The tool is powerful and offers a lot of potential across general PM and (my focus) planning and managing complex fiction and nonfiction writing projects. It should be helpful for writers to share information on how they are using AT and what value they get from it.
Also, regarding livelier discussion forums, they typically have some sort of facilitation by people with community facilitation expertise and more experience with the concepts and tools. At least three things keep forums from thriving:
Lack of (competent) facilitation
If facilitated, facilitators don’t know the subject-matter well enough
Hosting organization can’t/doesn’t grasp the value of amlifying their following through cultivating a community of interest/practice
There can be other reasons, but those are very common. If you look at communities for Obsidian.md, Midjourney, DALL-E, ChatGPT, etc., you’ll see there’s multi-level, multi-topic faciliation, a lot of which is by die-hard (super) users, plugin developers, and people looking to improve their understanding and mastery. All of that keeps the embers of interest in the product glowing hot. Rules and enforcement (some of it automated) tamps down interlopers and disrupters. There can be a lot to cultivating communities of “1,000 true fans” (Kevin Kelly), but there’s also likely major payoffs.
Personally, I want to be able to put forward and to respond to inquiries about how to achieve particular objectives with the toolset. Those discussions naturally lead to feature requests.
Yes users could share how they are using Aeon Timeline as much as others could pose usage questions.
There are others which preceed those you mention.
Lack of promotion of the forums
from which follows
Lack of (forum) users
Because without more people joining the forum the other points are moot.
Indeed as a registered and daily user of over 20 Discourse-based forum communities, including Osbidian.md and ChatGPT, I see a multitude of approaches to “facilitation”. Some, as here and Quantified Self, do not appear to have much of it. A few, such as NaNoWriMo, have staff members and volunteer moderators while yet others, Literature & Lattee (for Scrivener and Scapple), see it as part of the user support function. Even Discourse’s own Meta Discourse forum is a minefield for facilitated discussion.
However, the current reddit spates over API fees and volunteer moderation, and on NaNoWriMo allegations of over-reach by some moderators it is possible for faciliation to choke the forums. There are many complaints in the ChatGPT forum that there is no facilitation by OpenAI of discussions because technical questions are posed but no response from OpenAI is ever forthcoming. A few users — though I suspect at least one is actually a ChatGPT bot — offer their experiences and suggest solutions. A similar situation existed back in the days of Usenet newsgroup where moderation was either non-existent, enabling, or heavy handed in cases allowing the newsgroup to become a free-for-all.
Also implementation of Discourse itself can hinder participation espectially by those who are neurodivergent however the user experiences it. While “themes” can ameliorate the problems some Discourse owners see their preferred theme as the one-and-only allowed espcially when they think it part of their corporate branding. For me the instistent of a dark-mode prevents me returning to some forums as it interfers with my visual perception and exacerbates my dyslexia.
The forum for SQLite, whch has its own software, is rather spiky with some very aggressive members posting replies. The SQLite forum software is difficult to navigate reminiscent of the archives of mailing lists based on MailMan.
NaNoWriMo have found that this is causing a severe performance hit on the forum service itself. In some instances such as the Mozilla forum this multi-level heirarchy becomes an impediment to use.
I cannot speak to Discord or Mastadon forums. From the few excursions I made I found Discord to produce exactly that discord creating a highly abrasive and hostile environment.
Mastadon with is server-level moderation paradigm might avoid the cesspit that is Twitter but by its very nature of distributed and distinct servers makes it difficult to discover where one might find like-minded users. I have tried to find a couple of profesisona and hobbyist interest groups there without success.
I wish this forum were more active, but I understand yakking about day-to-day stuff isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s nice to see how others use software. For instance, today I learned on Devonthink’s forums a link can point to a search query, so a link sort of becomes a smart group. I have a need for just that capability.
NaNoWriMo would be more fun if the moderators allowed freer conversation. You don’t have to be impolite to have posts deleted and you don’t really have to be off-topic for posts to get moved.
I got excoriated for suggesting a user could turn on Apache, for instance. It’s part of the standard MacOS distribution. Sure, you have to be cognizant of security, but I got rather dissed by moderators. Nobody else took offense.
I see the point, and I admit that this forum is not exactly bustling with life. And of course, it can be frustrating when you try to help someone who just dumps their question (or complaint) and then doesn’t budge. But I wouldn’t grumble about it, and I certainly wouldn’t blame the development team.
As far as I can tell, no one here is prevented from bringing up an interesting topic. Frankly, I can’t see how tighter moderation would liven things up here.
I understand that subscribers want to be kept up to date, but that’s another story, isn’t it?
And as for NaNoWriMo, the German-language forum is just overflowing with off-topic posts from people who don’t seem to have any writing projects at all. And it doesn’t take long for the would-be opinion leaders to start nagging with sociopolitical agenda items, either. Useful information may become completely drowned out there. Sure, predominantly it provides a warm feeling, and it may give people a virtual home, but it has become too much for me lately, not to say counterproductive.
It looks like they are desperately trying to avoid the “German” way with you, where after a qualified answer, the conversation runs in a direction where they talk about the flavor of coffee they are going to try on their next vacation.
Each forum system develops its own “ecosystem” here and the Ruby forum there is little activity for others there are manic posts with contributors posting dozens or hundreds of things a day.
Useful but one cound hang around for ages before another user posts a useful tip that resolves an immediate problem. By-the-by I’m no fan of Devonthink’s pricing strategy; Although Curio looks better but has no phone app version. Sadly it is even more expensive that Devonthink. Would invest time into produce a work-a-like system using Apache’s L:ucene and some home-grown Java to match my personal workflow exactly than spend money.
Apache isn’t a writing tool of any kind so it does not surprise me they deleted the comment.
I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with their mods to the point where I made a formal complaint about one of them too.
Not sure that @mcharris (as the OP) was asking for more moderation rather that there be facilitors who would lead discussions and, if necessary, start new ones.
Already use Obsidian. But it provides none of the features of Devonthink or Curio neither does it handle different file formars well. (The Apache Lunence program I use most days handles any file format because it incorporates Apache Tika to extract textual content.)
We probably should not; on other forums thread drift such as this would lead to instant removal of the posted text. But I will anyway.
Apache isn’t a writing tool of any kind so it does not surprise me they deleted the comment.
This confused me, because I know Apache as a licensing organization that supports open source software in general, such as Apache OpenOffice, Apache NetBeans or the famous Apache web server.
While you are correct about the licensing/branding by Apache Software Foundating I took the unqualified reference to Apache coupled with the simplistic mention of
… turn on Apache, for instance … you have to be cognizant of security
to mean Apache the web server itself and as such the NaNoWriMo moderators were correct to expunge the comment from a writing focused forum because it is not a writing tool.
The Apache Lunence program I use most days handles any file format
Do you mean Apache Lucene? Isn’t that a search engine library?
Typo on my part, Yes I did meant the search engine library Apache Lucene and its incorporation into programs such as LancsBox for corpus linguistics. I’ve written elsewhere of how I would use Lucene to create a Devonthink-work-a-like application that met my workflow needs and if required would be easy to amend as I refined my process in the style of CMU’s SEI’s Capability Maturity Model. Why not use Devonthink itself? Money. I prefer to invest my time in acquiring/refining skills than spending money on a program that might not provide all the capabilities I need.
Well, in the Nano thread I didn’t bring up web servers. Someone asked if that was possible, I dimly remember there were other posts about it with no consensus if it would work without magic, so I replied with something about the Apache that’s bundled with MacOS.
The moderator’s comments to me were harsh regarding the stupidity of running http or https services. My post was deleted, the others were not.
It’s ok. I was befuddled but not mad.
With respect, I will watch this and other threads here with interest and reply sparingly.
I sent a donation to Nano as a parting gift when I decided to stop participating there.
True, and I’m not complaining about the AT team. They’ve made it clear they are small, ambitious, and very busy. I meant a general observation that, in general and for a broad variety of communities of interest and communities of practice, a relatively small amount (an hour or two per week) of professional or qualified enthusiast facilitation goes a long way to make a forum more relevant to its focal subject and members. One of my other communities, the Story Grid Guild, had a thriving self-organized community that the staff actively smothered. They are losing business as a result. They failed to realize the value of Tim Kelly’s 1,000 true fans concept.