Hive13 has used Google Groups for its mailing lists since 2009 - however, on May 17, 2022, these will all be turned to archive-only, and everything migrated to a self-hosted Discourse instance at https://discourse.hive13.org/
In the fewest words possible, what do I need to do?
What is Discourse?
- Discourse is message forum software. It behaves like most "traditional" forums: people post messages in topics, and replies to a topic form message threads. Users can also configure it to behave like a mailing list.
What do I need to do? Do I need to sign up?
- You do not need an account at this Discourse to read messages. Just browse to https://discourse.hive13.org/.
- If you want to post, you'll need to create an account. See the steps at: https://wiki.hive13.org/view/Discourse#How_To_Sign_Up
- You can create an account anytime, including now. We must manually approve new accounts, just like the Google Groups.
- If you want older posts you made on the Google Groups to still be associated with your Discourse account, use the same email address that you used on the mailing list. (If you forget, we can correct this later - just ask.)
- By default, this does not behave as a mailing list - but you can enable Mailing List Mode for your account, i.e. you will receive emails for every new message that is posted, and you may send emails to reply to an existing thread or to create a new topic. See https://wiki.hive13.org/view/Discourse#Enabling_Mailing_List_Mode to set this up. Note that, unfortunately, Discourse does not support a digest mode.
Where do I go for help on Discourse itself, complaints, suggestions, feedback, and so on?
Where are all the old messages?
- All content from the groups, including images and other attachments, was imported into the Discourse. We'll migrate newer content, but it may take some time as it's not automatic.
- The Google Groups pages will remain online, but in read-only mode. We have no plans of deleting these groups or their content - though Google might.
Why was this done?
- The ecosystem of products and companies changed considerably since we chose Google Groups in 2009. Google has had Google Groups merely on life-support for many years now. We'd rather move everything now while we have the time to do it at our own pace. Some nice integrations that we had in the past - such as integrating the mailing list with Slack - are now gone because Google removed the support.
- We've received a regular stream of complaints about Google Groups being very annoying to interact with on phones.
- Moving to a self-hosted Discourse instance means that we have full control of our own data.
- Because Discourse is quite a nice piece of software, and we have plans of using its integrations with our Wiki, our Slack instance, and possibly our GitHub.
Does this replace Slack? Does this replace the Wiki?
- No - it just replaces the Google Groups.
What does self-hosted mean?
- It means that Hive13 hosts and manages its own private instance of the Discourse software. In our case, it is self-hosted on an Azure virtual machine, paid for with free Azure credits Hive13 receives for being a nonprofit - but if Azure shut this off tomorrow, we could run it on any other Linux server.
- "Self-hosted" is in contrast to a ''managed'' Discourse instance, e.g. at https://www.discourse.org/.
- In both cases, it is powered by open-source software: https://github.com/discourse/discourse
Why not shut the mailing list down completely, and instead solely use Slack/Discord/reddit/Facebook/Matrix/IRC/whatever?
- With regards to most of those: because we prefer to avoid proprietary walled-garden platforms which leave other companies in charge of our data, our user accounts, and on what is "allowed" content on their platform. We also don't use your data for tracking or advertising, and we'd prefer to avoid handing it over to services that do.
- With regards to real-time ones like Slack and Discord: because we think it's important to still have a communication medium that is slower, asynchronous, longer-form, and more durable.
- Further, because we still have some number of users that prefer to interact via email.