Initiative Proposal: Chat communication platforms

(This is a cross-post from d-d-l)

We have been discussing the future of GNOME’s communication platform for years now, and no real progress comes out of it, except for a further fracturing of our community. I propose we form a team of people, representative of different factions of the community (developers, system administrators, engagement & community outreachers, designers) that are tasked with identifying the chat platform that best suits our community’s needs now, and in the future.

At a high level, I believe a process like the following may achieve this goal:

  1. Identify a list of acceptance criteria that candidates are evaluated against.
  2. Request from the community at large for candidates, in the form of something similar to an RFP.
  3. Review the RFPs against the acceptance criteria, identifying the top three candidates.
  • Identify members of other open source communities who have used the candidate platform and interview them for their experiences.
  • Identify members of the candidate’s community who could aid in running evaluations and/or work through problems that come up.
  1. Plan and schedule evaluation periods for the identified candidates.
  2. Collect both qualitative and quantitative feedback about each candidate.
  3. Review feedback and decide on a platform to use.
  4. Create the platform launch process and migration process.

I volunteer to run this initiative and be on the team.

3 Likes

I like this idea. Some time ago we tried to do something, but there’s not much information:

https://wiki.gnome.org/Initiatives/CommunicationInfrastructure

Useful! Thank you. That is a good place to start once we are evaluating options. But I’d like to start with hashing out what our needs are, rather than what features different software provides.

Here we’ve another wiki page with more information:

https://wiki.gnome.org/Initiatives/InstantMessaging

No matter what choice we make the community will be divided and members will be lost in the transition. You can’t satisfy everybody, none of the choices are clear wins, and I can’t imagine it ever ending well. The most likely situation is the IRC server stays in use, a new separate community forms on a different platform, and the project as a whole is just less connected and has worse communication than it ever did before.

This isn’t really the attitude with which I want to approach this topic. It’s clearly a heated topic, so I would like to refrain from writing off any platform without giving them all an equitable evaluation. They all have shortcomings. And they all have areas where they perform better than each other.

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The core of my point is that this is a community problem and not a technical problem. No amount of charts comparing features will help.

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This sounds like a great initiative! While I can’t promise to devote lots of time to it, I can help out a bit, and I’d like to be part of the team.

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I’d be happy to help with this also.

I mentioned to Link via email I’m a user researcher and identifying what people need is my :bread:and :butter:.

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@link thank you for driving this!

I’d also be happy to help, though I can’t make promises about how much time I’ll have for this.

@pgriffis does have a point, though, in that the effort is inherently vulnerable to the problem illustrated by this xkcd:

image
(Alt text: “Fortunately, the charging one has been solved now that we’ve all standardized on mini-USB. Or is it micro-USB? Shit.”)

Determining “the” communication platform which meets the community’s goals is a noble goal, but the most likely outcome is that the community gains “an” additional communication platform.

On occasion there’s an opportunity to avert that outcome, say by wiping the previous service (and all of its accumulated data) out entirely before redirecting its URL to a new Discourse server, sure — but not everyone can be ask.fedoraproject.org.

If there are those willing to contribute the time and effort to work on this, that’s great and it could be of significant benefit to the community. But… it’s unwise to approach it on the assumption that everyone is going to leap onto the bandwagon for whatever New Hotness is selected — no matter how clearly superior or undeniably correct the choice is. I’d hate to see heightened expectations sour into feelings of regret over how much effort went into something, because it didn’t get the expected reaction.

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We’re not trying to determine a new standard: we’re trying to identify a communication platform for the GNOME community.

If we want to break out a relevant XKCD, we should use this one:

which tells us that catering to IRC users is pointless because they will always use IRC regardless of anything else—sunk cost fallacy, nostalgia, and plain old Stockholm syndrome are all factors.

Since IRC is simply not the way forward, we can accept a (very likely small) community split.

2 Likes

Of course, there’s no need to force a community split if our replacement offers a well-functioning bridge to IRC. Bonus points if it can also bridge to Rocket.Chat.

Sadly, there’s no “well-functioning” bridge to anything—especially to IRC.

I’ve started a project for the chat evaluation on Gitlab, along with a process outline and a skeleton for initial data to collect. If would be great if people could help to fill in the wiki pages, since I don’t think I’ll have time to do it all myself.

Thanks!

Awesome, thanks @bernard_ei8fdb! We might well want to do some user research at some point.

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You’re welcome. I’ll take a look at the project repo and start there. :+1:

We’re at the point of deciding our basic requirements: https://gitlab.gnome.org/Teams/Engagement/initiatives/chat-evaluation/issues/6

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