As Team MoT starts to plan our goals for 2023, it got me thinking about the opportunity we have here with this forum, The Club. Like bringing it closer to the www.ministryoftesting.com site.
It’s run using a service called Discourse. It continues to serve many communities well with all sorts of features to support and manage a forum of this size. The moderation tools alone are incredibly valuable, let alone scheduling, easy replies and threads, categories, notifications, tagging and link unfurling plus more!
Discourse recently launched a chat feature. You can chat just like any other chat client, have channels, keep the chat window small or big. Stuff like that. It’s very cool!
I think I’d personally use it over a Slack instance (for example) cos having it all in one place to reference each will be super handy. As in, we’re chatting away about something and someone mentions a thing. Oh yeah, that reminds me we have a few posts already on that. Go check them out here and you don’t have to go elsewhere to find them.
What are your thoughts on enabling Discourse chat?
There’s no guarantee we will, just curious at this point in time.
Have you thought about discord? I think Discord is something many of us have… there are already some tester groups froms MoT people. You can have it on mobile also.
Having a chat here on the forums might work, I’m not so sure. I’m not familiar with it but how easy would it be to link back to a previous conversation from a few days ago?
Discord would also provide the ability to screenshare, voice chat so people can easily explain stuff.
Which might be handy! You can also have some games in there for people, have your own rep/achievement/level system to draw more attention to people ( gamification )
I’m not against Discourse nor am I pro. I’ll be the neutral spirit but …discord would be great!
Really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts here.
Discord has definitely come up internally and I thought it would make for a good fit. Yet having been a member of it with other communities I’m not a fan. It’s a mess of a tool. Plus, it has curious owners and financial backers. I don’t think MoT would be inclined to move ahead with a Discord server. Yet never say never.
A few of us use a Discord, but I’m too set in my ways for the way chat apps distract a person with emojis and memes that add calories all over. 50% of the posts are not actual chat - and there is very little actually happening.
There was a # slack at one point? What happened to that? I Did try to use it, but it was far too noisy with people asking repeat questions, or talking about tools I never use, so I lost interest rapidly. I did like how it was time bound, after a few days everything gets deleted. I like that.
I don’t know enough about Discord, but a thing where messages get nuked after a week or two. I would be a fan of a Discord like that, being in the moment is very valuable. The chat channels on that horrid StackOverflow site are it’s only redeeming quality because they have that temporal thing about them that I like.
Adding one more chat medium sounds like a bad idea as I believe it would split the audience. If The Club were super active and there were often threads that were blowing up (e.g. lots of responses happening near real time), then there might be a use case for enabling it, but otherwise, it just sounds like you’d be fragmenting the user base.
I also don’t think chat fits in well with how The Club has evolved - the threads here tend to be longer form, with people often writing longer answers with references and things. You don’t often see the one sentence responses that would be a strong signal that chat was desired in the forum.
Searching the Slack already does this, though it does expire and doesn’t seem to be the user norm - most of the links to the Ministry of Testing appear to be from MoT staff. Not sure what the Discourse license is like, and how much history they keep?
I think the other issue I have with browser based chat is that it’s browser based, so I often end up losing the tab or accidentally closing the browser window I had dedicated to it.
One argument in favor of enabling it might be if there’s a large user base that’s requested chat but can’t access Slack due to corporate firewalls or the like, but this seems like a corner case, and the companies that block Slack would likely also block Discourse chat servers.
Ernie makes a lot of sense here with an argument for not fragmenting and diluting chat. On the other hand some people might feel intimidated when a forum is really large, or when the threads are not covering topics at a level appropriate to them.
Personally I’m more into the long-form of the forums, and fully appreciate that when people have a simple question they want help with quickly that chat is brilliant. For me, the questions I commonly have are so technical that chat looses focus easily, also have found that I can only chat for a very small window of time each day. and chat get lost in the wind because I have other things to do, so chat is mainly good around common topics like coffee preferences thing or about the weather which don’t make me a better engineer, just a happier engineer.
I’ve tried and failed when it comes to keeping up with The Club, LinkedIn, Slack & Twitter so I wouldn’t want another thing to try and keep up with. However if it was a replacement then that could be handy.
BTW I spotted that there’s Slack integration for Discourse that could be a nicer way to link the chatting use case of Slack and the more discussion based use case of The Club.
Here, here. I think I was subconsciously turned off by the MoT Slack largely because anything remotely positive ended up with a bunch of animated “reaction” emojis added onto it, which I also find mentally exhausting (and before people write me off as a “Boomer”, I’m in my 30’s).