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

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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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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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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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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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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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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The Fedoraforum.org 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 fedoraforum.org site is down. Probably for maintenance or system upgrades.

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And, it's been back up for a while.

( 2019-01-16 13:15:14 -0500 )edit

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I'm wary of the special treatment stackexchange.comhas given Canonical: https://meta.stackexchange.com/questi...

Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky put their fingers on the scale in favor of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu community gets the advantage of the specially anointed askubuntu.comsite while gaining the network effects of the stackexchange.com network.

Users of other linux distros are left to navigate the unix.stackexchange.com, superuser.com, and serverfault.com sites that are not even specific to the linux platform. Clearly the linux community was large enough to have warranted a linux.stackexchange.com site. The use of tagging could have been used to label distro-specific questions (includiing Ubuntu!).

That said, I do feel we must make the best of a bad situation: We must take advantage of the familiarity and social network effects offered by the stackexchange.com network.

Recommendations:

1. Promote use of the fedora tag at unix.stackexchange.com, and
2. Embed some kind of gadget to the fedoraproject.org website that displays the feed of newest questions tagged fedora: https://unix.stackexchange.com/questi...
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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"?

( 2017-01-16 09:18:33 -0500 )edit
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( 2017-01-16 13:36:11 -0500 )edit