The Future of Spectrum is Discourse


(system) #1

At Spectrum, we are always discussing ways of better achieving our mission of building community through conversation. Two years ago, we switched to a new commenting platform named DISQUS. It helped stabilize our site’s performance, allowed more people to engage with our content by signing up with Facebook and Twitter, and continued our tradition of vibrant debate and conversation.

Today we are announcing the next step as we continue to evolve in making this online space a safe, enriching, and vibrant community. Within the coming days, we will be introducing a new platform we’re calling Spectrum Conversation, and an auxiliary tool we’ve called MySpectrum. Together, these tools represent Spectrum’s online future.

Spectrum Conversation is built on top of the open-source forum software Discourse. It has been created by several veterans of online communities, and it tries to distill the best practices this team has learned in creating healthy online communities.

The first thing you will notice is that conversations will now take place in a fully dedicated space, and no longer appear directly below articles. Each conversation will be prompted by an article, and you will be able to see how many response have been made while reading the article on the Spectrum Blog -- but that’s it. We hope this will allow our readers to focus on the content first, and engage in conversation only when they feel they have something to say.

Second, the software is built so that conversations flow in chronological order, and not nested. This has been changed as a result of many complaints we have heard about the current commenting system. You will still be able to reply to other individual comments, but the software keeps your response in chronological order while linking to what you were responding to. It is quite an elegant way of handling this issue, and we think you will like it.

Third, you will need to create a new account. We understand that this has caused confusion, since there are currently two types of accounts one can have with Spectrum: a subscriber account to see the journal online, and a DISQUS account to be able to comment on articles. To finally address this, we are announcing MySpectrum. A MySpectrum account will eventually become your one and only Spectrum identity. It will let you comment on Spectrum Conversation, and in the near future, also allow you to access the journal as a subscriber, to check on the status of your subscription, renew it, and change your address.

The steps in this transition will be:

1. Launch MySpectrum & Spectrum Conversation. To be able to use Spectrum Conversation, you will need a MySpectrum account. Head over there and do that now! 2. Shut down DISQUS. All your comments will be saved, and we hope to import them into Spectrum Conversation soon. 3. Convert subscriber accounts to MySpectrum accounts, giving subscribers access to the journal and their subscriptions online.

We will be posting more in the coming days about how we hope these transitions will give us a chance to make our community stronger.

Jonathan Pichot is Spectrum's technical expert, spearheading the changeover to the new system.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6244