[llvm-dev] RFC: Moving toward Discord and Discourse for LLVM's discussions

Jonathan Goodwin via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Mon Nov 18 23:22:54 PST 2019

Re: Discord vs. IRC

Another community I belong to, r/ProgrammingLanguages, went through similar
turmoil. For years, several members of the community used IRC for
interactive conversations. Within the last year, someone launched a Discord
server. Angst arose about the community being divided and about the
respective merits and downsides of both platforms. The arguments raised
were quite similar to those I have noticed in this thread.

Our solution was to be inclusive and proactive. We built a bridge using
Matrix between the IRC server and the Discord server, and that has kept the
two communities able to use the technology they prefer while participating
in each other's conversations.

Speaking personally, although I would prefer to use an open source solution
we have control over, my multiple attempts to work with IRC clients left me
so frustrated, I gave up even trying. This is largely due to how regularly
IRC disconnects and how history is so very fragile in its natural state. I
tried Riot (based on Matrix), and it was better, but I still ended up
disconnected too often, having to remember the right incantation to
re-connect and pray it worked.

Discord has always just worked for most of us, and its feature set has
significantly improved our ability to gracefully host multiple concurrent
conversations on regularly-changing subject topics, empower individuals ad
hoc with channels for their individual initiatives, integrate with Github
and other tools, and moderate out toxic individuals and conversations. Its
UI has been more than a "pretty face", as it allows us to more readily swap
a wide variety of media with each other: In particular I value the
well-formatted and colored code excerpts.

>From my standpoint, community engagement is the ultimate determinant of
success, not technical flexibility. Since launching the Discord server, it
has ended up attracting a significantly larger number of very active users,
a greater diversity of views and topics, and a deeper sense of engagement
in accomplishing practical objectives. That said, the IRC community
continues to remain vibrant and active, and perhaps even more so because
bridging means that Discord users can participate in the IRC conversations.
Intriguingly, the two bridged communities have retained their own distinct
social personalities.

What worked for r/ProgrammingLanguages might not apply to the LLVM
community, of course. Time will tell. I hope it is useful to have shared
what we learned from going through a similar transition.

- Jonathan
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