As we continue to try out Discourse as our discussion forums software, we welcome feedback!

Here are the latest updates:

  • So far: 23 users; 23 topics; 82 posts; 36 likes. To learn where that all fits into the grand scheme of things, see the Tweet embedded below.
  • Our impressions and early feedback from the community have been generally quite positive. We really like what we see with the new platform and we are 99% committed to a full change.
  • The “open beta” period nevertheless continues, and your feedback is still quite welcome in the comments, through our contact page, or directly in the forums:
  • This week, we will announce a soft “content freeze” for the existing forums at During the soft content freeze, we will actively encourage users to join the currently-beta Discourse forums.
  • A hard content freeze will follow in early February, followed by a re-launch of the forums on their new platform and at the new location. After the hard freeze, “” will be set to re-direct to the new location and logins and posting at the existing forums will be disabled.

We still must determine: (a) how best to archive existing forums content (worst-case scenario is that we rely on archived pages available at the Internet Archive through the WayBack Machine); (b) how best to direct discussion/assignment prompts that currently ask students to post to the forums — that is, we have yet to decide whether these should simply point to the new forums, point to (e.g.) our testing center, or be re-formulated to encourage topical discussion rather than specific assignments.

2 thoughts on “Beta community discussion forums — update

  1. I’m sure you didn’t mean archive the old forums without migrating the content to Discourse first, did you?
    Neglecting all the old discussions sounds like a bad idea to me, if you’re indeed planning it this way.

    Anyway, once migrated, no need to archive the old forums, you just need to make sure the URLs redirect efficiently to the migrated posts.

    1. Well, our idea is to produce a clean, static/permanent, searchable archive of the existing content without migrating it to Discourse. That does not do very great honor to what has come before, but at least preserves it — and eliminates cruft.

      We also worry about possible structural and semantic conflicts on a technical but also a user-focused level; e.g. overwhelming a new community with so many voices…many of them ghosts. One possibility would be to spend some time cleaning the older forums, then migrating the vital core to the newer forums but under a read-only “archive” category. Conversations that deserve re-opening could be opened by using the “reply as linked topic” feature and posting to a non-archive category.

      Basically, we have three major considerations: honoring the existing content; avoiding technical mishaps; supporting a still-fledgling community without overburdening it. Hope that all makes sense…?

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