I want the forums & chat to exist in harmony. Right now it kind of feels like they’re competing. Users pretty much choose one or the other when they need help. Instead of harmony, we have Discord.
Here’s a quick overview of the two:
- Forums: categorized, threaded, searchable, asynchronous (reply whenever), better for cross-timezone support, but a bit heavy for quick conversations
- Chat: ephemeral, loosely structured, synchronous (real-time) discussions, lower barrier to entry, good for a quick answer but dependent on who’s around right now
There’s definitely room for both; they complement each other’s weaknesses pretty well.
Improving the forums
Our Discord is a lot more active compared to these forums, even though IMO these forums are better for providing support and having discussions in general. Discussions here are threaded, searchable, more organized, and not subject to being lost to channel spam.
I’ve been spending some time making the forums feel more first-class, so hopefully that helps. We were using the default theme this whole time and the link to the forums was buried under a page on the main site. Now everything should feel a bit more integrated.
Our blog posts will also show up automatically so people can comment on our blog posts here. Replies to the topic are embedded in the blog. (Sorry for the spam by the way, web crawlers went through our blog and that resulted in a new topic for each one.)
I also want to start just being more active in here myself. That’s probably the “duh” idea. Whereas before I would shout into the wind in Discord, I think I’ll start making threads like this and just linking to it from there to continue the discussion.
Improving the Discord
The main thing that’s been bothering me is we have way more channels than we probably need:
I see this as problematic for a few reasons:
- They’re not exactly active enough to justify there being so many.
- It’s very easy to lose your place - I’ll often read a message, go to another ‘unread’ channel, and forget where that message even was.
- It kind of encourages topical discussion, but that seems to do a disservice to our forums, which are much better for topical discussion.
- Folks end up just repeating messages to multiple channels.
So, I want to propose reducing the channels down to the following:
#welcome- welcome message outlining the rules
#announcements- a place where we’ll link to blog posts and topics like this (only certain roles can post)
#need-help- a place for support with the forums as a fallback if there’s no quick reply
#general- a place for Concourse users to discuss patterns/challenges/etc
#introductions- say hi and get that sweet sweet
#dev- a place for
contributors to talk all things concourse/resource development
#ops- a place for Concourse operators to talk about their deployment challenges
There are a couple temptations for further breakdown, but I’m inclined to resist the temptation until we see a need:
#devcould be split into a channel for Concourse development itself vs. developing resource types
#opscould be split into a channel for each platform (K8s, Docker, BOSH)
Tying the two together
Another idea is to have threads in ‘Support’ automatically cross-post to the
#need-help channel. This way users don’t have to make a decision between the two: any support topic opened here will automatically show up to anyone in
I’m probably typing a bit too much about this so I’ll just stop there, but if anyone has other ideas or concerns about this approach let me know!