FOSDEM 2019 - feedback about discourse vs. mailing list

As it was an experiment to use discourse for the coordination of the event instead of a mailing list, please give your feedback here about your experiences with the new communication tool.

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Hi all,

I was a bit less at ease than usual and I still struggle with what mean the different level of “following” a tag.

A great point: when I learnt I won’t be able to make it I could unsuscribe from the existing thread (no jealous Cryptie \o/) while still being informed of this new thread.

I stayed mainly on email and it worked pretty well.

A neither positive nor negative point: it is harder to now who is in the group.

Finally, our exchange use to disappear at the end of Fosdem when the ml was closed, how will it be for old thread?

(yes I mean data retention policy ;))


Plus: Device agnostic. I don’t have mails configured on all my devices. I do always have a browser.

Plus: Especially regarding public activities, Discourse is more easily available to more people. I.E.: I could tell others “Look at and you’ll find the address of where we’ll be tonight.”

Minus: I wasn’t aware that “real” stuff was happening on Discourse until Matthias pointed me to it in an unrelated email exchange we had. Though I guess this is at least partly on me as I’m assuming I missed some mail telling me about it. Also, it’s a one-time issue as I now know to check Discourse every now and then.

Caveat: As I didn’t participate in any booth planning, my feedback is only really regarding the social events. I believe Discourse offers some benefits there as opposed to mailing list since the target audience is The Public.

We can archive threads, so they are not visible and searchable.

For the particular use case of organizing the booth team, I like that QuickML made it clear to see who received and could read these emails and I like that the mails as well as the whole list is not archived. In Discourse, these posts are searchable permanently, it us unclear who can read them, and more people may gain access later. In this case, I prefer something very temporary so I don’t have to think twice about how a mail is phrased when I know the exact recipients beforehand. Can we make a thread here mostly invisible, list who has access, and delete (not archive) it after an event?

As for organizing the social events, the visibility turns into an advantage. But still, I don’t know if we want to keep that for eternity. Anyway, for this part, I feel very positive.

@floriansnow I see you concerns. Generally visibility can be tweaked in many details. From visible to everyone (including anonymous user), over just logged in users to a very small group of users (like a private mailing list). My personal gut feeling is that visibility for all logged in users is a good setting for most categories. This way it is easy accessible but we avoid that it is indexed by external services and easy searchable from outside. Something I prefer when I get engaged in discussions because for transparency reasons I like to use my real name and know to whom I’m talking, on the other hand I don’t like that everyone find everything I wrote once just by typing my name into a random search engine.

As Nikos wrote:

I would not delete it. As it can still contain useful information we can reuse the following years to organize stuff, like locations we used for the social event, etc.

@reinhard regarding your initial question. I like it a lot. I think it made the discussions, preparation, etc easier accessible for every interested community member without the need to adding them first to a mailing list. Also, as already said by other, I liked that I could just point people to the forum if they asked where we will meet in the afternoon and could also look it up easily by myself which might have not been possible with a quick-ml list.