[swift-evolution] [Discussion] mailing list alternative

Ted kremenek kremenek at apple.com
Thu Feb 2 23:49:07 CST 2017

> On Feb 2, 2017, at 7:23 PM, Xiaodi Wu <xiaodi.wu at gmail.com> wrote:
> Great, but let's continue discussing what the needs and aspirations of the community are and what our non-goals are, then study what platforms best fit those. It sure sounds nice that Discourse can be set up as a mailing list, and that it can have extra voting dingbats or none at all, etc., etc. But in deciding what platform we should use it helps not to lose sight of what kind of a community we want to promote. Articulate those and gain some consensus, and after that the process of comparing product feature lists will surely be the easy part.

I agree — which should pick the tool that matches with community we want to promote.

For me I feel that swift-evolution has an established ethos that works well, and I would not want to see that go away in a forum.  My hope is a forum allows more people to sporadically participate on topics that are of interest to them.  I also feel that a forum provides some standard affordances — e.g., Markdown — that can be helpful in technical discussions.

Here are the factors I am evaluating:

1. Preserves/encourages the community discussions we want — which ties in with the points you made about the nature of the community we want.

2. Make discussions more accessible to members of the community who want to use their valuable time to participate in discussions that are important to them, but not necessarily need to pay a high cost in participating in all discussions.

3. Ideally not degrade the experience for those participating on swift-evolution all the time and are monitoring all (or the majority) of traffic.  This is the main concern from people who like the mailing lists.

4. Affordances for searching through topics, cross-referencing, etc.  This is very useful for relating similar but disjoint topics.

5. Better tools for authoring content, such as using Markdown (especially for writing out code).

6. Privacy — not everyone wants to share their email or create a new one just to participate not he evolution threads.  This ties in with #2.

The other thing — which has not been discussed very much — is whether or not if we move to a forum to move ALL of the lists to a forum, or just swift-evolution.  My preference if we moved to forums would be to go all in, but discussion should happen on those lists as well (e.g., swift-dev).

>> On Thu, Feb 2, 2017 at 20:59 Jacob Bandes-Storch <jtbandes at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Thu, Feb 2, 2017 at 6:37 PM, Xiaodi Wu via swift-evolution <swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:
>> On Thu, Feb 2, 2017 at 8:03 PM, Ted kremenek via swift-evolution <swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:
>>> On Feb 2, 2017, at 5:35 PM, Karl Wagner via swift-evolution <swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:
>>> It's at least worth a beta test.
>> There are real concerns to work out here — just moving to the forum blindly would be bad if it is highly disruptive to the community having important discussions.  I DO think a forum is likely the way to go, but I also am not dismissive that individuals who are highly active on swift-evolution that prefer an email workflow will not have their own participation significantly compromised by just moving to a forum in a cavalier way.
>> What I have enjoyed seeing from this thread is a healthy discussion about tradeoffs of both approaches and an identification of concerns of moving away from the mailing lists.  Some responses to those concerns have been "Discourse can handle that", which to me is part of the evaluation of the tradeoffs.  I am also really happy that Nate setup the mock Discourse setup so we could evaluate thing like the email bridge.  For example, experimenting of whether or not a rich HTML email works versus plain text emails for inline responses (which turns out to have problems), etc.   That's all super useful for actually evaluating moving to Discourse, so in my mind we are actually trying things out and identifying problem points.
>> The other thing I'm considering is the practical logistics of getting this set up and maintained (from an infrastructure perspective).  That's not something that needs to be discussed on this thread — I'd rather the thread focus on whether a forum is the right thing for the community.  But it is still something that is being considered in tandem to this discussion, which obviously needs to be figured out before we just jump to using Discourse (if that is what we end up doing).
>> On the topic of whether a forum is the right thing for the community, I figure I should throw another point into the conversation. Forums are often designed around a rewards system to encourage participation in approved ways, and to encourage it frequently. People who write popular posts get more likes, or stars, or dingbats, and voting is encouraged from the community to surface the most liked/starred/dingbatted. Just earlier in this thread, there were explicit calls for any adopted platform to have liking/unliking features.
>> In a mailing list format, everyone is free to start a new thread. Whether you invented the language or started learning it yesterday, if you have a new idea, it comes into everyone's inbox in exactly the same way. No one's user name has extra flares or trophies or whatever reminding you of their status. Yes, it's true that there have been a proliferation of +1's lately. It is also true that not too long ago community members reminded each other not to do that. The mantra, if I recall, was that it wasn't about soliciting upvotes or downvotes, but rather about posting thoughtful critiques, new takes on the the idea, alternative designs, etc.
>> So I guess I'd sum up the point as this: in the current setup, everyone's message is treated equally (unless it exceeds the max email size limit, ugh); in a forum, everyone's likes are treated equally. Are we unsatisfied with the current community ethos? Do we want the evolution process to be about what ideas garnered the most votes and whose thoughts are most popular?
>> FWIW, I think this point is moot when it comes to Discourse — the max allowed "likes" per day is adjustable, which I believe includes turning it to 0 / off. If it's determined to be harmful to "community ethos" the admins would be free to disable it.
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