2020 Core Dev Sprint Poll: Discord or Zulip

Hey everyone,

@Mariatta, @ewa.jodlowska, and I are currently in the process of planning the upcoming 2020 Python Core Dev Sprint. While discussing platform usage on the recently created python/core-sprint repo, it was evident that the platform preference was not unanimous. With the platform being an important component of the virtual sprint, we’ve decided to put together a poll to collect opinions from the core developers participating, and will go with the option that ends up being the most popular (it will close in 2 weeks, on Sept. 2nd).

Discord

Originally, the initial plan was to use an existing popular public Discord server, Python Discord (recently listed on python.org/community), however, there were some concerns of privacy brought up due to non-participants attempting to DM (direct message) core devs. Discord does have account privacy settings to prevent unsolicited contact attempts, but this would have to be configured locally by each participant (the server permissions would prevent non-participants from accessing or reading/listening in on private sprint channels, but it does not affect DMs).

One way to avoid this issue is by using a private Discord server, and Ewa mentioned that the PSF has some interest in setting one up for future events. For the sprint, the private server would only be available to sprint participants and PSF staff, meaning unsolicited DM attempts would not be an issue (in order to DM someone, they must be on a mutual server or a friend). The main trade-off of using a private server instead of a public one is that it does limit possibilities for engagement with the greater Python community, such as drawing additional traffic to the Q&A session.

Also, using an existing public server requires a bit less setup on our end, and means that we don’t have to work on acquiring a partnership with Discord for improved voice/audio performance since Python Discord already has one.

As far as features go, Discord provides the ability to easily create text and voice/video channels on the fly. This would allow us to start with a minimal number of channels, add new channels as needed for participants of the sprint to break off into their own groups, allow participants to see what others are working on, and change channels as desired.

Zulip

The most substantial advantages of using Zulip are that we already have an existing server that could be used for text communication during the sprint, and it provides an interface that many core developers are already familiar with from prior usage. Although the server is public, it does not receive a high amount of traffic, so contact attempts from fans is much less likely to be an issue compared to a public Discord server.

However, since Zulip does not directly provide voice or video support, we would also have to use something like Zoom for core developers to talk and break into sprint sub-groups (Zoom allows for up to 50 separate sessions/“breakout rooms” to be created within a single meeting). Ewa mentioned that we could use the PSF’s Zoom instance for the sprint.

Summary

Overall, Discord provides all of the needed functionality in a single location at the cost of some additional setup, consideration of a public vs private server, and learning a new interface for those who haven’t used it much before. On the other hand, we already have existing Zulip and Zoom instances that can be used for the sprint, and they are likely familiar to more core developers. Individual preference for the interfaces is also a substantial factor, so I’d recommend checking each one out if you haven’t already.

For those who select the Discord option, it would be great to know if you would prefer an existing public server for more community engagement; or a private server, to avoid local configuration for blocking undesired DM attempts and easier DMing of other sprint participants. Note that if Discord ends up being the more popular option, I plan on putting together a quick guide for the sprint that explains basic usage, privacy settings, appearance customization, etc. since many would likely be using it for the first time.

Which platform would you prefer for the sprint sessions?

  • Discord
  • Zulip (and Zoom)

0 voters

If you chose Discord in the above, would you prefer a public or private server?

  • Public
  • Private

0 voters

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Hmm, my understanding is we don’t want/don’t need community engagement during the sprint. The questions for the Q&A will be collected ahead of time. During the session we would just go through those questions and maybe take turns answering.

Agreed, though unless you literally have random people stalking you I doubt any of us will be severely bothered even on a public server in a private channel (and Guido can swap usernames with @larry for the week and let Larry deal with the DMs :joy:)

Q&A sessions are always better with a live aspect to them, but this might be the only feasible way to do it :man_shrugging:

Sorry if this part wasn’t clear, but I was mostly referring to extra exposure to the Q&A, to give us an additional audience of ~85k+ Python users (from Python Discord). Also, while it may not be direct interaction, I think just the part of being able to see us core devs in action in the public server’s private channels is going to add to the community engagement aspect (even if they can’t listen in to our conversations during the sprint).

If the participants are comfortable with it, we might also be able to have some users from the server join the Q&A channel muted to have a “live audience” component, even if the questions are collected ahead of time. Although it would likely have to be on a first-come basis (after all participants join) up to a fixed limit for performance reasons. I’ll have to look into the max number of users that can fit within a single Discord voice/video channel and still have decent performance on a partnered server.

I think we need to decide how much time we want to spend for the Q&A. i.e. 1 hour, or two hours? I don’t see it as a full day event. Therefore, I’m fine if we don’t reach additional 85K users since we won’t have the time to answer too many questions anyway …

Thanks to everyone to participated in the poll! With the results being 88% Discord and 54% for using a public server, we’ve decided to use Python Discord to host the sprint after some discussion in our recent meeting. As mentioned in the original post, I’ll work on putting together a Discord quick usage guide (specific to the upcoming sprint) before the event for helping with setup.

During the meeting, we also addressed Mariatta’s point of the Q&A duration, and have decided to start with 30 minutes as the initial duration.

If anyone has additional input/feedback they’d like to provide for the upcoming sprint, definitely check out the sprint repo at https://github.com/python/core-sprint.

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Update: the guide can be found at https://python-core-sprint-2020.readthedocs.io/communication.html#discord-setup-guide. Feedback and/or questions are welcome. :slight_smile:

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