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

Michael Spencer via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Wed Nov 20 19:16:53 PST 2019

On Mon, Nov 18, 2019 at 5:17 PM Matthew Hodgson via llvm-dev <
llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org> wrote:

> On 18/11/2019 17:47, David Truby via llvm-dev wrote:
> > Hi all,
> >
> >> On Mon, 2019-11-18 at 08:09 -0500, Nico Weber via llvm-dev wrote:FWIW
> >> I'm a fan of using open-source stuff for open-source projects.
> >> Discourse looks open source, but Discord doesn't as far as I can tell
> >> (?).
> >
> > As regards this, I wonder if Matrix (matrix.org) has been considered at
> > all? It's an open standard protocol with a number of open source
> > clients that behaves very similarly to Slack/Discord. A number of other
> > open source communities I follow are using this already.
> [ Disclaimer: I'm the project lead for Matrix.org, so am hardly
> impartial on this.  (That said, we keep up with LLVM given we lean on it
> hard via emscripten when compiling our end-to-end encryption
> implementation (https://gitlab.matrix.org/matrix-org/olm) down to WASM
> and JS, so I have some tenuous claim to be lurking here ;) ]
> We built Matrix to be an entirely open network and open standard chat
> protocol, with the intention of combining the good bits of IRC (the
> community; the openness; the standardisation; the relative ease of dev;
> open source servers & clients) with clients which provide an accessible
> UX of similar quality to Discord/Slack.  Riot.im is the most advanced
> client, and while it's still not quite as glossy as Discord, the gap is
> closing, and we're moving faster than they are.
> I get why some open source projects (e.g. bits of Rust) have moved to
> Discord out of pragmatism for having the smoothest possible UX to ensure
> the widest audience, but it comes at a cost. The main tradeoffs are:
>   * As others have pointed out, Discord's monetisation model is that
> they own your data.  In Matrix, all participating servers share
> responsibility for conversations, and users can pick whichever server
> they happen to trust.  The ones we run as Matrix.org have these policies
> (https://github.com/vector-im/policies/tree/master/docs/matrix-org), but
> you can use whichever you like.  Additionally, Matrix is managed by the
> non-profit Matrix.org Foundation (https://matrix.org/foundation), to
> protect the protocol's users from conflicting commercial interests.
>   * Discord locks you into a proprietary service.  It's the chat
> equivalent of using MSVC Express just because it happens to be free and
> glossy.  Discord explicitly forbids 3rd party clients and bridging, and
> you're not exactly going to have the freedom to tweak and extend the
> server - which is after all what open source is all about.  In contrast,
> https://matrix.org/docs/spec is the Spec we publish that forms the core
> of the Matrix protocol, and
> https://matrix.org/docs/projects/try-matrix-now/ is an overview of all
> the implementations (servers, clients, bots, bridges etc) of it.
>   * Discord traps you in a proprietary silo.  You can talk to anyone you
> like... as long as they're on Discord.  If you want to collaborate
> directly with other projects on IRC, Slack, XMPP or wherever you're
> screwed.  Matrix provides increasingly decent bridges to IRC, Discord,
> Slack, etc so even if folks aren't natively on Matrix, you can talk to
> them anyway.  (And if LLVM does end up on Discord, we'll go ahead and
> bridge the Discord channels into Matrix anyway :P)
>   * You don't have any end-to-end encryption.  If you ever found
> yourself discussing something sensitive (e.g. security vuln
> coordination) and don't want eavesdroppers in or around the server from
> following along, you're out of luck.  Matrix however implements
> Signal-style Double Ratchet as required.
> I could go on, but I think the best datapoint I can think of is
> Mozilla's recent trial where they stood up Matrix/Riot, Slack,
> MatterMost & Rocket.chat side by side for a month-long comparison.
> (Discord was dismissed out of hand due to their dubious privacy
> policies).  They haven't announced the final winner yet, but you a
> sample of the feedback they gathered can be found at
> https://discourse.mozilla.org/t/synchronous-messaging-at-mozilla-trial-servers-feedback/44871.
>   And empirically, by the end of the trial, almost all the community
> chatter was happening on Matrix rather than the other instances, which
> were a bit dead (at least in the public channels).  It also spurred a
> *lot* of development - for instance, we went from having some of the
> worst accessibility to being one of the best, c.f.
> https://toot.cafe/@marcozehe/102998816933348357.
> TL;DR: please don't pick a chat solution based purely on its current
> shininess and UX.  The FOSS options are evolving very rapidly (much more
> so than the Slacks & Discords), but we will only be able to grow if
> we're given the opportunity, rather than being dismissed due to being
> FOSS or "not mainstream" - much like LLVM in the early days needed
> champions to spur forward development.
> Matthew
> P.S. and even if some of Rust are lost on Discord, others ended up on
> Matrix, c.f.
> https://github.com/rust-embedded/wg/issues/357#issuecomment-504793602
> --
> Matthew Hodgson
> Matrix.org

As a user of matrix and someone that runs their own homeserver, I want
to +1 moving to matrix. It's just as easy to setup and use as Discord and
Slack, but doesn't have the downsides of being a proprietary commercial

- Michael Spencer
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