FOSS Responders

What categories and subcategories should we add?

I’d like to have a discussion about which categories and subcategories to add. I think we may have too many categories right now, so I’m wondering if we can condense some before we launch this more broadly.

I also want to make sure that both staff and users know when to use Discourse vs our other tools (Slack, GitHub issues, etc).

Please add your feedback and ideas, and thanks in advance!

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I think there should be a “Introductions topic”. See for an example.

When you’ve figured out when to use Discourse vs Github vs Slack, I think that’ll drive what categories are needed.

My initial sense is that Matchmaking in Discourse might not work well because it’ll be limited to people who want to create a forum account. You want that part to be as low-friction as possible. Maybe a Google Sheet to start?


I like that! Do you think it’d make sense to have an “Introductions” topic under the “General” category?

And yeah, my worry is that the current number of categories is a bit overwhelming right now. I’m going to hop on a call with some others in the working group to see how they envision the workflow happening. I think we’ll get some ideas on how to consolidate / structure categories better after that.

Thanks for the initial input, @yanokwa! Super useful.

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Introductions under General seem fine to me. If it ends up not working, it’s very easy to move topics.

As far as workflow, I find Discourse works really well for asynchronous, long-form communication that you need to be discoverable (so basically the opposite of Slack).

If it’s mostly developers taking about filed issues that are closable with a pull request, then GitHub is adequate, but if you expect non-devs to participate and it’s not about issues, then GitHub is a bit too much. I bias to starting conversations on Discourse and once it gets to something closable with a PR, filing it as an issue on GitHub.

Final thing to know is that you can probably get rid of Google Groups. That is, you can flow emails in and out of Discourse relatively easily for one-of conversations. The caveat there is if you want something that’s more for one-way announcements, then Google Groups is hard to beat, but I’d probably use Mailchimp or something similar.


Nice to see you here, @yanokwa! I agree an intro topic in #general is a good idea, especially in this community where we want to get off the ground quickly.

Really like the other suggestions you made and how you explain how discourse compares with other tools like google groups and slack.


Just created the Introductions topic (I credited Open Data Kit, but let me know if you think it’s better to change it to be more of our own instead).

+1 to what Tobias said – that breakdown of how to use different tools makes a lot of sense to me.

I think with google groups, the idea among the organizing team right now is that it’d be listed so that people who need help can send an email to a closed group of us organizers (admins). This would be an option in case they’re not comfortable filing an issue, or if they just have questions. We’re also using the google group email in the Code of Conduct for people to reach out to if they need to file a complaint.

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By the way – should I pin the Introductions topic to the general category or globally? Suggestions on that would be greatly appreciated!

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No need to thank me in the introductions. Pretty sure I borrowed it from some other community. Pinning it globally makes sense to me.

For Google Groups usage, you can also use a private Discourse category that only certain members can see. So could go to a specific category. Just something to consider it you want to reduce number of platforms.

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Just edited the Introductions topic and pinned it globally. Let me know if you think we should edit it further.

Ok, thanks for the idea regarding the Discourse category. Will float it by the rest of the group!

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I’d definitely +1 @yanokwa’s suggestion to move this function from google groups to discourse. Discourse group messaging has also improved quite a bit lately - you can give groups an email address as well as categories, and there’s a group inbox and group archive. A new feature is coming soon to upgrade bookmarks with a reminder feature, too. Add to that the assigned plugin (not available on the current plan we’re on, unfortunately) and tags you can get quite far with using it like a ticket system so no balls get dropped.

Based on feedback from the group, I’ve merged some of the categories. Now we just need to go through and make sure that the “About” sections of each make sense. Otherwise, I think we’re pretty much good to go with the categories we have for now.

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