Community.mlh.io as a public view-access forum?

Hi MLH team (and community!),

I’ve had some time to browse through this community forum, both in the Discourse version and this new self-hosted community.mlh.io version and think it’s a wonderful resource. I wanted to ask one question to the MLH team - is there a reason this forum doesn’t have public view-access?

I ask because I see many useful discussion threads on hackathon organizing mirroring the types of discussion I’d find on other forums for clubs/competitions I did back in high school. Specifically, for VEX Robotics (https://www.vexforum.com/) and Science Olympiad (https://scioly.org/forums/). I loved open forums like these because they gave new members a chance to learn - “creep” - to learn without going through the process of making an account.

I understand the biggest factor would probably be privacy - us using real names and all - and the difficulty of switching to aliases and its effect on the user experience. My personal favorite forum experience ever is the VEX robotics forum circa 2015 (http://web.archive.org/web/20150321093352/http://www.vexforum.com/) with a design that is very lightweight while getting to the point, with shades of reddit almost. Personally, I’d love to contribute to a body of institutional memory preserved in forum format if it were more publicly accessible.

This post has been pretty long - let me know what you think!

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Heyo @camakk! It’s great to see you on here.

One of MLH’s Values is Learn Build Share. We want our community (or anyone who could benefit for that matter) to have access to our knowledge and resources. We’re just starting up this digital community, so we’re being a bit more restrictive as we build and test things out.

I’m confident we will make portions of this forum publicly available in the future. One of many great features of Discourse is that we can select categories to restrict and open up. I’m pushing for a future where our ‘basic categories’ (like All about Hackathons! and Workshops and Clubs) are all publicly viewable, but would require logins to participate.

We’ll definitely still have ‘private’ categories as well. As a single example, I feel that having a space just for MLH Hackcon VII organizers is beneficial to all the organizers who attend that event. It gives them a space to connect and learn from each other beyond just the weekend of Hackcon.

Just a quick note on this as well- I think you can submit changes to guide.mlh.io if you’re looking for something a bit more ‘permanent’ to contribute to!

Thanks @Ryan - that makes total sense regarding how the forum is in early stages. I agree that it definitely makes sense to keep certain categories as private as well.

I think the biggest draw for a potential hackathon organizer would be an open listing of hackathon-related topics on the home page. Posts like “How to make 25k work for a 200 person event??” and “favorite large chain catering restaurants?” where users could respond with some degree of anonymity, at least to public eyes, would almost serve as inbound marketing for the hackathon community at large. In my opinion this would be peak forum, and it is something I greatly look forward to if it can be realized.

I love the resource at guide.mlh.io as an experienced hackathon organizer, but on the internet, it appears dense and cumbersome for newcomers. I’d love for the forum to be like a Stackoverflow whereas the more carefully written guide.mlh.io’s resembles an O’Reilly-esque reference source.

Looking forward to seeing how the forum develops in the future!

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