Below are frequently asked questions about the Discussions feature and answers to most of those questions.
How can I get Discussions for my community?
Send in a request via Special:Contact!
Does my community have to be part of an app to use Discussions?
No, any community can use Discussions. Discussions works on desktop and mobile web browsers, and users can be directed to Discussions via local navigation links and via a footer that appears on article pages.
Will this replace the wiki-style forums (i.e. the ones typically found at Forum:Index)?
No. The wiki-style forums are not part of any migration or retirement plan. They will not be affected if Discussions is enabled for a community.
Why did Discussions replace Forum on new wikis?
Discussions will be a standard feature on FANDOM communities, and Forum will be retired. New wikis are created with a feature set meant for long-term use.
Why does Forum have to be removed?
Forum was initially developed at a time when FANDOM still built features exclusively on MediaWiki. So the Forum had to be built to work with that software, even though MediaWiki wasn't really meant to support a conversation feature of this kind. The developers did a good job -- many communities have since come to use and love Forums. However, making Forum work smoothly with MediaWiki was a lot like forcing a square peg into a round hole.
As a result of this suboptimal MediaWiki integration, the Forum has many issues, some obvious, some only noticeable to the most diligent and tech-savvy admins. For example: those "@comment" URLs showing up in weird places and sometimes never leading anywhere, or content that never gets removed from maintenance lists even after the issue is resolved. Some of the more glaring issues include long load times on threads with many replies, or that the layout of an entire page can break when one user forgets to close a <div> tag in their post. Forum's basic MediaWiki-based architecture was ultimately not set up to accommodate big alterations in the future and stand the test of time.
Over the years, we’ve kept Forum working well -- more or less -- by continually patching the cracks in the dam. This works for a while and most users don’t even notice (which is the point of the patches, to keep things together). But eventually you have to accept the fact that the dam needs to be replaced. Now that FANDOM has new options available for developing parts of the site, it has become obvious that trying to enhance a conversation feature despite the inherent limitations is not the right path forward. By rebuilding the feature from scratch instead of patching it up further, we can eliminate a lot of the problems mentioned and make sure Discussions won't have the same constraints and can more easily be evolved over time.
Will the current Forum (found at Special:Forum) be replaced immediately, when Discussions is enabled on a community?
Not necessarily. The two systems can continue to operate independently until FANDOM migrates the older Forum posts into Discussions. Your community will receive notice when closer to that time. Additionally, be sure to watch the Staff Blog and Technical Update Blog for details!
Migration of Forum content
What content will be migrated from Forum to Discussions, when it's time?
We are able to migrate content (all posts, threads and boards) from the current Forum feature. Forum boards will become Discussion categories, and Kudos will become upvotes. Topics (the names of associated articles) will be retained but will not be visible at this time. Users who were watching a Forum thread will be following the Discussions post.
When migration occurs, it’s the HTML from the Forum threads that gets reproduced in the Discussions posts. So the posts will look very similar to the original threads, visually. However, editing a migrated post may change it dramatically (see "Can migrated content be edited?" below).
When the Forum content is migrated to Discussions, will my edit count go down?
Discussions posts and replies are counted separately, and have a separate total displayed on the user profile page. When Forum posts and replies are migrated to Discussions, those will be counted as Discussions posts and replies in that separate total. There will be no immediate change to the "wiki edit count" since the Forum content will still remain in the database after a migration happens (though it becomes inaccessible).
Will the Forum URLs be redirected?
Yes, after migration occurs, the thread URL (e.g. Thread:1234) will redirect to the post’s new Discussions URL. Board URLs become redirected to the specific URL for the new category. Special:Forum becomes redirected to Discussions.
Are deleted posts migrated?
Removed and deleted posts/replies are migrated and show in Discussions as deleted, which means they are only visible to moderators and admins.
Can migrated content be edited?
Admins and moderators can edit migrated content. However, this should only be done when absolutely necessary. Some migrated content may contain elements that cannot be processed by the current Discussions editor, such as embedded links, images, text formatting and other custom styling. When a post is edited and re-saved, these elements will be stripped out and only plain text will remain.
Can a migrated post be recategorized without affecting its content?
Yes, do this by first locking the post and then editing it. Only the category portion becomes editable in that scenario.
If Discussions is already enabled on a community, do the Forum boards come over as additional categories?
Yes. Admins will likely want to merge and consolidate categories after the migration. For example, the "General Discussion" category should probably be merged in to the default "General" category.
Features and functionality
Is wikitext supported?
Currently there is no markup/code or rich text formatting of any kind, and there will be further development in that area. Many of the specifics are still to be determined, and it’s helpful to know about the most common uses of wikitext and templates (beyond basic text formatting). Discussions is intentionally built separately from MediaWiki, which means some conventions and processes will have to be updated. We would like to know more about how you use wiki markup, templates, etc. in forums now to help us understand what needs those are meeting. Give us details and examples!
Will templates be supported for voting?
Voting/polls is one area where we’ll be doing specific development for Discussions. The ways that communities use voting templates in these situations are well-documented, and are informing how these important community-building tools are built. It’s unlikely that use of wikitext templates will be possible in Discussions.
Will there be "sticky" function in the future, to pin posts at the top of the post list (or a category view)?
We have no immediate plans to add a "sticky" function. We'll be examining the types of content that admins post and want to "sticky" in Discussions, so please send us examples of such posts. It’s important to acknowledge that on traditional forums, many readers will skip over sticky threads. Posts are often stickied at the top and rarely unstickied, resulting in a large stack of posts to scroll through before you even see newer content.
For now, please note that the Guidelines function exists to make users aware of the rules, and is prominently linked for all users who post or reply for the first time. Admins and moderators can link to guidelines at any time in posts/replies and on their web and app profile pages. Admins can also make a Discussions category for News/Announcements (or similar).
Does Discussions have a highlight function?
Can we message individual users directly using Discussions?
One notification type we plan to add is user mentions. While the conversation inside of Discussions will be fully public, this will facilitate notifying specific users about a conversation they might be interested in.
How can I change the look of the web version of Discussions?
The colors and theme are connected to the Theme Designer settings. Also, the design and layout of the Discussions feature are still evolving. Tell us more about the specific elements you would like to change.
Why is there so much unused space in the web version?
Discussions was developed to be highly optimized for mobile use, so in terms of design, we started there. It's much easier to start small and then get bigger, rather than start big and then be forced to take things away. The web layout will continue to evolve.
Will Discussions be searchable?
Yes, we are working on integrating Discussions into Search. It will be integrated into the main search results page.
Can anonymous users post or upvote in Discussions?
No, only logged-in users can participate in Discussions, but they are readable to everyone. Discussions is a community-building tool. In the community apps we have seen many thousands of new accounts created for the purpose of using Discussions, so it's clear that the motivation is strong enough. Discussions is not affected by the "require all contributors to log in" setting on Special:WikiFeatures.
Can we use spam and abuse filters in Discussions?
The AbuseFilter extension is deeply bound to the MediaWiki edit functions and so won’t be adapted to work with Discussions contribution. However, we are currently exploring multiple options for spam/content filtering for Discussions and look forward to sharing more about this in the future. Please report persistent spam problems to the VSTF.
What makes a post show up on "Trending"?
Trending posts are simply recent posts that are getting upvotes and/or replies.
Can I put a post in multiple categories? Can I create subcategories? Can I use Topics like on the current Forum?
We plan to add functionality that will work much like the Topics option in the Forum today, using wiki article names. This will build specific connections between posts and wiki articles. Categories will continue to be the top level of organization, with only one category per post.
How do you link to an individual post or thread on Discussions?
Simply use the full URL for the post, when setting the link.
Example of the full URL for a post: http://adventuretime.wikia.com/d/p/2979100091102528606
Example of the full URL for a specific reply: http://adventuretime.wikia.com/d/p/2979276986242828033/r/2979292139071997476
Can I set up my profile page in the Community Apps using the desktop site?
This content appears on top portion of wiki profile pages as the "Bio". At this time, the Bio text is only editable via Community Apps. Note that this content is not specific to a community or app, it is a global user attribute, like the avatar.
Connections to the wiki portion of a community
Can I embed a Discussions feed on a wiki page?
Yes! Check out the Discussions Activity Feed.
Will this be used to replace Article/Blog comments or Message Walls?
Eventually, we expect to retire all of the current "thread" features in favor of this newer Discussions platform. The current focus is on the "forum" and "community conversation" uses, and we don't have specific details or timelines for Comments or Message Wall.
How will Discussions activity be monitored? Will there be a separate Recent Activity module for Discussions?
Regular users have the ability to "report" problematic content (spam, vandalism, violations of community guidelines) to moderators and admins, so we encourage you to think about whether there is a need for moderators and admins to review every single post and reply. While this is important for fact-based articles, it may not be necessary for discussion threads. It's possible to see a full chronological list of an individual user's Discussions posts and replies.
With that said, we know there is interest in a complete chronological activity feed and welcome your continued feedback as the structure of Discussions evolves. A user-created script called Discussions Feed is available to use, and we would like to hear about how that works for communities.
Will Discussion activity appear in Wiki Activity or Recent Changes?
There are no plans to integrate Discussions into those features.
How can users navigate between the wiki and Discussions?
Discussions is linked on the local navigation menu which remains visible on all wiki pages and Discussions pages. Modules that link to recent or trending Discussions posts may also appear in the footer at the bottom of wiki pages. A user's post count is displayed on their profile page and is linked to their list of posts and replies. In the web view of Discussions, a user's name and avatar are linked to their profile page. The Discussions activity feed can be embedded on main pages and on any other wiki page.
Can my community ask to turn off Discussions if we try it and don't like it?
The answer can vary depending on the situation. If Discussions is causing problems or not meeting your community's needs or expectations, we want to hear more. Development of Discussions is ongoing and we may have an update coming soon that will address the concerns. Please note that Discussions is intended to become a standard feature on FANDOM, and any community that has the current Forum feature will eventually have Discussions since the content will be migrated over.
A huge part of how this feature will develop is hearing what communities want from it. While it may not be possible to fulfill every specific request, the themes and trends of feedback will help to guide the direction of Discussions. It's equally important to realize that there can be multiple ways to meet needs and address problems. Please use Special:Contact to send in ideas and report problems.