How to get started using is operated using the Discourse open-source forum platform.

Why Discourse?

If you have ever used a mailing list like mailman, Discourse is sort of like that.

If you have ever used a web forum like phpBB, Discourse is sort of like that.

What makes Discourse different from those other tools is it uses a style of crowd-sourced moderation. You start out with limited privileges, and those privileges grow with the passage of time, and as you interact with the system. Everything that you do: reading, writing, liking, or flagging, impacts on the level of trust that the system gives you, and everyone else. It also gives you constant reminders about how to participate in the most constructive ways possible. Our hope is that will allow this community to be sustainable, by not requiring a lot of work for volunteer moderators.

We also chose Discourse because it gives you an enormous amount of control about what notifications you receive, how, when, on what topics, from what users, and more. The idea is to help you connect with conversations that are important to you with as little friction as possible.

Our hope is that Discourse will allow you to connect with the Rules as Code community in the manner that is most convenient to you, and promotes a civilized, effective, and sustainable online discussion.


There is some terminology you should be aware of to get started if you haven’t used Discourse before.

The server is divided into “categories”. Some categories also have sub-categories, but not all.

Inside each category there is a list of conversations, called “topics”. A topic includes a title and an initial post, like the first email in a new conversation. The title of the topic is what will show up in the list for each category.

All of the replies in a conversation are called “posts”. Posts can be a reply to the main topic, or to a different reply. The conversations are “threaded”.

Topics must be created in a category. If you’re not sure which category to use, you can use the oxymoronic “uncategorized” category.

Topics can (and sometimes must) be given “tags”, which makes them easier to find and link to related topics.

You can tell the difference between a category and a tag in the user interface, because categories have a coloured box to the left of their name, and tags do not.

Some topics in each category are “pinned”. They will appear at the top of the list with a pushpin logo pointing down. These are usually topics that the admins think it is important that you read before you engage in the category. Once you have read a pinned topic, the pushpin logo will be pointing up, and the topic will no longer be at the top of your list for that category.

A topic may also be “locked” if it is something that was never intended to have replies, or if for some other reason the admins have decided to prevent users from replying to it.

The system gives out small rewards for reaching certain thresholds, which are visible to other users, but do not actually impact on your privileges on the site. These are called “badges”.

Trust Levels

Users on the site are given a “trust level”. The trust levels are:

  • New User
  • Basic User
  • Member
  • Regular
  • Leader

New Users can only read the site, but will be promoted to Basic User in as little as 10 minutes if they actually do. Basic Users have all the permissions of a member of a mailing list. Members have the ability to ignore users and invite users, to create new tags, and to participate in the off-topic Lounge category. Regulars gain the ability to create posts that are editable by other users. Leaders gain the ability to communicate with other users directly by email.

All of the trust levels are granted automatically except for Leader, which is granted by admins.

All you need to do to be promoted as high as Regular is to read, write, visit, like, reply, have your contributions liked, not have your contributions flagged, and wait.

What Next?

Here’s what you can do to get started:

  1. Set your email and notification preferences: (Click on your user icon in the top-right, choose the “preferences” tab on the right, and click on “Preferences”.)
  2. Introduce yourself in the “Introduce yourself” topic in the Getting Started category.
  3. Read some posts!

Thanks for being here!