Suggestion: Centralize Support in Discuss

I’ve been using PlayFramework (java flavor), sbt and several sbt plugins for a couple years now so I’m pretty familiar with the ecosystem.

Having used all this for some time, I’m pretty familiar with the various support options but I’ve been starting to wonder if there are possibly too many.
Currently, it seems like the main methods for getting support are:

  • official Lightbend website product documentation (Akka, PlayFramework, Lagom)
  • official Lightbend support subscription
  • this Discuss forum
  • Gitter playframework channel (I’m familiar with the PlayFramework channel, I’m not sure if there are others)
  • Gitter sbt channel (discouraged by this doc)
  • stack overflow for sbt (as recommended by this doc)
  • stack overflow for sbt plugins
  • stack overflow questions for playframework
  • GitHub issues

I’ve noticed a lot of people (myself included) post support questions all over the place including on the Gitter channel (many of which go completely unanswered because they’re lost in the sea of messages).

I’m wondering if there would be value in centralizing all of the support questions into this Discuss forum.

In my mind that could involve the following:

  • adding a section for sbt to this discuss forum (that would encapsulate sbt and all sbt plugins). I think this makes sense given sbt is basically a lightbend product (at least from the consumer perspective) and all the plugins are allowed to (and encouraged to) live under the GitHub sbt organization (just realized this already exists)
  • updating the respective apps’ web documentation pages to direct all support questions to this forum (and more specifically to the section for the relevant app: playframework, lagom, akka, sbt).
  • updating the sbt documentation page to direct questions to this discuss forum
  • deprecating the Gitter chat channels or restricting the people that can post there to ones actually contributing to the codebases (or some other privileged set).
  • updating the messaging around the links to the Gitter chat channels to indicate those channels are for contributors
  • clarifying the rules for asking questions in the forum versus posting GitHub issues… an even more aggressive option would be to make GitHub issues only for code contributors which would make the boundaries very obvious and easier to enforce.

I think this would help new and existing users a lot and it would reduce the spectrum of places that code contributors need to pay attention to. Support threads in this forum are much easier to search and find (for self-service of problem solving) than the Gitter channels are. And it would greatly reduce the noise in the Gitter channels (effectively turning them into more relevant streams of communication for code contributors).

Obviously the objective is to focus all the energy and thereby elevate the community’s experience and interest in the products.

I’m interested to hear other people’s thoughts.

I think centralizing support questions is a great idea. It’s not clear to me whether it should be here or Stackoverflow, but choosing one or the other and clarifying the ground rules would be good.

In particular:

  • Gitter in my experience is a lousy support channel except for a small team that are working on the product.
  • If only contributors are allowed to file GitHub issues, make clear the mechanism for the rest of us that are pretty sure we’ve found a bug.
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