Moving to Discourse?

karroffelkarroffel Posts: 6Member Godot Developer

Heyo!

I remember seeing the post about the forums shutting down a while ago, but fortunately it seems like everything worked out (or at least got delayed hehe).

When this was happening I received a mail from a Discourse employee. Discourse is a forum software that got pretty popular lately, and as it turns out they have free hosting for open source projects. (up to a certain traffic limit, but then you can migrate to your own solution)

At first I was sceptic, but it actually seems like a really decent solution, many other projects are using as their forum software, a few very popular even (like Rust, cocos2d, ...) and the code is completely free and open source.

There are scripts for importing from Vanilla Forums as well.

This might seem a bit like an advertisement or something, but I'm not involved in Discourse in any way, I just think it's a really neat project, and maybe we could get a discourse.godotengine.org domain and have the forums be a little more official (and hopefully more used because of that), just like there now is an "official" Matrix namespace under godotengine.org.

Now I'm not a frequent forum visitor here, and there might be many upsides to keeping Vanilla and maybe somethings are really nice in terms of "workflow", I wouldn't know, so this might be totally not a good thing.

Then on the other hand, Discourse seem to be a bit more "alive" because of it's growing popularity, there are voting plugins, Q&A systems and also Discord integration it seems (not sure how that would work actually :smiley: )

But yeah, this is just a suggestion, I know the hosting just moved and the "critical" phase seems to be over, but this might be interesting for the longer term.

Best,
Thomas

Comments

  • MegalomaniakMegalomaniak Posts: 816Admin
    edited April 6

    I have nothing against the idea of migrating to discourse, however we currently do not have any immediate need to do so. With that said, thanks for pointing out the free 50% discourse hosting discount bit. Definitely worth keeping in the back of our minds.

    Vanilla vs Discourse I personally don't much care they are both equally bad IMO as a user. phpBB still holds a special place in my heart. ;)

    In terms of plugins: Vanilla also has a whole lot of plugins, but I'm largely against using plugins since they are a maintenance cost(time involved regarding forum software and thus plugin updates). This especially applies to third party plugins.
    Note that we already have a Q&A plugin in use here.

    This is all certainly worth discussing though, and I agree bringing the forum back home to godotengine.org would be excellent however that is entirely dependent on the engine team giving/helping with the hosting resources, we currently have a backender who could handle this(who is currently hosting the forum for us FOR FREE just out of the saintly goodness of his heart).

  • karroffelkarroffel Posts: 6Member Godot Developer

    If I understood correctly the first year is completely free, no matter the traffic, but if you have more than a certain amount of views you need to switch either to your own hosting solution or then have a 50% off of one of their hosting solutions.

    I understand the point about plugins, but then again, they are optional, and discourse seems to be quite cool even without them (but so does vanilla).

    I think it would be not a big problem to have the forums live under a forums.godotengine.org subdomain, the hosting can be somewhere completely different, the project lead/web team would only need to set up DNS records accordingly. We could ask @Akien about it, I don't know what would speak against then (but I'm a noob when it comes to web stuff, so I'm probably ignorant about that :sweat_smile: ).

  • MegalomaniakMegalomaniak Posts: 816Admin
    edited April 6

    Godot engine has 19 committers(edit: never mind I was looking at the wrong thing so more like 41 contributors within this last year) afaik and their minimum requirement was 30, otoh Godot surpasses their 2k stars requirement. Also I suspect that we do get a lot of views since this forum is the type of thing that would come up when searching for solutions online to problems. Certainly most people tend to be lurkers/readers.

    Without plugins I'd say discourse and vanilla are fairly close in features. Only thing in discourses favor is markdown support by default(but then that is also pretty limiting in post formatting), and depending on who you ask the 'single page' discussions(it's actually background/auto-loading). This is from user viewpoint. From the administrative view point discourse definitely has some advantages though.

  • karroffelkarroffel Posts: 6Member Godot Developer

    We should meet the requirements rather easily, I mean they did approach us (the person writing the mail said they are working on a Godot project themselves :smile: ) so that shouldn't be a problem at all.

    I can't say anything about the administration => web noob and all that.

    This is probably highly subjective, but I personally prefer their user interface, it looks more welcoming. But that might just be me :)

    I mean the contents should be what people come for. I have had an account here for quite a while, and it's not like the things here aren't interesting, but to some degree I think the way the forum looks had an impact on me not using it actively. That might seem like a shallow reaction ( - a subconscious one, I didn't chose to not come again because of the UX, it just didn't hook me in enough), but I fear that many people could think/feel that way. There are tons of people on Discord that wish for more permanent solutions to their conversations and we do recommend the forums, but it looks like only a rather small fraction from the Discord people are actually around here.

    So yeah, I think their UX is an improvement over Vanilla, at least in my opinion.

    // btw, cool to see that some more people have the admin badge, I remember Kiori asking around helplessly for more moderators, glad you and others joined in :)

  • MegalomaniakMegalomaniak Posts: 816Admin
    edited April 8

    Another thing to consider is that we are not currently on the very latest version of Vanilla, so just a forum software update and an updated theme might be sufficient perhaps?

    I'm inclined to perhaps take some time and develop a new custom theme in line with the engine site design(in case there's ever site integration opportunity) however that will be something that will take time and I feel only really worthwhile going through that if we actually are going to go for integration with the engine website.

    As for the Q&A, since the forum already has a Q&A plugin we might be able to import/integrate that with the forum, if there is such interest.

    After all there are plenty of excellent showcases for Vanilla as well:
    https://vanillaforums.com/en/showcase/

    Integrates pretty well too(iirc the engine website is wordpress?):
    https://vanillaforums.com/en/features/integrations/

    Yeah about the admin role/badge, nobody ever actually asked me if I wanted to be an admin, but it's OK I do agree that we needed more admins and mods. :) On the subject of user roles, oh look something happened to you too. :p

  • MagicLordMagicLord Posts: 506Member
    edited April 10

    Actually Vanilla does the job pretty well, most people use it to ask questions, get help or share code or projects.
    I don't see any benefit moving to Discourse, i won't gain nothing more.
    For me a forum doesn't need to be beautiful, but effective, what matters is to get some responses or share some code, i don't come to the forum to look at some banners and pictures gallery, whatever the forum color is black or white doesn't matter.
    But people in charge of this forum are free to do what they want, i don't mind if this would change.

  • phongenixphongenix Posts: 4Member

    Hi everyone. Newcomer here. I've just started with Godot for a few weeks ( it's great! we've been using Unity for our 2D games: www.genix-lab.com ).

    One thing I've found a bit "uncomfortable" is that there are this forum and also another Q&A forum. And I just want to say that I'd vote for Discourse as well. Discourse feels more "friendly" to me. That's my humble opinion. Thanks.

  • keltwookiekeltwookie Posts: 172Moderator

    @MagicLord said:
    Actually Vanilla does the job pretty well...

    Yep, even if each upgrade is a pain in the … (stoooop!), often due (but not only) to the necessary plugins needed for a comfortable use (for users and admins/moderators) That’s the main reason why I gave up for my own use.
    Having said that, the admin panel is very easy to manage compared to some others.

    About Discourse :
    Even if at first sight I like it very much, I tried a whole day to install it for testing purpose… Without success. I gave up too.

  • phongenixphongenix Posts: 4Member

    This Discourse forum looks better IMHO: https://forum.defold.com

    Btw, I've just tried and successfully installed Discourse on a $5 Vultr VPS. Just a test: http://45.77.35.179

  • karroffelkarroffel Posts: 6Member Godot Developer

    As I said before, as long as the traffic isn't too high, the Discourse instance would be hosted for free from the Discourse people. When that traffic limit gets exceeded they can help setting up a self hosted instance, so I think that shouldn't be an issue.

    I think Discourse looks and feels better as well, but as I said, that's highly subjective. I know people who know about the forum here but don't use it because it's not very inviting.

    I know there's no urgent need to switch, but I'm glad it kind of sparked some kind of discussion. :)

  • NeoDNeoD Posts: 130Member
    edited May 3

    @phongenix said:
    This Discourse forum looks better IMHO: https://forum.defold.com

    Btw, I've just tried and successfully installed Discourse on a $5 Vultr VPS. Just a test: http://45.77.35.179

    Many Discourse forums are too bright for my eyes (maybe because I'm becoming old ?)
    But it's possible to have something like this <3

  • MegalomaniakMegalomaniak Posts: 816Admin
    edited May 3

    It would seem that most people are judging by the theme. As I've stated before, I'm ok with moving on to discourse and the free hosting is definitely favorable, but if there is going to be a labor intensive move like this we better have good reasons for it. Features wise we would gain about as much from upgrade to vanilla as we would from moving to discourse but at a lower cost in terms of work involved. Also php developers are more common than ruby on rails so the pros to cons then are:


    1. Discourse:

      • pro: potentially free hosting(I'd need to be put in contact with the appropriate person to determine this).
      • con: more work involved.
      • con: harder to find backenders(though in the case of that free hosting offer we will presumably get help with that).
    2. Vanilla:

      • pro: less work involved.
      • pro: easier to find backenders(we already have 1 though he has stated hes OK with discourse as well).
      • kinda con: I'm not aware if an option for infinite scrolling pages/discussion is integrated into vanilla default install, probably a plugin for it. Kind-of-con only because this is subjective and I personally prefer pages anyways.

    As far as theme/skinning is concerned it's been a while however I'm sure I can whip something new up in either case(mostly going to involve CSS/JS). I already have some ideas brewing on that front anyways.

  • karroffelkarroffel Posts: 6Member Godot Developer

    @Megalomaniak I forwarded you the original mail, not sure how much of that is supposed to be public, but maybe that helps a bit :)

    I wouldn't say that vanilla PHP developers are more common than people willing to work on Discourse, judging by the collaborator numbers on github. Vanilla & Discourse.

    Buuuut, the huge disclaimer as always: I'm not a webdev, maybe that's worth nothing if nobody like that is in our community.

  • MegalomaniakMegalomaniak Posts: 816Admin

    @karroffel said:
    I wouldn't say that vanilla PHP developers are more common than people willing to work on Discourse, judging by the collaborator numbers on github. Vanilla & Discourse.

    AFAIK any skilled php developer is not really going to care whether its phpbb or vanilla or drupal for that matter. Our current backender had never dealt with vanilla before but still got it all moved over to his server within two days at short notice. But then he has dealt with php since his early teens and at this point has got over a decade of professional experience.

  • phongenixphongenix Posts: 4Member

    @NeoD
    "Many Discourse forums are too bright for my eyes (maybe because I'm becoming old ?)
    But it's possible to have something like this <3"

    C'mon, I'm 39 but still like fancy stuff lol (j/k).
    Anyway, Discourse has a dark theme just like this current forum (and it can be set to apply to all users, or individual user just can choose light/dark theme for their own).

    Some other nice gamedev-related Discourse hosting:
    https://discourse.atomicgameengine.com
    https://discourse.libsdl.org
    https://discourse.threejs.org
    https://community.gamedev.tv

    https://forum-test.blendernation.com (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1072051946/blenderartists-20-were-moving-to-discourse)

    (Off-topic: this looks nice for PHP guys: http://flarum.org)

  • erlend_sherlend_sh Posts: 1Member

    Hi all. I'm the mysterious Discourse employee who got in touch with the Godot team.

    I reached out because I saw that this forum was shutting down, which was a crying shame. While I do of course have a bias towards Discourse I'm just a huge fanboy of forums in general because of the way they open up, store and disseminate information. I'm doing a part-part-time project together with a Godot developer so I have a tiny personal stake in this community. I really didn't like the prospect of this forum leaving behind a vacuum that mostly chat-based communities would come to fill up, as I feel very strongly that chat and forum discussions are two completely different modes of discussion and should be treated as complementary rather than in opposition with one another.

    So the tl;dr of it all is: So long as this forum community remains up and running in a sustainable manner (no one is sacrificing their rent money to keep it up) I'm not gonna push for a move. I'll address the debate above for posterity's sake.

    Maintenance

    It's not really a matter of knowing the programming language or framework that a platform is built on. I've administrated forum communities running on SMF, bbPress, BuddyPress, VBulletin, Discuz! and more, and I'm not a programmer. What it comes down to is the user friendliness of updates, plugins, themes and other future-friendly customisations. The vast majority of communities (just like websites, i.e. WordPress) are by and large not maintained by developers but rather by community managers with varying degrees of technical savvy. Developers are only brought in when sh** breaks.

    Plugins

    To be clear, the free hosting that I'm offering is on the Standard plan of Discourse.org, which doesn't allow custom plugins. The default bundle of plugins we include seem to suffice for hundreds of open source communities we're already hosting.

    Projects without web developers or budgets that can't be dedicated to keeping custom plugins up to date really shouldn't get involved with them in the first place. The technical debt builds up, and before you know it you have a broken feature with lots of users and no one around to fix it. Or, worse yet, a security hole.

    I was part of the core team behind jMonkeyEngine and its community for half a decade, and every time we ventured into a non-trivial development project that wasn't part of our core competence as an engineering team (Game engine development) it came back to haunt us 6-24 months later, without fail.

    Patreon

    One major feature I think Discourse has going for it in the context of hosting the Godot community is our Patreon integration. Just like Discord (yes, a lot of people get our two products mixed up), Discourse helps raise awareness of a project's Patreon campaign which in turn brings in more patrons.

    Godot Q&A

    I don't think the Godot community is well served by having https://godotengine.org/qa/ and https://godotdevelopers.org/forum/ co-existing. Looking at the Q&A board, the vast majority of questions that have received any reply at all have just a single reply (and a helpful one at that!). There aren't really answers competing for prominence, which makes up/down voting a redundant feature. The Godot community would be much better off with a single forum platform to crowdsource their knowledge base.

    If merging the Q&A site into this forum is a possibility, I strongly suggest you pursue it. In the case of being hosted on Discourse, this is something we could assist with. We don't normally do this type of thing for free but we make exceptions for projects that we are big fans of and/or would be a good story for our brand.

  • MegalomaniakMegalomaniak Posts: 816Admin
    edited May 6

    @erlend_sh said:
    Godot Q&A

    I don't think the Godot community is well served by having https://godotengine.org/qa/ and https://godotdevelopers.org/forum/ co-existing. Looking at the Q&A board, the vast majority of questions that have received any reply at all have just a single reply (and a helpful one at that!). There aren't really answers competing for prominence, which makes up/down voting a redundant feature. The Godot community would be much better off with a single forum platform to crowdsource their knowledge base.

    If merging the Q&A site into this forum is a possibility, I strongly suggest you pursue it. In the case of being hosted on Discourse, this is something we could assist with. We don't normally do this type of thing for free but we make exceptions for projects that we are big fans of and/or would be a good story for our brand.

    Oh the partitioning/fracturing of the godot community is downright anecdotal, in addition to the forum and the Q&A there is reddit and many other venues. So yes, I reckon that if the forum is to ever move back to the godotengine.org fold it would make sense to merge the Q&A to the forum, but we would need to first get the OK from the engine websites/Q&A administrators. Although in that case the hosting should probably move to the same park/venue where the engine website is hosted and the hosting costs should ideally be covered from the same funding(patreon I guess).

  • nathanjwtxnathanjwtx Posts: 3Member

    As a fairly new Godot user the number of "official" places to seek help is somewhat bewildering. I didn't even know about the QA bit until I read this post through. I typically use Discord as the C# folks there are really responsive and helpful but the downside to that is trying to look something up that was said x number of days ago. I agree that chat and forums do kind of serve different purposes but it would be nice if there was a more unified umbrella. Just my 2 cents.

  • RukiriRukiri Posts: 57Member

    Why did the forums move to Vanilla Forums to begin with? personally Vanilla is pretty bad...
    What was wrong with MyBB, PhpBB, etc? Discourse is a good move but it's not great to navigate unless you use the search feature.

  • MegalomaniakMegalomaniak Posts: 816Admin

    @Rukiri said:
    What was wrong with MyBB, PhpBB, etc?

    No clue, but I'm guessing administration. Would have been before my time administering here.

    @Rukiri said:
    Why did the forums move to Vanilla Forums to begin with? personally Vanilla is pretty bad...

    Not sure I agree, it's fairly comparable to discourse just doesn't automatically reload the page for new messages.

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