Tue 23 Jun 2015

Would it be useful to set up a Discourse forum?

Danyl Strype Public Seen by 240

Discourse is forum software, built as free code, built using Ruby on Rails:

It may be useful to set up an NZPP instance of Discourse to fulfill the same function as the old PHPBB forum on PirateParty.org.nz: a more casual chit-chat, relationship-building, and networking space.

If we have both Discourse and Loomio, we need a clear agreement about what we use each platform for, and if either of them should be public-facing by default.


Danyl Strype Tue 23 Jun 2015

I agree with a comment made in another discussion by @zl4bv that it would be good to have a Discourse forum. This could be used for general chit-chat (along the lines of the old PHPBB forum on PirateParty.org.nz), allowing a more focused used of Loomio to make decisions. I notice our discussions here become much more productive when there are specific proposals to be discussed, and I'm looking forward to Loomio 1.0 which will allow multiple proposals to be developed in each thread.

I note also Ben's comment in another discussion about the need to use the best tool for the job, while avoiding confusing tool proliferation. I agree that we need to think carefully about how many software tools and platforms NZPP workflow involves (with all the downsides of multiple logins and context switching pain), and how this can be reduced without losing important functionality.


Hubat McJuhes Tue 23 Jun 2015

I have been advocating for a set of tools to utilise before, where I was envisaging a combination of loomio as a casual discussion platform and LiquidFeedback as the formal deliberation platform, finalising the outcomes of loomio discussions.

Today I think that the concept is exactly right. But for the community that we are the more digestible sandwich may be created from a group-private discourse forum and loomio as the more formal and official and public facing finalising tool.

With any tool chain that we want to work with we have to consider the distraction that each new platform brings with it. For example: I am more than happy to check loomio as often as I can for any new activity. And that is it. I pretty much virtually never consider checking our facebook or twitter channel and to my surprise I realise that I even ignore our slacker appearance, simply because it is 'yet another place'. PPNZ has a big place in my day, but it is pretty much exactly one place - not two or three sites to visit.
So if we want to consider another tool next to loomio, then the crucial aspect is really the account management. It must be one login that opens up both/all tools to effectively working.
Discourse and Loomio are both implemented in Ruby On Rails and Discourse even has explicit support for Single-Sign-On. This could make the two a pretty perfect fit. Bringing them together under one authentification umbrella would certainly mean that we need to run our own instances of both and cannot consider/proceed with a hosted cloud service. Some limited development work to glue the systems together will be required.

Under these circumstances I am very exited about that idea. Let's go for it. YEAH!


Danyl Strype Tue 23 Jun 2015

Loomio implements Mozilla Persona, so if our Discourse instance also supported Persona, we could use the same login credentials for both. AFAIK this would mean once we logged into Loomio, we would be automatically logged into our Discourse, and vice versa. Can anyone confirm?

If at some stage we needed a more powerful decision-making platform, I would support swapping Loomio for LF or perhaps even DemocracyOS. I would not support using Loomio for chit-chat, as Discourse is more suitable for this use case.


Ben Vidulich Tue 23 Jun 2015

+1 for using something like Persona. Persona is easy for people to use, it is arguably trustworthy, and would remove the need for use to maintain yet another service.

There appears to be Mozilla Persona a plugin for Discourse, so we are sorted on that front.

AFAIK this would mean once we logged into Loomio, we would be automatically logged into our Discourse, and vice versa. Can anyone confirm?

I'm not convinced it is as smooth as you describe it from a technical point of view (the user would most likely get redirected to and from Persona when switching between Loomio <--> Discourse) but yes the user wouldn't have to log in more than once.

I anticipate that if we designated Discourse as our chit-chat platform then most of the party's activity (aside from on social networks) would migrate there - so most of the time you would still only need to check one source for information. Just an observation (not a criticism in this context) but we don't make a lot of decisions - relative to the amount of discussion we have - so not only would it make sense to move discussions to a discussion platform, it would free up Loomio (or any other service we decide to move to) for our infrequent decision-making.


Danyl Strype Fri 10 Jul 2015

Discourse is free code, so I imagine our forum could easily be added as a tab on the existing website, with the same CSS etc, just like we used to do with PHPBB (BTW Could we do the same with Loomio? Install on our own instance). Using CiviCRM and maybe something like BrowserID, we could tie all the different services we run (Drupal or WordPress, Loomio, Discourse, and anything else we run) into a Single-Sign-On (SSO), so that logging into any of it, logs into all of it.

As for its purposes, i could imagine our Discourse forum being a place to share links, and have more casual, open-form chats about aspects relating to Pirate politics. It could be text items like this one:

...or photos/ memes, the talks we were discussing putting up, upcoming live streaming of events, and other audio-visual items.

I suggest we have a Code of Conduct in place before we make it live, so we need to finish off at least a Version 1.0, including a statement about when it's next to be versioned. That needs a open-membership conduct working group.

Starting technical development now requires a working group too. Who has time to spend on technical or research/ documentation for a website working group?


Ben Vidulich Sat 11 Jul 2015

BTW Could we do the same with Loomio? Install on our own instance

Absolutely. Last time I looked they had some decent instructions on how to set up your own Loomio instance. I'm not sure if it is possible to migrate existing discussions from here to a custom instance - if that is something we want to do then we might have to open a channel with the Loomio devs to see if this is something that could be arranged.

Starting technical development now requires a working group too. Who has time to spend on technical or research/ documentation for a website working group?

Happy to work on this provided there's continued discussion here about what exactly we want from a new website. I/we can look at integrating Discourse/Loomio/an SSO system/whatever else if that's what we want to do.

I started a project here on GitHub to make a new website - anyone is welcome to contribute. If I recall correctly there is still a lot of work to get it ready for use, but I did get it to the point where you could download the repository, build the docker container (one command) and it would automatically create you your own running instance of the website. It pulls in the content from the www-content and constitution repos so the content can be developed independently of the more technical aspects of the website. If there is general support for this approach and people are willing to help out then it would be great to get some code review too.


Hubat McJuhes Tue 14 Jul 2015

We have once set up the Engine Room sub-group to discuss technical stuff without cluttering the Inbox of members who are only interested in the political aspects of the party. I would suggest to discuss implementation details there. I have added @strypey to that group as I assume that he is interested.