A few years ago, Leland Fiegel created a site called WPChat. The site contained an iFrame with an embedded IRC client pointed to Freenode. It provided easy access to IRC where at anytime during the week, users could chat about WordPress. Here’s what the old site looked like.
After being dormant for the past year or two, Fiegel has turned the site into a dedicated forum devoted to WordPress topics.
The site is powered by Discourse, an open source, GPL licensed, discussion platform created by Jeff Atwood. In a post published on his personal site, Fiegel explains why he chose Discourse over other forum software such as bbPress, or phpBB.
Discourse just has a more modern feel to it. The instant flow of discussions, the notification features, it just feels much more like a chatroom, rather than a more traditional piece of forum software.
I felt it fit much more inline with the “brand” of WPChat, and just thought people would enjoy using it better.
Over the weekend, I had the privilege of being one of the first members to the forum. It loads quick and is intuitive to use. The site works great on mobile devices. I’m able to administer, respond to, and create threads easily from my phone.
Discourse Is a Breath Of Fresh Air
Discourse is a fresh take on using forums for community discussion. One of the unique attributes it has is a trust system. As members spend more time replying to and creating more threads, their trust level increases. Higher trust levels provide more capabilities to the user, allowing them to take on a larger role of moderating the forum. I find this to be an interesting approach and wonder how well it does on large, established forums.
Discourse 1.0 has yet to materialize but according to the blog, it’s right around the corner. Since it’s only a year old, there’s not much in the way of a third-party ecosystem. If you plan to install Discourse on your own server, be aware of the minimum requirements. As Fiegel mentions in his post, it’s not as easy to install as WordPress.
A Forum Outside Of WordPress.org
While there is a Google+ group devoted to WordPress and other watering holes, the closest one that feels like a forum to me is the Advanced WordPress user group on Facebook. However, Facebook groups in general lack significant features that make them useful such as threads and an easy way to locate previous discussions. You’re also tied to Facebook in terms of what you can do with the data.
Ever since the WP Tavern forum disappeared, I’ve been looking for somewhere on the web to hang out and chat about WordPress. Not everything is deserving of a blog post but may be worthy of a discussion. WPChat is attempting to fill a void I think is missing in the WordPress community, a well-managed, diversified forum, devoted to WordPress, outside of what is already available on WordPress.org.
Membership to WPChat is free and at the very least, gives you an opportunity to try out Discourse from a user perspective. You’ll be able to find me on WPChat via the username Jeffro.