Civilized Discourse Construction Kit

Jeff Atwood, of the great Coding Horror weblog, writes about his new “next-generation, 100% open source discussion platform built for the next decade of the Internet.

He’s calling it “Discourse“.

As much as existing forum software is inexplicably and terrifyingly awful after all these years, it is still the ongoing basis for a huge chunk of deeply interesting information on the Internet. These communities are incredibly passionate about incredibly obscure things. They aren’t afraid to let their freak flag fly, and the world is a better place for it.

The goal of the company we formed, Civilized Discourse Construction Kit, Inc., is exactly that – to raise the standard of civilized discourse on the Internet through seeding it with better discussion software:

  • 100% open source and free to the world, now and forever.
  • Feels great to use. It’s fun.
  • Designed for hi-resolution tablets and advanced web browsers.
  • Built in moderation and governance systems that let discussion communities protect themselves from trolls, spammers, and bad actors – even without official moderators.

Our amazingly talented team has been working on Discourse for almost a year now, and although like any open source software it’s never entirely done, we believe it is already a generation ahead of any other forum software we’ve used.

Love the ambition, love the name. Not so sure yet about the interface, though, which seems very busy with all those avatars and stuff.

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3 Responses to Civilized Discourse Construction Kit

  1. Zorensen Leverthal says:

    Looks interesting, but the browser requirements are pretty tough. I understand they’re building this for the “next decade” but, in the next decade, there will be a lot of out-of-date hardware online, creating limitations on what browser software will run, and this project doesn’t seem to take that into consideration. For example: Windows XP is still running on some 30% of Windows boxes. That’s a 10 year old operating system.

    And given what’s happening right now with Java and Flash, I’m dubious about the project’s heavy reliance on JavaScript. Its seems much safer to rely on the server side as much as possible, if you’re really planning on long-term sustainability for a project like this. As mobile devices proliferate, quirks in JavaScript interpretation are likely to multiply.

    FWIW
    I also couldn’t find an email for them.

    • Interesting points. It does seem to work my last XP box, though.

      Jeff Atwood lists his email on his About Jeff Atwood page. (I’m not giving it here since it would just make automated harvesting that much easier.)

      • Zorensen Leverthal says:

        I see the email, maybe I’ll just copy and paste him the above.

        These general issues are really under-reported. “Diminishing returns” might be a new taboo. Eric Kriss was keyed into it, and helped force Microsoft to start using open formats:

        http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=2005011807275883

        More to the point, if you’re using XP then you may be unaware of similar developments in the Apple world.

        The current OS is 10.8. The last OS to run on PowerPC hardware was 10.6. But 10.6 also contains a piece of translation software, called Rosetta, that allows older PowerPC code to run on newer Intel hardware. This code was removed in 10.7 — possibly due to licensing issues — which means, for any user with older specialized hardware, older printer drivers, old accounting software, etc., may be stuck at OS 10.6 for quite a while. Apple seemed to acknowledge this indirectly, as 10.6 was still offered for sale while 10.7 was current.

        The FireFox accelerated upgrade cycle has also abandoned compatibility with older hardware. The TenFourFox program seeks to address this by compiling Mozilla code for PowerPC:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TenFourFox

        Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” currently has an installed base somewhere between 40 and 50%.

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