A rushed forum, my opinion and efforts prior to the launch of keebtalk

I am frequently worried about the way I say something coming off as more aggressive than I mean to. It happens more than I would like. And if I did that here I am sorry.

I focus on my use of the word “if” and still stand by that usage. I also capitalized MIGHT. I feel the disclaimer is inherent in the statement.

But I want people to understand that NO ONE from keebtalk has reached out to me yet.

I will not be able to answer everyone here today. If you have questions you can reach out to me on discord (SpaceWolfPlays#2099) or reddit (/u/spacewolfplays).

So I think I was too harsh on the top clack stream but I am agreeing with donutcat. I don’t think Huey, Ryan, and Andrew starting a site quickly means that have unsavory motives. I also think we should be patient and not jump to conclusions about geekhack and this site. I’m just happy to have alternatives and I’m also happy that this site isn’t owned by a corporation or an individual.


This site more exists not because of who GH was sold to, but rather that it was sold at all and how the sale went. Someone that most users didn’t know existed who had complete ownership of the site, something most users probably wouldn’t know they could do, offered to keep the site in the community for a substantial amount, was taken on that offer, and then decided that no, the money was worth more than keeping the site in the community. This purpose of the way this site is setup is to prevent that from ever being able to happen. The reason the site has happened now is because many people are upset at the way their community space was sold to the highest bidder and could have just as easily ended up belonging to Chinese data miners and lost forever, so the creators are using that sentiment to help bring those people together here.


I think you’re being a little too down on discourse as a platform, and want to share a data point as evidence that it can work. Not taking any position on your larger points, but discourse is not as bad as you’re making it sound.

I’ve been a part of another community (the politics forum over at talkingpointsmemo.com) that’s been based on discourse for years now. I’ve been quite happy with it overall, it’s been robust and reliable as best I can tell, and the community over there has been healthy, vibrant, and growing. What’s more, there are a lot of less-technically-minded and older folks in that community than this one, and they’ve all been able to navigate the site without too many problems – an important feature if this community is to grow and be accessible to more people. Nonetheless, there are plenty of tools and functionality for “power users” (insofar as a forum has power users) that I’ve been pretty happy with.

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The timing is opportunistic (the opportunity being seized is gaining traction for a site). Malice depends on whoever is interpreting the action.

It’s not owned by one person, but 3 persons now. Their mission statement is good, along with the declared intentions. In time, we’ll find out if it’ll eventually change.

I say we just enjoy the presence of multiple websites where we can talk about our hobbies.

I can’t see anything that prevents that from happening to this website, ever. The only difference now between GH and KT is the PR and the financial situation of the owners of the site/platform.

We really should stop demonizing the decision of the owner to sell the site, and the success of KT shouldn’t be based on how seemingly evil that action by GH was.


Hey guys. I just wanted to offer a bit of info on the choice of Discourse and also some of the assumptions being made about our motives in launching it today.

Firstly, let me say: absolutely, we wanted to move swiftly. Keebtalk has a very specific mission and philosophy, and because we believed deeply in that philosophy, we felt it was important to try to start answering this community need as quickly as possible. It wasn’t for glory; it was because we legit care.

To whatever extent there was value in being first, we wanted to make sure that it was a community-owned, non-profit site that had that distinction. However, the choice of Discourse had nothing to do with a desire for speed. I chose it because I have a lot of experience running a community on Discourse, and I’ve come through lots of experience to trust the design decisions and wisdom of its development team. (In case you guys don’t know, the creator of Discourse is Jeff Atwood, who is himself a keyboard enthusiast and creator of the Code Keyboard.) Yes, hosting is expensive. Yes, it takes a bit of getting used to coming from the forums of the 90s. But I generally think it’s worth the tradeoffs, or at least is worth giving a try for a while. (Data migration is always a thing if we need to switch to something else later.)

Just for street cred, like you @spacewolfplays, I’m also a web developer. Discourse is built on Rails, and I was one of the first people to launch a company using that platform. I subsequently ran a Rails consulting company that did work for all kinds of companies including Microsoft, AMD, Yale, Harvard, etc. I was even quoted in the Wired cover article on Rails. In short: I’ve been dealing with web tech all my life—and Rails in particular.

I also run the most prominent and active online community for people who are into the production design of Star Trek (props, costumes, etc.), which is built on Discourse and has been around for years. In my experience running that community, Discourse has consistently impressed me with its thoughtful design, constant updates, and most importantly its absolutely excellent, semi-automated system of user trust and moderation tools, which for a site like this is going to be super important.

The keyboard community is full of engineers (including me!), and I know the first impulse of engineers is always to build everything super-custom and from scratch. But Discourse has been tested on huge communities around the web and is constantly incorporating feedback from those disparate communities in the updates it regularly pushes. A major advantage is that Discourse is very approachable for new and casual users and power users alike, and I feel that especially the former is really important as the keyboard community grows and welcomes new people.

And for everything else, Discourse is fully extensible through Rails plugins and front-end code. And, fortunately, the keyboard community is full of coders. :slight_smile: As long as we can make sure that our hosting provider allocates enough resources to our server (!), I think we’ll be doing fine.

My recommendation: use the site for a few days and let it settle in on you. I myself found Discourse a little jarring when I first used it (the fact that you highlight text to quote it in in a reply particular). I think once the unfamiliarity wears off you may come, like I did, strongly to prefer it.


Any idea on how many visitors were hitting the site earlier when it started throwing 502s? Any plans to address the host over the poor response to the load earlier or switch hosting providers?


Thanks for putting out your reasoning for choosing Discourse. I had no idea that Jeff Atwood worked on discourse (THE MORE YOU KNOW). Is there any sort of channel for egineers/devops to get involved on the maintenance of the site?

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That’s my top priority right now. We talked with our current hosting provider about this pretty extensively last night and they even moved us over to a special server that was supposed to handle traffic spikes particularly well. I think it’s mostly that there is just a ton of interest in and demand for a project like this, so there are worse things than getting slammed. Crickets would have been way worse! :blush:


We’re still scrambling to put forms and such together for that kind of thing, but we’re definitely going to need a lot of community help in the coming weeks, and we very much welcome it. In the meantime, maybe the best way would be to reach out to info@keebtalk.com and let us know what you’d be interested in doing so it doesn’t slip through the cracks. As you might imagine, we’re all pretty inundated with messages in various communications channels right now. :slight_smile:


Has a Keeb Talk version of the Twitter fail whale been commissioned? :joy:



Thank you sincerely for the thought out response to my questions about your software choices. Your experience and statements here are exactly the kind of answers and information I needed to trust those decisions. And I hope that with your experience you can understand why I wanted to ask them.

This information, your experience, your expectations of the platform, and your history with the code were some of the crucial pieces I needed to have more confidence in this project. I tried not to make assumptions but it still happened.

A lot of my skepticism came from the idea that I thought you were using Discourse hosted by Discourse.org. Which would be very expensive. And based on the current setup, it did not seem like you were using the open source version. I am VERY VERY glad to hear this is not the case, and that there are competent parties who can maintain and extend the site. Because I am still confident that this platform in its vanilla form cannot maintain our community long term.

The keyboard community is full of engineers (including me!), and I know the first impulse of engineers is always to build everything super-custom and from scratch.

I in no way would have been a supporter of building something from scratch. I think that’s an awful idea. And would have fought anyone who did that just as hard as you see me opining here today.

I am still worried about the bandwith costs, image hosting costs, and IO of a site with live updates like this. And I strongly believe the funding of a site like this SHOULD NOT come from the people who run it. That is exactly how geekhack failed.Especially when a portion of your bank accounts are filled by the hobby itself. That is NOT to say that I think you have malicious intent. Just that if the costs get too high, you’ll need more money to fund it. I think it should be user funded primarily. With various other methods to pick up the slack.

I am still skeptical about the pace at which the team rushed into this, and I wish you had joined our group chat. If so I would not be making this post now.


If you are not planning on just letting Discourse be Discourse, extending it to better suit our community, optimizing your own hosting, and you are prepared to budget for thousands of users, not just a few hundred… I am more optimistic.

Follow up questions?

  • Why didnt you use a host that you could control and expand on your own with redundancies such as Amazon’s hosts or otherwise? I have a feeling you’ll need more control over CPUs, RAM, and Storage than simple monthly checklists from your hosting provider.

I just wanted to laud your choice of forum software. Discourse is a great choice especially for mobile. Thanks for choosing Discourse to launch a modern forum.

Btw for those who doesn’t know, there is a Discourse iOS app which allows you to connect to multiple Discourse forums.


Dont get me wrong. I love Discourse. But if we want people to migrate from geekhack to here, then I worry that the disparity between them will be a BIG BIG barrier. I also worry about its navigation UX. I simply didnt feel like it was the best choice for our community right this moment.

I was also worried about its sustanability on the back end but have a bit more confidence in that now. Hopefully they can switch hosts to something more controllable.

DigitalOcean would also be a great hosting choice


Moving to new UI/UX will always be met with lots of resistance, more so if it’s abrupt and not gradual. Given time though, familiarity will build up, patterns become familiar, and everything becomes part of habit again.

It just needs time, its new.


I think they’re trying to avoid having to run the forum software directly themselves, that’s why it’s under managed/shared forum hosting. Moving to your own instances would mean you’d have to manage not just the forum software, but the instances themselves (security, backup, mailers, etc). That would take up a lot of time.

I was initially against the endless feed style, but the category view is pretty damn forum-esque. Maybe make that the default view? @norbauer


you can set that as your default in your account preferences/settings.


I agree, which is why i didnt want to rush it. That was the whole point of the discord server to figure out what might be the best middle ground that would be modern and scalable, but not too different as to scare a majority of users from joining.

I agree. which is why I wanted to take my time. And do the right thing. Also there are plenty of containers you can spin up that take care of that for you at this point. Especially for someone w/ all that experience. i would expect that to be trivial for people who have worked with all of that before.