Chief Delphi was seemingly once the end-all-be-all of communication regarding FRC. It feels like today there are many more channels of communication that get a ton of use including Discord, Reddit, Facebook, etc. I’m aware that many regions have specific channels of communication solely for people in their region. If you’re involved in one of those region specific channels of communication, I’m wondering what your experience has been like with it. Is it useful, or is it polluted by a bunch of gif sharing @notmattlythgoe type people? Do you feel like it has improved your FRC experience?
If you were going to start a new region-specific communication network with the objective of trying to bring teams closer together, promote cross-pollination of ideas, and generally improve everybody’s FRC experience, how would you do it? What kind of moderation would there be? Who would be invited? What platform would you use?
Minnesota is in the beginning stages of building what I would like to become a great platform for communication, that has a positive impact on its participants. In the early stages of this process I’ve learned a few things. The first and biggest takeaway was that Groupme was a terrible platform… all the conversations in one giant group chat was awful. We had over 100 people in it near the end and it was far from productive. Transitioning over to Slack has made a world of difference. Being able to separate conversation topics has been huge in terms of usability.
We’ve had little to no issues with conversations requiring moderation to this point, but that could certainly change as more people join the group. Having the ability to moderate using Slack’s platform seems like a good idea.
The other thing I’ve found useful from my experience to this point is that it’s awesome to be exposed to diverse ideas, cool projects, and smart team practices from local teams that we compete with and against regularly. It’s cool to get a glimpse at what makes teams tick, and see why they’re so successful. It’s even cooler to be able to share best practices with other local teams and see them improve because of it.
FMA has a Discord that’s pretty great. It’s nice too because the students are less intimidated to speak up, ask questions and meet friends on other teams. The culture is positive, and there are close to 500 members at this point. Also the Discord voice chat can be a fun place to hang out and chat with other people from the region on a random competition season night. We actually did a live robot reveal on the FMA Discord this year combined with a Youtube stream, which was super fun and 10/10 would recommend other teams to try.
Los Angeles has a community Slack, but it’s not all that busy right now.
Im in the PCH discord and it is really nice to have a place to see what other teams are working on, and talk to other robotics people that you may only see 3 or 4 times a year otherwise. The other benefit of group communication channels like this is that at events teams will sometimes ask if anyone has an obscure part or tool instead of running around to ask everyone which just makes things faster and nicer.
Chesapeake has a
CHS Mentors Facebook group (370 members) that’s pretty good but not really official, a
FIRST Chesapeake slack (45 members) that’s dead but more official, and a
Chesapeake Robotics Discord (428 members) that is active and definitely not official.
I’m pleased to report that Matt’s gif posting in all of the above has been limited.
The Facebook group has been the most useful in my opinion, having it restricted to mentors only has (at least to some extent) kept it on topic and useful.
The CHS Discord is a very mixed bag, there are some good discussions from @Knufire and @JKerns for example, but also a lot of offtopic discussion and noise. Experiencing the discord has made me all the more thankful that the mentor group exists.
Conceptually I liked the idea of a CHS slack but adoption was pretty abysmal and people seemed confused as to whether they should post in the FB group, the slack, both, or email FIRST Chesapeake directly.
There is a West Michigan FIRST Facebook group with 196 members.
There’s a Midwest Discord but it’s not very active compared to the #midwest channel in the main Discord.
Matt’s gifs bring joy to 10’s of people including myself so this is actually a little disappointing!
To expand a bit on what @pchild posted about the CHS Mentors Facebook Group. The group was created back in April of 2016 at the end of our first year as a district. The idea came up in a discussion I was having with another mentor about how to increase the communication between the teams in CHS. Since the creation of the group we’ve had a pretty steady growth of members and seem to have hit the threshold that causes the growth to be natural, I’m approving membership requests a couple of times a week. The group is purposefully an unofficial communication platform separate from the CHS Leadership (while many of them are in the group now). This was done so the mentors could feel comfortable discussing some of the more sensitive topics about the transition to districts and any issues they felt needed discussed.
Here are some statistics from the last 60 days:
I typically try not to moderate the content as much as possible but will try to reduce the spam in the group. So far I’ve only removed a small handful of posts.
PCH has a unofficial discord that a large majority of teams are a part of and a lot people regularly talk through… (400+ Members). We a mentor Slack that some teams utilize as well.
Lastly…PCH has a facebook group that is not used nearly as much.
I like the Slack/Discord options as they allow of certain types of conversation to be silo’d into respective channels. Programming, Scouting, Design, etc.
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