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Introducing the Algolia Community forum and the Pioneer Badge

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Today we’re making a new resource available to the Algolia Community. It’s a modern take on one of the Internet’s most fundamental gathering tools: the forum.

See it live: the Algolia Community forum

As the Algolia Community has grown, it’s become very active on Github, StackOverflow and Twitter. As developers, we love these tools but there are gaps as we scale. Sometimes we want to have deeper conversations or conversations not specifically about programming. Other times we want to have larger, ongoing discussions and get input from a lot of people.

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Discourse, the open source project we’ve chosen to power the new forum, is a chance to bring everyone together into one place and continue the conversation at scale. Discourse has customizable notifications, code highlighting, link expanding, badges and many other goodies right out of the box. It also has an excellent set of community moderation tools. Some very active communities run on Discourse including Github’s Atom, Twitter Developers, and Docker. We’re excited to join them as part of the larger Discourse community.

Customizations

Discourse is open source and has a powerful set of admin tools, so it’s really a breeze to customize. One customization we’ve done so far is visual, by applying a minimalist theme that fits in with our overall community fonts, styles and colors.

Yep, you get a badge just for using a 😛

We’ve also replaced some of the default badges with ones that match our theme. See them all on the Badges page, and keep reading to learn more about our first brand-new addition, the Pioneer Badge.

Categories

The top-level organizational unit of Discourse is the category. Categories contain topics which have one or more posts. Notifications can be turned on and off at the category and topic level which means that you decide what you want to receive, not us. For example, if you’re using the Shopify plugin, you shouldn’t get emails about the WordPress plugin (unless you want to). Because the Shopify and WordPress categories live separately on the forum, along with about a dozen others, it’s possible for you to configure what you’re watching at a fine-grained level.

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The home page of each category has a menu like this where you can configure what you want to receive. For categories you’re tracking or watching, you’ll get unread counts, so even if you don’t want notifications sent to you it’s easy to see what you’ve missed just by coming back to the site. We’ve created a few categories so far, here’s a summary of a few of them.

The Announcements category is one to keep an eye on. We’ll use it to post official announcements, including releases and new features, and also events and highlights from around the community. Introductions from each new member also live here inside of a special introductions topic.

The Projects category is a place to show off your Algolia implementations, projects and extensions. It’s ok to brag here! The community will love to hear how you configured your search and why you made the choices you did. You can also ask the community to try your search and give you feedback.

The Development category is the place to talk about the Algolia API, SDKs, and anything you’re using to get data into and out of Algolia. If you have questions about the architecture, technical or security design of your integration ask them in here. For anything else, you can get access to more viewpoints and potentially more depth by posting here.

We still encourage you to use StackOverflow for programming problems where you are expecting a single correct answer and Github Issues for repository-level bugs and feature requests.

The Design, UX and Relevance category is a place to talk about best practices for designing and implementing the user-facing aspect of your search. Not sure whether to use an autocomplete or instantsearch interface? Curious about what makes a search great on mobile? This is the category to ask in. Small changes to design and relevance can have a big impact on the satisfaction of your users, and we encourage you to post in here with questions or lessons you’ve learned.

The DocSearch category is for the 200+ maintainers who are using DocSearch to power the search on their documentation. It’s also for any of the teams we’re backing via our sponsorship of Open Collective including webpack.

The Site Feedback category exists for you to ask questions and give feedback about the forum itself. All thoughts and questions about organization, moderation, and ways to improve are welcome.

How to get the Pioneer Badge

We want to reward Algolia developers and fans who join the forum in 2016 with a special badge. The entire Algolia team, and especially our developer advocates, really appreciate your help with beta testing and trying new things. To us, you’re pioneers who are constantly pushing forward the frontier of search.

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Here is what you can do to get the Pioneer Badge.

  • Head to the forum and click Log In. You’ll be authenticated with your algolia.com account, or prompted to log into Algolia if you weren’t already.
  • Introduce yourself on the introductions thread.
  • Tell the community about what you’re working on in the Projects category.

Please complete all 3 steps by January 31, 2017. You will receive your virtual badge within a few days. We will follow up to send you a physical sticker for your laptop, along with information about extra badge-having benefits you can expect in 2017.

Badges are fun but they also play another important role in community building—badges help members establish their reputation. Reputation helps new members identify experts and empowers experts to take more ownership. Reputation is also a way for developers to build their portfolio and strengthen their career. We expect the Pioneer Badge to be the first of many opportunities to build a valuable, market-recognized reputation as an Algolia developer.

Thanks for being a pioneer, let’s explore more frontiers together in 2017!

Big thanks to Gianluca for deploying and configuring the Discourse instance, Antoine for creating the design, Jonas for implementing the design, Sébastien for creating the Pioneer Badge, Liam for reviewing this blog post, Raymond for onboarding our WordPress users, Matthieu for onboarding our Shopify users, and everyone at Algolia and in the community who has contributed something so far!