Just Launched: The New SitePoint Forums

By Sarah Hawk
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After nine months of hard work (and plenty of fretting), we have a new baby. Since January we have been working hard to prepare for the migration of our forums off vBulletin and onto the Discourse platform. The time has come to flick the switch and like any new parent, I’m a bit overexcited about the whole thing!

There are many reasons behind the decision to make the move, and if you’re interested you can read about them in detail here. From a technical standpoint, SitePoint and Discourse are a marriage made in heaven. It is an open source JavaScript app using the Ember.js framework, running Rails server-side. We’re a Rails house, which means that we have the resources to maintain and customize the software so that it works for us. From a community perspective, Discourse is a smart choice. It empowers community members by providing them with tools that enable them to have influence over the content that they see.

Discourse is an exciting new forum frontier, and SitePoint on Discourse is a thing of true beauty.

The New SitePoint forums

A Discourse topic

I appreciate that design is subjective (and everyone thinks that their own baby is beautiful), and for every one of you that loves our new look, there will likely be someone that doesn’t like it so much. That’s absolutely fine and I’m interested in your feedback, but please make it constructive. There is a feedback thread here.

So… how do I access this thing of beauty?

Good question. You’ll find the new forum here. If you have been active in our vBulletin forum in the last 5 years then we have migrated your existing user account over. Provided your email address was up to date in vBulletin, you should have received an email from us by now with instructions on how to log in and reset your password. If you have any problems with that process, email forums@sitepoint.com and we’ll sort it out.

If you’ve been active but didn’t receive an email from us (and you’ve checked your spam folder), it may be that we have the wrong email address for you. In that case you have a couple of options. You can try logging in to Discourse with your existing vBulletin username and request a password change. If that doesn’t work then you can contact forums@sitepoint.com and ask for assistance.

If you’ve not been active for more than 5 years, or are new to our community, feel free to sign up to Discourse with a new account.

Note that if you sign up with a new account when you already have an existing one, any migrated posts will remain associated with your old account.

Why doesn’t my old username work?

Discourse has more restrictive rules for usernames than vBulletin, which means that some usernames may have been altered in the migration. If you think yours may have been affected, you can read more about the new username rules here. If your username doesn’t fit into these rules, it may have had characters stripped from it, or it may not have been migrated at all. Contact forums@sitepoint.com if you need help finding your new account.

Wow. This looks really different. How does it work?

There are a number of helpful documents that will get you underway. You’ll find links to them in the Discourse welcome banner (which you can close once you know your way around).

  • The FAQ document outlines our guidelines and rules for posting, and can be found in the secondary navigation bar at the top of the forum.
  • The category map explains where to find and post different subjects and which tags to apply.
  • The handy Discourse Cheat Sheet explains how to get your head around how to do things the Discourse way.
  • And lastly, here is an explanation of Trust Levels, which are a core part of the Discourse experience. Note that regardless of whether you have a migrated account, or you open a new one, you will start off at Trust Level 0 (just so you can learn the ropes). It doesn’t take long to jump up the ranks.

Where can I find a real person to help me?

The following links will take you to the staff pages, where you’ll be able to see who is currently online. Clicking on a name will take you to that person’s profile page, where you’ll find a big red Private Message button. Any staff member will be able to help you out, or at least point you in the right direction.

Administrators (people who can help you with technical things like username changes).
Team Leaders (senior moderators).
Advisors (moderators who can give you advice and move your topics around).
Mentors (super helpful people who can give you a hand finding your way around but can’t perform moderation tasks).

Some new terminology to learn

A couple of things have new names in Discourse, and it’s handy to start thinking in those terms.
What we used to call a forum or a sub-forum in vBulletin is now called a category.
What we used to call a thread in vBulletin is now called a topic.

A few important things to note

The Showcase and Jobs categories

The all new Showcase is a place where you can self-promote to your heart’s content, provided you’ve been around for long enough to show us that you really want to be a part of the community – it’s based on the new Trust Levels.

Then there’s the new Jobs category. Ever since we did away with the SitePoint Marketplace, there hasn’t really been anywhere for you to find the right person to help you out with building a script or a plugin, so we’re rectifying that by giving you a place to advertise for help. (Note that you can’t advertise the services that you have on offer, only your requirements).

How do I set up my signature?

You don’t. Many of you will feel annoyed about this and some will want to debate it. It’s not open to negotiation. Discourse doesn’t support signatures and we’re good with that. What you can do is customise your profile page to display a link to your site. To do that, click on your avatar at the top right of the screen, select Profile from the drop down menu, and then click the Preferences button.

Likes and flags

One of my favorite things about Discourse is how much control it gives you to influence behavior in the community.

LikeClick this when you see a post that you like.

FlagClick this if you see a post that you don’t like.

Discourse will take care of the rest. You can read more about liking and flagging here.

So there you have it. The all new shiny SitePoint Forums are alive and kicking.

What are you waiting for?

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  • Wolf_22

    The looks of everything have the knee-jerk reaction of throwing you off at first, but once you’ve been on there awhile and see the interactivity of the discussions, etc., it makes everything worth it.

    Keep up the great work! The future just got a little brighter! :)

    • HAWK

      Couldn’t have put it better myself. Thanks for persevering. :)

  • I hate socialists

    It looks and feels like a blog, rather than a ‘forum’. The OP receives all the attention and the rest of the threads feel/seem like blog replies.

    It’s awfully reminiscent of the cluster truck vBulletin 5 has become.

    – ‘liking’ posts
    – replies nested within replies (wtf? I understand on disqus or reddit, but not on a forum)
    – infinite scroll (ah, I love it when my browser crashes because the constant loading of JS/AJAX brings the browser to a crippling halt) — pagination exists for a reason.

    Congrats on destroying the forum!

    • Ralph Mason

      “replies nested within replies”. Really? Why do you say that? It follows a standard, traditional forum layout.

      • Wolf_22

        Sure, when the replies aren’t duplicated. The current configuration has the replies not only remaining in place but also duplicating themselves whenever you click on the ‘+’ sign. That’s not a “traditional forum layout.”

        (All of that being said without knowing whether they’ve changed anything since first noticing it.)

    • LouisLazaris

      – replies nested within replies (wtf? I understand on disqus or reddit, but not on a forum)

      You mean, Disqus and Reddit, two of the most popular community platforms? If it works there, who says it can’t work in a forum? Does every forum have to follow 1999 guidelines? Of course, I’m not saying it’s going to work, I’m just saying it’s ridiculous to assume it won’t if there’s clear evidence that it does.

      infinite scroll (ah, I love it when my browser crashes because the constant loading of JS/AJAX brings the browser to a crippling halt) — pagination exists for a reason.

      Besides the fact that pagination does not exist to replace infinite scroll (it existed long before anyone ever came up with infinite scroll), I would guess the main issue would be how well implemented it is. If that’s a Discourse feature, then I would assume their engineers have done everything possible to optimize the experience. If it’s a SitePoint thing, I would trust their developers have done a good job and will keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t cause any problems. And Disqus, a very popular platform, also uses it, so again, it does work.

    • HAWK

      You can’t please all of the people all of the time.
      I hope it grows on you.

    • Craig

      Congratulations, the sitepoint forums don’t even look or feel like forums anymore. You have completely destroyed the community feel. The sad part is that it’s 100% development and ZERO design. YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE WEBMASTERS!

      I’ll bet you anything that growth rate and participation in the community has significantly dropped. I’m not posting there until you change it back and it’s not too late to turn back, simply re-activate the old forums and lose the newer posts. I guarantee, your forum will be obsolete in 3 years if you don’t go back.

  • amit d

    Great work – Discourse looks great.
    Keep up the good work!

  • dojoVader

    Well just registered and i think its basic and not bad, we can reply and see responses so it suffices, but the only issue i have with it is the badges, it sounds so basic. “Basic,Leader” sounds too plain as RPG person i’d prefer things like The Padawan,The Underling, Comment Wizard, Post Wizard, then you can slowly gain CXP, Community Xperience Point to unlock new abilities like maybe comment, hide topics and stuff. I think i got carries away :D but would be more fun; as an RPG person, it would drive me to gain more skills(spend time communicating on the platform). Yeah also it seems NodeJS is missing as a category

  • looks good