Welcome to another annual update of the forum - and what an update it is!
Let’s start with a recap of some of our achievements:
- At the end of our first year we reported we had served a very respectable one million pages in our first 12 months.
- At the end of the second year we reported that we were serving 500,000 pages… a month!! We also reported that we had sent over a whopping one million emails!
- We’re now serving between 700,000 and 800,000 pages per month (though it’s mostly around 750K), and we even had a record breaking month earlier in the year when we served over a staggering 1,000,000 pages in a single month!
But what do all these figures actually mean? To us the community, and to Elixir itself?
Before we answer that, here’s another metric.
We regularly receive around 140,000 click throughs from just our top ten traffic sources (which are mostly search engines - only around 10K of those are from Twitter). This means the forum is handling at least 4,300 queries from search engines… a day!
Imagine for a moment if there was no forum and we only had chat rooms - picture having to answer over 4,000 queries every day of every week of every month. It would be a huge drain on the community and pretty unsustainable, right? And you know what the best part is? Those 140K queries were served by ‘just’ 15,000 threads! How many threads and how many queries will we be serving 2, 5 years from now?
Your threads matter Your threads not only help you, but go on to help many others too. Similarly, the time you take to help someone today can go on to help help hundreds, potentially thousands of people tomorrow - while at the same time make your life (and the life of others) easier as you don’t have to answer the same questions over and over again. On top of all that, and from a user’s perspective, you (and others who are not even members of the forum) can tap into this vast resource and get the help you need almost instantly.
This is in part why people like Devon are saying things like this:
It’s of course not just about the numbers. It’s the quality of your threads and posts. And it’s not just the quality of the information contained either, it’s the tone and friendly atmosphere that people witness when they read them. These attributes go a long way in attracting people to the community, thus supporting adoption and representing the Elixir community in the best possible light.
Of course to help make all this run ‘according to plan’ it’s also about our policies and our moderating team relentlessly applying them to ensure the standards remain high; all in all delivering on our promise of a Happy and Helpful forum in a fair and sensible way.
This is in part why people are saying things like this:
A huge thank you to our moderators who give up so much of their valuable time to help our community and the forum, and thank YOU, our members, who make this all as effortless as possible by being the awesome, kind and considerate members of the community that you are. You all rock <3 <3 <3
What lies ahead?
With the above in mind, it’s fair to say that the forum has come of age and found its feet and identity
Often people think setting up a forum is simply purchasing the hosting, uploading the software and setting up some sections - but it’s much more than that.
It’s about taking into consideration the needs of the community, it’s about honouring the topic the forum is about, it’s about providing a safe and enjoyable environment for your members and it’s about balancing all these with the challenges that you might face. Then, it’s about continually reviewing all of this, and tweaking and adapting things so that you can put the forum in good stead for the future and so that the community can continue to thrive.
We’re pleased to report that the ‘setting-up’ period is now pretty much complete and so we can now move on to the next phase.
Expansion of and to the team
As mentioned, the setting-up period has helped us learn about the community’s needs as well as specific challenges the community or the forum might face, and all this has given us a good idea about the policies or measures we need to put in place that will hopefully help avoid problematic situations further down the line.
By these policies being formulated and easily referred to, we hope to see more and more members of the community in increasing positions of responsibility on the forum, and we’re going to do that this year by expansion of and to the team.
The Mod structure will become something like this:
- Forum Supervisors - these are members of the community who know the forum like the back of their hand. They’re not only some of the most active members of the forum, but also some of the most active moderators - being heavily involved with internal discussions about policies/issues etc. If you have a question about the forum they will usually know the answer. As this is a very important position within the community, there will be some safeguards put in place to ensure the people chosen for this position are indeed suitable. Prospective Supervisors will first need to meet the approval of José, Chris and Robert, and any forum member will be able to raise any concerns or objections about a supervisor directly to AstonJ - if any complaints are upheld it may affect the application process. We need this because the standards expected of Supervisors is high, because they represent the community in a significant way.
- Global Moderators - these moderators have global mod permissions and oversee all sections of the forum. They are usually very helpful, active and visible on the forum.
- Section Moderators - these moderators oversee specific sections or groups of sections. They don’t have to be quite as active but they are required to keep up to date on forum policies and internal discussions.
- Forum helpers - these are members of the community who help around the forum, such as with wikis and other initiatives such as welcoming our newbies.
The goal is to be able to accommodate any genuine member who wants to help out, and having a structure like this means responsibilities can be split according to experience, skill set and commitment. This should result in nobody being out of their comfort zone as each team will have specific roles/responsibilities (including specific items not to undertake - such as dealing with member conduct).
An important thing to mention here is that YOU can be a part of this team and there’s no reason why you can’t work your way up it. There is no ‘clique’ here, in fact every single person on our mod team wasn’t even known to Aston when the forum started - everybody was approached based on their actions and contribution to the forum. There is no clique and there is certainly no prejudice - everyone, regardless of race, gender, gender identity, sexuality etc are welcome on the team. All we ask is that you honour the spirit of the forum, of being Happy and Helpful and that you add something positive to the forum.
In terms of numbers, we expect to start with around 2 Supervisors (going up to a maximum of 5 in the longer term), 5 to 10 Global Mods, and 20 or more Section Mods and as many Helpers who want to help out
If you’re an active member of the forum and think you’d make a valuable addition to the team, please PM @AstonJ and we’ll work out which team might be best to start you on.
Just a very small note to say when this team is in place we may see less of AstonJ on the public forum - he’ll still be here, but a lot of his time will be taken up with behind the scenes stuff.
Introducing a new Erlang (sub) Forum
We love Erlang and we love the Beam!
As you’ll probably have seen we’ve been busy setting up the Elixir/Phoenix/Nerves side of things, and now, we’d like to try and help and support our Erlang and Beam friends as much as we can too.
We don’t see Erlang and Elixir as competitors, we see them as part of the same family and just that people prefer different aspects of them (such as the syntax, tooling etc) which may lead to them choosing one over the other - the most important thing is to get people into the Beam ecosystem - regardless of which Beam language they end up using.
Our new Erlang (sub) Forum will hopefully help facilitate this. It will consist of the following sections to begin with:
—Erlang Chat & Discussions
This forum is not intended to replace any official Erlang forum/s, but to provide an additional avenue where anyone interested in Erlang (i.e. most of us!) can learn more about it and the wider Beam community, ask questions, chat and be informed of news etc - all in the kind of environment you have all come to know and love. Anyone will be able to post news unless the Erlang Core Team would like to restrict it just to them (if we stick with anyone posting news we may require moderator approval first, even if just to begin with).
To further demonstrate our love for Erlang, both our Manning and PragProg giveaways will now also include their Erlang catalogues (more on that in a bit!)
Expanding our community building initiatives
We have an amazing community here <3
Without doubt many of us have grown very fond of each other over the past few years - turning a mutual interest into meaningful relationships. This has actually been one of our goals from the start, that’s why we encourage (and often start) community building threads that may not necessarily be directly related to Elixir or programming.
We want to expand on that!
Notably, with these additions:
- A new Member Spotlight feature - a bit like our Sponsor Spotlights, but mixed with Ask Me Anything
- A new ‘Members Only’ section - it will replace the Lounge and only be viewable by TL1+ members (and not be auto-muted like the Lounge was)
Ever wondered what a particular member thinks about a particular bit of technology? Or the path they might have taken to get where they are? Or even their interests, or the staple meals they grew up on? If so you’re going to love our Member Spotlights! They’ll not only include an interview as the opening post, but will end with you being able to ask questions to get to know them further (don’t worry, the member in the spotlight can choose which questions they want to answer!)
If this is something you’d like to help with, please PM AstonJ!
New Members Only section
A members only section is far more important than just a place for casual ‘chat’, over the years on other forums admin’d by AstonJ they have been used for support (for serious illnesses such as cancer or heart disease, bereavements etc), to talk about personal issues in the work or home life, and in fact many other things where someone might need help and support but won’t want to post publicly. They’ve also been used for fun/health related things like health/dieting clubs… and lots more.
There will be some conditions for the use of this section (that we’ll cover in more detail when it goes live) but mainly, the section will be intended to be a positive outlet only, so may not be used to discuss contentious issues or divisive topics, or in fact anything that might be at odds with the goals of the section - i.e community building. For anyone not interested in such a section, they will be able to simply mute it.
To demonstrate why such community building initiatives matter, some of our future projects will involve community members even more than now. For instance, our first sister site will be for the community, but hopefully, some of our future sister sites and projects will be by the community. But more on that later!
Publishing forum policies
Hopefully all of the above shows that we place great value on you, the community. Many of our policies are actually designed to protect you - not just to provide a safe environment for you, but to protect you from inadvertently falling into the trap of reacting to questionable content or bad actors and get sucked into the mayhem they can cause. Trolls are very good at what they do - they know exactly what kind of buttons to press to get a reaction out of someone or to stir up trouble, which, can sometimes lead to infighting and serious issues within a community. Communities can generally withstand external attacks (in fact they can make a community stronger) however, communities can implode with festering or mishandled inter-community issues. The most experienced trolls love to try and exploit this.
Unluckily for them, our experience in managing online communities has helped us identify common patterns, and this is where you’ll see measures put in place such as our Moderation Queue section and the ‘Is it FUD?’ section. The primary aim of these sections is not to ‘censor’ (we believe everyone has the right to believe or express whatever idea or opinion they want to - so long as it does not infringe on the rights of others and is in accordance with our respectful ’Happy and Helpful’ ethos) but to ensure our members don’t fall into traps. While obviously our community strives to be as kind as it can be, there is also an expectation on others to, at the very least, demonstrate they are genuine and sincere. Life is too short to waste our precious time on bad actors, and it would be very upsetting to learn if a genuine member of the community had to suffer because of the actions of someone who was trying to engineer that precise outcome. This is why we have these policies in place - because you’re our priority - not someone who may at best not have been considerate enough when they posted, or at worst be a bad actor intend on causing grief.
So over the course of the year we hope to write up some of our policies on things like member moderation. It will give you an idea of how we handle user conduct and so when you are concerned about someone, you will know what the best course of action might be (hint: it is almost never to publicly chastise a member, humiliate them, or make them feel like an idiot - it’s about being considerate of our fellow community members and giving them the benefit of the doubt (maybe they’re having a bad day?) and to try and move things forward in a positive way). But more on that when we start putting these policies up.
One last thing to say about this is we won’t expect every single member to read every single policy - participating on a forum should come naturally. That’s why our rules are more or less summed up perfectly in a very succinct way; we expect all contributions on the forum to be Happy and Helpful and to add something of value to the forum. The new policies will be there for our regular and core membership, and those who are interested in helping make the community the best it can be, while also serving as a good reference for everyone else and a way for our team to be held accountable for their actions.
Our first sister site
We aim to launch our first sister site this year - an idea that we hope will benefit the community while also help support increased adoption. Expect to see it in the latter half of the year (hopefully LiveView will be here by then? )
So while our first sister site will be for the community, we also have plans for future projects that will be by the community! They will still be community-orientated, but there will be greater involvement from members of the community and some may even be designed with a commercial aspect in mind. Who knows, maybe the forum can help create a project which becomes a full time job for some of you? We’re really excited about the prospect of this and can’t wait to talk more about it <3 (let’s get the first sister site out of the way first! )
This is getting very long so we should wrap up soon! Let’s move on to our…
Last year we gave away 6 prizes a month, and we’re not going to disappoint you this year - we have 6 monthly prizes again!
Win ANY Elixir or Erlang ebook from PragProg - TWO winners every month!!
Win ANY Elixir or Erlang ebook from Manning - TWO winners every month!!
Win a years worth of AppSignal! - Worth $529!
Win a years worth of ElixirCasts Alchemist’s Edition! - Worth $180!
How awesome is that?
We’ve got some super discounts lined up for you again this year!!
35% off any ebook published by PragProg!
You can use the discount multiple times and for ANY ebook published by them - it doesn’t even have to be an Elixir book! Yep, that’s how much PragProg love us. Coupon code ‘ElixirForum’.
35% off any ebook, print book or video published by Manning!
Yes, Manning love us too! And have been so impressed with the forum that they’re expanding their discount to all media formats - ebooks, print books, and videos too! The code can be used multiple times as well! Coupon code ‘elixirforum’.
10% off AppSignal!
AppSignal 25 is the first fully featured platform providing error tracking and performance insights for Elixir and Phoenix applications. Get 10% off with your forum discount! Coupon code ‘elixirforum’.
10% off ElixirCasts… for life!
ElixirCasts help you learn Elixir, Phoenix and OTP, and when contacted us last year saying how much they loved the forum, we just knew we had to do an ElixirCasts giveaway! Not only can you win a whole year’s worth of their Alchemist edition in our giveaway, but you can also get 10% off for life! Coupon code ‘elixirforum’.
20% off ANY Pragmatic Studio course!
Want to learn Elixir? Why not try the Pragmatic Studio’s online course, or their latest Elixir, Elm and Phoenix course - or in fact any of their courses! Get 20% off with coupon code “elixirforum”.
Members of the Month - no more o_O
Don’t worry! Say hello to Members of the Year!
With over 10,000 members now it is becoming increasingly difficult to pick out MOTMs several times a year, so for this year will will have 50 Members of the Year at the end of the year! (Or, depending on how the year goes we may do half midway through the year.)
This year we would also like more involvement from you in helping us select our MOTYs. If you feel someone has contributed something of value to the forum, please like their posts and if you feel someone has really been going the extra mile, please send AstonJ a PM with examples of that user’s posts and your reason why you think they deserve a MOTY. We’ll then take these into consideration at the end of the year If you feel someone has been going that extra mile, please do this.
PS, we’re also aware we haven’t yet done last quarter’s MOTMs - we’ll do these towards the end of this month as things have been pretty hectic here.
Our discounts, giveaways, prizes and more are all made possible thanks to our awesome sponsors. So this year we have some new things lined up for them too! Our Sponsor Spotlight in our digest emails will now run continuously without any breaks - by randomly selecting a sponsor to include in every digest sent out (probability depends on their tier). We’re also now sending clicks directly to their sites from the logos in the footer area of the forum, and we’ve also finally got around to adding them to the footer of our giveaway sites too <3
If you get a moment, please visit our sponsor’s to show your support - you can see them listed here: http://sponsors.elixirforum.com
If you think your place of work might be interested in sponsoring, please email contact AT elixirforum.com - unfortunately we’ve been so busy that we’ve only had time to contact half of the companies we normally do, so may not have got around to yours yet.
- We aim to run our annual #polls around March - if this is something you’d like to help out with, please PM AstonJ!
- We rolled out an expansion of our user titles, in case you missed it check out the announcement.
- Did you miss the Elixir Documentary? If so check it out here!
- Did you miss Phoenix LiveView? (Where have you been!!!?) See why the community is so excited here!
- We gave Nerves a dedicated sub forum here and saw lots of interest and cool stuff! Check it out here!
- There was an explosion in professionally published Elixir books! Check them out here!
- Want to see some cool stats about who and what was hot on the forum last year? Check them out here!
Wow, what an update this has been and what a fantastic year we had - and we know we always say this - but it was only possible because of each and every one of you. Even the small challenges we have faced have helped make the forum and our community stronger - because we are continually learning and adapting. We’re not afraid of trying new things and we’re certainly not worried about changing our minds when new information comes to light.
That’s what it’s all about, progress. It’s heartening to see Elixir, Phoenix, Nerves and Erlang go from strength to strength - and our community along with it.
Thank you all - and well done!!