Categories and communities

I know there are tons of model-specific communities and such already out there, but what do people think about some model- or class-specific communities within this forum? Maybe something like “Microcomputers”, “Minicomputers”, and “Mainframes”, or even “8080”, “6800”, “PDP-11”, or things like that?

I feel like the categories weren’t used much on G+, but I think that’s more a function of the platform than the value of categories. Perhaps the more visible categories of Discourse would change that.

Of course, it might be best to let those categories grow organically, and not just populate a random set up front. But I feel like on G+ there were a lot of 8080 and Z80 posts, homebrew and replica posts, minicomputers (particularly PDPs), etc. that are likely to show up here, as well.

Edited to say: I don’t want to make a bunch of work for @EdS, though, either!

I’m very much poised to start creating some Categories. In fact I’ve written one or two posts on the topic, but not posted them as they came out too complicated.

My basic feeling is that we need only a minimum of structure, certainly at first, and having more categories than we have posts seems like a mis-step. In fact, for as long as we have relatively few threads, we can visit and re-visit what the categories are, until we feel it’s working well.

Also, whatever we do, we need room both for new conversations and for imported communities. There was much overlap between communities on G+, and partly for that reason I’m leaning towards imported communities being in locked categories. So, we can import twenty communities but still only need to choose between a minimal number of categories when posting.

So, tomorrow, probably, I’ll create 3 or 4 categories, and remove the Uncategorised category - and, of course, move all existing posts into the appropriate place. And then see how things work.

BTW, I notice there’s an option to enable tags. I think tags might work rather well if we want to label posts as Atari, 6502, 2600, or as Sinclair, Spectrum, z80. A hierarchy isn’t nearly so useful. (Also note, we have full text search here, unlike Diaspora or Mastodon.)

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I think a small number of categories plus tags is probably ideal. It also captures a lot of fuzziness, particularly around early micros - should I classify it as Apple II or 6502 or … ? Tag it both!


I’m not against categories, but these should be rather broad than too strict and too many. E.g., we may want to separate what we are now doing with 8-bit computers from historical content, or what we’re currently reading and would recommend. Is there a need for a separate vault for documentations (manuals, etc)? In the end, it probably comes down to what other means are provided for searching or filtering content (e.g., hashtags) and how accessible they are.

One thing I preferred G+ for over usual fora was that there wasn’t this separation of brands, etc (look here for all things Atari, and there’s the Commodore clique), which provided a much more open and, at least for me, interesting space.

As for G+, I hardly felt the need for categories for any of the communities. However, since this may provide a new home for more than one such community, some kind of separation of concerns may be still valid. But, again, less may be more.

I like this current set of categories (Hardware, Software, Stories, etc.). I think it captures a lot of the “flavor” filtering that many users might want to perform, while keeping the set manageable and easy to understand where to put a new post.

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Are the tags curated? I’ve tried a couple of times to tag my PDP-11 posts with either pdp11 or mini or something similar, but I seem to only be able to select mos6502. Is that operator error?

Ah, just noticed the new front page layout – a substantial improvement, @EdS!


Thanks! The old layout is available at

I see what you did there – Hacker News / New … nifty … :slight_smile:

I’m ever-impressed (so far) at the Discourse software - I haven’t needed to do any low level tweaking or tuning. I changed a setting to reorder the list of views, having guessed that the first in the list is the default view - and indeed, it was.

The only thing about the new default view is that it puts the categories ahead of the latest posts on a narrow screen such as a mobile. I’m hoping that’s not a problem.

However, it merges categories and latest post on mobile, which probably does the job.
(Interestingly, mobile view is determined by the user agent and not by the window size. You’d expect media queries for the display dimensions for this nowadays.)

Regarding the mobile experience, just mind that Google will go for the mobile version (if there is one) and will ignore the “normal” site. Meaning, discoverability – as for Google – depends solely on the mobile version.

I think will be interesting to show the number of members of the forum, assuming it can be done automatically

We’ve got off to a very good start, I think. We need content and an active community to attract more people, and it will be a slow and steady progress, not a rapid takeoff.

I can give a snapshot: we have 160 signups total, with nearly half having earned the ‘basic’ badge by being active. About 40 email notifications go out daily, mostly summaries which go to people who haven’t visited recently. 20+ members visited the forum in the last 24 hours. The most signups in one day was 19, which I think followed a post on Mastodon.

Two things we can all do:

  • post interesting things, or express support and encouragement by commenting or hearting.
  • spread the word about the community to anyone who might have an interest - by email, tweet, blog or posting elsewhere.

We can have a little celebration when we get to 256 members!


Is there an official description/motto for the forum I can use to spread the word? :slight_smile:

There are two! (Which is to say I had to cook up a couple when setting things up):

  • Retro Computing - Minicomputers, Micros, and More
  • A museum of all things computational: mechanical, mainframe, mini, micro

(There’s also the sticky post


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Btw, I just discovered that the GMail “u” shortcut also works here and leads to the forum home with the list of threads/categories.
I’m impressed. :open_mouth:

And, it seems ‘?’ shows you all the keyboard shortcuts, in both cases.

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About categories: Hardware, software etc. - ok for many things, but if someone wants to write about a particular architecture (say, the ND minicomputers), then that would not fit in either - hardware and software are both parts of what defines the architecture.
As for the Discourse software, it’s probably the most spam-resistent forum software out there. It’s qute nice. But it’s hard to quickly find new posts if it’s been a while, there’s no single button for that, as far as I can tell.

It’s true, there are various posts which might not fit into strict categories: that’s why Discussion is there as a catch-all. For me, it’s more important that posts are made - I wouldn’t want anyone to be put off by being unsure about how to proceed. A moderator can always re-categorise a post after the fact (and the same goes for tags.)

On the topic of finding new posts… I’ve found that it’s possible to Track or Watch at the category level, which means I can get an email for any new topic. That’s good for me, but of course not everyone wants that. I’ve also used the RSS feeds for both new topics and new posts, which is good for those of us using an RSS reader. To find new posts, it should be enough to visit
Possibly also useful:

(Edit: in fact Latest might be the appropriate view?)