I’ve wanted to compile a list of community suggestions for the forum for quite a long time. I never really had a good chance to look through all of the #forum-feedback category, but with the upcoming forum downtime and changes that @cami_p mentioned yesterday I thought that I would finally create this topic with the goal of making over a year of topics into one, much easier to read, topic. I know some of the things I talk about were already mentioned in yesterdays announcement but I felt like talking about them could add some more clarity on why they’ve been mentioned before, hopefully giving the team some ideas on how to go about making these changes.
This topic will be a wiki meaning that anyone can edit it, however this is for the purposes of adding additional information/suggestions, not for changing what anyone else has said. Feel free to add any ideas, I’ll check all of the edits, or if you want to ask anything feel free to message me!
I’ve talked a lot before about adding subcategories for things like #promote-yourself where we could have more specific subcategories for different platforms being promoted, and I feel like this is something worth putting at least two categories into, which could be videos and other, since there’s a huge difference between someone promoting their youtube videos here, and someone promoting something like their art that they post, or something like that. Another case for subcategories is in #off-topic where we could really benefit from seeing different categories for example games, random, memes etc. The topic at the moment is pretty much for everything, and some subcategories to narrow things down a bit would really not go amiss. It could be said that adding more and more subcategories would just confuse things, but there’s definitely a point between the current categories, and it getting confusing, that would be really good for new people as well as regulars, and in many ways, adding subcategories would actually make choosing one less confusing, since more choice means it’s more likely the user can find the category that they’d expect the post to go in.
The forum did at one point have a questions category, but at some point the category was removed. Currently the forum isn’t overrun with questions about the app etc, but with the upcoming release of beta 3, and the full app, it’s obvious that there will be a lot of newcomers to the forum that will have questions. This is why I feel like a questions category would be a good idea, since currently questions could fit into a few different categories, and having one separate would help clear up issues about which category posts fit into. As an addition to this, allowing the solutions plugin within the questions category would allow the forum experts or staff to directly mark a question as having an answer, meaning new people would have an exact place to reference for answers. Having the solutions plugin enabled would also mean that we wouldn’t need to have the #solved-and-answered category, which I think would be a really good change since there have been issues with it since the start, not knowing what was exactly solved or not, users directly posting in the category and the same questions and answers being given multiple times.
All of this leads me to believe that a simple questions category where posts can be marked as solved would be hugely beneficial to the community in the lead up to what will likely be a large expansion.
Ok, I know that this is probably not something that anyone wants to talk about, but Discourse does cost money. I’m assuming that right now the cost is 100$ a month, based on what Dom has said with regards to plugins. I’m not one to talk about money, or how much the byte team should be spending, so I won’t talk about the costs, but instead just about some changes that could hypothetically be made with different discourse packages. Retort is a discourse plugin that allows posts to be given reactions, similar to how reactions work on discord or in facebook replies (yes I’m really mentioning facebook in 2019), and would mean that if users didn’t want to fully reply to something, or just wanted to show appreciation, they could use reactions. Knowledge Base is a plugin that allows for the creation of effectively a wiki page within the forum. Some topics have aimed to be effectively a wiki, like v2 for dummies and byte for dummies, but it would be much easier with the knowledge base plugin. Topic voting is actually something that discourse allows for, in a similar way to reddit, where upvotes are given to posts that users like, and the more upvotes a post as, the higher up on the front page of the forum it gets. Having something like this would mean that we could have a system where the community would be able to actually push their favourite topics up the front page, instead of problems we’ve had before with mass replying, bumping, and other things that contribute to a lot of good posts being drowned out by effectively spam. BBCode is something which has been talked about before, and is available as a plugin for discourse. BBCode allows users to set things like text colour and background colour, giving a lot of customisation to their posts which isn’t otherwise available.
I know that the team is paying for salaries, an office, and probably a million other things, but if this was at all a possible change, it would have a lot of benefits for the team as well as the community, not that anyone is expecting for the team to pay more, just thought that it was something worth putting out there to be considered.
I know that changes to the TL system are coming, but I think that something really important to note is that simply being active on the forum doesn’t necessarily make someone an expert. It was talked about a few months ago that we could potentially see expert (or at least trust level 3, since it seems like it’ll be renamed) be something people are exclusively promoted to. It’s worth mentioning that an additional trust level can be added, it’s a bit complicated to do, but adding something like a trust level 3.5. and saying that people who are simply active can achieve trust level 3, but would need to be promoted to trust level 3.5, would really help to differentiate the representative parts that people play on the forum and within the community. It’s also been discussed a few times that we should have more regular review on the roles that users have, ensuring that powers are being used correctly, and more generally that the roles users have actually match up with what they do. Both of these would help to allow the community to deal with an influx of users, and allow new users to understand the different types of users and their roles here.
The forum FAQ page hasn’t changed (that I know of) since the creation of the forum in January of 2018, despite the fact that a whole lot has changed, and that there have been attempts to update the faq many times. I feel like with the downtime, as well as the knowledge that there will be many new people coming to the forum soon, creating an updated faq could be really beneficial. The faq could be put together by staff, moderators, experts or a combination of these.
Having uncategorised posts allowed has been an issue for as long as I can remember. Users forget to categorise their posts, there was the whole debacle with posts being made uncategorised for no real reason at all, amongst other things. All in all there just seems to be no good reason to allow posts which have no category. All that changes is that if a user doesn’t select a category before posting, they’ll be told ‘please select a category before posting’ the same as if their title is already taken, or the post limit isn’t reached. I don’t want to be repetitive with the whole increase of users thing, but it is something worth considering at this point, since it’s highly likely that with more users comes more posts with no category.
More details on everything I mentioned, including screenshots, official Discourse threads, Dom and Cami posts etc. If you’re adding suggestions please add references here!
Subcategories - More Specific Subcategories, Off-topic posts, Making "V***s" as it's own category
Questions Category - Questions category, A few other features, Allowing Solutions/Answers
Upgrading Discourse - Topic Upvotes, Forum tweaks, Business Plugins, Useful Discourse Plugins, BBCode update, Discourse BBCode
Reviewing Roles - Monthly Reviews for Roles, TL Changes
FAQ Update - Forum FAQ Review - Help appreciated,
Uncategorised Posts -Make selecting a Category required before posting, Allowing Uncategorized Posts