Profileration of community communication channels


#1

As we’ve discussed a few times before, while the profileration of the community to different channels on different platforms is beneficial to expand our presence and reach out to more people, the flip side is the dilution of the community, of the standards of support, and the existence of channels where community presence is below par. This post is regarding the latter situation which is extremely worrisome: an individual that visits such a channel gets a very negative impression of the community. They see an inactive channel, and they assume that the group or the community does not exist there, which is an incorrect representation of the group/community. These channels also mask the real channels where the bulk of the community/team may exist.

An example is the @fedorapackagers channel on Telegram that I only learned of recently. At a glance,

So, in my opinion, this channel is not fit for its purpose and should not be active at all. We should not be pointing people to it even if Telegram is perceived an easier platform to use than the IRC.

I would also like to propose a checklist that should be reviewed before new channels are set up, and maybe even used for a periodic review of channels to see if they should be kept up or abandoned:

  1. The group in question should be surveyed to confirm if a good part of the group can commit to manning the new channel before the channel is set up.
  2. The new channels should have a set of ops that keep an eye on things—they should be listed somewhere (or this information should be accessible using on the platform using commands and so on).
  3. The new channel must contain a clear topic summarising its purpose, and other information such as the group’s wiki page and mailing list (alternative channels).
  4. If possible, the new channel must be linked to the existing channels to prevent fragmentation.
  5. The new channel should be announced to the community—maybe on the announce list?
  6. Every effort should be made to point questions to the correct channels—this is already the case, but I propose this should be a formal guideline. It is necessary to maintain the standard of support that questions be pointed to channels where they will be answered best.

Personally, point 1, 4, and 6 are most important IMO. The others are "nice to have"s but if they make it too tedious to set up new channels, they can be waived.

Please don’t get me wrong. I would really like to spread Fedora to as many social platforms as possible, but I really do think it must be done in a structured way with some sort of plan. Having the community spread randomly to channels that are set up and then abandoned etc. does not help us.

Comments welcome!


#2

Telegram is not an official communication channel of ours and anyone is free to set up a group. We do have an outstanding “to do” item to ensure that we get links to the Fedora CoC and a couple of other items related to using the Fedora TM in place for these channels otherwise they will need to rename.

I do not believe we should add requirements that unofficial spaces all be mirrored to our official spaces. I don’t read your comments as proposing this, however this was one of your evaluation criteria.

I think a good path forward for this would be to have a project around rationalizing all of our various communication and getting help pages. We could reduce their number and eliminate some of their duplication. We could cross-link them where appropriate and we can make judgement calls on how many of the unofficial channels, if any, we wish to list.

I have this on my list to work on, but would be really happy to see someone start the effort before me. Right now my capacity is fairly fully booked and I am able to be more of an editor than a creator.


#3

Hrm, I do not agree that Telegram is not an official platform now. It may not be official in the sense that no process was followed to set them up that would make it official, but so much is happening on Telegram now that it really does feel like an official community platform. This is the pinned message on the Fedora channel on Telegram, for example:

Welcome to @fedora! Here’s what you need to know.

=== Group info / rules ===

(1) Always use English (it’s an international chat with people around the world).
(2) Stay on topic to Fedora, Fedora-related things, or free and open source software (on-topic conversations are always higher priority than off-topic – don’t be afraid to just ask a question if you need help!).
(3) Follow Fedora’s Code of Conduct (https://getfedora.org/code-of-conduct). Even if you disagree with someone, be respectful.
(4) Do not give malicious or dangerous advice. You might be joking, someone else might not know.
(5) Do not share inappropriate or illegal content in this channel (whether software, sexual content, or anything else).
(6) Polls are limited to one per day per person. Polls should be on topic to Fedora or open source software. Please ask for permission by messaging or tagging an admin before posting a poll. PollBot is forbidden, we only allow @vote (or similar, non-spammy bots). Please respect member privacy and set them to anonymous by default. (But don’t trust that poll results are a good representation of the Linux world.)

=== Telegram / IRC bridge ===

This Telegram group is linked to an IRC channel on irc.freenode.net using a Telegram <=> IRC bridge. Join #fedora-telegram on freenode to participate via IRC.

=== Other Fedora communities ===

There’s a few other Fedora groups on Telegram for specific languages or countries. There’s also some groups about software included in Fedora. You can find some of them below.




CentOS: @Cent_OS_EN
Document Foundation (announce channel): @tdforg
Fedora packagers: @fedorapackager

If you want your community added here, please message an admin directly.

=== Need help? ===

If you find that someone is spamming or is breaking the rules, you can mention all admins using the /report command.
Be warned that spamming this command might get you banned!

Feel free to reach out to myself or another admin if you have any concerns or private questions. The current administrators of this group are:

IMO, that, in combination with the many community members that set it up and are now active there does give it qute an official air. I expect newbies that join these channels with have the same impression too. The assumption will also extend to other channels that are listed there.

I agree that we cannot/should not make any limitations on unofficial channels. This post concerns itself with the official ones, and for reasons stated above, I do think the Telegram channels are now official.

I was pointed to this ticket which presents a similar idea. If we are to assess Telegram channels as unofficial then mabe we should get in touch with community members that administer these channels and request them to make this clear in the meantime?


#4

Hi @FranciscoD, thanks for starting this conversation. I have some clarifying concerns shared below.

I believe it is difficult to do, in a community the size of Fedora’s, to regulate usage of the Fedora brand in user community channels. In the case of Reddit, Telegram, Discord, and other community platforms, I think the work required to moderate and ensure a community meets a set of criteria is too difficult to gauge without active participation by someone familiar with these guidelines.

From the Fedora user communities I participate in (and don’t participate in), I’ve found it is extremely difficult to make a clear evaluation of a community and whether they are also welcoming, friendly, and inclusive. In my role as a Telegram admin of the Fedora group, we have chosen to remove some groups in our pinned message after discovering the community is toxic and hostile to newcomers. Our philosophy for promoting groups is to help support people from our community set up topics to support their own interests and engagement. Often, the visibility in the pinned message gives some communities a boost to their own activity and visibility. I believe it helps enable these user communities to be successful, and it also allows us to have a deeper reach than any of our core community has bandwidth to focus on.

This also becomes more difficult when we get into communities with non-English languages. In the case of the toxic community I mentioned before, it was a group in a specific language and required a native speaker to point out to us that the group was toxic.

One of my challenges with Fedora IRC is the centralization of operator privileges makes it difficult to make changes to IRC channels unless a small subset of people are available to make those changes. I am hesitant to suggest that Fedora provides a list of people to act as operators across all these chat platforms.

For example, if I were made an admin of the Fedora Discord, the admin controls and community would be foreign to me. I would prefer to have an active community member on that platform act as a moderator before someone like me.

One alternate idea I could see coming from this is to pursue a group / SIG of community moderators and admins. This way, we can bring together the community mods / admins of these various communities and create dialogue between these groups and communities. This way, we can hopefully learn from each other’s mistakes and have more visibility into how other communities operate. I also feel like this leverages us to include a new group of people as contributors to our project community.

I don’t believe this is necessarily bad if the community channels / platforms are radically different. I moderate the Fedora Telegram group because I already use Telegram, but I don’t check out the Discord because I don’t actively use Discord.

One of my pie-in-the-sky ideas is to run a “virtual docs sprint” and target experts from various Fedora communities to participate. The idea is that by getting participation of people who regularly help with user support, we encourage them to share their knowledge in the official Fedora documentation, and hopefully we can better “share” the best advice across all of our different user communities. Sort of like a decentralized model of spreading information.

If you have opinions there, please weigh in. :smile:

+1. I feel the same here.

I’m hoping we can drive some of this in CommOps with the docs sprint linked above, but I don’t have bandwidth to drive a User Community SIG.

Perhaps we should distinguish between “official” and “endorsed”. In the specific case of Telegram, the @fedora super group is probably the “official” Fedora community of Telegram, but it is not necessarily endorsed or “blessed” by the Fedora Project brand. The wiki page linked earlier that lists Telegram group was created by existing contributors in these Telegram user communities to help bring more visibility to their communities.

If we look at “official” vs. “endorsed” in this way, I think we should encourage platform-specific, official communities to form, and use more consideration for communities we explicitly endorse.


#5

This point does not concern the regulation of branding or trademarks. Sorry if it sounds that way.
This seems to cover that bit, and I am quite satisfied with it personally.

I meant that the group considering the new communication channel should be surveyed. As an example, before we had set up the channel for CommOps or Join, we should’ve surveyed the active contributors of these teams to see if there would be enough of us to man the newly created channel. Luckily, in these cases, we have enough folks on both IRC and Telegram, and of course, the bridging is a boon.

So, you refer to “user communites” here, and I’m specifically speaking of channels that are official or seem official—as I assumed of quite a few of the Telegram channels. Regulation of “user communities” that spring up wherever is beyond our powers and scope.

Hrm, sure, but where does this suggest that the same central group of people be ops for all channels? Each IRC channel has it’s own ops, and sure, we ensure that someone from infra has the required privileges for emergencies, but that’s about it.

To clarify, I do not mean that CommOps channels be linked to Join. I mean that the different platforms that CommOps have be linked together. So if the Fedora user channel on Discord can be linked to the Telegram one, I think that’d be great.

This was why Ask Fedora was set up. :slight_smile: The plan was to take the commonest questions and add them to the docs, but there are issues with this—mainly that it duplicates the information and then instead of keeping one copy up to date, we must manage two of them. So, instead, we add these questions to the sidebar and update their answers as needed.

My current understanding of the Docs sprint does not include how it would help with a review of Fedora’s communication channels. I’ll have to go through the post again.

I agree with some of this, but I’d like a definition of what an “official channel” is to start with. Telegram channels are not official, so the Fedora supergroup there isn’t official. What is? I would prefer if we used the current “official” and “community sites” classification as we have now but clearer definitions of what these are. The clearest definition of “community sites” is in the trademark guidelines linked above. I’ve not found a definition of “official” yet. My new understanding of it is that the channels listed on the wiki page are official. “Endorsed” and “official” can be easily confused.


#6

many startups, open source projects… opensource slack alternatives (with “slack integration”), it has good UX, well structured… I’ve found mattermost https://docs.mattermost.com/install/docker-local-machine.html ( easy smooth installation via docker), or rocket chat https://github.com/RocketChat/Rocket.Chat also looks good (docker too). Both are “daily developed”, by many people (not 1 man show that can easily end 1 day ), open source.

Btw IRC - I tried to get into fedora IRC but I ended up in registration loop (though I’ve used it a bit in the past)


#7

Slack has a horrible user experience, it’s proprietary, and its threading
thing is just horrible. Mattermost is okay, but it still has a horrible user
experience compared to a good IRC client.

What IRC client were you using, and what channel were you trying to join? What
do you mean by “registration loop”? NickServ?

IRC is a protocol, not a single program. You can pick the client that you most
like the experience with. I’d be happy to help you along the way.


#8

Additionally, “installation” through Docker isn’t something that’s really
useful here. Generally, it’s best to properly package the software for Fedora
or manually install it, while installing dependencies through your package
manager. Most of these docker containers are just ubuntu or a minimal distro
with stuff thrown on top. Ubuntu is the most popular base, or at least it was
a few years ago. There’s no reason to duplicate that and potentially pull in
proprietary software here, we’ve got Fedora.


#9

I was sent a registration “link” (verify registration) but when I entered it, it said that I’m not loged in. Edit finally I complete the registration :smiley: it has to be done on “freenode server” I was trying to do it in through web and it was not working that way, installed hexchat - better UI


#10

Ah, Freenode’s web UI is terrible… I know of Hexchat, Polari, and Srain are good IRC clients, and there’s Revolution IRC for Android.

If you want message persistence, you can either use an IRC bouncer like ZNC, or use the IRC bridge with the Matrix chat service.


#11

I’d suggest Konversation (whether you use KDE or not), it’s probably the best
graphical IRC client around. Webchats are awful, and I don’t think that’s
going to change.


#12

I gave up on IRC a few years ago - too much mental gearshifting and server babysitting for me. Even with a good GUI client - mIRC on Windows, HexChat / Konversation / KVIrc on Linux - it’s just too geek-friendly and user-hostile.

I like Slack - if you’re against it for open-source religious reasons, maybe rethink your religion. To me the only issue with Slack is that if you want to use all the features you have to pay for it, and then you have to make the business case for why it’s better than a free tool or another paid one.

I won’t be dragged back to IRC, UseNet / NetNews, or any other thing that was the cat’s pajamas in 1990. :wink:


#13

IRC is certainly not unfriendly to users, to say such a thing is just as mind
boggling as to say email isn’t user friendly. I don’t know what you mean by
“server babysitting”, but you can just put your info into the popups that show
up the first time you use your client and never think about it again, or just
connect with defaults and change it later with the case of Konversation.

I have no religious reasons for not using Slack, but one of the many reasons I
would not use it is that it is proprietary. I do not run proprietary software
unless I don’t have a choice. There are many reasons for this, however the
most important reasons are security and the ability to modify the software to
work as I wish.

If it were FLOSS, I still would not use it, for the same reason that I don’t
currently use Mattermost. The user interface is awful, it requires a web
browser just to chat, and the threading is horrible.

You’re more than welcome to click this link and come debate this with me :slight_smile:

ircs://chat.freenode.net:6697/##free-as-in-freedom


#14

Hello everyone. Thanks for your comments. Could you please start a new topic for “slack vs irc” as this is not what this particular topic is about?


#15

+1
Also, it would be good to discuss a maturity model for communications channels to help categorize the various tools.
For example, I think of Discourse as a content management system for 1:many or many:many conversations. The voting and cross-referencing come in handy when there is a wealth of opinions or sources of authority.

OTOH:

  • IRC is more of a 1:many publishing system, with a bias toward synchronous communication.
  • Slack, Mattermost, RocketChat, etc. are somwhere in the middle.
  • Email is more of a 1:many publishing system, with a bias toward asynchronous communication.

As a newcomer, I have trouble with IRC because I like to RTFM and lurk and the client that seems to facilitate that the most. FWIW, I never hear of Riot (Matrix) until I saw it recommended in one of the Fedora comm ops docs.

I would like to see the really smart people here figure out how to facilitate curated federation of the various communications channels, so that (hypothetically) a Discourse user and a Telegram user can get the immediacy of access to .oncall without anyone having to put up with the noisy chatter that can come up on Telegram (or the death by category tags so common in Discourse).
Sorry for the rant, it’s late for me.


#16

IRC is a chat protocol. It is definitely not 1:many, it is many:many. Email is
a mail protocol. It is also not one-way. These systems are only 1:many if
Discourse is also 1:many, which it could be considered as, since all posts
must be by a single user.

As Discourse is not a chat system, I don’t think that the zodbot command
.oncall could be supported here.


#17

I think this is why @x3mboy opened Fedora-Council/tickets#232, to help distinguish user communities maintained by Fedora community members. Some of this feedback may be helpful in that ticket too.

Fair point. I misinterpreted this part :slightly_smiling_face:

I think it is a good requirement to use a bridge between a new platform (e.g. Telegram, Discord) and an active IRC channel. It does depend on members of that team / channel to have users and moderators on both sides, like you said previously though.

I recently opened fedora-infrastructure#7389 as a possible option to making the Teleirc bridges more accessible to folks in the community who wish to have one set up.

Cool. I wonder if as part of this virtual docs sprint, we could use Ask Fedora as a base for populating new topics into quick-docs (and maybe bringing better organization in the navigation tree for existing topics).

Probably relevant to this thread:

Oops – I didn’t mean to imply this. I agree they are both separate topics.

I think this is the question we are contending with. In Fedora-Council/tickets#232, @x3mboy wanted to better understand how we promote user communities actively supported by existing contributors involved in the project community (and ones we usually have a better knowledge of what the community is like, better compliance with brand guidelines, and adhering to the Fedora CoC).

Perhaps this is the case for you and you find Slack difficult to work with. But user experience is subjective, not objective – what works well for one person may not work well for someone else (especially if you consider people with disabilities and require accessibility features to participate fully).

I think it’s okay to say the Slack user interface is not great for you, but we don’t put down and shame other things that might work very well for others. We can disagree respectfully without stepping on someone else’s toes. That’s how we do things here in Fedora. :slightly_smiling_face:

Somewhat related to this point, I’ve found the Open Organization Maturity Model interesting to read about.

Hmm. Not sure I understand why it is helpful to have features from IRC bots inside of Discourse, since they both feel like two separate things. Perhaps instead, it is better to strive for more similar functionality across platforms like IRC, Telegram, Discord, etc. What do you think?

(I also think @FranciscoD said the same thing first, it took me a minute to realize where he was coming from. :slightly_smiling_face:)


#18

No bots. Zero. Zip. Nada. None. No bots, no captchas, no AIs moderating, …

That way lies rump of skunk and madness. https://twitter.com/neilhimself/status/520679150483279872


#19

Nope, Alpine is number one on dockerhub.


#20

The context here is an open source IRC bot, fedora-supybot (a.k.a. zodbot), used in Fedora IRC channels. zodbot is used by Fedora contributors to run meetings, to quickly find out who owns a package, see what member of Fedora Infrastructure is currently on-call, and other miscellaneous tasks. I believe this is what @blaise refers to.

In Discourse, these things don’t make as much sense (since you can use a web interface to look up many of these things and we don’t run meetings in a Discourse thread). However, in Telegram or Discord, I believe an integrated experience is important there, if these platforms will really be “first-class experiences” alongside IRC for Fedora contributors.

(Also, it’s a little confusing that Discourse and Discord are similarly-named.)

Thank you for the input, but base operating systems in Docker images is not on topic to this thread. If you and @JohnMH want to discuss Docker images further, please consider starting a new thread in Server, Cloud, IoT category. Thanks. :slightly_smiling_face: