How we use discourse

This topic describes how we use discourse for course discussion here at

The following is taken from the private message everyone gets when signing up for Discourse, with some edits and some more information added in by anyone who wants to contribute to this wiki post! (click on the pencil icon to edit this post)

Where am I?

For search, your user page, or the menu, use the icon buttons at
the upper right. While reading a topic, move back to the top ↑ by clicking the topic title
at the top of the screen. Click the green progress bar at the bottom right
to see full navigation controls, or use the home and end keys.

When you’re on the page with the list of topics under a category, if you click on the topic title that will always take you to your last read post in that topic. Under “Activity” you can jump to the first post and the most recent post by clicking on the times/dates.

How do I reply?

To reply to the overall topic, use the Reply button at the very bottom of the page.To reply to a specific post, use the Reply button on that post. To take the conversation in a different direction, but keep them linked together, use Reply as New Topic to the right of the post.

To quote someone in your reply, select the text you wish to quote, then click on “quote reply.”

To quote an entire post, use the Import Quote button on the editor toolbar (far left).

To mention someone’s name in your reply, start typing @ and an autocompleter will pop up.

For replies, how do I see which post is being replied to?

Click on the arrow and the profile image at the top right of any post that is a reply to another one. The post being replied to will pop up.

What else can I do?

To let someone know that you enjoyed their post, use the like button at the bottom of the post (the heart). If you see a problem with a post, don’t hesitate to use the flag button and privately let them, or our staff, know about it.

You can also share a link to a post (chain link button), or bookmark a post for later reference on your user page (ribbon button)

What’s that grey box under the first post in a topic?

You can click on any of the user images on the right to filter the posts just by that user. You can also jump to the last post by clicking under “last post.”

If you click on the “down arrow” to the right in this grey box, you get an expanded view that shows all the links given in the topic.

For topics that have more than 50 replies, when you look at the expanded view you get an estimated reading time, and also another option called “summarize this topic”:

Summarizing the topic gives you a list of just some of the posts–not entirely sure of the algorithm, but it may be those that have a good number of “likes,” or those with multiple replies. You can always expand the “missing posts” in between, and you can see the replies to each of the posts and the posts that are being replied to, as normal.

Who is talking to me?

When someone replies to your post, quotes your post, or mentions your @username, a number will appear over a conversation button at the top right of the page. Use it see who’s talking to you, and where.

You will get email notifications of direct replies (and private messages) if you are not present on the site when they arrive.

How do I get notifications when there are new posts to a topic?

At the bottom of each topic you’ll see a grey box that says either “tracking,” or “regular” or “watching” or “muted.” Each one explains what they do.

If you want to receive email notifications each time there is a new post on a topic (e.g., for Announcements threads for courses), turn that box to “watching” by clicking on it and choosing that option.

When are conversations new?

By default all conversations less than two days old are considered new, and any conversation you’ve participated in will automatically be tracked.

You will see the blue new and number indicators next to these topics:

You can change the individual notification state of a topic via the control at the bottom of the topic (this can also be set per category). To change how you track topics, or the definition of new, see your user preferences: click on your avatar at the top right to get to these preferences.

Why can’t I do certain things?

New users are somewhat limited for safety reasons. As you participate here, you’ll gain the trust of the community, become a full citizen, and those limitations will automatically be removed. At a high enough trust level, you’ll gain even more abilities to help us manage our community together.

We believe in civilized community behavior at all times.