[ANN] Archiving some Discord channels; musing on a new server

Hey everyone,

We used to have Discord channels in a server which, after the rebranding, was largely handed to the previous community. If you didn’t know about these, it’s fine; we only do official communications on the forum.

We’re planning to archive the ReScript-related ones (#rescript, #react, #react-native) on this Friday (March 26th). The chat history is preserved as read-only.

We’re also considering creating a new Discord for ReScript specifically, but we haven’t done so, and are hesitating to do so, for the following reasons:

  • The real time nature of Discord is a huge time sink. Just like work chat, it’s hard to tune it out. Some might feel obliged to be constantly monitoring messages and be always on. In a mass social setting, we think async is the way to go.
  • Forum posts usually contain a higher signal-vs-noise ratio.
  • Our forum has a readership/authorship ratio of around 120 views per post per month and increasing (!!), thanks in part to search engines and no registration requirement for viewing. On the other hand, a Discord answer’s ratio, even on a good day, is an order of magnitude lower. One newcomer posting on the forum benefits likely 100+ others, whereas while it might be slightly less friction to post on Discord, many fewer benefit from it.
  • Our forum answers are a form of informal documentation, and the amount of linking going on is indicative of how much effort folks have saved from repeating themselves. There are even new project and documentation efforts that arose entirely from hotly discussed topics, whereas in real time chat we’d be lucky if those exceed a single digit.

However, this doesn’t rule out the possibility of our own real-time chat in the future. But even then, we want to set the expectation that a Discord server will only be used for casual chat rather than a place for announcements and high quality Q&A. We wanted to open this discussion to get more insights on your opinion.

Let us know what you think!

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I mostly agree with this. Maybe create a section of this forum for chat type questions - “quick questions” or “monthly ask anything” thread - to encourage new members to post? Also, since discord filters topics well, it would be nice if there was more tagging or topics here, to help filter what I read.

I also personally like zulip (https://clojureverse.org/t/introducing-clojurians-zulip/3173) over discord, if that’s a consideration in the future. The topic threading is nice.

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Yeah we did think about that, though it’s unclear whether a mega thread would help; not sure folks would reply faster that way. Plus, it’d straight up defeat the purpose of the last point, which is a kind of uncategorized documentation (which we value a lot).

Some thoughts:

I think a discord is great for community building in the early stages of a language because it’s higher fidelity, and if you get an answer (or a back-and-forth) within two minutes, that’s an amazing experience that is hard to beat with a forum. Also the social chat is better for community building. Also talking to users once in a while is really helpful. Just like in a startup, having conversations with users really helps you get product-market fit. A community chat helps facilitate that (and is more open than a ad-hoc chat of mostly core team members).

Eventually it’s hard to coordinate and scale, so for larger communities a forum works way better (you can still have a discord for the hard core users).

Just my two cents. I do agree it’s better to split the ReScript and ReasonML communities for clarity if ReScripts moves more in the direction of a totally new language.

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My two cents:

Personally, I have never used this forum, maybe I should of have, especially when asking some more complex questions in Discord. But I haven’t and, I don’t know why. A forum feels like a more “serious” setting, it kinda feels like writing a letter to someone, whereas Discord feels like sitting at a table while having a coffee and a casual discussion. Forums are scary (for some people).

The Discord community in the ReasonML (and the #rescript/#react/#react-native channels) server is amazing: I ask plenty of questions there from time to time, have discussion and learn new things. It’s a place where I can have serious discussion, meme discussions and just casual discussions. It’s not so much about ReScript really, it’s more about just having a nice chat with people who enjoy using the same technology or paradigms. This usually also intersects with people interested in functional programming, category theory, other languages and you name it. It’s just a nice place! We don’t want nice places removed!

I agree that creating a dedicated ReScript Discord would be a wise choice for the future, but I would also like to see some cross pollination between these two platforms: perhaps a feed in the Discord which posts whenever a new post on the forum has been created. A way to access the Discord from the forum if you want a more real-time chat with other ReScript people. These two platforms can strengthen each other.

Just because we want to create a dedicated ReScript Discord in the future does not mean that these channels should be removed NOW. There should a migration from one Discord to another. There is no need to pull the plug right now.

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This was linked in the Discord, and a discussion was started after I posted this:

I really want to like rescript, but seeing more and more indication of the core team’s attitude of “I don’t see why people would need it so let’s get rid of it it” is really troubling

To clarify, what’s troubling here is not the decision to get off the ReasonML server (I think it’s the right move). It’s the execution. I wouldn’t have been bothered if you’d instead said “we’re migrating away from the ReasonML Discord with a hard stop in 4 weeks, but we understand the community might still want a Discord so let’s discuss whether to spin up a new Discord in that time” (or whether the community should make their own unofficial Discord, which is how some languages are).

I agree Reason and ReScript communities should be separated both because of the existing conflicts on Discord and also because it’s really confusing for newcomers.

I understand the perceived benefits of the forum and agree with the points raised. In a dream world, a high-traffic forum would be better for informal docs, SEO, and all the things you mentioned.

However, in the real world, Discord is much lower friction for communities and meets people where they’re at. (Low friction is why I originally posted to Discord rather than here in the first place…)

Do I see 100s of repeated/similar questions every month on the TypeScript/React/Vue Discords? Yes. Would it be arguably better if those questions were Google-able? Sure. Would those beginners even be trying to use TS/React/Vue in the first place if the community wasn’t available on Discord? Maybe not.

With that being said, I’ll end with my final message (so far) on Discord:

I was just considering what I would do if I ran into a simple ReScript issue that I couldn’t figure out on my own quickly if the forum were my only choice, and I think my answer is “go back to TypeScript”.

I have limited time to work on personal projects, and I’m not going to enjoy waiting 12 hours and counting for an answer to something like React.memo with generic types which was mentioned earlier

PS - I feel like this post isn’t worded perfectly enough and parts may be taken wrongly, but I’ve already spent way more time/effort into writing/editing this than I care to, so it is what it is. :man_shrugging:

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The “seriousness” around forums and the “community” vibe of Discord servers are things I wanted to touch on in my post (you posted while I was writing), but it was already getting long. I’m glad you mentioned it.

A bit meta, but I even feel weird writing this reply to express my agreement because it feels like it’s not “serious” enough… Or that it’s too or “noisy” for a forum setting.

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I recommend to leave the #rescript channel as is at least. It is clear from the channel topic and pinned messages (maybe can be a bit more explicit) that it’s not the official chat of the ReScript team.

The OCaml community has a separate OCaml Discord, but ReasonML Discord also has an #ocaml channel. So there is precedent for having an unofficial chat channel for related technologies in another Discord.

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There is a clear tradeoff between Discord and Forums. One can’t say one is better than another. Unfortunately I can’t see a balanced comparison between the two in the announcement and understandably that lack of objectivity has led to frustration expressed by some members. It’s as if the decision has already been made and now all we can do here is vent our frustration.

I’m glad others have already pointed out some of the benefits instant chat has over forums. I also agree that in order to get the best out of both worlds, you might want to cultivate the usage of both, especially if the community is still small.

Personally, if I had to jump into a young language such as ReScript as it is with very few resources available on how to properly do things beyond trivial examples shown in the (incomplete) docs and if I was forced to ask every single question in the forum and wait hours or even days for an an acceptable answer, I definitely wouldn’t bother, I would go back to Typescript and either never look back or check back in a few years to see if things have matured or not.

Also if the goal is to have an unofficial documentation indexed by search engines, StackOverflow might be a better choice because as new stuff gets frequently added and old things removed from the language, said documention can become stale very quickly. StackOverflow already has great tools in place to moderate existing questions and update them accordingly by the community. I’m curious to see how you will pull this off with the growing forums. It might be worth it to wait a bit before you go all-in with the forums, at least until the language has matured to the point where no significant changes are expected or you have better tools available for moderating the community.

What I’m trying to say is if the language is evolving quickly, it might actually be a good thing that old, no longer valid ways of doing things get buried in the Discord channels.

I hope I’m wrong, but this seems more like an attempt to gain monopoly over information than anything else really, which is something I can understand after a little snafu between a core developer and others in the discord, but arguably there are better ways to handle these things in the future.

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Look at haskell reddit ask anything (https://teddit.net/r/haskell/comments/m0f2y9/monthly_hask_anything_march_2021/). The response time is really fast

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To give some historical context on why the whole “forum discussion” started somewhere last year (after having 3 years of chat only), with a pretty intense post by justgage (actually a speaker we invited for ReasonConf 2019 conference back then in Vienna):

This was posted on the ReasonML forum. Thought this is still relevant to this day.

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I think our response times are also not bad. The React.memo post was not clear / actionable enough to answer right away… it definitely doesn’t take 11h on average to answer questions.

Those questions usually just get ignored on chat, and that’s it… no answer? then it wasn’t relevant enough I guess.

Just because the question wasn’t answered right away, doesn’t mean it will not be answered at all. So far every question has had a somewhat meaningful reply, and I also took a lot of pride in writing well articulated, useful answers that are usable for future newcomers as well.

I’m sure the guy who posted it, would have still appreciated if someone pointed out more context was needed to be able to effectively answer his question. If no one can bother to write

Dude, we need more information!

(which btw happens a lot in discord due to frictionless communication there)
then how can it be expected that other questions get the attention they deserve.

It proves the point that forums are more official and you must make sure you question isn’t too vague, has enough context etc.

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You mean like this?

I think the response times are pretty fast on here. I was just responding to the question of whether people will get timely responses in a monthly mega-thread. Haskell reddit demonstrates that its scalable and the community will jump in and enjoy helping to answer. So beginners will get almost real time interaction, and feel less intimidated about posing their first question. There are also lots of questions that are very trivial and I often hesitate to create a full post to pose them. Such a thread lets me post the question and note that I don’t want to distract from the more substantial questions being posed.

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Yes like this, except not after 13 hours has passed at which point the op might have already solved the problem on his own (or gave up). Kudos to @rickyvetter for taking time to create a playground, but generally problems like this are solved easier and faster with a little back and forth instant messaging

Ah interesting!
So you mean we should create a single thread on the forum per month, pin it on top where ppl can ask loose questions, and then we’ll archive it for the next month? That could actually work.

Oh dear Reddit… kinda off-topic, but someone bamboozled us big by squatting the rescriptlang reddit name. sigh

I’ve been enquiring about taking over r/rescript too, with the intention of handing it over to the community. The mod initially responded positively to the proposal but has since stopped replying…

Exactly, I wouldn’t even feel great hopping in on a forum for a language/framework that I’m comfortable in with a “can you tell us more”, but I’d happily post a quick “I think we need more info” or even try to help them get going in the right direction even on a ReScript Discord despite being only a few weeks into the language.

On a forum, I feel like I need to have solved (or mostly solved) the question in order to start interacting, and on the flip side, I feel like I need to bring a very detailed/correct question.

That may be more of a problem with me not being comfortable with forums, but I think based on what I’ve seen on forums (not just this one), that’s just the general way forums culture ends up.

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I wouldn’t recommend getting a Reddit, they can spiral out of control too easily and require lots of dedicated mod time. That said, rescript-lang is available.