Categories as homepage

Continuing the discussion from Should we use Docker for Discourse?:

I suggest to have Categories as frontpage as for example is doing.

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I love this idea, but I’m not sure who can help implement it.

I guess we can ask newrelic guys if it’s an option or a hack.

So, it turns out that it’s a simple configuration option. However, we want to deuglify it (and make sure this is the best approach to fixing Discourse’s UX) before possibly making Categories the default page.

I asked @jan to work on a new design that is more visually appealing. Anyone have ideas about how this could look?

After looking at it on our dev server, I’m not so sure that I actually like it… At least in the current form, I really prefer the “firehose” of information.

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The dev server seems to have the same homepage as this one.

…Oh. I guess would be what it would look like.

I still prefer category list for front page rather than a bunch of topics mixed.

is there a procedure for coming to a decision to change to show categories by default or not change? (A committee, a poll, whatever?).

Personally, I don’t think the current ‘firehose of everything’ default scales to hundreds of categories with thousands of posts every day.

@tanner @logan Who is the ultimate decision maker for Mozilla Discourse? Is is part of Community IT?

If we know who should decide on these kind of things it would be easier to move things forward and don’t have decisions blocked for months.


/Cc @majken @comzeradd

Since I’m the owner of the Discourse module that would be me. Based on previous discussions I decided that we should move forwards with making categories the default view but @logan and @tanner were concerned about the layout of the page amongst other things, so in this instance I asked them to make the decision. The next steps are up to them.

yeah neither seem like the right answer at this point. What would be great
is if there was a way for people to see their subscribed categories for
their homepage. Not sure which page would be ideal for new users. The
firehose might actually give more information faster.

Who makes this decision would change as adoption changes. Right now a bunch
of things are stalled as we regroup to gain momentum, but that momentum
should kick in soon.

I agree. Actually this is what most discourse instances that I have seen do. For instance MoFo one:

From what I can see, a rather simple decision is being made ridiculously complex.

The categories view isn’t perfect, but I think it’s clear to the majority that it’s far better than the discussions view, and will be particularly so if we want Discourse to scale within Mozilla. Furthermore, it’ll be far easier for users to adapt to the change when we have a just a handful of users rather than most of Mozilla.

Considering the majority of other Discourse sites use the categories view as the homepage, the burden is on those supporting the discussions view to argue why it makes more sense for the majority of users (not just them) and particularly new users to Discourse - once people have become familiar, if they prefer the discussions view, there’s no reason they can’t use it.

From what I’ve seen reading the threads on Discourse about this, @logan and @tanner seem to be blocking this, but simultaneously providing no final decision, nor any updates on their thought processes.

Since the status quo among the majority of other Discourse sites is to use the categories view as default, until @logan and @tanner reach a final decision it seems pretty clear to me that the default view should be the categories view - it’s not as if this is a change which requires much time, effort or money to revert.

That’s never been established. In fact, in terms of scaling, we may want separate Discourse instances instead of one that covers every area within Mozilla.

True, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t actually put some thought into the decision. @yousef made the change with nary an announcement or taking into consideration the ordering of the categories, so @tanner reverted the change very soon after (after I expressed an issue with this as well). Since @yousef didn’t want to take the effort to actually think this out (which should be his job as the module owner), he just delegated the change to us. Changing the default entry page for a website is a huge UX decision, no matter how easy it is technically.

No? I’ve seen maybe one Discourse forum out in the wild (aside from the one @comzeradd mentioned) that uses the categories as the homepage.

If it were so obviously preferable, then it would be the default homepage. The firehose of posts at least gives the site a dynamic feel, while listing categories reminds me of the old standbys like phpBB. I like the idea that @majken mentioned, but I don’t feel like just listing static categories as the homepage is the best way to go at this time.

I would’ve preferred if you spoke to me personally instead of making these broad statements.

This poll shows majority support, as does reading the comments on this thread.

Right - but for the time being, given the current number of users using Discourse, it makes more sense to use the categories view than keep the discussions view while waiting what will probably be a long time for a decision on multi-Discourse. I wouldn’t support making the change to different Discourse instances without lots of thought and discussion, because its a huge change. This isn’t.

From what I’ve read, quite a lot of thought has been put into the decision. I’ve only just joined the discussion, so you’ll have to forgive me if I’ve got the timeline wrong - but as it stands, there’s a number of arguments in favour of defaulting to the categories view, and not many in favour of not.

The ordering of the categories issue seems like a rather minor one, which while may be an inconvenience, doesn’t make it necessary to throw the baby out with the bathwater. As I said above, the categories view isn’t currently perfect, but it’s illogical to not switch to a better default view because it’s not perfect.

There’s also something very wrong with Community IT if people are overriding what the module owner has decided, without their approval.

Let’s not kid ourselves here, Discourse currently gets a handful of users, and is a testbed to see if it could get properly adopted by Mozilla. No decision here is a huge UX decision. If we’re going to get bogged down in mindless bureaucracy, Discourse is going to get nowhere within Mozilla.

Upon seeking out as many Discourse installations as I can find, it looks like most do use the default discussions view. Despite this, there are still a number of good arguments for changing to the categories view by default.

If there’s any doubt surrounding that, let me add another argument in favour: most Discourse installations are centered around one topic. Mozilla on the other hand is a very diverse community, and some things (Reps involvement in Mozfest) have nothing to do with others (Community IT discussions). Is this an argument for multi-Discourse? Maybe, but that’s not the discussion we’re having right now. As it stands, this Discourse installation has a number of very diverse discussions happening on it, and so flooding a new user with all of them, when they’re almost certainly looking for only one thing, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Why, aside from it being the default?

I’m really not sure what you’re saying here. What broad statements have I made? I’ve merely posted my interpretation of things posted in public. Am I not allowed to have an opinion in public if it disagrees with yours?

I’m happy to help with this, I would like to understand the UX problem that we are facing here and if an alphabetical sorting can lead to any problem.

Yes, that would also make me understand better the issue. Since @yousef is the module he should take into consideration all opinions expressed here and make a final decision.

OK, here’s a good learning moment. Saying that other people do x or y is a very weak argument, because even if the majority of people do it one way that doesn’t mean that suits you best.

What we need to do is talk about use cases. What are the use cases of the people coming to discourse, what are the use cases of the people coming to the home page first, what are they looking for? Which view best provides that to them?

If we can agree on the use cases then we will agree on a solution very quickly.

User cases:

  • User from tablet contribution program that want to read and discuss about the device.
  • Rep who wants to report an event debrief or see new announcements about the program.
  • SUMO buddies that want to share their experiences.

What I see is mozillians that want to know more and talk about their specific area/project.

I don’t see a use rcase for a mozillian interested in all categories we have right now.