Wow, this is different. Categories? Topics? What?

The biggest difference—or at least the one that hits me biggest—is that Discourse by default shows you a flat view of the entire community. I had a hard time with this at first, but then I took a step back and thought about it, and it makes a hell of a lot of sense.

What’s the first thing I check when I visit a forum? New replies to topics I’m following. Discourse eliminates the step of first showing you the top-level category view, and immediately starts you off looking at new topics.

I’m not convinced this is the right way to go with a very high-volume site, but for medium- or low-volume forums, this seems ideal.

On ars I just go straight to ego search. I find the lack of partitions here slightly weird, I suppose for something much more unified it might work

We’re humans, we long to partition the world, be I with flags, taxonomies or wearing the right hipster moustache.

The partitions are here in the form of categories, but they’re relegated to a tag-style role rather than a true set of divisions. Categories are also right now only 1:1, too—messages can’t be in multiple categories. However, the forum devs have plans to change that and allow messages to exist with multiple categories.

My ideal would involve fixed groupings, basically the subforums we’re all used to, with “category tags” on top of that. That would especially be useful for high-volume forums, that can easily get cluttered with a lot of stuff you aren’t interested in.

For example in the Lounge on Ars, it would be cool to just be able to view all of the threads about movies and tv shows.

Category tags would make an interesting addition to a topically partitioned forum. No need for rules like “One thread per topic” instead it’s “One category per topic”. If people want a chili-flood they can have it, as a category and those that don’t want to see the chili-flood could turn it off.

Better example would be in GESC: instead of a single catch-all thread per game there could be multiple threads dedicated to specific elements of the game. A multiplayer and single-player thread, threads dedicated to analyzing subplots, threads dedicated to mechanics, etc. People who don’t want to see all the threads on a particular game would just set that category to hidden.

You’d still want to enforce users being a bright, strong signal in a sea of dorkness. Which, admittedly, would be made harder but it would provide for more flexibility in the long term as well. No one wants to see another Gamefaqs get created after all: “Whose hotter: Garrus or Miranda. Chuze insyde, BATTEL!”