I have indeed been talking with @wycats a lot about these ideas. Actually, he and I were just talking yesterday, and I thought we came up with an interesting thought. We want to find better ways to structure RFC discussions that make them easier to follow, especially after the fact. GH’s “big bag of comments” model basically means you have to read every single thing to follow along, teasing out subthreads and so forth as you go (it doesn’t help that GH finds a lot of the comments from you). This is very tedious and time-consuming, particularly since a lot of those comments don’t even apply to the most recent draft (since they prompted subsequent changes).
But there is another goal. We want to empower people to shepherd and facilitate discussions on the topics that they personally care about. One RFC that made a big impression on me was the union RFC, where @josh did a great job of keeping the conversation on track and bringing us to consensus. One of the most important bits here are summary messages (like this one) that helped to give structure to the ongoing conversation.
So here is what I am thinking. What I would like to see is that when you arrive at an RFC page, you see in the “top comment” not only the rough motivation, but a guide to the conversation that follows. For example, this might include a list of subthreads on particular topics (ideally hosted on internals and not github), as well as links to summaries of important points in the conversation. The aforementioned union RFC actually has a primitive example of this: you can see that @josh edited the RFC summary as he went, including notable points in its development, and also included links to some prior discussion.
One problem is that, right now, that top comment can only be edited by people who own the repository and the RFC author themselves. This makes a rather limited set of people who can curate. Moreover, there is no standard form for the top comment, so you wind up with ad-hoc edits and so forth. Moreover, maintaining all these links and so forth can make the whole curation job even more difficult.
I was imagining that we might make a bot that can help in this regard. The bot might recognize specially formatted comments that claim to do things like “summarize the discussion from here to here”. It could then insert a link to that comment up in the top-comment, under a bullet list of “summaries”. There might also be a way to spawn subthreads devoted to a particular topic on internals: then when you visit the RFC, you would see the link to the appropriate subthread where some point is being debated.
Finally, we could use the dashboard to monitor discussions that are in need of this sort of work. If a discussion has been going too long, say, without a summary, the bot might add a “needs-summary” tag – or if a subthread goes dormant (hasn’t had any comments in a while), the bot might notice and indicate that the subthread seems to have reached conclusion, perhaps its time to report back the (current) consensus.
I can imagine that this might be an interesting way to be involved in Rust, as well – if you don’t feel like coding, you can put in some time trying to help guide the RFC and design process move along. And of course you might find something you want to get more involved in while you are at it.
Anyway, this is very rough, but I wanted to throw it out and see what people thought.