How do you find Discourse so far?

(Łukasz Langa) #1
  • :100: I like it much better than the mailing list
  • :+1: It’s better overall but there are some important things that I’d like changing
  • :-1: It’s worse overall due to some important things that would need changing
  • :no_good_man: I really don’t like it, mailing lists work better for me
  • :woman_shrugging: I don’t care either way

0 voters

(This is about python-committers’ reaction so I’m putting this topic here)

I think we’ve had enough exposure now for you to have an informed opinion on the tool. I’d like to understand what the core developers think about it. Please comment with your important things that need changing if this is what you chose.

Why do you want to know?

If the poll is mostly positive, we’ll think about moving over python-dev and/or python-ideas in December.

However, if the poll is mostly negative, we’ll think if we should keep Discourse at all for future committer communication and whether it makes sense to consider other forum software. If there are popular change requests, we’ll contact our friendly Discourse insiders to see what can be done about those.


Just want to share what I like about Discourse is the notifications.
I can get notification when someone replied to my topic, my comment, or when they mentioned me.
So it is not necessary for me to read all the emails.
With mailing list there is no such thing, the only way to know if someone mentioned me, is by reading everything.

One improvement would be if there is Zapier integration with Discourse, but I guess at the moment I’ll make do with webhooks.

(Barry Warsaw) #3

For me, the biggest plus for Discourse is also kind of one of its negatives. I love having a much cleaner inbox, and I’m really glad I don’t have centithreads clogging it up. But that also makes it easier to ignore the discussions here for long stretches of time, even with notifications. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. :slight_smile:

It also means I have yet another tab of millions open in my browser, so the Discourse tab can get lost.

I’m not sure what you can do about any of these. I chose the option I did because it was the closest to how I feel about the switch to Discourse. I’ll also say that I don’t think any of the discussion lists currently using it are entirely representative of what the experience will be like when/if python-dev or python-ideas moves here. But it’s good enough to continue the experiment IMHO.

(Antoine Pitrou) #4

I have two differing opinions depending on the kind of discussion, so it’s a bit difficult to answer the poll:

  • for short discussions, questions, etc. I think Discourse is really a positive improvement
  • for long branchy discussions where subtopics and subthreads appear, Discourse is a severe regression compared to a ML where I can get a nice threaded view

For example, when discussing a PEP, I find Discourse really worse and discouraging, and that’s an important use case for me.

(for now I’m choosing “worse overall”)

(Paul Moore) #5

My view is that it’s a learning curve I haven’t had time to address yet. My instinct is that it’s OK, but it would be an effort to maintain a presence on Discourse, whereas I can maintain a presence on mailing lists almost without effort (due to a combination of familiarity and the fact that I’m always in my email client, but will have to make a special effort to open Discourse).

I’m going to go with “worse overall” because I don’t think it’ll ever fit my workflow as well as mailing lists do. That’s a shame, because basically the “important things that would need changing” aren’t actually things that anyone can change - so I’m not sure where that leaves things.

Edit (and one nice thing is that I can edit posts): As a data point, if the note about the poll hadn’t been posted to the mailing list. it’s almost certain that I wouldn’t have noticed it until it was way too late for my vote to be relevant.

(Zachary Ware) #6

For those who aren’t satisfied with the default Discourse experience and significantly prefer mailing lists, do look through the preferences and try out mailing list mode. For example, here are my current settings:

It’s not clear to me exactly which settings override which, but this seems to work to get me an email on every message, which I can ignore, read, or reply to as normal on the mailing lists (though I generally click the “view topic” link to do anything more than read).

(Pablo Galindo Salgado) #7

(Brett Cannon) #8

Both Barry’s and Mariatta’s reasoning are my key reasons for preferring Discourse as well. I will also mention that the ability to split topics that go off-topic is handy (e.g. that long thread that went off-topic about mailing lists and Discourse could have been forcibly separated here to keep the original topic focused; I think Guido just muted that thread and asked a new one be started if anything interesting came up).

I will also say that the ability to flag messages as inappropriate and to freeze topics is also going to be handy in administering things.

I will also mention there has been at least 3 non-core folks who have posted here on Discourse about how excited they are that we are doing this experiment. And on python-ideas the request to try Discourse has come up multiple times, so there’s definitely community interest in potentially moving away from mailing lists.

But for me, the key lesson I learned from my month off in October is that I don’t really like mailing lists anymore due to the scale we now operate at and I really don’t want to have to admin mailing lists at the scale we now work at. My preference is to the point that I think my plan will be that depending on how this decision goes I’m either going to work to transition the mailing lists I admin over to here or I’m going to step down from administering mailing lists overall.

(Antoine Pitrou) #9

Exercise: try to read through Python Governance Electoral System and see whether you can do so without losing yourself.

(Pablo Galindo Salgado) #10

There is also this “Summarize This Topic” button. I don’t know how well it works in every situation, but this has helped me a lot when I am late to some topic that has already a lot of messages and I just want a brief overview before reading the whole thing message by message.

(Antoine Pitrou) #11

“The most interesting posts as determined by the community”. I understand how it could help when the topic is a question and everyone tries to give the best answer (as happens on StackOverflow and similar sites), but that sounds quite useless here. A structured discussion isn’t a popularity contest…

Actually, if you say you’re using this button, it makes me even more worried about Discourse, since it means some people will be influenced by vote counts on each message. Now people are gonna try to amass votes so that their messages are displayed favourably on the “Summarize This Topic” view.

(Tim Peters) #12

It’s worked quite well for the governance PEP discussions. But I’m unclear on how it will work for a high-volume open list - “committers” was a small closed list - I expect there are multiple dimensions along which it won’t scale well. Like a large number of topics, or single topics that grow to many dozens of messages each.

I don’t know that there’s any way to deal with those pleasantly, but at least I know how to stumble my way cycling through “traditional” by-thread / by-date / by-author views. Not enough experience with such things in Discourse yet to guess whether “top to bottom” will be bearable. “Summary” doesn’t appear to be more useful to me than, say, Facebook’s “Top Stories” view - whatever it is they’re feeding into their algorithms appears to have no better-than-chance correlation with what I actually turn out to value most.

(Pablo Galindo Salgado) #13

I only use it as a “first point of contact” to the topic itself. Then I read the whole thing from start to bottom. For me at least, it helps to get an overview of a very big topic itself before starting to read carefully and thoroughly though it. I like to be as informed as possible, so I like to read every message individually, but it helps my mental model to get an overview first, even if is biased on the number of “likes” every comment has, because after that I am going to read the rest of the messages.

On the other hand, these are supplementary tools under my point of view. Some people may find them useful, some other may think the tools do not help at all and they offer an incorrect view, but the fact that they exist is positive in my opinion as that gives people more ways of adapting their workflows. As any tool, the important thing as a user is to know its limitations and how to use them correctly. The misuse of a tool (if the tool is designed correctly and is easy to understand what exactly it does) is not the fault of the tool itself, but the user. Given that time is a scarce resource, having options that help people organising themselves and having a nicer experience is always a positive thing, even if only a subset of all users find that useful.

(Julien Palard) #14

I think Discourse has proved some good advantages, but I’m conserned about two things:

  • The only android client I found don’t have an offline mode (prefetching email in background for reading offline). I could subscribe to emails but without read/unread synchronisation.
  • Are the conversations correctly backuped?

(Pablo Galindo Salgado) #15

Yes, discourse backs up regularly and @EWDurbin uploads the backups to a Python Software Foundation managed S3 bucket.

(Jack Jansen) #16

I mainly agree with @barry and @pitrou that there’s positive sides and negative sides, and often a single feature can be positive or negative.

The other thing I sorely miss (and Discourse shares this with Slack and all the other modern platforms) is the ability to easily create a personal archive for future reference. My mail archive goes back 30 years or so, and for Python I only archive stuff that somehow interests me and I think I may want to find back in the future. So if I remember a conversation I had 15 years ago I can usually find it back in minutes, if i can remember some keywords and names of people involved. From the message I find in my archive I can then usually find back the whole thread and surrounding discussion in the global mailman archives.

(Stefan Krah) #17

I see some advantages in a web forum, but there are too many dark patterns in this particular software (“you earned your first emoji”, really?).

I have the impression that people post more here than on a mailing list, not less. So if python-dev were to be moved here, I’d estimate that the >100 posts topic would have >3000 posts, which is completely unmanageable in a forum.

On the whole I still prefer mailing lists.

(Xiang Zhang) #18

I like some features in discourse, especially pretty UI, vote system. But there are also some disadvantages for me, for example, no good mobile client, don’t know what to do when there are lots of unread messages, editable post. It’s good, but I think it’s not that good to change my preference.

(Brett Cannon) #19

My attempt to try and see if anything can be done to address people’s complaints

[And have I mentioned composing in Markdown is nice? :wink:]

Get Pocket, use bookmarks, or have less tabs open is the best I can think of here. :wink:

I think this has been brought up previously, but while it’s great that you have a threaded view, the majority of people don’t due to using one of the mainstream web email clients (e.g. I use Gmail). But I think the discussion between serving advanced users versus improvements for the common user doesn’t really go anywhere so I don’t know how to potentially improve this. :frowning_face:

Could you turn on emails and then simply archive them if you want a personal copy of what is said here?

Unfortunately we won’t know that until we move a large list and wait until the “newness” of the move wears off. If people are okay with this then we can do that.

But you have unread emails as well. :wink: I’m not quite sure how this is any worse/different than email (and actually I find having this a separate thing easier to keep track of thanks to browser notifications).

(Barry Warsaw) #20

I agree completely (too bad Discourse won’t let me just +1 this quote :slight_smile: - not enough characters).