Should we combine AskFedora into this instance of Discourse?

I’m guessing that they are in separate instances now because of legacy reasons - but since discussion is now up and running couldn’t we create a category (and associated sub-categories) for “Ask Fedora” here? The “Ask Fedora” url would remain, but just be redirected to the “Discussion” category.

The benefit of having everything together would be that people would see all the categories in one place. IMO having multiple separate instances just adds complexity and confusion.

IIRC, keeping them separate was an intentional decision. I can’t find the reasoning written down anywhere with a cursory search, but @FranciscoD can probably explain.

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Yes, keeping them separate was intentional mainly because the two instances serve different purposes. While this instance is meant more for discussion around development of Fedora (and replaces some of the mailing lists, for example), Ask Fedora is only meant for end-user discussion. Combining them risks lots of end-user questions in development discussion categories, and we do not want that.

The other reason is an implementation issue. Ask Fedora supports multiple languages, and this has to be done using the category system that Discourse provides—separate Discourse instances for all categories would require a lot more financial resources, and they wouldn’t share information either.

Having said this, of course there is overlap between the two but in general, the conversations on the two instances are quite different.

Thanks for the quick reply… I’m a bit confused about your statement. I was wondering why we aren’t just using a single discourse instance for all categories - not a separate instance for each category. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears we are now using multiple discourse instances - which would seem to be more expensive.

If you’re saying that it’s cheaper to keep “Ask Fedora” and “Discussion” separate then I understand and completely agree with that reasoning. If not however, and we’re paying more just to keep an occasional question from appearing in the wrong category, that doesn’t seem to me to be justifiable - but hey, I’m not paying the bill. I would think the moderators could move the occasional mis-categorized question if need be.

No, you’ve misunderstood. It is cheaper to keep one Discourse instance for AskFedora and use the top level categories there to support multiple languages than it is to have multiple instances for different languages. That is what we’re doing now.

LOL… I’m still confused but it’s OK. If you’ve run the numbers, I’ll take your word for it.

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For what it’s worth, we’re now at the level of traffic on both sites that we’d have to move to a “contact us for pricing!” enterprise plan if we combined them.

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Sorry, missed this reply. Let me try to clarify:

Discussion within the community happens in English, which is our common language. So here, on Discussion, we don’t need to worry about multiple languages. We organise the forum based on the different teams/SIGs.

For troubleshooting user issues, we want users to be able to use their native languages to speak to the community—so English isn’t compulsory there. Any Fedora community member can request new language categories on Ask Fedora. We simply ask that they’re able to commit to moderating the category (Language support :: Fedora Docs). Now, there are two ways of supporting different languages on Discourse:

  • have a different instance for each language,
  • abuse the category system so that the top level categories split a single instance into different language based “sub-forums”.

(Askbot allowed language based “sub-sites” IIRC: discussion.fedoraproject.org/en, discussion.fedoraproject.org/es and so on).

The first option, of course, is expensive, not merited by the activity levels in non-English categories, and a lot more work to administer/maintain. So, on Ask Fedora, we’ve gone for the second option. Discourse is limited to two category levels (unless this has changed recently), so where top level is used to divide the forum by language, the second one is used to divide topics for some organisation—we use very simple distinctions, based on the Fedora life cycle (install/upgrade or use/customise).

If we tried to use a single Discourse instance, first the categorisation would need to be rethought. We’d still like to keep language categories for troubleshooting. So perhaps we’ll end adding a new category for support with Support > English, Spanish etc. (which would be fine by me). For users that are not well versed with the community, though, having so many top level options would be confusing. Someone has a question about installing a package. Should they go to “support”? But then, what if they are using the Fedora Server: should they then post in the “server” category? But they’re trying to install an RPM, so should they post in the “rpm packaging” sub-category?

In general, we just felt that it was risky to mix intra-community discussion with troubleshooting. The target audiences for the two use cases are very different. It’s the similar to having different -devel and -user mailing lists. We don’t want -devel to be used for end-user troubleshooting and we don’t want development discussion to leak into -user mailing lists. With mailing lists, the division is very clear since people don’t see other lists at all. With different categories on Discourse, not so much. So, our solution was to have different instances for the two, each customised to best carry out its distinct purpose.

I think this works well, and I personally don’t see a good enough reason to merge the two. Ask Fedora has always been separate: we simply moved from Askbot to Discourse. Discussion.fp.o started off as a replacement to the community discussion mailing lists and I cannot recall any discussion about it absorbing Ask Fedora when it was set up.

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