Re: Perhaps it's time to think about enhancements to the NANOG list...?

Hi,

Hi,

Message: 13
Date: Sat, 20 Mar 2021 12:46:57 -0600
From: David Siegel <arizonagull@gmail.com>
[…]
The board has been thinking about enhancements to the NANOG list for a
couple of years now, with the goal of creating a modern interface that the
younger generation of engineers will be more comfortable using.

May I suggest that if you really want such enhancement, perhaps
upgrade the mailing-list to mailman3.
It’s still mailman but with those ‘modern’ features.

But more importantly (not only for NANOG by the way), maybe some kind of
‘mailing-list 101’ can be helpful sometimes. Many $vendors are fighting
hard to make people forget what an email is.

Well baby boomers & gen-x will struggle to dump mail…I mean it simple and just works.

We were trying to get a community of newbie techies mostly millennials & gen-z to actively engage on a list we subscribed them too for the past 2 years and believe me, I can count no more than 10 posts mainly from we few mailing list folk…

When we requested for feedback, them gen-z cried out loud for interactions to happen on some social media app through groups or channels, and since they are the target audience and the majority, we settled for discord and telegram which they actively engage on :-).

We still maintain the mailing list though and most announcement are done via it but things are changing hey…

Noah

Well baby boomers & gen-x will struggle to dump mail...I mean it simple and just works.

Indeed.

There's also the fact that it comes to you as opposed to you going to it.

We were trying to get a community of newbie techies mostly millennials & gen-z to actively engage on a list we subscribed them too for the past 2 years and believe me, I can count no more than 10 posts mainly from we few mailing list folk...

When we requested for feedback, them gen-z cried out loud for interactions to happen on some social media app through groups or channels, and since they are the target audience and the majority, we settled for discord and telegram which they actively engage on :-).

I must be ignorant as I don't grok this.

Are they willing to use a (traditional) forum (of sorts) that is dedicated to the venue? Or Are they wanting things to come to them wherever they happen to be today? E.g. Facebook group, Discord, Slack, etc?

If it's the former, okay, that's a web UI / UX as opposed to mail UI / UX.

If it's the latter, does that mean that you have to constantly keep changing /where/ messages are sent to in order to keep up with the latest and greatest or at least most popular (in your audience) flavor of the day / week / month / year social media site?

Either way, does the target audience that you're talking about actively go to said site(s) (I want to say watering hole) and poll them?

Or are they using some phone / device app that polls them and puts a notification over the icon?

I'm asking from a place of ignorance as I really don't understand this mentality.

Part of my struggle is that I fail to see how it scales to poll multiple sites (or app icon notifications) when there are 10s, 100s, or even more things to check. This is /exactly/ one of the reasons that I *strongly* /prefer/ email, it comes to me and gets filed in the proper folders. Where messages sit waiting to be read with the folder indicating that there are unread messages in it. I then go read them when it's convenient for me to do so. But most importantly, I don't have to go check multiple -> many places. The unread notification / count percolates up to one single location.

Any additional insight that you can provide would be appreciated.

Matt Harris​

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Is discontinuing youtube livestream and putting livestream behind
paywall also an attempt to make NANOG more comfortable for the younger
generation of engineers?

On the other hand, I suspect majority of youngsters will never grok
email. This will be thanks to mental gap promoted by some vendors, who
certainly do not like it that anybody could, for example, set up email
server and exchange thoughts outside of their zone of control. So,
those who want to use email are capable of writing more than decent
MUA for free, while those who do not want email are unable to do it,
despite having heaps of money and paid programmers.

As of multiple fora and all-day clicking, well, it is better to keep
all those techies busy with something, lest they invent an idea and go
out to start rival business...

I am not going to suggest the big guys actively conspire but driving
people away from things-that-work is not hurting their profits, so why
would they want to change this?

I am not going to lament much, either. It is just how it goes. On the
brighter side, there will also be a minority, who will come to email
exactly because they will be aspiring power users. I think there will
always be some aspiring power users, so it is not going to be only bad.

Hi,

As someone from a “younger generation” (2001) who does use mailing lists, semi-actively participates in RIPE mailing lists but also created a network community on Discord, I want to chime in here.

Are they willing to use a (traditional) forum (of sorts) that is
dedicated to the venue? Or Are they wanting things to come to them
wherever they happen to be today? E.g. Facebook group, Discord, Slack, etc?

I haven’t ever used facebook beyond receiving some invitation for an event, and I feel like that’s the most common case for people around my age group. (not using Facebook that is)

(Discord is a chat based thing with a similar UX/UI to Slack)
I have mainly seen Discord, partially as the barrier to entry is very low.

If it’s the latter, does that mean that you have to constantly keep
changing /where/ messages are sent to in order to keep up with the
latest and greatest or at least most popular (in your audience) flavor
of the day / week / month / year social media site?

I see this as a potential issue for sure, and if something like Discord was to be used, I would want to see it in addition to the mailing list. As I think the mailing list format works a lot better for some topics.

Either way, does the target audience that you’re talking about actively
go to said site(s) (I want to say watering hole) and poll them?
Or are they using some phone / device app that polls them and puts a
notification over the icon?

I am only going to speak for how Discord works here. Discord uses the latter or the former depending on how you see it. There are phone apps, desktop apps, and a web client. The desktop app and the web client are pretty much the same (some exceptions like keybinds etc).
So you can use the apps to get notifications ir you could just use the Web UI and look at it whenever you want. (technically it is still pushing messages to the web client via websockets)

Part of my struggle is that I fail to see how it scales to poll multiple
sites (or app icon notifications) when there are 10s, 100s, or even more
things to check. […]

So Discord is usually setup so you only get notifications when you or a role (tag on a user p much) you belong to gets mentioned (like “@Cynthia hello world!”).
But at least I would imagine that if something like Discord or Slack was to be used it would be in addition to the mailing list.
Because Discord is proprietary, you can’t host your own instance, they do platform wide bans of people violating the terms.
In addition to features like searching archives being a bit of a mess in chat systems in general.
In a basic way a Discord guild/server (server is the more common term) can be seen as a group of IRC channels (similar to Slack).
Sure Discord has other things like voice channels, RBAC, etc. but you can use it as just a set of IRC channels.

Any additional insight that you can provide would be appreciated.

As I have mentioned, personally I think if anything it should be in addition to mailing lists, and also how the barrier to entry is quite low.

I think this is very important to get a new younger generation of people interested in these topics. (such as myself)

Using a chat system they are already familiar with to ask more casual questions is a lot easier for some.
Especially if you are thinking of people who are just starting out, some of which will be part of the next generation of network engineers.

I started getting more interested in these topics (internet backbone related topics like BGP, RPKI, etc.) around 3 years ago.

I started by talking to other people via Discord who helped me with the kind of questions that are obvious to me now and I doubt would work as well in a mailing list format.

In September 2018 I started a community on Discord targeted at networking specifically (some of the ones I had seen before that were more generic DC/enterprise hw and server stuff).
It has a bit above 400 member users at this point (some are probably abandoned at this point though) and frequently has ~200 online (online means client is open, not that they are looking at this community) users.

I think it does pretty well at supporting the different use cases, like people who want help trouble shooting something, people who want to discuss something generic, and people who want to discuss ops topics (more like nanog).

But it’s also quite flexible and allows for creating channels for specific events or topics such as a RIPE meeting, or more recently fire at OVH SBG.

I am not sure how well I explained things here, so feel free to ask if something is not clear or anything else. (not just directed to Grant)

-Cynthia

For reasons of confidentiality we implemented a MatterMost server for
company use. It is free, works well, runs on our own servers. It lacks
some of the bells and whistles that Discord has (in particular it has
no audio or screensharing), but as an instant messaging platform for us
it's worked very well indeed.

Regards, K.

I have used Mattermost but iirc it has very limited access control unless you have the enterprise version and generally doesn’t seem to be made for public groups.

This in addition to probably the main problem, it will have higher barrier to entry especially for those already using Discord for other purposes.

-Cynthia

This is the real problem - there are many NOG discussions shifting on to mobile messaging apps (Signal and Telegram, specifically) in the developing markets, even when mailing lists exist.

Reasons abound as to why this is happening. The bottom line is that this is happening, and appears to be the preference.

There's a GUI for you...

Mark.

It's just a group of people on a "secure" messaging app.

Props if the app has a desktop version so you don't break your knuckles typing on your i-thing.

Mark.

There will be, but they will keep dwindling.

It's a serious concern for me, and a relevant topic to discuss as any other on a NOG list such as this. It's the future of network operations as (don't) know it.

Mark.

Many new, young engineers will also feel more comfortable posting on message apps because the group is small, well-known and reasonably private, i.e., they are less afraid about sounding clueless to the whole world, on record, forever. Mark.

All good questions. I've been using IRC+email for 25+ years now and from what I can see, IRC has been replaced by slack/discord etc, and email has been replaced by Reddit or Github Issues discussions etc. I was on a project where the mailing list was shut down and all further discussions were pushed to github instead.

I personally think the "web forum" format is inferior but that might be a way to reach out as well...

For persons considering mattermost, I would recommend instead looking into a self hosted Matrix + Synapse (matrix protocol server daemon) setup, which is fully open source.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matrix_(protocol)

Element is one typical GUI client for it, but there are many options. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Element_(software)

Many new, young engineers will also feel more comfortable posting on message apps because the group is small, well-known and reasonably private, i.e., they are less afraid about sounding clueless to the whole world, on record, forever.

I think this is at least partially true, but I think it is more not
wanting to be disrespected at the time they ask these questions.
No one was born with this kind of knowledge, and everyone was clueless
at some point in time.
Also a permanent public archive is not a requirement of a mailing list
even if it is common.

Also, at least I often feel like the more casual conversational chat
format is easier than emails and this is the case for many of my
friends as well.

-Cynthia

I think this is at least partially true, but I think it is more not
wanting to be disrespected at the time they ask these questions.
No one was born with this kind of knowledge, and everyone was clueless
at some point in time.

Totally agree.

It is the result of the centuries of an industrial revolution that has shaped us to consider anything less than expertise as being considerable of anyone's time.

The kids have grown up in an age where information is democratized, i.e., you are far better off if you are curious and ask questions, rather than assume you know everything and don't need to learn anymore. Mobile messaging apps do not have this kind of pressure, compared to your garden-variety, 30-year old mailing list concept.

Not to say that either is good or bad, but to realize what works for a generation that is more focused on outcomes and solutions, rather than outcomes, solutions, and many times, posturing.

Also a permanent public archive is not a requirement of a mailing list
even if it is common.

Indeed. However, "just for posterity" is not an uncommon reason why folk that like mailing lists continue to do so.

Also, at least I often feel like the more casual conversational chat
format is easier than emails and this is the case for many of my
friends as well.

Couldn't agree with you more.

Keeping it simple so you can reach your result faster and most efficiently is often understood more by the kids than us geezers. While we are fighting about whether Discourse or Mailman are appropriate, the kids have probably dumped both and found something that gets them to the promised land 5 seconds after they install the app.

We'd be remiss to ignore this approach.

Mark.

Facebook has effectively become social media for old people. It's not the future IMO.

The problem with other "social" formats I've found is that they're often an exclusive club you have to know about through connections or be invited to. You can also be excluded on a whim.

What you can learn from that is the new brand marketing models of today's Internet world.

Standard over-the-top selling is not much of a model anymore. If an app (or service) is worth the value it purports, its users will do all the marketing for it that it needs.

Mark.

Okay great for those apps, but if nobody tells me where the new action is... how does that help me? With the list here at least it's on NANOG's website and they tell you how to join in.

This feels like you're saying people are not worthy of being included in the future because they don't "know" when they should just know if they are worth being included.