Site design and organization

I’m a bit surprised by this Discourse rollout thus far. Is this still in beta mode? I was hoping some of the categories and sub-categories would be pre-filled and even locked down by the admins to foster some communication organization instead of the syntactical free-for-all I’m presently seeing.

Right, the way things are set up right now it’s not a replacement for how the Slack and mailing list are presently fostering community colloaboration. But it CAN be a replacement…with just a bit more of top-down communication design. As I’ve seen talked about many places before, more communication tools are not necessarily a good thing because it further fractures the community and is yet ANOTHER tool I have to monitor to feel engaged.

If one is a new OSM mapper, and eager to engage the community, what should they do? Presently it seems they need to join Slack, subscribe to multiple mailing lists, this Discourse, and maybe even the Discord server. Tedious. We should strive to whittle down the communication toolset. I see no reason why the whole OSM US Slack channel list and talk-us mailing lists couldn’t be recreated and redirected here with a bit more planning of the Discourse category/subcategory/tagging schema.


Have you read some of the other topics where things like how to organise the categories and what data to import from the forums is being discussed as part of the bootstrapping process?

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The current setup is a kind of “soft-launch”.

If you want to have more details, have a look at the last friday meeting minutes which have been published yesterday :

with a follow-up at Forums governance team meeting - 2022-04-01

Discourse is in the first place planned to replace the old forum software (fluxBB)

You can see the progress on the migration here :

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Thanks. I had a bit. And re-scanned now. Can appreciate getting the new tool out there for the community to kick the tires. However, I think another interesting approach would have been for the implementation committee to have taken a first-pass at a deeper organizing structure before soft release, lest too much momentum builds or people get a bad taste in their mouths. I look foward to seeing how old content migrations take place…as well as how this new Discourse content presetly being created gets massaged into any new structure. An example of another Discourse implementation that I think was well done:

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Woowww, very impressive
poke @cquest


I’m moving this to a separate topic on #site-feedback category.

The current design has not been discussed, but there is flexibility to adapt it to the current and future needs.

I’ve updated the homepage to be more appealing and also list the featured topics in each category, see below other options we might be able to change to if needed.

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Just wondering, if the landing page does a good service to invite passers-by to join the conversation. Doesn’t it look a bit empty, with the three categories?

This is just that, wouldn’t it be better or even, at least for a while?

The categories shown make it look like mostly self-centered, about bringing up a forum. However essential that is, it is not something, that appeals to a broader public I fear, or motivates to share the kind of content, that we want to collect in the long run. The next step, attracting userbase, might now be more of interest? In my view top does better in this regard, of engaging curiosity and contributions.

Additionally, I’d welcome, if the landing page gave some instructions, on how to personalize that. Such is possible? That would be a great advantage over the old forums. On another note, maybe a tag-cloud was nice too, to highlight, that the system has multiple vectors, not just categories, wouldn’t that make sense?


The current content for this forum is just here to bootstrap and prepare the next steps together.

A migration of the old forum should populate the front page with lots of content !

Here is what it may look like:

^ new version after first full migration test !

It is a very partial raw import of the current forum, I’ve just reorganized only a few categories under the “OpenStreetMap” category to show how it could match the actual hierachy that can be seen on

Once I have something stable, I’ll share the URL of this migration test so that everybody can provide feedback on the result.


Thank you Christian, for your efforts. Personally, I hope, that this is not a glimpse at how the site will look like in the future. That would make it a wayback-machine instead.

Thinking of ways to present migrated content: If on the landing page, should be much more compact than such a list! Can the users: prefix get stripped? Should it mix on level foot with all of the categories and tags, that will come to life, except maybe a few, that must be first class citizens (Q&A, Editors, e.g.) and always reside on top?

In the moment, for my own usage, I imagine a customizable feed compiled from categories, tags and other vectors. Just beginning with discourse though. Help wanted! And, of course, a way to learn of new categories and tags, important to help against bubble building (Could be akin to an “anonymous” view, when not logged in?)

This a very raw migration step, of course it can be improved.

“users:” can be removed, we can add flags if we want, etc.

I’ve restarted a new migration test (full one this time, with all posts), you can have a look at it on

The import is in progress, current late 2010. I don’t think login works, no need to try it for the moment.

Can the users: prefix get stripped?

of course categories could change names, but it wouldn’t be desirable, people should find the posts under the same categories as where they are now, otherwise it would contribute to more confusion.

I guess every change is doomed to fail if you are that easily confused

Compared with adjusting to an entirely different forum software (FluxBB → Discourse), I would not expect adjusting to a category name change from users: Brazil to Brazil (for example) to be confusing at all.

I’ve opened a new topic regarding the first full content migration test:

I’m merging this with a related discussion:

I have a hard time imagining how this design would scale beyond the tiny amount of top-level categories we have in the current soft-launch phase.

In my opinion, sections that must be easily discoverable for a new user include:

  • The main international categories (“Help and support”, “General discussion”)
  • The categories of the local communities which the user is part of. In particular, we need the layout to support top-level categories for local communities.

Sections that can be de-emphasized include:

  • “This Site Feedback”, which will mostly be of interest to existing users once the site has become more mature
  • All the other local communities

Tobias is right, I’d say. This will not scale. For may personal use of the site, I rather not see any hierarchical stuff at all, where I can dive into subtrees, and never get out of them for the rest of my life. And I think, I won’t be alone. Rather, the entrance should be a kind of feed of things, that I care about, a flat list. And as I consider language and location top priorities for most people, I shared this idea here. Proposal - Language and location based content and categories - #90 by Hungerburg

Caveats: The feed might have “holes”, sure, you will find a work around.

I want to mention this discussion as related part of this topic. (for feedback consolidation as @nukeador noted)

There are a few principles that I find interesting to consider:

  • Allow the forum to be used by more people to observe how the current features/behaviors play out.
  • Understand what works and doesn’t based on that.
  • Make informed decisions on changes based on this experience.

From my experience that’s the best way to avoid never-ending discussions about what people prefer, since there is always going to be people with different preferences. This way things can be tested and then take informed decisions that might still not make everyone happy, but at least will optimize for the majority + real user-case observations.

In this particular example, I would suggest to wait a bit until we get more users and categories and then check with everyone again in a couple of months how things are going and what issues are taking place.

How does that sound?

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Yeah, we should at least await until migration before doing anything major, that will bring many users who can decide.

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