Proposed guidelines for discussion of proposed Changes

As everyone has probably seen by now, we are experimenting with using Fedora Discussion for the community feedback and review portion of our Change Process. This makes the process more open and transparent to all. That’s great — we want more visibility and participation. But, as we’ve just seen, conversation can quickly get unmanageable.

With something big and controversial, this could happen no matter where or how we have the conversation. We need clear guidelines so that discussion is productive, in line with our community values, and easy to follow and participate in. Some of these guidelines will be similar to those we already have for our mailing lists, and others need to be new for the new format.

I propose the following. I’d like to adopt this as soon as possible, for the anticipated upcoming revision to the recent controversial proposal. Of course, we should continue to learn and adjust as we go forward.

Read Me First

Topics in this category are for discussion as part of the official Fedora Changes Policy. Please read and understand that policy and process before moving forward!

All proposals here are just that: proposals. Anyone in Fedora can propose a Change, through which they hope to undertake some effort to improve Fedora Linux or the tools and process by which we make that.

The Change Wrangler makes sure submissions are complete and ready for discussion, but does not gate-keep them. Fedora doesn’t have a secret back room where we do some kind of pre-review, and we don’t want one. Innovation and experimentation are part of our fundamental values, and it is essential that community members feel safe in making even controversial proposals.

Many proposals are significantly adjusted as part of this process. Others are popular just as proposed. Others aren’t accepted at all. This is all okay. By taking part in the discussion as part of the Fedora community, you can help FESCo come to a decision

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Moderation of Change Proposal Discussion

By participating here, you agree to follow the Fedora Code of Conduct. Please review that.

We’re all here because we’re passionate about Fedora. Sometimes, things can get heated, and in those moments participants may go outside of what they would normally know to be respectful and constructive dialog. When a proposal is controversial, it’s difficult for our community moderators to make judgment calls which balance keeping conversation civil with allowing dissent and disagreement. Therefore, the following policies will apply:

  1. Don’t make personal attacks. This is a zero-tolerance policy which applies even to posts which also make valid points. It is always possible to dissent respectfully. Moderators will immediately hide posts which can be perceived as containing such attacks, asking the poster to edit and rephrase. If that doesn’t happen, hidden posts will be automatically deleted after 30 days.
  2. Assume Fedora project members have positive motivation for participation, whether in submitting a proposal or in giving feedback. We don’t have room for conspiracy theories. If you truly believe someone is participating in bad faith, please raise that as a Code of Conduct ticket.
  3. Don’t use sarcasm, mocking language, or hyperbolic comparisons. Don’t take something someone else says out of context. Don’t attempt to read minds, or ascribe malicious hidden meaning. If you don’t understand what someone is saying, ask for clarification. Moderators will hide posts which do not meet these standards.
  4. Our community moderators are also Fedora project members and often have personal interest in these proposals. Moderators who choose to participate in a particular discussion must constrain their posts to stating their own views on the proposal. If a moderator wants to participate in greater advocacy (whether for or against), they should clearly state that they’re abstaining from moderation.
  5. This site allows community members to flag posts, and if enough people flag a given post, it will be hidden without explicit moderator intervention. Everyone should actively do this when appropriate, following the guidelines above. Do not, however, flag posts for disagreement. We haven’t yet seen any such abuse, but it won’t be tolerated.

These rules may seem strict, but they’re not meant to silence opinion. Rather, they are to make sure that we are able to truly hear what everyone has to say.

Polls, Reactions, and Repetition

To help gauge community sentiment, the Change Wrangler will create a poll to accompany every proposal, like this:

How do you feel about the proposal as written?
  • Strongly in favor
  • In favor, with reservations
  • Neutral
  • Opposed, but could be convinced
  • Strongly opposed
0 voters

If you are in favor but have reservations, or opposed but something could change your mind, please explain in reply to the proposal.

On repetition

We want everyone to be heard, but many posts repeating the same thing actually makes that harder. If you have something new to say, please say it. If, instead, you find someone has already covered what you’d like to express, please simply giving that post a :heart: instead of reiterating. You can even do this by email, by replying with the heart emoji or just “+1”. This will make long topics easier to follow.

There is no need to make posts simply saying that you agree or disagree with a proposal — even for controversial proposals, this isn’t like one of those corporate user-feedback sites where sheer weight of response is crucial.

Once you’ve made a point, please do not respond to every further post where someone says something to the contrary. It’s okay to engage in further conversation, but there are no points awarded for getting in the last word. Excessive argumentation like this causes topics to balloon, and makes them feel very unwelcoming to new participants. (Maybe even people who agree with you!) Moderators may issue warnings if they see this, and may escalate if necessary.

Trust FESCo to listen, and trust in the strength of your own argument.

Slow mode

This forum has a feature called “slow mode”. When this is enabled on a topic, anyone who posts to that topic must wait before posting again. If a topic gets many replies, moderators[1] will enable this mode. If a topic seems likely to be contentious, we may enable it initially.

The wait period will usually be one hour, but may be increased if a topic gets particularly long.

As with all of these rules, the intent is to give everyone in Fedora a turn to be heard. This feature can help keep discussion from devolving into an undigestible deluge. If you have something important to say, use the time to think about how to say it best.


Our community-driven Changes process is a crucial part of Fedora. We welcome your participation, and we’re glad that using Discourse brings these discussions to a broader audience. Please help us make it work.

What do you think? (Particularly, @fesco — I’m going to ask for a fast-track FESCo vote to approve this officially.) I woke up this morning with this in my head and couldn’t get back to sleep before writing it down. There is surely room for improvement, but I’d like to have an iteration in place before we get into the next “phase” of the current proposal.

  1. or high-trust site members ↩︎


My personal opinion is that this didn’t work very well. It would have actually been cleaner, easier to digest and more meaningful if it had been left in one large topic.

One of the reasons we kept having the same arguments over and over again was that people weren’t seeing the original discussion since we kept isolating them into separate topics.

I understand why you might want to split the opposing and supporting posts but believe I believe it would be counter-productive, difficult to moderate and generally frustrate the community.

It basically makes it impossible to have a dialog between the people who support the proposal and the those oppose it. That dialog is part of the feedback process and it is how we open each other’s mind to a different perspective. While it is true that it has the potential to turn into an argument it is important to let people have those some times. Trying to create an artificial barrier to that discussion ahead of time is not the right answer in my opinion.

The same is generally true of the other breakout topics you have mentioned. You shouldn’t separate “questions” because then the answers to those questions lose visibility.

If we do continue to create breakout topics, it shouldn’t be about the types of conversations but about creating focus more specific topics. In other words, a breakout could be created to track a side conversation that happens naturally like we would do with any topic on the forum, not try to guess in advance and hinder the discussion.


I currently have not the time to engage so much in the community and could only roughly skim over your texts (so excuse if my point below is already tackled somewhere ; )

This is what made me think a bit: the relation of repetition and polls (and how they trigger reactions).

I think we should consider to create polls much earlier. People have the perception in such long discussions that their opinion gets lost if they do not repeat it. And indeed, many people and developers at various points started their posts with things like “it has become hard to read so I am not sure if that point has been already made” or such. Many posts did not consider many earlier posts. This gives the repetition some “rationality”, which does of course not change that it leads to the same discussions repeating again and again, while at the same time the frustration and thus the “emotionalization” increases.

If we create polls in separated topics early and link them to related discussion topics (and mention to follow the current polls when arguing in the related discussion topic), people have the possibility to “enshrine their opinion” so that it remains in consideration (along with how representative it is). At the same time, we have the possibility to better follow the development and to better argue (“don’t argue about things most people are already convinced of anyway”) but also follow the reasoning of those not convinced of something (this could add reciprocal understanding).

Further, discourse allows us to change our votes in polls. This means, people can keep engaging in the discussion and change their votes if they get convinced of something else (we might propagate this possibility very clear). Having their votes “enshrined” could decrease the emotionality and frustration that goes along when they see their opinion disappearing regularly.

This approach also mitigates the intuitive perception to represent the “suppressed/forgotten majority”, which can facilitate and/or foster destructive developments.

We also could enable users in the “poll topics” to add suggestions for poll-possibilities, and let’s say, if a user gets 50 :bluethumb: , then we add this possibility to the poll (just an illustrative example) - but of course keep the “poll topics” clean of every discussion. This can increase trust and transparency.

Further, this also avoids users to create their own polls at third party platforms, which decreases trust when compared to our own polls later (I expect the third party poll was used mostly by frustrated users that felt ignored and unconsidered - making them feel to have no other alternatives left to organize themselves - while other users were more likely to reject third party stuff).

Just some thoughts :wink:


I didn’t think I’d agree with this, but I actually do. A clearly marked as advisory poll in the original post could be a good way to let people make their opinion known early on, especially if they don’t have much else to add. Of course, it’s also a good way to end up with “Fedora moves ahead with unpopular proposal” headlines when someone decides to brigade a particular proposal, but I’m less concerned about that theoretical problem than the actual problem we faced.


I agree with @dalto regarding splitting out the discussions.

Maybe not as part of the change process, but there should probably be a time frame identified for the deletion of flagged posts so they are handled consistently.


Unfortunately, we have just compromises available here. My approach is just another one.

I don’t think that was it. We kept seeing the same thing over and over everywhere, and it got worse after a while because people seemed to just be skipping to the end (and, really, who can blame them.)

I think the main problem was creating them too late, and not making them visible enough. I got feedback that people didn’t realize they could see an “everything” overview by looking at Change Proposals directly. This is also why I suggest actually closing the initial topic, emphasizing that all of these breakouts are important, not cast-offs.

To be clear, the points you quoted were intended to be two separate points.

I personally found it very difficult to follow the discussions across the multiple topics. Even if the topics had been there since the beginning, it wouldn’t have changed that for me.

Also, as one of the people trying to help keep them organized, it was hard to do. People want to discuss their feedback to the proposal broadly and many of the posts belonged in multiple breakout sections.


This reminds me of something I’m editing into the proposal above — I want to specifically recommend that people break up their own posts into smaller ones, rather than big long multi-replies. That’s actually easier on mailing lists too, but people aren’t used to it. And many forums actively discourage it — I have always found that odd, but I’ve come to an explanation: on those forums in mega-threads, no one really expects anyone but the most obsessive followers to actually read most posts. As I said above, they are judged mostly by the overall volume and noise in the thread — and in that situation, multiple posts seems like self-amplification. On the other hand, if we really want to focus on the content of people’s posts (and I think we do!) having them more “atomic” would help.

Since this is an anti-pattern on most forums in the world, I think it will be hard to get people to do that consistently.

1 Like

I think those forums are following an anti-pattern themselves — does my reasoning about that make sense to you? You’re right that it might be difficult. (I wish there were a “split post” mod tool, but there isn’t.)

I’d really like to try the “breakouts ready to go” approach, but if I’m in the minority on that, we could try the experiment the other direction, and just keep one gigantic thread.

I totally understand your point. I even agree with it. However, I just think that training the entire user base to interact differently on this forum than on every other forum will be a challenge.

My personal opinion is that if decide to take this approach, we need to think really hard about what the breakouts should be. I really feel that separating out opposition and support would be a really huge mess and have terrible optics.


By default, hidden posts are deleted after 30 days. (There is a site setting to turn this off, but oddly not to change the number.) I am going to edit the proposal to say this, instead.

1 Like

I can go either way on:

  • moderators may choose to delete egregious posts (those which are violent or profane) immediately.


  • in these discussions, moderators should not delete posts, even egregious ones — just leave them hidden.

I think discourse discourages that itself. At the moment, I think it limits consecutive posts to three and I think to remember that it then informs the user that this is bad habit and that everything should be put in one post. (I didn’t trigger this discourse “blocker” for long, maybe that was already changed?)

Perhaps I’m currently a little jaded, but I felt like the current (previous? recent, at least) discussion didn’t leave much room for dialog. When Michael tried to respond, he was accused of “not listening” and just aggressively pushing, leading to further complaints about this being a pre-made decision. And, I think that if people feel like they might be immediately jumped on for what they perceive to be an unpopular opinion, they’re less likely to participate — that tilts the conversation to 1) people who are naturally argumentative and 2) people with more extreme views about whatever the topic is.

I’m open to combining them, but I feel like constructive argument is better for emergent break-out topics about specific points.

A bunch of people shouting over each other in a room isn’t a discussion. The “artificial barriers” I’m talking about might seem like a hindrance, but the goal is to let everyone really speak and be heard.

It might not be the only way, but I strongly believe that we do need some kind of structure. I’m open to alternate ideas for that. One possibility is to put the topics in “slow mode”. That means participants must wait some time between (their own) replies (but they could create and reply in different topics). I’d love to hear other ideas, too.

It’s true! It does, by default. I’ve changed that to 10 here. When I have a free moment, I’ll go to and open a conversation arguing against encouraging that pattern. :classic_smiley:

How would you feel about combining those into one “Support and Opposition” topic, but keeping the “no arguing here” rule?

I see the “optics” advantage of combining them. And, more than just optics, I think that having them separate increases the temptation to measure each by volume/heat. I would expect FESCo and the Change Owners to not do that… but the temptation is still there.

The downsides I see are:

  • more likely to have arguing anyway
  • still may be intimidating to give a view.
  • if there are separate topics, each is easier to summarize

I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. :wink:

However, if we split the topics into for and against we eliminate all back and forth which isn’t the right thing to do either.

While that was definitely something that happened there are several considerations here

  • His early communications which were read by almost everyone were sometimes aggressive, prompting an aggressive response. Even though he softened his communications later on, people were still reading those older posts.
  • Engaging and arguing with every dissenting poster will lead in that direction. It would have been a lot more productive to read everyone’s responses and then post a more generic response to each broad opinion.
  • Some people will be aggressive, it is somewhat unavoidable. We can moderate around that but it has to be done with tact. Dropping a hammer on people in a discussion like that only escalates the situation more.

That makes more sense to me. However, what would that leave left over and how would the conversation flow? For example, you read the proposal and ask questions without sharing your opinion and then go into the other topic and share your opinion?

How do we separate arguing from discussion? If someone makes a statement where there is an alternative view, there isn’t much difference between an argument and a discussion objectively.

IMO, we shouldn’t be limiting “what” is said, we should be limiting “how” it is said. We need to stop personal attacks but if a handful of people want to go and forth discussing their opinions that might be annoying to some of us but I think it is also part of the process.

I think we made a couple of broad mistakes in the last round

  • We didn’t intervene enough to point out that this was only a proposal. We did, but we could have done it more aggressively.
  • Once the the author announced he was rewriting the proposal, we should have probably shutdown the topics with a clear message that the proposal is being revised and once the revisions are done there will be another round of review and discussion. All the discussion after that point has been meaningless speculation about what people “thought” was happening.