Discussion on github, linking of Orientation category, unifying resources

I note that a lot of interesting discussion has been happening over in the issues section of the Clojush github (which should display sorted by recency of update at this url).

People might want to check that out of they haven’t.

And I wonder what should be there and what should be here on Discourse… the lines really do get fuzzy when the discussion is primarily about the code base but with research questions not far in the background (and coming into the foreground from time to time).

Somewhat relatedly, I’ve been thinking about the Orientation section of this Discourse site (which doesn’t yet have any posts), and how it really ought to be outward facing. The Push project needs an outward-facing orientation site in a big way, and using this as a mechanism might motivate and support us in building it.

The rub is that I don’t think there’s a simple way to make a single category public with our current setup, which specifies “Require authentication to read content on this site, disallow anonymous access.” and " Public registration is disabled, all new users must be explicitly invited by other members or staff." There may be a way to get the mix of public and private that we want, but it’s not obvious. I’m looking into ways to change what unregistered users see (awesome if it could be the orientation category!), but that’s not looking promising.

But what we could do is develop the content on Discourse in the Orientation category and then manually repost topics in static form to some other site. At least for orienting people to the fundamentals, it shouldn’t have to be done too often.

Which leads me to think about where we would put the outward-facing orientation content, which in turn leads me to ponder in horror the motley collection of related web resources that are in desperate need of rethinking/unification/whatever, including not only this Discourse site (for Push-related research discussions, among trusted collaborators) and github (for the world), but also the ci-lab mailing list (for Hampshire Computational Intelligence members only), the lab’s site at http://sites.hampshire.edu/ci-lab which has never-filled sections and is crusty and musty in other ways, the the project page at http://pushlanguage.org which forwards to http://hampshire.edu/lspector/push.html, a pretty-much-totally-dead Push mailing list at https://lists.hampshire.edu/mailman/listinfo/push, and a blog that we abandoned in 2012 at http://push.i3ci.hampshire.edu/. Some of this should probably just be ignored, but several of these resources fill ongoing needs.

I’ve spent some time trying to figure out if we could fold more of this into Discourse, but unfortunately I don’t see ways to limit what people can see once they have access to the site at all. There’s an elaborate “trust” mechanism, but that seems to limit only actions, not viewing.

I’m not at all sure about how to proceed with any of this, but I’d appreciate thoughts (or actions!).

1 Like

I’ve been wondering for a time whether some (all?) of that discussion should be here instead of there, if only because I like Discourse’s formatting/quoting options better than GitHub’s. But yes, we’ve delved deep into some research questions, far from the issue’s humble beginnings.

Personally, I’d vote for much of that discussion being here rather than GitHub, though there have been pushes against that in the past.

I plan on filling in some orientation stuff once I’ve graduated, but I likely don’t have time until then. But, I do feel a little bad that it’s sat empty. I guess we can blame that largely on GECCO/my dissertation.

I really like the idea of using the Orientation category as outward-facing! It sure would be great if it could be read without logging in. We had that Lounge category for a while that could only be viewed by Leaders. Are you sure it wouldn’t be possible to set something up so that all categories besides Orientation are unviewable by those not logged in? Then, we can limit (or at least keep track of) users to only people we trust, but have Orientation visible to all? The idea of having Orientation, but having to copy the content somewhere else to make it visible to the world, seems like the type of “too many steps” process that will get abandoned after a few months.

I also like the idea of migrating some of the other Push resources to Discourse. It would be great to consolidate many dead sites into one vibrant site. This wouldn’t need to consume all prior Push resources, but could definitely consume some of them.

Anyway, great ideas all around :heart_eyes:, and I’m happy to help implement them when I have time (i.e. when I retire in 40 years) :confounded:.

Before I reply to Tom’s points, here’s something else to maybe throw into the mix in the future: http://communications.elsevier.com/nl/jsp/m.jsp?c=%4003h5OnM0fDamZn5Jx%2BSMJyzlX6jznGKaxUW2fOoL4WU%3D

I prefer Discourse in terms of GUI too. Not just for writing, but for following discussions.

But the more substantive difference is public vs. restricted. There are reasons to provide both kinds of venues, but discussions tend to veer from one to the other. I guess I too would prefer that anything that’s about research questions rather than specific software features stay on the Discourse side, although I don’t think there are sharp lines here.

My rationale for preferring to have the research discussions in a non-public space is that people seem to be a lot more free to go out on a limb, speculate, etc., when they have a small, known audience. Some of this may be about not being scooped or even IP, but there’s also just the effect of speaking in public vs. among friends. I guess plenty of people aren’t inhibited by speaking publicly (uh, Twitter), but I think it’s a pretty big damper for lots of people in lots of contexts.

Oh yeah! Not what it’s intended for, I don’t think, but this might be possible! I’ll have to look into it. The problem may be that we’d have to give all internal participants too much power. But I’m not sure and I’ll look into this.

Yes, but I think maybe it’s a good idea to figure out this public vs. private stuff before we do much more on this front.

BTW, I had a few minutes to kill and started a lexicase orientation.

1 Like

I’ve looked into the Lounge-like idea a bit, following @thelmuth’s idea that maybe we could use this mechanism for controlling access to our research discussion topics while providing public access to the Orientation category and maybe other outward-facing material that we bring in from our other sites.

Discourse “trust levels” are based on activity, and they’re a bad match to the distinctions that we want to make for open/restricted access. However, trust level 4 can be set manually (and then it doesn’t go away if you haven’t posted enough or whatever). So I could conceivably give all current members (and future lab members and trusted collaborators) trust level 4 and mark most of our existing categories as accessible only to those with trust level 4.

The question is, will this be giving too much power to all of the insiders? Not that they’ll do anything malicious but just that they might unintentionally mess things up. Here’s what you can do at trust level 4:

  • edit all posts
  • pin/unpin topic
  • close topic
  • archive topic
  • make topic unlisted
  • Split and merge topics
  • Daily like limit increased by 3 × [who knew there was a daily like limit?]

Does that seem okay?

There’s not a trust level 5 – if there was then maybe we could use that just for Hampshire lab members, and use a category restricted to that level for lab-specific business. But on this issue our current lab site is public anyway, so maybe most of that could move to the opened-up parts of an opened-up discourse site. The lab mailing list would remain private. The meeting minutes on the site probably shouldn’t be public, and I’m not sure where to move them if we decide that they really shouldn’t be.

Any thoughts?

Based on this, it sounds like 2 things:

  • It might be worthwhile to require approval of new users, if you aren’t already doing that.
  • It sounds like you can make a category “private”. I’m not sure if that’s the same thing you’re using to make things available to trust-level 4 people, but maybe it’s even more flexible? I know most forums allow subforums only available to certain groups, and only having that for trust-level 4 seems artificial.

I’ll do some more poking around and see if I find anything more helpful. It’s hard to know though without being able to play with the settings myself.

After some more poking, it definitely looks like you can setup Discourse groups (I believe unassociated with any trust-level stuff), and then have certain categories only visible to certain groups. I haven’t seen explicit instructions for this, but posts like this and this make me believe it’s possible.

Interesting. Haven’t followed your links yet but maybe “groups” (as opposed to trust levels) is indeed the right way to do this. I’ll look into it more tomorrow.

Yeah, some more poking around definitely makes it sound like Groups are what we want. It should be simple enough to put everyone we trust (basically all users) in a single group, and then make all categories visible only to members of that groups, besides Orientation. Then, we could open up basically everything, and as long as only trusted people can add people to the group, we should have everything hidden. Plus, if we had different groups of people that we want to see different categories, we could do that – like for current Hampshire CI Lab members.

I don’t see any guides for making and managing groups, so I assume this is pretty straightforward as an admin.

I think I’ve done it.

All current users are now members of the CI_lab_collaborators group. Posts in all categories except for Orientation and Uncategorized (which doesn’t have security settings) can be seen and changed only by members of this group. Outsiders without logins can see Orientation and Uncategorized.

One think I’d like to check is what happens if there is a link to a non-public page in a public page. Since I haven’t yet played with such links I’d have to tinker before trying this… Maybe @thelmuth and/or @mcphee and/or @bill has done this and could give it a quick try?

Please let me know if you see any problems with this. If not, then we should:

  • Beef up Orientation
  • Think about what might move here from our other sites (and move it :smile:)
  • Maybe set up a CI_lab_members group too, just for the Hampshire people to talk about lab meetings and the like
1 Like

Looks great!

I just tested linking to a private post from a non-private post, logged out, and clicked the link – it took me to a page that said I didn’t have permissions to see that page.

The Welcome To Push Language Discourse post should be updated to be more informative and friendly to outsiders, since it’s visible when you’re not logged-in.

1 Like

Great – thanks.

That is the updated version :smile:. I agree it should be enhanced… maybe using text that’s currently in the github readme Description section (?), or the text at http://pushlanguage.org?