Opened 3 years ago

Closed 15 months ago

Last modified 12 months ago

#3592 closed project (wontfix)

lack of web forums

Reported by: cypherpunks Owned by: phobos
Priority: minor Milestone:
Component: Website Version:
Keywords: Cc: cypherpunks@…, tails@…, runa, adrelanos@…
Actual Points: Parent ID:
Points:

Description

The tor project lacks web forums. this is an easy way to interact with users.  talking to someone on the phone was great, but not wasting time and being able to read a forum would be helpful. 

here are some websites that offer hosted forums:

  1. http://getsatisfaction.com/
  2. http://www.zendesk.com/
  3. https://www.zoho.com/support/
  4. http://www.freeforums.org/
  5. http://www.zetaboards.com/

Or there are many free packages available to host your own forums.  if hosting your own, please provide a hidden service as well.

Child Tickets

Change History (52)

comment:1 Changed 2 years ago by phobos

  • Resolution set to wontfix
  • Status changed from new to closed

there is traditionally zero interest in doing this from the tor dev side of things.

comment:2 Changed 2 years ago by phobos

  • Resolution wontfix deleted
  • Status changed from closed to reopened

I'm re-opening this after some feedback from a few people who really think we should try this forum thing. I'd like to simply host this somewhere else, see how it grows, and worry about a migration plan when the time comes. duckduckgo likes zoho, https://duck.co/, i'll ask them how it's going and make a plan from there.

comment:3 follow-up: Changed 2 years ago by arma

Yay. (I've been trying to build a community on the blogs, but it's hard when everybody but me is named anonymous.)

I promise to be sporadically quite useful in helping manage the forums.

comment:4 follow-up: Changed 2 years ago by atagar

I've wanted to give it a try too so I'd be happy to help. Doubt it's useful but I still have the phpbb instance I set up for this somewhere around a year ago...
http://forum.atagar.com/

I'm kinda partial to those topics so hoping so see something similar if we go with zoho. Cheers! -Damian

comment:5 in reply to: ↑ 4 Changed 2 years ago by phobos

Replying to atagar:

I've wanted to give it a try too so I'd be happy to help. Doubt it's useful but I still have the phpbb instance I set up for this somewhere around a year ago...
http://forum.atagar.com/

I'm kinda partial to those topics so hoping so see something similar if we go with zoho. Cheers! -Damian

How much do you feel like running the forums? I'm happy to go with you rather than others. Does more traffic cost you money? Can we buy a cert to make it https all the time? What else is needed to make it a valid beta test? hidden service access? phpbb attack attempts?

comment:6 Changed 2 years ago by phobos

Also, would atagar want jeremy to work up a design and branding that is more tor less phpbb-stock setup?

comment:7 follow-ups: Changed 2 years ago by atagar

How much do you feel like running the forums?

I'd be happy to.

Does more traffic cost you money?

Nope

Can we buy a cert to make it https all the time?

The reason that both the forum and arm's site lacks ssl is that Dreamhost has a fee for getting a static ip, and that's a requirement for their ssl setup. It isn't much so I should stop being lazy and just do that and get a cert.

What else is needed to make it a valid beta test?

The only steps that come to mind are...

  • Make it look nicer. I didn't do anything more than set up a stock phpbb instance so I should dig into the themes...
  • Figure out who on tor-assistants@ is interested in moderating. I'll ping the list tomorrow.
  • Send a notice to tor-talk@ when we're ready.
  • Maybe add a link to the site? I have mixed feelings - we want this to be an experiment where we can trivially pull the plug but on the other hand its primary worth is as a support forum so it needs to be discoverable by first time users. Thoughts?

hidden service access?

This would be problematic since dreamhost doesn't allow tor on its shared hosting (you need to buy a vps). If we get ssl set up then wouldn't the only advantage to a HS be avoiding the certificate chain of trust or are there other benefits?

phpbb attack attempts?

I'm under no illusion that phpbb has anything but a horrible security record. Given the option I'd opt for different forum software on a dedicated VM somewhere. However, for a beta this should be fine (it's the quickest/easiest thing to set up and the most mature forum option). If it really takes off then we can look into investing effort into a better setup.

I'm kinda hoping that Dreamhost does a sane job sandboxing this from the rest of the virtual host, thought I wouldn't bet on it.

Also, would atagar want jeremy to work up a design and branding that is more tor less phpbb-stock setup?

Sure. I'll see what I can do over the next couple days to make it look a bit less awful, and if jeremy has any experience with phpbb themes I'd be glad for the help.

Cheers! -Damian

comment:8 in reply to: ↑ 7 Changed 2 years ago by arma

Replying to atagar:

How much do you feel like running the forums?

I'd be happy to.

Great!

The reason that both the forum and arm's site lacks ssl is that Dreamhost has a fee for getting a static ip, and that's a requirement for their ssl setup. It isn't much so I should stop being lazy and just do that and get a cert.

Anything where we ask people to make accounts and log in should use https by default. Otherwise we're setting ourselves up for a bad experience.

  • Maybe add a link to the site? I have mixed feelings - we want this to be an experiment where we can trivially pull the plug but on the other hand its primary worth is as a support forum so it needs to be discoverable by first time users. Thoughts?

We should consider giving it a more official sounding domain name, if we want it to have a chance of succeeding. Say, forum.torproject.org. There are a bunch of alleged Tor forums out there -- what makes this one different from the others if it has an unrelated domain name?

I'm under no illusion that phpbb has anything but a horrible security record. Given the option I'd opt for different forum software on a dedicated VM somewhere.

Well, we do have the option. We can also set up a dedicated VM for it without much trouble. Would that change your plan? If the goal is to see if we can build a community, and the plan is that we if we succeeed then we will tell them all to start over in some other place... that sounds non-ideal. :)

comment:9 in reply to: ↑ 7 Changed 2 years ago by arma

Replying to atagar:

  • Figure out who on tor-assistants@ is interested in moderating. I'll ping the list tomorrow.

I don't know much about the conventions of forums (e.g. when to merge threads, what posts to make sticky, etc etc), but I will commit to helping to answer technical and other Tor questions (like I've been doing for the blog the past weeks) and helping to assess which people are being correct.

Let's make this one succeed! :)

comment:10 in reply to: ↑ 7 Changed 2 years ago by runa

Replying to atagar:

  • Maybe add a link to the site? I have mixed feelings - we want this to be an experiment where we can trivially pull the plug but on the other hand its primary worth is as a support forum so it needs to be discoverable by first time users. Thoughts?

Unless someone can commit to replying to support requests on the forum, we should not make the forum an official support channel. I have enough support channels to keep track of as it is.

comment:11 follow-up: Changed 2 years ago by atagar

We should consider giving it a more official sounding domain name, if we want it to have a chance of succeeding. Say, forum.torproject.org...

Agreed, making a real go of this will give it the best shot at succeeding. It seems like there's a couple routes we could take...

  • Clearly label this as an experimental, unofficial forum to just test the waters. From earlier discussions this is what I thought that we were going for, in which case the focus is more on a low setup effort to simply test the theory of "build it and they will come". They probably won't.
  • Invest some effort into an official forum, hopefully with a tpo vm, url, and with Jeremy helping to make it look nice.

I'm all for the second option - I just threw up forum.atagar.com to get the ball rolling and, besides the topic breakdown, there's nothing there that's worth keeping.

After looking around a bit I'm actually kinda in favor of us sticking with phpbb in either case. Yes, it's php. Yes, it's security track record is miserable. But it seems to be the most mature open source option out there and after a few black eyes its developers are, at the very least, making an effort to do better. If Jake or others have ideas for sandboxing then it would be great to get their input.

On the plus side, going with phpbb means that it will be far easier to find documentation, addons, and themes to make it function and act the way we want (pretty example: http://www.spacetrace.com/forum/). It would be great if we could somehow make use of the blog.torproject.org styling... Jeremy: do you have any experience or interest in phpbb theming? :)

If we go with this then I'd like for us to make a tor-forum@ list that's attached to a m2f instance (http://mail2forum.com/). For all practical purposes this would make it another tor-talk@ list that happens to have a forum frontend too, making it easier to manage (yea, I prefer email lists over forums too). In the future we might be able to merge it with tor-talk@, but we should initially keep them separate to see what sort of audience and spam it gets.

Unless someone can commit to replying to support requests on the forum, we should not make the forum an official support channel. I have enough support channels to keep track of as it is.

Ok, now I'm a little confused. I thought that this support channel would be a replacement for blog comments, and a community support channel that's like tor-talk@ but more visible. From what I understand rt.tpo and tor-support@ are closed channels for help via dedicated support people.

Thoughts?

comment:12 in reply to: ↑ 11 ; follow-up: Changed 2 years ago by Sebastian

Unless someone can commit to replying to support requests on the forum, we should not make the forum an official support channel. I have enough support channels to keep track of as it is.

Ok, now I'm a little confused. I thought that this support channel would be a replacement for blog comments, and a community support channel that's like tor-talk@ but more visible. From what I understand rt.tpo and tor-support@ are closed channels for help via dedicated support people.

I think what Runa means is that the closed channels are already enough for her, so we shouldn't expect her to additionally pick up the Forum.

comment:13 in reply to: ↑ 12 Changed 2 years ago by runa

Replying to Sebastian:

Unless someone can commit to replying to support requests on the forum, we should not make the forum an official support channel. I have enough support channels to keep track of as it is.

Ok, now I'm a little confused. I thought that this support channel would be a replacement for blog comments, and a community support channel that's like tor-talk@ but more visible. From what I understand rt.tpo and tor-support@ are closed channels for help via dedicated support people.

I think what Runa means is that the closed channels are already enough for her, so we shouldn't expect her to additionally pick up the Forum.

Bingo. I'm all for having a forum and seeing users try to help each other, but users should not expect official support from Tor developers. If they need help with anything and require answers rather quickly, they should contact the Tor help desk.

comment:14 Changed 2 years ago by atagar

Agreed that this is separate from the more business-like closed support channel you're planning. I'd be weary of saying that they should expect less in terms of developer support or responsiveness though. For better or worse this will probably become an extension of tor-talk@ with no funded support but more eyeballs than a dedicated support channel could provide. :)

comment:15 Changed 2 years ago by phobos

While this discussion continues, zoho setup a sample forum, https://discussions.zoho.com/zcfriends#home

They'll also let us export all of our data, handle the security concerns, and let us point whatever domain we want at it.

comment:16 follow-up: Changed 2 years ago by atagar

While this discussion continues, zoho setup a sample forum

Neat, and certainly tempting. If we want integration with the website then seems like a good option, though does it support m2f or something similar? I have a bias toward open source options like phpbb but besides that email list integration is, imho, mandatory. As you've said in the past our current development community uses (and prefers) email so anything that requires us to keep an eye on a web page isn't likely to fare well.

comment:17 Changed 2 years ago by atagar

Just to be clear (so everyone doesn't think that this is waiting on someone else) this ticket is pending the following...

Anyone:

  • Does zoho support email list integration? Quick glance seems to indicate that they have their own webmail thing it probably works with, but that doesn't help. Preferences on zoho verses hosting our own?
  • Other forum options that we should consider? I hope no one says vBulletin.

Someone officialish (phobos, arma, nickm, etc):

  • Are we fine with making this an official forum? If so and we go with phpbb, should I file a separate ticket for the vm?

Jeremy:

  • Any experience or interest in phpbb themes? Suggestions to proceed for making it look nice?

Cheers! -Damian

comment:18 in reply to: ↑ 3 Changed 2 years ago by phobos

Replying to arma:

Yay. (I've been trying to build a community on the blogs, but it's hard when everybody but me is named anonymous.)

I promise to be sporadically quite useful in helping manage the forums.

We should continue to allow people to be anonymous on the forums, so naming shouldn't be a concern. And sporadically helpful isn't how you grow a community. We need someone dedicated to growing it. It's great that you'll jump in, but it's the jump out part that's the issue.

comment:19 in reply to: ↑ 16 Changed 2 years ago by phobos

Replying to atagar:

While this discussion continues, zoho setup a sample forum

Neat, and certainly tempting. If we want integration with the website then seems like a good option, though does it support m2f or something similar? I have a bias toward open source options like phpbb but besides that email list integration is, imho, mandatory. As you've said in the past our current development community uses (and prefers) email so anything that requires us to keep an eye on a web page isn't likely to fare well.

I argue that email integration is exactly what we do not want. The irc community is different from the tor- mailing list community, will be different from the forum community. The people who call in for support or questions is different from irc and email. The forum community should stand on its own. I prefer free software solutions as well, but my preference for one less thing to maintain is stronger right now.

comment:20 follow-up: Changed 2 years ago by atagar

I argue that email integration is exactly what we do not want. The irc community is different from the tor- mailing list community, will be different from the forum community...

That is a good reason to not link the forum with tor-talk (at least until we can test what sort of audience it gets), but this isn't a good reason to not have dedicated email list integration. The people who ask questions on the forum might not be 'email people', but the tor developers that support them certainly are.

Push communication channels are far more efficient than continually pulling (reloading the forum site). If we don't have this then I'm pretty sure most of us will quickly begin ignoring the forum.

comment:21 follow-up: Changed 2 years ago by cypherpunks

Has anyone considered running an exit enclave for the forum? Well, I guess that depends upon whether atgear is the host or a 3rd party like Zoho (the latter I assume would not enable exit enclave usage)

comment:22 follow-up: Changed 2 years ago by cypherpunks

My 2cents:

I throw up at the site of the Zoho 'forum'. To me, Zoho is not a real forum, ex., it doesn't seem to offer child-forums (aka sub-forums) and it's damn ugly and disorganized (due to lack of child-forums). In my opinion it's a mailing list in disguise. I for one would not use a forum based on Zoho, I would prefer Tor Project sticks with status que of mailing lists. That said, I really like atagar's forum and it's classy look and feel ... that is what a forum should look like.

Please, do not use Zoho. If you are considering running a forum then do so (I think it's high time), but don't take half-measures like Zoho for god's sake!

comment:23 in reply to: ↑ 20 Changed 2 years ago by phobos

Replying to atagar:

That is a good reason to not link the forum with tor-talk (at least until we can test what sort of audience it gets), but this isn't a good reason to not have dedicated email list integration. The people who ask questions on the forum might not be 'email people', but the tor developers that support them certainly are.

Dear deity, I never wanted to link the forum to an existing mailing list, or any mailing list. I think email integration is a bad idea. I want the forum community to grow on its own. We'll find moderators and other cluefull people that can answer questions and help others.

Push communication channels are far more efficient than continually pulling (reloading the forum site). If we don't have this then I'm pretty sure most of us will quickly begin ignoring the forum.

Frankly, that's fine. I want people who want the forum to exist to pay attention to it. We already know that tor devs don't like web forums, having more email from some other community isn't going to change that. If it did, more people would jump on community-support and answer questions.

comment:24 in reply to: ↑ 21 Changed 2 years ago by phobos

Replying to cypherpunks:

Has anyone considered running an exit enclave for the forum? Well, I guess that depends upon whether atgear is the host or a 3rd party like Zoho (the latter I assume would not enable exit enclave usage)

Yes. If tor runs the forum, we can run an exit enclave and hidden service for it.

comment:25 in reply to: ↑ 22 Changed 2 years ago by phobos

Replying to cypherpunks:

I throw up at the site of the Zoho 'forum'. To me, Zoho is not a real forum, ex., it doesn't seem to offer child-forums (aka sub-forums) and it's damn ugly and disorganized (due to lack of child-forums). In my opinion it's a mailing list in disguise. I for one would not use a forum based on Zoho, I would prefer Tor Project sticks with status que of mailing lists. That said, I really like atagar's forum and it's classy look and feel ... that is what a forum should look like.

Well, then there's vomit all around for I dislike phpbb for the same reasons you dislike zoho. We have a volunteer sysadmin who has to maintain and run everything. Adding more services isn't something we should just do because it sounds good.

comment:26 Changed 2 years ago by phobos

I think we're going about this backwards. We don't have a list of requirements for forums, just everyone's opinion on the existing phpbb setup from atagar and the demo zoho forum. So to start, here's what I'd like in a forum:

  1. Multiple topics with sub-topic support.
  2. registration of a nickname that does not require an email address. If you supply one, great. if not, also great.
  3. blacklist/reputation system that supports nicknames.
  4. access/moderator control on a per topic level
  5. all posts are moderated until the nickname crosses some level of karma/reputation.
  6. published set of community norms that are punished by deduction or rewarded by addition of karma/reputation.
  7. support for ads (planning for a future of hosting ads directly, not through 3rd party ad networks)
  8. hidden service for the forum
  9. exit enclave for the forum
  10. user-choice on threading models.
  11. ability to support badges (for moderators, karma winners, karma losers, what ever else want to create/throw out to people)
  12. ability to move posts/threads to the correct topic/sub-topic.
  13. a defined way of promoting users to power users and/or moderators.

Open questions:

  1. do we want to support gravatar/facebook/disqus integration as a user-driven option? as in not mandatory?
  2. do we want to use our forums as the showcase for something like nymble/blackr? this could help convince other sites to follow our lead.
  3. do we want to allow hotlinking of images/videos in posts?
  4. do we want to allow attaching images/videos in posts?

comment:27 follow-ups: Changed 2 years ago by atagar

I think email integration is a bad idea. I want the forum community to grow on its own. We'll find moderators and other cluefull people that can answer questions and help others.

This is setting the forum up for failure and I'm kinda confused why you're pushing so hard for it. There is no disadvantage to having a forum email list - it's transparent for forum user, and makes the forum manageable by tor developers (so questions actually have a chance of being answered).

Dear deity, I never wanted to link the forum to an existing mailing list, or any mailing list.

This is sounding like we have very different goals. You want it as a support@ alternative and I want a forum frontend for the email lists to...

  • Attracting people who prefer that sort of interface.
  • Make public discussions more searchable. Search engines are awful at surfacing our email archives, but for some reason love forums and turn them into a natural FAQ. It also gives a much better browsing interface compared to the archive site.
  • Make it easier for people who only want to ask a few questions to do so in a public space. Subscribing to an email list, sending a question into the void, then unsubscribing after you get an answer sucks, which is why people don't do it and email tor-assistants@ instead.

It sounds like executive decisions I very much disagree with are coming, so guess I'll stop trying to take a lead with this.

comment:28 in reply to: ↑ 27 Changed 2 years ago by runa

Replying to atagar:

I think email integration is a bad idea. I want the forum community to grow on its own. We'll find moderators and other cluefull people that can answer questions and help others.

This is setting the forum up for failure and I'm kinda confused why you're pushing so hard for it. There is no disadvantage to having a forum email list - it's transparent for forum user, and makes the forum manageable by tor developers (so questions actually have a chance of being answered).

Dear deity, I never wanted to link the forum to an existing mailing list, or any mailing list.

This is sounding like we have very different goals. You want it as a support@ alternative and I want a forum frontend for the email lists to...

  • Attracting people who prefer that sort of interface.
  • Make public discussions more searchable. Search engines are awful at surfacing our email archives, but for some reason love forums and turn them into a natural FAQ. It also gives a much better browsing interface compared to the archive site.
  • Make it easier for people who only want to ask a few questions to do so in a public space. Subscribing to an email list, sending a question into the void, then unsubscribing after you get an answer sucks, which is why people don't do it and email tor-assistants@ instead.

It sounds like executive decisions I very much disagree with are coming, so guess I'll stop trying to take a lead with this.

Please don't. If you think email integration is a good idea, other people want it, and you're going to maintain all of it anyways; go for it. If it fails, we fix it. If it succeeds, great!

comment:29 in reply to: ↑ 27 Changed 2 years ago by arma

Replying to atagar:

I think email integration is a bad idea. I want the forum community to grow on its own. We'll find moderators and other cluefull people that can answer questions and help others.

This is setting the forum up for failure and I'm kinda confused why you're pushing so hard for it. There is no disadvantage to having a forum email list - it's transparent for forum user, and makes the forum manageable by tor developers (so questions actually have a chance of being answered).

Can somebody tell me what mailing list integration means in this discussion?

Does it mean that you can sign up to get mail when a comment happens on a forum, either when it happens or a daily digest? Or does it mean that you can post on the forum using your mail client and never have to use the website?

I think the former could be useful (though once a forum picks up in activity, emails turns into a poor way to keep organized about it). I think the latter could be dangerous though, since different pieces of the community will have different views of how the forums are being viewed.

comment:30 follow-up: Changed 2 years ago by atagar

Can somebody tell me what mailing list integration means in this discussion?

From the m2f site, "What it does is extend phpBB functionality in order to be able to post new messages on the forum by sending an email to a specially configured mailbox – and also receive new posted messages by email." (http://mail2forum.com/v12-stable-release/)

I'm pretty sure that I've seen this before with either the vim or python dev lists. Email threads map to forum threads so emails you send are posted on the forum, and forum messages are sent to the list.

either when it happens or a daily digest?

It sounds like this works with an existing list (in this case Mailman), so users can subscribe or request digests there like normal.

Or does it mean that you can post on the forum using your mail client and never have to use the website?

Yup.

though once a forum picks up in activity, emails turns into a poor way to keep organized about it

Trying to browse a site is worse, but for each their own.

I think the latter could be dangerous though, since different pieces of the community will have different views of how the forums are being viewed.

I don't follow. They're different frontends for the same thing. If it's email spam that you're worried about then we can either moderate subscriptions or disable the email -> posting functionality so it's just a notification feed.

comment:31 Changed 2 years ago by Sebastian

Basically every forum software implementation that I'm aware of offers a notification feed via email thing

comment:32 Changed 2 years ago by atagar

Basically every forum software implementation that I'm aware of offers a notification feed via email thing

Basic notification yes, but usually not enough to be very useful. The default phpbb setup only gives users an option for 'thread update notifications', which is pretty useless.

comment:33 in reply to: ↑ 30 Changed 2 years ago by arma

Replying to atagar:

I think the latter could be dangerous though, since different pieces of the community will have different views of how the forums are being viewed.

I don't follow. They're different frontends for the same thing. If it's email spam that you're worried about then we can either moderate subscriptions or disable the email -> posting functionality so it's just a notification feed.

They're different frontends for the same thing, yes, but etiquette for mailing lists is fundamentally different from etiquette for forums. For example, posting a "me too" message on a forum thread is low overhead, since only people looking at the thread notice it at all, and it's easy to scroll past in your browser. But that same "me too" message is much more overhead for the mailing list model, since it's much more work to discover that the post has little content.

Anyway, I don't mind if somebody tries to keep up with the forums via email. I think they'd be nuts to do so, and they will get frustrated and angry by what they perceive as repeated etiquette violations, but hey, to each their own. :) That said, I don't think we should encourage anybody who's on the fence to interact with the forum primarily via email, since they'll be setting themselves up for that frustration. Or said another way, you should not be thinking that you'll get core Tor developers to be forum participants simply by adding an email interface for it -- and it would be counterproductive to try to set them up that way.

comment:34 Changed 2 years ago by atagar

but hey, to each their own. :)

Hmmm, guess this goes back to the firehose dev meeting thing. I've signed myself up for most of our email lists and have rss2email for feeds I care about on top of that. Throwing forum correspondence into the mix isn't any sort of burden and would make the it vastly easier for me to keep up with rather than needing to actively browse its pages.

Personally I think that most of us will quickly get fed up with needing to check the site for updates. That said, we're probably both mistaken in assuming that everyone has the same communication preferences as us.

but etiquette for mailing lists is fundamentally different from etiquette for forums

I think that you may be overestimating this. I've seen joint email list/forum setups before that worked very nicely, but guess this will depend on what sort of community our forum draws in.

comment:35 follow-up: Changed 2 years ago by cypherpunks

  • Cc cypherpunks@… added
  1. Why discriminate based upon transport protocol? If allowing HTTP and HTTPS to the forums is valid, then so is XMPP, YIM, MSN, IRC, and SMTP. If the forum software is a generic threaded communication engine, restricting by transport protocol is illogical. GET and POST to forums should be user preference, perhaps defaulting to HTTPS. Rather than build three communities, integrate them all. IRC, SMTP (mailing lists), and forums should be all merged into one entity. Users can interact with the forums using their preferred protocols and clients.
  1. It is clear to an outsider that the tor developers do not want to be part of the web forums. This is ok. Web forum communities are different than other communities for good reason. Commingling such communities only leads to disaster and a moderation nightmare.
  1. From a few weeks of observation, the IRC community is very different than the mailing list community. Tor is doing a poor job of managing both communities. I think you will fail to create and grow a web forum community. The time to grow a community, or fracture an existing one, is when the current communities are saturated or communication is becoming difficult. This is clearly not the case in both IRC and mailing list communities. The #tor IRC channel maintains 200 people or so at a time. Successful IRC communities number in the thousands. The mailing lists are barely one post per day on average. Tor-talk and Tor-dev should be grown to the point where 30-50 posts per day is the norm. You then split these lists into sub-topic lists. When your communities in both IRC and mailing list have grown to thousands or tens of thousands, this is the point when you split off into a new medium (point number 1 above notwithstanding).
  1. Tor developers are self-professed mailing list/IRC users. The IRC channel is barely used by tor devs. The mailing lists are mostly ignored by tor devs. Optimally, this means tor devs are writing code or making more tor. Adding a third community to ignore isn't going to work for anyone. Stop deluding yourselves. Focus on your strengths and build more tor. There are many growing tor communities, in native languages, globally. Centralizing these communities is a waste of time.

comment:36 in reply to: ↑ 35 Changed 2 years ago by phobos

Replying to cypherpunks:

  1. Why discriminate based upon transport protocol? If allowing HTTP and HTTPS to the forums is valid, then so is XMPP, YIM, MSN, IRC, and SMTP. If the forum software is a generic threaded communication engine, restricting by transport protocol is illogical. GET and POST to forums should be user preference, perhaps defaulting to HTTPS. Rather than build three communities, integrate them all. IRC, SMTP (mailing lists), and forums should be all merged into one entity. Users can interact with the forums using their preferred protocols and clients.

Having implemented something like this in the past, forcing users to watch a 20 minute tutorial on how to use the system is suboptimal. In my case it was Jive, http://www.jivesoftware.com/, which allows a multitude of protocols to talk to their messaging engine.

  1. It is clear to an outsider that the tor developers do not want to be part of the web forums. This is ok. Web forum communities are different than other communities for good reason. Commingling such communities only leads to disaster and a moderation nightmare.

If we're going to do this, some devs have to pay attention. Otherwise the forums will be full of misinformation for indexing by google/ddg/bing.

  1. From a few weeks of observation, the IRC community is very different than the mailing list community. Tor is doing a poor job of managing both communities. I think you will fail to create and grow a web forum community. The time to grow a community, or fracture an existing one, is when the current communities are saturated or communication is becoming difficult. This is clearly not the case in both IRC and mailing list communities. The #tor IRC channel maintains 200 people or so at a time. Successful IRC communities number in the thousands. The mailing lists are barely one post per day on average. Tor-talk and Tor-dev should be grown to the point where 30-50 posts per day is the norm. You then split these lists into sub-topic lists. When your communities in both IRC and mailing list have grown to thousands or tens of thousands, this is the point when you split off into a new medium (point number 1 above notwithstanding).
  1. Tor developers are self-professed mailing list/IRC users. The IRC channel is barely used by tor devs. The mailing lists are mostly ignored by tor devs. Optimally, this means tor devs are writing code or making more tor. Adding a third community to ignore isn't going to work for anyone. Stop deluding yourselves. Focus on your strengths and build more tor. There are many growing tor communities, in native languages, globally. Centralizing these communities is a waste of time.

I'm not sure I agree with the scale statements. Also, I suspect you are the person who left a 14 minute detailed voicemail stating that our lack of web forums is embarrassing, and then proceeded to explain why web forums are embarrassing.

comment:37 Changed 2 years ago by phobos

I've received a proposal to do the forums inside drupal from an org who does nothing but drupal development.

comment:38 Changed 2 years ago by cypherpunks

I think tor should outsource their forums to a public hosting site. Tails is having the same discussion, https://tails.boum.org/forum/Forum_Design___38___Functionality:_Primitive__44___Awkward/#comment-0c058b08ec9f89bd0ebeee3ac7853a34

zoho, freeforums, or zetaboard should work well. Unless tor wants to maintain yet another system, it is not worth the effort. For example, both trac and gitweb are out of current revision. Focus on making tor better, not making forum software better.

comment:39 Changed 2 years ago by grarpamp

i've tried zoho email service... painful slow web UI, and its mail protocols appear nonstandard.
also, if tor builds a 'forum' be aware of badness...
heavyweight avatars, emoticons, 20line sigs.
no backups
no plaintext
need to copy posts to tor-forum@, hopefully bidirectional.
signal to noise, etc.
i see some talk of these above, so maybe not too bad.

comment:40 Changed 2 years ago by phobos

  • Status changed from reopened to needs_information

The current status of this is we're going to get funded to write forum software which is custom to what we want it to do and secure by default. Once the project starts, I'll update the ticket with status.

comment:41 Changed 2 years ago by phobos

  • Priority changed from normal to minor
  • Type changed from defect to project

comment:42 Changed 20 months ago by phobos

After some discussions with the Tails team, the consensus seems to be for OSQA as a start, http://www.osqa.net/. There is little interest in hosting an open forum at this point. At least until we can get a full-time community manager to focus on the forums as part of a larger community building effort.

comment:43 follow-up: Changed 19 months ago by T(A)ILS developers

Yes, during our summit this summer we decided to migrate to OSQA. We were to do that move during October, and we even had funding for it.

But in the end, we did our benchmarking a bit too fast, and we ended up changing our mind at the last minute. We realized that the OSQA project was not active enough anymore.

So we got back to doing benchmarking, and attributed the funding to some other tasks. On the other hand our ikiwiki based forum is getting out of hands lately, and we really want to find a short-term solution to that problem.

If you want to read more about the pros and cons of the various software we are looking at, check out our todo item on the topic:

https://tails.boum.org/tails/todo/improve_the_forum/

Regarding a possible collaboration, or share tool with Tor, for us that's still an open discussion. On our side we defined the following requirements for the tool we are looking for:

  • Have a clear policy in terms or logs, privacy, etc. We feel like self-hosting will most probably be needed here.
  • We want an answer-centric application, not a general purpose forum. We want to dedicate energy to it as a support tool.
  • People should be able to ask for help anonymously, for example without having to give their email address.
  • Other requirements include email notifications, handling karma, and proposing to search before asking a new question.

A Q&A (question/answer) application seems to be the most adequate format so far, and we limited our benchmarking to such tools.

In order to share a tool together with Tor we added another requirement: the possibility of having separate categories of questions, or interest groups. For example, to get support on Tails specific topics, or ask more generic questions about Tor, get technical help for TBB. We feel that this would help focus better our attention, and thus provide better support.

Since we are doing again some benchmarking, it would be a great time to hear more about your requirements, and see whether we can find a candidate that could fit both. That will surely require some custom development anyways.

comment:44 in reply to: ↑ 43 Changed 19 months ago by phobos

Replying to T(A)ILS developers:

Since we are doing again some benchmarking, it would be a great time to hear more about your requirements, and see whether we can find a candidate that could fit both. That will surely require some custom development anyways.

For some definition of "we", we derived this list, https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/ticket/3592#comment:26

comment:45 Changed 19 months ago by arma

For my part of 'we', I'm happy with either list. I'd love to get something up and running, that satisfies somebody's goals, and work from there.

comment:46 Changed 15 months ago by phobos

  • Resolution set to implemented
  • Status changed from needs_information to closed

Q&A forum going live in February 2013.

comment:47 Changed 15 months ago by T(A)ILS developers

  • Cc tails@… added

comment:48 Changed 15 months ago by runa

  • Resolution implemented deleted
  • Status changed from closed to reopened

phobos, it would be great if you could give us some more information about where this Q&A forum is, when it's going live, who the admin is, etc. If this falls under the Tor Support team umbrella, then I'd like to know.

comment:49 Changed 15 months ago by runa

  • Cc runa added

comment:50 Changed 15 months ago by phobos

  • Resolution set to wontfix
  • Status changed from reopened to closed

It doesn't exist yet, it's in the other ticket #5995. We're not doing general forums, we're doing Q&A forums. See the last update to #5995.

comment:51 Changed 12 months ago by proper

  • Cc adrelanos@… added

comment:52 Changed 12 months ago by runa

The Q&A site on ask.tpo has not officially launched, users should not create accounts just yet.

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