I love it, but much of the feedback I've gotten about my site is that it is intimidating to begin using.This may have to do with the fact that the user is first presented with so many options and information.

Category and topic subscription already happens in Discourse via just interacting on the forum, and it does so in an elegant way, but I am suggesting that it happen in a way which encourages new users to a larger degree. You'd need more tests, but I wonder if that's a hint that its not quite up to the job? Finally, I use a link to create a new topic(linking to login) to encourage signups. This whole thread is really useful to me, it helped me understand more about intentional design in Discourse.

I dunno, some of that I would file under "I just joined Facebook and I find it confusing." Uh.. I have a hard time taking "I can't tell which button to press to post a reply" seriously. I see what you are saying here and would agree in some respect, but I don't think "how quickly" is the only question.

My grandmother is on there but there's no way I could get her to try Discourse, even if she would benefit.

I don't think Discourse should be a FB clone and I think you all are doing an amazing job.

It isn't because I am dumb or don't care, it's because there's a lot of people out there with their own idea of what a perfect online social experience should look like and I can't physically give them all a proper test drive.

Now that I've used Discourse, it makes a great deal more sense.

Maybe more about what @Mahamsamatan can be revisited later on.

I think dismissable headers if not splash pages are great to think about and there are already a lot of great resources about getting started with Discourse, but for some people this is going to still be a mindflip.

That way their experience could be customized by what categories they find interesting. The question isn't whether or not something is immediately obvious in 500 milliseconds after seeing it, the question is, how quickly did you figure how to use those things? That's even overlooking the fact that Hummingbird forces you to sign up, which gives a terrible UX.

A welcome series such as this would be important for activist Connect as well, because there may be many issues on the site, but you may only be interested in, for example, civil rights. What I found fascinating about that user test is that he never went near the pinned welcome topic, even though he wondered out loud about some of the things it would have told him. I've also hidden some topic details for people first glancing the forum.

On the topic of Facebook familiarity, there is a certain point where you can't improve familiarity. Facebook has evolved over the years to offer improved and more in-depth resources.