An overview of the Flashbots forum

:wave: This document is intended to give a high level overview of our forum, how it can evolve over time and a couple of proposed changes.

The document is divided in 7 parts:

  1. Overview
  2. Categories and tags
  3. Content
  4. Users & permissions
  5. Plugins
  6. Design
  7. Guidelines & moderation

1. Overview

The Flashbots forum has been public for roughly two months and is quickly maturing into becoming the central platform for our community to communicate. As our impact continues to grow it’s essential that we:

  1. Maintain open and efficient spaces for our community to communicate and coordinate.
  2. Double down on our commitment to be transparent, encourage participation and invite the broader community to hold us accountable on our actions and promises.
  3. Provide straightforward access to research, announcements, data and other information with the ability to comment and discuss.

I believe that one of the most important puzzle pieces towards this vision is our forum.

Building out our forum is a continuous process however and should be performed in a collaborative way based on community feedback and needs. My ambition with this document is therefore not to give definite detailed answers, but rather for it to serve as a transparent foundation to collectively build upon.

bild
xkcd 1691

Feel free to suggest changes to any part of the forum in this thread or under Site feedback!

Before we dive in, I want to give a huge shout out to @chayoterabit for the incredible work you’ve done on the forum – so much care and thoughtfulness has been put into the platform to get us to where we are today! :pray::pray:


2. Categories and tags

Activity on Discourse can be divided into categories, subcategories, and tags. Used right, these provide an excellent way for users to navigate and find information even in the most active of forums. Categories and tags should be able to evolve over time though based on the content and conversation taking place (instead of the other way around where categories and tags define the type of activity that’s allowed).

Categories

The structure of our categories have already been through a couple of iterations based on usage and feedback. Our current categories, and their relative position, are structured based on audience with the following logic:

  1. The Flashbots Ship for general discussions
  2. Research - publications and discussions
  3. Searchers, Block Builders, Relays, MEV-Boost, Proposers. Separate categories for each actor in the MEV-supply chain.
  4. Site Feedback -
  5. Uncategorized -
  6. Mates only for internal Flashbots coordination

The activity within each public category can be seen below. (Note that some of these categories, like MEV-Boost, are a bit newer than others.)

Proposed changes:

  1. Remove the Uncategorized-category. If a new thread is posted in the wrong category, users of the forum can signal this by flagging the post and it will be moved by a moderator.

  2. The MEV-Boost category sticks out a bit from the current structure as it is directed towards several audiences and it overlaps a bit with the other categories. The alternative would be to create a ‘mev-boost’-tag to signal mev-boost related topics and use the general “Flashbots Ship ‘’-category for broader discussions. The category is relatively new though so I propose a revisit after it’s been active for a longer period of time.

  3. Each category should have a pinned post with clear guidelines. This pinned message should also include links to relevant documentation, articles, dashboards and similar resources – I will go through these posts and add useful information and resources in the coming week.
    Furthermore, these pinned threads currently have an expiration and gets unpinned after 1-2 months. I propose we remove this expiration and have these threads always be pinned at the top of each category.

Tags

Tags are an excellent way to highlight the type of content in a thread or call out certain audiences the author wants to attract. In contrast to categories each thread can have multiple tags. Any users above trust level 1 have the ability to add new tags. As an author of a new thread you should make sure to always add relevant tags to help your audience find the conversation. The tags-dropdown menu on the landing page is sorted by activity, this list should be cleaned up every now and then to make sure it doesn’t get too inflated.

:eyes: Pro tip: By adding a tag or category to your Watchlist you will get notified whenever a new thread or post is published!


3. Content

The forum increases transparency and makes it easier to discover content, read up on conversations and participate in discussions. With an agile forum structure that is able to respond to changes based on usage and feedback I believe we can, and should encourage a wide spectrum of activity. In this early stage of the forum we should let our community assist with carving out a structure that fulfills their needs. Beside these conversations that will naturally emerge, here’s a non-exhaustive list of additional content that will from now on be posted on the forum and available for anyone to engage with:

  • Research publications and discussions
  • Product progress, metrics, roadmaps, discussions
  • Announcements, updates, releases, events
  • Transparency reports and other summaries, explainers
  • memes

The Merge ⁽ᵒᶠ ᵂʳᶦᵗᶦⁿᵍˢ ᵃⁿᵈ ᵒᵘʳ ᶠᵒʳᵘᵐ⁾

To help enshrine the forum as a central piece in terms of content; publications that would previously be posted on Writings will now be posted on the forum.

This change will make it easier to participate in discussions and retrieve information on processes and decisions at a later stage. Discussions that would otherwise occur elsewhere are now captured here and can be revisited as new ideas and perspectives get introduced.

Not only will new publications be posted on the forum but the current content catalog on Writings will be also ported over! In order to make this seamless I propose we do the following (Updated 2022-11-08):

  1. Repost all content from the system user as a new thread.
  2. Add the same, and preferably additional tags.
  3. At the top of each thread include:
    a. “This post was originally posted on 202Y-MM-DD”
    b. “Author: @name
  4. Edit the timestamp of the thread to the original post date. This will help with searching & sorting.
  5. On Writings; Add a link to the corresponding forum thread for each post.

4. Users & permissions

Our forum is currently using the following user trust levels:

Level 0 - New account
  • Create new topics
  • Post replies
  • Edit posts
  • Post links
  • Embed media
Level 1 - Basic
  • Requirements:
    • Entering at least 5 topics
    • Reading at least 30 posts
    • Spend a total of 10 minutes reading posts
  • Benefits:
    • Send PMs
    • Flag posts
    • Mute & ignore users
Level 2 - Member
  • Requirements:
    • Visiting at least 15 days, not sequentially
    • Casting at least 1 like
    • Receiving at least 1 like
    • Replying to at least 3 different topics
    • Entering at least 20 topics
    • Reading at least 100 posts
    • Spend a total of 60 minutes reading posts
  • Benefits:
    • Create new tags
    • Create wiki posts
    • Use the “Invite others to this topic” button for one-click onboarding of new users to participate in topics
    • Invite outside users to PMs making a group PM
    • Daily like, edit, and flag limits increased by 1.5×
    • Edit their own posts for up to 30 days after posting
Level 3 - Regular
  • Requirements: (in the last 100days):
    • Must have visited at least 50% of days
    • Must have replied to at least 10 different non-PM topics
    • Of topics created in the last 100 days, must have viewed 25% (capped at 500)
    • Of posts created in the last 100 days, must have read 25% (capped at 20k)
    • Must have received 20 likes, and given 30 likes.*
    • Must not have received more than 5 spam or offensive flags (with unique posts and unique users for each, confirmed by a moderator)
    • Must not have been suspended or silenced in the last 6 months
  • Benefits:
    • Edit other users wiki posts
    • Recategorize and rename topics
    • Post anonymous
    • L3 spam flags cast on L0 user posts immediately hide the post
    • Daily like, edit, and flag limits increased by 2×
Level 4 - Moderator
  • Requirements:
    • Promoted by Admin
  • Benefits:
    • Edit all posts
    • Pin/unpin topic
    • Close topics
    • Archive topics
    • Split and merge topics

5. Plugins

The following Discourse plugins are currently active on this forum:

  • Discourse Math: Display mathematical notation in posts, use it by wrapping text with the $-symbol.
  • Discourse Reaction: Enables additional post reactions to be selected.
  • Solved: Allows users to accept solutions to their topics and mark them as solved.
  • Checklist: Enables interactive checkboxes to be added to posts

Additional plugins to be added:

  • Discourse Graphviz: Create graphs in posts.
  • Spoiler alert: Provides the ability to hide content marked with a [spoiler] tag in posts.
  • Dark/Light Mode Toggle: Adds a toggle for switching between dark and light-mode.
  • Follow: Allows users to follow other users and receive notifications of their activity.

6. Design

In order to make our forum more beautiful, @deadpine has developed a Discourse theme which we hope will improve discoverability and make the overall user experience a bit more pleasant. Our thoughts behind the design choices, and how to activate it, can be found in this thread. Feedback is very welcome! :art:


7. Guidelines & moderation

The forum, just like any other communication channels, need clear guidelines and moderation in order to reduce noise and create the atmosphere we seek to achieve.

All community members should feel welcome and comfortable participating in discussions and individuals who violate our rules should be addressed right away. If you see bad behavior please flag it! More information regarding guidelines and moderation policy can be found here. Additional information will be posted there soon.

2 Likes

I have been heavily pruning the tags:
https://collective.flashbots.net/tags/

I think that during the first months we should have maybe 20-30 tags, so I’m using the ones users suggest just as a mental guide for when I choose the tags dictatorially :crown: For example, I would remove design, guidelines, plugins, and categories-tags from your post.

@Fred Do you have any alternative preference for how to handle tags? Or would you like me to stop re-tagging and own it? I’m having fun, but I have no strong preference if you own it.

Yeah, I was experimenting a bit with the tags just before posting this. I couldn’t find any previously created tags that would fit and it felt a bit contradictory to leave the tags-field blank :sweat_smile:

It would be neat if we could restrict tags to specific to certain categories.
I agree that design, guidelines, plugins, and categories-tags are a bit unecessary, they would make sense if they would only exist within Site Feedback and not clutter the forum-wide tags list.

I’ll remove these and add brainstorming.

1 Like

I approve on brainstorming. I’m proud of that one :slight_smile:

I’ve been thinking some more on how we should duplicate content from Writings → Forum in a seamless and intuitive way. The new set up I propose is:

  1. Repost all content from the system user as a new thread.
  2. Add the same, and preferably additional tags.
  3. At the top of each thread include:
    a. “This post was originally posted on 202Y-MM-DD”
    b. “Author: @name
  4. Edit the timestamp of the thread to the original post date. This will help with searching & sorting.
  5. On Writings; Add a link to the corresponding forum thread for each post.

I’ve tested out math equations and tables and it translates beautifully. We will need to add a plugin for footnotes though. Syntax highlighting for code snippets should also be added.

1 Like

Footnotes plugin installed. :heavy_check_mark:

About adding solidity, I’m not sure how to do it. I’ve asked here: Configure which programming languages are available for syntax highlighting - #2 by elopio - admins - Discourse Meta

Thanks for taking care of this @Fred. I approve whatever way you want to try. This one seems good to me.

1 Like

A couple of updates:

  1. The Categories-tab, which is also the forum’s landing page, has been updated. The update removes the “Latest”-threads on the right side and presents the different categories as cards.

    Very curious what people think. I think it creates a bit of a calmer experience without the mail-inbox-looking list of new activity grabbing users attention. It helps to direct users to the separate categories instead of mixing it all together. The Latest-tab still exists just like normal, I’ve just removed it from also showing up under Categories.

    I think this change will be even more important with higher forum activity as the list of Latest and Top will constantly update and mix all kinds of content across all categories on the forum.

    We are looking into ways to highlight certain tags on the landing page, for example #announcement and #article.

  2. The MEV-Boost category has been deprecated and topics that previously lived there have been moved to the #Flashbots Ship-category. A new #mev-boost-tag has been added to relevant topics.

    All topics are now categorized based on user group/audience, or in the general #Flashbots ship which spans across all groups.

    In order to make it straight forward to navigate to the discussions related to MEV-Boost a link has been added to the navigation bar to the new #mev-boost -tag.

    bild

  3. Improvements continue to be made to our discourse theme which we are looking to roll out as default this week. An update will be posted in the thread as we go live. Let us know what you think, and how we can improve further!

    EDIT: The new theme is now set as the forum default!
    (Standard theme can still be used from settings)

  4. A couple of links have been added to the hamburger menu to easier access our Website, Docs, Github and Calendar:

  5. The content duplication from Writings to the forum is postponed a couple of weeks.
    The event will cause a bit of noise on the forum as the 30+ posts will be published as new threads. Want to make sure we time this right and cause the least amount of disturbance.

  6. We are looking into ways to customize the forum to better filter and signal topics that are published on the behalf of the Flashbots collective, i.e posts that would have been previously published on Writings.

1 Like