Almost three years ago, we moved the existing Ask Fedora site from an engine which attempted to replicate Stack Exchange to a new system (the current Ask Fedora) based on Discourse, a modern open source web forum platform. We had some frustrations with the software, and the Stack-Exchange-like approach wasn’t really working for us. This has been a huge success, and the new Ask is incredibly popular.
At the same time, we also tried an experiment — we set up Fedora Discussion as a parallel site for community and project conversations. This goes hand-in-hand with the (soft-launch, but we’re getting there) Matrix-based Fedora Chat service — Discussion for longer-form, long-lasting asynchronous communication, and Chat for synchronous connections.
This experiment has gone well, and we have solid and increasing use, with several different Fedora teams (including Fedora Council and CommOps) making it their primary place for communication. We’ve had some nice improvements over time as we’ve learned to use the system (not to mention a nice new logo from Máirín Duffy and the Fedora Design Team). But, the site’s basic structure is still what we arbitrarily came up with when we first launched it: kind of a mishmash of categories and concepts. As we’ve had more requests to use the site, it’s become increasingly clear that these early decisions don’t match what we need.
So, I’m going to take the opportunity of the end-of-year break to do a big reorganization. You can read the background and details, and follow along with my task-list if you like. The important details are: I’m going to do most of the work behind the scenes on a temporary staging site, but there’s a lot of shuffling so I’m not sure how long it will take. I plan to put the current site into read-only mode on the 27th or 28th of December, and have it back up and running by January 1st.
When that’s done, we’ll have a structure that will better handle discussion in all the different areas and teams that comprise the whole Fedora Project. I expect this to continue to grow in the years to come, as part of our overall effort to keep Fedora relevant and growing. (Of course, HyperKitty is still there for more traditional mailing lists — Discourse has a fairly decent email interaction model, but it’s definitely web-first in approach.) More about all of that when the new site is in place and ready to show off!
(Oh, and one more thing — based on discussion and broad community consensus, we’re actually planning to merge the two Discourse sites, Ask and Discussion, so that we have both user and contributor conversations close together. This reorganization will make that easier, but we’re not ready for that for a while yet.)