Why does Darius dislike OpenMRS Talk?

Can we define the reason(s) that @darius isn’t excited about Talk? Are there aspects of OpenMRS Talk that could be tweaked to make it more interesting to Darius? How does someone like Darius separate the wheat from the chaff?


One reason is that it’s yet another thing I “should” look at. So, perhaps you can create me a custom gmail client that also pulls interesting Talk messages. :smile:

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FYI, you can “watch” threads or categories and get e-mail notifications of new topics/replies in each. You can then reply to that notification (make sure you respond from the same e-mail address as your primary OpenMRS ID address) and it will append your reply as a reply on the topic.

… and you can similarly “Mute” categories or topics that you don’t want to get notifications about.

Gmail automatically replies using my openmrs.org address, since that’s the address OpenMRS Talk uses. That’s convenient. Gmail has a mute feature too, but I see that “Muted” has special meaning in OpenMRS Talk. Not only does it turn off any notifications, it also stops bugging you on the OpenMRS Talk unread counts.

I like the fact that Discourse is very Gmail-ish. You can type “g u” to go to unread messages, browse them with j, k, and u keys and re-learn shortcut keys with “?”… but, like Darius, I don’t need yai (yet another inbox). :slight_smile:

That said, OpenMRS Talk is the best alternative I’ve seen to date for moving “chatty” conversations out of the mailing lists. Of course, the best part of Discourse is the ability to close polls. :wink:

Didn’t that code of yours already get refactored? :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m surprised they included it in the first place. :stuck_out_tongue:

How soon before Darius mutes this topic?

Perhaps it already happened. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned it. :whale2:

One thing that I don’t get about talk is when I should use this over the mailing list. I’m afraid this also fall in the category of just one more thing to check. Are there guidelines for when to use the mailing list and when to use talk?

I also fear it may split the conversations between two places.

Hi @rcrichton - those are valid questions. When you ask about “when to use the mailing list”, which list are you referring to? You might not realize, but OpenMRS currently has 25 different interactive mailing lists and we’re hoping to move at least some of the smaller lists to categories here on Talk to help reduce the number of information channels that we have in total and the number of those conversations split over several lists (or private e-mail conversations)

One general rubric for conversation classification could be:

We’re actively working on a project to better organize our knowledge and information. After 10 years, we’ve collected a lot of it, so want to make sure that it’s easy for both our contributors and customers to find and use.

One of the strengths of Discourse (OpenMRS Talk) is that it offers mailing list like functionality so you can Watch a category to receive e-mail notifications for each new topic or reply, and then reply back to that notification via e-mail to respond, much like a mailing list. (That reply will be appended to a topic or added as a new topic.) The strength of this platform is that when you sign in to read category X, it’s also really easy to scan categories Y and Z for other interesting topics, or you may find something at the bottom of the thread that’s also related. And if you are “away” from Talk for very long, you can get a periodic e-mail notification of other topics that have been active since you were last seen.

We don’t have any current plans to fully move some of our most active mailing lists to Talk, but hopefully you will find that the conversations in those lists become more focused as the content starts to classify into the types seen in the above list.

Yes, it’s a different communication tool but when adopting the tool, we wanted to make sure those people that prefer to work out of an e-mail inbox can continue with that process and still stay up to date. The maintainers of Discourse are definitely actively committed to making it a good experience for those people.

I agree that we continue to struggle with fragmented conversations. I’m equally frustrated with 25+ comments of discussion & design within JIRA that is not designed for threaded discussion. That said, I think we’re getting the right tools in place. Here’s my interpretation of them:

  • Mailing lists – community discussion “everybody in the ‘community’ sees” (speak to the community)
  • Wiki – reference material (documentation)
  • JIRA – issues, discussions elsewhere & decisions documented here (issue tracking)
  • Dev/Design/University Forums – high bandwidth discussion (live group discussion)
  • IRC – standups, low bandwidth discussion (live chat)
  • OpenMRS Talk as our forum – topic-based threaded discussion (focused discussion)
  • OpenMRS Questions as our Stack Overflow – question & answer (looking for an answer to a question)

Some people prefer one over the others. Some interactions are better suited to one over the others. The trick is getting everybody (and the community culture) in some level of agreement of how best to use these tools. I don’t think we’re expecting everyone to monitor everything and the good & bad news is that our community is growing to where a single individual cannot follow every thread unless they make it their full time job. The mailing list is the only medium in which you can assume “everyone will see it.”

In the end “OpenMRS Talk” is just a forum and it’s not bad to have a forum. We had one years ago and now we have a better one. Maybe the Discourse folk will successfully re-create the Nabble-like experience where forum & mailing list work synergistically… we’ll see, but I’m not going to hold my breath for it.

Now we just need to ask on OpenMRS Questions whether or not we should make JIRA tickets to copy this conversation to the dev list, IRC, discuss it on a call, and document it on the wiki. :wink: