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In Response to Spam, Udacity Switches Forum Infrastructure to Discourse

Online discussion forums are a key component of modern MOOCs, and often the main way students can interact with each other and the staff. With a critical mass of thousands of students across different time zones, MOOC discussion boards commonly see students answering each others questions, often before staff have a chance to respond (Coursera has reported average responses as low as 22 minutes).

Udacity, unlike most MOOC providers who have built their own discussion boards, opts to use open source alternatives. Until recently, their forums which were powered by Open Source Q&A, a Stackoverflow-like system. Unfortunately the forums were targeted by spammers.

Udacity’s response was quick:

Udacity archived their forums into read only mode and switched to Discourse, an open-source discussion platform “built for the next decade of the internet”. The new forums can be found here.

There are always glitches when making major changes, but Udacity is on top of the situation:

Despite the glitches, the commitment to open-source is admirable as it should allow for easier incorporation of best-in-class features to make massive discussions easier to navigate, read, and participate in.