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Ask Fedora: What features / changes do we need in Askbot to make this site *really* work?

asked 2016-12-14 21:02:59 +0000

mattdm gravatar image

updated 2016-12-16 17:38:06 +0000

This is a followup of sorts to Ask Fedora: Is it working, and what's the future?, where as of this writing the top-voted answer comes from the upstream author of Askbot, asking us to keep up with Askbot and to wait for improvements (with which he is willing to help).

I have a list of things I think are important, and I'm going to add those as answers. Please vote up the ones you like, and add suggestions of your own. And, of course, feel free to answer as well.

To be clear, this isn't meant as a list of demands — it should be a useful, prioritized list of things we need which we will try to get help with — from upstream, from the infrastructure team, from the community of people who have worked on Ask Fedora, and from the open source world at large.

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answered 2016-12-14 21:22:20 +0000

mattdm gravatar image

updated 2016-12-14 21:54:46 +0000

Flags beyond "offensive"

Right now, the only way to report a question is to flag it as "offensive". We certainly don't want that, but there should be flags for other situations, like:

  • spam
  • not offensive, but not nice
  • needs formatting help
  • needs moderator help for some other reason

and possibly others.


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answered 2016-12-14 21:25:33 +0000

mattdm gravatar image

updated 2016-12-14 21:49:36 +0000

Actual duplicate handling

Right now, there is a "duplicate" close reason, but it doesn't link to the proposed duplicate. There should be a system which does this, suggesting the duplicate in a box below the question and allowing the community to vote on that. When a threshold is reached, the question should be closed as duplicate with a clear link at the top of the page.


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answered 2016-12-14 21:17:09 +0000

mattdm gravatar image

updated 2016-12-14 21:20:38 +0000

We need a real Meta sub-site

This question is under [tag:meta], but it really shouldn't be mixed in on the main site. That detracts from the overall mission, but most importantly, it makes it really hard to actually build a community of regular participants. I think this one is pretty much a must-have.

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I also think this would be valuable. One of the issues that make it hard to discuss Ask Fedora is that there's no place to really congregate to discuss issues or ideas for its growth or development.

jflory7 ( 2016-12-14 21:50:05 +0000 )edit

I have a ton of things that aren't really appropriate for this message which I want to post once we do have a Meta site. :)

mattdm ( 2016-12-15 01:31:08 +0000 )edit

One suggestion for possible implementation: change "Language" to something more generic ("Section", maybe?) and then just add Meta as another option in that way.

mattdm ( 2016-12-15 01:37:28 +0000 )edit

answered 2016-12-14 21:26:34 +0000

mattdm gravatar image

updated 2016-12-14 21:50:29 +0000

"Hold" state for questions with potential

Asking questions turns out to be hard. Often people don't provide enough information. When these questions have potential, they should be put on hold rather than closed, and then automatically closed if there is no further activity — or taken off hold when there is.


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answered 2016-12-14 22:18:47 +0000

sideburns gravatar image

updated 2016-12-15 01:31:53 +0000

mattdm gravatar image

Make it more clear when new users are being moderated, to prevent duplicates

One thing that would be nice would be a notice that has to be clicked on to continue that your post is being held for moderation. That way, new users wouldn't post the same question two or more times in less than ten minutes because they think that something went wrong.

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answered 2016-12-16 10:52:03 +0000

padraic gravatar image

Use karma to increase votes, encourage people to mark questions as closed.

A major problem with the site is the lack of participation. Points [karma] are there to encourage participation, we should adjust how karma is dished out to try and increase this useful participation.

  1. I think people should be awarded karma for voting on questions and answers. It doesn't have be be totally linear, i.e. one point per vote as this would just encourage voting without consideration. However regular voting / or using an amount of your daily quota should be rewarded.

  2. The 100 point barrier to downvote should be lowered.

  3. Not marking a question as solved should somehow be penalised - if there are a number of answers / solutions posted.

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I like the idea of encouraging voting, but keep in mind that karma is one of the primary tools against spam and vandalism — it inverts the normal "b.s. asymmetry" rule by making it more work to get enough karma to do harm than it is to moderate the problem. Giving karma just for upvoting is an easy thing to do, and if we allow 30 upvotes per day at +1 each, that's 30 karma available to new users. Other ways to get karma require _other people_, so this is dangerous.

mattdm ( 2016-12-16 17:41:48 +0000 )edit

Also, it's hard to penalize not marking an answer, because many askers never become active site participants.

mattdm ( 2016-12-16 17:42:29 +0000 )edit

Sure I get your point there. Maybe the thing is to reward choosing an answer more. Though I guess that's not going to work with one-shot question askers.

padraic ( 2016-12-16 20:38:43 +0000 )edit

answered 2016-12-14 21:25:08 +0000

mattdm gravatar image

updated 2016-12-14 21:45:43 +0000

Tools for insight into most popular questions

Right now, one can sort questions by votes, but we have very low voting on this site (a problem of its own!). I'd like to also be able to sort by most viewed and by most duplicated (relying on the implementation of actual duplicates). That would show material which would be good candidates for formal documentation, Fedora Magazine articles — or even prioritizing bugfixes.


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answered 2016-12-14 21:13:18 +0000

mattdm gravatar image

updated 2016-12-14 21:53:27 +0000

The "question is answered; right answer is accepted" close reason must go.

Rationale: this isn't meant to be just a forum, where we have transient diagnostic threads. It's meant to build up a database of helpful answers. "Closed: this situation is not reproducible" might make sense, but we shouldn't be closing questions with solutions — we should be enshrining them.

And even then, there's always room for improvement — later answers even after one is accepted could elaborate with more detail, update for newer Fedora, etc.


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Followup: I'd actually like to change the list of reasons completely; I think we just need "Not about Fedora", "Please provide more detail", and "Too much to answer in one question". The spam and malicious close reasons don't need to exist because those should just be _deleted_. I can see also "primarily opinion based" — but, on the other hand, that's a cultural thing from Stack Exchange that we don't necessarily need to do the same way here.

mattdm ( 2016-12-15 01:53:16 +0000 )edit

I see one use for that reason to close a question: somebody posts a response to a question that was asked, answered and forgotten long ago, especially if it's for a Fedora version that's EOL. Yes, there's also "no longer relevant," but for me, this makes the point better.

sideburns ( 2016-12-15 04:04:21 +0000 )edit

If reason to close is retained then need ability to change what was selected. I know I have closed and accidentally selected a reason which I didn't want. It may be that I was not closely paying attention to what I was doing but realized it and was not able to correct it.

edwardc01 ( 2016-12-17 16:22:39 +0000 )edit

answered 2017-05-20 08:32:57 +0000

Glenn gravatar image

updated 2017-05-20 08:38:30 +0000

Move to another proven platform.


Get rid of flags all together. Only then can we all stop being offended by everything.

Get rid of karma and badges. What's that all about? Status? Does it matter?

Use the whole screen, not just the middle 60%.

And what is it with flagging posts as "possible duplicate". Are we out of disk space or something? Who cares if a post is a "possible duplicate"?

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I myself prefer discourse for this type of thing. Although it does not have karma, it has badges. I think discourse provides more features and is actively developed. This platform barely gets any updates at all. If you go to their github page, it has tickets opened from over 3 years ago. I think we should look into moving to discourse.

jlozadad ( 2017-05-21 18:58:39 +0000 )edit

I'm possibly interested in moving to Discourse. Are there enough core people interested in doing an experiment that it'd be worth setting it up?

mattdm ( 2017-05-22 14:53:29 +0000 )edit

Duplicates are important because there are some questions which come up over and over again, and it's nice to be able to collapse the answers to one really good canonical one. Support can be a thankless chore with a lot of burnout, and tools like good duplicate handling helps answers manage the ongoing flood of questions. To me, at least, features like this are the key distinction between a help forum or mailing list and a question and answer site.

mattdm ( 2017-05-22 14:56:23 +0000 )edit

But, maybe we don't really need a question and answer site. We're working on revamping documentation; possibly what we need is a workflow where great answers can be promoted into that system, and we can make a way to refer to those easily rather than trying to build a knowledge base here.

mattdm ( 2017-05-22 14:57:18 +0000 )edit

@mattdm Discourse handles all the things you mentioned pretty well. Sticky, wiki type responses and mod features. You should look at https://meta.discourse.org/ and I manage a small discourse forum https://ask.sysadminonlinux.org/ for examples. This is deployed using docker since is their recommended way ( not sure if you guys want go that route). I'm not sure how many ppl would be interested in moving to discourse. Something we can bring up in #fedora-admin or ask the community in large.

jlozadad ( 2017-05-22 15:03:39 +0000 )edit

answered 2016-12-14 21:08:26 +0000

mattdm gravatar image

updated 2016-12-14 21:16:31 +0000

We need help with getting Askbot updated to the latest version of the code

This is particularly problematic because Fedora 25 has Django 1.9, while EPEL7 has Django 1.6, but from https://github.com/ASKBOT/askbot-devel , I see

  • Branch 0.7.x - is the latest version supporting Django 1.5

  • Branch 0.8.x - transitional version for the upgrade of the database to Django 1.7

  • Branch 0.9.x - supports Django 1.7

  • Branch master supports Django 1.8

... which rules both of those out. And it looks like EPEL6 has 1.4, so... looks like there's _no current code base which will work on any of the options we have at all_.

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Asked: 2016-12-14 21:02:59 +0000

Seen: 1,377 times

Last updated: May 20