What is elm-dev for?

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Evan Czaplicki

Jul 14, 2016, 3:52:03 PM7/14/16
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I want this mailing list to play a very particular role in this community.

  • People developing stuff for Elm can share progress and get feedback.
  • Commenters should provide high-quality data and insights.
  • Messages are appropriately concise and have clear goals.


One way to achieve these goals would be to just have a private list. This route has some weakness that I really dislike. First, I want people to be able to read what's going on. Second, I have met so many great people, both technically and personally, because of how elm-discuss worked in the early days. I would not want to lose that kind of organic participation.

So the strategy I'd like to try is to introduce some amount of moderation to keep things to a certain standard. I added a bunch of folks as moderators, and we'll be experimenting to see if that helps make elm-dev serve the role I think it should.

Relevant Stories

I think Justin's proposal to benchmark the compiler embodies what I want this list to be.

There are a couple things going right here:
  • Justin was pretty new to elm-dev. (Welcome!)
  • He has a clear technical goal.
  • That goal aligns with the broader design choices of this ecosystem.
  • He is planning to "own" the work.
  • He is looking for technical feedback.
  • He is asking for feedback, not expecting it.
Folks on this list are generally pretty busy. For example, Richard is writing a book on Elm, working on a great elm-test library with Max, kicking ass at his full-time job, thinking about various other projects, and having a healthy life outside of work. I don't know how he does it really. Point is, the fact that you want feedback from someone here does not entitle you to that feedback. We need to prioritize our work and who we work with. That's just a true fact about getting stuff done.

Some people think they are great developers with lots of potential, but how does a busy person know? Just trust that their self-assessment? In Justin's case, his writing and technical work spoke for itself. Better work = better response.

To go back in time, this is how John's work on WebGL happened. This is how Joey ended up working on TCO and DCE last summer. This is how Pete worked on elm-reactor.

I also miss hearing from folks like Laszlo. I don't think everyone knows him, but his design sense in amazing and my work always improves when I get his feedback! He is managing a bunch of technical work at Prezi and has two young children. He cannot participate in this list if it is crazy.

When to use elm-discuss

So I said a lot of what's good, but I think it's worth saying which messages would be a better fit for elm-discuss.
  • If you have questions about Elm. How it works? Why decisions were made? etc. If there's something that really can't be answered there, the question will likely bubble to someone who knows through other channels.
  • If you are suggesting other people do work. Having ideas is easy. It's not going to happen if no one owns it though. If you just want to share an idea in hopes that it will inspire someone else, share it on elm-discuss. Good ideas can travel far.
  • Lobbying for a change in prioritization. This list should not be for defending design choices. If you read back, you can usually see the reasoning. You may not agree, but the place raise that is on elm-discuss. If you have a particular experience that you feel is not taken into account, that concrete story will find its way to the right people.
  • Long unfocused posts. If you want to post on this list, you should be respectful of the time of the participants and readers. If you are new, try to figure out if you can raise the concern clearly in a sentence or three. We are smart, we can often fill in the blanks. If we can't and we think it's a good point, we'll ask for specific elaboration.
  • Non-constructive Feedback. I expect not everyone will like this post for example. If you have a concrete plan for an alternate approach that you would like to own, that maybe can be a separate thread. If you just don't like it and want to share your opinion, that should happen elsewhere. That is not work, it is data. User data is extremely valuable, but that's not what elm-dev is for.
Some of these are contextual, but I think they give a feel for what should be happening on elm-dev.

I plan to get some moderation happening on elm-discuss as well. I do not have as clear goals there, but I think more folks should be involved in keeping it friendly and organized.

I'm sure we'll make mistakes with this experiment, but I'm excited to see where it goes!
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