[ocaml-infra] Request to start a gitter.im room for github:ocaml/ocaml and a bridge to IRC

Yotam Barnoy yotambarnoy at gmail.com
Mon Jul 11 15:48:12 BST 2016

After surveying the opinions of people on IRC and discussions of
advancing the community's interests on a mailing list thread ('How to
encourage the adoption of OCaml'), I'd like to propose opening a room
on gitter.im for the ocaml/ocaml repository (gitter rooms exist on a
per-repository basis).

An example gitter room can be viewed here: https://gitter.im/neovim/neovim

In general, I believe having real-time chat with persistent history
and notifications is extremely valuable. It is especially valuable for
beginners or people inquiring about OCaml, who are afraid to compose a
mailing list post. It is also valuable to developers of all sorts who
need full-duplex high-frequency minimally-formal communication, which
is often hampered by email.

Gitter chat is readily available to newcomers, unlike IRC. Even the
best current IRC viewer
(https://vector.im/beta/#/room/#freenode_#ocaml:matrix.org) still
requires steps to connect and lacks some of gitter's features. Gitter
rooms are read-only before logging in (which is still of value), and
read-write once you use a github login,  which just about every dev
has nowadays. Additionally, gitter allows for easy integration with
github issues, comments etc as can be seen in the example above.

The trickier part is connecting gitter to IRC. We want to do this both
to preserve history on our own terms - scraper tools exist for gitter
but it's nicer to preserve our own history using existing methods -
and to prevent fracturing of the community. The neovim project
linked-to above does this using a gitter-IRC bridge, which must be run
on a community server.

This means that to establish the gitter room + bridge we need to:
1. Create the gitter room on the gitter site. This must be done by
someone with OCaml github credentials by going to the gitter.im page
and choosing to create a room.
2. Follow the instructions at
https://github.com/matrix-org/matrix-appservice-gitter using an OCaml
community server. The bridge must have access to github credentials as
3. For maximum exposure, it would be nice to add the new room to the
ocaml.org community page.

Note that gitter rooms already exists for ocaml/oasis and ocaml/opam.
These are obviously project-specific and have use by themselves. I
envision ocaml/ocaml being used for the compiler as well as for the
language as a whole. It's worth thinking about the idea of creating an
ocaml/ocaml_beginners repo just for the sake of opening a gitter room
for beginners, similar to the way we have a (non-working)
ocaml_beginners list. Additionally, it would be a good idea to open a
gitter room for ocamlbuild.

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