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Our First Partner: How-To Geek

Jeff Atwood April 3, 2013

If you click the “Buy” link on Discourse, you’ll find out that you can’t … yet.

Our immediate plan is to find three great partners willing to live on the bleeding beta edge and run forums with us, so that we can be confident we’ve built a discussion platform that works for a variety of different communities. We promise to do everything we can to host your forum and make it awesome for two years. In return, you promise to work with us on ironing out all the rough edges in Discourse and making sure it scales successfully – both socially and technologically – to those three very different audiences.

It’s been almost exactly two months since we launched Discourse, and I’m pleased to announce that yesterday we launched the first of our three partners:

How-To Geek forums

That’s right, How-To Geek!

I’ve known Lowell, the How-To Geek, since 2007 when I first discovered his great, friendly technical help site in my search results. I immediately knew it was going to be huge! It was such a breath of fresh air compared to so many other so called “tech” sites. I recall going out of my way to send an email, complimenting him on his site and telling him that he created such a great resource that he should immediately quit his job and focus on it full time. It didn’t quite work out that way, but I’m fairly sure running the massive — and excellent — How to Geek empire is his full time job now.

We always wanted to work together, but could never figure out a way. That is, until Discourse! Lowell was unhappy with his current forum setup, and the way comments were spread across two different areas of his site: sprinkled at the bottom of articles as traditional blog comments, and behind a dedicated forum area.

Now with Discourse those areas are unified.

At the bottom of the typically excellent HTG article How to Turn a Raspberry Pi into an Always-On Usenet Machine, you’ll see comments:

How-To Geek Discourse Blog Comments

Those comments are the best replies from the associated Discourse discussion topic for the article:

How-To Geek Discourse Blog Topic

This is made possible through our Discourse WordPress plugin, which automatically selects a few of the best discussion topic replies and hoists them over to the blog article.

We’re thrilled to have our first official partner discussion community up and running. Do check it out:

discuss.howtogeek.com

We couldn’t have picked a better initial partner than How-To Geek, who truly knows his way around forum communities. He contributed practical and useful feedback for us from the earliest alpha days of Discourse. We hope to further refine and improve Discourse based on the excellent HTG community, which is already off to a great start … and set a course for our next partner announcement in 4 to 6 weeks.

Notable Replies

  1. sam says:

    I am a huge fan of the design work by @awesomerobot , I think he did a smashing job.

    It fascinating that the entire facelift / modification to base discourse theme is done in a site customisation that is 450 lines long (a feature built into discourse). What more as we amend and improve our base CSS, htg should get most of the goodness. (even though some gardening required)

  2. Thanks! I'll be able to chop that down to be even shorter too. It's a bit messy because this entire How-To Geek project took less than a week to implement (hell, and some of us have day jobs :wink2:).

    Really I think the whole process being turned around in such a small amount with a product that's still very much in beta (and changing daily) is a great testament to how well this whole thing has been built. Yay team!

  3. geek says:

    I am incredibly impressed at the work that he did making Discourse look exactly like a part of the HTG site.

    That was my number one worry about Discourse, and it isn't even a problem.

  4. Yep, @kuba got it. Best advice I could give is to use a decent set of developer tools like the ones built into Chrome or Firebug to help wrap your head around the HTML structure... and you often have to use !important to override the existing styles in the main theme.

    I'm also working on a second complete theme for Discourse that's a fairly more involved process (and Discourse doesn't yet have the tools to implement). I'll post a writeup of some kind on that process when it's done which is still rather TBD.

  5. geek says:

    After 5 full days of running Discourse, I'm absolutely thrilled with how it's going. It's so much easier to keep up with everything, and the community moderation features are so great - I don't have to worry about spammers because the community can handle them.

    Most of what I've been trying to do is just help train the users on the proper usage for the forum (getting the old forum members to use the Like button instead of "me too" has been interesting).

    The interesting thing is that my old forum was BORING. Nothing but tech support requests. The new forum is immediately better, there are still tech support questions, but a lot less of them for some reason.

    I'll do a writeup about the forum at some point.

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