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In Response to Spam, Udacity Switches Forum Infrastructure to Discourse

Udacity, which uses open-source forum systems for its discussion boards, experienced massive spam and switched 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.

Dear God  the SPAM    Udacity Forums

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.

Dhawal Shah Profile Image

Dhawal Shah

Dhawal is the CEO of Class Central, the most popular search engine and review site for online courses and MOOCs. He has completed over a dozen MOOCs and has written over 200 articles about the MOOC space, including contributions to TechCrunch, EdSurge, Quartz, and VentureBeat.

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