Our new community is here - almost. Right now, we anticipate launching it at the beginning of this week. (Yep, that soon!)
Like our Senior Web Lackey, Doug Mayer, announced a few months ago, we’re switching our Car Talk Community forum platform from Vanilla to Discourse.
You might be wondering why, when we’ve been with Vanilla for some years now.
We lackeys of Car Talk Plaza have spent a lot of time looking at the Community, when of course we’re not napping or sipping lattes. We have tracked the use patterns and seen how it’s grown to be a vibrant, engaged community, and as the traffic changes, and the way people use the internet changes, we wanted to find a robust, sturdy, clean platform to support a community like ours. We know that Discourse can do just that: it can support a large-scale, engaged, and active community. (Check, check, and check! Its founder, Jeff Atwood, is a Car Talk fan who helped start Stack Overflow. We’ve looked the other way on his taste in radio shows, because of his deep strength when it comes to online communities.)
Discourse will mean a number of changes for us-- including some features we think are pretty valuable. For example, members are able to shape the forum by mentoring new users and rewarding helpful ones. Low-quality posts are hidden, while the good stuff bubbles to the top. Discourse has built-in immunity from spammers, bots, and trolls. (See ya later, Korean escort spam.) You can read more about the Discourse features here. Victoria and Carolyn will be available to walk through this with you, and we assure you that if you would still rather explain your opinions than click a button, you’re free to do that.
As people participate by reading, posting, and liking valuable posts, they gain trust. As they gain trust, they get more tools to help keep the community healthy, helpful, and fun. But don’t worry – everyone who’s got an existing account with the Community will come in with full trust privileges.
Additionally, we know that online communities are changing as technology changes. You shouldn’t have to wade through an antiquated interface. People want things that work well on their phone as well as their desktop or tablet. Image sharing should be easier than giving birth, so Discourse makes it possible to drag and drop images into a post. You can multi-quote in real time. A digest is available. It’s an open source platform, so we all have the opportunity to make it work the way we want it to work in response to all of our experiences with it. Plus we’re adding some cool features that allow for an improved notification system for posts about your car make/model.
Will there be hiccups? Sure. Much like cars, even the best new ones have break-in periods where we’re all acclimating to it. And just like learning where the knobs and buttons are on your new car, you’ll have to learn a few different things, but the learning curve isn’t steep. Discourse will walk you through the posting process on your first post. (Hey, even us lackeys got the hang of it.)
Ultimately, we want this to be a place where you want to spend time, so we invested in Discourse to help make that happen.
OK, now that we got that out of the way: here’s the timeline. Right now, we’re expecting that on Sunday night the Community will go into read-only mode while we prepare to import all the existing data into Discourse on Monday. By Tuesday, everything should be up and running. Victoria and Carolyn will be on hand to answer questions and help you orient yourselves.
Once we launch, we’ll post further information about where you can get resources to find your way through our new community, and how you can share any issue you note.
Carolyn and Victoria