Big Changes Coming to the Forums!


And the test Discourse migration is at

Feedback on either version is welcome!


The user names and passwords didn’t migrate to the new site?

I read the “Dialog” thread under Other Authoring Systems. It appears you have to scroll through all of the old responses and not just go to a page near the end or just go to new messages. Also the Dialog thread is locked for new posts. Is that due to testing status?

Sorry, I just don’t like Discourse. But, the content and level of user expertise here is unavailable anywhere else on the internet.

Thanks to the administrators for operating and maintaining this resource.


PS. The legacy board generates the “Sorry” message at every visit now. The current forum has become very cumbersome to use.


Passwords are preserved on both test sites. Discourse applies some extra restrictions however: passwords under 10 characters, or with less than 6 unique characters, or that are from a list of the top 10K most common passwords are blocked. Those are all settings we can change, however they seem like sensible restrictions to me.

Read tracking does work in Discourse, however it may not have transferred tracking from phpBB.


Looks and feels like a proper forum.

I dig it.

(Andrew Plotkin) #65

If this is you, you can use the “I forgot my password” link on the Discourse site to change it and then log in.

(Dan Fabulich) #66

I prefer the Discourse version. It’s way better on mobile. phpBB is missing the “Like” button, which reduces noise and supports the “Summarize this topic” button.

(Erik Temple) #67

Another vote for the Discourse version. One piece of feedback, though: On a desktop computer, the Categories page (

Thanks to the folks making these changes for all the effort!

(Brian Rushton) #68

My first impression with Discourse is a bit of confusion, as I try to find everything. I like the ease of finding latest topics (which what I always want to do anyway), but I’d be okay if you took Erik’s suggestion into account (no preference there).

I saw a notification for 14 unread topics. I thought, ‘surely I have more than that unread’. I was very pleased to discover that it shows responses to my own topics that I haven’t read yet. I found out that there are conversations and answers from years ago that I never read (like a big discussion on how many mathematicians there are in IF, and readership numbers, etc.). I love that.

I like phpBB but it’s been unreliable. For that reason alone, I prefer the new direction (i.e. Discourse).

Edit: This is imported from an older version of intfiction, right? It’s missing newer topics and my name change hadn’t gone through.

(bg) #69

Are there any major differences between the phpBB test forum and the current forum? I’m just curious because at first glance, the two look basically the same.


Discourse is very modern piece of software. I like some features, like cleaner typography without tables inside tables, even syntax colouring is there, that’s really nice, however like all modern software there are some very annoying things about it preventing normal usage. For example something as usual as scrolling through text is almost impossible, on my computer - when I grab scrollbar and move it, instantly it lags, jumps in random manner and whole screen is replaced with completely blank page so I don’t see where I am, then it takes a second or two until text appears again. Or I select whole thread of 50 posts with mouse, ctrl+c, ctrl+v to text editor and only a small fraction of content gets copied. Both those are thanks to infinite scrolling already discussed, so nothing new, I’m just frustrated how absurd is to broke something granted for ages. Isn’t there any chance to switch discourse to behave normally on desktop?

Migration seems fine most of time, but there are many glitches in code samples like on, unrecognised line breaks mostly in my code (probably CRLF vs LF or something like that), sometimes start and end of code is misplaced for unknown reason. And I would strongly welcome code blocks not to be limited to max-height and smaller font size/line breaking to prevent horizontal scrolling.

Oh and some posts in tads forum are marked as closed, which is very weird, I hope it just mistake or test, I expect … site/13849 to be open for any additional questions and reports about given topic so everything related is together on one place.


@erik: That is a setting we can change. I do like it for the front page. I’d probably like it more if there was a way to have a separate categories page that just showed the categories.

@mathbrush: yes the import is from a few weeks ago. When we do the proper migration we’ll close this forum for maintenance and then take the current database.

@tomasb: Oh yeah, sorry, there are some multi-line BBCodes I still need to fix.
I closed a lot of posts so that when we were testing it we wouldn’t reply to them and then send a bunch of email notifications to people who weren’t expecting it. If you want to test posting and email notifications etc, please make a new topic :slight_smile:

One advantage of Discourse which I’ve forgotten to ever mention is that it’s designed around Markdown! I never want to type a BBCode style link again. Is that a big enough reason to change? :stuck_out_tongue:

Another pro for Discourse is the solved plugin which lets you select a reply which solved your problem: … blem/33869

(bg) #72

When I tried to log in to the Discourse site, it did not recognize my username at all, even when I tried to change the password. (I am guessing the problem is that Discourse doesn’t allow 2-character usernames.) It also wouldn’t let me create a new account with the same email address.

So maybe someone would be willing to tell me what I was trying to log in to find out: When you create a new post, are you are required to choose one of the categories that exist on the current board? (Inform 6 and 7, IF Comp 2018, etc.)? Will there be new posts floating around in there that aren’t tagged at all?


I checked out the discourse migration as well: All of the things I mentioned before hold true. Also, “like buttons” tend to reduce the conversations to up and down votes, often losing any reason for those votes from view.

I much prefer the phpBB upgrade, which remains a solid, real, forum.


Hmm, it has changed your username to bg1, because a two character name is too short. That seems silly to me, I’ll see if I can change it. Yep, changed it to 2. Try logging in again.

But you can log in with your email address if there’s a problem.

Discourse has a setting of whether to allow uncategorised posts or not. I’ve got it turned off currently.


I agree with Howtophil. Discourse seems too confusing and cluttered. It may be suitable for those who use mobiles but for a desktop PC, I’ll go with the phpBB version please.
I don’t suppose it would be possible to run the 2 versions in parallel at all? That would keep everybody happy.

(bg) #76

I agree. It looks busy to me, like the columns are competing with each other for attention. Maybe because they are side-by-side columns of the same width, or maybe because the relative font sizes don’t seem to match the organization of the forum. The title of an individual post is larger than the title of a whole subcategory (e.g. “General and Off-Topic talk”) of the forum. It seems like a lot more text is being squeezed into the “Category” column than “Latest post” column.

Edited to add: I don’t mean this as a vote against Discourse. Just something to consider if you decide to go with it.

(Dan Fabulich) #77

re: Discourse “clutter,” maybe just make the default view be Latest? That’s the Discourse default; it looks pretty good, and does what (I claim) most of us want.

As for being a “real” forum, I’m pretty sure we’re running a real forum at Switching to Discourse is the best thing that happened to us, growth wise. We now have hundreds of posts every day, and there’s no way we could manage that without the superior moderation tools Discourse provides, and there’s no way that growth would have happened without an outstanding mobile-first user experience.

I get that y’all don’t browse this forum on mobile. This forum in particular is not at all mobile optimized, so desktop is basically all you can get. The new phpBB offers some mobile support, but it’s still really painful; it was never designed for mobile use. All of the buttons and links are too small and too close together.

I think you’d find that excellent mobile support would/will grow on you if you try it; you’ll find that it’s easier to pop in, read the latest posts, and pop out again as you go about your day.


I don’t access this from mobile, because I have no interest in accessing this from mobile, not because phpBB makes it difficult.

I enjoy a forum that looks and runs well on my computer. I don’t do more on my phone than absolutely necessary, because I’m not a fan of reading on a postage stamp screen… I would guess this is what the others who don’t access forums on a phone think as well.

“It looks better on mobile” is a nil-value “bonus feature” and not worth the loss of a proper-forum on the desktop, from my perspective.

As for… Yeah, I didn’t get an account there and did get an account here because this place fits my expectations, desires, and needs for a “real forum” whereas does not… For the reasons I’ve mentioned about discourse before…

I’m less concerned with “more posts” and more concerned with the quality of posts. This place has quality posts with time and thought behind them. There’s no rushing to hit a like button or “post now because the conversation is happening now” which only deteriorates the quality of posts in most circumstances.

If the admins go with phpBB, there’s always things like the Tapatalk plugin for those who want a “better mobile experience”:

(David Griffith) #79

I’m quite sure we can look into using the Tapatalk plug-in.


I’m new to IF (I just now registered on this forum), but have been using Web forums for quite some time.

My personal preference is for forums which look similar to the format that phpbb provides. If you don’t like phpbb, there are quite a few other forum implementation products which provide a similar user interface. The forum at provides an example of the use of a non-phpbb product. (Disclosure: it also is one of the forums that I contribute to frequently.)

The few Discourse forums that I’ve visited have been unusable for my purposes. The home page at seems typical. It seems to be displaying a list of random threads with no organization. How do I find past discussions about topics that interest me? How do I find out what kinds of topics are appropriate for the domain of discourse? (pun not intended) In contrast, with a forum organized like this one, it’s easy to see what kinds of topics are considered appropriate by the forum’s organizers, and easy to find threads which discuss topics which interest me.

As others have mentioned, many Discourse-style forums seem to be oriented toward real-time stream-of-consciousness discussions rather than providing a visually organized database of discussions. To me, these differences seem comparable to the differences between Twitter and email. The former is optimized for stream-of-consciousness communications while the latter is better for more lengthy, thoughtful posts.

I prefer the test IF phpbb forum at looks like one that I might be able to use. However, (as others have mentioned) its presentation seems unnecessarily garish. For example, the entire right half of the browser window (I’m using Firefox under Windows) is dominated by large, colored circles (avatars?) and seems to have rather low information density. I assume it’s showing the most recent post in that subforum.

Suggestions: omit the avatars, use smaller fonts and include the first partial line of the most recent post.

I normally use a desktop browser when interacting with Web forums because I am reasonably fluent when using a keyboard and (5-button wheel-) mouse. In contrast, I find the interactivity provided by a mobile device (I have an iPad with an external keyboard) to be awkward: reading forums is OK but responding to them can be painful. As others have mentioned, tapatalk seems to provide others a reasonable mobile interface to phpbb-style forums, although it doesn’t always provide all of the same functionality that a desktop browser provides. FWIW, I much prefer the full-browser view of forums and often am annoyed when a “mobile” view is shown instead. I understand that this type of optimization can be preferable when using a tiny phone screen, though.

I hope these somewhat disorganized comments help a little.