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,
- the channel appears relatively inactive.
- on scrolling around, I do not see many packagers active there.
- there is no topic/pinned message either.
- the channel is not bridged to the #fedora-devel IRC channel either.
- the channel is not listed on the wiki pages either: https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Telegram or https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Communicating_and_getting_help
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:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- If possible, the new channel must be linked to the existing channels to prevent fragmentation.
- The new channel should be announced to the community—maybe on the announce list?
- 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.