Sub Categories?

Would it make sense to start creating sub-categories for the various projects/applications that belong in here? There are many communities that are mostly focused on one application and it would make it much easier to find (particularly from a “categories” page).

For instance, this is what our categories for “software” looks like on

No. That’s what tags are for. You only have one sub-category per category, and the taxonomy is shallow.

The main idea is that you may want to open a community related topic specific to an application under the Community tag, and a user support topic under the Applications category, or you want to use your native language because you’re not confident with English, in which case you’d use the International category.

It’s easy to search or follow tags. For instance, the “evolution” tag, or the “boxes” tag.

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The problem with relying on tags for everything is that the tags are not passed through to notification emails.

Having each application as a separate sub-category would make using Discourse much easier for the parts of the community that are being told that this is a mailing list replacement. You can still tag posts in a sub-category (in fact they should be auto-tagged) and having a sub-category does not preclude people from posting elsewhere with the same tag.

But anyway, why is it acceptable to have sub-categories in the Community category but not in Applications?

Because we have too many applications, and it’s only a problem for people who want to use Discourse as a mailing list.

Categories are used for access control; they have the ability to restrict access, and have separate settings, and until now there has been no real reason to allow that.

Some of us who want to use Discourse as a mailing list have been told that we have to use it because the Evolution mailing list we have been using for (literally) decades is being shut down, a decision on which we were not consulted. Furthermore, a large number of us have no particular interest in the rest of the Gnome project. Discourse as a mailing list substitute is a very poor second best and the reasons so far given for this change simply do not hold water.

The reasons why mailing lists have been phased out are various:

  • spam volume across the whole set of mailing lists
  • low availability of moderators in the community
  • lack of modern moderation tools
  • lack of community management and involvement
  • dwindling legitimate traffic
  • high barrier of entry for newcomers

The long and short of it is that any large mailing list set up is virtually indistinguishable from a spam service, unless you spend a lot of time and effort in trying to keep up and jump through whatever new hoops the few remaining service providers decided to implement. Maintaining a mail server, and a mailing list service, is not in any way, shape, or form “free”, and it gets increasingly less free every year. GNOME outgoing email has been marked as spam and we had to ask to be placed in an allow list various times. GNOME, incidentally, isn’t the only umbrella project that has had issues with mailing lists; has had even worse problems, with mail being blackholed various times.

In practice, unless we started asking people to go through the GNOME mail server in order to send email that can be verified against anti-spam measures, it’s hard to justify a full mailing list hosting service—especially considering the average signal-to-noise ratio.

On top of that, given the fact that GNOME is still using mailman2, an unmaintained platform which depends on an end-of-lifed Python2, it’s getting harder every year to ensure that the system is running securely. Any change to a different mailing list service is basically equivalent to moving to a new and different platform.

I am absolutely sure that the people on the Evolution mailing list, as users of a mail client, are much more comfortable with email than with any other service. The people on the Evolution mailing lists are a minority, though, and to be quite frank, you’re benefiting from a service provided to you for free.

The GNOME project has been migrating towards Discourse since the trial we ran with the migration of the GTK mailing lists, in February 2019. In September 2020, after more than a year of experience, we started the process of migrating all mailing lists. It’s been three years and a half, a very long migration by any metric.

I understand and empathise with the feeling, but I wonder if it has ever occurred to you that not caring about the project that is providing you a service for free is not a great excuse? The GNOME project has multiple venues of centralised communication, to avoid having to go around hunting down people that have “no particular interest”. It’s expected that people participate in those venues.

Yes: Discourse is not a good mailing list software. It’s predicated on the idea that you can use email to interact with it, but it’s not the main interaction model. Tools like moderation and community management are based on interacting through the web UI. Can Discourse be fixed? Of course: it’s software, it can do anything. Plus, it’s open source software, so it can be fixed by anybody. If people are willing to work on it, I’m sure it’s going to improve that particular side, and maybe it’ll be a good replacement for mailman. Are GNOME admins going to do that? No, I don’t think they will.

You’re entirely free to move the Evolution mailing lists to some other service, if you feel that mailing lists are better for user support; the “evolution” tag on Discourse will still be here, in case people want to ask or answer questions. Of course, it’d be better not to split the pool of responders, or add more places to ask questions, but if people are more comfortable with a mailing list then it’s up to you to manage one.


I think it is absurd that support for an MUA can now only be done through a web forum with a quite kludgy mail option. Evolution is one of the few things that has kept me loyal to GNOME; it is simply the best MUA (and I’ve tried them all at one time or another). The mail list has been useful to me and is one of the reasons that evolution (has been) the best MUA. It doesn’t seem to have a problem with spam and the moderators keep things on-topic and civil. I’ll be very sorry to see it go.

I couldn’t care less about badges and earning credits; this stuff may appeal to kids. I dislike web forums for the reasons others have expressed.

I’m sure it is, but GNOME is not hosting just the evolution list, and it’s definitely not going to keep mailman just for one or two lists.

This is entirely uncalled for. I understand that you may be experienced in mail clients, and mailing lists, but you don’t get to cast aspersions on people who start using GNOME today.

If this is the sort of civility that is allowed on the evolution mailing lists, then I can only guess not many new people actually used it.

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And with that, boys and girls, I am out of here.

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