Yes! Either by us collectively, by someone else, or both. Well, full enough, but probably with gaps.
Not right away or necessarily, although this is a somewhat uncomfortable tradeoff. A lot of the headaches we have had recently have had to do with the CAS sign-on server, and we don’t want to try to implement that right away. Discourse does play nicely with common identity-based logins (basically Google, Twitter, Yahoo, Facebook, GitHub, and general SSO). You might have noticed that I single sign-on isn’t working great lately, but when we get that part of our house in order, we’ll consider bringing in these forums. Long story short, we don’t want to break these right away; direct login works, so we’re not messing with it yet.
This particular instance would/will become the production version directly. I do not know this positively, but I think we would be able, if implementing single sign on stuff, to associate existing accounts with at least some new sign-in methods, so long as the associated email address remains the same. @jazinheira knows all this light years better than the rest of us on Saylor staff and can shout me down if I’ve said something ridiculous. A known unknown with some risk, but our current primary risk aversion is to expanding the control of our somewhat fickle CAS system.
Good points here and further below in your post. I think wisely implementing categories will help a bit, but wisely pinning certain topics could help. community.p2pu.org is a bit busier than we are and seems fairly well structured, though I have some critiques.
One interesting possibility, although this could make some people cringe, is that we could probably create a sort of static, structured index (optional but a click away) to guide browsing or created a custom Google search engine that better supports those who lack “a clear focus of enquiry”.
All my thoughts here are subject to ongoing critique, of course
FWIW, the top layer of the header and the entire footer are pure HTML and very flexible…the main area is a bit harder to tweak. In any case, though I want to avoid junking things up, there is opportunity to play there.