Moving the Forum to read-only


#1

Hi all,

The Forum has been being used less and less over time, especially as Slack has picked up steam. The plan currently is to stop accepting new registrations now, and to archive the content in a read-only fashion for the future.

  • We hope that you’ll join us over on our Slack: http://www.writethedocs.org/slack/
  • You can also continue to add information for the community in our guide: http://www.writethedocs.org/guide/
  • We are launching a job board soon. I’ll update this post with a link once it’s live, but that will be the home for job postings going forward.

Thanks to everyone who has participated in this lovely Forum. We hope that you’ll stick around the community, and join us in person at our meetups some day.


#2

:sob:

So, I respectfully disagree with this decision. Yes, it looks like this forum is being used less and less. I agree that’s a problem but I think we should try to fix that problem instead of going read only.

I think is a bad idea in two ways:

  1. Slack & Discourse aren’t alternatives to each other. One is instant chat and the other is long-form, longer term discussion.
  2. Even if you consider Slack to be a replacement, I see the following issues:
  • The Write the Docs Slack is a free account meaning we don’t have proper search. Slack search already sucks, but after X amount of days or messages (I forget which), we lose all of that history.
  • related to search, Slack lacks any Google/SEO juice. Discussions on Discourse are indexed by Google and make it easy for people t find content a week later, a month later, or a year later.
  • Discourse is open-source. We can now, and always own our own data. If Slack decides to drop the free Slack Teams, then what?

If cost or maintenance or management is a problem, I’m willing to help.


#3

I agree with all of these things. In fact, it’s why we created the Forum in the first place.

I’d love to have a lively, actively, and ongoing discussion here that is archived forever. However, I don’t know the steps that need to happen to get from here to there.

I’m not 100% set on closing down the Forum, so I’d be happy to have this thread turn into a “lets make a plan to turn the Forum into what it should be”. In particular, if you have specific actionable things that you think can help, we should discuss them and plan to move them forward.


#4

I have to take time to come up with details, but I can think of a few for meetups specifically:

  • create subcategories under the “Meetups” category for each local meetup

  • have meetups announce upcoming meetups there

  • posts for coming up with new meetup topics (I know we have trouble with that in NYC)

  • upload (or at least link) any slides and meeting notes after meetups

  • posts for each WTD Newsletter and Podcast release

  • encourse the forum to be used as a job board (by announcing that concept on social media and Slack)

  • talk about or at least link to the forum on the website “above the fold”. It’s currently not present at all.


#5

I think that Slack is a great tool for quickly chatting, and forums are a great place to discuss and/or log technical questions/answers. As a technical writer, I’m used to finding answers to common issues in forum discussions, which I find through search engines which cannot index Slack.

While I’m not very active in either Slack or Discourse, I would be willing to work, alongside Ricardo, to help host, manage, and/or integrate the forums.

There already exist some tools to ease communication between the two platforms (https://meta.discourse.org/t/chatroom-integration-plugin-discourse-chat-integration/66522). My pie-in-the-sky integration would be able to take a Slack message and start a forum thread, so that interesting discussions can be preserved, indexed, and expanded upon without getting lost in the scroll-back.


#6

There has indeed been so much amazing discussion on the Slack that’s now inaccessible due to our status as a free account. But I assume it’s not worth collecting funds and paying for Slack accounts when less-expensive alternatives exist. (Even though Slack only charges for active users, not all registered users, FWIW.)

But first, as for that past, inaccessible content @ericholscher, have you confirmed what information is included in a Slack export? Their docs seem to indicate that you can export the entire message history for all public channels.

(If not, perhaps we can raise funds for a one-time upgrade and export.)

If we can do an export, perhaps we can migrate that content to an archive, if not (more ideally) a new platform that we can actively use. For example, it appears that free Ryver accounts and Mattermost installs both allow you to import a Slack export.


https://ryver.com/pricing/

https://docs.mattermost.com/administration/migrating.html
https://about.mattermost.com/pricing/

Whether or not we actually migrate old content to an actively used system, it would be great to move to a system without Slack’s restrictions, such as the above two, or the free version of https://rocket.chat/ or Chanty https://www.chanty.com/blog/using-slack-alternatives/ or something else that’s similarly free or inexpensive.

If we continue to have both a forum and chat system, I agree with @alexfornuto that some integration between the two would be a major plus, even if it’s as simple as auto-publishing a link in chat to new forum threads, and easing the process of exporting chat content back to the forum. That Discourse plugin looks great for both but I’m not sure if it makes it worth sticking with free Slack. Maybe that’s a fair trade-off, for now, though.


#7

I would love an open-source chat system like Mattermost, Matrix, etc. I think that’s a separate discussion though.:stuck_out_tongue:


#8

I just created an account because I was looking for potential discussions and opinions about markup languages (Markdown vs. ReST vs. X). This topic got me distracted and concerned enough to sign up and post this reply.

I for one hope that the forum won’t go away. I definitely wouldn’t have signed up for Slack’s walled (and proprietary) garden to poke around and look for past discussions. And I want to think I’m not the only one in that scenario who might benefit from the knowledge shared (or potentially shared) here.

I also agree with the recommendations & issues highlighted by others. Discourse also has some good plugins that could help with things, especially events/meetups. :slight_smile:

Anyway, I figured someone might appreciate hearing my experience for some insight to this decision-making process, whatever the result. Cheers!


#9

Hi,

Two bits:

  1. I wish the forum were more active. But I think that requires some “critical mass” of people who visit and post daily (and or at least weekly). The question is how do we get there?

  2. As for past discussions on Slack, I’m personally against importing past forum discussions. I think the idea that messages disappear after a certain amount of time is a feature. It’s allowed me to chat more freely about the documentarian topics of the day.

Thanks,
Mike


#10

I agree, which is why I think they should live alongside each other. Each has its purpose.


#11

Hi,

After a brief spurt of activity a couple of weeks ago (in this thread), traffic on this board seems to have stopped again…

Without some level of (non-spam) activity, I don’t know how I can suggest that we continue this board.

Thanks,
Mike


#12

There has been a lot of thinking in the past at the pros and cons of fora (like Discourse) vs Slack-like chat apps. Here’s one such good discussion:


#13

As someone who isn’t on Slack when it’s most active, I’m for the idea of integration to the forum. Even if the discussion is over, I can still a) find relevant topics thanks to forum sorting, and b) learn from the wisdom of the crowd.

Mike, this sort of integration may be the catalyst needed to make the forums more active. I can’t be the only one in this situation.