Reconsider the "Users" category?

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).

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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”.

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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.

For the record, what I proposed was

We could keep the name of the Users category the same or change it slightly to “General”, and create a new category “Python Help” (Python may seem redundant, but it makes it more clear the help is specifically related to Python and makes it more likely to attract users, especially those who aren’t native speakers who previously posted in PSF because, in part, it had the word “Python” in the name. But I’m +0 on the change without the support of the users who spend the most time helping users in the existing category, e.g. @cameron , @steven.daprano , @Quercus , etc.

I don’t think anyone is proposing deleting existing discussions. At the very least, they could be moved, which is as easy or easier than deleting them and can be done by anyone with TL3 and above, delete needs either TL4 or even mod/admin.

OK, let’s consider that. With that change, what would be the stated purpose of each of the following two categories?:

  1. The “Users” or “General” category
  2. The “Python Help” category

The distinction would need to be made clear to the general user population.

This could be something like (based off the current):

General Python discussion that doesn’t fit in a more specific category. All are welcome.

Something like

Have questions or need help with the Python programming language? Ask here!

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That description, which you have proposed for the “Python Help” category, could apply to most of the discussions that are currently listed within the “Users” category. Accordingly, it might be best to list that category first on the All Categories page, so that it catches the attention of the user in need of help first. Am I correct in believing that this category would become the usual place to ask for help with buggy code, homework, and the like?

The name “General” fits that description better than does the name “Users”, so that might be the name to use. Just to clarify, could you please list some links to examples of existing discussions that would be placed in this “General” category, rather than in “Python Help”?

So, on the All Categories page, we could have:

Python Help
Have questions or need help with the Python programming language? Ask here!

General
General Python discussion that doesn’t fit in a more specific category. All are welcome.

By C.A.M. Gerlach via Discussions on Python.org at 03May2022 20:46:

This could be something like (based off the current):

General Python discussion that doesn’t fit in a more specific category. All are welcome.

Something like

Have questions or need help with the Python programming language? Ask
here!

If people are for this split, I strongly recommend making “Python Help”
the first category in the listing.

Also I’d strongly favour renaming the “Users” topic to “General” (or
“Miscellaneous”, though that might be less helpful to people with
English as a second, or absent, language).

To me, it’s not all that clear what the purpose of the “Users”; it
almost feels like no specific purpose. As a programmer, I think of a
“user of Python” as another programmer, so I’d expect people seeking
help with programming tasks to land there if they were not diverted to
“Python Help” sucessully.

I think my present position is probably:

  • +0 on the split, but since others are finding “help” requests in
    “Users” noisy, worth the split just for that - if it works
  • strongly recommend making “Python Help” the first topic, and maybe
    rename it to “Python Programming Help”?
  • strongly recommend renaming “Users” to “General” or “Miscellaneous”

Cheers,
Cameron Simpson cs@cskk.id.au

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That’s correct. It was originally set up as a place to send folks who wanted to say/ask something here that didn’t fit into any other location. Then I believe #python on IRC started to point some folks here and the category became a more general help section.

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… or so it is said on the Badges / Regular page. In fact, I was considering offering to help recategorize topics if we do ultimately decide to split the Users category. But, alas, I tried just yesterday to recategorize a topic, with unfortunate results. See Recategorizing a Topic.

EDITED on May 5, 2022 to transfer the original content to a new topic.

Seems reasonable. I would have suggested that, but it felt strange to have the “catchall” General category second, rather than either first or last. But it makes sense in terms of the order users’ posts should fall into if they aren’t sure…certainly better than them going in Python-Dev (which was a problem before, and to which I suggested requiring TL1 or TL2 to post in, if not a core dev or on another team).

Yup.

Yup, I feel the same.

Most of them have likely been driven away due to the flood of user help questions, but as mentioned above, Steve Dower’s post would be one example. Since the overwhelming majority of existing posts would instead fall under Python Help, it would probably be best to move the existing users category to that name, and create a new one for General, moving back any as desired.

I’m not sure that was due to the recategorization, since I recategorize topics all the time and don’t really run into that problem except for when users, mods or the spam filter removes posts; see my reply there.

We could also consider eliminating the Help subtag, since it is only used on a fraction of Help posts and would be essentially redundant under this new organization scheme.

I’m now in favor of the split. Conforming, I believe, to what @CAM-Gerlach and some others have said, the “Users” category can get renamed to “Python Help” or something close to that, and would be listed first. Most of its existing content would remain there. Below that category, a new “General” category would be listed. Some of what is now in “Users” would be transferred there. “General” would be aimed at catching content that doesn’t fit any of the existing categories, and would catch much of the miscellaneous material that falls past the “Users” (or “Python Help”) category before it winds up in one of the more specialized categories where it doesn’t belong.

EDITED for clarity on May 5, 2022

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Just FYI, since I’ve noticed this a lot—if you edit your post Discourse shows a bright orange edit indicator in the top right, which when hovered shows the timestamp of the most recent edit, and when clicked, shows a full history of the times and diffs of any changes you’ve made.

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The name also has its origins in the python-list mailing list, which was intended for users of Python to join to have discussions (as opposed to -committers and -dev), and translated to Users rather than List for migration.

It seems at least from skimming the archives that while help questions are common, they are by no means as overwhelmingly dominant as they are on #users .

My hope is that creating a separate space for Python Help (and ordering it first, to catch as many relevant posts as practical) might encourage a greater breadth and depth of discussion topics in a new General category, much like Users was originally intended to be. It may or may not turn out that way, but its worth at least trying, and IMO its still a net improvement over the present situation either way.

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If people are considering reorganising the categories, perhaps consider a section specifically for people wanting a review of their code.

See Where can i get some code review?

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