Usability of forum

Hi All,

I literally think that this forum is a complete abomination. Not the contents of the forum - the forum itself.

Every single forum that I’ve used in the last twenty years had a much better experience.

Just about everyone who comes here comes for technical information. Here’s what hinders that:

  • White space. Adding tons of whitespace everywhere makes it harder to find information, since it’s obviously not on the screen. So then you have to scroll, and scroll…
  • Scrolling. Why no regular, old school pagination? Every single forum that I’ve used in the past had normal pagination. Nobody ever complained. These infinite scroll threads make it harder to find what people come here to find. Only a few posts are loaded, so ctrl/cmd+f don’t work. Yes, you can use search, but searching current page shouldn’t be hindered.
  • Width. This forum would be considered wide in 2000. The main container is what - 1100px wide? Why not full width? If I view a thread things get even worse. The scrolling widget, placed in favor on normal pagination, takes up ~30% of the already squished content? I believe old school punchcards had 80 characters on them. 80 characters won’t even fit without scrolling horizontally.

These are my major points but I could probably write for hours about the usability of this forum, and I’m no UI/UX guy.


This is mostly super subjective.

“Every single forum that I’ve used in the past had normal pagination. Nobody ever complained.”.

That, for example is not something you can assert truthfully. Indeed, my friends will be happy to explain to you how much I have bored them for 10+ years with my rants about how vbulletin, phpbb and many other forums are terrible for exactly this reason. But battling on that is pointless, as I said, it’s purely subjective.

We use discourse for this forum. It’s super awesome open source software, which supports theming / styling. We’re using a very basic theme, which works. It’s entirely possible we could switch to a different theme / style if it were well supported and the various admins and visitors here found it decent to use.


If not quite ‘a complete abomination’ I agree that this forum software leaves a lot to be desired.

One issue - - - there are mountains of posts re: dev group please do this or that.
Its not that those posts are unimportant - - - rather they are unimportant for anyone not directly connected with that software - - - but when there are 5 or 10 or even more of those requests - - - well I call it clutter.

The hugely excessive white space - - - even gmail offers a, sort of, compact mode - - - here nothing. White space must be sexy - - - I find it boring - - - its like reading a book where the pages are 5" wide and there are 1" margins (12.5 cm wide page with 2.5 cm margins) - - - the book is actually harder to read and is quite wasteful in its paper use.

That’s 2 items in 30 seconds of thinking about it and I could likely come up with half a dozen more. Fat chance being able to set one’s own choice though - - - - must be because the users just don’t get it.

I think this forum engine is super nice, it’s like a huge evolution from what i am used to anyways. I don’t care for a lot of stuff like the gamification aspect of it, but it feels snappy, smooth and fresh!


As long as it supports Markdown I don’t really care much how the forum looks.


Oh boy do I have a user theme for you!
It’s a little something I put together because I was just as irritated with the default experience.

Infinite Scrolling has in fact grown on me, but I have the solution to your other problems.

userstyle css
/* Condense Postbodies, v1.2.1 */
	.post-menu-area {
    	/* default is 20px, let's make that smaller */
    	margin: 0;
	.topic-body .regular {
    	/* default is 15px, let's make that smaller */
    	margin-top: 5px;
	.post-actions {
    	/*default is 10px, let's make that smaller */
    	margin-bottom: 5px;
	p {
    	/* default is, like, 10px or so?  7 is plenty to distinguish paragraphs from newlines */
    	margin-top: 5px;
    	margin-bottom: 5px;
	.quote {
    	/* Quotes have to have bigger margins, or they don't display correctly */
    	margin-top: 5px;
    	margin-bottom: 5px !important;
	html {
    	/* default is 1.4 ; a good setting is 1.2 for unzoomed, 1 is fine if you zoom in */
    	line-height: 1.1;
	.avatar {
    	/* Mostly-square avatars with rounded corners; delete if this doesn't interest you.  !important necessary to override because im too lazy to find the right tag */
    	border-radius: 15% !important;
	.topic-body {
    	/* This controls just how large the body is.  890% for 120% zoom.  92% is fine for no zoom */
    	min-width: 90%;
	#main-outlet {
    	/* Margin-left from 20-50px should be fine.  max-width  1800px for no zoom, 1500px for 120% zoom */
    	margin-left: 20px;
    	max-width: 1800px;
	.topic-timeline {
    	/* Most important to get right.  470px margin for 1500px width works fine at 120% zoom.  760px or so for 1800px works fine at 100% zoom. */
    	position: absolute;
    	left: 760px;

My main problem with this forum so far is that there doesn’t seem to be anything resembling a dark theme.


A screenshot of your modifications would be much appreciated. :sunglasses:

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