ANN: A potential new Discourse-based Julia forum

2556 views
Skip to first unread message

Jonathan Malmaud

unread,
Sep 19, 2015, 8:16:36 PM9/19/15
to julia-users
Hi all,
There's been some chatter about maybe switching to a new, more modern forum platform for Julia that could potentially subsume julia-users, julia-dev, julia-stats, julia-gpu, and julia-jobs.   I created http://julia.malmaud.com for us to try one out and see if we like it. Please check it out and leave feedback. All the old posts from julia-users have already been imported to it.

It is using Discourse, the same forum software used for the forums of Rust, BoingBoing, and some other big sites. Benefits over Google Groups include better support for topic tagging, community moderation features,  Markdown (and hence syntax highlighting) in messages, inline previews of linked-to Github issues, better mobile support, and more options for controlling when and what you get emailed. The Discourse website does a better job of summarizing the advantages than I could.

To get things started, MIke Innes suggested having a topic on what we plan on working on this coming week. I think that's a great idea.

Just to be clear, this isn't "official" in any sense - it's just to kickstart the discussion. 

-Jon


Eric Forgy

unread,
Sep 20, 2015, 5:29:06 AM9/20/15
to julia-users
I gave it a spin. I didn't see any disadvantage relative to Google Groups and see big upside potential. I would support a move.

I like that I can authenticate with Github.

Beware, for the first post, it limits the number of links to "2". Since I was just experimenting, I had 4 links. It was a little frustrating having to delete them, but not a big deal and it makes sense to limit the number of links on the first post, so I think that is actually a good feature. Just warning others to not put more than 2 links :)

Ismael VC

unread,
Oct 5, 2015, 5:47:30 PM10/5/15
to julia-users
I've been testing it and I think it's an improvement over google forums. +1 for moving to something better!

Steven G. Johnson

unread,
Oct 5, 2015, 7:21:12 PM10/5/15
to julia-users
The big disadvantage appears to be that we need to maintain our own servers?  That seems like a huge price to pay.

Jonathan Malmaud

unread,
Oct 5, 2015, 7:34:34 PM10/5/15
to julia...@googlegroups.com
It just needs an inexpensive digitalocean instance to run; it doesn't seem like a particularly big deal to me. It automatically backs up to S3 every night. 

Scott Jones

unread,
Oct 5, 2015, 7:42:27 PM10/5/15
to julia-users
How much are the DigitalOcean instances?
Your Discourse-based forum seemed so much better than using Google groups, it would be very nice to be able to move.

Jonathan Malmaud

unread,
Oct 5, 2015, 7:44:35 PM10/5/15
to julia...@googlegroups.com
It varies depending on the CPU and RAM specs, but my instance is $10/month. 

Stefan Karpinski

unread,
Oct 5, 2015, 7:46:42 PM10/5/15
to Julia Users
What about software updates, e.g. if there is a security patch or we need new features?

Jonathan Malmaud

unread,
Oct 5, 2015, 7:50:46 PM10/5/15
to julia...@googlegroups.com
On the Discourse admin panel is a one-click button to upgrade to the latest and to roll back an upgrade, similar to Wordpress. Behind the scenes, the Discourse software is just a stateless docker image living on the server which is swapped out during an upgrade. See https://meta.discourse.org/t/how-do-you-update-discourse/10962.

Stefan Karpinski

unread,
Oct 5, 2015, 7:53:08 PM10/5/15
to Julia Users
That assuages my concerns about maintenance to a large degree.

feza

unread,
Oct 13, 2015, 4:51:04 PM10/13/15
to julia-users
Wow this looks great. Much better than google groups which is rather annoying in many respects. Looking forward to using this sometime in the future. Do you think  mathjax support for latex equations would be useful for a Julia forum?

Jonathan Malmaud

unread,
Oct 13, 2015, 8:27:37 PM10/13/15
to julia-users
I installed a mathjax plugin to Discourse. Try it out! http://julia.malmaud.com/t/testing-mathjax-plugin/3203/1

Jonathan Malmaud

unread,
Oct 13, 2015, 8:50:21 PM10/13/15
to julia-users
Also just realized there's extensive support for oneboxing (smart inline expansion of links)  http://julia.malmaud.com/t/testing-oneboxing/3205/1

Seth

unread,
Oct 18, 2015, 2:28:08 PM10/18/15
to julia-users
"You're replying too quickly. Please wait 277 hours before trying again."

one comment every 11 days, or is this a bug? (I'd post it there, but....)

Jonathan Malmaud

unread,
Oct 18, 2015, 11:01:07 PM10/18/15
to julia...@googlegroups.com
Hmm, if not a bug, it seems at least like way over-aggressive moderation defaults. I'll look into lifting those. 

Sent from my iPad

Jonathan Malmaud

unread,
Oct 19, 2015, 2:52:49 AM10/19/15
to julia-users
Turns out I forgot to revert the special settings I used during the julia-users import; should be good now.

Seth

unread,
Oct 19, 2015, 3:41:45 AM10/19/15
to julia-users
Yup, posting rights have been reestablished. Thanks! (Now to figure out why notifications aren't working.)

Christopher Alexander

unread,
Oct 19, 2015, 10:15:56 AM10/19/15
to julia-users
Hmm, the site appears to be blocked by my company's web filter.


On Saturday, September 19, 2015 at 8:16:36 PM UTC-4, Jonathan Malmaud wrote:

DNF

unread,
Jan 12, 2016, 4:34:22 AM1/12/16
to julia-users
So, what happened to this experiment?

Has the move been abandoned, or just been put on ice? The Google forum looks pretty primitive, and especially reading code is a real pain. But is there just not a lot of enthusiasm for the new platform? On the surface it looks vastly superior, but I don't understand much about the administration tools etc.

Tamas Papp

unread,
Jan 12, 2016, 5:16:47 AM1/12/16
to julia...@googlegroups.com
I don't know about others, but for me it is hard to beat e-mail. Plain
text is fine for code.

The problem with various forums is that each community has a different
one. I would prefer not to deal with N web interfaces, no matter how
nice and featureful, instead of my nicely customized inbox in Emacs.

Best,

Tamas

DNF

unread,
Jan 12, 2016, 5:26:20 AM1/12/16
to julia-users
Hmm, I didn't consider that. I never read the emails, instead using the email notifications as jumping-off points to go into the forum. I always thought it strange that people refer to posts as 'mails'.

But, surely, plain text for code is terrible. Wrong or no indentation, no syntax highlighting, no font contrast between code and text? Or are you able to achieve some of those with your Emacs setup?

Tamas Papp

unread,
Jan 12, 2016, 5:32:21 AM1/12/16
to julia...@googlegroups.com
On Tue, Jan 12 2016, DNF wrote:

> Hmm, I didn't consider that. I *never* read the emails, instead using the
> email notifications as jumping-off points to go into the forum. I always
> thought it strange that people refer to posts as 'mails'.

I don't see an alternative given my preferences --- as I said, I don't
want to deal with different web interfaces. Also, sometimes I work
offline.

> But, surely, plain text for code is *terrible*. Wrong or no indentation, no
> syntax highlighting, no font contrast between code and text? Or are you
> able to achieve some of those with your Emacs setup?

Fixed width font takes care of indentation. For short code snippets, I
can live without highlighting, for longer code I prefer if people post
it as a gist.

Best,

Tamas

DNF

unread,
Jan 12, 2016, 6:08:54 AM1/12/16
to julia-users


On Tuesday, January 12, 2016 at 11:32:21 AM UTC+1, Tamas Papp wrote:
I don't see an alternative given my preferences --- as I said, I don't
want to deal with different web interfaces. Also, sometimes I work
offline.

I see how that can work for you. But don't all such forums support email? Of course, if you use emails, there is no incentive to switch.
  
Fixed width font takes care of indentation. For short code snippets, I
can live without highlighting, for longer code I prefer if people post
it as a gist.

I guess many of my problems with the current forum are purely aesthetic. The fixed-width font is ugly, the highlighting is mostly just copied over colors, half the time posters just can't be bothered to mark it as code (though that could happen on any forum, highlighting seems to be gently enforced on, say, stack overflow, since it looks so much better). Inline code is apparently possible, but I cannot figure out how. Any sort of fancy layout, layout when quoting documentation, etc. is missing. Quoting of posts you reply to look bad, line widths are all over the place. Everything just looks plain dated and untidy.

My impression of this discussion, and the one here is that most people are indifferent. Is everyone is just using emails?

Mauro

unread,
Jan 12, 2016, 6:09:16 AM1/12/16
to julia...@googlegroups.com
I second Tamas: a good email interface is a must. This seems to be
lacking currently:
https://meta.discourse.org/t/email-interface-suggested-improvements/32140

Tom Breloff

unread,
Jan 12, 2016, 8:46:37 AM1/12/16
to julia-users
Just to throw in my $0.02... I use gmail most of the time, and I have a few filters to auto-partition into a directory structure I like which combines github and google groups emails.  If I could no longer do this I would be disappointed.

Charles Novaes de Santana

unread,
Jan 12, 2016, 9:51:23 AM1/12/16
to julia...@googlegroups.com
My $0.02: I consider julia-users as a mailing-list. In general, my main communication is through emails. I write the posts to the mailing list using a webmail interface, but I use to read the posts of others from an email client or from mobile. Of course I can adapt myself and use another platform to communicate, but it would certainly take some time to be used to it. My vote is to keep the mailing list working as it is, even if we decide to put efforts in the other platform too.

Best,

Charles
--
Um axé! :)

--
Charles Novaes de Santana, PhD
https://github.com/cndesantana

Jonathan Malmaud

unread,
Feb 19, 2016, 11:00:18 AM2/19/16
to julia-users
Hi guys,
Discourse can be used as a mailing list just as Google Groups can, and it should be possible to import the current subscribers to this email list to Discourse. So it would be a pretty seamless transition. Then the people who want to use the web UI, with its advanced features like syntax highlighting, user-pinging, etc, can do so alongside those who continue to interact with a Discourse-powered julia-users via email. 

There's one technical restriction on using Discourse via email - when you reply to a post, you have to write your entire reply at the top of your email. You can't reply inline to different parts of a message. They're looking to fix that soon, and it seems a relatively minor inconvenience compared to the advantages that Discourse will offer.

Jacob Quinn

unread,
Feb 19, 2016, 12:14:06 PM2/19/16
to julia...@googlegroups.com

+1; let's switch over.

Viral Shah

unread,
Feb 19, 2016, 2:16:23 PM2/19/16
to julia-users
How are they with detecting spam and moderation?

-viral

Patrick Kofod Mogensen

unread,
Feb 20, 2016, 3:10:24 PM2/20/16
to julia-users
Isn't it dead? Latest posts seem to be from October last year, or am I looking at the wrong forum? Obviously, people don't mind this format.

Jonathan Malmaud

unread,
Feb 20, 2016, 3:20:41 PM2/20/16
to julia-users
That site is just a tech demo so we can see what it would be like to switch to Discourse; it wouldn't be in actual use until a decision was made to switch over to it. 

Stefan Karpinski

unread,
Feb 22, 2016, 11:00:20 AM2/22/16
to Julia Users
The official switch would include using discourse.julialang.org as the domain and up-to-date transfer of threads.

Patrick Kofod Mogensen

unread,
Feb 22, 2016, 6:16:10 PM2/22/16
to julia-users
Ah, my bad. I (also back when this thread started) thought it was meant to be used "now", and if people seemed to be switching by themselves, there would be an official change. Sorry for the misunderstanding :)

Jonathan Malmaud

unread,
Feb 23, 2016, 1:03:42 PM2/23/16
to julia...@googlegroups.com
Viral,
https://meta.discourse.org/t/some-ideas-for-spam-control/10393/4 summarizes spam detection as of a few years ago - it’s presumably advanced in a few ways since then. There are major forums with >100k users using Discourse, so it must be at least reasonable. I’m not an expert on this though. 

Moderation is definitely more sophisticated than Google Groups - users can be banned or hell banned, individual posts can be hidden, users can be made moderators with different tiers of powers, category tags can be reserved for use by specific users (eg, high-priority announcement tags).

Jonathan Malmaud

unread,
Feb 23, 2016, 1:11:29 PM2/23/16
to julia...@googlegroups.com
Also on the moderation front, qualified users (those with a certain amount of earned trust) can flag a post as span, off-topic, or inappropriate. The forum moderator can configure how those flags are handled, including automatically hiding sufficiently flagged posts until an admin can review them.

Stefan Karpinski

unread,
Feb 23, 2016, 2:11:02 PM2/23/16
to Julia Users
I don't think spam will be a big issue as long as we can moderate and ban.

Po Choi

unread,
Feb 23, 2016, 4:27:52 PM2/23/16
to julia-users
Does it support MathJax?

Jonathan Malmaud

unread,
Feb 23, 2016, 4:29:03 PM2/23/16
to julia...@googlegroups.com
Yes

Sent from my iPad

Hans-Peter

unread,
Mar 9, 2016, 6:01:49 AM3/9/16
to julia-users
There is a new discourse blog post were Discourse offers free hosting for 'community friendly Github projects'. I think Julia would qualify and this would solve the question about self-hosting and its associated work.

On the other hand I don't recall what is the current situation about some people strongly preferring traditional maillists and Discourse' support thereof.

Viral Shah

unread,
Mar 9, 2016, 6:28:15 AM3/9/16
to julia...@googlegroups.com
Yeah, we should qualify. The next step would be to have a someone (Jonathan Malmud?) come up with a migrating plan, and we should also formally appoint a group of list admins to carry out the day to day activities, enforce community standards, etc.

-viral

Stefan Karpinski

unread,
Mar 9, 2016, 8:47:48 AM3/9/16
to Julia Users
Yes, I think we should give this a shot.

Tom Breloff

unread,
Mar 9, 2016, 8:59:42 AM3/9/16
to julia-users
Is it possible to auto-forward new posts from google to discourse?  What about an automated warning to direct users to the new site?

+1 for moving

Stefan Karpinski

unread,
Mar 9, 2016, 9:05:24 AM3/9/16
to Julia Users
It seems like we can import the email list from julia-users and julia-dev, and you can reply on Discourse by email, so people who interact with groups via email won't necessarily even notice much difference. For people who interact via the web interface, I think that once the Discourse setup is ready and populated with past discussions, we will disable posting to groups and thereby cut over to the new system. It will be briefly disruptive but shouldn't be too bad.

Johan Sigfrids

unread,
Mar 9, 2016, 9:12:11 AM3/9/16
to julia-users
What about other lists like julia-stats and julia-opt? Would they also move to Discourse or be left behind?

Miles Lubin

unread,
Mar 9, 2016, 9:19:03 AM3/9/16
to julia-users
I suspect julia-opt will wait and see how the julia-users transition goes. julia-opt has much lower volume than julia-users.

Viral Shah

unread,
Mar 9, 2016, 9:23:12 AM3/9/16
to julia...@googlegroups.com
Perhaps we should move over julia-dev first, and julia-users later once julia-dev is stable. Can we have multiple channels like stats and opt in discourse? Or would these have to be separate discourse lists? Of course, the choice is up to the admins of those lists.

There is a limit on the number of admins, so that may be a determining factor too.

-viral

Valentin Churavy

unread,
Mar 10, 2016, 5:43:21 AM3/10/16
to julia-users
One could use categories as channels. Rust has two differenent discourse instances for internal and user discussions. But in practice categories can have subcategories and we could have a tree like structure that also give a namespace for the package organisation like JuliaGPU.

mmh

unread,
Sep 17, 2016, 11:55:37 AM9/17/16
to julia-users
Hi Jonathan,

Seems like this has kind of burnt out. Is there still an impetus on a transition. 

Stefan Karpinski

unread,
Sep 19, 2016, 3:01:19 PM9/19/16
to Julia Users
I got the go ahead from Jeff and Viral to give this a try, then it didn't end up panning out. It would still be worth a try, imo.

Jonathan Malmaud

unread,
Sep 19, 2016, 3:39:34 PM9/19/16
to Julia Users
Discourse lives!

Marius Millea

unread,
Sep 19, 2016, 7:08:59 PM9/19/16
to julia-users
+1 for Discourse, which I could have done without spamming the list with another message if this were Discourse :)

mmh

unread,
Sep 22, 2016, 1:02:26 PM9/22/16
to julia-users
http://julia.malmaud.com

Now links to some random dudes website :P

Stefan Karpinski

unread,
Sep 22, 2016, 3:23:39 PM9/22/16
to Julia Users
Yikes... recycled static IP address :|

Patrick Kofod Mogensen

unread,
Sep 23, 2016, 8:54:09 AM9/23/16
to julia-users
And worst of all, no Julia-speedometer at http://nirajkadu.me/index.php/about/ either!

daycaster

unread,
Sep 23, 2016, 11:59:22 AM9/23/16
to julia-users
... @juliaheartbeat on twitter also started silent running on Sept 17...

Fengyang Wang

unread,
Oct 7, 2016, 3:21:07 AM10/7/16
to julia-users
I would also personally prefer a Discourse-based forum to this Google Groups mailing list.
Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages