Reconsider the "Users" category?

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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We could have a separate Code Review section, but realistically that’s what Users already mostly is and what Python Help is likely to turn in to, so I’m not sure if it would have much practical value to try to separate them further…but idk.

Better to just create a “review wanted” tag.

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We’re still getting general Python help posts, like this one, in the PSF category, which I’m assuming is still due to the translation issue mentioned above and the fact that it is the only category with “Python” in the actual name.

Renaming/splitting the Users category to “Python Help” should help with this, but as a more immediate and direct mitigation, can we just make the category name the initialism (“PSF”) as I suggested above? That way it doesn’t contain the word “Python” and it ensures that people either understand what the PSF is before posting there or actually read the summary description which explains such, so everyone’s on the same page.

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This is a section addressing the remarks above on tags (click to unfold)

As a new community member who has roamed around quite a bit here (and more recently at meta.Discourse.org), I haven’t added tags to my repertiore. It isn’t particularly prominent on the New Topic form, where the category field is colorful and draws the eye more than the drab Tag field. (This is an interface design issue and I’ll follow up over at discourse:org, but the point is that tags are a somewhat advanced feature–especially if one intends to use them properly and effectively).

To Erlend’s point, a member looking for full-on code review won’t be a neophyte (probably) and might be confidently expected to grok the tag options before posting their request.

New members overlooking tags seems to be a common phenomenon because less than half of the posts in Users have a tag other than the User category itself. I came here to join the community and share and learn, so I’ve made a point of learning Discourse–and am supremely impressed with it–but someone signing in just for some debug assistance is looking to solve their immediate problem, not learn about the forum infrastructure. For an obvious example, look how much effort we put into coaching posters to use code blocks.

So after reading this entire thread, these seem to be the best suggestions:

  1. make the top category the place for code help.
  2. put the ‘general discussions’ next.
  3. get the category names right.
  4. deeply consider the English 2nd visitors because they make up a large portion of the help requests.
  5. choose key words that beginners and E2L visitors will recognize and follow.
  6. name the quasi-public categories a bit cryptically to discourage mis-posting and inadvertant gate-crashing.

Key words for the ‘Users’ category:

  • Python
  • Code
  • Program/Programming
  • help (used by many E2L OP’s)

A good name might be as simple as:
“Python Code Programming Help”
“Python Program Code Help”
“Python Coding Help”
“Python Code Help” <<<
“Python Help”

Thinking ahead… We currently get many raw beginners, so it might be worth splitting Users if/when the volume and clamor gets high enough. This is sure to happen as the community grows. Happily, the community’s growth will also bring more helpers.
“Beginner/Newbie/Noob Help” category. “New Coders”, perhaps.

Key words for “General Discussion”

  • General (with one of the following)
  • ~ Discussion
  • ~ Topics
  • ~ Forum
  • ~ Interest
    (Note: beginner E2L activity not likely due to language barrier)

Avoiding the key words from the top category, “General Discussion” or “General Topics” might be fine here. “General Interest” has some appeal but could encourage non-Python topics. (“How’s your garden…?”) Tags to the rescue!

And speaking of tags in lieu of categories, this post says that Discourse provides two levels of categories, after which tags are recommended for further differentiation. This means that Python Coding Help could have multiple subcategories for Beginners, Code Review, Packages, etc. Would that be too complex and impracticable? To a degree, for sure.

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Bikeshedding over the precise names aside, could we at least get the minimal low-hanging fruit change @admins @moderators that has been asked for a while now, given users are still regularly mistakenly posting Python help questions in the PSF category, including one just now? Specifically:

Rename the “Python Software Foundation” category → “PSF” and the “Python Software Foundation” link text to “PSF”, which is confusing many E2L users

Furthermore, as I think we had a general consensus on it, does anyone oppose going ahead with, for now:

  • Renaming the “Users” category to “Python Help” and modifying the description to read “Need help with your Python code? Ask here!”; and,
  • Adding a new category directly below “Python Help” called “General” with the description “Discussion forum for Python-related topics that don’t fall into any other category. All welcome.”
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By C.A.M. Gerlach via Discussions on Python.org at 16Jun2022 03:49:

Bikeshedding over the precise names aside, could we at least get the
minimal low-hanging fruit change @admins @moderators that has been
asked for a while now, given users are still regularly mistakenly
posting Python help questions in the PSF category, including one just
now? Specifically:

Rename the “Python Software Foundation” category → “PSF” and the “Python Software Foundation” link text to “PSF”, which is confusing many E2L users

+1

Furthermore, as I think we had a general consensus on it, does anyone oppose going ahead with, for now:

  • Renaming the “Users” category to “Python Help” and modifying the description to read “Need help with your Python code? Ask here!”; and,
  • Adding a new category directly below “Python Help” called “General”
    with the description “Discussion forum for Python-related topics that
    don’t fall into any other category. All welcome.”

+1 for these, also.

Cameron Simpson cs@cskk.id.au

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precise names aside…

The category names are extremely important with so many foreign-language speakers in the mix. As mentioned with the ‘Python Software Foundation’ category, they’re probably just noticing the word “Python” and clicking on it. They need easily-seen and easily-understood landmarks or they’ll continue crashing the categories and posting in the wrong places.

The community at discuss.python.org is getting pretty large and active. Trial-and-error changes will jerk the group around. Carefully considered changes can be implemented smoothly. Insufficient consideration of the above factors will generate greater or lesser degrees of chaos.

Rename the “Python Software Foundation” category → “PSF” and the “Python Software Foundation” link text to “PSF”, which is confusing many E2L users

This one is a sure solution. Obfuscation with acronyms is a tried and true way to stay under the radar.

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We would also probably benefit from a “3rd-Party Python Libraries” category (with a better name than this one). We get enough folks coming here for help with specialized libraries that it would be nice to have somewhere to move their posts to:

  1. Remove from ‘Users’ as off-topic.
  2. Have a place to park it to see if someone with enough specific knowledge and interest in a library would like to offer some interactive help.

This will soften the seemingly-unfriendly and only semi-helpful practice of referring inquirers to an external site.

NumPy does seem to fall somewhere in between, though…

By Leland Parker via Discussions on Python.org at 19Jun2022 09:04:

We would also probably benefit from a “3rd-Party Python Libraries”
category (with a better name than this one). We get enough folks coming
here for help with specialized libraries that it would be nice to have
somewhere to move their posts to:

  1. Remove from ‘Users’ as off-topic.
  2. Have a place to park it to see if someone with enough specific knowledge and interest in a library would like to offer some interactive help.

This will soften the seemingly-unfriendly and only semi-helpful practice of referring inquirers to an external site.

I remain of the opinion that this would be pointless and IMO counter
productive. I think I’ve gone on at length about this already.

NumPy does seem to fall somewhere in between, though…

NumPy and Pandas (and thus implicitly matplotlib) seem heavily used
for introductory data exercises since they offer convenient data loading
and plotting and of course various bulk data manipulation things. This
is exactly the kind of example which makes me argue against making a
non-stdlib area. To new people the distinction is vague at best, and
they’re often in environments preloaded with scipy stuff.

Cheers,
Cameron Simpson cs@cskk.id.au

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100% agreed. This is a delicate balance to strike. It may not be practical or even feasible.

Most beginner users I’ve interacted with here are aware that they’re using Pandas or Numpy or pyPlot or matPlotlib, etc., so would presumably understand the benefit and use of a focused category.

Everyone here has covered the first sentence pretty thoroughly. The second advocates for a category for niche questions. I was only referring to the niche questions.

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A category that I didn’t notice in the discussion above is “Discourse Help”. While it’s tempting to adopt the defeatist approach and say “No one bothers to read pinned posts!!”, etc., it is true that many people are interested in presenting themselves in the best light possible. Also, the more people are aware of and use best practices, the more it will become cultural here. Referring someone to discourse.org is guaranteed to stifle their follow-through (and the traffic there is mostly about hosting and administering Discourse so is not relevant to the average user here).


ALSO- From the User category description:

General help/discussion forum for the Python programming language.

Recommend: Separate the word ‘help’ so that it is more easily seen.
(“General help / discussion forum…”)

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The usual way to close out debate/discussion in a group (a parliamentary body) is to call for a vote so the group can decide as a group.

I’m not going to presuppose sufficient standing here to initiate a vote mostly because someone needs to (1) decide who the authorized voters are and (2) set up a limited-access venue for the vote to be carried out. Definitely above my current pay grade. :cowboy_hat_face:

However, I can present the likely names to vote on for the User category:

  • What should we call the category for general Python help?
    • Python Code Programming Help
    • Python Program Code Help
    • Python Coding Help
    • Python Code Help
    • Python Help

It seems that there’s consensus on creating a “General Discussion” category, though there might be a need to vote on the name as well. Here are the ballot entires that will accomplish this:

  • Should we create a category for general discussion of Python-related topics?
    • YES
    • NO
  • What should the name of this new category be?
    • General Discussion
    • General Topics
    • Not enough names; open a specific topic on this to collect a few more

Most beginners have no clue which libraries are third party and which are not. And it doesn’t really matter: if they ask for help, we can either help them (because we know the answer) or we can’t, and have to refer them elsewhere.

We don’t refer people elsewhere out of spite or just to muck them about. We do it because we don’t know the answer to their question. Asking the question in a separate “Third Party” topic will just mean that they have a smaller community seeing their posts.

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