Continuing the discussion from Let the Users decide if something is off topic not the mods!:
After reading through the linked thread, I think that we need to have a discussion about the benefits and disadvantages of using Discourse. @happybeing
Basically, my understanding of the Discourse ethos is that it is very focused on building more genuine communities, to the extent that the core devs of that project are opposed to developing a mute users functionality.
Now you can go read the post, but when you do you will see a certain concept of an ideal community forum. That ideal has two features that I’m not sure the SAFE community shares or wants to. First, an all or nothing approach to community, i.e. you either have to like (or learn to live with) people or vote them off the Island. There is no middle ground.
Second, a benevolent dictatorship or junta which enforces that community ethic and has the power to convince people to stop using PMs or nontechnical responses (because the threat of being “asked to leave your house” as Jeff Atwood puts it is always in the background). The problem with this second part is that communities like ours are sort of ethically opposed to that sort of relationship, and its an ENORMOUS time burden on the moderators themselves.
So the software we are using for this Forum is geared toward creating and encouraging a “strong ties” community. Thats great for a lot of places on the internet, and I think in some abstract sense it makes the world a better place.
BUT, this forum is the landing spot for large numbers of unconnected users who are not looking to build community, they are looking for information on a new exciting software project that they are undecided about. While this forum is not and never will be a wiki, it is of vital importance that new users who are unconnected with the community be able to come on and quickly get educated, get links to the wiki, to the SAFE Crossroads podcast etc. That is AND ABSOLUTELY SHOULD BE, the priority of the mods.
The problem is that the Discourse software does not facilitate that. When mods move a post between threads, it loses the ability to show what a particular post was responding to, as you can see from this post where I misunderstood @janitor
Now in the linked post @smacz lays out the reasons why he thinks discourse is a good choice for the forum.
I am not so sure.
Are there other implementations that we could discuss? Is Discourse really the best? Is @Seneca’s idea worth exploring? I’m perfectly happy with a Churchhillian response “Discourse is the worst forum software except for all the other forum softwares.”
But I think we need to realize that the forum has grown ENORMOUSLY since we last thought about the pros and cons of Discourse, and that because of the structure of Discourse it requires relatively heavy handed moderation, which is irritating for the users who are getting moderated, and requires a pretty significant time investment from the mods. Is that what is really best for the community?