Today, we launched the first round of enhancements for Discussions, which come as part of the continuing work on the Unified Community Platform that we announced last year.
The focus of these enhancements is to make Discussions a better place to… well… have safe, awesome, organized discussions with your communities.
What are the enhancements?
The enhancements will be coming in waves. Here is what’s being included in the first wave:
- We’re introducing a new way to view Discussions as a whole, taking design language from the Forums and modernizing it for 2020. The regular view for Discussions remains as an option, but the new Condensed view will feel more like home to long-time Forums users. The option to switch between Regular and Condensed is in the new “View” dropdown menu, alongside options to sort by Hot or New and the moderator option to hide deleted posts.
- Categories are getting revamped from filters in a main feed to being separate views with their own headers, displaying information about said category and the contents within. These changes give Discussions a more forum-like feel and will make thorough browsing and deeper conversations easier. As part of this change, Categories get their own dropdown, rather than being a filter option. This will make this option more visible and ensure users are aware that there are multiple categories and that they can switch and filter between them. In that dropdown will be data about each category, so users can see where the activity is happening.
- When a user adds a post when viewing a particular Category, this category will be set as a default for this new post, a flow more familiar for Forums users. This should also reduce the number of times moderators have to recategorize falsely placed posts.
- We’ve also added a “Category Activity” section that displays up to 10 categories with post count and the timestamp of a last action (post / reply created) in that category + recent contributor avatars. Like the Category dropdown data, this should help all users to quickly gauge how active a community is and help regular visitors spot more easily where new content has been added since their last visit.
- Finally, we modified the single post page layout to be more “condensed” and show more of the post on your screen. This will make better use of desktop space and show more content without scrolling.
If you’re thinking that we’re done, oh no, you would be wrong. We know there is still more work to be done on Discussions to meet the needs of our most engaged social communities. I’ve made the rounds with roleplaying communities, general conversation communities, fanfiction communities, fanon communities, and others to understand their needs. Thanks to their input and those of our long-time Discussions users, we are already exploring the next round of Discussions enhancements, including ways we can improve moderation and discovery. We are well aware of some areas you already think Discussions could improve further and our work will seek to do just that.
As announced last year, we will be sunsetting the Special:Forum feature ahead of migrating the remaining Forums-enabled communities to the Unified Community Platform. This move has been delayed twice to ensure that we have more data on Forums-heavy communities and translate that data into enhancements for the Discussions platform.
Since the first wave of Discussions enhancements already arrived, we are ready to begin the process of migrating the remaining Forums content in good standing onto Discussions.
Why are we retiring Forums?
Special:Forum is built with custom modifications to MediaWiki, the software which runs our wiki platform. These modifications made it extremely difficult for us to update MediaWiki software and take advantage of all the changes made to it by its developers, the Wikimedia Foundation. Important changes, like security updates, needed to be reverse engineered to apply to Fandom’s heavily-customized installation.
In order to bring us up to date with the software, we elected to retire features which rely on such custom modifications and replace them with newer versions which can operate on the platform without interference in the future.
How will this happen?
A banner will appear on your wiki, indicating that you have Forums content to be migrated. When it is time for your wiki to migrate, your Forums will be put into a read-only state as the content is migrated automatically. Discussions will be open during and after the migration.
Welcome to the new Discussions
We cannot overstate how much we have appreciated all the passionate feedback received from the Forums and Discussions communities. Today is the first day of the new Discussions and we look forward to the road ahead as we make the experience even better for you.
Will "MisterWoodhouse" Kavanagh Fandom Staff
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