Chat & forum & Q&A services we use

We have been using Gitter.im for our "official" chat since 2015, when there was interest in adopting Slack instead of continuing to use IRC. The issues around IRC were: quickly dropping users, no visibility among younger developers, difficulty reaching people who asked questions but disconnected, and so on.

For various reasons, which you can find by searching through the archives of this forum but primarily the question of openness, we settled on Gitter, and it was added to Plone.org (the sidecar chat, and community documentation around chat and support).

In 2020 we ran the Plone conference using LoudSwarm.com, which combines Zoom and Slack to make it easy to attend and participate in online events. The Volto team has been using a channel in that Slack, otherwise that Slack (plone.slack.com) has remained primarily for some to use for direct messages and some teams such as the AI (admin and infrastructure), marketing, and possibly others.

For a while, @jean and I had set up https://sameroom.io to bridge between IRC, Slack, and Gitter, but the service had changed hands and seemed to have stopped working a while ago. It seems to be available still, so perhaps we could try to set it up again, but it was always intended as a temporary measure until the Plone community had settled on one "official" chat service.

Now we no longer discuss IRC, not really :wink:

We really do try to point newcomers and questions to this forum, where it's easy to search and locate past answers, and we prefer this forum to Stack Overflow, where most of us do not actively spend time looking for Plone questions to answer.

So, long story short, is it time to revisit the above arrangements?

Our primary concerns have to be:

  • maintaining the visibility of Plone activity, and by "Plone" I mean all the subprojects: Plone, Zope, Volto, Guillotina. Keeping our activity behind a semi-private wall is not a good idea.

  • We also need to concentrate our activity as much as possible in one place, otherwise we will be spread too thinly.

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Keep in mind that running more services on servers we manage ourselves is getting to be a big "ask", unless we can get a couple of more people to join the admin team.

Many OS projects nowadays use discord, eg pytest, pypa, flask, tox, Starship, octoprint... And I Iike it so much more than Slack (more lightweight, no threading, only one account for all projects!,..).

Also, for eg tox ( https://discord.gg/tox ) we set up zapier to automatically notify us of new StackOverflow questions.

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We set up a Discord channel for live video and audio conferencing for sprints.

We also have a Keybase team and its subchannels.

Each of these has a "killer feature" or a common feature that has a "killer implementation" that is perfect for a given situation. I imagine that we'll need a massive grid of apps and features to figure out which is "official" for a given event type.

The Gitter channel is mostly filled with asynchronous replies to questions that eventually get referred to the forum. Its purpose is duplicitous to everything else in use. If anything, I would suggest dropping Gitter because it provides no "killer feature".

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In the JS world it seems everybody is on Discord these days. In the Plone commmunity, we used Discord for sprints and this worked ok for us. Discord also seems the favorite pick from our younger colleagues. They told me that it is the standard in the games world. :slight_smile:

The Volto team still uses Slack for its "internal communication" because we all use Slack in our companies, so that's the easiest way to stay online all day long.

I never really used Gitter and I am almost never online there.

Given the traction Discord has these days maybe it would be best to move there. Though, no matter what decision we make I think it is important that we make this an official decision and not hang around in ten different systems. Just my 2c...

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It's great to see there seems to be an "obvious" solution here, with Discord.

Moving to it would require all the teams currently using Slack to agree to move their discussions to Discord. A little birdie tells me that LoudSwarm has a Discord integration :bird:

We should also get the opinions of those who were firmly in support of using Gitter when we were deciding what to do in 2015-16. @jensens @polyester and others

But are we agreed that the forum should continue to be the place we direct the not-quick Q&A from newcomers (in particular)?

@fulv and I had tried to set up IFTTT to push Stack Overflow questions here but were unable to make it work. I've just recently seen another instance of Zapier working much better than IFTTT.

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Yes, but without any implication of how long it takes to get an A from a Q, if any.

I suppose you could solicit more feedback, but I reckon y'all already know the answer: support what you can with the limited resources you have.

I don't know if y'all have published an official purpose of the forum, but here's a stab at it.

The Plone Foundation provides this community forum for discussion of matters that are relevant to the Plone Foundation, its projects, and its members.

Users and developers of Plone Foundation projects—including Plone, Zope, Volto, and Guillotina—can obtain free volunteer support from this community.

I would not mention anything to do with time-based responses. The phrase "free volunteer support" implies the level of timeliness for responses, if any.

I have had a similar experience between the two services for the projects I run. IFTTT is a big disappointment, and Zapier is less disappointing.

My (personal) 2 cents.

As the first big disclaimer, thanks to my laziness and the current inertial I tend to prefer Slack as I'm connected with Kubernetes, Ansible, OpenAI, 2 distinct Python user groups and also Pendect in there.

Also, as a second disclaimer, I do not think Discord is the clear solution (even though I loved using it for sprints and the Brazilian Python Conference in the past).

As a third disclaimer: Gitter is dead and gone for me.

Now, we need to discuss if there is a solution that is going to cover most of the use-cases we currently have (Slack is being used, primarily, by the Foundation teams to coordinate their work, Discord seems to be the best tool for sprints and (maybe) a good replacement to Gitter, and Discourse as the forum).

I would suggest we bring this topic to the next Steering Circle meeting and try to agree on a decision.

And I do agree with @tisto: The decision needs to be made and shared with the whole community (including plone.org news item, Twitter messages and so on).

p.s.: IFTTT works well for simple cases, Zapier scales better. (But now IFTTT is paid, so we could get more from them).

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My 0.02€:

  • Gitter is dead
  • Slack is always open here, since I can not get around
  • Discord is always open here, since we use it at BlueDynamics Alliance as internal tool. It's just the best Sound quality of all tools I know.
  • Jitsi established as a tool for sprints: Low entry barrier (no login/account needed)

That said, I am not a big fan of Slack, but it just works. Meanwhile it got established and is owned by Salesforce, which might be a good sign.

Explaning Slack to young people is like, its Discord for the boomers. So yes, if you want to address young people Discord is a better choice.

If I had to vote, I would vote for Discord: Almost all Slack offers, including bots. Plus excellent voice and medium (720p, except we pay for it) video/screen sharing plus excellent streaming possibilities if needed.

But as already brought up: the decision is up to the community.

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Where are you thinking this official purpose would be posted?

We have tried to capture all the ways people can get help with Plone on this page Support — Plone: Enterprise Level CMS - Free and OpenSource - Community Driven - Secure

Not sure I understand. Are we mentioning time-based responses anywhere?

On the forum landing page.

https://community.plone.org/

I assume Discourse has a configuration option to put something front and center that is not a pinned topic. If not, then a pinned topic would be good.

I would propose renaming "Using Plone" to "Support". I think it would be a more obvious name for this category's purpose. It is the de facto support channel. As an aside, I dislike being labeled a "user" or someone who is "using" because it has negative connotations.

I would also change the pinned topic title and content for this category. The title, "About the Using Plone", is grammatically clumsy. Its content does not mention that this is the de facto category to get help with Plone. This pinned topic should include a link back to
Support — Plone: Enterprise Level CMS - Free and OpenSource - Community Driven - Secure.

A couple more requests:

  • I much prefer the Categories page as the home page over the topic list view. Category view is the default for Ubuntu and many other Discourse forums. It is easier to navigate than an infinite scroll of latest topics.
  • Lastly, the link to the Plone Foundation CoC is at the bottom of an infinite scroll. That should be easier to reach.

This is what prompted my response:

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Interesting. We evaluated Discord at kitconcept and we dropped it because of the bad video quality. We even boosted our server and payed money to see if that improves things but it didn't so we went back to Slack...Maybe it is time to give it another shot...

BTW: the main downside (and possibly even a deal breaker) for Slack is that you need an invite to join. This makes it hard to impossible for newbies to join. For some of our local JS user groups we build a workaround for this but I am not sure if that still works and it is something that we would have to build and maintain.

Jean had set up an auto-invite requester… I will try to find it

Unless someone else remembers it, here is what Jean remembered: " it was something that ran on either Heroku or OpenShift .. I set up invite bots on both of those previously"

Here is something I had written to Jean ~4 years ago on the issue of chat for Plone:

perhaps we need to simply stop sending newbies to chat, whether IRC, Gitter, or Slack. I despair when I see their questions go so frequently unanswered, and from a PR standpoint it’s a disaster for Plone to give newbies that poor impression

Good input. I changed Using Plone to Plone Support and removed the word user.

I agree to send users to this forum and not to chat. Latter should be more for team coordination, sprints etc.

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+1 for Discord, we are using it for sprints since the last PloneConf on a regulary base.
The audio quallity and features are prety good.
The video is limited, ok to see each other bot not good for screensharing, at least the free version. But for this we always use jitsi and it works well in combination.
At the CMS Garden we are running a RocketChat Server which is also a nice option and can have a jitsi integration. But here we would need to run it on our infrastructure and this seams not wanted at this point, so it's a no.
I don't really like Slack and would vote against using it.
Gitter was workign fine, was im provement over IRC, but i see the point of consolidating the channels and move to Disord.

So support is on the forum and chats for sprint and dev discussion on Discord.
Where ever needed jitsi will do the trick for Video/Screesharing.

sounds good to me

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Just doing a last check here... everyone ok moving from Gitter to Discord?

Hopefully people who are using Slack for work will have Discord open or will check in frequently.

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Plone Foundation Code of Conduct