[Openstack] [all] Bringing the community together (combine the lists!)

Jeremy Stanley fungi at yuggoth.org
Thu Aug 30 17:03:50 UTC 2018

The openstack, openstack-dev, openstack-sigs and openstack-operators
mailing lists on lists.openstack.org see an increasing amount of
cross-posting and thread fragmentation as conversants attempt to
reach various corners of our community with topics of interest to
one or more (and sometimes all) of those overlapping groups of
subscribers. For some time we've been discussing and trying ways to
bring our developers, distributors, operators and end users together
into a less isolated, more cohesive community. An option which keeps
coming up is to combine these different but overlapping mailing
lists into one single discussion list. As we covered[1] in Vancouver
at the last Forum there are a lot of potential up-sides:

1. People with questions are no longer asking them in a different
place than many of the people who have the answers to those
questions (the "not for usage questions" in the openstack-dev ML
title only serves to drive the wedge between developers and users

2. The openstack-sigs mailing list hasn't seem much uptake (an order
of magnitude fewer subscribers and posts) compared to the other
three lists, yet it was intended to bridge the communication gap
between them; combining those lists would have been a better
solution to the problem than adding yet another turned out to be.

3. At least one out of every ten messages to any of these lists is
cross-posted to one or more of the others, because we have topics
that span across these divided groups yet nobody is quite sure which
one is the best venue for them; combining would eliminate the
fragmented/duplicative/divergent discussion which results from
participants following up on the different subsets of lists to which
they're subscribed,

4. Half of the people who are actively posting to at least one of
the four lists subscribe to two or more, and a quarter to three if
not all four; they would no longer be receiving multiple copies of
the various cross-posts if these lists were combined.

The proposal is simple: create a new openstack-discuss mailing list
to cover all the above sorts of discussion and stop using the other
four. As the OpenStack ecosystem continues to mature and its
software and services stabilize, the nature of our discourse is
changing (becoming increasingly focused with fewer heated debates,
distilling to a more manageable volume), so this option is looking
much more attractive than in the past. That's not to say it's quiet
(we're looking at roughly 40 messages a day across them on average,
after deduplicating the cross-posts), but we've grown accustomed to
tagging the subjects of these messages to make it easier for other
participants to quickly filter topics which are relevant to them and
so would want a good set of guidelines on how to do so for the
combined list (a suggested set is already being brainstormed[2]).
None of this is set in stone of course, and I expect a lot of
continued discussion across these lists (oh, the irony) while we try
to settle on a plan, so definitely please follow up with your
questions, concerns, ideas, et cetera.

As an aside, some of you have probably also seen me talking about
experiments I've been doing with Mailman 3... I'm hoping new
features in its Hyperkitty and Postorius WebUIs make some of this
easier or more accessible to casual participants (particularly in
light of the combined list scenario), but none of the plan above
hinges on MM3 and should be entirely doable with the MM2 version
we're currently using.

Also, in case you were wondering, no the irony of cross-posting this
message to four mailing lists is not lost on me. ;)

[1] https://etherpad.openstack.org/p/YVR-ops-devs-one-community
[2] https://etherpad.openstack.org/p/common-openstack-ml-topics
Jeremy Stanley
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