I don’t like having more rules to follow. I see the forum as a place to chat - hierarchy and rules are only for administrative tasks. Please let’s keep things we “should” to limited to gitlab and the like.
I agree with the questioning of excessive formality or unnecessary rules. If we make rules where they aren’t solving any problems or where they introduce more problems than they solve, that’s harmful.
But this forum is not merely a non-real-time version of open-ended Matrix/IRC chat. Matrix/IRC is where we just have loose chat. The forum is somewhere in between that and the tasks at GitLab. The forum has structured discussion about Snowdrift.coop work and other formal topics as well as more open discussion.
Part of this is that Discourse is more open to the wider community and people less comfortable with GitLab. Discourse also has better tools for managing discussions and communication overall, while GitLab is better for task management. In the long run, for operating as a co-op, we probably will want most of the co-op governance engagement to happen here, not GitLab.
I agree that tasks should be captured in GitLab rather than the forum. For that matter, we could turn off the “assign” feature here if it’s more distracting than helpful… but I think it can be useful without causing much problem if we use it appropriately for our needs.
For the first purpose, there are @ tags, which have the advantage of being able to ask groups of people for input than one person.
For the second purpose, it is potentially confusing. They are unstructured forum posts, not tasks. It may or may not have actionable next steps, but someone is assigned to it as though they own the conditions of the feedback period and the decision-making, which might be different from doing the actionable items, if any.
Another factor is some people may feel pressured into using forum and GitLab to track the state of topics about actual tasks, when feedback should be summarised and filtered back to GitLab. What does it mean to be assigned to that kind of topic, is the person now also to do the job of a community liaison?
Tangentially, as a volunteer, I find it mildly off-putting to be assigned to something without prior conversation in which I agree to do it. I can self-assign when I’m ready to do it without having it assigned for me. It is worse when that something might end up being an exploratory talk with no clear direction to “seeing it through” besides waiting until discussion fades out.
I notice now that assigning can be limited to a group (at this point, only staff can assign) and that assignments aren’t publicly visible. So, I suppose this is a bit like a quick way for staff specifically to delegate dealing with topics here. But this isn’t really something we identified as a need at this time.
I think I’ll just turn the whole plugin off for now, as we didn’t have a clear reason for it or an agreement about it. If tensions arise and we agree on the idea of bringing it back and using it in a helpful way, we can always turn it back on.
ADDENDUM: the fact that bookmarking now functions as a reminder with a set future date helps a lot, that’s usable enough for reminding yourself about stuff without some staff-focused singular assignment of anything.