From mailing lists and Gitter to a web-based Discourse forum: welcoming your feedback

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tl;dr We consider moving OpenRefine’s mailing lists and Gitter to a web-based Discourse forum, and invite your feedback.

This message has also been posted on OpenRefine’s user and https://groups.google.com/g/openrefine-dev/ mailing lists on September 20, 2022.

For quite a while, some active OpenRefine community members (Antonin, Sandra, and the OpenRefine advisory committee) have been talking about ways to make OpenRefine’s community more lively, active and diverse.

As one step, we consider moving the current main community communication channels (the user mailing list, developer mailing list, and the Gitter chat) to a public, web-based forum, using the Discourse software. After the move, we will not delete the mailing lists, but keep them read-only as a public archive. We feel inspired to move forward to this, because in our latest user survey (held in April-May 2022), a web-based forum was the most popular option when we asked you for your preferred means of communications.

Our choice would be a hosted web-based Discourse forum, on a URL like forum.openrefine.org or similar. We would go for Discourse for many reasons. First, because it is well-designed and widely used open source forum software, but (among other things) also because it allows much more diverse discussion on ‘smaller’ topics (e.g. translation of OpenRefine’s interface; discussion about larger feature requests; threads in languages other than English…). Discourse offers mailing list / email modes for people who prefer this as their main mode of communications.

We collected many considerations and pros/cons in this document, including the other options we could consider. We invite your comments and feedback there, or on OpenRefine’s mailing list. Also, if anyone is interested in helping with the move, please let me know :-)

Tentative timeline for the move (our team is small, so this may be slower, or faster if a few of you volunteer to help!):

  • September 20, 2022 - OpenRefine’s community is informed about this plan; you can respond and comment for two weeks (and longer if we notice it is needed)
  • Week of Oct 3, 2022 (or later) - Decision go/no go based on your feedback
  • If there is general consensus: around the first weeks of November (depending on availability of Antonin, Sandra and volunteers) - start of actual migration to Discourse
  • If there is general consensus: end November 2022 - OpenRefine’s community uses Discourse for communications and mailing lists are now read-only!

Looking forward to your comments and feedback!

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