On 04/04/18 17:26, Jimmy McArthur wrote:
Hi everyone!

We have a very robust and vibrant community at ask.openstack.org <https://ask.openstack.org/>.  There are literally dozens of posts a day. However, many of them don't receive knowledgeable answers.  I'm really worried about this becoming a vacuum where potential community members get frustrated and don't realize how to get more involved with the community.

I'm looking for thoughts/ideas/feelings about this tool as well as potential admin volunteers to help us manage the constant influx of technical and not-so-technical questions around OpenStack.

Here's the thing: email alerts. They're broken.

I have had my email alert preferences set to 'only subscribed tags' with a daily 'Entire forum (tag filtered)' email for several (like 4) years now. I am subscribed to exactly 3 tags.[1]

For the first 3 years, I didn't receive any email alerts at all despite repeated fiddling with the settings. At the beginning of 2017 there was a software update and I started getting daily emails that are *not* tag filtered. (I know it was due to a software update, because the first emails started coming from the staging server.) Within a couple of days those emails started to go directly to spam, because GMail. I trained it not to do that any more for me, but it's unlikely most people did, and in any event all I get is a daily email that generally doesn't contain any of the questions I am interested in - even on days where there _are_ in fact new questions with tags that I am subscribed to.

I've been able to make a reasonably significant contribution to answering questions because I've made it a habit to check the site itself regularly (and the tag filtering on the home page works really quite well). But anyone wanting to use technical means to give them notice about only the stuff they're interested in only when needed would be unable to do so. (And even if you fixed it at this point it'd all be sucked into spam filters.)

There's other problems too - for example if somebody posts a question with not enough information and I post a comment asking for more, I won't get a notification when they reply unless they specifically @ me, which most people won't. (Sometimes I've discovered the replies only years later.) In fact in general the learning curve is way too high for people who just want to ask a casual question - for example, I'd say users are considerably more likely to respond to a correct answer by posting their own 'answer' that says 'It worked!' (or, worse, contains a totally unrelated question) than they are to click the 'Accepted answer' button - and there's no point trying to educate them because you almost never see the same user twice. Those are all broader problems with the design of StackExchange though; the alert thing is a feature that's supposedly present but doesn't work as advertised.

It's also worth noting that the voting in general is fairly pointless because ~nobody has an account registered. So if people find a useful question and/or answer on ask.openstack from a search engine, they still won't bother to upvote because they'd have to create an account. Communities with critical mass like StackOverflow can use voting as a quality signal to surface the best content; we don't get enough data for that. (For reference, I've answered 237 questions and less than a dozen have ever gotten a second upvote - which is likely a good proxy for 'has ever been voted on by someone other than the original questioner'.)

So, suggestions:

* Fix the email subscription thing.
* Ensure all devs have an account - perhaps by creating one for them using their IRC nickname & Foundation email? - and encourage people to @ each other when they see a question where they don't know the answer but they know who would (like you might add people to a Gerrit review). (Although realistically most of this will end up in the Spam folder... some might say deservedly ;) * Encourage teams to figure out a set of tags they want to watch, and encourage at least all core reviewers to log in once and set up their tag subscriptions so they'll see something useful when they visit the homepage. * Ask each team to come up with 1 or 2 volunteers to subscribe to (filtered!) email alerts and try to answer or triage incoming questions.

For those of you already contributing there, Thank You!  For those that are interested in becoming a moderator (instant AUC status!) or have some additional ideas around fostering this community, please respond.

I'm not sure what else there is that I can't already do at my current karma level, but you're welcome to add me to the list and I'll try to do some of it in my travels.


[1] Feel free to use your admin powers to poke around in my settings to try to figure out what is going on: https://ask.openstack.org/en/users/2133/zaneb/?sort=email_subscriptions

Looking forward to your thoughts :)

irc: jamesmcarthur

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