Fedora Docs and Ask.Fedora: a symbiosis?

I have been a bit thinking about the “command economy”-type nature of the Docs.

The Docs are written by those who already have the knowledge contained in the Docs (=the authors). Obviously, there is no way around that :slight_smile: But the people who already have that knowledge and who have the background to know how to search and find specific information are not the target group of the Docs. And the target group, the average user, remains widely excluded.

As far as I understand it until now, the needs of the users are assumed - but the assumptions are not verified (there are no external incentives from the demand): we do not know if the content and the structures of the Docs suit the needs of the users, both in terms of understanding but also in terms of structures (to find things).

On the other hand, the needs of the users usually arrive in ask.fp (now that I get a bit more into the Docs, I start to recognize that the Docs are not very present in ask.fp). At ask.fp, the users put forward what they have looked for, what they have found, how they interpret it and what issues they still have to solve.

If demanded Docs pages are inappropriate, or not existing, or do not fulfill the needs of demand in other ways, it would be ask.fp people who are closest to indicative information - not the Fedora Docs team. One question that is a bit illustrative: which query does the average user formulate on his search engine before he/she has the needed information, and where does he/she then end up*. The Docs team has internally no way to evaluate such questions, but this would help to tailor to the users’ needs. Ben made a good point some time ago that is illustrative for what i mean:

In the end, the point is: the Fedora Docs team makes up the supply, but it is ask.fp that makes up the demand.

Some time ago, @augenauf facilitated an example of how ask.fp and Docs can support each other, see this and that (just an example as initial incentive : ).

Therefore, I would like to start a little discussion about this topic, in general terms:

  • What do you think of creating closer ties between ask.fp and Fedora Docs?
  • If you think this makes sense (somehow), how to create synergies between both?

I have yet nothing specific in mind, but maybe discussing the relation between the two already creates interesting incentives that are worth to keep in mind :slight_smile:

My personal perception is that ask.fp is generally a bit isolated from the wider Fedora community due to its different context. Closer ties and “common topics/goals” may also foster a bit more interactions and exchange.

3 Likes

Hey, I was just kinda talking about this over at We urgently need better visibility of docs specifically on getfedora Fedora 36 - #7 by maiki.

I do like the idea developing a community-layer that welcomes users and directs them to the resources they need, which itself acts as a signalling system on what folks need documented. :slight_smile:

2 Likes

I wouldn’t quite say that. Answers on ask.fp.o can also make up the supply.

I think it makes sense. The question is how do we feed the demand (and answers) from Ask into Docs?

One possibility would be for the Ask moderators to let the Docs team know what topics are particularly “hot” and try to focus efforts there.

Another possibility is to include links to the Quick Docs repo prominently in Ask so that people can file issues directly. The downside would be that the requests are potentially low signal-to-noise and also could lead to a lot of unfulfilled requests, which doesn’t make anyone happy.

3 Likes

I’ll add that anything we come up with needs to understand that right now we’re constrained on the number of contributors, not the number of things we could write about.

3 Likes

Of course, the answers are also a type of supply. I didn’t mean it that radical :wink: The sentence was more meant as a short summary illustrating the relation.

However, making both more aware of each other may also facilitate contributions (the remaining issue here is likely to be the high entry barrier to the Docs). As you already pointed out, both make supply for users. But although I am already some time at ask.fp, I knew the docs but was not really aware of them (I hope that makes sense somehow) until I saw on discussion.fp the topics of revitalization and such.

I agree that there are already many ideas about what to write about. But the question is what is needed. The latter question may even decrease the workload in some circumstances :wink:

1 Like

… and that has happened before. The most obvious one are the ones that are correctly tagged (Topics tagged quick-doc), from the top of my head I would say that there are more.

There are few users on ask.fp.o that keep encouraging users to convert useful answers into quick-docs, especially @ankursinha has done that frequently in the past.
So, I’d say some sort of mechanism exists, we just need to make sure enough people from the Docs team are around on ask.fp.o.

3 Likes

And vice versa. Such as participating in the Docs meetings, in order to offer incentives we experience at ask.fp. Unfortunately, Wednesday evenings have become a bad time for me :frowning:

I’d like to see greater encouragement of [GUIDE] posts on ask.fedoraproject.org (example) or discussion.fedoraproject.org (example).

[GUIDE] posts are common on discussion forum sites such as reddit (example).

[GUIDE] posts offer a low barrier to entry. It usually entails formalization and expanding upon an earlier post you submitted. Leveraging the Discourse platform for this builds on the Discourse discussion platform’s builtin onboarding process. There’s no need to learn a different markup language or publishing platform.

Perhaps a Tips and Tricks category could be created at ask.fedoraproject.org. An example of such a category can be seen at the TiddlyWiki’s Discourse instance.

2 Likes

That’s a huge problem. I’m looking at this from the perspective of a member of the Server Working Group.

First issue is, we didn’t know that there is a server group (or tag) on discussion. So no one from the team had an eye on it. Similar is true for ask.fp . When I noticed this, I skimmed through several threads and was a bit startled. There were no answers to a number of questions, and several of the answers were wrong. This is not a good introduction to Fedora Server for the people asking. I’m trying to change that and get one of our members to engage there.

Another issue is, that you really need special skills and additionally some patience to deal with the many of the questions (and people asking). I suspect none of our team members could do that in the addition to their team activities. It will hardly be possible that members of the server team or the doc team are also active at ask.fp.

It would therefore be important to organize an exchange of information and to establish contact addresses for specific questions.

I’m mostly active on ask.fp and I would greatly appreciate reading advice’s from professionals who work with servers. I do avoid answering to questions where I not have a deep enough knowledge. But in the other hand it would make sense when we could somewhere ask questions for help.

On ask.fp we do have a lounge where we can ask and/or exchange information under us. Would might be helpful wen we could reach out to experts in such a way to. Is there a way we could #hashtag you as a group somehow?

For us the same, wen we already spend quite enough time on ask.fp it is difficult to keep up with everything on discussion.fp

For the record, here’s how this happened. I didn’t generally create tags for teams that haven’t (yet) asked for them. However, when the site was first created, we made categories for some broad areas, including one for each of the Editions, so there was existing content. I migrated that to the tag.

I do suggest that folks on the Server WG subscribe to that tag.

On ask… tags are more arbitrary. But that is our front-line for user support, so we definitely need server questions and answers there.

Hopefully I’ll be able to complete the merge soon so that won’t be such a problem — it’ll at least be the same forum, and we can redirect user questions that land in the project category to the Q&A one.

Agreed. And me and the Server WG are specifically interested that everyone who needs advice about anything Server related, gets a good answer.

I myself watch constantly my mails, of course, the server mailing list, the devel mailing list, and try to follow #docs here (have yet to configure / manage technical issues). So, you may write a message to server mailing list. And I’m perfectly OK, if you write me a mail directly. I can either provide information or involve one of our members. And of course, I can (and will) join an information exchange in ask’s lounge when a server related topic is coming up. For me, it would be just an overload to follow all these threads permanently.

And instead of considering a symbiosis, I would prefer to get to know each other (as in the discussion here) and to establish reliably working communication channels and information exchange.

1 Like

The latter can be a type of symbiosis :wink: And it is the one I meant :slight_smile:

1 Like

No issue with that, and my remark didn’t want to criticize anything. I’m perfectly happy with anyone who is committed to his project. Any side effects must then be resolved as they become apparent, completely pragmatic and results-oriented.

As I wrote in a previous post, when (or since) I noticed the mishap, I tried to resolve it. But unfortunately, it’s not the problem to find suitable tasks for all the people, but to find suitable people for all the tasks. :slight_smile:

I also see the relevance of user support. But I think, the solution cannot be that everyone follows all, or a large number of, somehow possibly relevant threads. There are certainly many server-related questions on ask.fp, to which, for example, I could not contribute anything additional because the activists know. It is ineffective to follow 40 threads to discover maybe 2 that I could contribute to.

I don’t think such a merge would be helpful, at least at the moment. User support and systematic development, e.g. of documentation like here, are 2 completely different things and need different expertise. And for docs, I think that would be a particular hindrance. Docs still have to build up working structures and organization first. That’s tough enough already. We don’t need more complexity right now. And whether I track 60 threads under one server address or under 2, it doesn’t really matter. The problem is the 60 and their (probably high) variability and different topic centering.