Proposal: forums policy change on promotional posts

The longstanding policy of these forums is that posts which are essentially just promoting a product are off-topic. The idea was to draw a clear line and rule out anything that feels like an advertisement, but it's also made it hard for people to tell the rest of the community about new things they might legitimately be interested in. The core team is considering whether to relax this rule in a limited way by creating a dedicated category for this kind of "promotional" post.

Our goal is to create a place where Swift community members can inform the rest of the community about things that are directly pertinent to Swift. We'd only allow promotions for things that are primarily about Swift programming or useful to Swift programmers, such as:

  • a work that discusses Swift, like a book, article, blog, or podcast
  • a Swift-specific conference or conference track
  • a developer tool that supports Swift, like an editor, build system, or static analysis tool
  • a library or program with a Swift programming interface
  • a tutorial, curriculum, or course about Swift programming
  • anything with a similar focus on Swift

We wouldn't accept announcements for things like:

  • a work that discusses software development in general but isn't really about Swift
  • a program or library that's just written in Swift but doesn't provide a Swift programming interface
  • a job opening for Swift programmers

More broadly, these posts would be expected to be informational and professional in tone. In addition to following the Code of Conduct, they would be required to "stay positive" and avoid any overtly negative statements about competitors or alternatives.

All promotional posts would be in a new "Community" category. Community members who are completely uninterested in these announcements can easily ignore all posts from this category.

We'd ask that posts about a particular product or website, or posts from a particular user, would be limited to just a handful per year. For example, this would be somewhere to announce that you had a podcast about Swift programming, not to post this week's agenda. Discussion on promotional posts would be discouraged unless the post explicitly invited engagement.

We'd like to know what you think about this idea.

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I support this, especially with the compartmentalization that allows for uninterested parties to ignore it. I do worry, however, that it could get messy. Would it be feasible to create a pinned index post to, for example, group media items by type for one reference point?

I understand that would create an additional administrative overhead which may be untenable.

I think we'd see it how it goes. If we get a lot of posts about (say) podcasts, we can make a sub-category for podcasts.

I was with you up until this part.

If someone creates a thread on these forums, that act itself should be considered an invitation for engagement and discussion.

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There are some that will certainly warrant discussion, but also many that are just announcements and exist solely for discoverability, which is one reason I was advocating for an “index” type post to list those.

I don’t have the knowledge and skills that many of you do to implement (or even invent) new language features, but I’m certainly capable of busywork and I am willing to maintain a pinned post that aggregates the announcement types of posts. I do think this would be a benefit to the community.

I've been asked privately to discuss the relationship between this new Community category and the existing Related Projects category.

The purpose of Related Projects is to foster the Swift open-source community by allowing projects to host discussion forums here rather than managing their own server or mailing list. Each project gets its own sub-category. It's not really intended or suitable for one-off announcements of projects; likewise, Community isn't really intended or suitable for long-running discussions of goals, schedules, and work coordination. Projects that maintain forums in Related Projects would still be welcome to post announcements of major milestones in Community.

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I like this idea in general. I wonder if it would be appropriate for the new category to tackle on some "false" advertisement/promotion as well? In particular, I find it rather insincere how so many of the popular blogs and books that claim to be about Swift are in practice about UIKit. It might be beneficial to ask promotional posts to correctly identify their topics.

A good announcement should have enough information for readers to figure that out. Beyond that, our forums software allows people to tag posts, which should make it easy to find books and blogs that are specifically about, say, server development if that's what you're interested in. I don't think we need more of a policy than that.

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I'm 100% with you except for this quoted bit.

If I make a Community post about my spiffy new async I/O Swift library I think it would be unfair for the community to not be allowed to point out that Swift NIO (and other) libraries already exist, and ask me to expand on why (if anything) is nicer about my spiffy library. Even more so if I perhaps imply that there is something nicer but don't mention what it is as opposed to merely seeming oblivious about other projects.

It may be me, but half a conversation somehow seems less valuable than none. It really might be just me though.

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I like this idea. The Vapor Discord has a channel that almost entirely suits the stated purpose and it uses the name “showcase.” I wonder if that name fits well enough here to be borrowed — it may be subtle, but I find “showcase” to be more inviting from both the contributor and consumer standpoints.

Of your original examples, perhaps the conference announcement is the only one I feel like stretches the meaning of “showcase,” which is not to say I wouldn’t want conference announcements in that category, just that I do see the counter argument to the name already.

1 Like

Overall, I am in favor of this idea and have two pieces of feedback:

I think "Community" is too broad a category name. Everything going on in all of the forums is part of the Swift community.

"Announcements" is probably also too broad a name, since you might want to reserve that notion announcements of Swift Evolution proposal decisions, new Swift releases, etc.

"Showcase" might not be a bad choice, since the purpose is to allow folks to put Swift-related projects on display for the community to find out about.

I think in general, whoever posts an announcement in this category should be prepared to answer a few follow-up questions about the item in the forums.

I agree this really wouldn't be the place for lengthy discussions, but sometimes a few clarifying questions would probably be helpful.

For an announcement of a "Live Swift Coding Live Stream Event, July 3, 2 pm"

I'd expect a question of "Which time zone?" to be a perfectly reasonable follow-up question that shouldn't be discouraged.

I like this idea overall a great deal though.

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I think this is a great idea John, I would welcome it as an addition to the community.

I think this is why John's post describes the thing to be discouraged as "discussion", rather than any form of reply.

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As a blogger on Swift, I would appreciate this new opportunity to occasionally showcase a meaty, in-depth post. I find “showcase” to be a more-descriptive name than some of the other suggestions.

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I don't see much downside to this, and it sounds like a useful resource for both posters and readers.

As several others have mentioned, protecting promotional posts from commentary seems like a strange swing of the policy pendulum. Is this for the benefit of posters, or is the intent just to keep posts in chronological order? If the latter, perhaps there's a Discourse feature that would enable static ordering without shutting down discussion.

The primary purpose of hosting these announcements is to inform the community about the existence of various media, projects, and products. Not everything needs to be an open discussion where everyone can record their immediate reactions and criticisms.

It's also fair turnabout for the restrictions we're asking announcements to follow.

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The core team discussed this, and we've gone ahead and created the new category under the name Community Showcase.

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