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

asked 2016-10-20 13:37:18 -0500

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 2018-04-10 22:44:53 -0500

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 2018-04-08 06:22:36 -0500

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 2018-02-02 06:25:58 -0500

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 2017-09-05 04:03:49 -0500

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 2017-03-12 12:58:30 -0500

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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answered 2017-02-27 08:11:51 -0500

DaveRo gravatar image

updated 2017-03-11 08:22:15 -0500

I am not a Fedora user (long time SuSE user, me) but seeing this thread I thought I'd mention a Firefox addon I developed for another askbot site and which should work with Ask Fedora. It helps identify questions that have had comments added since your last visit, and (usually) automatically scrolls down to them.

Firefox addon - Jolla Askbot Unseen Posts

Although written for Jolla Together it works with Ask Fedora and some other sites. You need to change the 'includes' option to specify this site's URL. For example this string is the one I use for testing - you could just copy it:


I suggest you read the Jolla Together thread here, especially if you intend to use Firefox on Android:

If you have problems or questions, there's an email address on the Firefox addon page.

(The Chrome version has been discontinued.)

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answered 2017-02-24 22:15:54 -0500

deadrat gravatar image

updated 2017-02-24 22:46:21 -0500

I would say a big NO to Stack Exchange. I think initially our folks decided to use Askbot instead of the Stack Exchange because AskBot is open source. Stack Exchange Inc is a for-profit company, and though that is definitely not a problem in itself, it just reminds us to be a little cautious. AFAIK, we have to chip in a good sum of money to get the Enterprise version of Stack Exchange. If they let us host in their infrastructure for free, they might want to place advertisements in the site , etc. Moreover, I don't think you folks at Fedora community would move to a Proprietary Stack Exchange. The community has made several decisions so far to stay with Open source software ( like switching from Transifex to Zanata etc.) In long run, we might be better off improving our site. As we could see, the upstream of AskBot is quite friendly. We should work with them, if possible/required, to make any improvements to the site.

From a User's perspective, though I have run into few issues whilst using the site, it works most of the time. Just because it works now, it doesn't mean we have to leave it as it is.

For most of the things, there are more than one way to do stuffs. So our QA like site helps most of the times. But we can also have some folks to convert some important information from this site to Fedora Wiki. Though Fedora wiki currently have decent amount of information, I have a feeling that it leaves us wanting for more.

But, I am just an end user of Fedora who sometimes visits this site. So, it goes without saying that YMMV.

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answered 2017-01-16 12:42:15 -0500

mrkenhill gravatar image

mattdm wrote: "take some basic time to understand the difference between a forum and a Q&A site."

OK mattdm... I told you before - I want to go to a site to help and be helped... No one cares that you are hung up on inconsequential items like:

 1. The various differences between a forum and a Q&A site.
 2. "Karma"
 3. "Moderation" in the wrong places
 4. Poor perception of how/what/why people use fedora

You might first try to understand your audience and focus in on the one thing that would make a difference (unless you really don't care). After you have ONE success - maybe you can put a few successes together... But really - you need to be concerned with what matters (here's a hint - it isn't about you)... You might want to take some basic time to understand THAT if you are to be successful with this task.

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If you want helping, then you need need learn about the rules/guidelines... I don't like the rules but it make serious project, and there are necessary.

davidva gravatar imagedavidva ( 2017-01-16 13:32:37 -0500 )edit

Ken, I think you have a misplaced perception about the amount of influence I personally have had into the launch, creation, and community built on this site. You've got a lot of strong claims, like, "no one cares", but clearly the people who set all of this up (including writing the guidelines David points you to) did care. There's surely room for adjustment — that's the point of this whole topic, after all — and you clearly have some input to give, but I think it'd be helpful if you would spend a little bit more time understanding what is here before railing against it.

mattdm gravatar imagemattdm ( 2017-01-16 15:54:40 -0500 )edit

Indeed. I'll take that advice.

mrkenhill gravatar imagemrkenhill ( 2017-01-16 16:19:31 -0500 )edit

Thanks! :)

mattdm gravatar imagemattdm ( 2017-01-16 16:42:37 -0500 )edit

=== block this user ===

florian gravatar imageflorian ( 2017-02-24 23:07:21 -0500 )edit

answered 2017-01-16 07:54:35 -0500

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 -0500 )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 -0500 )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 -0500 )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 -0500 )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 -0500 )edit

answered 2017-01-16 07:30:26 -0500

mrkenhill gravatar image

One more thought...

If your job (generally) is to facilitate support of fedora - you are going about it incorrectly. Possibly because of the tools - but more than likely, it's because you give excuses.

None of the jibberish of the past matters - there is only the future. Make it great. It's up to you.

If I stumbled onto a mistake by coming to this site (because it's nearly a dead project) then - please make that clear - put up a banner - then make sure to redirect traffic to an appropriate site.

THIS doensn't work well... I'm pretty sure that most folks who could actually help you have taken their problems elsewhere... Is that what you really want? You really might want to consider that attitude matters - And IF THAT matters, you should probably be busy playing hacky sack (or whatever it is you do on weekends for fun). Because your attitude stinks.

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@mrkenhill stop with your rude answers; exist people helping without earn money! Here is an ecosystem of volunteers. People loving the project.

davidva gravatar imagedavidva ( 2017-01-16 13:14:58 -0500 )edit

Woaahhh!!! Easy there, mate. Even if what you say is right, people might not listen to it is impudent .

deadrat gravatar imagedeadrat ( 2017-02-24 22:54:22 -0500 )edit

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Asked: 2016-10-20 13:37:18 -0500

Seen: 5,056 times

Last updated: Apr 10