Aside from getting WE to become significant enough group (quantity and/or quality) of users…
(beyond usual suspects)
…normally I would fully agree, but can also imagine that very specific uses can be short term *(for example event focused) and limited user circle *(just specific groups like people who need extra safety or support with languages) remaining within trusted partners and service providers *(Discourse sure has good reputation so far) could also be OK.
Not all aspirations of Wikimedians need to be shaped by global and super long term plans.
As a queer person I can imagine that I want some of my radical work also to be lost or at least obfuscated *(especially as data governance is still relatively new topic)…understandable?
The Wikimedia Space prototype was announced as a Discourse instance hosted on the Wikimedia Cloud VPS and technically maintained by a mix of volunteering Foundation staff members who had enough skills for that task (at a prototype level). This was ok for announcing a prototype but not enough as a long-term solution.
We wanted to have a committed plan for a migration to Wikimedia production servers and maintenance by the Wikimedia Site Reliability Engineering team. We couldn’t get this commitment on time, and Wikimedia Space was closed.
Taking these lessons learned, we looked at a different alternative. https://wikimediafoundation.org/ and https://diff.wikimedia.org/ are hosted in the servers of the company leading the development of Wordpress. This was an interesting precedent, also relevant because Diff is a spin-off of Wikimedia Space. We checked the possibility to host this Forum in the Discourse devs servers, and the check passed the security and legal reviews.
The currently contracted hosting includes the technical maintenance of the Forum. This includes upgrades and security fixes, also quick answers to support questions. Our bug reports and feature requests count a bit more, just like the ones put forward by other paying customers count a bit more. The price is affordable and probably cheaper than if we would do maintenance in-house. All in all, this looked like the best option for a start, and we got the budget to cover this service until the end of June 2023.
Please let’s have plans for longer than a year. A major reason not to invest in new side-wikis with custom configs or new tools like this is that they will stop being maintained and work spent on them will be lost, no longer indexed in cross-site search*, etc.
1.5) what is the current budget / maintenance cost?
Like diff. we should host this as forum.wikimedia, one way or another. There is no excuse for hosting the official place to discuss part of our future on a random root domain.