Hyperlink Forum

Discourse Inspo

I pulled from a couple different forums when setting up this Discourse instance. The biggest inspiration, just for how amazing the community is, was lines. I also looked at ethresear.ch and anti libraries.


  • Are there any standout Discourse instances that you know of?
  • What makes them tick? Moderation, themes, organization, anything

Oh cool, lines looks super good, hadn’t seen that one before!

Ones I follow:

  • FreeCodeCamp (open source web dev curriculum) has a very active forum
  • FeverBee is a community for community managers, smaller but good discussions and some nice customizations
  • Cracking the Code is actually one I help run for my day job, also fairly small but active, niche community focused on learning guitar technique
  • Discourse Meta is great for following development of Discourse itself

FYI you can add /about to any Discourse homepage to see some overview stats & one thing I notice comparing lines and FCC for example, is that lines seems to have a lot more dense activity, probably a core of super active regular users. FCC has a huge # of users but many more inactive (which would make sense if they just come once to post a question they’re stuck on) and fewer replies per topic.

I’m also interested in ways to support a strong forum, particularly with growth and activity early on, for small / new communities like FNS and Antilibraries :slight_smile: With the Antilibraries forum (started a few months ago) I’ve got ~50 users signed up, but only 11 active in the past 30 days, and I’m finding emails don’t necessarily work to get people back in to check out newer discussions.

One thing I’ve found inspiring recently is this guide Darius Kazemi made called Run your own social, all about starting a DIY social network. He runs a community using a fork of Mastodon, supporting an intimate friend network…not quite the same as a topic-specific forum, but lots of good ideas / tips.

Some ideas I’m thinking it could be worth exploring include:

  • Personal onboarding, giving each user a custom introduction to the community, explaining not only the software, but who the other users are, and the group norms / traditions
  • Group activities — some sort of regularly scheduled event (online and/or IRL?) that helps socialize everyone with one another…could also be weekly prompts, ongoing challenges, etc. (the “learning adventure” structure seems like a good mechanism here!)
  • Bringing on some additional moderators (in my case, not even for technical reasons, but to set an example with being active, prompting good discussions, etc.)
  • Maybe playing more with some Discourse plugins, e.g. this chat plugin could be cool!

Posting for reference just because it’s fun to check out new Discourse forums on interesting niche topics and I think Jared mentioned this one recently—

Small new community for discussing “thinking tools”:

Our mission is to rethink how we create, share and organise knowledge. This community is a place to share ideas, post designs, and ask questions on the interaction and architecture of tools for thinking.