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Re: [tdf-discuss] Re: user forums ?


On Thu, 2011-11-03 at 16:17 +0100, Christian Lohmaier wrote:
Hi *,

On Thu, Nov 3, 2011 at 12:19 PM, Florian Effenberger
<floeff@documentfoundation.org> wrote:
Ken Springer wrote on 2011-11-02 22:48:

If you prefer your help system to be a forum, that's available through
the Nabble interface and Gmane.

sadly, Nabble is not seen as forum at all.

Yes, because it is none.

Right - as it is currently configured. 


I don't know why, but many -
especially novice - users have complained and do not use Nabble.

You cannot move threads to other topics, you cannot edit messages
afterwards, you cannot delete posts, you cannot mark posts as sticky
or "resolved", etc.

This type of behavior is possible using the service features, BUT, this
then renders a database that is not tied in structure to the underling
mail archive - I'm not saying that Nabble's forum features would be a
suitable platform, or not, I think there are other concerns, most of
which would be there with any third party service provider IMO. 

Perhaps as a side note - when I setup the initial Nabble link I was not
expecting it to wind up so tightly coupled with the main website, I just
saw it as a ancillary service that could be setup with a minimum of fuss
that would offer some value to part of the user base, while not adding
(much) overhead to the real infrastructure teams workload.


All those features are considerably useful when used properly, but
from my experience too many clueless people join forums, and the same
old questions get posted over and over again, people don't make use of
those additional features and in the end it is used as a mailinglist
with reduced functionality.

If LO is going to have an own forum, then there shall be a bunch of
moderators that are to ensure to keep the different topics organized,
ensure that a certain level of posting discipline is respected, make
sure that the repeated questions or spam-posts to just put an older
topic further up the list are kept to a minimum. Forum-Sheriffs if you
want to use a loaded term.

This is where I see the biggest problem. You need to have a big number
of dedicated people who clean up the mess that the mass of regular
users create to keep a forum usable. And I'm not sure that a new forum
will have those people.

Good points for sure. 


In former times, when you had a technical problem, you would use your
search-engine of choice and after browsing through 5 or 6 links, you
would get your answer.
Nowadays, you get thousands of hits, many to forums where the same
question is posted to a sh*tload of different forums, full of "I have
the same problem" style posts but with no answer. Or the answer is
"solved by using different hardware/software" instead. And the best of
all are those are the "fixed the problem, topic can be closed" style
posts (don't even bother to tell others how you fixed that problem).
And of course then there is the forum-post signature spam when looking
for info regarding a specific hardware or similar, people put a big
list of stuff they once owned to all of their posts, rendering any
search useless as all irrelevant posts are returned just because the
term appears in the signature in every post/thread the user does post.

My fear is that the same will happen to any newly created Forum when
there is already a big userbase.

Ok, I understand that and though IMO it is  a problem with any attempt
to deliver services - it's less about the tools and more about the
execution.


And as you might have noticed, I'm not a big fan of forums. 

A web forum is not a panacea - it is one tool, one access point if you
will. 

This thread has touched on a number of tools - the real question to be
asked is I think - what or which of those tools make sense to include in
the mix of options available for support.

I'm
actually only using one forum, one that one is tightly scoped.
And my aversion against forums is not the technology, but rather what
the people make of it. As long as it has a sane
mail-notification/subscription system and doesn't force me to visit a
webpage and hunt for replies myself, I would be fine.

Replying to topics via mail would be a great plus though. - But I am
not aware of any of the big forum-software that would support this.

Actually there are a number of solutions for different web forum
platforms, they have limitations - but they are there.

Finally, just a thought - I think it is a mistake to look at human
resources vs support options as a net sum game. Each different platform
is likely to appeal to somewhat different groups of individuals and
though there needs to be some folks that look after things as a whole,
or at least with a view beyond just one service. 

In other words recruiting (meeting the needs of) new volunteers
(responders) is, by definition IMO, part of running a well functioning
support service, be it a BBS style web forum, a Q+A style service or a
end user mailing list.

Best wishes,

//drew


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