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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] Libreplanet using Discourse for mailing lists

From: Mike Gerwitz
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] Libreplanet using Discourse for mailing lists and web-based forums?
Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2017 01:01:33 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/25.1 (gnu/linux)

On Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 03:00:17 +0000, Connor Doherty wrote:
> Wow Mike, fascinating read. I'm the earliest of Millennials, so I did not
> completely grow up with the web

I was born in '89 myself. :)

> I guess I'm one of the few hackers that does indeed care about design.
> [...]
> but I think it's a bit far to call it "flashy" when I can explain to
> you down to an *exact science* how well something is designed. The
> free software community, as addressed in Boston this year and nearly
> every year before it, has a well-documented problem with design, so I
> won't go into that here.

That is good---we do need people in the free software community
interested in design.

It's subjective, of course.  I'm sure hackers far older than I would
call my terminal an angry fruit salad.

> You said it yourself. You don't want to use a poorly reinvented
> wheel. That's exactly what most forum sites have been. And to those who only
> know that world, the need for "reimagination" is obvious. Discourse is, in
> my opinion, a very nice wheel, and can likely be made to do whatever you
> need from your emacs setup.

I'm not opposed to change.  Professionally, much of my work is web
development, so I'm more intimate than I'd like to be most of the time
with certain things.

We just need to make sure we don't sacrifice anything substantial
considering the existing community.  I can't say whether we will or not,
and I can't say whether most on this list would care or not (I don't
know the makeup of the subscribers).

> Find any establishment in history and you'll see that they probably did not
> "want" the wave of change that superceded them (discovery of electricity,
> industrial revolution, computers) even when that change was definitely an
> upgrade for the better.

Depends what problem is being solved, and whether it's a solution in
search of a problem.

You have proposed legitimate problems, and suggested legitimate options
to solve them.  They're not everyone's problems, but what's important is
the community as a whole, not the individual.  So while I wanted to make
sure my stance was understood, I wasn't dismissing any options outright,
especially not having researched in any detail.

> So while you may not see the need for a "re-imagination" of online
> discourse, I invite you try Discourse and tell me in what ways it's not
> better. Then we can potentially improve it for everyone.

Again, depends who we're talking about.  I have coworkers that wouldn't
be able to stand mailing lists and would be very pleased by Discourse
and its more modern features.  They engage socially in different manners
than I do.  (They wouldn't have interest in this community; I'm just
exposed to their opinions.)  They'll communicate in gifs and
emoji.  They'll take screenshots of text (*twitch*) instead of pasting
it.  With the exception of the latter, it's fine to communicate that
way.  I find myself communicating differently when sending messages on
my Replicant device, because I have to use the tools I have
available---and it provides a completely different social experience.
I've used emoji semantically on certain sites like GitLab at work, which
I'd never do outside a casual social setting (but that's because, as a
hacker, I don't want to couple pictorial representations with abstract
concepts unnecessarily...that's a different topic).

I just prefer the old, boring, but highly efficient method.  (Though the
argument can be rightfully made that images and emoji and such
efficiently encode a great deal of information, especially culturally,
that's not representable in text, with the exception of unicode.)
I also lose some of that by rejecting HTML e-mail.

If I _did_ want to communicate in that manner, it wouldn't make much
sense to use my tools, unless Emacs' ability to display images would
suffice (I can't say; I use a VTE primarily).

But this also demonstrates the divide that I was referring to: Discourse
is a whole different means of communication.  There is overlap, but it's
a step above---it allows more expressiveness, for better or for
worse.  So those of us who do decide to stick with a mailing list
approach might completely lose context of certain discussions.  It
creates subgroups / subcultures within a community.

Does that matter?  Will that happen?  I can't say.

I don't want my messages to be interpreted as fighting for one way or
the other, though---I don't do much on these lists or on the Wiki (for
lack of time, not interest).  I'm just adding input to the
conversation. :)

Mike Gerwitz
Free Software Hacker+Activist | GNU Maintainer & Volunteer
GPG: D6E9 B930 028A 6C38 F43B  2388 FEF6 3574 5E6F 6D05

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