From Social Patterns
A user wants to participate in a discussion with other people by posting messages and responses to other messages.
Use when you want to allow users to create topics for discussion. Use when you want to users to be able to respond to those topics. Use this pattern when you want to allow users to respond to other users’ responses.
- Consider pre-seeding topics for discussion on sites that have a specific context.
- Allow users to create new topics for discussion.
- Provide a clear call to action for posting a message within a topic.
- Provide a clear call to action for posting a reply to a message.
- Clearly indicate if there is a character limit in the reply or topic fields.
- Allow the user to preview before posting.
- Time and date stamp posts and topic creations.
- Present attribution with each message and link the user name to their public profile. (see Attribution and Profile)
- Indicate if the poster is an “official” representative of the site.
- Allow users to edit their own posts in case of errors and typos. Indicate that the post has been edited with a time/date stamp indicating an edit.
- Consider indicating presence as part of the attribution (see attribution) for posts. If sharing presence, allow users to communicate in real-time via a chat or IM mechanism. (see Communication).
- Indicate when a topic is new.
- Indicate when a topic is hot.
- Allow topics and posts in public forums to be crawled and searched via the major search engines.
- Allow users to follow discussions via RSS.
- Moderate the discussion lists with a light but firm hand. Too much and people will take their discussion elsewhere, too little and the community can become fractured, be overrun by trolls or veer into flamewars and violate legal and ethical norms. (see Community Management)
- Allow users to report abuse or inappropriate posts to the moderator or site owner.
- Allow the ability for a discussion topic to be closed and clearly indicate that no more posts will be allowed.