As we’d documented in our previous post, we’ve been working on moving Ask Fedora from our current Askbot setup to a Discourse instance. In this post, we document what has changed since the previous post, and the plans for the near and long term future.

We moved to an opt-out system

Our initial system was an “opt-in” system. Users would log-in and choose what language groups they wanted to join to gain access to categories for the respective languages. The idea here was to not overcome users with many, many language categories. This system also let us use both levels of categories that discourse provided for topic organisation.

Unfortunately, as we tested this setup, we realised that it would not work. The “opt-in” nature of this system implied that:

  • users that were not logged in would not be able to access any queries from the language categories—not even to read them.
  • search engines also, would be unable to crawl these categories.

These are major issues. The whole idea of the forum is for users to be able to search it for information. In fact, we suggest that searching the forum before asking a question is the best way to use the forum given that many common issues are asked multiple times.

Since the staff/admins at Ask Fedora always have access to all categories, we failed to notice this! It was only pointed out when the community gave us feedback on the set up. So, needless to say, we’re extremely glad that we planned to have a testing phase where we involve the community first to give us time to make necessary tweaks.

The new system now is an “opt-out” system. All categories are visible to everyone, even users that are not logged in, by default. Once users have logged in, they can opt-out of categories that they’re not going to follow such as languages that they don’t speak by unsubscribing from these categories.

Supporting the global Fedora community

With the new system, the language setup has also changed somewhat. There are no more language groups. There are simply categories for each language. We currently have the following setup:

The following are in the process of being made ready:

  • German

To be able to support the global community, we welcome members to set-up and manage new language categories. We’ve kept a list of minimum requirements to ensure a good user experience, though. All we ask is that there be at least two active Fedora community members that commit to setting up, managing, and moderating the language category. This is most important to ensure that all language categories continue to remain active in the long term—similar to sub-projects within the community, categories where users do not see an active core community quickly tend to fizzle out.

So, with that in mind, please get in touch with the staff team by posting a topic in the “Site Feedback” category if you’d like to support another language.

Please log-in, test, and provide feedback

We are now very near to flipping the switch to make the Discourse instance open to end-users. The current plan is to do it before the Fedora 30 release next month to ensure that users that install and upgrade to our newest offering also have the advantage of using the shiny new forum setup.

Unlike the previous post, here, we have intentionally abstained from detailing how the forum is meant to work because we want to test if the system is good enough to use without it needing to be explained.

So, please, login, test, play, and provide feedback so that we can improve the forum further and make it easy to use for end-users (always remembering that a lot of them are not techie folks or FOSS contributors).