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A friend of mine is launching a new discussion forum, and two of the leading candidates are Q2A and Discourse, authored by StackExchange founder Jeff Sherwood.
http://try.discourse.org/

Because I have more experience with Q2A, and it's simpler with a longer track record, I'm leaning towards Q2A. Discourse is fancier, is written in Rails, and has a lot of excitement behind it.

What factors should my friend look at when comparing the two forums?

I like it that Q2A has badges and points, and a large user community. Discourse is newer so it has a more modern look and a somewhat large development team behind it.

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Could you give more details about what kind of discussion forum you and your friend are launching? It can be very hard to draw any conclusions otherwise.
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Sure thing. It's a forum related to particular health issues. It's undecided as of yet how strictly it will adhere to a question+answer format, but that format would probably fit okay. The forum will probably initially be used by a couple hundred people or so.
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Hey Korion! I was going to make a Ray Peat site Q+A to compete against yours. Just kidding. My site never launched, but maybe with 1.6 out I should get back to it...

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It's still hard to tell whether you need a discussion forum or a Q&A site. Discourse appears to focus on redesigning the forum experience which means it focus on discussions rather than precise answers. On the other hand, Q2A has a very distinct layout for answers and comments which helps highlighting the best answers. When a topic grows too big it can be hard to filter what's important to you. In my opinion something as specific as particular health issues would benefit more of Q2A than Discourse.
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Yeah, we probably won't know which is the right choice until picking one. It's a close call, since many of the questions will have precise answers, but Discourse is at a point where we wonder if it would be the best long-term solution. Personally, I like the Q2A format because of two main reasons -- gamification and obvious format. It's questions and answers, less banter and more practical information. But it's going to take a little more thinking to figure out which is right for us.
+1 vote
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Ahhh, RuByOnR3iLs. The proponents of Discourse expect that "Darling Of The Moment" will still be around, and in favor, a decade from now eh?

I grabbed a copy of its code from Github & skimmed through it. Out of the gate, its codebase spans 3250+ files. "Platform-ey", reminds me of CakePhp, CodeIgnitorajiggerator. Who can see the forest through the trees in all that spaghetti?!? Within the first few files I skimmed, I encountered cutesie shite like "Harvey Dent . . . District Attorney". Coders in love with their oh-so-clever code? Instead of simply calling a native function, let's call the Beauracracy class, instantiate a districtAttorney object, file a petition for a printing permit.... sheesh! I would loathe trying to backtrace that sort of code in an attempt to debug, or extend, it.
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Thanks...it's not exactly light weight like Q2A is, and even Rails vs PHP gives me pause.

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