Meta post about Communication (Status, Slack, Discuss and ...Email?)

I think it’s a good idea since we are moving away from Slack. Would help people not miss “important” updates / comms

Ay, so much :smiley:

Thank you for starting the conversation!

Personally, I’m not a fan of email.
I find it hard to the eyes, replies get buried and you have to click to open, you always have to be checking who is/isn’t included in the conversation, so transparency is frequently a problem (not to mention - the times one clicks ‘reply-all’ by mistake :smiley:) .

I’m up to go back to it if that’s what we’re comfortable with, but I’d really love it if we could explore other territories.

Automattic uses P2’s and it works amazing. The UI is easy, you can drag and drop files on a page (built as a blog post) and everyone can comment, ask questions, have real time discussions that are easy to scan and find back. Everyone can set up how they’d like to receive notifications, and for which topics. Certain topics were for everyone to follow by default, others role-specific, but still open to everyone who wanted to read.

This link has the best real case use demo I found:

Zapier took that ^ and evolved it into their own version, named Async.

They also posted a great article about it - including what other companies came up with, like:

Github - https://zachholman.com/posts/github-communication/
Treehouse - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5648960

Common denominators seem to be:

  • A blog-like theme with threaded comments, to favour async communication, transparency and searchability
  • Functionalities that allow to manage notifications frequency (instant, daily, weekly) by post type, topic etc; and ability to integrate the notification with current workflows (i.e. getting a ping on Status once we move to that)

A couple of possible solutions for us -

1- take more advantage of Discuss itself - we could have a category for topics that need to be read by everyone and notify all users via Slack/Status when a new post is out. The main con imo is that the UI is still quite hard to the eyes.

2- Add a P2-like theme to parts of people-ops.status.im on Ghost and have topics that concern everyone posted there - still with the ability to comment, ask questions openly, manage notifications, etc (cc: @exiledsurfer, is this even possible?)

If we do use email, I would be in favour of the email linking to the relevant Discuss thread, so the discussions/decisions are logged and easily accessible to the whole community and not just core contributors.

e.g. ‘Prague Bookings Reminder’ email would just serve as a notification and contain a link to: Prague Bookings: How to’s

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This is an awesome discussion. I love seeing the alternatives to email coming through!

Agree that the UI is not great, and the stream on the homepage is not relevant for everyone. Customizing the Discuss UI is another alternative that can make things easier for people. Having a Must Read section may be a good solution.

imo - P2/Async seem similar to Discuss, and it would be overkill to add another parallel platform.

@carl Agree 100% that things should be documented in a Discuss thread. Your example of a Prague Bookings post, that has no <3’s or responses, is a good example of important information falling between the cracks in Slack/Discuss (which potentially can be solved with a Must Read part).

Any more ideas/thoughts?

It looks like we can set up Discuss to shoot an email to everyone every time there is a new post in certain categories we decide are ‘must read’ : https://discuss.status.im/admin/site_settings/category/email . I’m browsing around all the settings (so many!) to see if that’s the case and what else we could do… any help welcome :smiley:

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Reading the Zapier post, the one thing we need help with is:

  1. Important topics should bubble to the surface. Like Team, the tool from GitHub that tries to answer the two most important questions of the day, internal tools should help employees to separate out the important issues from the noise.

We can test email integration with the Prague booking post. Since it’s 'important

For stuff like prague, neither of email, blog or discuss posts are really that great - only the most recent information matters (and only until prague is over) - ie I don’t care that 1 month ago there was a lot of confusion around who and how many would get tickets to dc4 - I just want the latest instructions to go buy my flight tickets, and I don’t want to dig through multiple emails or posts to figure out which one is most recent.

In my ideal world, I get notifications about the information being updated through some ephemeral medium like chat or email, but the most recent information is actually in one place that keeps getting updated (ie the google sheet that exists right now or a hackmd - mediums that are made to host “living” documents). This kind of setup is great for the consumers of the information, but unfortunately is more work for the producer making it more difficult to maintain, over time (ie effort-wise it’s easier for the producer to shoot off an email or slack and let consumers deal with the curation) - it requires active curation.

if we want to go old-school with email, there’s always the good old mailing list that solves the closed nature as well as membership and who-got-the-mail.

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I think it will only work with new posts - maybe we can try testing that? I have set “people ops” as a category that sends notifications by default -

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but I suspect users need to enable mailing list mode to get that email, and it will probably only go out once a day.

For individual user preferences, one needs to update their settings from:

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Let’s test :smiley: ?

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just noting here that at least for me, it seems to be working now - I just got:

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One interesting email option is to use Google Gropus and setup a mailing list for groups/teams (@all, @core-dev, @design etc) etc.

Messages can be public, browsed and managed online (yet it also works offline), nicely searchable, linkable, and we can customize the reading and posting experience with various clients or the web UI. We are also already using it in some ways, and we all have email setup so it is one less thing to learn/download/manage.

I’d happily use email/groups for general announcements, especially for people ops posts about expenses, travel, policies, etc.

@anon16796968 thank you for giving it a shot!

@Chad I think we have [email protected] as a group. So perhaps we just copy/paste things from Discuss and send it through that email alias as well…

It may be information overkill, but we can then remove the redundant part as we see it.

imo - I think Discuss is probably the best considering its open and permissionless

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In fact I’m realizing that Discuss can be customized (also visually) to be more appealing and give a clearer sense of what’s new/important :heart_eyes:

Gonna go ahead and play with it in the coming days if no objections? and I promise I’ll only touch what I know how to revert :pray:

I’m late to the discussion, but totally stoked that @anon16796968 has made a push to modify discuss, because i think it is the best alternative to email / slack for longer communications that we can all keep track of, and drive discussion / collaboration.

Is there any reason we couldn’t just import our channel hashtag structure over from slack into discuss categories, and use status only for our daily chatty collaboration? it would solve a huge amount of issues in one fell swoop, since files and pictures can be embedded in discuss posts and replies - we wouldn’t have to host a dropbox instance or use google cloud services, and everything would live on our own servers since we host our discuss installs, and be easily portable for us as we iterate into distributed hosting solutions of ipfs / swarm.

I’d like to see us move towards more “reports” in short long form here on a discuss instance that everyone has access to and can contribute to, and that would make it easier to keep informed about things happening across teams.

Discuss users can configure their email notifications - turn them off if they want to be active here, and those that are more email oriented b/c of their workflow can turn notifications on for the topics / categories they want to actively participate in / follow.

I think discuss is the best solution we could decide to us as we migrate off slack.

Anything built on Wordpress is not an option for us because of the security weaknesses of dynamic, php-based cms systems - the main reason i moved us over to ghost as a cms instead of wordpress was for this very reason. (i’ve been building websites for years on wordpress that needed multifunctionality, and am very familiar with its weaknesses)

…and guess what? https://help.ghost.org/article/35-discourse should we ever want to :smiley:

also, I made some changes to the general settings (while looking for a theme that makes it nicer to look at), so now:

  • all users should get an email digest per day (and should be able to deactivate it in their settings if they prefer)
  • the digest should include a preview any people-ops post, any new person first post and the latest 5 topics
  • the homepage is split in categories and for each category you can see the latest 3 topics

this is just a first try, hope to get feedback on if it is or it isn’t working - there seem to be a ton of possible customizations we can play with <3

@anon16796968 already havej implemented for ghost, these posts were automatically posted to discuss back in the first weeks of our status, but i disabled it https://discuss.status.im/c/blog-posts

and i already have an install for https://discuss.our.status.im for the blog, so it literally would be no problem for us to have a discuss instance for each of our portals / products / initiatives, and to, lets say limit logins on discuss.status to people with status.im email addresses to keep the posters internal (core contributors) but the content being public / readable by anyone, and to lets say, have ghost publish to BOTH instances of discuss, so that we could keep public commentary and moderation seperate from internal “company” communications.

Discuss: I found the ‘categories first’ view quite confusing and frustrating, it was difficult to find what was the global recent discussions and I kept having to go to latest to see what was going on. I changed it back before I noticed it was changed in this thread! Hope people don’t mind - if there are particular important topics we can also leverage stickies.

Email doesn’t seem like a terrible backup idea, and as @arnetheduck says there are mailing lists. This is quite common in the OSS world, for example it’s how a lot of the coordination in Linux works. Google groups is also a set of mailing lists under the hood IIRC.

Another way that I have seen work is to make sure all important communications go out at least two ways (pick two out of Email+Status+Discuss, etc). E.g. confidential: email+Status PM/group chat. Public: Status public chat +Discuss.

We can also consider a bi-weekly/monthly newsletter format to deal with important announcement. This way someone could live in a cave somewhere and still know what they should do about Devcon.

If I understand the multiple Discuss instances correctly, I’d be against it. Seems like a lot of complexity and overhead for what’s (right now) a fairly low volume forum.

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Side note: many discuss threads have fewer “views” than we have contributors so we can be sure the information is not always getting to intended people.

+1 to a two-method distribution of important info.

Thanks everyone from the great discussions and ideas. Some takeaways for now:

  1. All important comms go through multiple channels. i.e. Status + Discuss post w/ auto-email to [email protected]
  2. Increase adoption of Discuss by improving categorisation, encourage more people to post updates, minutes/notes from meetings and other longer form content here.

We should keep this discussion going, especially as we start to spend more and more time in Status.

*Re: Newsletter. I feel like our Town Hall should be the equivalent of the newsletter. All the important things should be there, and we should just make it clear what things are actionable.

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