Discourse plugins


A brief discussion today brought up the possibility of building up the functionality of the forum by use of the plugins that have been developed for Discourse.

some options to start us off (mostly taken from the top plugins on the Discourse site):

You can see more here: https://meta.discourse.org/c/plugin

These could allow us to make more use of the forum, avoiding having to expand out to many more platforms (e.g. we wouldn’t need to carve out a niche in area51.stackexchange.com).

Question & Answer category
Where to discuss model-/data/code- questions?

Hi Bryn. 1 looks useful and 3 looks seriously beta. Regarding 2, can you rename “votes” to “likes”? That then indicates that the outcome need not represent a decision. I am no fan of voting, unless other forms of consensus building have been applied and failed and that a result is essential.

  1. It was the one that really sparked the discussion, the rest I added to show the range.
  2. I imagine it would be possible to edit the plugin source code to change “votes” to “likes”, but haven’t delved.
  3. Again, hadn’t delved, so it may well be too underdeveloped to be worth it! However, some chat function could have been useful at the workshop. Maybe there are other, more developed chat plugins available…



Just started using the forum recently (so be gentle… :wink: ).

I think the “likes” functionality would be good and the central theme/requirement based on discussions in Frankfurt.

Chat functionality is probably a bonus.


As we failed to create a sub-page of StackExchange it would be a great opportunity to use this forum instead. Therefore I like 1. and 2. and would vote for them if I could :wink:


OK, I’ll look to implement 1 and 2 in the next few days. Voting is for individual threads, not the content within. There should be “poll” functionality in Discourse core plugins, which would need to be activated from admin, but looks like it would also be good to have access to!


I think it is helpful to vote for individual threads but I really like the way you can vote for answers in stackexchange. I’m not sure but the “poll-plugin” seems to be something different. Maybe the like button is enough but I guess it does not change the order.


Yeah, there’s voting for the topic, voting on replies within the topic, then voting in a poll within a reply. From what I’ve read, voting on replies (and subsequent reordering of the thread) isn’t available for Discourse as it would mess up the ‘flow’ of conversation which sets this platform apart from e.g. StackExchange. I think we’d have to go for liking posts, then depend on the author to pick the best answer, to avoid people having to sift through the whole discussion to find it.


Thank you. I think we can test it for a while and then we see what works, what is missing,…

In the poll above one can only vote for one feature. Is is it intended to be like this?


Thanks for noticing, I’ve now updated it!


Bryn and all

Is there support for handling citations in a high level way? Perhaps using Wikipedia citation format (WCF) templates (example below) or BibTeX records? The openmod wiki now supports a subset of WCF, which means that citation information can be transferred directly between Wikipedia and the wiki. It would be good to include the forum in that interchange.

{{cite journal
 | last1 = DeCarolis | first1 = Joseph
 | last2 = Daly | first2 = Hannah
 | last3 = Dodds | first3 = Paul
 | last4 = Keppo | first4 = Ilkka
 | last5 = Li | first5 = Francis
 | last6 = McDowall | first6 = Will
 | last7 = Pye | first7 = Steve
 | last8 = Strachan | first8 = Neil
 | last9 = Trutnevyte | first9 = Evelina
 | last10 = Usher | first10 = Will
 | last11 = Winning | first11 = Matthew
 | last12 = Yeh | first12 = Sonia
 | last13 = Zeyringer | first13 = Marianne
 | title = Formalizing best practice for energy system optimization modelling
 | date = 15 May 2017
 | journal = Applied Energy
 | volume = 194
 | issue =
 | pages = 184–198
 | doi = 10.1016/j.apenergy.2017.03.001
 | issn = 0306-2619

By the way, that paper is worth reading too. Here the that same reference in markdown:

DeCarolis, Joseph, Hannah Daly, Paul Dodds, Ilkka Keppo, Francis Li, Will McDowall, Steve Pye, Neil Strachan, Evelina Trutnevyte, Will Usher, Matthew Winning, Sonia Yeh, and Marianne Zeyringer. (15 May 2017). “Formalizing best practice for energy system optimization modelling”. Applied Energy. 194: 184–198. ISSN 0306-2619. doi:10.1016/j.apenergy.2017.03.001.


There isn’t anything that offers this functionality. I would anyway imagine that citations as verbose as that which you’ve shown would want to be avoided in a chat platform. There is a citation shorthand plugin in the pipeline, but it’s “not yet ready, nor usable”. If that became both ready and usable then it would allow people to draw citations from a central pool (e.g. all those on the wiki) using a short-hand descriptor for the citation, like a BibTex identifier.

For now, referring to the DOI/ISSN is probably sufficient?


A common bibliographic database is also a theme for Wikipedia. Known as the WikiCite project, it would be hosted on Wikidata and has been under discussion for 10 years! The oedb project has adopted JabRef as its citation engine, which uses BibTeX (and also BibLaTeX) as its native format. I wrote a WCF → markdown translator in elisp for the emacs text editor for my own use, which I will place on GitHub shortly (used in the above WCF example, by the way).

Anyway, adding DOIs and/or PDF download URLs is probably sufficient. As Bryn suggested. DOIs should be pretty stable, download URLs less so.

But does Discourse support macros/templates/functions? Or is that counter to the notion of lightweight markup? If so, a DOI macro could be written to display and create DOI information and links in a consistent and convenient way? Just a thought.


From what I can tell, any adjustments to Discourse have to take place in the form of a plugin. These plugins could simply be functions/macros to do just as you suggest. Sadly, nothing exists at the moment for that, but you could always add it in as a side project :wink:


Following the results of the poll (thanks for voting, those who did), @tom_brown has added in the ability to:

  • vote on topics
  • pick a solution from the topic thread
  • use LaTex math notation (e.g. E = mc^2)

Topic previews might come later, if there is greater demand.

Currently, voting and solution picking is only possible in this category (partially for testing) and in the newly created Q&A category. Math notation is available everywhere!

Continue to suggest plugins, if they’re available on https://meta.discourse.org/c/plugin and we can create a new poll for them when there are more suggestions.