Reconsider the "Users" category?

It’s actually not bad. Yes, the Users category generates the majority of issues, but it’s still fairly small. Discourse’s built-in spam blocking and such does a good job typically. For instance, there was a single message today to manage. Most days it’s at most 2 unless the system goes haywire and mis-flags, but that’s really only happened at a large scale once (as @fungi is well aware :wink:).

4 Likes

Hi, why do you mute normal users of your language

Its a high-volume category filled with a large repetitive, low-level beginner help questions that can overwhelm other discussions on here. Guido is a busy person with a lot of things to do and conversations to be involved in that require his specialized expertise, whereas anyone with a decent amount of Python experience can answer such questions adequately (and in fact, a handful of active users are enough to cover almost all of the questions). Moreover, Guido is a core developer and participant like any other, who has every right to make his own choices about what categories he spends his time on.

3 Likes

I am a beginner of Python. I think beginners ask questions because there’re something need improvement.

The Tutorial is not complete. It does not cover the concept of closure, keywords: classmethod and staticmethod, etc…

If variable num is integer like num = 123, no one will assign it like num = 'abc' and it is wrong. so, can python be static typing and the compiler can do real optimization.

“The Tutorial is not complete.”

If the Tutorial was a thousand pages long, and took five years to complete, it would still not be complete.

Things like closures, classmethods and staticmethods are advanced concepts that are not necessary to cover in an introductory tutorial.

“If variable num is integer like num = 123, no one will assign it like num = 'abc' and it is wrong.”

It is not wrong. Many thousands of Python programmers do it, including myself.

There are hundreds of statically typed languages, and hundreds of dynamically typed languages. Neither is better or worse than the other, they are just different.

If you want to program in Java or Pascal, you can use Java or Pascal. But if you are using Python, you might as well learn to do things the way Python does them.

It is fine to re-use the same variable for different types.

I suggested the introduction of a dedicated discourse instance for users in What I miss here coming from users.rust-lang.org because I think gearing a forum towards users would make it more welcoming for users. When it comes to welcomeness towards users, I think we have to distinguish between two factors:

  1. how welcoming the community is (e.g. are the people welcoming?, is there appropriate moderation?)
  2. how welcoming the infrastructure is (e.g. what forum categories are there? for what/whom are they designated?)

As far as I can tell this forum is doing a great job when it comes to the first point but only a mediocre job when it comes to the second point. There are 8 categories targeted primarily at developers but only a single category targeted at users. If you are a user with interests other than Q&A, you are just out of luck. While some categories sound interesting for users they aren’t actually welcome there, case in point:

Editor/IDE Integration
Discussion place for integrators of Python support into editors and IDEs (not meant for general users).

Creating a dedicated forum for users would allow the introduction of further categories targeted at users. The exchange between users and developers (as well as between beginners and experts) is of course very important, but it does not necessitate having everything in a single forum. Case in point users.rust-lang.org where the quality of help provided by volunteers (some of which are very much experts) is incredible.

There could be dedicated categories in users.python.org to foster the exchange between users and developers (e.g. the current Idea category) and perhaps a Surveys category that developers can use if they want to gather feedback from users.

1 Like

For me, I view Users as a general purpose place for people programming
in Python. Maybe that was not The Plan, but the description says:

 General discussion forum for the Python programming language.
 All welcome.

And that is a great description for the top category!

I’d consider that roughly the same audience as the python-list mailing
list. Certainly I’d expect anyone using Python who has a question to
come here if there isn’t a pretty obvious better place to go.

The list of categories has some pretty clear sections at the top (Users,
Ideas, etc), and there’s no direct equivalent to the “tutor” mailing
list for beginners. So they should come to “Users” as well.

So I expect anyone with a Python programming question to land here. If
their question is quite specific to something specialised like numpy etc
the should be welcomed, and pointed to the better forum. But if there’s
someone here with knownledge in that domain, I’ve no objection to to the
discussion happening here.

We can clearly stick links in the category descriptions. Maybe Users
could do with a single terse link to a separate page on Python resources
(area specific lists and forums, etc). But I also think it would
diminish that great concise welcoming description.

In my experience, no amount of “focus” in the description will prevent
misfiled posts - the best we can do is what I see: Users at the top as a
catch-all and a bunch of obviously somewhat specialised categories below
it.

Many mailing lists send an intro email when people subscribe. My
experience is that this does not prevent posts which should go elsewhere
or be formed differently. And the more information there is in such an
intro, I suspect the less it gets read.

So my opinion is that:

  • do not focus the “Users” category on the stdlib in any formal way
  • greet specialised nonstdlib questions either with specific advice or a
    suggestion of a better list/forum, accompanied with the context that
    this forum is mostly around the stdlib, or mostly populated by
    generalists
  • I’m against telling people to go away because they’re asking something
    specialised without a helpful link to better help
  • I’m against telling people to go away because they’re asking something
    specialised in any kind of “brush them off” dismissive tone; I would
    rather their query went unanswered than that they were made to feel
    unwelcome
  • we’ve got topics in the Categories, just like mailing list subject
    lines - we can all ignore what we’re not interested in; aside: can
    people mute topics?

For context:

  • I hate forums; I interact with discourse via email - to me that is a
    major feature of discourse, that I have this choice
  • I’m on a lot of lists, and I have my mail system file them in a far
    smaller number of mail folders, so I’ve got quite a few lists all
    mixed into my “python” folder, including the discourse forums - all of
    them to which I subscribe

So my “python” folder has: python-list, tutor, Users and a bunch of
other things. They’re labelled, and I expect to pay a bit of attention
to that context. There’s only one line per topic/subject, and the most
recent stuff is at the top. For me, this works.

How is this relevant?

The Users category is inherently going to get something of everything.
We should expect that category to be a big mix, and expect to divert
people to better places when those places are better (and there’s nobody
here who can help).

I’m fine with expecting to help with the stdlib in users and
occasionally or as convenient helping with other things. We’re always
going to get the beginners, either outright on in whatever new domain
they’re using. We’re always going to get people in specialised domains
(eg numpy) where users have come here because it is an obvious place to
start.

Specialist lists can be confronting - there’s the whole “imposter
syndrome” where you don’t feel competent enough to join and ask your
question. But a forum for “Python Users”? That’s where you go to start.

So I’m ok with the informal focus on the stdlib - that’s what all Python
users have in common. But I’m against formal focus on the stdlib.

If a question’s not for you, you should ignore it and move on. That’s
what I do, even on topics I’m interested in, if others have covered off
what I’d have tried to say.

Cheers,
Cameron Simpson cs@cskk.id.au

3 Likes

In a recent thread, Ashlie Here, Saying Hello!, within the Welcome to Discourse! category, a student from Saint Leo University wrote:

:grin:

The Users category, in its current form, is the best venue for the best of the best to continue to offer their best to the educational community.

2 Likes

Hmmm, what’s the navigation path to get to that Forums page? I didn’t find it before adding my post to this thread.

Later: ohhhh, the drop down menu for Community holds a dozen entries, including ‘Forums’ while the Community page itself only has half that, and the page doesn’t have Forums. I would expect the menu items to be reflected in the page too.

1 Like

As a general note, a closely related issue came up again on this thread, after a number of recent user-help posts in the PSF category that belonged in the Users category:

@CAM-Gerlach I think it is indeed a translation issue:
“Python Software Foundation” → “Python Software Basis” → “Python Software Basics”
And so the category is selected for basic help requests… :wink:

I agree with @Kurt. It’s also the only category you get when you search the category list for “Python”.

Maybe rename it to PSF. It’s not like it gets a lot of traffic, and anyone who really wants to post there knows what PSF means. In combination with changing Users to User Questions or Python Questions, maybe that will help newcomers.

Posting what I said over on the other thread that I should have shared here instead,

I’m guessing it has to do with differences in translation and word usage across languages, coupled with being unfamiliar with what the PSF is.

It would be a good idea to at the very least mention “help” in the description of the Users category, so it is clear it is the place to ask such questions, and maybe shortening the PSF category name to just the initialism, which would avoid users who are not familiar with it from seeing “Python” and accidentally posting there, while not being harder to understand for those who know what it is, or who read/understand the description.

Additionally, we could consider adding a new “Python Help” category or similar as the first or second entry, focused on help with the Python language and the standard library, and/or renaming the existing users category to such and creating a new Users category as a catchall for discussions that don’t fit into the other categories, as the Users category also is now. I think that might be a good idea, to avoid overwhelming general-interest posts like @steve.dower 's in the flood of user questions, but that’s a somewhat bigger change.

@admins , thoughts?

By C.A.M. Gerlach via Discussions on Python.org at 09Apr2022 18:02:

Posting what I said over on the other thread that I should have shared
here instead,

For reference, that was here:

At C.A.M. Gerlach’s request I’m duplicating my comments here.

It would be a good idea to at the very least mention “help” in the
description of the Users category, so it is clear it is the place to
ask such questions,

I’m quite +1 on this.

[…]

Additionally, we could consider adding a new “Python Help” category or
similar as the first or second entry, focused on help with the Python
language and the standard library, and/or renaming the existing users
category to such and creating a new Users category as a catchall for
discussions that don’t fit into the other categories, as the Users
category also is now.

Repeating myself for clarity, from

I remain of the opinion that the “Users” section is, and should remain,
the “help” section. I think trying to partition it would be vague at
best and ineffective anyway.

Specificly: I do not think trying to have separate “Help” vs “Users”
categories will be helpful, or work well. I think the existing “Users”
(or better, “User Help”) should be a leading catchall category, easy to
find (top of the list) and only informally focussed on the stdlib.

Catch niche questions and either provide specific help or direct the OP
to a better category or forum or list. Avoid sending them away feeling
unwelcome.

I think that might be a good idea, to avoid overwhelming
general-interest posts like @steve.dower
's

in the flood of user questions, but that’s a somewhat bigger change.

My opinion is that single topic can be ignored (muted ideally, if the
reader finds that more helpful). There’s always going to be a wide mix
and people monitoring “Users” should just expect, and deal with it in
whatever manner suits them.

Cheers,
Cameron Simpson cs@cskk.id.au

I see “Users” as a “General discussion for everyone” category. Usually I have it muted, so I don’t deal with the flood, but if I’m posting something of general interest then there hasn’t been a better category (though tbh, I didn’t even check with my latest post there - I just used the same category as last time).

1 Like

We’ve received a continual stream of users posting help questions in the PSF category instead of the Users category, which leads to pinging a bunch of users who have not chosen to be notified about it. Given it seems uncontroversial, can one of the @admins at least do the following?

Thanks.

Done!

It might also make sense to simply rename the category to “Help” or “Python Help”.

2 Likes

Thanks!

I also proposed something like this, but there were sharply differing opinions on this point; unless we created another category for general/catchall discussion, this would leave folks like @steve.dower without a place to post items of general interest, whereas @cameron , perhaps its most frequent poster along with @steven.daprano , seems to strongly feel that trying to partition them would be vague and ineffective at best. I’m not sure if its worth shaking things up further for now, at least unless and until there is some consensus on this.

Categories are cheap. :person_shrugging:

If adding a new category specifically for people to ask for help, then that should theoretically “tidy up” the current users category. (I did the same thing in a community I manage at work - under protest :wink: but there wasn’t any issue of post volume or noise.)

The Users category plays an important role, and it should be maintained in some form. Any one of the following names might draw the appropriate posts to it:

  • Help
  • Python Help
  • Python Q&A

If there is any splitting of categories or tidying up, it would be fine to move some discussions between categories. However, deletion of existing discussions, including older or less fruitful ones, would be unfortunate. See Topic deleted by author for various opinions regarding deletion of original posts by authors. Deletion of discussions in connection with reorganization of categories could have the similar undesirable effect of removing carefully composed responses. A significant number of responders within the Users category have put a great deal of effort into their work.