Next steps on Wikimedia Space

I don’t think many people realised this was already half implemented… just needed some resourcing to finish it/get it past the goal line.

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It is my personal opinion that management looked at this and went: “Why are we working on two discussion systems (wiki and discourse) when we can’t even afford to invest in one?”. Honestly, I’m surprised it even got approved in the first round as an experiment. I do think it is short sighted… but then again, that seems to be a theme lately, we have gone from doing too many products to almost none at all it seems.

Importantly, you can’t judge success based on an experiment that was NEVER going to be successful without a high level of integration and cross pollination (a common mistake with management looking at experiments within our movement). Discussion areas and/or ‘social networks’ are a typical example of where “build and they will come” is not gonna fly.

In the times of Facebook and Twitter it is imperative to understand that you need a critical mass before anything becomes successful. As long as it is easier to tag and talk to people on Facebook, that is where they will stay. The problem was that this site was an experimental and isolated community, instead of a social network. And if there is no social network you are guaranteed to fail at launching a forum.

It is crucial to think about how you will rope ppl in. The event calendar and map was one such way, and you can see that has actually been some of the most successful and loved parts of this experiment… Other hooks would be required to amplify that, to cross pollinate.
Those (privileged few) who are familiar with my connect.wikimedia.org proposal may also note that I warned of starting with discussion/chat/forums, specifically because they are so difficult to get right, no matter how ‘critical’ they are perceived to be. Yet, while it didn’t replace my FB groups, it did replace the mailinglists for me (which I have largely given up on), so in that regard it was more successful than I had anticipated.

Honestly, of course we shouldn’t be working on this discussion system. That we do is just a side effect of our inability to get it done within the wiki. But when failing at the basics so much, when we are so underresourced, we should also very much be careful of walking into Not Invented Here syndrome.

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My impression is that WMF has the resources to do what it is decided to do and expanding the developer team is a possibility, but not a target. I don’t think I would hire more devs for an experimental forum project, but the UI team(s) seem to be very understaffed and that’s a fundamental project.

Agree, although I believe integration would have ensured cross-pollination over a few months time, max a year.

Sadly, I’m not one of those few.

Standard forum features such as showing only new posts (within threads too – what we do using edit history, very uncomfortably), aggregating those, hiding a user’s posts for another user, etc. are impossible, or unfeasibly hard to implement over talk (basic wiki) pages. That would be an effort to basically reimplement a forum. Wiki pages are more static and linear, not designed for that purpose, the Talk_pages_project is a great improvement for existing, widely adopted talk pages, but cannot satisfy all the needs that motivated this project.

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I agree, and am keen to help in some way. (I say this purely as a volunteer, not with my WMF hat on.) Is it a possibility that we can keep this running?

Thanks for mentioning this. This is a patch I started and would love some help with. We had some good discussions about the basic ideas of the Discourse extension at the TechConf last year in Atlanta, so I think things are on a reasonable track. This would enable the 2nd two points you list, Aron (automatic lists and post transclusion).

In general, I’m feeling a bit confused about the whole approach around closing Space. For a few years it’s felt like the Wikimedia movement has been moving away from “everything must be a wiki” towards “using (or building) the best software for the task”. Now it seems that WordPress is acceptable (for the WMF blog and now a community blog), but Discourse is not, and I can’t really see why. Is it about being able to pay Automattic to host WP? Anyway, I guess we’ll carry on using Mailman? It doesn’t sound like the new DiscussionTools is aiming to be for general cross-project discussion (although maybe I’m wrong). Why aren’t we using wikis to post news?! That seems like an easier thing to fix than discussion on a wiki. (Sorry, I’m ranting now I think… please ignore me!)

One big area I’ve enjoyed (and been confused by) with these Discourse experiments is the approach to installation, management, and backups of the software. I think there is lots that MediaWiki could learn from it (i.e. making it as easy as possible for non-professional sysadmins to run a site). That’s a separate dream though… :-)

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My two cents: I have not done much contributing in Wikimedia Space. When Space was rolled out my biggest question was: which channels will it replace? In my humble experience, there has been quite the increase of channels and discussion and so on that a person is to monitor, some crossposting but you gotta make sure that you do not miss anything. With limited time, this has become a bit of a burden. However, I saw Space as a new way to overcome this by providing a “home-made” solution that does not depend on any outside (commercial) platform and where there is quite a bit of integration with the wikiverse and yet it is easy to navigate even for beginners. Cutting Space seems like an opportunity wasted.

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Today is 31 March – the planned deadline for freezing Discuss Space – and there are several open questions that come to my mind.

  1. What major changes will happen on the platform? Will only the Open Draft and Reply buttons be disabled or anything else easily noticeable will be changed?
  2. Will automatic read-only messages from the mailing lists be still generated as new topics?
  3. What does the freezing mean for the user trust levels adopted from Discourse?
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Hi @Kiril_Simeonovski! I really appreciate you remembering the deadline. :green_heart: We are working on an update right now, and I will integrate these questions right away.

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See Update about the closure of Discuss Space.

@Kiril_Simeonovski your first two questions are answered there. About the third one:

Trust levels and user rights in Wikimedia Space keep being computed by Discourse, and it is still possible to login to Discuss Space and register new accounts. However, the reduction of scope of Space will make it more difficult for users to increase trust levels. While trust levels 0, 1 and 2 are kept forever, trust level 3 is more demanding as it requires continuous participation to be kept.

Is this what you were asking?

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That’s fine. But it’s a bit pointless to have the trust levels and user rights while the project is frozen because it’d be extremely hard for new users to reach TL2 by only discussing the future of Wikimedia Space and reading the mirrored topics from the mailing lists. Then, the trust levels will be fully determined on a first come, first served basis where new users will be stuck at TL1. So, it’s important to think about whether and how the trust levels system can be improved to accommodate the freeze.

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As it was expected, I already lost my TL3 :)

(I don’t see that the trust levels had any significant role after the project is frozen.)

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Hi @qgil-WMF gil-WMF I can’t create new topic on calendar anymore. Is it problem about me or it is not allow anymore? Regards, Sakhalinio

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Hi @Sakhalinio, the #events category has been frozen a few hours ago, just like the majority of categories of Discuss Space. Posting new topics or commenting is not possible. You can learn more about this freeze (announced here in this topic in February) at Update about the closure of Discuss Space.

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Instead of moving to Cambridge Analytica and other completely unreliable venues, why not use some chat tool, that’s hosted on servers of the wikiverse? I really don’t understand this. On one hand the (WMF)ers are complaining about Wikitext, and how repugnant that is, they even tried to destroy the talk pages with FLOW, and now that some chat environment is here, they ditch at the first possibility.
What’s the alternative to this?
Facebook ain’t, that’s just unusable junk.
Google ain’t, same reason.
OpenSource on own servers, with integrated SUL is the only valid alternative. I don’t care whether it’s this software package, or any other, as long as it’s free, open and hosted on our own servers without outside intervention and dataleaks.

Dear Sänger. Thank you. I quite agree. It seems that there is a possibility a community-organized team might be taking over. Let us hope this is true. Otherwise, it would be sad to see Space go.

@Sänger look into this thread:

Yes, this is a copy of that one. I’ve seen afterwards, that it was copied two or three times. One answer is enough.

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This is now Diff.

https://diff.wikimedia.org/2020/07/14/welcome-to-diff-a-community-blog-for-the-wikimedia-movement/

The “events” and the whole forum was good idea and people liked it. Maybe some revival now?

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