Discourse: rebooting the public sphere

This is interesting — a serious attempt to re-engineer an online forum system. One of the most depressing things about the last two decades is the way the discussion-group system (the News Groups that were the glory of the pre-Web Internet) decayed and effectively disappeared from view. And yet online discussion is one of the things we need most if the Net is to re-vitalise the public sphere. So this new, open-source project has the potential to restore something really valuable.

Discourse is a from-scratch reboot, an attempt to reimagine what a modern, sustainable, fully open-source Internet discussion platform should be today – both from a technology standpoint and a sociology standpoint.

We tried to build in all the lessons learned from the last ten years of Internet web forums, so that the community has a natural immune system to defend itself from trolls, bad actors, and spammers. There’s also a trust system, so engaged community members can assist in the governance of their community.

The act of participating in a discussion should fundamentally feel good in a way that it currently does not on all existing forums and mailing lists. It should be fun to have discussions with other human beings, not a chore, or something that’s barely tolerable.