Proposed guidelines for discussion of proposed Changes

And “reference polls” could be used exactly for this scenario.

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I think the breakout topics were terrible. They fractured the discussion and led to lots of repetition, making it harder to follow. Creating them in advanced seems like a further step back.

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That’s indeed a great idea and useful filter to mitigate “rejection sign-ups” of users who don’t possess sufficient understanding of how Fedora works and what it is. Illustrating the reward (voting capability) this way, even of small contributions (such as that for TL1), might also encourage users to get a little deeper into Fedora (and thus gather understanding of what “it” is / how “it” works). I think even little interactions on discourse can already make a difference in this respect.

I also think the break outs fostered some repetition, and given the interrelations of the topics, it was not possible to keep these topics separated so that they sometimes developed both redundant and interdependent. This again fostered repetition and made it harder to follow.

Yet, I am not a fan of splitting only “completely off topic”. Once something is “sufficiently off-topic” to not create interrelated/interdependent discussions (this is also a matter of perception of course), I suggest to split it. In short, I would do it as we do it on other topics, but even more radical enforce splitting when something develops off-topic. However, break outs are not off-topic but related, so this is what I would avoid in future.

Nevertheless, we have to keep in mind that any proposal creates a context on itself, and proposals can have different backgrounds/outreaches and thus create different contexts in which we have to moderate. I could imagine that there are types of proposals where break outs make sense (some proposals might incorporate dividable sub-proposals). Therefore, I am not sure if it makes sense to create a “standardized” decision for all future proposals. (Unfortunately, predicting what makes most sense in a given case will not become easier I guess).

I tend to remain an opponent of break outs in “average” cases - however, it might make a difference to invest more time in deriving appropriate break outs / sub-topics in advance: I think it was not foreseen what we would be dealing with, and thus, there was no time to respond but only to improvise. Planning the categorization/separation of topics more precisely in advance might also make a difference.

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I think this is a good way to make a barrier on the user-base side of fedora. And as already said, to filter.

In the other hand I would also welcome it see it to be applied also for developers who come from other projects alias from the mailing-list. Discourse is definitely a new medium and also the audience is much more mixed. I found it very courageous from @catanzaro jumping in to the cold water with his first topic to bring it up here. Not in a negative way, he showed with his topic that we do have limits with discourse and that we need to adjust, and find new ways to work together.

The point I try to make is, that when a user hast to be TL3 for example he can change tags and set additions to the title and even move a topic into an other category/section. This means an exchange with a bigger audience is needed.

The TL3 Limitation would also give the possibility to talk just with the persons who are behind discourse doing all the administrative work, breakout topics, dealing with flags etc. This smaller group probably would have given valuable information while make a poll just within this group.

While working in first level support, I was an interface/firewall/translators for second and third level supporters like developers and engineers. They do definitely speak an other language. Sometimes we also just had to keep them the back free while they had to implement new systems/environments.

As everyone has probably seen by now, we are experimenting with using Fedora Discussion for the community feedback and review portion of our Change Process. This makes the process more open and transparent to all. That’s great — we want more visibility and participation. But, as we’ve just seen, conversation can quickly get unmanageable.

With something big and controversial, this could happen no matter where or how we have the conversation. We need clear guidelines so that discussion is productive, in line with our community values, and easy to follow and participate in. Some of these guidelines will be similar to those we already have for our mailing lists, and others need to be new for the new format.

I propose the following. I’d like to adopt this as soon as possible, for the anticipated upcoming revision to the recent controversial proposal. Of course, we should continue to learn and adjust as we go forward.

I think it may be important to not over engineer things.
This is a very important topic to many people

The first part of the readme looks great IMHO.

Breakout Topics

So, I read things here via the email interface.

It’s worth noting that the ‘breakout’ threads didn’t affect email at
all. I see everything as one big long 1000+ post thread. :wink:
I don’t know if thats a bug or expected.

IMHO, breakout topics should be for things that are substantially
different than the proposed change. Like if someone starts discussing
the change process itself or has some other idea sparked by this change.
Trying to break apart ‘kinds’ of discussions for the change seems doomed
to me, people will reply to particular things and likely not stay on one
topic. Also, general feedback then becomes harder to see where it goes.

It might be worthwhile to ask our discourse upstream what they would
suggest or look at other larger communities how they handle things.

We want everyone to be heard, but many posts repeating the same thing actually makes that harder. If you have something new to say, please say it. If, instead, you find someone has already covered what you’d like to write, consider simply giving that post a :heart: instead of reiterating. You can even do this by email, by replying with the heart emoji or just “+1”.

Is there any way to tally / show a overview of those?
Like “this post got 12 :heart:’s?”

I’m not too keen on polls. I guess that could be another good way to get
more feedback, but writing poll questions is… not at all simple. It’s
super easy to skew things by wording poorly or just not including some
popular options. I’d personally just leave polls to the change
submitter. If they want to gather info about something they could do so.
Having moderators write up polls seems… dicey.

My 0.000002 cents.

If you address my comment, you probably misunderstood it.
Just to clarify, If a requester pretends to do a request he has the possibility to do a poll to find out what the narrower group of TL3/TL4/Moderators&Admins thinks about, if this will rise a chaos or if this would be smooth to handle etc.

But for this, he needs to gain first TL3 in discourse what he gets automatically if he just socializes, helps other professionals and or gives his personal meaning based on his professional knowledge.

So we also see that he commits to fedora because he has a relation to the community and not just with his employee who pays him to do so (I just added this point because it was highlighted that Fedora is not RH ).

I am not. I was answering Matthew’s orig post that started this thread.

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For what it’s worth, I think at least moving opt-out topic helped. That was most contentious, and had

  • most of the cases where people came to be counted — that is, to write their personal stance on that particular topic, even without adding any specific new points or information — and
  • most of the back-and-forth arguing.

That’s a good idea. I will bring it up in the “community” section there.

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That’s shown below each post on the website. You can also pull it from (for example) (look for reactions).

Do you mean leave polls to the proposer?
I think this is a very bad idea. Proposer is the most interesting to get results for their proposition, so it could lead to the poll manipulation in some way.

  1. Encourage users to “Like” a post/reply if they agree.
  2. Main the Change Proposal main topic no-discuss. Only the Change owner and edit / post reply there.
  3. Create below sub-topics by default
    a- Please rejected, here is why …
    b- Please approved, here is why …
    c- Changes needed for me to accept … [arguments will mainly happen here] (slow mode)
  4. The main topic can be used to give updates about the overall discussions. Either Change Owner or Moderator can post updates there. (For example, Change Owner can say there will be a revised proposal in 3 days, etc.)

Regarding polls:

  • Let Change Owner draft a poll, and make it the main post of the Polls topic.
  • Encourage everyone to create their own version of the poll as replies to the Polls topic.

Regarding Delete post

  • I am afraid delete posts will give the impression Moderators are silencing certain voices of the discussion

This assumes that change proposals are made with adversarial intent, which is a pretty grim outlook on the state of the community.

It needn’t be adversarial or malicious. It would still be easy for desires or biases to influence the poll options in a way that would change the results.


I’ve removed “delete” from the suggested guidelines above. I think, though, because we did not have clear guidelines, we were too lax in hiding posts. We didn’t want to create that perception, and in doing so let through a lot of things that were not at all what we want for Fedora discussions.

I think we should not be afraid of some people complaining about censorship or “free speech”. Hostile voices dominating the conversation also remove our ability to have real conversations, and lead towards people just avoiding transparent discussion at all. I do not want the defacto rule to be that only people with very thick skins can propose change in Fedora.[1]

I think my proposed rule is the best approach. We won’t make judgment calls on whether a given problematic post also brings up something that might look bad if we remove it. People have the opportunity to revise hidden posts and make them visible again.

I have also made a change — previously, only moderators and TL4 users could see hidden posts. Now, that is extended to TL3, FESCo, Mindshare Committee, and Council members. (They’re greyed out, but you can expand.) I hope that increased transparency into what exactly is hidden will give more confidence.

  1. See my post here: Decision-Making, Governance, Council, Red Hat — a breakout topic for the F40 Change Request on Privacy-preserving telemetry for Fedora Workstation - #62 by mattdm ↩︎

So I actually really liked the breakout topics in this discussion, especially the opt-in vs. opt-out breakout topic. Moving posts that discussed that topic into the breakout topic helped create room in the main topic for discussing everything else. That discussion would have completely overwhelmed the main topic if not for the breakout topic.

However, I understand it was a lot of moderation work to move posts into the correct breakout topics. Also, I think most change proposals will result in much less discussion than this one. So I would use breakout topics on a case-by-case basis. I expect they generally will not be needed at all. But when they become needed, they are really needed and I wouldn’t hesitate to aggressively move posts. Splitting the opt-in vs. opt-out discussion was needed.

Yeah that doesn’t seem like a good split. It’s unclear what the benefit of splitting conversation in this way would be. Also, that makes it pretty much impossible to respond to feedback (I wouldn’t be able to actually respond to anything posted in the opposition thread).

Having a “no arguing here” rule is not practical. People are going to argue.

What really went wrong is a few loud users are responding to a very high quantity of posts even when they don’t have new information to add to the discussion. I would focus on setting guidelines against repetitive commenting. We’ve already figured this out on mailing lists but similar rules are needed on Discourse.

A “slow mode” to be deployed in extreme situations could help as well. (But it’s not sufficient in general, because we don’t ever want threads to contain excessive repetitive comments.)

I don’t think the breakout topics would work if posts are not moved to the correct topic. The discussion would be in too many different places.


Yeah, I know, but I meant some kind of discussion/thread/overview.

So you could see the ‘well liked’ posts if you had limited time and
wanted to get a sense of the discussion. Or wanted to see what positions
had a lot of support by others.

That could indeed happen, but I think it’s not really the common case.
Most change owners want to improve fedora and are actually interested in
feedback to improve things and polls might help them.

If someone constructed a poor poll I would think that would be pretty
obvious by lack of votes or comments saying how it wasn’t useful.

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