Now that I’m used to the new site and layout, I have to say that I’m very happy with Discourse and it has encouraged me to participate more.
Discourse does a better job of tracking which threads you’ve read and which ones have new posts (and how many new posts!). If I were logged into the old site and I looked at a forum, but didn’t open up all the threads with unread posts, it would assume that I didn’t want to see the unread ones and mark them all read. Because of that, I typically viewed the board without being logged in – that solved the problem. Since I wasn’t logged in, though, I was less likely to go through the hassle of opening an incognito window, logging in, and posting.
Since I’m always logged in now, adding a quick reply is much less of a pain.
Discourse does a better job of keeping pages updated – if I’m interested in a thread, I can just keep it open and new replies are added automatically.
It also does a better job of replies from e-mail – you can just reply to the e-mail that tells you there’s a new post and it gets posted to the thread.
The only thing that I found better about the old site was that you’d only get one message when a thread you were subscribed to was updated. You wouldn’t get another e-mail until you visited the thread. With Discourse, if I’m Watching a thread and it’s active, I might literally get 100 e-mails in a day. They’re all nicely threaded, but the notifications just drive me batty.