We are always looking at ways to improve the online community around Mender, to get more people involved, and to make it easier for everyone - especially new users - to find the information they need and ultimately to contribute back to the project.
We love that we have an active mailing list for the project, and we are considering how to make community engagement even better. With this in mind, we are considering replacing the mailing list with a discussion forum. We think that a forum format could be more structured, easier to search, give more control over notifications and have a better UI. Mailing lists can be a little intimidating for new users, as all messages get distributed to a wide audience. In addition, the Google Groups UI for our mailing list is also pretty unpopular and hard to use. But, we also know that a lot of people love mailing lists and have used them for a long time, and that there are pros and cons to both approaches!
This is just a proposal at this stage, and we want to hear your thoughts about it. Please provide your feedback to impact the next steps by Friday, December 21st!
Mender Hub, our resource for board integrations, is using Discourse - we found the wiki-type posts Discourse provides to be perfect for allowing the board integration documents to be discussed and updated over time. While setting up Mender Hub and playing with Discourse, we found lots of features we liked that we think would be great for a general Mender discussion forum. Among others:
Easy and powerful searching
Tagging of posts
The ability to mark questions as “solved”
Automatic suggestions for similar posts when creating new topics.
Notifications, email digests and “unread” labels. So you can either ensure you don’t miss a thing, or you can tailor the settings to only see the things that matter to you.
We think such a forum could really encourage discussion and make information more findable. Since you are Mender users, you are hopefully familiar with Docker, who are also using Discourse for their community forum, which is a pretty nice example of what can be done on the platform.
Discourse does have an option for you to use it in a “mailing list” mode too - with a little adjustment to your mail settings, you can write and receive forum posts and replies by mail. People have used Discourse this way on other projects, so if you are a fan of mailing lists the same functionality can - more or less - be replicated. We can go into more detail about this option later!
This is still a proposal, so please let us know your thoughts.
What do you like/dislike about the mailing list?
Would you communicate more or less or just the same if it were via a forum?
Have you used forums, or specifically Discourse, before on another open source project? And did you like it?
If the feedback from you - the Mender community - is encouraging, we will continue with the next step which would be to make a test/beta discussion forum on Mender Hub. Otherwise, we will stick to a mailing list and take any feedback on board.
Let us know either here on the mailing list, via our con...@mender.io email, on Twitter, IRC - anywhere you can get in touch. Let us know how you'd best like to communicate around the Mender project. We have also made a topic under the Meta category on Mender Hub - so if you’re keen to see Discourse in action you can leave your feedback there and at the same time get a quick taste of the platform! To make sure it is included, please provide your feedback by Friday, December 21st!
Big thanks to @Michael Clelland for doing a lot of research on this topic and who helped prepare this post.
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