#51 Purpose of issues and forum

Open
opened 4 weeks ago by fr33domlover · 2 comments

It's been expressed on IRC, that discussion is spread too widely, happening both in issues and in forum, and now there's the new SocialHub, which makes it 3 places for discussions. Below I'm going to explain the current situation, and why it's like this right now, and a proposal for making things clearer.

Current situation

  • Most issues I open here have an equivalent forum thread, either in the Feneas forum (in the ForgeFed category or the ActivityPub category) or in the SocialHub forum (in the ActivityPub category), some rare issues have threads in both
  • The interaction here and in the forums are different, it's been easier to reach the core team of Peers here via issues, but much easier to reach the ActivityPub community in the forums
  • There's a technology challenge, because NAB can do basic issue tracking well, but its discussion features are limited, while Discourse has a great situation for discussion but doesn't do issue tracking unless we figure out the situation with Discourse issue tracking plugins, get one installed in the Feneas forum and it works well and does what NAB does for us

How to use issues and forum in this weird situation

Q: Where do I comment on an issue?

A: If the issue description links to a forum thread, prefer to comment on the thread. If the issue doesn't link to a forum thread, then comment here on the issue itself.

Q: Where do I open a discussion topic / work item / ask a question?

A: If you just want to ask a question or express a thought or make a proposal, you can use whichever is more comfortable for you, and one of us will take care of "mirroring" it elsewhere if needed. For the core team, do it like this: If it's meta topic, or a bug in the spec's HTML, or anything else that isn't about ForgeFed spec decisions, open an issue here. If it's about ForgeFed itself, its behavior or vocabulary or modeling or relationship with ActivityPub, then open a Feneas forum topic, and then open a matching issue here and link from it to that forum topic.

Why it's like that

The forum 's discussion features and the fact that Feneas and SocialHub have many users who are in the ActivityPub community make the forums a good place for discussion, and I get feedback there that I wouldn't get here on NAB. I also don't put meta stuff on the forum, making it more focused on actual spec decisions, while meta stuff is handled here on NAB.

The Feneas forum does have the "accepted solution" plugin installed, but it can't replace real issue tracking. I've been relying on NAB for the tracking: Every spec decision gets a forum thread (to reach people and have discussion where it's comfortable) and a matching issue (to keep track of the status of decisions, which ones are open and which closed, who's assigned to tasks and so on).

This allows me (and us, hopefully) to get both worlds: The work on the spec is properly tracked using NAB, while discussion still conveniently happens and reaches people, via the forum.

I know it's weird, and I'm open for other proposals. I don't mind using Discourse for issue tracking, but it has to meet certain conditions:

  • Have a working issue tracking plugin that does everything NAB does for us
  • Have multiple categories under ForgeFed, to separate the actual spec discussion from meta discussion

If you're considering to grab the task of looking into this, take the following into account: We may wish at some point to host ForgeFed on a ForgeFed instance. Discourse could be one way, but right now ActivityPub support there is in early stages AFAIK. So we need to decide carefully whether we (1) stay with the current situation for now, or (2) move to Discourse and have forum and issues mixed and possibly complicate our possibility to use ForgFed itself for issue tracking at some point. Or (3) other proposals? :)

The reason I've been using SocialHub and not just the Feneas forum, is that SocialHub basically has the whole AP community group and since its recent relaunch, has been much more active than the Feneas forum. I asked about this two-forum weird situation on the Feneas forum, but there's no conclusion right now, other than to post in one or post in both :P

Proposal for making things clearer

This proposal involves using both issues and forum, it just formalizes their roles. If you have other proposals, please write them below in comments.

I propose to think of the ForgeFed community as 3 circles:

  1. Core team: People in the peers community or other people, who are in the IRC channel and daily/weekly interact about ForgeFed, manage the spec, work together on the spec or website or fediverse account etc., demo servers and ForgeFed implementations, comment regularly and so on. For example, this would probably be zPlus, crizvotyl, ikomi, bill-auger, Digit, perhaps JazzyEagle and jaywink if they wish :) oh and myself too. If I forgot someone, please tell me and I'll list you! :)

  2. Working group: This is like the people we had on the mailing list. People who do ActivityPub related work, or forge related work, or just have understanding and interest in the technology and want to take an active part in the design of the spec. This would probably be jaywink, people on the ML who may want to come back and be active again, people in #social IRC channel who may wish to regularly participate in decision making.

  3. Community group: These are the people interested in ForgeFed and who follow us on the Fediverse and sometimes visit the repo or forums.

Meta decisions, spec HTML issues, demo server hosting, etc. are handled by the core team. They happen here on NAB, and discussion of them happens in NAB issues.

Spec content decisions about the actual ForgeFed vocabulary and protocol are handled by the working group. Discussions happen in the Feneas forum. Matching issues are still opened on NAB, for the core team to keep track of the work items and decisions, since the Feneas forum isn't an issue tracker (at the moment, at least).

Other stuff, general questions, suggestions etc. can happen in either, but the recommended place in the Feneas forum.

Once in a month or so, the community group will get an invitation to do a round of discussion and issue reviews and participate in the decision making. And there's the general regular announcements about our progress, to let the world know.

Bottom line

Please comment on the situation and the proposal, and let's see how we proceed with this, and do we change anything and how :)

It's been expressed on IRC, that discussion is spread too widely, happening both in issues and in forum, and now there's the new SocialHub, which makes it 3 places for discussions. Below I'm going to explain the current situation, and why it's like this right now, and a proposal for making things clearer. # Current situation - Most issues I open here have an equivalent forum thread, either in the Feneas forum (in the ForgeFed category or the ActivityPub category) or in the SocialHub forum (in the ActivityPub category), some rare issues have threads in both - The interaction here and in the forums are different, it's been easier to reach the core team of Peers here via issues, but much easier to reach the ActivityPub community in the forums - There's a technology challenge, because NAB can do basic issue tracking well, but its discussion features are limited, while Discourse has a great situation for discussion but doesn't do issue tracking unless we figure out the situation with Discourse issue tracking plugins, get one installed in the Feneas forum and it works well and does what NAB does for us # How to use issues and forum in this weird situation Q: Where do I comment on an issue? A: If the issue description links to a forum thread, prefer to comment on the thread. If the issue doesn't link to a forum thread, then comment here on the issue itself. Q: Where do I open a discussion topic / work item / ask a question? A: If you just want to ask a question or express a thought or make a proposal, you can use whichever is more comfortable for you, and one of us will take care of "mirroring" it elsewhere if needed. **For the core team**, do it like this: If it's meta topic, or a bug in the spec's HTML, or anything else that isn't about ForgeFed spec decisions, open an issue here. If it's about ForgeFed itself, its behavior or vocabulary or modeling or relationship with ActivityPub, then open a Feneas forum topic, and then open a matching issue here and link from it to that forum topic. # Why it's like that The forum 's discussion features and the fact that Feneas and SocialHub have many users who are in the ActivityPub community make the forums a good place for discussion, and I get feedback there that I wouldn't get here on NAB. I also don't put meta stuff on the forum, making it more focused on actual spec decisions, while meta stuff is handled here on NAB. The Feneas forum does have the "accepted solution" plugin installed, but it can't replace real issue tracking. I've been relying on NAB for the tracking: Every spec decision gets a forum thread (to reach people and have discussion where it's comfortable) and a matching issue (to keep track of the status of decisions, which ones are open and which closed, who's assigned to tasks and so on). This allows me (and us, hopefully) to get both worlds: The work on the spec is properly tracked using NAB, while discussion still conveniently happens and reaches people, via the forum. I know it's weird, and I'm open for other proposals. I don't mind using Discourse for issue tracking, but it has to meet certain conditions: - Have a working issue tracking plugin that does everything NAB does for us - Have multiple categories under ForgeFed, to separate the actual spec discussion from meta discussion If you're considering to grab the task of looking into this, take the following into account: We may wish at some point to host ForgeFed on a ForgeFed instance. Discourse could be one way, but right now ActivityPub support there is in early stages AFAIK. So we need to decide carefully whether we (1) stay with the current situation for now, or (2) move to Discourse and have forum and issues mixed and possibly complicate our possibility to use ForgFed itself for issue tracking at some point. Or (3) other proposals? :) The reason I've been using SocialHub and not just the Feneas forum, is that SocialHub basically has the whole AP community group and since its recent relaunch, has been much more active than the Feneas forum. I asked about this two-forum weird situation on the Feneas forum, but there's no conclusion right now, other than to post in one or post in both :P # Proposal for making things clearer This proposal involves using both issues and forum, it just formalizes their roles. If you have other proposals, please write them below in comments. I propose to think of the ForgeFed community as 3 circles: 1. Core team: People in the peers community or other people, who are in the IRC channel and daily/weekly interact about ForgeFed, manage the spec, work together on the spec or website or fediverse account etc., demo servers and ForgeFed implementations, comment regularly and so on. For example, this would probably be zPlus, crizvotyl, ikomi, bill-auger, Digit, perhaps JazzyEagle and jaywink if they wish :) oh and myself too. If I forgot someone, please tell me and I'll list you! :) 2. Working group: This is like the people we had on the mailing list. People who do ActivityPub related work, or forge related work, or just have understanding and interest in the technology and want to take an active part in the design of the spec. This would probably be jaywink, people on the ML who may want to come back and be active again, people in `#social` IRC channel who may wish to regularly participate in decision making. 3. Community group: These are the people interested in ForgeFed and who follow us on the Fediverse and sometimes visit the repo or forums. Meta decisions, spec HTML issues, demo server hosting, etc. are handled by the **core team**. They happen here on NAB, and discussion of them happens in NAB issues. Spec content decisions about the actual ForgeFed vocabulary and protocol are handled by the **working group**. Discussions happen in the Feneas forum. Matching issues are still opened on NAB, for the core team to keep track of the work items and decisions, since the Feneas forum isn't an issue tracker (at the moment, at least). Other stuff, general questions, suggestions etc. can happen in either, but the recommended place in the Feneas forum. Once in a month or so, the **community group** will get an invitation to do a round of discussion and issue reviews and participate in the decision making. And there's the general regular announcements about our progress, to let the world know. # Bottom line Please comment on the situation and the proposal, and let's see how we proceed with this, and do we change anything and how :)
bill-auger commented 4 weeks ago
Collaborator

i struggle to see the problem in this - any confusion expressed here is artificial and easily avoidable; due only to conflating distinct aspects of the development process, namely: design specification and implementation

there should be no conflict with having a separate issue tracker and discussion forum, each dedicated to that concern only - those are different tools that assist with completely different concerns, which in large teams are often the exclusive domain of distinct sub-teams - naturally, there are different tools that suit each of those concerns ideally, and would be sub-optimal for any other - mixing discussion and issue tracking on the same board is a compromise which is as confusing as it is unneccessary

the problem i have with the proposal above is that the criteria is only "which people are likely to prefer this tool or that tool?", and to shoe-horn every feature into every tool simply to appease everyone; when it should be "which is the most appropriate tool for this task and that task?", and those interested in participating on each task should use the one tool which is chosen for that task

the concern in question per issue #50 is "how to most optimally reach each group of stake-holders?"; while the concern in question per this issue is "what are the optimal tools to use to accomplish each distinct aspect of development?" - naturally, those questions have very different answers and there is no value is conflating them - i.e. a issue tracking should not be shoe-horned into a discussion tool, and discussions should not be shoe-horned into an issue tracker, simply because some people want to use one single tool for all jobs, and they each prefer different tools - i see that opinion as finicky and mis-guided - there is simply no way to accommodate people who refuse to use the tools that the project has chosen, without splintering the community and duplicating discussions; i think it would be counter-productive to try

if there really are more people using the socialhub forum who are truly interested in forge-fed, but who (for some finicky reason) refuse to use the identical tool hosted on a different server, perhaps that is worth discussing; but i would doubt the sincerity of interest that is so contingient on such an arbitrary factor - in any case that would fall under the topic of issue #50

zPlus's suggestion of a kanban board makes that distinction very clear - it would be very ugly to use a kanban board as a discussion forum, and likewise email would be very inadequate for issue tracking; yet both of those tools serve their respective purposes perfectly, and their combination leaves nothing lacking - it is not a problem if some people will use only email and some will use only the kanban tool - each of those are interesting only to certain stake-holders and not necessarily to any others - if the choice of tools somehow limits the number of participants, i would not lament that - if someone is interested enough, they will use whatever tools that the project chooses - issue #50 only need be about promotion/evangelism, community-building and such, but not at all about which tools to use - this issue should be about which are the most appropriate tools to use, without regard for who likes some flavor/brand or another

to drive that home, note that it was mentioned "there are 3 venues on which discussion of forge-fed take place" - that is incorrect - there are 5 - the mailing list and github also have and still could serve that purpose; but those are being ignored simply as a matter of preference, but not because they are inadequate for the job - the only problem with those is that they have an absent admin; but we could start a new mailing list, or a new github repo for discussion, if that were what the most people actually wanted

this concern is simply a matter of using the right tool for each job - i.e. a ticket tracker is for tracking the progress of implementation work to be done (either new work of addressing bugs); whlie a discussion forum is for deciding which work items should be done in the first place, and prehaps how they should be done in order to fit into the system - after the specifics of each work item are decided, then a work item should be opened to track the tangible progress toward that decided goal, and there should be very little to discuss about it from that point on, unless there are complications, in which case that task could go "on-hold" pending a resolution on the separate discussion board - it is just so much more sensible and practical that way

it is a well-established conventional development practice; and if partitioned in that way, it becomes clear that the discussion forum and the issue tracker are interesting to two distinct sets of stake-holders - in a larger development team, that would be clearly, the architects (with input from the client) on one hand, and the implementors on the other hand, who simply implement to the spec as laid out by the design team - that can be confusing with a small team as some people will "wear different hats" at different times; but one who wears multiple hats should always be aware of which hat is on ones head while tending to the different tasks, as not to blur the lines between the concerns specific to each stake-holder

that clear separation of concerns is most important, not now, but for ever-more into the future - when someone 5 years from now chooses to implement, they will be interested only in what is in the repo and possibly the tickets and problems related to what went into it - they will not be interested in any general discussions or questions - conversely, those who are interested in discussing the general formation of the spec or asking general questions, are probably not intereested in any details - to mix the implementation progress, with work-group discussions and general questions and opinions, just increases grokking time for everyone who does not have both interests

i struggle to see the problem in this - any confusion expressed here is artificial and easily avoidable; due only to conflating distinct aspects of the development process, namely: design specification and implementation there should be no conflict with having a separate issue tracker and discussion forum, each dedicated to that concern only - those are different tools that assist with completely different concerns, which in large teams are often the exclusive domain of distinct sub-teams - naturally, there are different tools that suit each of those concerns ideally, and would be sub-optimal for any other - mixing discussion and issue tracking on the same board is a compromise which is as confusing as it is unneccessary the problem i have with the proposal above is that the criteria is only "which people are likely to prefer this tool or that tool?", and to shoe-horn every feature into every tool simply to appease everyone; when it should be "which is the most appropriate tool for this task and that task?", and those interested in participating on each task should use the one tool which is chosen for that task the concern in question per issue #50 is "how to most optimally reach each group of stake-holders?"; while the concern in question per this issue is "what are the optimal tools to use to accomplish each distinct aspect of development?" - naturally, those questions have very different answers and there is no value is conflating them - i.e. a issue tracking should not be shoe-horned into a discussion tool, and discussions should not be shoe-horned into an issue tracker, simply because some people want to use one single tool for all jobs, and they each prefer different tools - i see that opinion as finicky and mis-guided - there is simply no way to accommodate people who refuse to use the tools that the project has chosen, without splintering the community and duplicating discussions; i think it would be counter-productive to try if there really are more people using the socialhub forum who are truly interested in forge-fed, but who (for some finicky reason) refuse to use the identical tool hosted on a different server, perhaps that is worth discussing; but i would doubt the sincerity of interest that is so contingient on such an arbitrary factor - in any case that would fall under the topic of issue #50 zPlus's suggestion of a kanban board makes that distinction very clear - it would be very ugly to use a kanban board as a discussion forum, and likewise email would be very inadequate for issue tracking; yet both of those tools serve their respective purposes perfectly, and their combination leaves nothing lacking - it is not a problem if some people will use only email and some will use only the kanban tool - each of those are interesting only to certain stake-holders and not necessarily to any others - if the choice of tools somehow limits the number of participants, i would not lament that - if someone is interested enough, they will use whatever tools that the project chooses - issue #50 only need be about promotion/evangelism, community-building and such, but not at all about which tools to use - this issue should be about which are the most appropriate tools to use, without regard for who likes some flavor/brand or another to drive that home, note that it was mentioned "there are 3 venues on which discussion of forge-fed take place" - that is incorrect - there are 5 - the mailing list and github also have and still could serve that purpose; but those are being ignored simply as a matter of preference, but not because they are inadequate for the job - the only problem with those is that they have an absent admin; but we could start a new mailing list, or a new github repo for discussion, if that were what the most people actually wanted this concern is simply a matter of using the right tool for each job - i.e. a ticket tracker is for tracking the progress of implementation work to be done (either new work of addressing bugs); whlie a discussion forum is for deciding which work items should be done in the first place, and prehaps how they should be done in order to fit into the system - _after_ the specifics of each work item are decided, _then_ a work item should be opened to track the tangible progress toward that decided goal, and there should be very little to discuss about it from that point on, unless there are complications, in which case that task could go "on-hold" pending a resolution on the _separate_ discussion board - it is just so much more sensible and practical that way it is a well-established conventional development practice; and if partitioned in that way, it becomes clear that the discussion forum and the issue tracker are interesting to two distinct sets of stake-holders - in a larger development team, that would be clearly, the architects (with input from the client) on one hand, and the implementors on the other hand, who simply implement to the spec as laid out by the design team - that can be confusing with a small team as some people will "wear different hats" at different times; but one who wears multiple hats should always be aware of which hat is on ones head while tending to the different tasks, as not to blur the lines between the concerns specific to each stake-holder that clear separation of concerns is most important, not now, but for ever-more into the future - when someone 5 years from now chooses to implement, they will be interested only in what is in the repo and possibly the tickets and problems related to what went into it - they will not be interested in any general discussions or questions - conversely, those who are interested in discussing the general formation of the spec or asking general questions, are probably not intereested in any details - to mix the implementation progress, with work-group discussions and general questions and opinions, just increases grokking time for everyone who does not have both interests
bill-auger commented 4 weeks ago
Collaborator

i should add that notabug does not handle incoming email - i would be against the proposal, if only for that reason - i do not want to visit 20 websites each morning just to participate in all of the projects that interest me - email makes that extremely convenient

if the socialhub forum still does not handle incoming email, i would still suggest aginast using it as the primary discussion board - that lack of competent and attentive admins was the main reason why we went with feneas

the feneas forum looks quite active to me - 16 posts this month already - we did not see anything near that volume when the forge-fed forum was on socualhub

i should add that notabug does not handle incoming email - i would be against the proposal, if only for that reason - i do not want to visit 20 websites each morning just to participate in all of the projects that interest me - email makes that extremely convenient if the socialhub forum still does not handle incoming email, i would still suggest aginast using it as the primary discussion board - that lack of competent and attentive admins was the main reason why we went with feneas the feneas forum looks quite active to me - 16 posts this month already - we did not see anything near that volume when the forge-fed forum was on socualhub
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