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Re: Discussion tooling (was: Bits from the DPL (August 2019))

On Wed, 2 Oct 2019 at 14:51, Antonio Terceiro <terceiro@debian.org> wrote:
On Wed, Oct 02, 2019 at 01:37:58PM +0100, Samuel Henrique wrote:
> On Wed, 2 Oct 2019 at 10:48, Mathias Behrle <mbehrle@debian.org> wrote:
> > ...BTW no discussion tool can help in automating
> > separate discussion threads when the topic changes.
> >
> They can, I think reddit and hackernews are good at this.
> That's the "tree-like" structure that I mentioned in my email.

Note that email already has a "tree-like" structure, since forever. You
just don't see it if you (ironically) use web application email clients
like gmail that decided to not show it. Most console/desktop clients
that I ever saw do support it.

Hm, but I wonder of the ones you saw how much they are used, because from
the ones I see people using, I would say less than 5% (by usage) has this.

And even then we are talking about tools that are either console or
desktop-only, there is still the smartphone user cases and, most
importantly, being able to follow the discussions without the need
to authenticate and being subscribed to the list, which would be
useful for outsiders (and an outsider is someone who will become
a contributor eventually).

And the problems with relying on the tree view of email subthreads
have already been exposed here as it depends on people formatting
the subthread in a specific way, which does always happens.

On Wed, 2 Oct 2019 at 15:29, Jeremy Stanley <fungi@yuggoth.org> wrote:
If you find that mailing list discussions lack a tree-like
structure, that's a failing of the mail client you've chosen, not
the medium itself.

I don't think it helps with having new contributors to require them
to use specific mail clients that are used by a small niche of
mail users (talking about client percentage usage). Besides it
also require one to be subscribed to the list and authenticated,
so outsiders can't easily follow. I know there is a web interface
for the archives but is isn't good to follow the threads as well.

On Wed, 2 Oct 2019 at 15:36, Sean Whitton <spwhitton@spwhitton.name> wrote:
> BTW no discussion tool can help in automating separate discussion
> threads when the topic changes.

Yes, and more generally, what we are trying to deal with seems to be a
social problem, not a technical problem, so moving away from mailing
lists is unlikely to have a large impact.

I don't understand the argument of it being a social problem, isn't our
own constitution a technical solution to a social problem?
When dealing with behavior/social problems, it's fine if you don't
solve 100% of the cases, but you can certainly help by having tools
that makes it harder for one to follow trough the wrong way of doing
things, that's the whole point of UX.

In this case, for example, this subthread started by saying that the
titles need to be formatted in a correct way so it's easier to follow
the big picture. Reddit and Hackernews doesn't have this problem
as you're always replying to a given comment, if it's not the OP,
it's a subthread. It's very hard to accidentally not open a subthread
when you want to, as the "add comment" screen shows you only the
one you're replying to.

In the end, I'm not saying the hackernews and reddit solution are
perfect, they still probably do have other problems when used
as a discussion tool.

I'm fine with not talking about changing the status quo anymore,
I thought there would be people exposing the problems and
talking about the pros/cons of the tools but it's clear that I'm
the outlier here. It seems most of the community doesn't think
we could have a better tool for discussions.

Samuel Henrique <samueloph>

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