[llvm-dev] Mailing List Status Update

Chris Lattner via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Mon Jun 21 12:53:11 PDT 2021

On Jun 9, 2021, at 10:50 AM, Philip Reames via llvm-dev <llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org> wrote:
> Specific to the dev lists, I'm very hesitant about moving from mailing lists to discourse.  Why?  
> Well, the first and most basic is I'm worried about having core infrastructure out of our own control.  For all their problems, mailing lists are widely supported, there are many vendors/contractors available.  For discourse, as far as I can tell, there's one vendor.  It's very much a take it or leave it situation.  The ability to preserve discussion archives through a transition away from discourse someday concerns me.  I regularly and routinely need to dig back through llvm-dev threads which are years old.  I've also recently had some severely negative customer experiences with other tools (most recently discord), and the thought of having my employability and ability to contribute to open source tied to my ability to get a response from customer service teams at some third party vendor I have no leverage with, bluntly, scares me.  
> Second, I feel that we've overstated the difficulty of maintaining mailing lists.  I have to acknowledge that I have little first hand experience administering mailman, so maybe I'm way off here.  
Hi Philip,

First, despite the similar names, Discord is very different than Discourse.  Here I’m only commenting about Discourse, I have no opinion about Discord.

In this case, I think we need to highly weight the opinions of the people actively mainlining the existing systems.  It has become clear that the priority isn’t “control our own lists”, it is “make sure they stay up” and “get LLVM people out of maintaining them”.

The ongoing load of maintaining these lists (including moderation) and of dealing with the security issues that keep coming up are carried by several individuals, not by the entire community.  I’m concerned about those individuals, but I’m also more broadly concerned about *any* individuals being solely responsible for LLVM infra.  Effectively every case we’ve had where an individual has driving LLVM infra turns out to be a problem.  LLVM as a project isn’t good at running web scale infra, but we highly depend on it.

It seems clear to me that we should outsource this to a proven vendor.  Your concerns about discourse seem very similar to the discussion about moving to Github (being a single vendor who was once much smaller than Microsoft).  I think your concerns are best addressed by having the IWG propose an answer to “what is our plan if Discourse-the-company goes sideways?"

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