up. But probably we could file a bug in bugzilla asking to bounce all messages.
That’s probably due to the infinite scroll. Discourse lazy-loads posts but wants to give the illusion of one long page. If it didn’t hijack Ctrl-F, searching a long thread using the browser’s built-in search functionality wouldn’t find text in posts that haven’t yet been loaded. However, I would have expected them to always hijack Ctrl-F for consistency.
The email interface could be improved. One of Discourse's stated goals is to be usable as a mailing list by users who prefer email, like me; back when the Rust community was deciding whether to migrate to it from real mailing lists, people claimed that due to this feature, Discourse was the best of both worlds. That was almost two years ago. My experience since then: in practice, this sort of works when I'm merely browsing, but for interaction it doesn't feel practical to avoid the web interface. That's because:
Emails for new posts are still delayed by many minutes after the post is sent. Perhaps this is intentional, in case the author edits their post shortly after submitting it? But if so, it's a very limited solution, because...
...there is no notification of edits after that window. So if I try to actually read a thread from my email client, rather than just using the emails as notifications, I just have to hope there weren't any significant edits I missed. That's sort of tolerable if I'm merely lurking, since I don't think big edits are too common in practice; but if I want to reply via email, I'd have to risk potentially seeming like an idiot by ignoring some key component of a post (which had been edited in). Of course, web interface users too can run into a situation sort of like that, if they start writing a reply after seeing the original version, and post it without noticing the edit, or before the edit - something I've experienced myself, since I don't reply via email - but the timing window for this is relatively narrow, and it's easy to quickly recheck the thread after sending a reply. With email, the post could have been edited days ago and I wouldn't know.
Of course, this is fundamentally a tricky situation since email doesn't support editing after the fact, but if edits are sufficiently rare, it would probably be fine to just send a new copy of the post every time it's edited. I just now Googled to see if there's been any previous discussion of this, and apparently two years ago Sam Saffron, a Discourse cofounder, chimed in against the idea... but IMO the current situation is a fundamental blocker to the goal of truly treating Discourse as a mailing list.
- As of two years ago, replying via email was basically broken, because anything below the first quote was silently discarded - no bottom-posting or inline replies, even though both are common practice for native web interface users. Because of the above issues, I haven't tried since. It seems like this may have been (partially?) fixed, according to this thread... I'll test it after posting this message, but ideally Discourse would guess which message was being quoted based on the text and any "On x/x/x, X wrote:" header (which would be stripped), and create proper linked quote blocks.
And some nitpicks:
It's weird that the Discourse web interface shows only a post author's username (unless you click it to get full profile info), but the email interface puts their full name (and not their username) in the From field. Confuses me a bit when switching between the two. The HTML header prepended to all emailed posts does show the username, so it's not like the information is missing, but that doesn't show up in, e.g., the message list. Would be nice if there were a preference for which name to put in From.
Okay, this isn't really Discourse's fault, but its emails look pretty silly in the mobile Gmail app:
It would, however, be nice to have an option to disable Discourse's little header altogether. I'd probably leave it on anyway because otherwise I'd lose profile pictures - AFAIK Gmail has no way for emails from non-Gmail users to specify a profile picture, so Discourse couldn't get rid of that giant 'V' - but the redundancy bugs me!
There is also a huge footer on every single post:
The View Topic link is certainly useful, and I understand the need for a footer to avoid "pls unsubscribe" messages, but it would be nice if it were kept to a single line (and maybe the padding decreased).
[EDIT: the below was posted via email, and I’m now editing it from the web interface. It’s a followup to a post of mine with feedback on the email interface, which got stuck in the moderation queue. Results of the test: apparently Discourse uses the plaintext version of the email and ignores the HTML version, which kind of sucks. At least bottom posting isn’t completely broken, but support for email-style quotes is not great - the paragraph starting “Here is the bottom post.” does not begin with an angle bracket and is not supposed to be quoted. Discourse did remove the “On [date], X said:” header before the first quote, which is what I wanted - but it didn’t do any magic to link either of the quotes to the original posts. Overall, pretty iffy.]
This is a test of bottom-posting and email formatting, sorry for the noise.
That’s probably due to the infinite scroll. Discourse lazy-loads posts but
wants to give the illusion of one long page. If it didn’t hijack Ctrl-F,
searching a long thread using the browser’s built-in search functionality
wouldn’t find text in posts that haven’t yet been loaded. However, I would
have expected them to always hijack Ctrl-F for consistency.
Here is the bottom post. Ideally the “On Wed” bit will be removed, and the
quote will be linked to the original post. *Here is some bold text *-
ideally Discourse will preserve formatting, not sure whether it does or
not. Here is a link. http://google.com
Here is an image of an advertisement for a sexual harassment spa:
I don’t understand why it still accepts posts. Perhaps that’s
standard procedure for shutting down Mozilla lists. I spent several
minutes trying to remember how to use bugzilla, just trying to find
the bug that shut down the mailing list, got frustrated and gave
up. But probably we could file a bug in bugzilla asking to bounce
Testing manually quoting messages (whether or not it’ll turn into a real
quote). I had to run fmt and add the angle brackets myself - normally,
when quoting multiple messages, I’d hit reply on the other messages, copy
the prefilled quote, and discard, but that only works on plain text
emails. Discourse always uses HTML mail, and copying and pasting from the
reply box with the Gmail’s HTML quote bar on the left doesn’t preserve the
bar. But that’s Gmail’s fault and there’s probably a better way to do it.
Thanks for the detailed critique @comex! I don’t use the email interface myself so that’s great information.
Replies-to-replies are displayed without indentation, as if they were top-level posts responding to the original topic. They do have a link to post they’re replying to, but it’s not visually clear enough IMHO.
Opening replies with “X Replies /” button duplicates the replies instead of moving them, so I still see the same replies later. Such out-of-context duplicates are confusing IMHO.
I’m not a fan of unconditionally publishing “last seen” timestamp of every user.
There is a shortcut to reply that I accidentally hit all of the time. I don’t know what the shortcut is but I don’t like it.
I’d like to be able to ping github teams like @rust-lang/tools.
Discourse actually has fairly good support for groups, where each user can be a member of one or more, and as of version 1.5 you can @ mention an entire group together (if the setting for that particular group allows mentions).
You can also set one or more “Group Owners” for a group to allow the group to add and remove members without the need for an admin/moderator.
The only downside to groups is that they are not as discoverable as much of the rest of Discourse, eg, there is no summary page of all of the groups that are available except in the Group admin tab, which is unavailable to most users. But once you know a groups name, or a user in that group, you can go to that groups individual page to get a summary of activity by all the members in that group and other nice things.
The website feels laggy on Firefox when I scroll, and I don’t like the fact that the text (which is what I care about) only occupies one third of my screen.
I happen to be moderately active on an old phpBB forum, and I very much prefer it because of these two points.
Oh, thanks for the tip! irlo actually already has them set up for some of the teams (though weirdly not the mod team), but they don’t have the same names as the github teams (they are core_team, compiler_subteam, etc).
Odd, I thought Discourse automatically put all mods/admins in the “moderators” group, but maybe that is a setting that you need to turn on (or it was turned off ;)), but yah, I don’t think you’ll be able to get the group names to match the github ones exactly unfortunately.
Hey, you are right about that too! They are just listed in a different place than the explicit group. I guess I’ll delete the new group I created, though the automatic group does contain a lot of people who aren’t on the moderator team.