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Integrate mailing lists in Wikimedia Space
Closed, DeclinedPublic0 Estimated Story Points

Description

NOTE: This is a draft proposal for a complex and yet technically feasible project.
WARNING: This task requires a proper description.

In a nutshell: migrate https://lists.wikimedia.org from Mailman to Discourse, including archives, providing email-based and web-based features, as well as public and private channels.

Check the proposal to start testing mailing mirroring and mailing list emulation.

Event Timeline

Qgil created this task.Jun 27 2019, 3:26 PM
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Stryn added a subscriber: Stryn.Jun 27 2019, 8:10 PM
revi added a subscriber: revi.Jun 27 2019, 11:32 PM

Q: Does discourse support 'mailing list mode' with NO archives left after it is distributed? At least, that's how it works on checkuser-l.

jbond triaged this task as Medium priority.Jun 28 2019, 10:45 AM
jbond added a subscriber: jbond.
Qgil added a comment.Jun 28 2019, 1:50 PM

Hi @revi, good point. I *think* Discourse doesn't do this out of the box, but we can investigate (and probably discuss in a task apart). Maybe a plugin exists. If not, I guess a plugin to have posts deleted automatically after N time wouldn't be too far apart from existing functionality. Currently it is possible to *close* topics automatically in a specific category after N time.

revi added a comment.Jun 28 2019, 1:54 PM

I don't know the exact reason why it is not archived, but I think most plausible reason is, in mailman, it is virtually tooooooo hard to erase stuff once archived, and cu-l is full of sensitive information under ANIP and/or to comply with Data Retention Policy.

Qgil added a comment.Jun 28 2019, 2:45 PM

Well, yes, I was about to ask why. :) In Discourse entire topics (threads) or specific posts (messages) can be deleted by admins and moderators from the web UI. There is also an API for that.

Tgr added a subscriber: Tgr.Jun 30 2019, 8:08 AM

Note that deleting a thread and purging it from storage are different things. The latter will be needed here for compliance with the data retention policy.

Qgil claimed this task.Jul 5 2019, 9:52 AM
Qgil removed Qgil as the assignee of this task.Jul 11 2019, 9:39 AM

Unassigning only to keep my current backlog sane. It will come.

Pine added a subscriber: Pine.Oct 20 2019, 9:20 PM

Under the current circumstances of Wikimedia Space, I oppose integrating the mailing lists into Wikimedia Space, particularly 1. extending WMF's current policies for Wikimedia Space to include mailing list content and 2. giving WMF staff more authority to control mailing list content. If the policies and governance of Wikimedia Space were much more under the direct control of the community and the policies for Space were set by the community instead of by WMF then I would be more likely to support integrating mailing lists into Wikimedia Space.

Qgil added a subscriber: Yair_rand.Oct 21 2019, 4:36 PM

Thank you, this is an interesting point. It reminds me to a question about governance that @Yair_rand asked right after Space was launched. Like in that case, we need to get into details to better understand what policies and governance we are talking about.

What specific policies or aspects of governance are you thinking about? What hypothetical scenarios are you concerned about?

I tried to find information about https://lists.wikimedia.org/ policies and governance in order to know what is the benchmark, but at least after a quick search I have failed. If we have this benchmark, then we can check what is the difference with Space's policies and governance, and then we can discuss about specific changes.

Qgil updated the task description. (Show Details)Oct 29 2019, 9:54 PM
revi added a comment.Jan 29 2020, 4:00 PM

I tried to find information about https://lists.wikimedia.org/ policies and governance in order to know what is the benchmark, but at least after a quick search I have failed. If we have this benchmark, then we can check what is the difference with Space's policies and governance, and then we can discuss about specific changes.

As far as I know, each mailing list has its own rules defined by each mailing list admins, and there is no uniform policy for the mailing lists.

Pine added a comment.Feb 1 2020, 9:35 PM

I think that it's fine to mirror mailing list content into Space so long as the policies for Space are not enforced on mailing list content.

The mailing lists are generally much more open to frank conversations than the policies for Space are. There is little effort to make the mailing lists be a "safe space", although anyone on the mailing lists who develops a pattern of writing off topic emails or making attacks without evidence to support their claims is likely to hear about it and/or be put on moderation. So, in general, mailing lists are much less authoritarian than Wikimedia Space, but that doesn't mean that they are in a state of anarchy. Another difference between Space and the mailing lists is that the mailing lists, particularly Wikimedia-l, are generally not policed by WMF, and the moderation is done by a small group of people who the community generally accepts and are not acting in a WMF capacity.

I would feel more comfortable with Wikimedia Space if the guidelines were made less restrictive, were originally written by the community, and were enforced by a body similar to Wikimedia-l moderators or the ENWP Arbitration Committee.

Backing up to a slightly higher level, I am currently not persuaded that the existence of Wikimedia Space is a good use of WMF resources, and I don't think that the community's limited supply of volunteers would best make use of our collective time by spending thousands of hours drafting new policies for Space and setting up yet another governance structure. I am okay with Space having a more restrictive set of policies and remaining more under WMF control if it is clear that participation on Space is not necessary for participation in what are currently mailing list discussions or on-wiki discussions. The mirroring of mailing lists onto Space, without the full migration of mailing lists onto Space, is a reasonable option that involves much less effort than a full migration and a lengthy development of a new system of governance.

Qgil closed this task as Declined.Feb 18 2020, 2:39 PM

I'm declining this task following with the Space announcement - https://discuss-space.wmflabs.org/t/next-steps-on-wikimedia-space/3184

As a mailing list user and as Discourse user, personally I still think the idea has merit for many reasons, but this is only my opinion. :)

Demian added a subscriber: Demian.Feb 18 2020, 2:55 PM

As a mailing list user and as Discourse user, personally I still think the idea has merit for many reasons, but this is only my opinion. :)

Also as a user of both, I was waiting for this to happen. Mailing lists are just sufficient for the task they fulfill, but this would have been a step towards better and more modern cooperation tools. I hope this idea will live on and be manifested in some form in the future, but I reckon this is not of primary importance.