We're moving towards a tags-based system

Over the last couple of years, several conversations have arisen discussing the merits of a tags based system - finally Discourse has added first class support for tagging (previously tags were a plugin, now they are part of the core platform). In the process they’ve added some of the ‘must-haves’ that were on our wish list - hence starting the move now :slight_smile:

But how will moving to a tags based system help?

There are many benefits, but mainly:

  • Focusing on tags (and reducing categories) will make it easier to post threads.
  • By being able to subscribe to tags, you’ll not only be able to watch the threads tagged about topics that interest you, but also allow library authors to create a tag for their libraries and easily keep track of the threads about them; effectively using the system as a ‘mini-forum’ for their libraries.
  • Tags on the thread listings pages will make it easier for you to spot the topics that interest you most - as it’s a lot easier glancing over the list of tags than reading every single thread title on the page (this will become more useful as the forum gets busier - imagine waking up to two, three or even five times the number of new threads per day).
  • You’ll be able to mute tags - so threads about a particular topic that do not interest you can easily be ignored.

Currently we spend quite a bit of time re-categorising threads, and so this was screaming out that something wasn’t quite right with the categories set-up (generally, posting on a forum should be relatively intuitive - it should come naturally). Specifically, the sections causing the most confusion were:


We generally aimed for any thread about any topic that had a dedicated section to be posted into that section, but, understandably, many people posted Ecto, Erlang, Testing or Deployment issues in one of the Questions & Help sections (as they ‘fit’ there too). And the same with Phoenix threads, they were often (again understandably) being posted in the Elixir Questions & Help sections.

So the proposal is to remove the ‘Dedicated Sections’ categories and replace them with tags. To emphasise their closely linked nature to Elixir, they will be put in a tag ‘group’ to reflect this (which will show towards the top of the tag listings page); so they still retain their prominence, and yet threads about them can then be more easily categorised and kept track of. For instance, threads about Ecto when using with Phoenix can go into a Phoenix section or when using just with Elixir in an Elixir section, threads about deploying a Phoenix app, can go in a Phoenix section while threads about deploying an Elixir app can go into one of the Elixir sections, etc

We’re also proposing removing the sub categories of the Questions & Help section (and renaming it to simply ‘Questions / Help’. This should make it significantly easier to post a thread asking for help. Questions / help about Elixir will go in the Elixir Questions / Help section, and those that are related to Phoenix will go in the Phoenix Questions / Help section.

We should end up with something like this:


We’re currently not sure about the Confs & Meetups section and the Adoption & Media section, they may be moved or replaced with tags too… what do you think?

With regards to the look and feel, when viewing a page that lists threads, we’re aiming for 60% prominence for the thread titles and 40% for the tags. If tags are too subtle, then they risk becoming too secondary - and will result in them being used less as less value is (understandably) placed on them. We want to avoid that, and give them a fair shot, and so think we’ve got the balance close to what we need right now (it’s probably closer to 70/30 but we can run with it for now). We’ve actually also made thread titles more prominent by changing the colour and increasing the intensity. Nothing is ‘final’ btw - we’ll continue to tweak things until it feels ‘right’ :slight_smile:

Hopefully in time Discourse will add more features to the tagging system (many of which we have suggested ourselves). We can see tags becoming a very powerful way to categorise threads which will hopefully make your life easier when browsing the forum (especially as it gets busier) and also help you keep track of things that are important to you (and avoid the things that are not). We hope you’ll like them as much as we do :003:

A few questions for you…

  • How far do you think we should go in categorising tags on the tags page? We currently have a group for forum related topics (wikis, stickies etc) libraries, and another for topics closely linked to Elixir (Erlang, Ecto, Nerves, deployment) - but should we go further? We could have a group for books, OTP related, functional programming concepts, etc)

  • Currently the max number of tags per thread is set to 5, does this sound reasonable? (Minimum is one for most sections, and two for Phoenix sections - as we think tagging Phoenix threads with Phoenix despite having a Phoenix Forum will be useful, too).

  • Currently, since the tag system is only just being more fundamentally incorporated, any registered user can create a tag - at some point we may want to restrict this by Trust Level. On Discourse the default min Trust Level to create tags is TL3, but does TL1 or 2 seem more reasonable?

  • Finally, can you think of any tags that you think we need to add? :101:


To help us nail the look and feel, we have come up with some variations on the theme… edit: still working on this, but feel free to comment in this thread as and when new styles are being experimented with and made live…

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I just tried to change the themes, but somehow nothing changes for me (or at least not that I noticed). Could you maybe put up some images of the changes and details that are different between the themes?

Is there any difference between v1 and v5 Benjamin? Some of the others have subtle differences.

I could put up screen grabs, but the styles may look different for you depending on OS and browser - happy to do so tho :slight_smile:

Same, nothing changes.

And for the record, my favorite theme was definitely the one where the tags under the threads in the list of threads where just grey text, with no outline or background. Those made the most since the threads were still easily readable and stood out more. The tags with the backgrounds stick out too much.

Edit: I definitely see the difference between V1 and V5 now, it’s just subtle. I can’t find the version that I saw earlier this week that I liked though (as described above).

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Are you clicking ‘save’ afterwards? (you need to)

@jswny - the plain text is not an option in this round. We may look into that later, but for now we want:

The plain text is too subtle, and not as easy to scan when looking at a list of threads - hence trying the block style for now :slight_smile:

Ok, does actually work and opening tabs with the different themes makes differences a bit more visible.

Having tags with blocked backgrounds makes scaning topic titles considerable less easy, which is quite unfortunate. I always found the homepages for all the modern forums of the last few years hard to scan to begin with and adding those tags will make the different parts on the homepage fight even more for attention. The colored categories at least are not between topic titles, but those tags really interrupt the listing of the topic titles, which are the thing I’m interest in first and foremost on that screen. Imo a clear hierarchy of information would be preferable to trying to force tags onto peoples attention.

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the blocks makes scanning/reading the topic list difficult (for me at least)…

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Ok added screen grabs - but looks like Discourse adds some heavy compression so they don’t look great unfortunately.

With regards to the style of tags - we have to strike a balance. Remember that not everyone will browse the forum in the same way as you, or have the same time available to browse it (imagine the forum with 2, 3 or even 5 times as many threads on a daily basis too).

On the homepage, it should be relatively easy to glance over each thread segment to get a good idea of what that thread might be about. If you have more time available you might read the titles of each thread. If you have less time available you may quickly want to look over the tags for each thread with a view to spotting a topic that may interest you.

Please go on the homepage and try it - put yourself in the shoes of both of these users - does it work equally well for both? I think currently it does, with a bias for titles over tags around 70/30. Changing the tags to plain text will take that down to around 80/20 and I think that is way too low and I fear will be setting up the tag system for failure; less value will be placed on them meaning they will be used less or not as well as we are hoping for.

With the right balance, it should work - perhaps I should have added a style with the standard Discourse block tag style to emphasise this (it’s significantly darker - taking the split to about 50/50).

For sure, it took up the least vertical space, too.

In the current color schema it feels to me as if subject and tags are unimportant, they are very grayish with low contrast to the background while the category really strikes on my eye with the bold colorful background.

And after looking at the screenshot, even the number of replies and views seems to be more important than the subject :wink:

Have a look now :023:

Btw, the greyed out titles means you’ve read that thread :slight_smile: (it’s always been like this - same with the number of replies etc, they get ‘hotter’ the more significant they become)

Yeah, subjects fade, I know, but I never realised it was this much.

And even after clearing my cache, I do not see any noticable difference to before.

hmmm, it’s possible I changed the visited thread colour while tweaking the style - but looking through my customisations I see no record of it… so it might be one that is auto-generated by Discourse depending on another colour somewhere.

Re not seeing any difference, do you mean the tag box outline? Can you refresh page and post another screen grab please?

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In the meantime caches seem to have flushed on their own. For my eyes the outline seems to have a lighter color now. Anyway, for me the site is usable either way…

But what I realize just now (and what is really disturbing after having it realized), in the thread view, tag and category do not line up in the headline. The tag box is a pixel moved up (or 2), haven’t measured.


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Better now? :slight_smile:

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You use a casual browser?

What do you mean?

Noobz. We posted the same time, you a couple of seconds before me. :slight_smile:

Edit: Ah, he means the floating header. I see :slight_smile:

But even in your screenshot there is a discrepancy. The height of both boxes isn’t the same…