antirez 3199 days ago. 240373 views.
I’m just back from the Redis Dev meeting 2015. We spent two incredible days talking about Redis internals in many different ways. However while I’m waiting to receive private notes from other attenders, in order to summarize in a blog post what happened and what were the most important ideas exposed during the meetings, I’m going to touch a different topic here. I took the non trivial decision to move the Redis mailing list, consisting of 6700 members, to Reddit.

This looks like a crazy ideas probably in some way, and “to move” is probably not the right verb, since the ML will still exist. However it will only be used in order to receive announcements of new releases, critical informations like security related ones, and from time to time, links to very important discussions that are happening on Reddit.

Why to move? We have a huge mailing list that served us for years at this point, and there is a decent amount of traffic going on.
People go there to get some help, to provide new ideas, and so forth. However while we have some traffic the Redis mailing list is IMHO far from the “vital” thing it should be, considering the number of users using Redis currently. For most parts we see the same questions again and again, and is hard to understand if a reply is really worthwhile or not. Moreover an important topic sometimes slides away because new topics arrive, sometimes without getting much attention at all. It’s like if the ML is just a far echo of the Redis popularity, not the center of its community.

Twitter, while being a tool completely unsuitable for becoming the center of a community that needs to discuss things at length, is completely different, and gives me a feedback about how the Redis ML is in some way broken. It’s a lot more vital and it is possible to get quality feedbacks, but everything is limited to 140 characters in flat threads where eventually it is kinda impossible to continue any sane discussion. However Twitter and other signals I get, are the proof that people *moved away* from emails. I bet an huge amount of users subscribed to the ML just archive it into a label to read it never or seldom.

So why Reddit instead? Because it’s the center of the most vital communities on the internet today. Because it’s centered on a voting system, so if an user asks for help, even if you don’t want to contribute, you can use the comment voting to tell the difference between a lame request and a great one, a poor reply and an outstanding one. Reddit also allows to vote the topics so that things which are important for the community will get more contributions. Has a side bar that can be used for FAQs and other important pointers, and has a ton of existing subscribers.

Reddit also contains “gamification” elements that may be useful and funny. For example you can associate small sentences or images to your username in a given sub-reddit, in order to state, for example, if you use Redis for caching, as a store, for messaging or whatever. Your reply in a given context can be read more clearly if it is possible to understand what kind of Redis user you are.

It is possible to write guidelines in the submission page, so that people realize what to provide before posting. For example we’ll have warnings telling you to post the INFO output of your master and slaves if you want us to investigate your replication issues.

So, what happens now? I asked Reddit admins to get access to /r/redis, which is a sub created years ago but not actively administered apparently. When I receive the admin privileges I’ll setup the sub in order to only accent comment submissions (not direct links, you’ll be still able to post a link if you comment it). At this point the Redis ML will be modified in order to moderate each single message, we’ll advice people posting help questions to go on Reddit. The Redis.io community page will be updated to instruct new users about Reddit being our primary discussion forum.

Why not using Discourse or Stack Overflow, you’ll ask? SO is great but is not suitable for general conversation, and we need this a lot. People will continue to post Redis questions on SO and we’ll continue to reply, of course. Discourse is more an evolution of the mailing list we are using, but is not technically speaking a “social site”, we want to go where communities are already and where voting things is the main idea, so that as the Redis community grow we find a way to filter the most interesting contribs and highlight them.

Maybe the experiment will fail and we’ll return back to the mailing list, or we’ll try Discourse, but I think a too important change in the way programmers communicate is happening in order to ignore it. I must try. I think email lost in some way, it is no longer something scalable. For me it lost several years ago, I rarely reply to emails at all, since they are a tool that does not take into account people inability to scale reading too many messages. I hope we’ll have a great time on Reddit. See you there!

P.s. if you are a Reddit admin reading this, please evaluate my request to take ownership of /r/redis here: https://www.reddit.com/r/redditrequest/comments/3pnwrx/requesting_rredis/
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