Moderation, self-moderation, and thread "noise" (a discussion)

We want this site to be a helpful way to get direct answers to questions. On the other hand, we want to be friendly to people trying to help out even when their replies aren’t the immediate perfect answer.

In the thread After using USB to install Fedora 33, can't reformat the USB, @lcts offers some detailed information, @computersavvy notes that it’s probably more confusing than helpful to the specific situation, and @lcts says “True, sorry for the noise :slightly_smiling_face:”. (I’m tagging the two of you to bring you into the conversation, not to call you out, by the way. Not attempting to shame or anything!)

I’d like to avoid the typical forum problem of future visitors having to wade through this kind of thing to get real answers. On the other hand, I’d like to avoid a harsh “no having fun” feel like Some Other Q&A Sites sometimes fall into.

What I’d like to happen in cases like this is for the person who posted the digression to not feel like they have to apologize in the thread (which in the end just causes more noise), and for someone who notices a digression to be able to bring it up elsewhere (like, here, or maybe in a linked Matrix chat room?) without anyone feeling personally attacked, and then all of the digression either moved to a new thread or just deleted.

What do you all think about this? Am I over-thinking it? Should we have guidelines around this? Should moderators be encouraged to “clean up”? Or… is it just okay as it is?

Hi Matthew

I’m strongly of the opinion that the situation is fine as it is. As you say, we don’t want to deter people from being helpful even if they don’t know the immediate answer.

For a random Fedora user who’s just searching for a solution to their problem some time afterwards, there’ll often be a solution marked - and in any case, if they really want the solution, I can’t imagine their being deterred by having to read a few irrelevant comments.

There’s also the issue of not wanting to deter supplementary information that is not strictly relevant to the question but adds to the answer given. A good example is:


where your good self made two comments that appear after the solution (though whether the solution had been marked at that point is impossible(?) to tell). Whatever the case, we don’t want to deter people from making useful comments even after a solution has been marked.

I’d support moderators cleaning up the “True, sorry for the noise” type comments, but if longer comments are cleaned up, there’s a chance that they’ll miss the fact that there’s a reference to that comment further down - making the thread puzzling to anyone reading it some time later.

Long and short, I think it’ll be difficult to formulate a policy that doesn’t inhibit contributions in some way.

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Hi Matthew,

Yes, there is often too much noise around nothing and that is far away from a qualified solution, if there is one. I observed that with so many “blabla” it’s hard to isolate if there is an answer/solution or not and it’s harder to read. For me it’s necessary to make a more strong policy to stop the jabber and to keep this forum clear, friendly and of high-quality. It should not become “faceb…”.

How about some blunt honesty? As it is now I rarely reply, offer help or ask a question here because of a perceived narrow set of posting guidelines. I honestly feel like I will be called out for “doing something wrong” so I just read new posts an move on. I’ve basically felt this way since day one of this site. I feel as though there is an aura of exclusion rather than inclusion.

This forum should be cleaned up and better categorized (e.g. category for checked and approved solutions etc.) . This forum is often an outsourced hardware manufacturer support with no knowledge and much noise around nothing like “fata morgana”. I think this laissez-faire style makes thing not better.

Personally, I think things are fine the way they are. I understand there’s some noise, but that’s a necessary part of discussion between people with different levels of familiarity with the forum and the tools (Fedora in general, packages etc.). I don’t think any policy can really help with that. People just learn how to use the forum better and to help others better over time. So basically agreeing with @jonathans’s comment.

@glennzo: can you please elaborate on the “narrow set of posting guidelines” and the “aura of exclusion”? The primary guideline is to follow the CoC. I cant recall seeing anyone being “called out for doing something wrong” here, and the few times we’ve had a bit of a disagreement, the mods jump in to remind the parties to follow the CoC and to be excellent to each other.

@heliosstyx: we’re happy to listen to suggestions to improve the forum keeping in mind the resources at our disposal—everyone here is a volunteer. You’ve recently proposed that we use advanced AI techniques to manage the site. We cannot undertake things like that. May I request you to change your suggestions from “this should/needs to be done” to “hey, maybe we should try this, and I’m happy to help”? (If it’s your idea, it’s more likely to be put in motion if you volunteer to take the lead.)

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One thing of note: there is a filter for accepted solutions, so we don’t need separate category for that. Maybe there’s a way to better call it out, though. See this link for an example:

https://ask.fedoraproject.org/c/english/97?solved=yes

I don’t think the search provides a way to filter on that, though, which is unfortunate. You can also add status:solved to a search query to search only solved queries, but that’s not obvious — in the Advanced search UI, “are solved” is a filter under the heading “Where topics”.

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I couldn’t find a way to add “solved” to the category list etc. so I’ve added a “Search solved questions” link to the top bar for the moment:

Search solved questions

Worth a try?

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Let’s make that “Search Solved Questions” for consistency with “Code of Conduct”.

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Ohh and add a %20 to the end of the link URL so there’s a space in the form already.

Updated to “Search Solved Topics”, and added the space.

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hard… the problem the community linux (do not matter the place) with more experienced generally treat very bad to new people. Generally I lost my regularity in help, reason time. But generally the questions are repeatedly or badly formulated. The people confuse a answer with a comment and it reduce the help to useful answers. Also included a similar bot to “please see the…” “code…” with posible out-dated anwsers o completely diferents.

The people want a answer not a bot (or imitation) answering without read the questions dont matter is the question is already exist or answered… I remember a suggestion of use “Fedora discuss” if some pople love the chat but also in “Fedora discuss” exist a climate of discord or clasification. Anyway if some people has the count of people visit “Ask Fedora” can see if really the project is useful in this moment. Please don’t attack me (other people), it’s just a point of view.

What I’m missing in the linked question is a marked solution. This actually is a problem worth dealing with, I’ve seen some questions with wrong answer marked as a solution, answers confirmed to have helped not being marked so, or (most probably) correct answers without any reaction from original poster.
Digression there is nothing bad, it might make someone find out about lsblk, which would have helped with similar problem on SD card instead of USB thumb.
Even if someone suggested something completely wrong (that wasn’t the case there) and got civil explanation, they would benefit. I know this site caters to people from different cultures, but we can’t save everyone from everything that someone, anywhere in the world, could consider unpleasant. I think it’s what @glennzo wrote about. That forum is also a way to learn new things (that could also be finding out you were wrong before), and learning is nothing to be ashamed of, on the contrary, it should be desired!

So if we’ve got a question, a clearly marked solution and some digression, it’s all fine. Fragmentation with another system, especially with well working Discourse’s messaging system, would be counterproductive.

+++

Living in a country that has suffered a lot, systemic censorship included, I caution against over-moderating. Users can delete/mark their messages for deleting, let them decide.

I know that what FB, YT, etc. does will bite back even those who applaud their actions, unfortunately people seem to need to learn things the hard way.

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I think “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies. It sounds to me like a solution looking for a problem.

Plus, given that this forum is not hugely active (eg. where solid posts/threads end up lost in noise), I don’t think adding constraints would be helpful to the objective.

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I know, if someone has a problem they would like to receive a single answer with the perfect solution (and we know that it is not always possible) without too many words and digressions. But it would not be a forum but a FAQ :smiley:

My idea of this forum has always been a place where to learn. In my opinion, there are a lot of places on the Internet where to look for answers. This forum should be something where people with issues learn how to diagnose their problems, and while we diagnose an issue, we learn new commands, we learn where to look for information and documents, we learn where to search if a bug has already been reported or how and where to file a new bug. And we learn from various viewpoints.
A place where to explain how to find solutions. And not a simple Query & Answer platform. In addition, as stated various times, we are not the Fedora Support Center or an Helpdesk hotline. Who answer to a question most often they are users like the one who asked the question.
A place where people is incited to act in first person to solve their issues, and why not, to contribute.
And why not, a place where to explore beyond the problem solving.

:thinking: not really. Yeah, sure, we want this site to be helpful :slight_smile: But no, not necessarily 1 question -> 1 answer.
Sometime questions are obviously unclear, or they contain insufficient information, so it is useful to start a discussion (instead of suggesting random commands, or trying to provide the perfect answer to an unclear question). Sometime the question is clear, but an answer with a couple of commands to copy and paste is ugly albeit resolutive; it would be better if the answer was accompanied with some context, some link, some explanation.

This is another point. I think this was said various time. We don’t like the hard distinction: Fedora user/Fedora developer, user/contributor, user/moderator. In some threads you can read that who start the thread consider theirseves users asking for help from some developer, like they are writing to Fedora Support. No, we are a community. Friends is one of the Fedora foundations.
So. I think no, moderators should not do “clean up”. And yeah, I don’t see any real problem right now, urging to do that.
In addition, as far as I can see, Discourse is called Discourse because it facilitate discourses :slight_smile:

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Personally, I pointed some people to ask the question on discuss.f.o
Like I pointed people to try to ask the question on some mailing list (arm if I’m not wrong).
My suggestion had a reason (if I’m not wrong, I explained them in some cases): since some technologies (i.e. Silverblue, CoreOS, Fedora on ARM) are not so widespread among Fedora users, and seeing the question potentially unanswered, I suggested these other places in order to have more luck.

It is true, I agree.
But there are places where this behavior is tolerated or ignored, where there is a laissez faire. And places where there is some form of feeling, sensitivity towards people, and action is taken to avoid and blame such behavior. And as far as I can see, I haven’t spotted such bad behavior here.

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And to be clear: if you see people treating new users badly on here, please flag the problematic post for moderator attention.

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I have noticed this too. In such cases, I encourage people to ask the poster to please mark the correct answer as the solution. I also encourage people to please help newbies learn how to use the forum. When they don’t use formatting, please ask them to. When they don’t use “likes” to reward people, please ask them to. And so on.

This sort of thing can not be the responsibility of a small moderation team. It’ll only work if people who have learned to use the platform here actively help new members learn it too. The gamification helps, of course, but that’s still not as active a teaching method as people gently nudging each other. :slight_smile:

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That looks like a perfect task for discobot, can it remind about topics waiting for replies?
We could (if that was possible) flag posts as ‘need info’, ‘possible solution’ or ‘fix formatting’ and bot would remind and provide instruction or tutorial on how to do it.

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