Hey there! This is Jocelyn, the Community Manager for Storj. I run the meetups, developer relations and am the manager of the community leads team here.
We’re very excited to give you preview access of our new forum. Please look around, start using it and let us know what you think. Here’s a few Q&As to frame your experience:
Why are we switching to a forum?
Well, a few reasons. First, some history: this isn’t the first time we have switched discussion platforms. In the way olden days, Storj was on Slack. We quickly outgrew the free tier, and at that point Slack begins to do a rolling erase of posts including DMs.
So the team began looking around to compare the open source options available at the time. At that point, the clear best option was RocketChat: open source, free, and configurable. We also had a stronger association with crypto at that time, making chat an easy choice and comfortable fit
Over time however, we began to encounter some issues
Many times users would ask the same questions repeatedly, many of which had already been answered. This was another point of frustration:
Imagine you had an awesome tech meetup. Lots of super technical folks all in a room eating catered food and discussing their problems and sharing solutions.
Then, 4000 people stream into the room one by one asking for help fixing their printer. They each leave before the next person gets to hear the solution.
[With RocketChat]We have a printer fixing party. We need clear labels at the entrance of the building. “Printer fixing this way ->, nuances of context switch optimization this way <-”
Because topics and comments in RocketChat were interlaced, it was challenging to organize material cleanly. For example, users will recall times that the mods would direct a user to post in a different channel. This small functionality was actually a major frustration point for both staff and users.
[ Fun Fact: Strangely, our highly intelligent mods did not actually enjoy repeating “please post in channel x” 100 times in a row. There are other things do with their time that yield higher value to everyone: chiming in on challenging tech questions; helping new members; offering whitepaper feedback; escalating community-found tickets; helping to prioritize issues; advocating for the community internally at Storj by talking with developers and partners; liaising with our engineers with feedback on roadmap and product features; raising baby goats to exchange for goods and services…They Have So. Many. Interests!! — Ed.]
In the forum we can re-categorize topics that are misposted into the correct area, without needing to nag.
Open Source – Always a major plus!
Spam prevention – our mods spent an unseemly amount of time playing whack-a-mole trying to keep the chat clean.
— a.) When new users join this forum, they must earn trust. Everyone comes in at sandbox level. Youre throttled as to the number of DMs you can send, and how much latitude you have to clutter up the forum with potential spam. As you show good faith, you will rapidly shoot up in rep, and gain more privileges.
— b.) We are also sharing more flagging rights with members. See something sketchy? Flag it. If enough people agree it will go into a holding pen, even if there aren’t any moderators logged in at the time.
Easy to grok – Rocketchat isnt threaded (Of course, you say! It is a chat!) So it could be very difficult to follow a specific exchange because many people’s comments became interleaved. This can be frustrating when you are trying to quickly troubleshoot a problem
Less frustration with Searchability and suggestions.
We will always have new users joining, and they will inevitably ask newbie questions. Here’s a few ways we are helping with that
— a.) With this forum, we can slot new members directly into a Newbie FAQ category first.
— b.) We also now have the ability to recommend answers as the person types a question. (Try it out for yourself by creating a thread asking about when your first payday will occur…You should see that it tells you this questions has been answered and recommends the appropriate thread.) This will improve over time as upvotes accumulate
– c) The forum wont require so much hoop-jumping. If you’re reading this, raise your hand if you’ve ever plugged an error message into Google while trying to get something to work. Its ok, I’ll wait…hmmm… ok. That’s, what, about 100% of us? I’ve been there myself.
With our old chat system, content was not browsable until after registration. However, people looking for help the first time usually type an error message or phrase into Google, then click the first promising result. Our (collective) wealth of knowledge was not being surfaced in web searches, creating a disconnect between people-who-want-answers and answers-they-probably-like-access-to.
What will happen with RocketChat?
Its not going anywhere immediately. It will eventually move to read-only status and then eventually be sunsetted. But we will anounce that before the fact. Since the RocketChat self-export feature is a bit buggy, you may want to cut and paste any DMs or messages in RC that are dear to your heart. It’s up to you