[tor-project] Discourse? (was: Disabling Comments on Most Blog Postings (was: Re: Have "anything goes" blog post?))

Antoine Beaupré anarcat at torproject.org
Mon Jun 22 20:59:22 UTC 2020

On 2020-06-22 20:46:23, Matthew Finkel wrote:
> On Wed, Jun 17, 2020 at 10:45:33AM -0700, Philipp Winter wrote:
>> We have many comments on our blog that are unrelated to the respective
>> blog post but still bring up reasonable topics.  To make it easier for
>> our users to be heard, why not have an "anything goes" blog post once a
>> month?  A user suggested this idea over here:
>> <https://blog.torproject.org/comment/288185#comment-288185>
>> The idea is for users to comment on any topic as long as it's not in
>> violation of our blog comment policy (minus the "on topic" requirement):
>> <https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/doc/community/blog-comment-policy>
>> Hopefully, this will give our users an opportunity to talk about
>> problems they have, ask us questions, and request features.
> At Today's Tor Browser meeting we discussed the need for (additional)
> blog comment moderators. The responsibility of approving and responding
> to pending comments generally falls onto whoever writes/publishes a blog
> post, but some groups have a better process for this than others. We can
> think about creating a more formalized process for this, maybe with
> rotating responsibilities, unfortunately we are faced with two (hard)
> facts:
> 1) The number of paid individuals who can spend time on supporting Tor's
> operations/responsibilities/goals is smaller than it was two months ago.
> We should expect some tasks must be reduced/cut, and maybe moderating
> blog comments should be one of them.
> 2) Drupal's blog comment system is terrible for supporting reports from
> people about bugs or feature requests. We get stack traces and console
> messages without context, vague descriptions of crashes and UI bugs, and
> opinions about Tor's politics.
> I know real bugs are reported through blog comments, and anonymous
> comments make Tor Browser (and other Tor projects) better. This is a
> fact, too. However, the overhead required for finding the signal in the
> noise is significant, and this is especially true now with fewer people
> around.
> One proposed solution is we agree that all blog posts are published with
> closed/hidden comments except the once-per-month "open" blog post. This
> requires an agreement because experience showed that closing comments on
> one post but allowing comments on another results in people submitting
> their questions/comments/bug-reports on whatever blog post allows
> comment, regardless of topic.
> One longer term solution involves integrating a feedback mechanism into
> Tor Browser (like Whisperback, SecureDrop, GlobaLeaks, etc), but we
> can't work on something like this any time soon and we need an immediate
> solution for this comment moderation problem.
> Supporting users of our projects is an on-going challenge and we have
> varying degrees of success (and media) from IRC, to blog comments, to
> RT, to Twitter...
> Maybe centralizing and time-bounding the comments we must watch will
> help us be more successful (or, maybe it'll be worse).
> Thoughts, arguments for/against?

I would like to bring back the idea of using Discourse as a replacement
for all our support channels (RT, blog comments, and other
feedback/support systems). It has a nice system to promote community
members as moderators while still giving us the ability to have the
final call on content (as administrators).

This would be a nice way of reducing the number of services (Drupal and
RT) at the cost of possibly creating a new more complicated one
(Discourse) or trusting a third-party provider (Discourse.net, although
we already do that with Drupal).

It would also allow us to switch to a fully static website for the blog,
naturally. It would also address the problem of "how do I get an account
on GitLab to file a bug report" (for which the answer would be: you
don't, go on discourse for now and we'll do the triage).


Antoine Beaupré
torproject.org system administration

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