Testing Discourse for Debian

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Testing Discourse for Debian

Neil McGovern via nm
Hi folks,

For a little while, I've been keen to see how we can improve our
communication methods, both to make it more accessible to newcomers and to
take advantage of more featureful tooling than has been traditionally
possible with email lists.

As such, I set up an instance of Discourse[0] at
https://discourse.debian.net, and am now asking for a wider input on if
this is something the project wishes to use and if I should spend my
time pursuing.

FAQ
===

Is it Free Software?
  Yes. It's GPLv2+.

Who else uses it?
  Lots of people. GNOME, Mozilla, Ubuntu, Fedora to name a few

What about the mailing lists?
  This may or may not be a replacement for any particular list. I suspect
  there are some thet would benefit greatly from having Discourse be the
  primary interaction, and other places where this would be less suitable.

Be specific!
  Ok... I think debian-user, debian-vote and possibly debian-project would
  be better off in Discourse. I think debian-devel-announce should stay as
  an email list (for now). However, I am not suddenly proposing that we shut
  those lists down. The aim of this exercise is to see if Discourse would
  work well for us.

Email is still important to me!
  Fine, you can interact with Discorse by email rather than the web
  interface. It should be noted however, that there is not 1:1 feature
  partiy with email and the web interface, as Discorse does things that
  can't easily be done with email. For the majority of users though,
  email interaction should be "good enough".

Why are you doing this?
  I have two motivations. First, is moderation. Discourse has built in tools
  to allow community moderation on a much better scale than our email lists.
  Secondly, I genuinely believe that ease of access to new contributors is
  of paramount importance to the project.

What about X software instead?
  Feel free to explore other solutions. I've already done evaluations, and
  I'm pretty much set on this as the correct way forward. If there is
  insufficient interest in moving forward with Discourse, I'll leave it to
  others to invest time.

What about forums.debian.net?
  I have no interest in interacting with a community of users and
  moderators who allow blatent Code of Conduct violations to go
  unchecked.

What's next?
  I'd appreciate people testing Discourse. If you have any questions, then
  I'm happy to answer them.

Thanks,
Neil

[0] https://www.discourse.org/

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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

rhkramer
On Friday, April 10, 2020 02:59:59 PM Neil McGovern wrote:
> For a little while, I've been keen to see how we can improve our
> communication methods, both to make it more accessible to newcomers

Hmm, from the peanut gallery, if you really want things accessible to
newcomers, it would be nice if fewer abbreviations were used -- things like
DPL, CP, SP, ...

I'm not particularly talking to you, but more to the participants in the
"Salsa as authentication provider for Debian" thread.


> and to
> take advantage of more featureful tooling than has been traditionally
> possible with email lists.

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too many acronyms [was: Testing Discourse for Debian]

Luca Filipozzi
On Fri, Apr 10, 2020 at 03:26:16PM -0400, [hidden email] wrote:

> On Friday, April 10, 2020 02:59:59 PM Neil McGovern wrote:
> > For a little while, I've been keen to see how we can improve our
> > communication methods, both to make it more accessible to newcomers
>
> Hmm, from the peanut gallery, if you really want things accessible to
> newcomers, it would be nice if fewer abbreviations were used -- things like
> DPL, CP, SP, ...
>
> I'm not particularly talking to you, but more to the participants in the
> "Salsa as authentication provider for Debian" thread.

Good point. There's a mix of Debian and Identity acronyms in that
thread. Here's a couple of links to help, I hope:

https://www.identropy.com/blog/iam-blog/bid/77844/commonly-used-acronyms-in-identity-and-access-management

https://wiki.debian.org/Glossary

--
Luca Filipozzi

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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

Enrico Zini
In reply to this post by Neil McGovern via nm
On Fri, Apr 10, 2020 at 07:59:59PM +0100, Neil McGovern wrote:

> For a little while, I've been keen to see how we can improve our
> communication methods, both to make it more accessible to newcomers and to
> take advantage of more featureful tooling than has been traditionally
> possible with email lists.
>
> As such, I set up an instance of Discourse[0] at
> https://discourse.debian.net, and am now asking for a wider input on if
> this is something the project wishes to use and if I should spend my
> time pursuing.

The recent difficult discussion on SSO here on -project made me think of
a use case for which Discourse might be just the thing: Debian
Enhancement Proposals[0].

I get the impression that having proposals discussed/peer reviewed on
Discourse might be easier and more pleasant than on lists. For example,
it would give a way to express agreement with something more visible
than silence, it would give a way to get visible feedback other than
negative, and give some measure of perceived relevance to the various
contributions made to the discussion.

I'm not sure if I would be motivated right now, or ever, to have another
round of "peer review" like the one I just had, on a list. Discourse
seems like it might be a venue for peer review that wouldn't make me
feel like leaving the project after a couple of days of interaction.


Enrico

[0] https://dep-team.pages.debian.net/deps/dep0/
--
GPG key: 4096R/634F4BD1E7AD5568 2009-05-08 Enrico Zini <[hidden email]>

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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

Sean Whitton
Hello,

On Sat 11 Apr 2020 at 11:11PM +02, Enrico Zini wrote:

> The recent difficult discussion on SSO here on -project made me think of
> a use case for which Discourse might be just the thing: Debian
> Enhancement Proposals[0].
>
> I get the impression that having proposals discussed/peer reviewed on
> Discourse might be easier and more pleasant than on lists. For example,
> it would give a way to express agreement with something more visible
> than silence, it would give a way to get visible feedback other than
> negative, and give some measure of perceived relevance to the various
> contributions made to the discussion.
One concern I'd like to raise posterity.  It is not clear to me that
discussions on a platform like Discourse can be sufficiently well
archived.

For any technical topic (including DEPs) it is important that we can
find old discussions in the future, easily, and without there being too
many entrypoints into the search.

Right now I can rely on my notmuch database to pull basically any Debian
discussion, because it includes the BTS, lists, and mail which I was
CCed on or received through an alias like ftpmaster@.  And one can
easily incorporate mboxes from master.d.o or bugs.d.o to get any missing
context.[1]

Perhaps Discourse's e-mail integration would be sufficient for me to be
able to search my personal archive for the content of past discussions,
but it would be very difficult for others not present for the discussion
to incorporate the text of everyone's messages into their information
stores.  You'd have to use your browser's File->Save Page As or similar,
which is difficult to search later.

> I'm not sure if I would be motivated right now, or ever, to have another
> round of "peer review" like the one I just had, on a list. Discourse
> seems like it might be a venue for peer review that wouldn't make me
> feel like leaving the project after a couple of days of interaction.

Yes.  I would like us to be able to handle this communicative function
better.

Could you say more about how you think Discourse would have changed how
the discussion went?

I am concerned that the problem is basically a social one, and so cannot
be solved just by using a different software stack to host discussions.

[1]  E.g. `M-x notmuch-slurp-this-debbug` in the elpa-mailscripts package.

--
Sean Whitton

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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

Olek Wojnar-9
In reply to this post by Neil McGovern via nm
If we were having this discussion on Discourse I would give this idea a +1. :)

Well... technically a <3 but...

On Fri, Apr 10, 2020 at 3:02 PM Neil McGovern <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi folks,

For a little while, I've been keen to see how we can improve our
communication methods, both to make it more accessible to newcomers and to
take advantage of more featureful tooling than has been traditionally
possible with email lists.

As such, I set up an instance of Discourse[0] at
https://discourse.debian.net, and am now asking for a wider input on if
this is something the project wishes to use and if I should spend my
time pursuing.

FAQ
===

Is it Free Software?
  Yes. It's GPLv2+.

Who else uses it?
  Lots of people. GNOME, Mozilla, Ubuntu, Fedora to name a few

What about the mailing lists?
  This may or may not be a replacement for any particular list. I suspect
  there are some thet would benefit greatly from having Discourse be the
  primary interaction, and other places where this would be less suitable.

Be specific!
  Ok... I think debian-user, debian-vote and possibly debian-project would
  be better off in Discourse. I think debian-devel-announce should stay as
  an email list (for now). However, I am not suddenly proposing that we shut
  those lists down. The aim of this exercise is to see if Discourse would
  work well for us.

Email is still important to me!
  Fine, you can interact with Discorse by email rather than the web
  interface. It should be noted however, that there is not 1:1 feature
  partiy with email and the web interface, as Discorse does things that
  can't easily be done with email. For the majority of users though,
  email interaction should be "good enough".

Why are you doing this?
  I have two motivations. First, is moderation. Discourse has built in tools
  to allow community moderation on a much better scale than our email lists.
  Secondly, I genuinely believe that ease of access to new contributors is
  of paramount importance to the project.

What about X software instead?
  Feel free to explore other solutions. I've already done evaluations, and
  I'm pretty much set on this as the correct way forward. If there is
  insufficient interest in moving forward with Discourse, I'll leave it to
  others to invest time.

What about forums.debian.net?
  I have no interest in interacting with a community of users and
  moderators who allow blatent Code of Conduct violations to go
  unchecked.

What's next?
  I'd appreciate people testing Discourse. If you have any questions, then
  I'm happy to answer them.

Thanks,
Neil

[0] https://www.discourse.org/
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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

Ihor Antonov
In reply to this post by Neil McGovern via nm

On Friday, April 10, 2020 11:59:59 AM PDT Neil McGovern wrote:

>

> What about forums.debian.net?

> I have no interest in interacting with a community of users and

> moderators who allow blatent Code of Conduct violations to go

> unchecked.

 

As a newcomer I am genuinely interested to understand this.

 

Readings this it looks like there is a split in Debian community.

And Instead of fixing problems with people who moderate forums Debian

just decides to throw in another tool into the mix? And part ways with Debian Forum community?

Sorry, makes little sense to me.

 

And separately, I got interested in Debian because it was using mailing lists in the first place. Mail is decentralized by design and this is why it is so important for freedom of speech. Now you suggest a centralized platform

for communication, because it is easier to moderate (oppress freedom of speech). To me it sounds like: "Yes you can talk, but only if you do it on my terms, on my territory". Moderation is a slippery slope, using centralized communication platform is one step closer to dictatorship.

 

 

--

Ihor Antonov

https://useplaintext.email

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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

Enrico Zini
In reply to this post by Sean Whitton
On Sat, Apr 11, 2020 at 03:05:12PM -0700, Sean Whitton wrote:

> Right now I can rely on my notmuch database to pull basically any Debian
> discussion, because it includes the BTS, lists, and mail which I was
> CCed on or received through an alias like ftpmaster@.  And one can
> easily incorporate mboxes from master.d.o or bugs.d.o to get any missing
> context.[1]

I think archival's a very good point, especially for a DEP-like
discussion. You also implicitly propose an archiveal format that I like,
namely some kind of email mailbox.

I'd say that having a mailbox for archival would not be necessarily
needed during a discussion, and would make sense once the discussion is
declared closed.

Discourse has some email gatewaying, which as far as I understand loses
some metainformation like reactions or polls. It would be something I
thing should be preserved from an archival point of view.

Does Discourse have some kind of export feature, that one could
postprocess to get for example a mailbox of annotated emails?


> Could you say more about how you think Discourse would have changed how
> the discussion went?

Things that the current list discussion doesn't easily give:

 - +1 kind of feedback, or simple agreement, tends to unexpressed:
   people only reply if they have a problem with things, and shut up
   otherwise.
   
   For example, the recent Salsa as OIDC provider discussion had a
   relatively small amount of people contributing: does it mean that a
   lot of people just agree, or does it mean that only few people care?

   Silent assent and only negative feedback is a very demotivating
   process to go through putting a proposal up for discussion.

 - Some kind of weighting of posts. Sometimes I wonder: "is it just me,
   or this objection is not that relevant?", and I have no real way to
   know, besides maybe polling my social bubble, which could be biased.

   Ranking of perceived importants of topics or aspects discussed might
   have helped me manage the energy I put into the whole discussion,
   going into more detail where I could see there was more interest or
   concern.


> I am concerned that the problem is basically a social one, and so cannot
> be solved just by using a different software stack to host discussions.

Ish. I think there are may social aspects involved, and the same time
the process that we currently use has technical or traditional limits
which filter against various kinds of feedback which people would
socially be happy to give.

I follow list discussions and some messages make me go "yay! Standing
ovation!" and some messages I skip after reading part of the first line,
and some messages make me furious. Socially we might able to express
that in a way that feeds into the quality and direction of discussions,
but technically, we currently cannot.


Enrico

--
GPG key: 4096R/634F4BD1E7AD5568 2009-05-08 Enrico Zini <[hidden email]>

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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

Russ Allbery-2
In reply to this post by Ihor Antonov
Ihor Antonov <[hidden email]> writes:

> And separately, I got interested in Debian because it was using mailing
> lists in the first place.  Mail is decentralized by design and this is
> why it is so important for freedom of speech.

I don't understand this comment.  Mailing lists are inherently centralized
by design.

> Now you suggest a centralized platform for communication, because it is
> easier to moderate (oppress freedom of speech). To me it sounds like:
> "Yes you can talk, but only if you do it on my terms, on my territory".
> Moderation is a slippery slope, using centralized communication platform
> is one step closer to dictatorship.

The forum to which you sent this message is already moderated and has been
for months.  I suspect you didn't even notice.

That said, I will argue that "yes, you can talk, but only if you do it on
my terms, on my territory" is a message that the Debian project should
send about its own communication channels.  (Obviously people can go
create their own and that's no business of ours.)  That's how we create a
community that can get things done together, rather than a 4chan
free-for-all full of abuse and trolling.

We should think carefully about both the terms and the territory and be
both gentle and understanding, but we will not successfully create a free
Linux distribution (the actual point, after all) within the noise of
complete freedom from consequences in communication.

I don't believe Debian is or should be a welcoming home for people who
care more about the ability to say anything they want whenever they want
in project forums than about making a free software distribution together.
And yes, these two goals do sometimes come into conflict (although we can
try to minimize how often that happens).

--
Russ Allbery ([hidden email])              <https://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

Ihor Antonov

On Sunday, April 12, 2020 11:51:27 AM PDT Russ Allbery wrote:

> Ihor Antonov <[hidden email]> writes:

> > And separately, I got interested in Debian because it was using mailing

> > lists in the first place. Mail is decentralized by design and this is

> > why it is so important for freedom of speech.

>

> I don't understand this comment. Mailing lists are inherently centralized

> by design.

>

> > Now you suggest a centralized platform for communication, because it is

> > easier to moderate (oppress freedom of speech). To me it sounds like:

> > "Yes you can talk, but only if you do it on my terms, on my territory".

> > Moderation is a slippery slope, using centralized communication platform

> > is one step closer to dictatorship.

>

> The forum to which you sent this message is already moderated and has been

> for months. I suspect you didn't even notice.

 

So how then you need more moderation possibilities with Discourse?

 

> That said, I will argue that "yes, you can talk, but only if you do it on

> my terms, on my territory" is a message that the Debian project should

> send about its own communication channels. (Obviously people can go

> create their own and that's no business of ours.) That's how we create a

> community that can get things done together, rather than a 4chan

> free-for-all full of abuse and trolling.

 

> We should think carefully about both the terms and the territory and be

> both gentle and understanding, but we will not successfully create a free

> Linux distribution (the actual point, after all) within the noise of

> complete freedom from consequences in communication.

>

> I don't believe Debian is or should be a welcoming home for people who

> care more about the ability to say anything they want whenever they want

> in project forums than about making a free software distribution together.

> And yes, these two goals do sometimes come into conflict (although we can

> try to minimize how often that happens).

 

I do not advocate for free-for-all. It is just the ability to decide on who gets to say what should not be in the hands of a single person / small group, it is way to easy to get corrupted/biased/controlled.

 

Coming from a corrupted-to-the-bone post USSR country I speak from personal experience of being on receiving end of that situation. You may think that it is for the best, but it is not.

 

 

--

Ihor Antonov

https://useplaintext.email

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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

Charles Plessy-12
In reply to this post by Sean Whitton
Le Sat, Apr 11, 2020 at 03:05:12PM -0700, Sean Whitton a écrit :
>
> For any technical topic (including DEPs) it is important that we can
> find old discussions in the future, easily, and without there being too
> many entrypoints into the search.

Hi Sean,

in my experience of DEP driver and Policy editor, long discussion
archives, especially when they spread over multiple years, are a barrier
to contribution.  Not only they are increadibly noisy (think for
instance of discussion archives in the BTS mostly made of quotes of the
previous messages), but also they are not even comprehensive (for
instance when part of the discussion happens on IRC or at Debconf).

In that sense, I would expect structured discussion systems such as
Discourse to be a potential time saver, and therefore lower the barrier
for contribution to everybody: those who contribute their point of view,
and those who summarise them.

Have a nice day,

Charles

--
Charles Plessy
Akano, Uruma, Okinawa, Japan

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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

Russ Allbery-2
In reply to this post by Ihor Antonov
Ihor Antonov <[hidden email]> writes:
> On Sunday, April 12, 2020 11:51:27 AM PDT Russ Allbery wrote:

>> The forum to which you sent this message is already moderated and has
>> been for months.  I suspect you didn't even notice.

> So how then you need more moderation possibilities with Discourse?

So, I should be clear that I personally have only a small amount of
experience with Discourse and haven't looked into the details of its
features.  But there are a lot of reasons for investigating that sort of
forum software, more generically.  Here are a few.

1. A database-driven discussion system that supports updates lets you go
   beyond the moderation that you're worried about (rejecting messages)
   and do other forms of moderation that help improve the quality of
   discussion without removing messages.  Examples include splitting
   threads that have digressed from the original topic to create more
   focused discussions, pinning important summaries so that people see the
   current status of the discusison quickly, closing old threads so that
   people properly open a new discussion instead of replying to some
   resolved discussion with a different problem, and even just sorting,
   classifying, and tagging threads so that people can find the
   discussions they care about more easily.

2. You can indicate agreement with a proposal or message without adding
   more words that everyone has to read.  The +1 reply in email is clunky
   and adds a lot of noise.  Often it's useful to be able to get a quick
   count of participants who agree with an idea but don't want to write
   their own extended message about it.

3. There is some age correlation with the type of communication mechanism
   one is comfortable with, and reason to believe that younger people skew
   towards being more comfortable with forums than with email.  If you
   didn't have to learn email client skills (particularly the type that
   Debian demands, which are drastically different than how email is used
   in most jobs), it's not very welcoming to have to learn those skills in
   order to participate in the project.  They're a lot less trivial than I
   think people who have been using email for a long time realize.  I've
   had nearly 30 years to hone my ability to quickly sort through huge
   quantities of email and reply in a readable way, which means it's easy
   for me to forget how much work that took, how much effort I've put into
   customizing and learning a top-end email client, and how many of the
   rules are inobvious and arcane.

Not everyone cares about this sort of thing, but I would wager that Debian
is currently skewed towards people who cope well with email because we
have good email skills as a bar to entry.  Expanding the set of people who
can effectively contribute requires looking outside our own comfort zone.

> I do not advocate for free-for-all. It is just the ability to decide on
> who gets to say what should not be in the hands of a single person /
> small group, it is way to easy to get corrupted/biased/controlled.

And yet the Internet is full of successfully moderated forums that create
very little drama because they're just quietly more usable.

You have to trust the moderators, and you have to have some mechanism to
evaluate that trust and to discuss it and possibly revoke it if something
goes horribly awry.  This is work that should be done, but it's work
that's very doable.

I think it's also worth pointing out that Debian users currently trust
Debian developers with the security of their computers, which I think is a
higher bar than trusting other Debian developers with the moderation of
our discussions.  These discussions often strike me as being weirdly
disproportional and inconsistent about how we extend trust.  We trust each
other with hugely important and critical things, and then are full of
mistrust about minor and often quite trivial things, such as whether or
not one gets to have the final word in some war of words that nearly
everyone will have forgotten by next month.

> Coming from a corrupted-to-the-bone post USSR country I speak from
> personal experience of being on receiving end of that situation. You may
> think that it is for the best, but it is not.

This is a common argument, but I find it entirely unpersuasive.
Censorship is highly concerning when done by a government because the
government can use force to prevent any other form of discussion except
the one the government controls.  The idea that Debian could do this is
absurd.

If moderation of Debian forums suppressed some problem that a lot of
people really cared about, there would be an explosion of discussion
elsewhere, huge uptake of the discussion in other places over which Debian
has no control (LWN, for instance), and alternative forums being
repurposed or newly created all over the place.

This is a community full of people entirely capable of setting up a new
mailing list or forum on the fly in an afternoon.  Debian doesn't have a
monopoly on the press, or any realistic ability to suppress discussions.
We couldn't be more unlike a government.

It's sadly common for people who want to fight about something on project
forums to claim that they're being censored and unable to get their
message out.  It's also quite dubious.  People love controversy and free
software developers tend to be a suspicious and anti-establishment lot.
Actual controversies with even a hint of credibility spread like wildfire.
If no one is willing to pick up on a controversy and amplify it, it's
worth considering the possibility that's because everyone who looked at it
seriously has decided it's bullshit.

--
Russ Allbery ([hidden email])              <https://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

Ihor Antonov

On Sunday, April 12, 2020 1:15:23 PM PDT Russ Allbery wrote:

 

> 1. A database-driven discussion system that supports updates lets you go

> beyond the moderation that you're worried about (rejecting messages)

> and do other forms of moderation that help improve the quality of

> discussion without removing messages. Examples include splitting

> threads that have digressed from the original topic to create more

> focused discussions, pinning important summaries so that people see the

> current status of the discusison quickly, closing old threads so that

> people properly open a new discussion instead of replying to some

> resolved discussion with a different problem, and even just sorting,

> classifying, and tagging threads so that people can find the

> discussions they care about more easily.

>

> 2. You can indicate agreement with a proposal or message without adding

> more words that everyone has to read. The +1 reply in email is clunky

> and adds a lot of noise. Often it's useful to be able to get a quick

> count of participants who agree with an idea but don't want to write

> their own extended message about it.

 

The usability concerns that you outlined are legitimate. And some usability perks are indeed nice to have. But the price is too high:

 

1. I am now limited to Web Browser with JavaScript enabled. On mobile I am limited to the browser or centrally owned and developed app.

 

Here is what is wrong with this:

 

- You are making a God-like judgement call that everyone must have graphical environment running, with a hardware powerful enough to run a browser with JavaScript.

 

This line of thinking is very much alike to racial and gender inclusion problems. Why do you think you can make this call for everyone?

 

You can run email client on a much weaker and non-mainstream hardware.

On top of that try feeding HTML into a TTS and put yourself in a position of people with limited abilities.

 

- There are only 2 browsers out there in existence (Firefox and Chrome variants) and duopoly in browser market is already alarming enough. There are much more email clients available.

 

2. I can't now use email the way I did. Discord's email interface is subpar in spite of what sales people tell you. So If I want "a first-class citizen" experience I am stuck with option 1

 

> 3. There is some age correlation with the type of communication mechanism

> one is comfortable with, and reason to believe that younger people skew

> towards being more comfortable with forums than with email. If you

> didn't have to learn email client skills (particularly the type that

> Debian demands, which are drastically different than how email is used

> in most jobs), it's not very welcoming to have to learn those skills in

> order to participate in the project.

 

It is similar to saying that learning language, etiquette and how to be polite, how to listen to others is too hard and not welcoming to those barbarians toddlers that don't know how to talk. If all they want to eat is sugar and candy it doesn't mean that it the right thing to do.

 

> They're a lot less trivial than I

> think people who have been using email for a long time realize. I've

> had nearly 30 years to hone my ability to quickly sort through huge

> quantities of email and reply in a readable way, which means it's easy

> for me to forget how much work that took, how much effort I've put into

> customizing and learning a top-end email client, and how many of the

> rules are inobvious and arcane.

 

Not everyone is like you.

 

> And yet the Internet is full of successfully moderated forums that create

> very little drama because they're just quietly more usable.

 

The definition of success is disputable here. "Heroin is so cool because there are so many junkies! Lets give Debian users some too"

 

> You have to trust the moderators,

 

So far I am not convinced that I can trust you to moderate.

 

> and you have to have some mechanism to

> evaluate that trust and to discuss it and possibly revoke it if something

> goes horribly awry.

 

Prevention should always be the first step. Something WILL go wrong but you are

too blinded by the immediate sugar candy in front of you.

 

> I think it's also worth pointing out that Debian users currently trust

> Debian developers with the security of their computers, which I think is a

> higher bar than trusting other Debian developers with the moderation of

> our discussions. > These discussions often strike me as being weirdly

> disproportional and inconsistent about how we extend trust.

 

Nothing disproportionate. I can inspect their work in source code. How will I inspect the results of moderation (especially with the "Ask forgiveness not permission" kind of attitude that you are advocating)

 

> other with hugely important and critical things, and then are full of

> mistrust about minor and often quite trivial things, such as whether or

> not one gets to have the final word in some war of words that nearly

> everyone will have forgotten by next month.

>

> > Coming from a corrupted-to-the-bone post USSR country I speak from

> > personal experience of being on receiving end of that situation. You may

> > think that it is for the best, but it is not.

>

> This is a common argument, but I find it entirely unpersuasive.

 

I find your lack of empathy disturbing.

 

> Censorship is highly concerning when done by a government because the

> government can use force to prevent any other form of discussion except

> the one the government controls. The idea that Debian could do this is

> absurd.

 

And your naive trust into people in position of power is disturbing too.

 

Note, that I am not arguing against having more convenient tools for conversation and voting. I am saying web browser, javascript and discourse is not the right way to go. My stance on this is I'd rather not change the status quo.

 

Many people often say "it is easy to criticise, you should offer alternative instead". Look https://sourcehut.org/ and what are they trying to do.

 

They are trying to improve existing email interfaces, patch workflows etc, without forcing people to use the browser. We should be thinking in the same direction.

 

 

--

Ihor Antonov

https://useplaintext.email

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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

Michael Lustfield
In reply to this post by Russ Allbery-2
On Sun, 12 Apr 2020 13:15:23 -0700
Russ Allbery <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Ihor Antonov <[hidden email]> writes:
> > On Sunday, April 12, 2020 11:51:27 AM PDT Russ Allbery wrote:  
>
> [...]
> So, I should be clear that I personally have only a small amount of
> experience with Discourse and haven't looked into the details of its
> features.  But there are a lot of reasons for investigating that sort of
> forum software, more generically.  Here are a few.
> [...]

+1

Obligatory: https://xkcd.com/1782/

[I really wanted to just leave it at that, but...]

I think being able to easily indicate a +/-1 would be a huge benefit for
debian-style conversations. There are four distinct long-winded discussions
that I can immediately recall over the last year where people have reached out
to me or others over IRC to express frustration/agreement with a topic/email,
but they never mentioned it on the mailing list. These same people (myself
included) would likely have added a simple indication of approval/disagreement,
especially knowing it is not an entirely new email to be read by every reader.

I haven't used discourse yet, but if it's able to send me an email for new
conversations and updates for conversations/categories I'm subscribed to, that
means an infinitely smaller inbox, less noise, and more time/attention on the
things I care about. ... I'm sure it can, those seem like standard features.

Speaking of more recent events, I can see where certain longer-lived topic
categories would be helpful, such as a help-needed (or team-needs-help)
category. Rather than the FTP-Masters team firing off periodic emails hoping
that someone this round reads it and bites, they could create the topic in that
help-needed category and leave it for people interested in seeing how they can
help Debian.

I'm sure that same logic applies to many teams, where burn-out and and serious
demotivation happens long before anyone external to the team is aware of the
problem, which exasperates simpler problems. Continuing to pick on my favorite
team... this is applies ftp-masters, where the training process itself is
extremely demotivating simply because of the lack of manpower available for
reviewing our reviews.

A lot of these supposed benefits are speculation, since I haven't used the
service yet, but it's probably time to check out this new-fangled forum stuff.
At a glance, it looks like these features (and other subscription refinements)
are available. They sound like they could (possibly) drastically improve how we
communicate, raise concerns, gather consensus, etc.

Cheers,
--
Michael Lustfield

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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

Ihor Antonov
In reply to this post by Russ Allbery-2
On Sunday, April 12, 2020 1:15:23 PM PDT Russ Allbery wrote:
> Ihor Antonov <[hidden email]> writes:
> > On Sunday, April 12, 2020 11:51:27 AM PDT Russ Allbery wrote:
> >> The forum to which you sent this message is already moderated and has
> >> been for months.  I suspect you didn't even notice.
> >
> > So how then you need more moderation possibilities with Discourse?

Well, now I notice, thank you very much.

Apr 12 21:43:38 mail.antonovs.family smtpd[46138]: bcb7c45eb6e6a5bf mta    
delivery evpid=95394d1f34ea1dd5 from=<[hidden email]> to=<debian-
[hidden email]> rcpt=<-> source="10.193.1.100" relay="82.195.75.100
(bendel.debian.org)" delay=6s result="Ok" stat="250 >

Apr 12 21:43:48 mail.antonovs.family smtpd[46138]: bcb7c45eb6e6a5bf mta
disconnected reason=quit messages=1

2 hours later it is still not in the list
As far as I can tell my message was dropped after MTA accepted it.

So much for freedom, huh?

--
Ihor Antonov
https://useplaintext.email


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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

Stephen Frost
Greetings,

* Ihor Antonov ([hidden email]) wrote:

> On Sunday, April 12, 2020 1:15:23 PM PDT Russ Allbery wrote:
> > Ihor Antonov <[hidden email]> writes:
> > > On Sunday, April 12, 2020 11:51:27 AM PDT Russ Allbery wrote:
> > >> The forum to which you sent this message is already moderated and has
> > >> been for months.  I suspect you didn't even notice.
> > >
> > > So how then you need more moderation possibilities with Discourse?
>
> Well, now I notice, thank you very much.
>
> Apr 12 21:43:38 mail.antonovs.family smtpd[46138]: bcb7c45eb6e6a5bf mta    
> delivery evpid=95394d1f34ea1dd5 from=<[hidden email]> to=<debian-
> [hidden email]> rcpt=<-> source="10.193.1.100" relay="82.195.75.100
> (bendel.debian.org)" delay=6s result="Ok" stat="250 >
>
> Apr 12 21:43:48 mail.antonovs.family smtpd[46138]: bcb7c45eb6e6a5bf mta
> disconnected reason=quit messages=1
>
> 2 hours later it is still not in the list
> As far as I can tell my message was dropped after MTA accepted it.
No, just held up in moderation due to, I believe, a bit of confusion
about how moderation is being done now that we have a dedicated list
alias.  I *think* the one you mentioned has now been released and is now
included- if not, please let me know.  If you see any others not
included, please also feel free to speak up, I'm fairly confident that
any which were missed from moderation were not done so intentionally.

> So much for freedom, huh?

I don't think that's terribly constructive.

Thanks,

Stephen

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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

Russ Allbery-2
In reply to this post by Ihor Antonov
Ihor Antonov <[hidden email]> writes:

> Well, now I notice, thank you very much.

> Apr 12 21:43:38 mail.antonovs.family smtpd[46138]: bcb7c45eb6e6a5bf mta    
> delivery evpid=95394d1f34ea1dd5 from=<[hidden email]> to=<debian-
> [hidden email]> rcpt=<-> source="10.193.1.100" relay="82.195.75.100
> (bendel.debian.org)" delay=6s result="Ok" stat="250 >

> Apr 12 21:43:48 mail.antonovs.family smtpd[46138]: bcb7c45eb6e6a5bf mta
> disconnected reason=quit messages=1

> 2 hours later it is still not in the list
> As far as I can tell my message was dropped after MTA accepted it.

There does indeed appear to be some sort of problem (I haven't received
the list copy of your message either), but your message was approved two
minutes after you sent it, so I don't think it's with the moderation.

--
Russ Allbery ([hidden email])              <https://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

Russ Allbery-2
Russ Allbery <[hidden email]> writes:

> There does indeed appear to be some sort of problem (I haven't received
> the list copy of your message either), but your message was approved two
> minutes after you sent it, so I don't think it's with the moderation.

Ah, apologies, I was also confused by a change we made in how the messages
were processed and thought it was approved when it wasn't.

--
Russ Allbery ([hidden email])              <https://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

Ihor Antonov
In reply to this post by Russ Allbery-2
Unfortunately part of my original message was truncated so I will continue it
here:

On Sunday, April 12, 2020 1:15:23 PM PDT Russ Allbery wrote:

> > Coming from a corrupted-to-the-bone post USSR country I speak from
> > personal experience of being on receiving end of that situation. You may
> > think that it is for the best, but it is not.
>
> This is a common argument, but I find it entirely unpersuasive.
> Censorship is highly concerning when done by a government because the
> government can use force to prevent any other form of discussion except
> the one the government controls.  The idea that Debian could do this is
> absurd.
>
> If moderation of Debian forums suppressed some problem that a lot of
> people really cared about, there would be an explosion of discussion
> elsewhere, huge uptake of the discussion in other places over which Debian
> has no control (LWN, for instance), and alternative forums being
> repurposed or newly created all over the place.
 

> This is a community full of people entirely capable of setting up a new
> mailing list or forum on the fly in an afternoon.  Debian doesn't have a
> monopoly on the press, or any realistic ability to suppress discussions.
> We couldn't be more unlike a government.
>
> It's sadly common for people who want to fight about something on project
> forums to claim that they're being censored and unable to get their
> message out.  It's also quite dubious.  People love controversy and free
> software developers tend to be a suspicious and anti-establishment lot.
> Actual controversies with even a hint of credibility spread like wildfire.
> If no one is willing to pick up on a controversy and amplify it, it's
> worth considering the possibility that's because everyone who looked at it
> seriously has decided it's bullshit.


While I agree that there are usability aspects of email driven workflow that
are far from being perfect, Discourse, as well as any other web browser
focused solution is a step in wrong direction.

I much more like what https://sourcehut.org is doing. They are working on
improving email workflows without forcing users into web browsers and I think
this is something we should do to.

Thanks
--
Ihor Antonov
https://useplaintext.email


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Re: Testing Discourse for Debian

Russ Allbery-2
In reply to this post by Ihor Antonov
Ihor Antonov <[hidden email]> writes:

> 1. I am now limited to Web Browser with JavaScript enabled. On mobile I
> am limited to the browser or centrally owned and developed app.

Yup, this is certainly a concern.

Note that, in the message to which you're responding, I was only
attempting to answer your question (what additional moderation over what
we have now would be useful) and laying out some of the reasons why it's
worth looking at this technology.  My goal was not to write an evaluation
of the pros and cons; my goal was to point out why there are advantages.

I personally am very comfortable with email and don't have a strong
opinion here, so maybe I should have stayed out of this discussion, but I
have a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to people getting very negative about
something *before* an evaluation (and I think Debian has a bit of a
tendency to do this).

It's okay to look at new things!  Often we'll decide that we don't like
them after we look at them.  Sometimes we'll decide we like them but there
are flaws that we can't live with.  Sometimes we can even fix those flaws.
It's a process.

> Here is what is wrong with this:

>  - You are making a God-like judgement call that everyone must have
>  graphical environment running, with a hardware powerful enough to run a
>  browser with JavaScript.

I seme to have gone from zero to God rather quickly in this discussion.
It's a bit dizzying.

I'm not sure that anything else I can say here will be all this useful,
but I do want to juxtapose these two quotes from your message.  I think
they may be somewhat related.

> This line of thinking is very much alike to racial and gender inclusion
> problems. Why do you think you can make this call for everyone?

and

> It is similar to saying that learning language, etiquette and how to be
> polite, how to listen to others is too hard and not welcoming to those
> barbarians toddlers that don't know how to talk. If all they want to eat
> is sugar and candy it doesn't mean that it the right thing to do.

--
Russ Allbery ([hidden email])              <https://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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