Exploring new communication channels


Personally, I don’t watch wg-net either because it is on discord.

Edit: Discord (not discourse).


I just had a super frustrating time (spent a couple hours at it) trying to find a way to make interacting with Discord less intrusive.

For the net-wg and futures teams specifically, I’d want to propose that the chat channels may actually be harmful if we want to include the wider community. I try to follow along on the futures repo and the async and pin tracking issues, and since I don’t have context from the chat, I find various changes to very confusing. Not bad, but there is a bunch of context related to each of them, but you had to be in the chat to know them. I think that my not having joined Discord so far allows me to offer this point-of-view as just anyone in the wider community trying to follow along asynchronously.


I feel like something that hasn’t really been considered enough, is the broader impact of the choice of discussion platform. The particular accessibility hurdles of a platform are going to play a large role in deciding who are driven away, and who feel welcome somewhere.

As a specific example: moving core discussions to a proprietary discussion platform is going to drive away a lot of ‘ideologically OSS’ developers, which means you’re going to be largely left with developers who don’t really care about core infrastructure being proprietary.

That’s a dangerous road to travel down, especially for something conceptually fairly simple like a chat platform; we’re a community of developers, we can do better than that.

Concretely: what do I need to do, to stop the considerations of moving to a proprietary discussion platform? What is missing in the OSS options? What needs to be built, what needs to be implemented, what needs to be fixed, what needs to be maintained? What are the problems to be solved?


It seems to me these questions have been thoroughly explored. For example: the ability to ping people who are offline; the ability to see the history of a channel when you weren’t there and before you joined; the ability to share this functionality across devices via a single identity; a UI that’s not buggy or slow or arcane or split into several disparate services.


All of which are provided by all of the non-IRC “modern” choices. Well, except “not buggy”, which is a state never achieved by software.


How much does Discord keep chat logs available? When a PR/issue is discussed in an IRC channel, often the log (from botbot/logbot) is linked in the GitHub thread, and it would be bad to lose this (or having a link that expires a few months after).


Having participated on the Redox chat on mattermost, I believe mattermost meets all of these requirements, is OSS, and has better accessibility. I have no stake in this game, but, I’m amazed that mattermost keeps getting overlooked as an option.


pleroma chat?

or, if this is gonna be text-only anyway (reasons), why not keep using IRC?


I endorse this as a Telegram user.


I’m a little surprised that you haven’t been seeing these issues with Discord too? I constantly find that I have missed notifications, and often have chats (especially group conversations) load without showing recent messages, Only after a reload do they appear. Were the Gitter team not open to fixing the issues you identified?


Interesting, that’s the first I’ve heard of such issues. Might be worth raising in #meta and pinging stanislav (a Discord employee who has been helping us).

That wasn’t the issue, but rather that (despite reports and chatting directly) they persisted for at least a month – I’m not sure whether they were ever fixed. AIUI, the Android app has also been unreliable for a very long time.


I personally like the idea of mattermost and I set it up once a long time ago to poke around. However - why does redox require a manual process to add users to their mattermost instance? Are users not able to register themselves in mattermost (without an oauth provider)?

I’m also curious

  1. whether redox self-host and
  2. if anyone knows why the Mozilla Foundation moved to slack from mattermost - https://github.com/MozillaFoundation/mofo-devops/issues/453


Mattermost definitely as a self-signup form, I used that internally at a customer. Mattermost shares the issues of Slack in many regards: It’s a business chat. It assumes users will be moderated through the organisation they are in and is not built for complex moderation/interaction like muting users or even just ignoring others.

if anyone knows why the Mozilla Foundation moved to slack from mattermost - https://github.com/MozillaFoundation/mofo-devops/issues/453

I can’t comment on the specific reasons there, but I never heard of Mattermost as an official chat. So probably the move was after the evaluation phase for chats had ended. I’m just guessing here.

Also, as a company, you’ll probably end up taking the paid offer anyways, so why not choose the original?


FWIW, I can very much relate to that. If Discord had no web client (i.e., if installing a client was mandatory), I probably wouldn’t be on it. I do not think it is reasonable to expect people to install proprietary software.

Lucky enough, there is a web client. Unlike Gitter it required some configuration (110% font zoom) for text to even be readable (not sure how that can happen with a chat app), and it shows annoying banners at the top advertising for Facebook (“connect your account”) and the XBox (“install the app”) after every login. Not great, but bearable.

The UI is also worse than Gitter, with private chat and group chats being split into two views and the group chat view listing two dozen channels of which I care about three. Whenever I open the Rust “server” on Discord I am greeted by 10 channels having new messages, so I just ignore all of them. Not sure if there is a way to permanently hide/leave individual channels, but I think the IRC/Gitter model of just joining the channels you care about makes much more sense.

So, overall, both in terms of freedom and in terms of user experience, I see Discord as a step backwards. I appreciate Gitter was unusably bad for others (I never had problems beyond mild annoyances), so please take this as just another data point.


You could configure the font size in User Settings (the :gear:️ at bottom-left corner next to your user name) → AppearanceChat Font Scaling.

You could right click on the channel or group, then check Mute #«channel» to ignore it. You could hide all muted channels by clicking the the server name (“rust-lang”) → Hide Muted Channels.


Yeah that’s what I mean by “110%”. It just took me a bit to find that and I was somewhat surprised that the defaults are so bad. Maybe it’s a Linux thing. (It looks the same in Firefox and Chromium though.)

Thanks, I did not know about that option. Now I am just wondering what happens when I get @mentioned in one of the channels that is now hidden? Will I even notice?


By default, muting a Discord channel does not mute @mentions, though it can be configured to do so.


Nope; the Discord stylesheet imposes some really heavy-handed font manipulation stuff which makes the fonts pretty hard to read. I posted a stylesheet you can add using Stylus (or any other stylesheet management add-on) up in this comment which at least fixes the most egregious typesetting issues.

I think the question was: if you have the “Hide muted channels” option enabled, will the channel then be un-hidden if you’re @mentioned in it?


And the answer is yes, it will be un-hidden until you dismiss the notification. This is what CAD97 meant.


and in addition, if you are wanting to totally ignore a particular channel which has been brought back through a @mention (or at any other point), you can right-click on a channel, a group, or a server and “mark as read” to clear/hide it again