Motivation and role of using Discourse in DM

I’m copy-pasting what @frossie said in HipChat so any discussion of this site’s role in DM communications can happen on Discourse.

The goal is not to replace hipchat, though I will expect some traffic that currently happens on hipchat to migrate to this forum. The problems it is trying to solve are:

  1. Serve as a public, easily accessible venue for support questions about the DM stack (our “stack overflow”)
  2. Allow some type of discussions to happen in a way where people don’t “miss out” by not being on the forum all the time (so you can get a digest of all the traffic that happened in your email
  3. Provide a communication platform that doesn’t have a paid, per-user “gatekeeper” model so that anyone can participate (in the open sections at least)
  4. Find a way to include science collaborations in some of the discussions, which is not a community that is going to be hanging around our hip chat on a regular basis
  5. Take some traffic off some of the mailing lists, which tend to be hard to search
  6. Allow more community self-moderation features in deciding what is good content and so on

Right now it is an experiment. We want to give people opportunity to try it, and so that when we will open an RFC, they feel informed to comment

Any possibility that we replace hipchat with this if it turns out to be a better tool and people like it much more? I am scared that it will be another place we have to check and miss out otherwise.

It could replace HipChat entirely for a lot of people. Instant messaging platforms like HipChat are great for enabling immediate conversation, and Discourse won’t replace that. But Discourse will hopefully replace our ‘abuse’ of HipChat for having complex discussions that are of long-term use or effect (for example, the reasons for implementing some design), yet are buried in the chat stream.

Here’s one way to think of it: if you want to have an immediate conversation that you don’t think people in the future will need/want to read and search for, use HipChat. If you think the conversation will be useful for someone to read later on, use

In particular, if enough questions are answered on this forum, then new stack users and developers can help themselves just by searching and reading this forum, rather than asking the same questions over again on HipChat.

Of course, HipChat is also searchable – but not nicely organized into threads/topics.

I think we will always have an IM tool as part of the kit. Discourse won’t be used for things like CI notifications – or for control of CI and other systems.

Agree with the comments above about HipChat: I don’t think this is a replacement. But I also agree with @xiuqin – we already have too many disparate sources of information, and I’m leery of adding more.

Can we use this to replace dm-devel and/or dm-users instead? I’ve not looked into Discourse’s capabilities as an e-mail gateway yet – it would clearly not be possible to insist that everybody start checking a web forum rather than receiving news and announcements by mail – but it seems like that might be a more natural target for replacement than HipChat.

@jdswinbank: Yes, I think the mailing lists are the primary target. The mailing list archives are generally hard to access and hard to search.

In Preferences, you can set “Send me an email for every new post (unless I mute the topic or category)” which ought to closely replicate the mailing list experience. I think there might be a bit more stuff around each post than a traditional mailing list would include, though.

In addition watching a category to get notifications/emails of each post (see How to subscribe to emails of all new topics in Categories or Tags) and get RSS feeds (which only works for public categories at the moment, but see How to subscribe via RSS) we can also replicate mailing list functionality by allowing users to email-in new topics or replies (peruse the discussion at

I don’t know whether the RFC for this site should explicitly say we’ll replace dm-announce, dm-users and dm-devel, but I’d be more than happy to do so.

Another point I’d like feedback on is whether it’s important for people to be able to use this Discourse site mostly/entirely via their email client? Personally I like the idea of separating the traffic here from my email. And once you learn about Discourse’s keyboard shortcuts, it’s really quick to get around the site. With notifications and digest emails, I think people will be prompted to visit the forum when something is happening so they won’t need to keeping checking the site itself. I’d really like to hear people’s opinion on whether we need to implement a fully email driven gateway to the forum.

Hi Jonathan & co.,

Thanks for setting this up! After whole 10 minutes of use :smile:, I generally like the site (except that I’d love to be able to use tabs in the editor, and to teach the editor not to delete every < x >, thinking it’s a HTML tag (our C++ template aficionados will dislike it)).

I think it would be good to point this out on the mailing list themselves. Many people who use those as the primary mode of “permanent” communication may think that Discourse is meant to be a replacement for HipChat, and may be ignoring your original message about it.

Interesting. I need to use backticks to get it to stop being clever: <x>

In Discourse’s defense, back ticks are the Markdown way of marking up code. Atwood will never change that behaviour for us.

1 Like