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Discourse: Next-Generation Discussion/Web Forum Software

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the web-2.0-is-attacking-your-words dept.

Communications 141

An anonymous reader writes "Jeff Atwood has a post on his Coding Horror weblog about his latest project, Discourse, 'a next-generation, 100% open source discussion platform built for the next decade of the Internet.' Along with Coding Horror, Jeff is most well-known for his work on Stack Exchange and its family of related sites. In the same way that he tried to improve Q&A sites, he hopes to make forum/discussion software better with a team of folks he's pulled together for the task. They're using the 'Wordpress model' of offering both open source software and commercial offerings. The software interface is an in-browser app via Ember.js, with a Ruby on Rails and Postgres backend. I wonder if it will ever have an NNTP gateway."

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Rails, eh? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42805557)

Guess it's just a prototype.

Re:Rails, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42806655)

No doubt

nntp (-1, Flamebait)

absurdhero (614828) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805577)

" I wonder if it will ever have an NNTP gateway."

I don't like when anonymous posters tack on some irrelevant piece of opinion on the end. I don't even know *who* is wondering whether it might support NNTP or why that might matter. It's like an anonymous comment trolling except that it is on the front page.

Why is this added to the article and why do the editors choose to publish it? /rant

Re:nntp (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42805691)

Why does this comment have a score > 0?

Re:nntp (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806491)

The first rule of usenet is to not talk about usenet.

Interesting idea (5, Interesting)

meburke (736645) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805583)

I just found the link to Discourse on Coding Horror by accident about 20 minutes ago. Then I see it mentioned on /.

Well, Discourse should get rid of some of my favorite annoyances about forums like /.

For instance, today there were four good articles that I'd like to comment on, but by the time I get my arguments together, the people who could contribute the most to a meaning ful discussion will have moved on and been drowned out in a flood of idiocy. continuing a thread or an interest ove longer periods of time would acutally contibute to our mutual benefit.

A couple of things are missing:

Technical articles and opinions should have a level of proof and logic behind them. Incomplete arguments should be noted, and invalid arguments should be immediately identifiable. Furthermore, authors should be forced to stand on the merits of their arguments rather than some alleged claim to authority such as, "I've been a teacher at a major University for 15 years..." And they should be forced to create psudonyms that don't imply and opinion. (For instance, no one named "Alexander Hamilton" should be allowed on the forum, and certainly not to comment on the Federal Budget.)

Any other ideas?

Re:Interesting idea (0)

meburke (736645) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805599)

Sorry for the typos...I was in a hurry to see if I could get the first post. This would be unnecessary if /. was using Discourse as an engine.

Re:Interesting idea (4, Interesting)

meburke (736645) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805643)

Another thing about forums like /. that tick me off: I have seen some references to articles and links that have interested me, and even though I've bookmarked lots of them, the bookmarks have sometimes disappeared due to computer crashes, software changes or updates or other reasons, and then I can't find the original article again. Marking it "Interested" on the forum host itself would be great, an adequate search engine behind the forum is better, and both would be terrific! I can go to Microsofts tech forums and find out which topics I researched 10 years ago. (Comes in handy when an old fart like me starts thinking, "Didn't I have to solve a similar problem back in...")

Re:Interesting idea (3, Funny)

mortonda (5175) | about a year and a half ago | (#42808031)

!I can go to Microsofts tech forums and find out which topics I researched 10 years ago. (Comes in handy when an old fart like me starts thinking, "Didn't I have to solve a similar problem back in...")

What gets me is when I google a particular problem and the first result is a post I made 5 years ago asking the same question. Even worse is when it went unanswered 5 years ago. :(

Re:Interesting idea (4, Interesting)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805667)

Well, Discourse should get rid of some of my favorite annoyances about forums like /.

Do you really think so? Did you take a look at it? [discourse.org] What's the point of putting all those avatar pictures on each row? Each forum row looks too busy as it is. And why are they trying to do everything with Javascript? In my opinion, they're just repeating the mistake of Slashdot in that area.

Hopefully, they'll listen to user feedback, and iterate away from what they have now. Their forum is not bad, but for now it's not that great either.

A couple of things are missing:

Technical articles and opinions should have a level of proof and logic behind them. Incomplete arguments should be noted, and invalid arguments should be immediately identifiable. Furthermore, authors should be forced to stand on the merits of their arguments rather than some alleged claim to authority such as, "I've been a teacher at a major University for 15 years..." And they should be forced to create psudonyms that don't imply and opinion. (For instance, no one named "Alexander Hamilton" should be allowed on the forum, and certainly not to comment on the Federal Budget.)

Do you think your advice would also apply to a forum on Legos or Barbie dolls?

Re:Interesting idea (4, Informative)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805781)

It looks horrifyingly bad. Just looking at their test forum makes me want to run away screaming.

FidoNet was better.

Re:Interesting idea (4, Interesting)

xenobyte (446878) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805943)

It looks horrifyingly bad. Just looking at their test forum makes me want to run away screaming.

FidoNet was better.

Agree. FidoNet was amazingly functional given the technical limitations of the day.

Re:Interesting idea (1)

richlv (778496) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806447)

ouch. it might work well with the short attention span / typing-disabled audiences, though...
looks like twitter, reloaded. and i don't think very highly of twitter.

Re:Interesting idea (1)

tbird81 (946205) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805847)

Did you take a look at it? [discourse.org]

How about a seizure warning before posting that link next time!

Re:Interesting idea (1)

meburke (736645) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805851)

That's a philosophical question. I personally think any serious discusion where opinion is expressed ought to have some Proof, Information or Example for each serious statement of Opinion. Arguments should be cogent and valid. However, not every discussion is serious enough to warrant the effort involved. I think Discourse might be better if the option to carry out serious conversation without distraction or undue influence were included in the architecture.

(Of course, I think most programmers could improve their programs considerably if they programmed in LISP, so I may not be the best person to model an opinion.)

Re:Interesting idea (2)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806449)

Don't let the name, nor their tag line, confuse you.

Here is the list of actual forums [codinghorror.com] he gives as examples:

There's an amazing depth of information on forums.

* A 12 year old girl who finds a forum community of rabid enthusiasts willing to help her rebuild a Fiero from scratch? Check.
* The most obsessive breakdown of Lego collectible minifig kits you'll find anywhere on the Internet? Check.
* Some of the most practical information on stunt kiting in the world? Check.
* The only place I could find with scarily powerful squirt gun instructions and advice? Check.
* The underlying research for a New Yorker article outing a potential serial marathon cheater? Check.

forced timelag (1)

foobsr (693224) | about a year and a half ago | (#42807105)

the option to carry out serious conversation without distraction or undue influence

A forced timelag netween interactions would probably help. Could create a difference one in the old days could observe between correspondence chess (by surface mail) and blitz chess.

CC.

Re:Interesting idea (1)

foobsr (693224) | about a year and a half ago | (#42807123)

Forgot this one: I think most programmers could improve their programs considerably if they programmed in LISP

... and would read "The Psychology of Computer Programming: Silver Anniversary Edition [Paperback]".

CC.

Re:Interesting idea (2)

dkf (304284) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806701)

Did you take a look at it? [discourse.org]

The discussion threading is terrible, and there's no keyboard navigation, not even as good as on slashdot (which is not good either). It's also got a very noisy design, with lots of colors and complexity. In short, Jeff appears to be learning all the wrong lessons from other sites.

I think I'll stick with other systems for now. There's no value proposition in being involved yet.

Build a better person? They will come. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42805669)

You're asking for technology to solve what is essentially social problems. A common mistake amongst geeks.

Re:Build a better person? They will come. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42806003)

> You're asking for technology to solve what is essentially social problems. A common mistake amongst geeks.

I don't think that's entirely true. Sure, you will not solve the social problems via technology, but are these really social problems?

Just to give an example: If a platform like ./ offered a moderation system in which posts aren't simply upvoted or downvoted, but the platform remembers *who* voted, and lets me "connect" to other users who I think contribute in a meaningful way, and applies a higher factor to their posts *and votes* than to some random poster's votes. Plus points if the system works in a transitive way, i.e. if I "connect" to someone and he connects to someone else, then *that* person's posts/votes are still more important than the masses' votes to me, but not as much as the votes of somebody I directly "connected" to.

The above is a technical solution, but still sensible (I think) because what it addresses *is* a technical problem -- filtering information. It sure wouldn't stop random people from posting useless brain farts on ./, but it would help me ignore them.

Re:Build a better person? They will come. (2)

TuringTest (533084) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806275)

Why the "if"? /. allows you to do just that.

Re:Build a better person? They will come. (2)

ka9dgx (72702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806523)

Having other people who uniformly agree with you would enable such a system to work, but reality is more fine grained than that.

What you really want is to be able to flag/score things according to some specific dimension, like "truth", "humor", "spam", "creationism", "logic", "propaganda", etc.

If those dimensions were chosen by all of us, and consistently scored/flagged/applied, /. would be a lot more powerful.

Re:Interesting idea (1)

raftpeople (844215) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805673)

drowned out in a flood of idiocy

BIEBER!!!!!!

Re:Interesting idea (3, Insightful)

Ostracus (1354233) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805719)

How about putting close at hand the tools to make a better, more educated post? Note Spellcheckers, and Wikipedia are close by. Wolfram Alpha for another, although none are integrated. Grammar and math checkers next.

Re:Interesting idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42805763)

Yeah, enough automagic smarts so that any idiot can come off looking like an Einstein to other idiots.

Re:Interesting idea (2)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805791)

... none of those are the reasons that stackexchange has so many good answers to questions. I don't believe they'd contribute greatly to a discussion forum either.

Re:Interesting idea (1)

meburke (736645) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805871)

Yup, and Logic parsers, and decision tree diagrams, and appended tutorial tools for those who want or need them.

I was impressed with the idea that I could link to an authoritative source and it wold be integrated into the post. Good Math tools and statistics easily at hand might make it better. I still think there is a gap in the ability to FIND relevant info on subjects.

Re:Interesting idea (1)

elucido (870205) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806383)

Yup, and Logic parsers, and decision tree diagrams, and appended tutorial tools for those who want or need them.

I was impressed with the idea that I could link to an authoritative source and it wold be integrated into the post. Good Math tools and statistics easily at hand might make it better. I still think there is a gap in the ability to FIND relevant info on subjects.

This is exactly what I was thinking. Btw do any logic parsers exist or did you just make it up?

Re:Interesting idea (1)

elucido (870205) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806373)

To improve upon that why not add propositional logic and analysis capabilities into it? Regular expressions?

Re:Interesting idea (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806415)

I don't know what you're talking about. When I browse the web in Emacs, I can spell check the web page, query Wolfram Alpha, launch wikipedia in another buffer, and do symbolic calculations in Maxima, all while reading a pdf in yet another buffer. Sometimes I even respond to emails.

Re:Interesting idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42807435)

I don't know what you're talking about. When I browse the web in Emacs, I can spell check the web page, query Wolfram Alpha, launch wikipedia in another buffer, and do symbolic calculations in Maxima, all while reading a pdf in yet another buffer. Sometimes I even respond to emails.

It's a great operating system, lacking only a decent editor...

Re:Interesting idea (3)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805821)

"Technical articles and opinions should have a level of proof and logic behind them. Incomplete arguments should be noted, and invalid arguments should be immediately identifiable..."

Good luck with that. There are forums at actual scientific journal websites that that don't always meet those qualifications. Half the time when I've tried to have a logical discussion on /. someone causes it to devolve into meaningless bickering over inconsequential details, or derisive ad-hominem attacks; even from people who should know better.

I would love to see that change. But as I stated earlier: good luck with that.

Re:Interesting idea (1)

jafac (1449) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806091)

. . . that reminds me. I think it's about time for another C++ vs. Java flamewar.

Who's up for it?

Re:Interesting idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42807451)

. . . that reminds me. I think it's about time for another C++ vs. Java flamewar.

These days, that just gets the C# guys all running in yelling loudly about how they have the best of both worlds and being smugly superior.

The worst thing about that of course being that they're probably right...

Re:Interesting idea (2)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806567)

Something about slashdot makes it really combative. I don't know if it's the karma system, us, or something else. But if you say something people see, no matter how rational, someone is going to disagree just to disagree, and it's probably going to be a little nasty.

Like you said, that usually starts with someone tilting at some inconsequential and opportunistic BS taken out of context. A couple mod points later the whole thread is off the rails. It's pretty irritating and I doubt most of us actually converse like this in the real world. We'd get laughed at or punched.

Re:Interesting idea (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42807477)

It's pretty irritating and I doubt most of us actually converse like this in the real world. We'd get laughed at or punched.

I personally become combative when people say things that they clearly would not even fucking begin to say to me in meatspace. I do in fact talk like this, outside of business situations where it's inappropriate. (I've been in workplaces where everyone cussed and I've been in workplaces where no one cussed, and fit in fine in both cases. I admit to enjoying the former more, but he who has the gold makes the rules.) When someone says something that makes no sense I'll tell them it makes no sense and if they persist I will escalate my terminology until I'm telling them they're a dumbshit. Again, based on social context. I wouldn't do that at a job, but I will do that at a coffeeshop. Merely disagreeing with someone who at least has a consistent logic about what I see as wrongness doesn't provoke that kind of response there, but it doesn't here, either.

The difference online is trolls. In "real life" the trolls have to be more subtle so they don't get their asses kicked on a regular basis. They find their outlet here online, where there are no penalties for their pathetic behavior which covers for their emotional injuries.

Re:Interesting idea (1)

Ford Prefect (8777) | about a year and a half ago | (#42807505)

Something about slashdot makes it really combative. I don't know if it's the karma system, us, or something else. But if you say something people see, no matter how rational, someone is going to disagree just to disagree, and it's probably going to be a little nasty.

I disagree!

Re:Interesting idea (2)

dkf (304284) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806713)

Half the time when I've tried to have a logical discussion on /. someone causes it to devolve into meaningless bickering over inconsequential details, or derisive ad-hominem attacks

So learn to ignore the parts that are value-free. There's no point in mud-wrestling a pig into submission as you just get covered in mud and the pig loves it.

Re:Interesting idea (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805935)

Yup. Only let the Council of Alphas have a voice. It's been tried. It didn't work out quite as well as you might have imagined. Funny how it's the well-spoken people who think that only well-spoken people's opinions should be heard?

Re:Interesting idea (2)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806295)

If you want to be democratic about it, have a platform where you can lend weight to peoples opinion ; in the context of Slashdot, your post is already weighted according to your karma when you initially post it, and later on, by people reviewing it.

Being well-spoken is essential to having a democratic debate. If you cannot express your opinion in a way which the other party can understand, you have no chance of having any discussion about it at all.

If you are well spoken, then those of us who are not well-spoken should be able to recognise someone who shares their opinion, but manages to express it more clearly, and lend their support to your ability to have it heard.

Re:Interesting idea (-1, Troll)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806531)

This will result in the disenfranchisement of African-Americans and is racist on its face.

Re:Interesting idea (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805983)

Technical articles and opinions should have a level of proof and logic behind them. Incomplete arguments should be noted, and invalid arguments should be immediately identifiable

Sure, this problem's easy to solve........

# wget -R *.* > /dev/null

Re:Interesting idea (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806137)

And if your real name is Alexander Hamilton?

Nice set of unenforcable stupid rules though.

Re:Interesting idea (2)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806307)

I always think a PGP style web-of-trust would be useful in the sphere of trading opinions, whether that be reviews on academic papers or posts on a forum.

One such form of trust would be that, yes, you are Alexander Hamilton, and these 2,000 people have signed your public key to acknowledge this.

Re:Interesting idea (2)

Martin Blank (154261) | about a year and a half ago | (#42808701)

I dont know that that would work. People on the fringes like Ralph Nader and Rush Limbaugh would be pushed rapidly up to very high levels. If you added negative points to balance this, it would quickly become a political war where technically correct but unpopular people could get buried as untrustworthy while a politician who says all the right things could become the most trusted person.

Re:Interesting idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42807571)

authors should be forced to stand on the merits of their arguments

they should be forced to create psudonyms

Why should anyone be forced to create a pseudonym if it's the merit of the argument that matters? That only leads to be able to ad hominem someone. If my argument is sound it shouldn't matter if my pseudonym "Anonymous Coward" or "Anal Rapist 54", no?

Re:Interesting idea (1)

neurovish (315867) | about a year and a half ago | (#42808975)

Technical articles and opinions should have a level of proof and logic behind them. Incomplete arguments should be noted, and invalid arguments should be immediately identifiable. Furthermore, authors should be forced to stand on the merits of their arguments rather than some alleged claim to authority such as, "I've been a teacher at a major University for 15 years..." And they should be forced to create psudonyms that don't imply and opinion. (For instance, no one named "Alexander Hamilton" should be allowed on the forum, and certainly not to comment on the Federal Budget.)

Any other ideas?

What if my name actually is Alexander Hamilton? ...and you think that people shouldn't talk about anything about which they have an opinion or form opinions based on anything other than bulletproof logic founded on verifiable proof? You sound like somebody who would be no fun at a party.

Hilarity About To Ensue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42805611)

So this 'next generation forum' is a request from the operator of Bitcointalk for a new forum to replace the old forum that has suffered security issues. Now the creator of Stack Exchange which it self has suffered security issues is going to 'try' and replace Simple Machines Forums. I see hilarity about to ensue.

next gen (1)

absurdhero (614828) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805623)

I'm excited about the idea of new forum software. I feel like Google, Facebook, and Twitter have made reasonably good conversation interfaces that forum or bulletin board software could easily borrow from. Having good search facilities, an interface with lower friction (i.e fewer clicks and scrolling) and snappy performance would be a great start.

Recent improvements in web user interface frameworks such as Twitter Bootstrap would go a long way towards making a mobile friendly and easier to use forum interface. It seems strange that popular forum software doesn't use those technologies.

Next gen meet the old gen (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805839)

I wonder if it will ever have an NNTP gateway

This can't possible mean you want to go back on the ages of Usenet, extended with Web2news interface [wikipedia.org] , can it?

Well, what? How about moderation, user voting and those rosette-shaped icons... these are the new(-ish) cool features, where are you letting them? They so much worth it.. for example, "Google groups" is useless for a discussion without them!

And who needs a distributed system like Usenet when a single Web server is sufficient?

Re:Next gen meet the old gen (4, Interesting)

marcello_dl (667940) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805993)

Why you need usenet?
Because it is better to focus on a tree of subjects instead of roaming a hundred forums with different logins about the same subjects.

Usenet needed improvement, not death. The big problems were efficient distribution of articles among servers, and moderation. Both solvable (i'd have left to server/discussion admins to kill articles based on readers feedback, and the option to accept the kill recommendations from other servers with some degrees of trust). It obviously was too free for the interests driving the development of the net, namely advertising, the telcos and media companies.

One group I used to follow was polluted by very persistent trolls without fantasy, the most prominent one was found to be linked to the telco running the server, YMMV.

If somebody thinks about reviving a low bandwidth web 1.0 instead of js sites on a handful of bloated browsers, please tell me where do I sign up.

Re:Next gen meet the old gen (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806557)

Uh... (my sarcasm was too subtle. my whole post above would be summarized by: "Discourse? What is/was wrong with Usenet?")

i want to see (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42805649)

more anonymity
more encryption
more control over my data

Re:i want to see (2)

absurdhero (614828) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805689)

I see what you did there, Anonymous Coward!

Re:i want to see (2)

GrahamCox (741991) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805715)

And some effectual hardening against spam.

need effectual hardening? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42807133)

visit #1 best website for effectual hardening!!!! f0rumhard.com.v1agra4everypers0n.cn

Poor UI design. javascript required = nothankyou (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42805717)

No. just... no.

IO loaded the example forum with NoScript enabled. Absolutely no formatting present, the only way to differentiate individual posts was by the "#1" "#2" numbering each one individually, inlined with the body text of the comments.

We don't need more client side code, we need less. Formatting should be in CSS, the content should degrade sanely for text only and mobile browsers / screen readers. I shouldn't have to allow javascript through in order to format the page content.

Worse - when I did enable javascript to see what it actually is intended to look like, they've got one of those "fixed position" menus at the top of the page that doesn't scroll away, and I absolutely detest webpages that use those. I prefer being able to see more of the content, and can navigate my way to the top of the screen for a seldom used menu with one keystroke, or a short drag of a scrollbar handle. The site also has a maximum width for the content section, on a 16:9 1080p screen, 2/3 of the page is blank when my browser window is full screen. If this is the future of webforums, I don't want it.

Re:Poor UI design. javascript required = nothankyo (2, Insightful)

xenobyte (446878) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805965)

No. just... no.

IO loaded the example forum with NoScript enabled. Absolutely no formatting present, the only way to differentiate individual posts was by the "#1" "#2" numbering each one individually, inlined with the body text of the comments.

We don't need more client side code, we need less. Formatting should be in CSS, the content should degrade sanely for text only and mobile browsers / screen readers. I shouldn't have to allow javascript through in order to format the page content.

Worse - when I did enable javascript to see what it actually is intended to look like, they've got one of those "fixed position" menus at the top of the page that doesn't scroll away, and I absolutely detest webpages that use those. I prefer being able to see more of the content, and can navigate my way to the top of the screen for a seldom used menu with one keystroke, or a short drag of a scrollbar handle. The site also has a maximum width for the content section, on a 16:9 1080p screen, 2/3 of the page is blank when my browser window is full screen. If this is the future of webforums, I don't want it.

Agree 100% - I use NoScript for this exact reason: JavaScript is heavily abused by hackers and advertisers alike - evil people hell-bent on destroying our online experience.

Uses worst web programming practices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42806115)

Pretty funny that they label themselves "next generation" when their lack of best practices design doesn't even merit a "last generation" tag.

They seem to have a total inability to separate programming from presentation, which as you say should be 100% controlled by CSS. Javascript may not even be running on a device, so their sites will be invisible and unusable. Not to mention, a complete security disaster. Organized crime will love it.

Why is it even appearing here on Slashdot? We should be encouraging best programming practices, not worst.

Re:Uses worst web programming practices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42807375)

Why is it even appearing here on Slashdot? We should be encouraging best programming practices, not worst.

You must be new here?

Believe it or not, slashdot had a great commenting system once... before the dark times, before d2.

Re:Poor UI design. javascript required = nothankyo (0)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806153)

Agreed, it looks like dog shit...after a homeless man ejaculated on it.

Re:Poor UI design. javascript required = nothankyo (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806319)

At least he didn't wank on his own shit. [rathergood.com]

That would be disastrous.

Re:Poor UI design. javascript required = nothankyo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42806465)

You missed your turn at 1980s.

Re:Poor UI design. javascript required = nothankyo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42807259)

Flat discussion, no anonymous posting and ignores the distributed nature of the web. Laughable.

Re:Poor UI design. javascript required = nothankyo (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about a year and a half ago | (#42808409)

they've got one of those "fixed position" menus at the top of the page that doesn't scroll away, and I absolutely detest webpages that use those

Probably one reason you're not aware of is that pages with it tend to be slower to scroll. I hate that too, but that's a problem with the implementation (download.com take note).

Yes you lose a little space, but then we sacrifice space with the taskbar/launchbar/quicklaunch/tab bar in Windows, and it's a very worthy sacrifice. Get a higher res monitor if it's really a problem.

Wordpress (2)

SilenceBE (1439827) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805747)

Wordpress is popular because of the lamp stack. Regardless of personal feelings against a lamp setup, but if the goal is to be the "wordpress" of discussion software I will say good luck wit that ! I think the fact that it is written in ROR, will make this a very hard goal to reach.

NNTP, pls keep it alive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42805795)

NNTP, pls keep it alive

It is something worth keeping alive. Its standards should have evolved.

Current Advertising companies finding it difficult with nntp.

Forum software has changed. (5, Interesting)

pclinger (114364) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805949)

disclosure: I'm the President and CEO of ProBoards, my company creates forum software.

From TFA: "When I looked at forum software again after leaving Stack Exchange, I was appalled to discover that after four years virtually nothing had changed."

This is a great sound bite, but unfortuantely is just not true. There is a lot of innovation in the forum space going on. A few recent software releases come to mind that offer new, unique functionality. XenForo, vBulletin 5, and my company's new forum software ProBoards v5 that launches on April 29th.

I can't speak in depth to our competitor's products, but I can tell you how we have taken forums to the next level:

-Live Search. Most pages have a search box you can type in, and the threads/posts update live on screen.
-AJAX pagination - switch between pages without needing to load a full new page.
-Integrated Notifications. We push content to you, you shouldn't have to seek it out.
-Integrated mobile site
-Clean, simple UI (while keeping all functionality available)
-Enhanced privacy. More control over what you see and who can see you.
-Activity feeds for staying up to date with your friends on the forum
-Single signon for all ProBoards forums with the ability to easily switch between forums
-WYSIWYG editor
-"Conversations" instead of PMs -- you can have multiple people in a discussion
-Better moderator tools that make it easier than ever for mods to get stuff done with fewer clicks.
-We launched a new section on our homepage that shows you all forums you are a member of and information such as how many new messages you have, notifications, if any of your participated topics were updated, and more -- many forums, all on one single page.
-and a whole lot more.

You can test these features in our new software yourself at http://support.proboards.com./ [support.proboards.com]

My main point is this: There is plenty of innovation going on. Go look for it.

Server side, darn it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42806045)

So... what part of the "damn it, do it on the server side" sentiment that pervades the reaction here did you miss?

All of these "execute on the client" technologies have holes in them. And miscreants love to drive through those holes.

You want to write *good* forums, here's your tech: HTML, CSS, and, rarely, CGI.

You want more hostility, just keep talking client side. We're really tired of the security mess. Stop inflicting it on us, please.

Re:Server side, darn it (1)

pclinger (114364) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806209)

Our software does not rely on client side security. That IS all done server side. I didn't make any statements to the contrary in my original post.

Re:Server side, darn it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42806251)

I'm not the same AC that you replied to, but it's easy to guess that the poster was not referring to server-side security being done client-side. Nobody in their right mind does server-side security client-side, that would be utterly insane.

When the poster wrote that you should be doing the work server-side, they almost certainly meant the entirety of presentation logic. CSS is your friend.

Browsers are a security nightmare, aided and abetted by Javascript that offers more holes than swiss cheese and gives attackers a wonderful playpen for their exploits. Just ask any security researcher or penetration tester. It's so bad that it's not funny.

Because of this, the amount of Javascript used in any modern security-aware web framework should be reduced to a minimum, and even that small amount should be optional to improve security. Anything else plays directly into the hands of attackers.

I sure hope your devs have informed you about this, otherwise you have a very severe problem on your hands.

Re:Server side, darn it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42807443)

When the poster wrote that you should be doing the work server-side, they almost certainly meant the entirety of presentation logic. CSS is your friend.

Indeed that is precisely what I meant. Thank you.

Re:Forum software has changed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42807101)

"I can't speak in depth to our competitor's products"

What the what? You're the CEO of your company, and you don't know your competitors products inside, outside, and backwards?

You do know that's the CEO's job, right? To know the industry upside down and sideways? To know who the players are, what their products are, and how they are different than and similar to yours?

Re:Forum software has changed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42807801)

Great changes! (Coming soon...)

Dude, I realize that you have to evangelize your product. But, telling us that your product has great changes, you just can't/see or use them for the next 3 months does not make a good case.

Frankly the first thing that comes to mind is Baghdad Bob. [wikipedia.org] Until your "product" is available to the public, it doesn't exist. You're dead to me.

Wow, it's completely barren with JS disabled. (1)

Dwedit (232252) | about a year and a half ago | (#42805989)

I just loaded the example site, and it looks like just several lines of text with JavaScript disabled on the site. After enabling JavaScript, the site looks like it's supposed to, but is it really necessary to write a web forum that relies entirely on JavaScript to work? What ever happened to server-side processing spitting out dumb HTML pages and CSS styles?
Most popular message board systems I've seen work perfectly without JS enabled, but others are very ugly (I'm looking at you, Disqus).

Re:Wow, it's completely barren with JS disabled. (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806077)

Web devs must require customers to download 10 megs of JS to be a professional.

Re:Wow, it's completely barren with JS disabled. (3, Insightful)

Ash Vince (602485) | about a year and a half ago | (#42807297)

I just loaded the example site, and it looks like just several lines of text with JavaScript disabled on the site. After enabling JavaScript, the site looks like it's supposed to, but is it really necessary to write a web forum that relies entirely on JavaScript to work? What ever happened to server-side processing spitting out dumb HTML pages and CSS styles?
Most popular message board systems I've seen work perfectly without JS enabled, but others are very ugly (I'm looking at you, Disqus).

The problem is that the vast majority of real web users do not actually care what a site looks like with JS disabled, as they keep it enabled.

You guys with your insistence on no JS completely excludes jquery use and means everything has to work on completely refreshing the page every time you interact with it. Jquery and ajax creates an experience that is much quicker for most users since they only have to wait for very small amounts of JSON data to be sent to and from the server, and don't have to wait for the entire DOM to be reloaded from the server even though only a small part of it changed. Most users prefer this experience.

I actually agree that all decent websites should degrade gracefully when JS is absent as this is how most screen readers (for blind people) render sites. The thing is though that most developers do not care what the blind person view of their website looks like providing it is at least half way usable (often that usability is a mandatory requirement as all government funded stuff has to tick the accessibility box).

The number of real world users who insist on disabling JS seems to be a very low minority so don't be too surprised you are neglected by us web developers more and more. That way of creating websites is dead, and it simply is not coming back no matter how loudly you piss and moan as most people prefer the more modern Ajax feel.

Re:Wow, it's completely barren with JS disabled. (1)

BenoitRen (998927) | about a year and a half ago | (#42807465)

That's understandable (though I think it is really unprofessional), but that doesn't excuse initial page formatting done by JavaScript.

Re:Wow, it's completely barren with JS disabled. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42808215)

yet strangely I find that the websites that do gracefull degradation are on average way more responsive then the ajax all the way ones

It's shit (2, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806067)

Too much JS but more importantly their demo is ugly as sin. I'm not seeing how it's that different other than making everything feel crammed together and with far too many Web 2.0 features and not enough good design to not make it feel like one big blind poo.

It does nothing to improve on the message board design and its fucking ugly. Good job, jeff!

Re:It's shit (1)

jez9999 (618189) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806405)

I basically agree. Strangely, the "log in" screen is inferior IMHO to Stack Exchanges, which implements a proper full-on OpenID login; this just has the usual suspects (log in with Google, log in with Facebook...)

Re:It's shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42807021)

You're lucky! (or maybe not?)... I can't even view it in Chromium under Linux as it just shows a blank gray window with a title of Discourse and their logo beside that (talking at the top of the browser tab)

Either it's /.'ed at 7AM Eastern time or they have a few issues...

What's new? (3, Funny)

DerPflanz (525793) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806117)

Okay, I only looked at it for a few minutes, but I can't see the difference with classic boards. Yes, it is more fancy, more JavaScripty, but functional, I couldn't get any differences. Just a list of topics, when clicked go to a list of replies.

No voting system, no "highest votes on top", no threading, ...

Roll your own. (4, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806239)

I have never felt that packaged forum systems were robust enough or integrateable enough to be worth it. In every situation, I have rolled my own. Including when deploying it for a community of 100k+ users. I'd also much rather roll my own functionality as a project grows into the individual application of the forum rather than go out and grab someone's plugin/module to stick into it and hope it answers my needs.

Also, what the hell ever happened to nested-threaded discussions? Why is EVERY god damn forum out there in the last decade just this obnoxious flat-thread full of quotes of quotes of quotes of quotes of quotes? Is it because the developers are too lazy to add a minimal amount of recursion in their engine or . . . what?!

Re:Roll your own. (3, Funny)

jez9999 (618189) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806421)

Amen to nested discussions. I guess having a single flat thread for everything is easier for beginners... you just click on the thread and the posts are all meant to be "to do with the title" rather than perhaps some tangent the thread has gone off on. That said, threads do and will go off on tangents, so nested-threading is a great way to acknowledge that.

Re:Roll your own. (2)

Lazy Jones (8403) | about a year and a half ago | (#42807223)

Is it because the developers are too lazy to add a minimal amount of recursion in their engine or . . . what?!

In this particular case it is because Jeff Atwood hates threading [codinghorror.com] . I think it's a huge mistake and he never manages to argue this choice in a compelling way, but I guess it's an emotional thing after all.

Re:Roll your own. (1)

sco08y (615665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42807393)

In this particular case it is because Jeff Atwood hates threading [codinghorror.com] . I think it's a huge mistake and he never manages to argue this choice in a compelling way, but I guess it's an emotional thing after all.

He's got a point that many implementations make it hard to navigate the tree, but it's not like it's that hard to implement what he wants (find my replies, see original) and be able to collapse trees.

Re:Roll your own. (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | about a year and a half ago | (#42807617)

He's got a point that many implementations make it hard to navigate the tree,

I don't even grant him that point. Hard compared to what? A flat list of posts that one should try to reconstruct the (naturally tree-shaped) discussion structure from? That's like saying we should be using square wheels because some round wheels make it hard to steer the car.

Re:Roll your own. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42808411)

I still run 10+ year old DCForum+ forum software for just this reason. It's still the only forum software I've found that has proper support for threads instead of linear display.

As long as it doesn't use javascript (3, Funny)

evanh (627108) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806553)

I'll be happy.

Hopefully... (2)

thejynxed (831517) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806855)

It will be built with security in mind, and won't use Javascript or PHP in any fashion, or allow modules that involve them to interact with the software in question.

Some of the biggest problems I've seen over the years involving compromised forums have almost always involved issues with those two (with the 3rd most common being they were run on Microsoft's web services).

Hate to double post but... (2)

thejynxed (831517) | about a year and a half ago | (#42806971)

...after reading through the comments on this shiny turd, I vote Atwood should rebrand this new Discourse software to "Coding Horror".

It relies on Javascript, so it's nothing but a security nightmare for anyone to implement.

Re:Hate to double post but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42808023)

Tried loading and it just froze at the Loading.... page with all these errors. Well done...

Webpage error details

User Agent: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; Trident/4.0; SLCC2; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.5.30729; .NET CLR 3.0.30729; .NET4.0C; .NET4.0E; InfoPath.3)
Timestamp: Wed, 6 Feb 2013 14:33:02 UTC

Message: Unexpected call to method or property access.
Line: 3
Char: 2671
Code: 0
URI: http://cdn.discourse.org/assets/application-8ff67ad0afefb6238b182e88aff1431c.js

Message: Unexpected call to method or property access.
Line: 3
Char: 2671
Code: 0
URI: http://cdn.discourse.org/assets/application-8ff67ad0afefb6238b182e88aff1431c.js

Message: Unexpected call to method or property access.
Line: 3
Char: 2671
Code: 0
URI: http://cdn.discourse.org/assets/application-8ff67ad0afefb6238b182e88aff1431c.js

Message: Unexpected call to method or property access.
Line: 3
Char: 2671
Code: 0
URI: http://cdn.discourse.org/assets/application-8ff67ad0afefb6238b182e88aff1431c.js

Message: Unexpected call to method or property access.
Line: 3
Char: 2671
Code: 0
URI: http://cdn.discourse.org/assets/application-8ff67ad0afefb6238b182e88aff1431c.js

Same problem: groupthink (1)

sco08y (615665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42807347)

It's using the same user-based moderation that has sunk most other discussion forums. Like-minded people will overwhelm the discussion, and moderate up people they agree with. Nothing to see here, move along.

NNTP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42807841)

Yes please to NNTP. Nothing on the web has come close to the power and usability of even the old console mode news readers!

The problem isn't software. It's people. (1)

concealment (2447304) | about a year and a half ago | (#42807975)

I used to try to participate in online forums. I consider Slashdot one of the better ones, and even so, I'd say that at most 25% of the commentary here is necessary.

The problem with online forums is that they follow the rules of behavior for a carnival. Those who create drama are most popular and so the attention focuses on them, while the more interesting comments are buried.

There are relatively few people who can understand much of anything, and they get buried under the flood of people quoting TV shows, images of cats with clever sayings, pornography and general shenanigans.

Even worse is that there are groups of people out there who have lots of time who tend to destroy discussion. Teenage cluelessness is bad, but so are the people who are on mental disability whose only entertainment is posting to the internet.

Maybe this can be regulated by software, but only if it doesn't rely on voting. Voting just amplifies the problem, with all the people voting up what they recognize, which is the same old stuff, while ignoring or voting down the outliers (which is where the interesting stuff is).

The only forums I've seen that "work" are ones which are based around technical Q&A of some kind. That way, there's a clear mission and an answer, and chatter is seen as annoying by the participants.

Sure - when can you start writing it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42807987)

I wonder if it will ever have an NNTP gateway

Sure it will - when can you start writing it?

Why Ruby on Rails? (1)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about a year and a half ago | (#42808309)

I'm having difficulty understanding why people insist on using Ruby on Rails, especially for projects where their goal is high performance OLTP system.

Twitter was an incredibly high-profile failure, where twitter had to rewrite their entire backend in something else (Java I think? I can't remember now).

If you want to make a scalable application, then use a platform known to be capable of handling such things. What next? Writing code for an embedded system using J2EE?

At least they're using postgres for the database.

Is This Web 3.0? (1)

hduff (570443) | about a year and a half ago | (#42808935)

Maybe with some 5G coverage? Can we do some next-gen dialog about it?

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