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

Antoine Beaupré anarcat at torproject.org
Wed Jun 24 14:54:17 UTC 2020

On 2020-06-22 16:59:22, Antoine Beaupré wrote:
> 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).

I will also mention in passing that we have done some tests on a trial
instances from the discourse.net people, of which the results are
documented here:


Your comments there would be welcome, in case there's something I missed
in there...


Antoine Beaupré
torproject.org system administration

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