Proposal: Discourse Reorganization

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

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

1 Like