Discourse

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Join the Discourse pilot at https://discourse.wmflabs.org/ and sign up for an account today![edit]

Discourse has been installed at wmflabs.org, see https://discourse.wmflabs.org/.

There is a project page at mediawiki.org, see https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Discourse, though the main discussion is below.

Issues are tracked at Phabricator, see Phab:T124690.

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Background[edit]

One part of our communications infrastructure that is in serious need of improvement is mailing lists. We (the Wikimedia movement) have been using mailing lists since the creation of Wikipedia. The user interface of Mailman 2 has evolved greatly across the years, together with the evolution of NNTP and email clients.

Discourse is one of many discussion platform. It still allows tags as listed by James and Delphine in 2008 in the proposal for a new internal e-mail lists system. Discourse was also mentioned as a possible alternative to mailing lists in a wikimedia-l thread in January 2016.

Some people speculate that the proponents of Discourse are looking for a prettier web interface for the tasks currently performed on the web, or perhaps for a web interface covering the entire mailman functionality (more than the existing web bridges allow), but this is not known for sure.

What we'd keep:[edit]

  • Discussions sorted by topics (mailing lists become tags).
  • E-mail integration, threads

What we'd gain (user experience)[edit]

  • Much better user experience, which makes it easier for more people to get involved in discussions.[citation needed]
  • No more duplicated threads between lists.[citation needed]
  • Discussions and archives in the same place.[citation needed]
  • Mobile web support
    • Although mobile devices with good web support tend to also have good support for email
  • Alleviate 'thank spam' - short posts in agreement or thanking a fellow editor[citation needed]
  • Editing comments
    • Already possible in wikis

What we'd lose (user experience)[edit]

  • Proper email support
    • Creating new messages via e-mail: unclear if it's supported at this time ([1] says no, [2] indicates it might]): a ticket has been filed at Phabricator, see Phab:T125098.
    • «I have used the email support on other Discourse instances and can say that it is *really* bad. The messages are not sent in the right order, edited posts don't work, the formatting doesn't work well, headers related to mailing lists aren't sent properly and I have many other complaints. I don't think the Discourse developers care much about the email support, and there are many features of Discourse that it does not work with or that were clearly not given much thought.» (Rastus Vernon)
  • Access via newsgroups.
  • Data:
  • Integration in people's routine workflows (which implies chances for people to reappear and contribute to a discussion even long time after they've stopped being hyperactive in a discussion venue).
  • Support for no-JavaScript usage.
  • Transparency and flexibility: it's easy to move a discussion from private emails to mailing lists.

What we'd gain (systems administration)[edit]

  • OAuth integration with MediaWiki credentials, a ticket to request SSO has been filed at Phabricator, see Phab:T124691.
  • Easy access management.(unclear)
  • No more Mailman. No more Pipermail.[citation needed]
    • The world around us doesn't trash mailman just because we do.
    • Possibly: No more Loomio.(unclear) No more Google Groups.[citation needed]

What we'd lose (systems administration)[edit]

  • Python, in favor of Rails. But Discourse's recommended setup is through an official Docker container, which alleviates many installation pains.
  • Alternately, discourse.com has set up and hosted installations for other large open source projects.

Mattermost[edit]

Yuvi did some work to find a backward-compatible replacement for IRC. He has been investigating Mattermost and set up a test instance in Labs.