How do we better link the GOSH forum and Gitlab?

The title is a question from Jenny’s Summary of the Community call post.

I have spent a while talking about this with people (mostly @kaspar and @amchagas). I see a few ways we can approach this but none of them are perfect.

  1. Mirror GitLab comments to here
  2. Summarise GitLab comments on here periodically
  3. Visual “badge” showing GitLab roadmap activity
  4. Track the roadmap on Discourse

1- Mirror GitLab comments to here

I feel this could get quite annoying as the forum will fill up small comments without the context of the full roadmap issue. Perhaps if we had a sub forum with different notification settings this could work, but that sounds complicated and confusing.
Technical implementation
Annoying to do in practice. GitLab can be made to send a “webhook” on each comment this is similar but not quite compatible with how discourse accepts API calls. Out two options are to write a Discourse plug-in (hard), or have a little server sitting in the middle which accepts the webhook and emits the API request. This is easy in principle but probably annoying to maintain.

2- Summarise GitLab comments on here periodically

I tried this before. There was information overload and I don’t think it was too helpful. Now we have the bot to take care of stale issues it may become more manageable? Still I don’t think this is super wonderful.
Technical Implementation
Not too bad as GOSH-BOT can do the counting. As it is only occasionally posted we can manually post the summary here. The big problem now is that GOSH-BOT is sending out comments to every stale issue it is hard to separate actual engagement from GOSH-BOT. I am talking to the GitLab devs about this and I think there is a fix in the pipeline

3- Visual “badge” showing GitLab roadmap activity

This is my preferred solution. We can add a badge to the top of the forum that looks something like this:

With the green circle telling us the number of new roadmap issues this month, and the blue being the number of issues updated this month. If you click on it it could either take you to a summary of the updates or directly to the GitLab roadmap. Being a little badge it would be quite unobtrusive.
Technical implementation
Pretty easy except for filtering out GOSH-BOTs contributions. I think I could do it in an afternoon if we don’t mind seeing artificially high contributions when GOSH-BOT prods people. Need to think of a way around this!

4- Track the roadmap on Discourse

Instead of using GitLab we could track the RoadMap directly on the forum. Personally think if we want to get serious about project managing and tracking what we are doing this is a step backwards. I often go through the GitLab and update things like the reason issues were closed. Using something like GitLab we get very rich information for if funders ask us what we have achieved (Of course this only works if we use it.) If with funding we have more concrete plans with deadlines we can actually set milestones and track the progress.
Technical implementation
I think it would be grunt work to move things over. I do think that having effective solutions to filter what is open, and to do things like poke stale issues would actually end up being a huge new technical challenge. Discourse do use their forum as an issue tracker, but it really doesn’t look like an effective one to me.


I am interested in what other people’s preferences, thoughts, suggestions, and solutions are. I am obviously biased as I use GitLab all the time and I am very familiar with it.


Hi Julian,

thanks for putting time and thought into this :slight_smile:

I like 3 quite a bit. (could be that we are starting to agree on things for the first time? :stuck_out_tongue: ) FRom what you write about idea 2, could there be a way to exclude gosh bot updates? this is much more of a detail, maybe something to implement further down the line, once the badge is working.

maybe making a poll would also be a good way to gauge people’s opinions?

Another way to integrate things, could be to lower the barrier for people who are not using gitlab on a regular basis? I’m thinking basic tutorials/guidelines on how to use gitlab for GOSH issues, etc?

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Tutorial/guidelines is I think a good idea. I thought about a poll, but I think it is good to first explore about what the solutions would look like in reality. 4 might sound nice until we realise that we can’t do X, and it is a huge amount of work to fix or move back. A test instance of discourse would be a way to see how that looks.

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Hi Julian
I like 3 also. It would be possible/interesting to show the last or last two issues updated? I was thinking somewhere below the badge
Thanks for your work

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Thanks @julianstirling for describing the options in such detail. It certainly helped me to better understand the issue after belatedly learning that discussions happen on Gitlab!

Based on the information in your original post, I’m inclined towards option 3. I think it has the benefit of looking a lot like the notification badge that shows up when I have new messages/notifications on a Discourse forum. This makes it more intuitive and user-friendly.

Sorry I’m not familiar with Githlab’s plumbing. How complicated would it be to exclude bot posts?

That said, I also agree that maybe we can explore the options a bit more - or allow more options to be presented (?!?!) - before making a decision.

I thought about a poll…

Sorry I can’t help but say this :stuck_out_tongue:: If we make a poll please don’t use a simple plurality system! I suggest something like Star Voting or the Condorcet Internet Voting Service (CIVS) (used by the Debian project, I think). They’re easy (for creating and using polls), battle-tested, and are fully open source!

Continuing off topic poll discussion:

Discourse has built in poll feature that is useful for limiting the number of tools we use. But the point about simple plurality is a good thing to bring up when GOSH decides governance. It is possible to run a subsequent polls until there is an absolute majority.

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I think the badge is cool and would help. It might actually be more work and be less visible than making forum posts though?

We don’t have that many new topics on the forum that would mean the occasional automatic post saying:

Hey, this roadmap issue is something people said they cared about, but no one has said anything about it for 6 months. Does anyone new care about this too? Can someone please take this on, or close it as something we are not able to do?

I don’t think it would be annoying. I think it’s the highest impact of any of the strategies and possibly the least amount of work (given you got the bot to do almost this already).

(I know that the bot still needs to learn how to ignore it’s own posts when working out the amount of time people have ignored the issue. But we need that for any of the strategies. How do fix this in the easiest way?)

Honestly I think you are thinking about it a little too much up front. :grinning: Instead of getting everyones opinion on every possibility before you do anything it’s much easier to just try out (the easiest to do) things and if it’s annoying, people will complain and we can change it.

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That used to be my strategy but I remember the last time I made a big spammy auto generated post it was a guy called Kaspar that complained…:thinking:

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I have added the badge. It just links to the the roadmap, showing open and closed issues that are most recently update. I also added some hover text. The source image the badge is built from is an svg if someone more arty wants to make it prettier.

:goshbot: GOSH-BOT will run daily to update the badge. For now any GOSH-BOT comments on stale issues will also show up in the totals.

@kaspar I have done this in the theme HTML rather than using a plugin, because none of the link plugins allowed images. Let me know if there is a better way.