The future of real-time (chat) discussion for the Fedora council

Filled it! :white_check_mark:

It looks so far by the way that sometime the week of November 30th is the best for the most people. So let’s continue discussion here (and there’s a parallel thread on Fedora devel until then.

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I expect we will use fedoraproject.org as our server name. It matches all other Project resources and fits with what contributors and users expect. getfedora.org is a weird aberration that we should ignore for this.

We should also strip the redundant fedora- prefix with room names on fedoraproject.org server.

For example, I would expect #fedora-kde:matrix.org/#freenode_#fedora-kde:matrix.org to become #kde:fedoraproject.org.

Finally, as part of the transition, we should publish aliases of the old names to the matrix.org server, so that all the entry points are unified.

I don’t want to necessarily toot my horn too much, but I strongly suggest looking at the Fedora KDE Matrix room as a template for how all rooms should be configured by default. @jwf and I spent a good deal of time tweaking and getting everything set up right in an optimal configuration, and I feel it’s a good template for how all Fedora rooms should be configured.

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Looks like Thursday at 4pm US/Eastern works best for most people (Everyone who responded but @pingou and @davdunc — sorry.)

We’ll meet at https://meet.jit.si/fedora-matrix-brainstorm, unless jitsi can’t handle it, in which case we’ll fall back to https://bluejeans.com/u/mattdm

(Fedocal)

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I like IRC because it give you the “feeling” :nerd_face: and simple UI

I hate IRC because I need to use bouncer to keep connected and not missed something important (even though most official channel on freenode are logged, which i can check later). IP address are expose unless you using vpn or tor (gateway vhost cloak) and need to request unaffiliated vhost from irc staff.

I use matrix, I like the idea but UI and UX are horibble. Spamming my screen with thus “rich format” feature and one person start post so many lines per chat.

I like the interoperability idea from matrix.

Talk about future, it hard to predict. but IRC for FOSS user will be still there until freenode are down forever (as I know, fedora too never have IRC server on they own).

I recommend, just bridge the IRC and MATRIX together using https://github.com/matrix-org/matrix-appservice-irc/releases. No need to retiring IRC as mentioned on 1st post, which I agree.

I disagree with statement “IRC is a significant barrier for new contributors”. Because we on freenode, the best and simple way to use irc on this server is using web based chat on https://webchat.freenode.net/, easy as 123…abc.

To me what more burden the new user is the question that throw up on channel but no one want answer, misleading or too much question are coming up at same time.

so using “new user” as excuse are not correct IMHO.

but for existing “contributor” and maybe newcomer to be “contributer” should use bug tracker or forum to communicate (plus if quality discussion happen, it will be references on internet for future-futures users). Not real time but yeap, someone will reply soon and contributer can check back the feedback. Should lead by this way, not on chat platform

about what @ngompa mentioned also true, please strip the redundant fedora- prefix

I disagree with statement “IRC is a significant barrier for new contributors”. Because we on freenode, the best and simple way to use irc on this server is using web based chat on https://webchat.freenode.net/, easy as 123…abc.

So, I went there, imagining myself to be a relatively savvy person with no prior knowledge of IRC, picked a random nick, and picked #fedora-council as the channel, which I happen to know. That got me:

Hmmm. So, I typed /msg NickServ Identify <password> into the message box.

Nothing happened.

Oh wait, I see there’s something over in the left column…
image

It says “NickServ” and there’s a red thing that must be a message count. Okay, I’ll click on that…

image

Hmm, okay, I guess this name is taken. Which in itself isn’t an obvious conclusion. But I’m not going to let myself get stuck here. I’ll try another name… I’ll click on that little gear to change that in my settings, I suppose? Hmmm, nope, nothing. Well, there’s an Advanced setting, dialog and it might be in there, but … it literally says “Monsters be here, only click this button if you know what you are doing” so I won’t do that. I guess I’ll go back to the beginning and try again.

Third guess and I picked an unused name. Okay, cool. So, now I’ll just introduce myself:

Hmmm. Can’t click on that error. Nothing over in the top left this time. I’m pretty much stuck.

If I did get in, I’d learn quickly that there’s a bunch of invisible arcana in /commands, channel permissions, etc. Is it insurmountable? Clearly not, but we’ve definitely seen it be a very real barrier, so please don’t discount that.

I do agree that dead channels or not-helpful responses are a problem. By being more accessible, I hope we can get increased, positive communications.

I also agree that project discussion shouldn’t get lost in chat. In IRC, we have Zodbot which kind of magically logs meetings (more esoterica). We’ll want something like that in Matrix too, but hopefully we can also take the opportunity to make that more user-friendly too.

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to redirect to specific channel, can use something like this https://webchat.freenode.net/#fedora-council.

What you pointing now is username issue which happen on all platform because username must be unique not just irc, right?.

I tried my self to but using different test cases (using already in use nick), the webchat will re-generate my random nick (but already registered) to new random nick

no issue right? it quite plain said that nick is registered (like your example) or already use (like my example)…

the channel are open, just need to ask how to get new nick, how to register if new user care much about irc account. (here we should help newcomers)

if user already well know, he/she just register so can preserve the nick. for already registered , he/she can login (same like I said before, login/register also happen on all platform)

Fedora cannot follow mozilla shutdown they irc because fedora use freenode server instead of self host.

FOSS people are prefer using freenode. As example, gnome which have own irc. but most of active user can be found on freenode.

But don’t get me wrong, my true attention are I supporting to add matrix as another platform and please bridge matrix with irc.

I know the topic are for Fedora council and I expecting the the current or new “representive” should not have issue about account registration, login. It quite awkward if this happen. but if the future plan to bring other channel also on matrix (i also hope bridge), then the account issue is expected to happen but it not awkward, let help them understand about account registration or login.

p/s : the advantage of IRC can be see here, with irc you can just use any random (unregistered) nick and ask away the question. Unlike matrix, registration is must.

Just my 2¢ about the accounts, but I really like the Kerberos Single-Sign-On (SSO) system that the Fedora Project supports for some things:

I find that it works great for fedoramagazine.org and I would really like to see it implemented more broadly; including this new matrix server if it is not too difficult.

Again, just my two cents.

It is not an excuse IMHO. Please consider mobile phones. Please also consider young people. Chat systems are pretty normal on mobile world. Young people are used to certain UI and UX. IRC is something esoteric for them. Please consider that many people consider mailing lists esoteric too. :sweat_smile: Do we want to keep them away from the opportunity to contribute because they are not real hackers™? :sweat_smile:

Well, we are in the mobile era: have you tried an IRC app? On a smartphone screen, on an unreliable network?

And yeah, I hope that nobody here is proposing to shut down IRC.

My 2 cents.

My vote is for Matrix.

That said, please for the love of God don’t make it just a bridge to IRC. Matrix rooms that bridge to IRC are just as bad, if not worse, than plain IRC itself. It’s still very frustrating and still a huge barrier to entry. Rather than getting a modern chat service, you just end up with the worst of both worlds. Everything is piped through to the old crusty IRC system, so IRC still limits everything and brings everything down. It makes it complicated as you still need to deal with registering with NickServ and all of that stuff. I actively avoid any Matrix rooms that use IRC bridging because of this.

If there’s a bridge with IRC, it should be the other way around in my opinion. Bridge the old IRC to the modern Matrix server. Have the IRC server forward messages to/from the Matrix server.

In case you missed it, this is in about five minutes. See you there!

Hi everyone! Here’s the notes from the meeting:

Highlights

  • Red Hat’s Open Source Program Office is interested in this experiment and will fund hosted Element out of non-Fedora budget. That makes going ahead with a practical trial basically a no-brainer.
  • We’ll have own hosted server at https://chat.fedoraproject.org/, and Element will provide a 1-day admin SLA at the level we’re getting. So, it won’t require ongoing CPE or volunteer resources at the sysadmin level. We’ll still need moderators and active admins of course.
  • Log in will be through FAS, and we’ll also federate the server so you can come in with a different identity.
  • Mozilla has seen a 4× increase in engagement since switching from IRC to Matrix (also hosted by Element). Also successful for KDE and SUSE. In progress at GNOME. :slight_smile:
  • IRC isn’t going anywhere. Many people still like it, and Freenode is still an important hub for free and open source software development. So, we will provide bridges.
  • These bridges will be set up in a way that avoids some of the problems the GNOME project shared with their deployment.
  • I had a concern that Zodbot would need to be ported immediately because of problems I’d heard about logged meetings, but we’re assured that those might be non-issues or at least easily fixed, which is nice for a soft-launch / experiment with no big infrastructure changes right off.
  • On a slightly more controversial note: we know that the bridge can be somewhat annoying when Matrix decides it wants to send a URL rather than a long message, and that things like reactions just don’t get bridged. Our plan here, assuming the trial is successful, is to try and minimize these inconveniences but ultimately steer people to using Matrix natively. Many popular messaging clients (including weechat, for old-school folks) support Matrix directly now.
  • When will this start? Basically as soon as the money is worked out.

Full notes

This pad text is synchronized as you type, so that everyone viewing this room sees the same text. This allows you to collaborate seamlessly on documents, while chatting in Element!

Fedora Matrix Brainstorm

Agenda:

  1. Red Hat OSPO / Element
  2. Technical stuff about bridging
  3. Existing channels
  4. Bots
  5. Onboarding new users

Misc.

  • IRC isn’t going anywhere
  • KDE, Mozilla, and GNOME (not fully migrated) have moved to Matrix
  • KDE rewired everything around Matrix and Freenode. The closest to our workflow perhaps
  • nb has bridged most of the main Fedora channels to native Matrix rooms now
  • Fedora KDE matrix room has a nice setup to look at

1) Red Hat OSPO / Element

Marie and Matthew went to Red Hat OSPO and they are providing non-Fedora budget towards the Matrix effort.

Generally most people seem in favor of adopting Matrix with some reservations amongst a few. Worth going ahead. If it’s a disaster, we can try something else. Since it’s being paid for, let’s take advantage and move forward.

The Element team is excited about this and supportive. They will be helping with some of the initial configuration as part of the engagement. They have an option for Element to completely admin the system, so we are opting for that - no extra burden on Fedora infra. Will be under the gold plan with a decent SLA for support from the Element team.

Question re: performance with GNOME matrix - OFTC bridge has severe issues, main issues seems to be with performance of messages relayed through the bridge.

Question (open) - Is there a performance guarantee with gold plan

Question - Are we going to host our own matrix server? Using EMS (Element Matrix Services) seems that they dedicate a server for us, but we don’t manage it.

Question - How it will be the binding of existing Matrix/Element/freenode users to FAS users?

2) Technical stuff about bridging

Initially will set up with free freenode bridge. Over a few months maybe consider paying for upgrade for private freenode bridge which is more performant.

Default workflow for IRC channels bridged into matrix - you can’t join the room unless you have IRC nickserv / etc. worked out. With that fixed, the experience is considerably better for everyone involved. Most Fedora IRC channels don’t require registration to join, but require registration to join.

The spam bots haven’t been around much lately, so nb has removed being identified to speak as a requirement. jflory had gateway cloaks to freenode voice on the irc side. Removed registration bit and cloaked matrix users.

Generally: We can set it up so anybody with a FAS account can log in with FAS credentials and start chatting in any room, even if those rooms are bridged to IRC.

This is useful background reading on problems with interactions between IRC and Matrix: https://gitlab.gnome.org/Teams/Engagement/initiatives/chat-evaluation/-/issues/10. (None of these problems affect native Matrix.)

Plan to bridge all Fedora channels to Matrix.

Plumbing vs. Bridging. Bridged channels come automatically from the freenode bridge. Plumbing is where you plumb a specific IRC channel to a Matrix room.

Question: Telegram t2bot for KDE is self-hosted by opensuse project.

3) Existing channels

There are two Fedora communities on matrix.org, +fedora:matrix.org (admin by @kxra) and +fedoraproject:matrix.org. Seemed to only be supported by the Element.io client and Element folks said not to worry about them because a v2 of the feature is in the works that is more like discord guilds.

LDAP sync with FAS - could we create groups using this?

SAML vs OpenID connect - OpenID connect is a better option

4) Bots

Zotbot is one big monolitihic bot. Historical reasons. Would be better to split into a family of new bots or plugins.

nirik: I don’t think there’s urgency here
mattdm: except you cant start meetings on matrix, or with great difficulty. Mo couldnt get it to work but Neal seemed to think it would work. Nirik says he’s confident.

Element folks said there’s a thriving bot development community

Nirik suggests planning out what bots are needed, putting together some requirements. A future project.

Main concern is meetings and cookies.
Bridges don’t relay reactions. Reactions could be used in meetings for voting easily. For cookies, bot could send you a cookie image (emoji?)

5) Onboarding new users

thib had some examples of how this worked in GNOME. Issues GNOME seeings:

  • matrix users and irc users unhappy
  • major issue is spam. they have a lot of spam coming from the IRC side. the best way to deal with spam on IRC side is to restrict the channel to +r (only registered users can join.) side effect for matrix users is that if they aren’t registered, they get kicked.
  • Neal has a workaround for this. you don’t have to be registered if you come from matrix. Neal’s understanding is that this isn’t available on the OFTC side.
  • Talked to someone on the Mozilla matrix side, they had no complaints after they dropped IRC
  • weechat native matrix plugin (rust based) could help?
  • Moderate more heavily the IRC side rather than the matrix side. Every Fedora FAS account will already have an account.
  • Can turn on a preview mode - you can view the channel, and register to talk. (There is also a guest mode where guests can talk but invites spam.)
  • New FAS system will make it a little easier to sign up for accounts on mobile.
  • Outreachy applicant use case - whatever we configure should work for that use case.
    • GNOME issue - Outreachy applicants went into the default room, nobody in IRC was monitoring it though. Maybe we should have a watched general room. matrix.to can be used to direct newbies to specific rooms.
    • email verification process is much improved now in terms of speed. our server will not allow registrations so the issue wont apply to us

Fedora matrix usernames will be hardcoded to fas usernames? (underlying id, not display name)

Logging issues -

  • fractal will have feature added in next 6 months
  • fractal will also have centralized notification view,
  • element now also has a notification zone to show in reverse chrono where you’ve been pinged

Could have a newbie welcome bot.

Other things

When to deploy? Basically imminently, just working out payment details.
Neal looking at proposing matrix client by default in KDE.

What needs to be updated when we go matrix?

  • Fedora wiki page on communication
  • Various docs need to be updated

Fedora custom sticker packs

IRC users getting a URL to longform matrix messages - element admins are able to disable this feature! thib said this was possible with element

Can Element run a Jitsi system colocated and connected to our Matrix server? (Yes, that will be part of the service level we’re getting)

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:sob: :sob: I didn’t add this to my calendar and missed the time. I am super bummed to have missed this!

Please do this upfront. I hypothesize this will be a major friction point in the beginning.

The public bridge does not have great performance, and that is why some people prefer bridged rooms versus plumbed rooms, even though plumbed rooms have a wider set of Matrix features.

Many Mindshare channels allow anyone to join, but only registered users can actually speak in the channel. In previous spam waves, I found this to be most effective at countering IRC spam.

What channels was this removed in? I still want this set up in specific IRC channels that sometimes attract coordinated trolling.

I prefer this setting for many channels because it also makes IRC channels easier to moderate from trolling. This way, someone can only speak if they have an email-verified IRC account from Freenode. It makes ban evasion much more difficult.

My general understanding is that plumbed rooms are preferred because it allows a greater set of Matrix features. Bridged rooms are difficult to manage admin rights in, but maybe this is something we can mitigate by hosting our own instance.

Oh yay! Does this mean we can get a meet.fedoraproject.org here too?

Ooh, sorry, this got garbled in the notes. In fact, this is the proposal from the Element folks to avoid problems with dual bridges and looping. I’m actually not quite sure why they suggested it’d take months; that wasn’t a budgetary thing but rather might have been a matter of workforce availability.

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Hmmm, possibly? I’ll check with them on how that works.

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Nice but why we have 2 channel (fedora and fedoraproject)?

I just wanted to put out there that I’m putting together some images to brand our Matrix setup, and if you have suggestions or would like to participate, the design team ticket is here:

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Historical accident. We plan to have that cleaned up as part of this.

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Thanks a lot for considering the non-IRC savvy folks. I’ve wanted to get more involved in the Fedora CoreOS community and figuring out IRC has been a barrier. I’ve tried to “understand” IRC several times over the last 5 or 6 years that I’ve interested in open source. Its probably not that bad, but I still just can’t understand the nick name system or how to get notifications or have … a conversation with folks? Its painful.

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Its all these gawd dang new communication platforms that these young whipper snappers use - give me irc anyday :older_man:

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