Making the forum more welcoming for users

Through my conversations with over 15 users during the summer, I received mostly positive feedback regarding the forum and community support. They mentioned that the community was responsive and that there was a helpful and positive atmosphere.

Regarding the platform we use for communication, users found GitHub to be more intimidating and tended to avoid posting bug reports or feature requests if they were not already familiar with the tool.

As for Discourse, the main feedback was that most users were not involved frequently enough with OpenRefine to visit Discourse on a regular basis. Previously, users relied on email notifications (most of which were set up to receive notifications for every message). Unfortunately, some users stopped using the forum because of the default Discourse set up with Activity Summary notification, which sent a lot of irrelevant emails to users, causing them to ignore the emails altogether.

For Discourse to really act as a mailing list, we need to:

  • Force the mailing list by default for all users (see documentation) to deactivate the summary mode. Users can enable the Activity Mode later if they are willing to. If there is consensus @ostephens, @antonin_d, @Ainali, or myself can make this change.
  • Further limitting the number of categories to a handful so it is easy for members to mute categories and not receive emails they are not interested in. We already discussed this topic here Adding a Design category - #10 by Martin

Alternatively, we can indicate in a welcome message or banner on the homepage how users can turn on Discourse's mailing list mode, as described here Using email with this forum

After using Discourse for one year, I strongly believe that we should keep using this platform. There are several benefits to using Discourse that I appreciate, including:

  • The ability to react to messages with emoticons, which allows for feedback without the need for additional messages
  • User profiles that help create a sense of community and provide information about other members
  • A cleaner user interface and improved user experience compared to email
  • Improved formatting options for messages
  • A better search experience that makes it easier to find older conversations.