Proposal: Discourse Reorganization (v2)

Summary:
This is a proposal to reorganize the Discourse SourceCred forum, with the intent to improve its clarity of purpose and value for the SC community.

Taking @LB’s new project protocol as a starting point, I’ll first explain those five topics of consideration:

What is the problem?

Currently, our discourse.sourcecred.io forum is unstructured and, to be blunt, a bit of a chaotic mess. Conversely, I really enjoy the clean structure of the Obsidian Forum, which also runs on Discourse. This proposal is partly inspired by their cleanliness and organization.

What is this proposal’s mission?

To have a clean, accessible and powerful forum where regular users and new explorers of SourceCred alike can intuitively do the following:

  • discover and find the information they’re curious about;
  • propose and submit whatever they want to contribute;
  • receive the support or answers they are in need of.

What does success look like with this proposal?

For activity and engagement on our Discourse to increase, and the quality of engagements to improve — not that it’s currently bad, but we have lots of great ideas in the pipeline for making it even better, but we lack a clear structure to implement them in.

What is the strategy for success?

The current SC Discourse forum has no clean category design. This proposal aims to change that, so that we have a set of titles with (one-line to small paragraph) descriptions that clearly explain each area. Each category then acts as a sub-forum, which can have its own sticky posts at the top to help guide newcomers to the goals and purposes of that particular category.

Tactics:

  1. Create the final set of categories, starting with the proposed list below and updating with community feedback, improvements, and changes.
  2. Reorganize all topics per the new structure
  3. Remove or redesign the existing dozen tags (optional, but preferred)

@KuraFire will have to do a bunch of research on Discourse theme-ing to adjust it to match this proposal.

Proposal (v1)

Layout

Proposal: to match Obsidian’s layout:

  • Title + description on the left, vertically stacked and left-aligned
  • Topics activity counts in the middle, right-aligned (how many / week, new)
  • Latest three (3) threads with updates on the right, vertically stacked

Discourse Categories

Proposed titles and descriptions for the Discourse landing page:

  • :purple_heart: Announcements

    Official SourceCred announcements
  • :blue_heart: Community Care

    Learn how we cultivate our thriving, supportive, and highly collaborative community, and see our templates to use for your own project or organization.
  • :green_heart: Opportunities

    Contribute to SourceCred via any of the open and ongoing opportunities, and earn Cred!
  • :yellow_heart: Showcase

    Are you using SourceCred in your community? Have you done or made something SourceCred-related you want to share? Show us here!
  • :orange_heart: Proposals (& Feature Requests?)

    Suggest new features, opportunities, or any other ideas relevant to SourceCred.
  • :heart: FAQ

    Frequently Asked Questions are answered here.
  • :sparkling_heart: Book Club

    Read books with us about better ways to do community design, governance, economics, and societal stewardship.
  • :black_heart: Tech Support

    Get help from the community with your SourceCred instance, report bugs, or request clarifications on the particulars of how SC works (algorithms, crypto tokens, etc).

The thinking behind these Category choices

  • :purple_heart: Announcements

    Self-evident: all important updates regarding SourceCred. Top of forum. - Limitation: only Discourse Admins can post in here.

  • :blue_heart: Community Care

    All discussions about how we manage the community, what we do, ideas for this aspect (that are not as sophisticated or comprehensive as Proposals). Made as second category to signal that we care deeply about and prioritize community care & cultivation, and encourage that way of thinking in anyone who explores SC.

  • :green_heart: Opportunities

    An open forum for people to post opportunities that others can contribute to, or complete. Precursor to boosting functionality. Can coexist or incorporate Boosting listings once boosting functionality comes into the picture.

    • Example: “Make some SourceCred visual art” — invites artists to create art for SC in some way.
    • Example: “Help write and illustrate an accessible introduction to SourceCred” — collaborative way to create a visually-enhanced intro to SC.
    • Example: “SourceCred memes thread!” — a big thread for making memes and coordinating a social media push, for instance.
  • :yellow_heart: Showcase

    This is like a didathing for the larger SC community (MetaGame, 1Hive, etc.) as well as a showcase for any other thing people do or create that’s related to SourceCred. (think @LB’s visual art, @s_ben’s bar chart race, etc.)

    • Note: Not saying that all such things should move from Discord to this forum, just making it an area for it that makes the Discourse a more fun adventure to explore.
  • :orange_heart: Proposals (& Feature Requests?)

    For all proposed ideas, changes, features, really anything that we want to do. We can have a sticky Proposal Template post that people can use so that they are given a clear structure explaining how to write a proposal.

    • Question: Should Feature Requests be explicitly included in the title?
  • :heart: FAQ

    Rather than trying to organize a website FAQ that will grow and evolve constantly and require a lot of maintenance, we could have this forum and link to it from the main website documentation. Or, have both and keep only the most essential questions on the website with our official (and legally safe) answers, and keep this as a community-powered FAQ.

    • Possible limitation? Only certain trust levels can post in here?
  • :sparkling_heart: Book Club

    Suggested by @topocount; this would be a great place for people to discuss books relevant to reimagining society and building towards a harmonious future.

  • :black_heart: Tech Support

    Self-evident: get help with technical things. This could also have a Sticky post that explains how to participate on Github (be it contributing or otherwise).

Notes

The heart emojis are used to represent color suggestions, which show up as a thick line on the left of a category.

We may want to use a different order to put more contrasting colors next to each other, to make it more scannable.

Feedback welcomed and wanted!

5 Likes

Dig it…Looking at the Obsidian discourse, part of me is missing the news feed just showing the latest. That is a useful view I think. Though you can just click the latest tab and see that view if you want.

Categories look solid.

You can see what the combo of both looks like if you go to our current /categories view, which shows the latest topics across the board + categories on the left.

Personally, I much prefer the latest three posts per each category as seen on Obsidian’s forum, and like you said, the Latest view will still show exactly what you like. :slight_smile:

I am fairly certain my preference for the new feed view is entirely just being used to it. Also the Maker forum (where I spend a lot of time) is set up this way. I’m sure I’ll get used to it though. And discoverability (biggest problem with current layout) should improve considerably.

I once lived in a house where one of the rooms was always piled with random stuff. We jokingly called it “the treasury”, although “the heap” would have been more accurate. One might say, “the problem with this room is that it has a bunch of random stuff in it. The solution is to clean it”. However, this would have been a mis-diagnosis. The problem with the room was that we had no intention for it: there was no reason anyone wanted to be in it, or to invest energy in it. If we had cleaned it without setting intention, it would have stayed neglected, and eventually accumulated another mess.

The solution–which was pioneered by @LB while organizing a party–was to set an intention for it. It became a super cozy “womb” like room with tons of soft surfaces, gentle lights, and a great vibe. We put the TV there and it became the spot for snuggling and watching shows. Once it had a clear intention, it started getting used and loved and naturally became more cared for.

Similarly, I think the dis-organization of our discourse masks the deeper issue that we don’t have any real intention for this forum. This proposal feels like it treats Discourse usage as an end-in-itself, with success equated to increased Discourse engagement metrics, but why? The goal of “discovering information” and “receiving support” is already solved by our docs and our Discord, so it’s not clear why we need to invest in the platform.

That said, I think there are good reasons to use Discourse. Discord is a communication platform with fast feedback but poor discoverability. Most conversations will only ever be visible to the immediate participants. Discourse has slow feedback, but great discoverability: everyone can read up on hot threads, and we can reference them weeks or years later.

I propose we ask: in what areas can these advantages of Discourse be most useful to us? and then focus on those areas. With that in mind, I think two very strong categories would be:

Discussions: Any long-form discussion where we’d like to prioritize people getting to reflect and respond, and want to engage the whole community. Some examples are Exorcising Harmful Narratives and Should Discord be a "cred-free space"?. The book club can also fit into this.

Proposals: Suggestions to change the project in ways that have wider-reaching impact and therefore merit discussion and buy-in from the community before experimentally getting started. This proposal and Changing the CredSperiment weights both feel like good examples. However, I wouldn’t need to write a proposal before (say) starting work on optimizing CredRank, because the community doesn’t need to provide input on that.

We can further tie these two use cases in with the rest of the project by explicitly referencing them in our community practices. Here’s what I’m thinking. Every week, we can find what discussion topic got the most Cred, and what proposal got the most Cred. Then, we reserve time during the community call to discuss that topic, and during the weekly update to talk about the new proposal. This would start to create a real palpable answer to the question “why would I go Discourse instead of just posting in Discord instead”.

3 Likes

I love this idea. Less is more. If we need more structure we can create more categories as needed.

Okay, here’s my super quick rundown of the Proposal Formula for this initiative as I see it:

Problem:

SourceCred does not have an accessible way to have long-form async discussions that are easily discovered and referenced over time.

Mission

To create a space where SC participants can propose ideas/protocols and facilitate discussion around important topics with ease. These discussions/ideas/proposals should be easy to reference in the future and maintain the discussion over time.

Success

Any time we have; a new idea that needs a lot of explanation, a long thread on the Discord we don’t want to lose track of, a proposal we want to document or that requires broad community feedback, etc, participants naturally gravitate to our Discourse and are easily able to generate discussion, document their thoughts for the future, and have their writing discovered by the appropriate audience without a ton of shilling.

Any time we want to help a newcomer to learn more about the recent goings on in the project, we know we can send them to the Discourse and they’ll easily find their way to the information they want.

Strategy

Use the platform of Discourse Forums as a hub for longer-form discussion. Make the Category and Tag functions intentional so they serve our community’s specific needs as well as create clarity for newcomers rather than confusion.

Tactics

  • Create a useful and “less is more” style system of Categories and Tags to make displaying and finding specific types of discussion easy.
  • Make very clear descriptions for our system so that even newcomers can easily grasp our organization and discussion rules (in descriptions of Categories etc, in future internal-community specific docs).
  • Use Topic Templates (like we used to for initiatives) for proposals so the Proposal Formula is auto-generated in anything tagged as a Proposal. Other templates for Discussions could be created too.
  • Probably more things based on the specific tools/options that Discourse provides natively?



So my personal recommendation in addition to the Proposals/Discussions idea is to create something for each of the Trunks or perhaps major Branches as well.


This might look like having a Category for each major Branch (eg: Community Care, Ecosystems, Software Engineering, Documentation, Onboarding, etc.) and using “Proposal” and “Discussion” as tags.

That method would mean that you’ll be able to see each of the major pieces of SC on the home screen and perhaps its most recent topic, then filter for Proposals or Discussions. I think this could benefit newcomers who are looking to learn about a specific part of SC, but also newcomers who want a little taste of the most relevant topics in each part of SC. This also introduces newcomers to the fact that we have Trunks/Branches and could help them decide what area of SC they find most intriguing. This may also make for easier future changes. It seems more likely that we’ll want to add types of topics (more than discussion or proposal) and having those be tags makes it easier to add or change them. Categories should be things we change less often like Trunks or Branches.


The other way around would be to have Proposals and Discussions be the two main categories we start with, and using the Trunks/Branches as tags.

This way would make a less cluttered front page with a clear two types of experience you can dive into; searching tags to find specific types of discussions/proposals. I like this method less because I think the reason people will be coming to our Discourse is to explore the menu of important/recent/relevant SC topics, not to decide whether they’re more interested in reading about Discussions or reading about Proposals. This would also be less friendly to newcomers who don’t yet know what Branches or types of topics exist in SC and therefore wouldn’t know to use those search terms/tags.




I’ll also suggest taking a look at the meat of the Proposal Formula Discourse Topic. In each section (Problem, Mission, Success, Strategy, Tactics) there are a list of questions to ask yourself. It’s a lot of work, but when I took the time to fully answer each one in my Cultivation Trunk Goals Proposal Topic it yielded some amazing thoughts, deeper thinking, and new ideas on how to tackle the problems. <3

2 Likes

Based on everyone’s feedback, and the suggested changes from @decentralion and @LB, I’ve created a version 2 of this proposal:

Proposal for Discourse Categories (v2)

  • :purple_heart: General

    General-purpose discussion, with a Sticky thread for the latest release notes. Includes Book Club (tag) conversations.
  • :blue_heart: Community Cultivation & Governance

    Dedicated to all things w.r.t. SourceCred’s blueprints / templates for SC-powered communities.
  • :orange_heart: Proposals

    Suggest new features, opportunities, or any other ideas relevant to SourceCred.
  • :black_heart: Archived

    If needed. (Could be useful for moving outdated discussions and superseded proposals into)

Thoughts and reflections

This v2 is pared down a lot to reflect @decentralion’s feedback on intention, which I agree with was not set as accurately in the v1 proposal. DL’s comment that "This proposal feels like it treats Discourse usage as an end-in-itself” reframed my thinking in answering the question: What content and discussions do we want to facilitate and encourage?

When it comes to landing on this Discourse forum, I don’t see a strong need for dedicated categories for our branches of Product (Engineering + Design), Documentation, Onboarding, or even perhaps Ecosystem—although that one might become more relevant to have its own category once we grow to many more projects. A lot of those branch-specific discussions happen primarily on Discord and in our various calls, with the main use of Discourse for them being proposals. I don’t think people come to the discourse to discover long discussions about the branches specifically?

I therefore prefer LB’s second idea of using tags for the various Branches in our SC org chart, which would be used best in both General and Proposals.

Community Cultivation & Governance

This area of topics, I believe, does deserve its own category on the front page of our Discourse. As before, I think it’s important for us to communicate clearly and immediately that community care is a core value in SourceCred, and it would serve a purpose that I think is harder to put on the website: a home for our blueprints/templates for cultivation, governance, and conduct in other communities — whether they use SourceCred or not.

I believe we have the opportunity to be role models in this area, harmonizing the efforts that people are already putting into their communities and helping them align those efforts to the central (and shared) values we stand for.

This category fits two important criteria: it is valuable content for discoverability & exploration, and it allows for easy referencing. Refined and really robust blueprints could be put on the website somehow in the future,

Additionally, this would be a great home for people from outside of SourceCred to contribute their best ideas in those areas, whether they have a technical background or not at all.

Welcoming all feedback again!

2 Likes

I intend to think on this some more and provide some additional reflections, but I real quick wanted to share a thought off the top of my head.

I’d be curious to think about use cases or user profiles for this. Some quick examples:

  • A project champion with a new project proposal.
  • A newcomer looking to get the “general vibe”
  • A dev looking to discuss or propose a new way of doing things in the SWE Branch.
  • A trunk lead who wants to suggest a project-wide strategy
  • A new book-club discussion
  • A description of a process we’ve adopted in our internal community
  • A suggestion or first draft of a Community Playbook page/topic/chapter.

Where would these participants go to write their respective topics, what tags would the use, and is the process/wording going to make it intuitive for them?

I’d also be interested in seeing a list of initial tags we’d want everyone to start using.

So happy you’re working on this Faruk! Great refinement and second draft of this proposal, excited to see it refined even more. <3

2 Likes

Faruk, I’m so happy that you’re working on this. Here are my initial responses after reading:

  1. I’m a bit unclear in what would go into General.
  2. What counts as a proposal? For example, what if I’m looking for community feedback on a topic so I can later come up with a system to, let’s say, organize docs reviewing. My topic may lead to a proposal, but isn’t one yet.
  3. Upon reflecting on my last two questions, I want to know what the hope for Discourse discourse is. Is it a place we hope and expect to ask for feedback? Is it a place to talk about what’s on our minds? If both, then perhaps we should be clear where posts asking for community feedback go.

Maybe two categories like “Discussion” and “Community Review”? With tags for proposals?

I feel like “discussion” and “community review” are too synonymous in their meaning. Perhaps “discussion” could be something quite obvious, like “blog.”

Really useful feedback, @LB! I love your examples, they really help paint likely and representative scenarios. And @Bex same thing; my answers for each:

  • A project champion with a new project proposal.

This would go into the Proposals category, with a tag for the trunk or branch it’s for.

  • A newcomer looking to get the “general vibe”

The General category would be a great start; one sticky thread could also be specifically for people new to SourceCred.

  • A dev looking to discuss or propose a new way of doing things in the SWE Branch.

The General category could be a start; if they have a full proposal ready to make, the Proposals category with the tag for that branch.

That said, devs wanting to learn about or change how things are done in the SWE branch are probably better off attending the Monday Dev Meetings and discussing their plans on Discord. If the Dev team feels that this is a need that requires a more distinct place for it, we can reassess.

  • A trunk lead who wants to suggest a project-wide strategy

The Proposals category, with their trunk (or branch) as the tag.

  • A new book-club discussion

This would best just go in the General category with the Book Club tag, because it’s not a project proposal or a proposal to affect the SourceCred organization itself or how we run our community, it’s really more a suggestion of “hey let’s read this book!”

  • A description of a process we’ve adopted in our internal community

This would be perfect in the Community Cultivation & Governance category. :partying_face:

  • A suggestion or first draft of a Community Playbook page/topic/chapter.

If this is a distinct proposal for a project or effort, I would suggest it be in Proposals, but when I think of a draft for new Community Playbook content it feels like a perfect fit for the Community Cultivation & Governance category.

From @Bex:

  1. I’m a bit unclear in what would go into General.

All general chat, anything that doesn’t have a more distinct focus or specificity.

  1. What counts as a proposal? For example, what if I’m looking for community feedback on a topic so I can later come up with a system to, let’s say, organize docs reviewing. My topic may lead to a proposal, but isn’t one yet.

A proposal would be something more concrete than “I have an idea and want people’s thoughts on it”—it’s a collection of suggestions for something to do, and (optionally) how.

When you’re looking for feedback for something like your idea of organizing docs reviewing, that would go well in the General category; if it’s an idea more specifically aimed at Community Cultivation or at Governance, that would work better in the category for those.

“General” really means general discussion, it’s a catch-all for everything not obviously better placed in the other categories. The category title could be updated to General Discussion, I’m just not a fan of having “Discussion” be the first word that people see when they look at our categories.

  1. Upon reflecting on my last two questions, I want to know what the hope for Discourse discourse is. Is it a place we hope and expect to ask for feedback? Is it a place to talk about what’s on our minds? If both, then perhaps we should be clear where posts asking for community feedback go.

The Discourse will be mainly intended as a place for long-form conversations that are more asynchronous and less urgent. Bigger proposals, ideas, discussions, and conversations go well on Discourse and not so much on Discord. Feedback soliciting is a great example, see: this very discussion thread based on my Proposal above. :slight_smile:

I hope that answers the questions sufficiently, but if not please continue! :heart:

So far it seems my v2 proposal could cater to our needs and intentions for Discourse quite well, but I’ll give people some more time for additional thoughts and feedback.

So I want to push back on this V2 proposal. I love that you pared it down, but I think it got too pared down.

  1. I want more nuance than most things happening in the General category because that’s basically what we have now only instead of “general” it’s “uncategorized”.
  2. I want us to really think about what it is we are always talking about in our community. Let’s get critical about what kinds of conversations we keep wishing we were having on a regular basis. For example, maybe having a Cred category would be super useful with tags that define between talking about our internal use of Cred or talking about Cred as a function in the technology all projects use.
  3. I really want the structure to be extremely self-evident. Both someone who works on the project regularly, and someone who’s new should be able to easily infer where their posts should go without too much explicit direction.
  4. I think that the Discourse has the opportunity to be a huge resource for our newcomers and would love to see @echojuliet get involved in creating this structure too, with an eye towards how we can leverage this space to improve our onboarding flow.
  5. After the brainstorming session for the Creditor where we got diverse opinions about how we want that tech to impact our community, I felt super inspired to have the same wide-scope conversation about this Discourse re-org since this is something that will affect everyone.

Some suggestions off the top of my head for Categories of topics that come up a lot in our community:

  • Cred
    • Could easily be a space to propose changes to weights
    • Great place to discuss Crediquette
  • Governance
    • A space for discussing things like the transition from TBD power to decentralized power.
  • Start Here or Onboarding or Getting Started
    • Pinned topics that explain important social and technical aspects of getting started in our community. Newcomers could ask questions in the comments.
    • A place to find EJ’s newcomer worksheet and other useful starting tasks for newcomers.
    • Another space for introductions?
  • Project Proposals
    • With tags for “active” proposals, and “idea” or “on hold” proposals.
    • Would have a required template for creating fleshed-out ideas.
  • Operations/Process/Systems (for our internal community)
    • Discussion around new ideas for making our community run smoothly
    • Great place to request or ideate about changes to the way we run things.
  • Algorithm/Technology/Dev/Feature Requests
    • ie: “I wish our Meeting Notes channel flowed Cred with more nuance”
    • ie: “I wish I had a way to check my Grain by time” (the Grain Calculator tool that Kevin made)
  • Updates or Announcements or SC News
    • potentially a posting-restricted channel (based on trust level?) but central and viewable by all.
    • A place for high-context participants to share updates that affect the entire community and acts as a reading list of accomplished milestones over time.

I appreciate the time and energy that you’re been putting into making this a powerful tool for our entire community. <3

1 Like

Thank you for this in-depth feedback, @LB! :slight_smile: I think Start Here is an especially great category for us to have, given the ideas we have based on the basecamp-model of onboarding.

For some of the other new suggestions, I’m not sure. I have a long history / experience with forum over-designing, creating all these designated spaces for people to contribute in highly focused ways, and have found them to spread people out so much that it discourages participation. It makes a lot of the spaces seem like dead zones, rather than a vibrant community. For mainly this reason, I am wary of having many hyper-specific categories like Cred, AI/Tech, or Governance.

As I’ve only been involved in SC for ~4 months, I can’t speak to what conversations we “always” have, but I do think that a lot of our most recent dominating topics—Cred, Creditor, Grain distribution fairness—are more transitory than permanent topics.

For now, I’m thinking I’ll spend a couple of days collating threads from our discourse today, mark what categorization I think would be best for each, and share that output for feedback. How does that sound?

1 Like