Take back community channels

High-level report-out notes from Roger

  • brick up #nottor
  • start moderating #tor -- talk to Sukhbir
  • new list tor-users
  • moderate this list -- talk to Moritz
  • start using the tor-project list for more things -- its scope is like the irc channel
  • need a funded community support person
  • need scope for these forums; need guidelines for moderators

More detailed notes:

Roger thinks #tor and tor-talk are both unacceptable the way they are. Something must change.

What are our current places for user interaction / users to get their questions answered?

  • tor-talk
  • #tor
  • website (faq)
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • helpdesk
  • stackexchange
  • reddit
  • tor blog
  • in person at conferences
  • man pages
  • (used to be tor-assistants but not anymore)
  • (used to be telephone but not anymore)
  • (we've thought about shipping something with tor browser?)
  • explicitly not trac
  • ...others?

Which ones are effective? Which ones do we want to try to keep?

Roger's thoughts for the two key ways to turn around the ones we want to keep:

  • 1) We need a sufficiently large set of people who all go along with the same moderation plan. (They don't all have to think it is the best plan, but they all have to follow the same plan.)
  • 2) We need a sufficient set of useful people to be present and providing good and useful content.

Mid-term goal: Have a defined scope for each of our communication channels.

The Tor contact page directs people to our intended support ways. (But it still lists #nottor! It sure is out of date.)

Maybe the front page should point to how we think you should get help?

One big problem in our support forums is people who appear to represent Tor, and end up poisoning the first user interaction. From that perspective, maybe it's better to have no forum than to have a harmful one.

Another problem is that Tor has zero or few people who are paid to want to help users.

The helpdesk is made from trusted people -- people who want to help. The IRC world scales better because you turn users into a community who helps other users.

Question: where do we want to provide user support?

Suggestion: get one person funded who will prioritize and tend the community channels. A person that wants to help. We as the community must help this person. They don't have to answer all the questions themselves, so long as they create an atmosphere where people get answers. We'd pay them to get up to speed in Tor. We need to figure out what characteristics this person must have (technical, non-technical etc).

Plenty of people in the support community who might do it.

Must be sustainable thing. So when we pay the person and they disappear after the payment period it might not be the best outcome.

We need written guidelines for moderators. This gives them support from The Tor Project to make clear what the rules are. This is not a freedom of speech issue. People come into "our house" and have to respect our rules. By moderating, we make it clear to the community that we take back these channels.

Moderation thoughts for tor-talk:

  • people moderate tor-talk
  • first time users are "blocked"
  • after the mod sees that the mail is "good" for several times the user gets whitelisted
  • mailing list is ansynchronous and is easier
  • what lists do we need?
  • technical measures at Debian: when too many messages per thread were arriving, software auto slowed down the mails for n minutes, this cools down the discussion
  • What is tor-talk for?
  • We should create tor-users (and other lists) and eventually shut down tor-talk
  • tor-project should be moderated and some mails should go there (define the scope)
  • We need a decision when a person is a troll. Inform the person that this mail was inappropriate.
  • This moderation plan is *not* about censoring particular posts or perspectives (content). It is about stopping disruptive *behavior*. We need an environment where new users can feel comfortable asking questions and learning. An environment where they are attacked, and it is normal to attack people, is harmful and disruptive. People can disagree with each other, constructively, and that's great. But if they want to be destructive, they should do it somewhere else.

Proposed plan for IRC:

  • kill #nottor
  • why: we don't have the resources to make it a real and useful community hangout
  • how: set mode where only ops can talk and have no ops, and set a welcome message that says "sorry"
  • #nottor is on the contact page and should disappear there
  • make #tor useful again
  • why: it used to be a place to discuss anything related to Tor but we've grown too big for this to work
  • how: new scope: help Tor users and newcomers to Tor

Proposed plan for tor-talk mailing-list:

  • Focus discussions on Tor and the broader community.
  • Posts are moderated by default.
  • People who have shown constructiveness can be whitelisted -- and if they turn into troll, unwhitelisted.


  • Get a group of people willing to help users in #tor and moderate the discussions. Coordinated by Sukhbir. (Reach out to velope.)
  • Document the scope (and rules?) of these communication channels on the wiki. Document how to learn who are the moderators as well.
  • Announce these plans to the community on tor-project mailing list.
  • Change mailman pages and welcome email about tor-talk to explain how the list is supposed to work.
  • Find a set of people willing to moderate tor-users. Coordinated by Moritz.
Last modified 3 years ago Last modified on Mar 9, 2016, 4:22:40 AM