AskFedora refresh: we’ve moved to Discourse!

We have been working on moving AskFedora to a Discourse instance after seeing how well the community took to discussion.fedoraproject.org. After working on it for a few weeks now, we’re happy to report that the new AskFedora is now ready for use at https://askbeta.fedoraproject.org.

The new AskFedora!

The new AskFedora is a Discourse instance hosted for us by Discourse, similar to discussion.fedoraproject.org. However, where discussion.fedoraproject.org is meant for development discussion within the community, AskFedora is meant for end-user troubleshooting. While we did toy with the idea of simply using discussion.fedoraproject.org for both purposes, we felt it was a bit of a risk of the mix hampering both use cases. So, the decision was made to stick to the current organisation and use a separate Discourse instance for user queries.

Getting started: logging in and language selection

The new AskFedora is limited to FAS (Fedora Account System) logins only. This is unlike the Askbot instance where we also permitted social media and other logins. Limiting the logins to FAS permits us to have better control over the instance, and makes it much easier to gather data on usage and so on. Setting up a new FAS instance is quite trivial, so we do not expect this to be an issue to end-users either.

Another way in which AskFedora on Discourse is different from AskFedora on Askbot, is that we chose not to host per-language subsites. Instead, we’ve leveraged Discourse categories and user-groups to support languages.

When you login for the first time, you will only see the general categories:

  • Start here!
  • Community
  • Site Feedback

These are common to all users. Based on interest from the community, and after verifying that we had community members willing to oversee these languages, the new AskFedora currently supports English, Spanish, Italian, and Persian. Here is how:

Each language has an associated user-group. All users can join and leave these language user-groups at any time. Membership to each user-group gives access to “translated” categories, i.e., identical categories set up for users of the particular language group. Users can join as many language groups as they wish!

Categories are loosely based on the lifecycle of a Fedora release. The top levels ask the question “what stage of the Fedora life-cycle are you at?”. The next level tries to be more specific to ask something on the lines of “what tool are you using?”. These categories are only meant to help organise the forum somewhat. They are not set in stone, and of course, lots of topics may fit into a multitude of categories. We leave it up to the users of the Forum to choose the appropriate category for their query.

  • Announcements (for each language group: can be used by regional teams, for example)
  • Installing Fedora
    • “General” for standard installations using Anaconda with near to default settings, and “Advanced” for more complex use cases such as kickstarts. 
    • A “Hardware” category dedicated for queries related to hardware support.
  • Customising a Fedora installation: for queries related to personalisation:
    • Either “General” for simpler tasks like changing defaults and so on mostly using tools provided by the community or “Advanced” for well, anything else really.
  • Using Fedora, with subcategories for the different platforms that Fedora runs on:
    • Desktops/Servers/Containers/Cloud/Others.
  • Upgrading a Fedora installation:
    • Either using the supported methods: DNF and DNF based methods; or any other ways that we tend to cook up each cycle.

So, when you do login, please do go to the “Start here” category as the banner requests. We have a topic in each supported language documenting what we’ve written here—how to join the appropriate language group and get started.

Feedback and next steps

At this time, we are only announcing the new instance to the community. Hence, this post on the community blog first. The forum will be announced to the wider user-base on the Fedora magazine a week or two later. This gives us time to have a set of community members on the forum already to help end-users when they do get started. This also gives us time to collect feedback from the community and make tweaks to improve the user-experience before the “official launch”. Please use the “Site Feedback” category to drop us comments. Before the forum is announced to the wider audience, we will also update the URL to use https://ask.fedoraproject.org and a redirect from https://askbeta.fedoraproject.org will be put in place to ensure a smooth transition for current users.

The usual reminders

The forum (all forums, channels) are extensions of the Fedora community. They are tools that enable us to communicate with each other. Therefore, everything that occurs on these must follow our Code of Conduct. In short, please remember to “be excellent to each other“. There will always be disagreements, and us being us, tempers will flare. However, before you type out a reply, repeat to your self: “be excellent to each other” again and again, until your draft has lost its aggression/annoyance/negative connotations. This also applies to trolling—even when pointing it out, let’s stay excellent to each other. If you need any help, the forum staff are always there to step in—just drop us a message.

As a closing word, we’re grateful to everyone that put the work in to make this refresh happen—especially the Askbot developers that have hosted AskFedora for us till now, and the Discourse team that will host it for us from now. It has taken quite a few hours of discussion, planning, and work to set things up the way we felt it would help users most. All of this happened on the Fedora Join SIG’s pagure project. We are always looking for more hands to help, and we are even happier if we can pass on some of what we have learned in our time in the Fedora community to other members. Please, do get in touch!

Categories: Fedora Project Community

1 Comment

  1. Is this really the best option? Discourse does not make for a good Q/A system, in my opinion, and certainly is not tailored to the format we are used to. Additionally, it would be a false premise to assume that the community has really taken to the current Discourse instance, as there are no more than 20 active users. Probably less, and I could get an accurate count by going through that folder in my mail client.

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