I think it would be helpful in the forum if there were more specific categories for each of your services. Having one large Discussion board mixes in more technical questions for people who are posting things about the shared hosting service.
Thanks for the feedback. We used to have more categories in the old forums and we removed most of them during the migration to Discourse (the current platform). We changed the old categories into tags.
The reason for less categories is that users get confused about which category to use: if I am deploying a WordPress plugin to run on DreamCompute, do I want to file a question under DreamCompute or WordPress category? If I am having trouble creating an SSH key, does that get to be filed in category Shared Hosting or DreamCompute or VPS? In the past forums, with many categories, the threads were often mixed up and there was no clarity there anyway.
Since multiple tags can be applied to a question on Discourse we decided it makes more sense to have a simple category for all #customer-discussion and differentiate them using tags. You can subscribe to a tag and get email notifications for all new questions with that tag. Tags can only be created by moderators, so there won’t be much confusion and the current set matches DreamHost products.
Can you clarify why you feel the need for a separate category?
I totally understand you want to reduce categories in favor of tags. However, in your current hierarchy, How To, Suggestions, and Site Feedback are all actually Discussions & Questions which is probably why you see 35,640 posts there while the others are 436 and the other two under 20.
The site I like the best that uses Discourse is SmartThings. They use Categories as their front page rather than Latest. I can’t imagine anyone actually wanting to read latest as if it was a blog that they’re keeping up with at any frequency. It isn’t a “news”/discussion site anywhere similar to Reddit.
People come to your forums to ask general questions, talk about your products, talk about their projects, etc. Seeing an endless stream of everything makes it confusing, especially when a lot of DreamHost users are going to be using shared hosting and posting generic post titles like “HELP! Something is broken!” - which is better suited to customer support anyways. I, as a Shared Hosting and DreamCompute user, would like to engage with more technical questions that might be on stack overflow but more specific to DreamHost like details about your OpenStack implementation.
When someone new and unfamiliar first arrives your site, it’s overwhelming to take in the latest stream and in the meantime learn that those labels are tags, not categories, and that you can’t access or overview the full list of tags on the page you first land on to get to where you want.
Your only way to access a collection of post types within a topic is to click on the tags in the forum posts’ tags and so then you’re restricted in jumping to the tags from the latest posts.
SmartThings’ site (https://community.smartthings.com/) clearly shows the categories that would fit any immediate user and let them engage with that sub community quickly. They are still using tags to delineate
Devices & Integrations - community oriented, shows of device handlers (drivers), and allows discussions about devices themselves
Projects & Stories - community oriented, shows off projects from the community and allows people to post ideas about the projects
Mobile App - clearly discussions about their mobile app product
Groups & Events - self explanatory
Developers - for the community to discuss development work
I hope I’m being clear here. The issue I think you’re dealing with is equivalent to having an electronics store and placing things on the floor with the latest at the entrance and older products at the back. Each product has a tag on what type of product it is – like refrigerator/home appliances or speakers/audio equipment. Even though they’re tagged it’s not appropriately organized. A refrigerator and speaker may use LEDs but it’s no question that even though they both have LEDs, people are not confused about the category of product they fit under.
It would make more sense to organize the store by categories like Home Appliances and Audio Equipment so customers can find them within their category.
Instead of relying on tags, I think taking some time to abstract out the proper categories to enhance navigation would be ideal. However, your question in specific situations like WordPress plugins etc is something that you’ll have to find patterns in as the forum owner/moderator.
I dunno how this happened but this forum lost a ton of daily activity on the day that Discourse was introduced. There are only a few posts here per day on any topic. There is no stream of activity to confuse our eyes when we open this forum. The recent activity, which could be the last week, is displayed in a page or less.
I’m a huge fan of effective categorization but so far the tagging system here seems to be working, given the low volume.
The only thing that I see that still bothers me is that text we enter for an OP gets suggested references going back over a decade. That results in people necromancing very old issues as though they are related to current issues. I opened a discussion on that but no action has yet been taken.