[dojo-contributors] Google Groups management

Eugene Lazutkin eugene at lazutkin.com
Fri May 22 15:55:23 EDT 2009


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Wow, you can read my mind! :-) +1

Eugene Lazutkin
Dojo Toolkit, Committer
http://lazutkin.com/

On 05/22/2009 12:23 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:
> 
> 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.
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