[Members] XSF Board Meeting Minutes 20170301

Sam Whited sam at samwhited.com
Wed Mar 1 22:10:40 UTC 2017


On Wed, Mar 1, 2017 at 2:00 PM, Dave Cridland <dave at cridland.net> wrote:
> Sam thought that, concerning Discourse itself,the experience on web
> (or mobile) was excellent, but the experience as a mailing list was
> terrible.

RE: the mailing list stuff, I agree that we desperately need a new
interface for accessing the mailing lists. Most of the reasons people
mentioned during the meetings sounded like we just need a search box
and an easier way to view the archives, this would be enough to
satisfy me, but we should probably come up with a list of use cases
the community wants in case things like editing/sending are also
necessary.

RE: Discourse specifically, I don't think we should use it. The last
time a mailing list I was on switched to Discourse I used it for a
week or two and then unsubscribed because unless you used the website
(which was very pretty, to be sure), the experience was terrible. The
last time this was brought back up I resubscribed to see if it had
gotten better in the mean time; it had, but it was still pretty
terrible. Here are a few of my complaints (some of them might be how
this particular discourse instance was configured, I don't have enough
knowledge to know which is which so I'll just list them all):

- Each "category" is effectively a different mailing list in
discourse; you get messages from a different address, eg.
announcements.users.rust-lang.org, help.users.rust-lang.org,
community.users.rust-lang.org which makes subscribing to all and then
filtering difficult (although some others may have a system which
filter with wildcards, which might make this better). I could not find
a way to subscribe to individual categories without manually going in
and "unwatching" the ones I'm not interested in. Presumably this means
I'd automtaically be subscribed to new categories too, which is
annoying and means I'd start getting junk I don't care about in my
inbox and would have to go update my filters.
- I had trouble creating a new topic from within my client, however,
this is such basic functionality that I'm assuming something was just
broken about the configuration (since replying to existing threads
seemed to work).
- You end up with some sort of [bbcode] looking tags in the plain text
emails, and you get HTML emails by default.
- Discourse manages quoting of old messages for you (there are a bunch
of settings for it). When I'm replying in my mail client, I like to
reply below the previous message, and trim as I see fit. It may be
that you can turn this off, but that would then be the third setting I
had to change to make it let me reply to a basic email (the others
were turning on "mailing list mode" which was hard to find, and
telling it to actually alert me to all emails somewhere else, which
was confusing because I would have assumed that was covered by
"mailing list mode")
- Tags show up in the web interface and not the email interface (if
people using the mailing list don't use them, there's hardly any point
to having them since you can't actually, eg. visit the tag for
xep-0001 or whatever because it will only have messages in it from
people using the web interface). A similar argument applies to most of
the web-only features (polls and embeded stuff, etc.), it's tempting
to say that this isn't really a serious problem, but any time two
different users see two different versions of the world it's only
going to cause issues; people will assume that everyone else sees the
same thing as they do, and it results in confusion.
- It appears to break threading sometimes (might be gmail or mutt?
gmail's normally pretty good at threading and I've never had any
trouble with mutt, I suspect it's discourse)

I'll try again and send more as I remember them.

I don't think Discourse is a good idea, but we really can't make any
sort of informed decision until one of the people who really wants to
move to something else throws out some use cases that they want to see
addressed in whatever the final solution is. The only two things I
think we need are:

- Search
- Easier to browse archives

Discourse gives us this, but it also gives us a whole lot of useless
stuff on top (and more stuff means more problems).

—Sam


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