I'm resurrecting the Discourse forum

For a few months back in '22, I was running a Discourse forum as a sidekick to my Tools for Online Speech newsletter. I ended up switching over to Discord because I discovered they had released forum channels, which gave me the structure I liked from Discourse without feeling quite as heavyweight. So I backed up my Discourse instance and shut it down.

I have now brought the old forum back to life and have spiffed it up a bit. The main reason is that I’ve been thinking about how to keep up a regular writing habit now that I have a job, and I think Discourse fits with that better. I don’t want to commit to sitting down for two hours each week to write up the newsletter, so instead my plan is to post in small chunks to the forum throughout the week. Sending my newsletter(s)* will become a mechanical process: copy and paste stuff from the forum, do a little formatting, hit send. At some point I could automate it.

*This forum will double as a community for Biff in addition to Tools for Online Speech—it’d be fun to get a bit more overlap going there.

I could have done a similar process while still posting to Discord instead of here, but, if the forum is to become so central to my publishing flow, I’d really like to have the posts be public—an aspect of Discord about which I have complained many times. With Discourse, I can include in the newsletter below each copied-and-pasted post a “View discussion” link which will let you actually see the comments without being signed in already. It’s a tiny yet crucial thing, and the fact that Discord doesn’t handle that use-case is a testament to the fact that it really was not designed to be used the way I wanted to use it.

Another cool thing about Discourse is that they’ve added real-time chat! Discord is becoming Discourse and Discourse is becoming Discord…

1 Like

If only it was written in Clojure instead of Ruby :slight_smile:

Agreed that this is a decent all-in-one platform to throw up longer-form content for discussion (with a proper URL and everything!) without the formality of a ‘real’ blog/newsletter post. The other things that really sold me on Discourse for the XTDB forums in the end were the content curation and discovery features (automated email newsletter summaries, suggested posts etc.).

I still can’t believe how many dev forums have gone all-in on Discord - it’s not clear to me at all that it’s a good choice of platform, unless you’re literally discussing game dev or something.

I think Discord’s probably good at fostering engagement among a core of active users, i.e. if you have a critical mass of people who already use Discord who become regulars in your server, then you have a lot of activity at least among that set of people, even if it is harder for people who aren’t in Discord all day to get into it. For a while a big reason why I stuck with Discord was because there were a handful of people with newsletters on The Sample who were active there—it was pretty fun actually. But after I pivoted away from The Sample, the Discord server became a lot less active, so it felt kinda pointless to stick with it.

Re: Clojure, my grand scheme is to eventually have Platypub handle forum stuff natively :wink:

1 Like