[dojo-contributors] Google Groups management

Nikolai Onken nikolai at nikolaionken.com
Fri May 22 14:16:23 EDT 2009

I have played around a bit more with google groups and tagging of  
messages with hashes.
You can set up google alerts which allow you to search google groups  
for something like #dijit.form and either get those per email or as a  

Now if you have a simple dashboard as a dojo dev you can have a pretty  
much customized experience just the way you want using simple feeds.
All the user has to worry about is to post the message to google  
groups, tag it correctly and that is it.

I am not sure this works publicly or whether you have to set up this  
feed for youself, but this would be the link to a feed which looks for  


createt at http://www.google.com/alerts


On May 22, 2009, at 7:23 PM, Nikolai Onken wrote:

> I don't think that setting up another in-house solution actually will
> address the issues we are having.
> Besides the maintenance nightmare (setup, storage, traffic, design,
> etc. etc.) we have to concider a few other things:
> 1. One point entry
> I'd like to draw a parallel to commercial support applications.
> When a user has a question, usually he/she doesn't like to spend a lot
> of time on finding out where to ask his question and would like to get
> an answer as fast as possible.
> This is obvious to most of us but we can't stress it enough.
> Most support applications have one central point of entry and do the
> redistribution internally to give the client one simple to use
> interface.
> Taking this as a first inspiration is a good step in my oppinion.
> 2. Flexible interface
> I personally really don't like to be bound to a certain interface and
> I know many people aren't either.
> If we can we should give people as many ways to customize their
> "support" experience as possible.
> The most obvois ways are email and a web interface but we can go even
> further.
> At uxebu we have made a very simple prototype of a dashboard (http://dojango.org
> ) for our projects pulling in all external information from RSS or
> Atom feeds.
> The cool thing is that I can totally customize the way I see my
> information and still only have one point of entry for the user
> posting the request.
> So taking that approach I strongly vote for using a simple solution
> such as google groups. For following reasons:
> - 0 maintenance
> - One point entry user interface (or more if you want to)
> - Many point tracking interface (email, web, rss, aggregates, search,
> etc.)
> - instant indexing
> - _very high_ flexibility though public apis, yahoo pipes and other
> services
> - ...
> --
> We should not fall back to old systems, forums are great but the web
> gives us way more than that.
> How about experimenting with tagging posts in google groups? e.g. http://groups.google.com/groups/search?q=%23dojango.forms
> We could setup a styleguide for forum posts - e.g. if you have a
> question about dijit.layout, make sure you have #dijit.layout in your
> post.
> This would enable us to subscribe to very specific feeds of interest
> and at the same time it won't force the user to select the proper
> point of first entry.
> Lets look at twitter - there is a reason why there are so many apps
> making use of the twitter api for instance, we should do the same and
> use the power of applications in the cloud.
> I will experiment some more with tagging in google groups and
> displaying posts only matching a certain tag on something like http://www.dojango.org
> Nikolai
> On May 22, 2009, at 8:08 AM, Eugene Lazutkin wrote:
>> Hash: SHA1
>> I am the guy who routinely moves questions from one forum to another
>> ---
>> remember "[editor: moving to the appropriate forum]"? So I have a
>> mini-statistics on this topic. Most mis-posts could be grouped into
>> two
>> big categories:
>> 1) Posting to the Dojo forum questions on Dijit and DojoX.
>> 2) Posting support questions to a developer forum.
>> Both mistakes can be easily explained.
>> #1 was mostly due to the fact that users associate Dojo with
>> everything
>> else: "Problem with a dialog, a grid or a chart? Sounds like it is a
>> Dojo problem => use the Dojo forum. Yeah, I see it now, nice Dojo  
>> guys
>> made it the very first one."
>> #2 was due to our bad planning. Developer forums were equally
>> accessible
>> as support forums and badly named: "I am a developer. I develop stuff
>> with Dojo. There is a problem. I'll ask other developers in the
>> developer forum."
>> With existing mailing lists we do not have the problem #2. The only
>> exception I remember was the question about our github policy in
>> dojo-interest just a day ago, which was more appropriate for
>> dojo-contributors. I don't know if it is the naming, or the moderated
>> access, or the relative obscurity, but it works. Let's keep/preserve
>> it
>> that way.
>> And we don't have #1 because we don't differentiate between support
>> questions. I can imagine that with 3 mailing lists or groups we will
>> have the same problem. With one difference: it would be impossible to
>> move posts. Another potential problem specific to mailing lists:
>> cross-posting, which can be a problem when we have several of them.
>> The big question is: do we really need to segment the user support
>> channel?
>> Our forum demonstrated another huge problem: it was next to  
>> impossible
>> for users to post code snippets correctly. I understand that UI  
>> didn't
>> provide any obvious convenient way to do it. But I refused to read  
>> big
>> chunks of badly formatted code asking authors to mail me them  
>> directly
>> as attachments or open a ticket and attach snippets there. I  
>> literally
>> can't understand mangled code. In some cases it was beyond mangled  
>> ---
>> some stuff was not shown at all. Mailing lists and groups would not
>> solve this problem too --- it would be easier to post because
>> everything
>> is a text, but inappropriate line wraps can be just as bad,  
>> especially
>> if a maximal line width is enforced like in google groups.
>> We are a programmers community. We just have to communicate pieces of
>> code to each other. And this problem has to be solved. We use some
>> sort
>> of "paste" variation on our IRC channel. Probably we should promote
>> something like that for mailing lists/groups/forums too. It would be
>> nice if it supported syntax highlighting and optional line numbering
>> for
>> most important languages: JavaScript, HTML, CSS. It would be super
>> nice
>> if it was integrated in/easily accessible from UI. Bonus points for
>> the
>> ability to execute the code like we on Dojo Campus.
>> Obviously it is not an option with 3rd-party solutions and mailing
>> lists. The best I can come up with is to enforce a mandatory footer
>> with
>> all relevant information for mailing list posts, and a clear
>> explanation
>> of all these details in group rules/the wiki/the front page.
>> Again I can look at the Django community to see how they cope with
>> this
>> problem. I am just more familiar with it, I am sure you can find  
>> other
>> examples. Django uses an IRC channel like we do (#django @ freenode)
>> and
>> several mailing lists, with two most used: django-developers (==
>> dojo-contributors) and django-users (== dojo-interest), both hosted  
>> by
>> google groups and available through news servers like gmane (that's
>> how
>> I read them). Amazingly they didn't segment django-users by topics
>> like
>> we do --- probably they decided to go with the flow, not against it.
>> Trac is used for tickets and it serves as general wiki actively
>> populated by the community. http://dpaste.com (by Paul Bissex) is  
>> used
>> for code snippets (originally developed to use on IRC) --- open for
>> everybody, and there is even a RESTful API for it. For more
>> permanent/useful snippets there is http://www.djangosnippets.org/ (by
>> Simon Willison, open source) with a rating system introduced way
>> before
>> StackOverflow. Bloggers writing about Django are consolidated with  
>> RSS
>> feeds. And did I mention that Django has a gorgeous documentation?
>> Let's compare Django with Dojo. We have good stuff too. IRC ---
>> check (I
>> don't like our paste solution, should be replaced/improved). Dojo
>> Campus
>> covers a lot of ground: it has a decent documentation system, which
>> can
>> dub for a wiki too, the content is mostly there, and it provides a
>> place
>> for tutorials. We consolidate Dojo bloggers --- I have no idea who
>> selects them, but it is there. Trac --- check. Dojo Snippets? Not
>> there
>> yet, but it sounds like a future addition to Dojo Campus. A mailing
>> list
>> for contributors --- check.
>> It looks like the biggest difference is in the way two communities
>> conduct two-way offline communications with users. Django has one
>> email
>> address and one official web interface (on google groups) + news
>> servers
>> like gmane, Dojo has 5 user-oriented forums at
>> http://dojotoolkit.org/forum, 4 "developer" forums in the same place,
>> which are mostly misused, and a mostly dormant mailing list without
>> any
>> kind of web interface. It looks like we are spreading thin instead of
>> concentrating.
>> How do they do it? django-developers averages 300-500 messages a
>> month,
>> django-users --- ~2500 a month => almost 100 per day. Nobody
>> complained
>> yet that it is difficult to fish out relevant messages. Hmm. Food for
>> thought.
>> BTW, The Dojo Toolkit is already present in Google Groups (WARNING:
>> NSFW): http://groups.google.com/group/the-dojo-toolkit
>> Eugene Lazutkin
>> Dojo Toolkit, Committer
>> http://lazutkin.com/
>> On 05/21/2009 09:04 PM, Bill Keese wrote:
>>> Dustin Machi wrote:
>>>> Given that google groups fails to meet the original
>>>> purpose of using forums in the first place (splitting up forums  
>>>> into
>>>> more manageable chunks)
>>> I don't think that was the original purpose of switching to forums;
>>> you
>>> can easily create multiple mailing lists to split things up.
>>> And, google groups allows you to create as many groups as you want.
>>> Six months ago we tentatively agreed to have three groups:
>>>  - http://groups.google.com/group/dojotoolkit-core
>>>  - http://groups.google.com/group/dojotoolkit-dijit
>>>  - http://groups.google.com/group/dojotoolkit-dojox
>>> This was the compromise between having a single group (dojo-
>>> interest),
>>> which contributors hated because they couldn't monitor a certain
>>> subject
>>> like dijit or charting, versus having many groups (see
>>> http://dojotoolkit.org/forum although our website is down now),  
>>> which
>>> contributers hated because users kept posting to the wrong groups.
>>>> its not clear to me why we don't just close
>>>> the forums and use the existing mailing lists.  People can go back
>>>> to
>>>> using nabble or gmane or whatever external tool to submit from the
>>>> web.
>>> Well, anything would be better than the current situation with
>>> competing
>>> mailing lists and forums.
>>> I guess dropping the forums and just supporting mailing lists
>>> (maybe not
>>> dojo-interest but three mailing lists) would be OK, although I'm not
>>> sure what that achieves over completely outsourcing.
>>> I'm against supporting any forums in-house because of our long
>>> history
>>> of IT issues, and also because (like the web site) it gives
>>> contributors
>>> an excuse to endlessly debate about customization / site design /
>>> etc.
>>> rather than actually working on dojo or answering support questions.
>>> PS: I'm having problems with dojo's SMTP server again and I can't
>>> send
>>> this message; will try using yahoo's server instead.
>> Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (GNU/Linux)
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