"How to ask questions" pin for "Users" category

I think the “Users” section could substantially benefit from a brief “How to ask questions” pinned topic, that succinctly explains the process of describing the core problem, including environment details (platform, Python version, etc), and having brief, reproducible code (when possible). It could also include links to external resources for more generalized additional information on asking questions, such as https://stackoverflow.com/help/how-to-ask. A link to the Python FAQ could also be useful.

IMO, this would be appropriate because it seems that the most common usage of the category has been users asking general Python-related questions. Of course, not everyone would take the time to read it, but even if it resulted in a slight improvement to the average quality of questions, it would make it much easier for those of us who provide assistance in there.

At the moment, there’s a substantial volume of ambiguous questions that take more effort to find the actual problem than it does to answer it. Over time as the category increases in popularity, this can result in an increasingly large number of questions going unanswered.

I’d be happy to help with writing the topic, but I wanted to see if there was any interest in doing something like this first.

/cc @steven.daprano since he spends a decent amount of time helping in there.

I am worried that we’ve opened Pandora’s box. The Users category needs to be more completely segregated from everything else here (which is aimed at developers – core and others). This is what we did decades ago when python-list and python-dev went their separate ways. Maybe we can have two Discourse instances? One “discuss.python.org” (for users – I’m sure there are many subcategories, e.g. Newbies, Numpy, Pandas, etc.) and one “dev.python.org” (for the same audience as python-dev, and policed gently against non-dev questions).

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+1, I think this would likely help to reduce the volume of the many off-topic posts we seem to get on here. I think the above “How to ask questions” pinned topic would likely be even more useful on a dedicated users discussion board though, particularly for a “Newbies” category.

The only con I can think of is that I personally find it a bit more convenient to check one site for new posts rather than checking two separate sites, and I don’t want to fill up my email notifications every time there’s a new post (especially on the users site).

From an admin and moderation perspective, it might also be easier to manage one site rather than two, especially if they don’t share the same permissions and reports. But, if discuss has a way to somehow share those across two instances, that wouldn’t be an issue.

Despite all my attempts, I still get email about the Users category. Splitting python-dev off python-list was also more work for moderators and list admins, but it was for the good of the developers (and the users, who aren’t told "Ssssh! Important Developer Work Going On Here! :-).

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I think anything like that should go into About the Users category as that should be pinned for everyone. And if you do want to do this I would work with someone like @nedbat who has a lot of experience from python-list and such on the wording.

Yes and no. Yes as in there’s a single place to block spammers, etc. No from the perspective that lately most of the admin work has been split between spam and misplaced posts that should have gone into Users.

I guess the question is whether people who are helping out in Users truly want it to grow, stay the same, or maybe even go away? I’m not sure if helping out here is better, the same, or worse than on top of IRC, python-list, etc.

As for the admin overhead, I would be fine with it as I would only admin the dev one :grin:. Not sure what @ambv or @pablogsal think about this idea.

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I would like Users to go away but expect it will be hard to stop posts…

Per my comment just now in Reconsider the "Users" category? let’s see whether new posts in #users go down a bit now that I’ve removed the link to it on python.org.

If we’re removing the links to discuss.python.org from python.org (for the purposes of general Python users), I think that adds further reason to consider having two separate Discuss instances.

Personally, I’ve found that Discuss is much more user-friendly compared to other platforms, such as MLs and IRC. Several of the features are quite useful for providing assistance, such as markdown (particularly for code highlighting), image pasting, etc. I also appreciate having the ability to @ mention specific users for bringing a topic to the attention of the resident maintainers/experts; it typically works better than CCing in an email, especially if the specific user doesn’t have a public address they regularly check.

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In theory Discourse has more features that make it more user-friendly. Alas, for me personally, in practice it’s not really working. Everything else I do is still on email, and I can just process a whole lot more of that quickly than on Discourse. It’s yet another site to check (in addition to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Nextdoor, …) and Discourse’s email integration somehow doesn’t cut it for me (it’s either drinking from the firehose or it only reminds me of threads I am already following).

Should we ask the Steering Council to decide whether we should keep Discourse open?

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Would you like to give a lightning talk at the language summit, summarizing Discourse experiment over the years? :smiley:

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