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I built a discussion site for foreigners in Taiwan using bbPress:

enter image description here

Right now, there are 3 features that traditional forums don't have (as far as I know):

  1. Users can vote topics and replies.
  2. Users can "Follow" topics (they will be saved in the user's profile page).
  3. Topics with a certain amount of votes and replies become more prominent (darker color).

I was thinking something like this:

enter image description here

(not sure where to place them though).

They are not many, and they are nothing out of the ordinary, but I was wondering if I should let the user discover them by themselves (they are quite visible) or should I list them somewhere?

(This is the first time I launch a discussion forum).

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You could display a message for new visitors that offers them a link to 'Find out about our discussion features' and then make a page that lets you talk about them. If you made it a notification like a bar at the top of the page, it would be good to let the user dismiss it if they are not interested.

You could also consider a welcome email after people sign up that includes mention of the features and prompts people to look for them when they return.

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