To start off, thank you for thinking about this and raising these points! It’s useful for me to hear about ways people think that online Elm spaces could work better.
I appreciate the ping, but this looks pretty civil at the moment! Let me try and contribute my perspective… fair warning, I have a lot of thoughts about this.
To sum up:
- I think intent-based categories are better than a hierarchy as suggested in the top post here. If you think the current categories are inadequate for your needs, I’d like to hear what intents you think they do not capture.
- We could do a better job of making information discoverable… but I don’t think “have search” is the full answer. I don’t have an easy answer for this right now, but the future is exciting.
- The core team knows about a lot of these pain points and wants to fix them, but are waiting to get data from the upcoming Georgia Tech study of the community so we can design solutions with everyone’s needs in mind.
First, I am not sure about structuring this forum into hierarchical categories instead of intent-based ones. I do not post on a forum with the intent of “writing a document” or “defining a policy.” If I want to do those things I will use my blog, a git repo, a document collaboration platform, etc. Since we are having discussions here, our categories reflect various intents for posting:
Learn: I have a question or want context around a particular technical decision.
Request Feedback: I have made something (a collection of thoughts, a blog post, a package) and want people’s feedback on it.
Show & Tell: I made a thing and I think it’s pretty great! My intent is to share, not solicit feedback, but I may be open to further questions/comments.
Here is how I think your suggested categories fit into the current category structure:
|News (announcements, upgrades)
||Show & Tell
|News (proposals, RFCs)
|Questions / Help
Learn or Request Feedback
||There is a private category for code of conduct and the help templates. It is not really a good place for discussion since the posts here have special meaning to the Discourse server. Questions about policy are better in Learn or Request Feedback. Creating a separate public category for policies mixes discussion and documentation in a way I can’t see working well.
||Show & Tell
||Show & Tell
||No current category, but you’d still be able to find stuff in this category using Discourse search. Is that really better than being able to search on Google? It would also prevent newcomers from seeing useful information until they sign up, but would not necessarily communicate that there is more information available if they do. I’m not convinced this is a good idea, overall.
I have not found a lot of discussions which we want to have here which are not covered by the current categories. We notably do not include categories that capture intents like “I want to have a debate about current world events”—a lot of things we could discuss on a forum like this are a huge hassle to moderate well, so we choose to limit discussion to protect moderator time.
That said, I recognize that it takes a certain level of bravery to write something you think is good enough for Learn or Request Feedback. Nobody likes looking dumb in public when the solution to their question is “obvious.” @Lucas_Payr, is this part of what you mean by “formality?” I notice that our categories line up pretty closely to your Slack/Reddit/Discourse trio otherwise.
We’ve talked about searchability/persistence as a solution for discoverability/learning a few times now. For me, It’s useful to be able to search old discussions, but I think we can do better for learning. Basically it boils down to this: a conversation is not necessarily good guidance, but it can be made into good guidance with some editing.
I would rather see us write up answers to common questions, summarize discussions, etc than relying on a discussion platform for this. I very much prefer blogs and documentation to discussions for finding information. Among other things, they’re easier to digest (since you’re writing to document instead of to discuss) and easier to update when new information becomes available. Plus, you have to read/understand the whole context behind the conversation to get the most out of a discussion platform—that is not necessarily true of other forms of docs.
Buuuuuuut, this is hard work, and it doesn’t currently have a great place to live in Elm spaces. There is some prior art (like the elm-community Elm FAQ) but I would like to see a lot more of this. I’m particularly interested in things like the DEV roadmap for distribution!
Finally, people want different things—that’s fine! I am sad that you feel overwhelmed by Slack, and I would like to fix that for you. I have also heard from beginners who do not want their “naive” or “dumb” questions indexed and so would prefer to use something more ephemeral. Holding both these things in mind, I don’t think we’re going to make sweeping changes to move all discussions to Discourse right now. That said, if you want to use Discourse as your primary way to interact with the Elm community, please feel free!