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Ask Fedora: Is it working, and what's the future?

asked 2016-10-20 13:37:18 -0600

mattdm gravatar image

Hi everyone. I'd like to take a moment to discuss the status of Ask Fedora, the potential for the future, and where we should go.

As it stands, the English site has over 17,000 questions, with about 77% of those with at least some answer. That's pretty impressive. The Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese sites have 400-some each, and the other languages just a handful. We've got a community of reasonably-active users, although I'd describe it as a dedicated core rather than an army.

However, the Fedora Infrastructure team tells me that they are spending an increasing amount of time keeping the service just running, and don't have any resources for improvement. The upstream project is not dead, but it's just one developer, and there are many, many things that are painful. The notification system is next-to-useless, the moderation system is a copy-cat of Stack Exchange without the backend tools that make that work smoothly, the badges aren't integrated with Fedora's badges, the close-as-duplicate system is awkward, and we have weird things like "closed: this question is answered!" which is the exact opposite of the goal of building a library of knowledge. I'm sure regular users can think of a million things that could be better — but prospects of that improvement happening are slim.

So, I want to have this discussion. As a community, what do we think? Do we want to keep the service going like this, or should we look to migrate to a new solution of some sort? (If that's what we do, there's no shame in that, or any diminishment of the excellent and helpful work everyone has done so far despite the difficulties I mentioned.)

If we do want to do something else, I can think of several possibilities:

  1. Direct everyone to Stack Exchange as our official answer. Stack Exchange is not open source, so that's a big negative, but they are very friendly towards open _content_, and everything there must be CC-BY-SA.
  2. Set up a Discourse forum as a replacement. It's less Q&A focused, but maybe that's okay — if we're already closing questions as answered, that's more like a help forum anyway, so maybe that tool would actually be better. (And Discourse has a solved plugin which we could use.)
  3. Or, skip Discourse and create a regular mailing list and use that for help discussions. (Users could be pointed at the Hyperkitty interface.)
  4. Fedora Docs is working on a new infrastructure for short help documents; we could have a queue for questions and every week focus on new docs around the most interesting ones.
  5. Or, we could combine 4 with 2 or 3 — that is, have a way to flag forum/mailing list discussions to be sent to the Docs team. We'd use the forum or list for immediate help, but use that to build up a genuine FAQ with frequent and interesting questions from real ...
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answered 2016-12-02 10:46:29 -0600

padraic gravatar image

Really I think it should be integrated into the Stack Exchange set of sites.

I believe there just aren't enough people posting and / or answering questions here.

77% of questions with some kind of answer seems quite low to me. What is the percentage of questions with accepted answers?

My problems with the site:

  • From my experience there are very few answers to questions.

  • Comments and answers tend to be used inappropriately, e.g. potential answers will be posted in comment boxes. "thank you" messages from OP's will be posted as new answers.

  • Moderation is too strict in terms of posting restrictions - for example I have asked 9 questions and contributed 3 answers but I still cannot post a question or comment without moderation.

  • the software just isn't great. Upvoting a question or answer can take a number of clicks. The markdown formatting seems strange and non-standard.

However I think the biggest problem is the lack of users. This reduces the chances of a successful question and of the site being a useful reference when others have a question. I have often searched for questions and found a number which are more or less on topic, but none of which have been closed.

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answered 2016-11-03 10:13:29 -0600

zoltanh721 gravatar image

IMHO, I would say would be better to transform this place that utilizing already other INFRA tools, and resources. So IMHO would be great to attach here or send bugs to bugzilla, so devs can see it directly, and can have feedbacks not only by registered bugzilla users. Also, we gonna have Hyperkitty, and Hubs, that can form this site waaay more better. If IRC appering as a floating expandable window, we can have our community helpdesk direct, and open hours either if we want. IF we are able to connect this place with FedMesg, and other bunch of Fedora services that serves well with 2 way communication, that is able to appear in the desktop some way - that is a big win-win for the users, and for the developers, and for the community. I really would like to see Discourse, somehow with Hiperkitty, Hubs, Bugzilla, ABRT, we have web based package search tool, and more - integrated as part of the ecosystem.

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answered 2017-09-05 04:03:49 -0600

Guus gravatar image

I am an occasional user of Ask Fedora and I am pretty happy with the fact that I can ask a question using an application that appears to be a desktop application, and it gets processed and I get an answer. That is pretty awesome to me! The big advantage is that the audience is targetted to Fedora and the knowledge is there.

I do understand the difficulty of keeping the software running properly or even improving it. When looking for options, an important option is: can we get more developer interest in improving the site?

I would be less inclined to get involved with a commercial hosting site.

My 2 cents, an occasional "ask Fedora" user.

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answered 2018-02-02 06:25:58 -0600

mikkol gravatar image

I cannot vouch for Stack Exchange. Asking a question there is pointless unless you already mostly know the answer. Whether it be dealing with human languages, programming, or computers in general, the common approach at Stack Exchange is to say a) the question lacks original research, b) the question is in the wrong place, c) the question indicates you don't know anything about the topic, d) some other obscure reason.

In addition, once a user's ostensibly poor questions have been downvoted enough, the user cannot ask any more questions or receive any help. End of life for that account.

Granted, the questions and answers at Stack Exchange are nice—but those are only the questions that ever made it through.

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answered 2017-01-16 00:45:08 -0600

mrkenhill gravatar image

You know what I'm saying? Right?

I Can attempt to use hieroglyphics if that helps you try to "get" the essence of what you need to figure it out. Alas! the features I need to properly explain this are missing from my current capabilities (on this site).

OR - I can respond plainly:

1.) Let's explore the definition of Karma (I'm told that any attempt to explain what Karma is or isn't is fools errand)... So - here goes (hitting the "I feel lucky" google button to the definition): Ah HA! I new it was here!:

"The sum of a person's actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences." (According to Hindus and Buddhists)

Which the "Karma" "indicator" certainly doesn't measure (You, uh, have a bit more work to do gals & fellas). Should I file that as a bug or what?

  1. I appreciate the help on getting terms and examples of the rating system committed to memory. That instruction was truly useful - Wow it's kinda like you need to put that in a useful place on a web page. But anyway - May you have much karma - so much that you have to carry it around 18 wheeler!

  2. You said: "karma" isn't important in any meaningful sense. Don't worry - I'm sure the HR folks will just "let you go on your own recognisances"... Karma is definitely meaningful to Hindus and Buddhists (so meaningful the entire population of them has presence on googgle! Or, at lease a definition which indicates that they created the definition by asking THEM what Karma is.... ANYWAY.....

4.) Is the dust still falling off the that old community moderation tool? Honey - I think we may need order one on Amazon. Let's get one with the moderators being interested in intelligence mining - oh - and I almost forgot the we can get the community moderation tool changed to be a community moderator evaluation (you'll just need to have one more for the complete set).

5.) It isn't that I may not like everything so far... The place is growing on me! Don't give up!

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Is the suggestion here to use a term other than "karma"?

mattdm gravatar imagemattdm ( 2017-01-16 09:18:33 -0600 )edit

Sort your ideas man!

davidva gravatar imagedavidva ( 2017-01-16 13:36:11 -0600 )edit

answered 2016-12-02 11:29:13 -0600

thingummybob gravatar image

My tuppence worth: I like that there is this specific place for Fedora, where we can find a community with expertise. That said, I've done a lot of recent problem solving through the official Fedora documentation plus pages at Arch. My point? It's that I think access to the existing documentation should be MUCH easier to come by - perhaps integrated into a more 'self-help' approach and that it should somehow become a natural route for problem solving before simply jumping on here/google and seeing if there's a similar question/issue.

That said, I recently posted a question on Stack Exchange which got downvoted, because (apparently) it showed "a lack of research or question unclear" err... if I'd known how to ask the precise question, I'd probably have known exactly how to find the right answer ;0)

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answered 2018-04-08 06:22:36 -0600

lsatenstein gravatar image

The has at times 2000 users on concurrently. They have three or four volunteer admins. However, it is a unilingual English site. And that to me is leaving out a large Fedora user group that are non-English.

Today (April 8, 2018) The site is down. Probably for maintenance or system upgrades.

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answered 2018-04-10 22:44:53 -0600

florian gravatar image

The Document Foundation seems to run askbot version 0.9.x (currently 0.9.3). Not sure if this is any better than the release that is powering ask.fpo but maybe it would be worth upgrading to that newer version.

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answered 2017-01-16 07:54:35 -0600

mrkenhill gravatar image

If you actually decide to do something useful, please include a skill self-rating on the new site.

You guys have NO idea who people are, how they can help you, or how to help them help you. Please figure out how to do that, then proceed with whatever you decide. This can be ready in a week - right?

The experience I've had with this site has made me consider changing distros.

Oh - and have the guts to keep this thread intact (meaning I know you don't have the guts to keep my posts in this thread).

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Wow. Try being polite and not insulting the good people who give their time and energy free here, that would be 'actually deciding to do something useful'

David-LDA gravatar imageDavid-LDA ( 2017-01-16 08:12:41 -0600 )edit

This isn't a thread. This is a questions and answers site, and the software engine and site conventions are designed around this. Since this is a meta discussion I'm going to leave your posts, but if you are going to stick around, please do take some basic time to understand the difference between a forum and a Q&A site.

mattdm gravatar imagemattdm ( 2017-01-16 09:16:58 -0600 )edit

self-rating? I don't like it, is a open card for spammers... ask a great question, or answer correctly; then the people can give you karma...

davidva gravatar imagedavidva ( 2017-01-16 13:06:57 -0600 )edit

You guys take yourselves WAY too seriously. A thread is whatever I say it is.

I'm pretty sure the gang of people you're afraid of, "spammers", as you call them (don't worry - that really isn't the definition of a spammer - but I get your usage) are people that have been offended by the moderators of this site.

I really don't care if you like my idea about self-rating. However, It is one way successful projects have been created. And - after all - it's just an idea... It seems like this site lacks focus for various reasons - but one glaring reason is that you don't know what skills are here.

mrkenhill gravatar imagemrkenhill ( 2017-01-16 15:45:08 -0600 )edit

What exactly would a "skill self rating" look like? Is it something you could put in your profile (like at

mattdm gravatar imagemattdm ( 2017-01-16 15:56:24 -0600 )edit

answered 2017-03-12 12:58:30 -0600

lynob gravatar image

I personally would also like to a stackexchange website or a merge with UNIX.SE. I mean seriously, this is just a clone of SE, only difference is SE is much better software with more features and less bugs (for example i can see the accept button on all the question but only you can accept, voting is not smooth, all posts are moderated, sometimes the question get asked twice like what happened to me today)

Plus on stackexchange you'll get a lot more exposure, hot questions will be featured, expert linux users on that community will help and so on.

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Asked: 2016-10-20 13:37:18 -0600

Seen: 6,270 times

Last updated: Apr 10