Adding a Design category

Dear all,

I would like to propose that as part of @Lydiaofficial’s Outreachy internship we establish a dedicated Design category in the forum.

We want to run it as a trial for a few weeks and see if it makes sense to split out design-oriented discussions in a separate space. I fully undestand that a lot of design issues are very intertwined with development, but from research into other communities, it seems that in order to make your project more friendly to designers, there needs to be design-oriented onboarding processes. The forum category Design could be used as a space where designers can chat amongst each other and get help on issues like understanding the overall design system, getting mentoring, looking for good ‘first issues’ for design to solve, etc. When it comes to specific design features tied to specific development-related issues, then the conversations can remain in the Development category.

If anyone has better ideas or counter-arguments, please share below. But if most people agree that it would be good to trial this separate conversation space, then let’s try it out, we can always archive it if it doesn’t prove fruitful.


@lozanaross We already have Design proposals - OpenRefine sub category under the development top category. Would that do the work?

Thanks @Martin - the idea is to have a more expanded space for designers - the “Design proposals” sub category feels quite specialised already - it is not a space for newcomers necessarily. We want to trial how a dedicated design discussion space might make the project more attractive to contributions from designers - we could have sub-categories there that focus on different aspects of design around OR - e.g. onboarding, discussing different approaches to specific problems, prioritising areas of the design documentation that can be improved, or finding mentors. Lydia is an active phase of enaging with designers and design-related communities in the OSS space, so it’s a good time to be recruiting potentially interested contributors. But of course, it can be a trial, and if it feels underused after a few weeks, we can archive it.

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@lozanaross, thanks for the details. Are you able to create this category yourself (in terms of permission on discourse), or should a @staff create it for you?

@Martin I don’t have the permissions, so if someone with admin level can create it would be great! Thanks!

While I think supporting Designers is a great idea I’m not so keen on adding another top level category - the list of categories is already quite long, and as mentioned by @lozanaross design and development are quite closely joined - and I suspect the best discussions would benefit from input from both sides.

For those subscribing to the forum via email each category we add is a separate “email list” and requires us to do additional setup on the admin side of discourse as well. This isn’t a huge overhead but I’d avoid it if we can.

We want to run it as a trial for a few weeks and see if it makes sense to split out design-oriented discussions in a separate space.

I wonder if we could consider instead adding tag for design issues within the Development category and see how that works. As Jeff Atwood says in this thread

Categories are like walls. Build 4 and you have a nice house; build 24 and you have a maze. Tags are much lighter weight structures than categories and more flexible.

@ostephens - thanks for explanation - I didn’t understand the overhead with categories. It does make sense to keep categories minimal, but I wonder if we have the most efficient structure at the moment.

For example, “Using this forum” doesn’t make sense to me to be a separate category, since in the “Community Feedback” the description already says: “If you have feedback (positive or negative!) on how the OpenRefine community works, including feedback on this forum, please post and discuss here”

I would probably also make “OpenRefine documentation” a sub-category or a tag within “Support”.

I basically feel like we already have a maze, and for a new designer coming to the forum might feel overwhleming. What @Lydiaofficial found out in her research so far is that other OSS communities have dedicated spaces for design chat, like Slack channels etc. My personal preference would be to avoid forking the community onto different platforms, and as much as possible keep everyone in this forum, but then we do need to make the space a bit more welcoming to designers. Lack of serious engagement from designers within OSS projects is the stereotype, but we’re trying to break that stereotype here :slight_smile:

I can see that the Development category already mentions designers in the short description: “This category is for developers and designers to discuss the development of the OpenRefine software and extensions.” but still somehow the emphasis is on dev. So how about the following:
Option 1):

  • We rename the category to “Development & design” to be more inclusive.
  • We remove the “Design proposals” sub-category and make that a tag instead.
  • We also add another more general tag like “design chat” - we need something distinct from making proposals, because for onboarding newcomers into the community, it’s not a good descriptor.

Option 2):

  • We keep the category to just “Development”, but we add a sub-category “Design”.
  • We remove the “Design proposals” subcategory and make that a tag instead.

In either option, I think we can also change Outreachy sub-category to “Internships” because it’s more generic - somehow I feel like we need to have a more consistent approach to sub-categories in genreal, too.

Of course this is just a suggestion, wondering what others think too. @staff

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I agree the current structure probably needs a review. The original intent of the “Using this forum” was to provide a place where newcomers to the forum could find all the key information. However I don’t think it’s worked so well. Then About the Using this forum category - #2 by antonin_d led to a change in definition of the category which means it now completely overlaps Community Feedback - OpenRefine. (If I’d caught that change at the time I would probably have pushed back but I missed it)

Anyway, I’d be very happy to see a simplification of the forum category structure :slight_smile:

I think I like your Option 1 more than 2 - it may be worth us also asking in the Developer category for feedback (we want to welcome designers but not offend developers!)

I think for the internships we could have a general category, but I think we also need something specific for the various schemes as I know from experience people come looking for very specific things - a potential Outreachy candidate may not always look unless it says Outreachy

But overall - yes we can definitely improve, and ultimately if having a new category is necessary we should do it, but we should make sure it is the right choice

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For me, the term “development” encompasses design, so the development category already includes that, but very happy to make that more explicit if that helps designers trust themselves more to get involved there.

Also very happy to have the broader category structure reworked and reviewed!

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@ostephen I support the idea of a simplification of the category structure.

  • using this forum get a lot of post that may be more relevant in support
  • I agree to merge using this forum and community feedback
  • Day-to-day project operation and News and Announcements also have a lot of overlap. I think a Community category will better represent them (with potential sub-category).

The cool things about tags is that they are not specific to a category; for example, the tag reconciliation is used in the Support and Using this forum category

For the internship, I agree to have one sub-category. We can create one tag per cohort. When we announce the internship program, we can reference the discourse tag for the cohort. This way, conversations can also happen across categories.

In summary, here is a tentative new structure (happy to move this to a separate thread if needed).

  • Support (do we need a sub-categories?)
  • Development & Design - with a ‘design chat’ and ‘design proposal’ tag
    • Contributor Meetup
    • Internship (with a tag for each cohort).
    • Documentation (move the category as sub-category since Documentation is part of the software)
  • Community
    • News and Annoucement
    • Day to Day
    • Community Feedback (Do we need that subcategory or message can be posted in the top category?)
    • Teaching OpenRefine
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Thanks @ostephens, @antonin_d & @Martin for feedback so far.

I am in favour of the proposed structure @Martin outlined.

Indeed my suggestions around sub-category and tag changes were aimed at making sub-categories more general & keeping tags more specific. It’s nice that tags are reusable throughout. Internships sub-category with Outreachy tag is a good example.

I think the less top level categories & the less sub-categories the better, really. Perhaps Community feedback is not needed indeed if there is top level ‘Community’ category.

Shall I post a message in Dev category to check if everyone there is OK to change the name to D&D?

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I’m fine with renaming the Development category. It implicitly includes Design, but we can make that explicit. I’m also in favor of simplifying and rationalizing the structure, but I don’t agree with:

  • Day-to-day project operation and News and Announcements also have a lot of overlap. I think a Community category will better represent them (with potential sub-category).

I think there’s a lot of value in having a separate low volume Announcements list with a very high signal-to-noise ratio to which users can subscribe. This is almost exactly the opposite of mundane day-to-day operations.


Just for the sake of me understanding the structure of the forum better - is it possible to subscribe to a sub-category?

  • If yes, then keeping News & Announcements as sub-category, below top level Community category, should still be able to perform the task you suggest @tfmorris ?
  • If such targeting subscription is not possible, then perhaps indeed worth keeping it as top level category.