I’ve alluded to this in a couple posts but wanted to formally announce and soft-launch the new forum tool hosted by Mifos for both the Mifos and Fineract communities. You can check it out and begin posting at https://discourse.mifos.org. http://forum.mifos.org should redirect to there as well. Just click sign up to get going! Yo
Discourse blends the best of both worlds of forums and mailing lists along with added tools for gamification and badging. This forum will provide a robust and user-friendly medium of collaboration that will nicely complement and augment the Fineract developer mailing list and Gitter chatrooms we already have. It will allow us to consolidate over time some of other collaboration channels like the Mifos mailing lists and MifosConnect Q&A platform. It will also enable new forms of collaboration by providing an effective medium for free-form discussion across the community beyond just developing or using the software, i.e. industry trends, etc as well as power our jobs and services marketplace to help connect users with paid support offerings.
**How to Join **
We are in the process of migrating user accounts from Google Groups but right now the best means to start using the forum is to click Sign Up from the top link - you can create an account using your existing Facebook, Google, or Github logins. After creating an account, feel free to edit your profile too so others can know more about yourself.
Share Your Feedback
This is a soft launch - we’re working on user migration, migration of old posts/content, continuing to refine categories and topics, badges - we welcome any and all feedback and bugs or usability issues to fix. Old content still needs to be cataloged as well. Feedback on the Forum itself can be added in the Meta Category. If interested in acting as a moderator, please let me know and I’ll add you.
Read on below for some of the benefits of the tool. We’ll put all this in a blog post with a few more details (namely around notifications/emails, etc.) to help you get the most out of the tool.
Thanks to Kerlyn who led the setup and configuration of Discourse along with migration of content from our Google Groups as part of her Outreachy internship.
Improved User Experience Over Mailing Lists
- Highly Searchable and Indexable - posts are both very discoverable via the forum itself but also positioned well in Google searches (which is a downside of the Apache mailing list archives)
- Ease of Posting - WYSIWYG editor
- Mailing List Functionality - You have a range of options to be notified- for each topic you create you will automatically get notifications, you can also watch topics to get notified, and get notified when someone tags you in the topic (@username). To modify the settings for a topic, click the box below and select “Watching, Tracking, Normal, or Muted”. You can also get notifications at category and subcategory levels. To enable these notifications via email, you must navigate to your personal settings --> email and turn on mailing list mode. You’ll then receive an email per post and can reply via email or create new topics via email.
- Better Navigation - topics are organized by category and sub-category along with tags.
- Better moderation of topics
Augments other Communication Channels
Discourse will nicely augment the fineract mailing list and the Mifos Gitter chatrooms - there’s been a lot of interest in a community-wide slack channel and we a more robust asynchronous communication channel is better than a real-time chat tool.
- Reduce noise and chatter that’s on the public mailing list
- Provide a more interactive and widespread channel for communication than the mailing list but not as open-ended as Slack or Gitter.
- With the Fineract Dev list as the main community mailing list, the intent of the Mifos Discourse forum is to phase out our Mifos developer and user mailing lists by providing a forum-like tool that you can reply to via email. With it’s Q&A features and ability to mark posts as solved, we’re going to use the Support Section to replace our Q&A Platform, Mifos Connect.
Discourse’ feature set and library of plug-ins will help to improve collaboration
- Working Groups - categories and/or groups can be used for our specific working groups like DFS, Scalability & Performance, etc.
- Improved community identity - Profiles and in the future badges can help community members better self-identify and discover others.
- Jobs & Services Marketplace - the forum like-capability and centrality of Discourse will allow us to reinvigorate our previous attempt at a jobs marketplace which never took off on mobile.io.
- Polls and other features - a wide variety of other tools like polls, events etc can be explored to help the community.
Discourse is used by a lot of our peer projects like ODK and OpenMRS so we can share in the many lessons learned and best practices they’ve attained.