Fedora Social Hour changes?

@mattdm and I have mentioned every so often wanting to change up how the Fedora Social Hour works so that more people can start coming and continue to come to these weekly calls. So here we are starting that discussion!

As it stands the Social Hour currently works like this:

  • Every Thursday Fedora has a call we jump on just to hang out with each other to connect as friends.
  • We have two times, an “early” time at 10:00 AM ET and a “late” time at 7:00 PM ET for the sake of catching people at the time zone that works best for them.
  • Ideally we avoid talking about “work” (Fedora business) so that we can connect as friends and not just as project contributors.
  • The way to enter the call is through a link that’s provided in the Fedora Social Matrix channel.

What’s the result? The Social Hour is a fun time, but here are some observations that I don’t think line up with our desire for this initiative.

  • It tends to be the same six or so people who join on a consistent basis.
  • We do have new people join every so often, but they don’t usually come back.
  • We try to stick to not talking about Fedora, but we do.
  • The friction for joining the call is pretty high. As of now, if you are just a random person who sees a link to join the call on social media, you have to go to a Discussion post, which takes you to a Matrix chat, in which the link to the chat may be provided or you have to know to check the Jitsi widget.

In light of that, we want to change things to be better! The goal is to see more people join these calls and come back for future calls.

Questions to get the creative juices flowing:

  • What ideas do you have to make Social Hour more interesting?
  • Do you join the Social Hour? If not, how come?
  • Do you think the spirit of this initiative should continue in the form of something else?
  • If you had sole discretion to restructure the Social Hour, how would you do it?

Tagging Community Ops because this feels like the kind of thing that group would be tackling, Mindshare because this is like a big thing in the project, and Marketing because these decisions affect the “product” that we will try to pitch through marketing.

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Heheh. Yeah, this does feel like something that would be in the league of Community Ops, back in time. :slightly_smiling_face:

A shared, common activity during the hour would make it more engaging to me. Maybe it is the virtual format, the fact that I am a mega introvert, or both. But the virtual video format is unidirectional, i.e. there is one conversation happening and it is hard for anything else to happen other than that conversation. I think well-intentioned folks can sometimes get excited, and a conversation can quickly become centered around two or three vocal people while others are listening or distracted by other things (and this is not something unique to Social Hour at all, I attribute it in part to human nature). In an in-person social hour setting, there are naturally several conversations happening across the room; some people stay in their circles while others drift from one group to the next.

So, what is the answer? Honestly, I’m not sure either. But if my schedule aligned, I’d make time to come to a few rounds of Among Us or some other casual game. I also remember hanging out with @bookwar on the Minetest server some time after the F37 release party, and I enjoyed that a lot.

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I like hopping on and just chatting about random stuff. If it was more structured I’d probably not participate. The fact that it is unstructured it what makes it appealing to me. If it was more structured it would feel like work. I am one of the people who came up with the original idea - it was during COVID lockdown and I was PMing with Neal who was feeling isolated, so we made a video call and I had my kids say hi to him and we hung out and talked about how it would be nice if it was a regular thing. The point was to provide something unstructured (because people were doing lots of virtual whatever sessions at the time at that point in COVID and it just wasn’t doing it.)

I don’t like the framing that a well-intentioned few are centering the conversation around themselves to the detriment of others. I do get joining and being frustrated if it feels like two or three people only are talking and others are distracted and not saying anything, but that requires the assumption that every person wants to be talking. What if the distracted and listening people are just listening (maybe lurking if they’re new to learn the vibe?)

I have observed that when people I hadn’t seen before join, they’re acknowledged and invited to introduce themselves, and that seems appropriate. I typically join the late one when I’m working late on something, and occasionally will listen to it in the background while working for the connection, eg if the topic isn’t something i have strong opinions about or don’t have a lot of knowledge on. As in physical spaces, if you walk up to a conversation and decide it’s not for you, you can walk away. There isn’t a requirement that every person be given a turn in any given conversation or that conversation is necessarily well-intentioned but non-inclusive :-/ It becomes more stressful and less enjoyable if a tally has to be maintained to make sure everyone (who may not necessarily want it) gets equal speaking time.

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for a fun gaming time or something more structured, just explaining the point of the way it’s run now and what I enjoy about it.

It is true that one virtual space really only allows for one conversation thread. If someone was willing to moderate and set up breakout rooms or something, that would help, at the same time, that’s work, and for something that’s meant to be an informal social, it doesn’t seem to make sense. But I guess if someone has the motivation / ability to do such moderation it could help the conversation scale.

I guess bottom line: it doesn’t make sense to solve a problem if that problem is theoretical and hasn’t been raised by someone who actually experienced it?

Here are my questions / thoughts:

  • How many people do we want joining each week? Is 6 an ok number, we’d just like some more variety in the cast of characters? [ Suggestion if so: advertise more broadly than this discussions post. Invite a guest each week who hasn’t joined before as a guest of honor. ]

  • If we want the new people to come back - have any expressed why they didn’t come back? Can we ask them? Maybe have an anonymous quick poll link in the channel topic so if they had reasons for leaving they could express them?

  • Not talking about Fedora was a long-running rule during COVID, but since COVID has become less of an all-encompassing presence in all levels of life, I explicitly asked some months ago to drop it and at least everyone in the room at the time consented. And it was a fun convo. :woman_shrugging: I don’t agree that the rule should hold anymore but that’s just my opinion.

  • Re: topics, if we went with the invited guest idea, maybe we could also have a topic (or a rota of topics) for each call to kick things off, guests could be aligned to the topics (or not!)

  • For the call friction being high - can we not link directly to the matrix channel for people to join to take a hop out of the path to joining?

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I have fond memories of hanging out with a variety of people and talking about random stuff in Social Hour. Although I feel unnatural to talk about random stuff in video call, I make an effort to mix with people and read the room. I don’t see a problem with the format of Social Hour.

The reason I can’t join it often is not because of the format, but more of personal preference and schedule conflict.

I settled in with a couple of my preferred modes of communication in Fedora; Matrix chat, review comments in repos I’m involved with, Fosstodon, and email. I want to do that consistently.

I’m not English native speaker, so feel overwhelmed when I’m surrounded by fluent extrovert native speakers.

About timing, early hour is working hours in my time zone (UTC+1). Late hour is my bed time.

You don’t need to change anything really. Let it flow.

I’ve wanted to attend sometime, but the times are not great for me. ;(
The ‘early’ one is 7am…and I am not super social at 7am.
The ‘late’ one is at like 5pm my time, but after a long day of fighting
fires and meetings, it’s hard to want to go socialize.

I should try and make some effort to go to the late one sometime…

As to format, I haven’t gone, so not sure if things are working or not,
but the current format sounds nice to me. Just converation, etc.

Perhaps more folks would be interested in adding if you advertized in
the devel or other matrix rooms before ? ie, spur of the moment
additions?

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It was not the right framing and I’m glad you shared the historical context and what you enjoy about social hour. I didn’t mean to demean and I hope it didn’t come off that way.

One option is to just leave things as they are now. I don’t think there is like a need to make any changes to the Social Hour. That’s in part because potentially we can do something else to diversify our approach for connecting in the community. Some of these ideas may end up another thing we do instead of affecting the Social Hour.

Part of the reason why I’m interested in trying something is because I did feel like this starting out. I was a new person and for a while I would join and basically be listening in to conversations. It felt awkward to try chiming in because sometimes it felt like that conversation was kind of meant to be just between the speakers or it was for a topic I couldn’t really participate. Don’t get me wrong - that kind of does come with the territory, but if there was something we can do to make the time feel more open to new people, that would be helpful.

For the Social Hour specifically, my mind goes more toward informal things like keeping in mind when a new person joins and making it a point to engage with them. Like, if we’re talking about desktop environments and we notice that a new person hasn’t provided input, ask them what their favorite is. Stuff like that so they don’t feel left out, because no one likes feeling left out and I don’t think it’s likely someone who feels left out would like to come back.

Buuuuuut is that what we want for Social Hour? I can sympathize with the idea that Social Hour is literally just Fedora people coming down to the watering hole to vibe and that’s it. Even what I just described sounds like work.

What if we tried setting up another call as something like “Fedora Virtual Booth” where it’s basically the same as a social, only we have at least one person who’s role is to look out for any new people who join and maybe having a discussion topic in their back pocket to get the conversation rolling. I think that would be a better place to market to non-regulars. Then as they get more comfortable in the project they can turn up at Social Hour and feel less awkward.

Who is the ‘we’ that would manage this proposed virtual booth? When would this take place? I don’t know the answer, but I’d be willing to volunteer for an experimental run of this.


I agree. I want to talk about Fedora :smiling_imp:.

Could we go a step further and just link straight to the call? I know there is a theoretical risk of a random person entering the call and causing a problem, but has that happened before? Does Jitsi not have some moderation tools for that? If not, I’d rather put the link in a discussion post rather than hiding it in the Social channel because you would need a Matrix account to access it.

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LOL I love how you use the word “vibe”

But… story time. We ued to direct link to the Design Team Jitsi calls and we had HORRIBLE things happen. We had spammers and profanity and all sorts of malevolent-seeming randos show up and disrupt. So we started just linking to the Matrix channel and that went away completely.

@jflory7 No harm done, I have context thats probably not widely known.

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Do you think people would be interesting in joining a monthly ‘Fedora Virtual Booth’ social where people can come to ask questions about the project but also just hang out if it’s not that serious?

  • Yes
  • Maybe
  • No

0 voters