Better solution to help TL0 / new users?


(ginger man) #1

I understand the below topic is closed after lot of deliberation about using private messages to admin (moderator)

The major drawbacks in using PM to communicate with admin(moderator) / admin (moderator) group for new users are

  • Spams
  • Change in Trust Level System
  • No transparency to other moderators / admins about the conversation
  • No flexibility in control - it is all in or nothing kind of setting

But the actual problem is still there - it is important to make new users comfortable before they understand the community. There are always people who dont discover FAQ link or dont read the content in FAQ. They would love to have some user interaction before they do the right things. Anyone who is managing the community will understand this.

So I propose the following approach to address this problem.

  • Create a category called “newbie”.

  • Assign “Create only” permission for TL0 users

  • Assign “Create, Reply and See” permission for Admins / Moderators

  • Create Only Permission

    • A user can only create a topic and
    • A user can see / reply to topics created by him
    • A user cannot see / reply to topics created by others

This is very similar to Lounge category created for TL3 & above. A community can create / delete lounge & newbie categories if required.

Advantages of this approach

  • A new user feel comfortable in knowing there is a place to ask any noob questions without people judgment
  • The workload of answering questions is shared among the admin / moderator groups or may be others we identify as community managers
  • All newbie questions are visible to all admins / moderators / community managers at one place. We can identify if there is any pattern and create new FAQs and banners accordingly.
  • No need to change the existing Trust level privileges or security controls. We can leverage the existing security infrastructure of categories.
  • No new UI / UX changes.
  • This is completely an optional step for a community. They can remove the category or change the minimum trust levels at any time.
  • We can leverage the tags, subcategories features to organize the newbie questions as well.
  • This small addition in category will also help in increasing the adoption of discourse in many other usecases like
    • helpdesk for customers in SAAS / tech support in any organization
    • talk to your CEO / ombudsman kind of scenarios for internal usage in orgs
    • for personalized training / q & a among introvert / health related audience.

@cpradio @HAWK @Mittineague @Gabe @TechnoBear @JSey @purldator what do you guys think ?

@erlend_sh @mcwumbly @lightyear do you guys think if there is any known drawback in this approach ?

I believe this is technically less complex approach with more benefits

Please let me know your comments


Weird notification about untracked topic
(Sam Saffron) #2

This ain’t gonna solve the problem. Example issues of new users:

  • How do I log on?
  • How do I create a topic?
  • Why can I not post images?
  • Why can I not include links in my post?

Creating more work for moderators is not the way of solving this issue.

Create and See has already been discussed in another topic, I am not sure if this topic is needed.


(Jeff Atwood) #3

A “newbie help” category is something I proposed in the original topic… I like the idea of users helping users but it might not be fun for the more experienced users. And it might not scale.

Please don’t mass name mention a bunch of folks like that though, and the links were a bit tenous and too many of them so I took the liberty of editing your post.


(Sam Saffron) #4

my concern here is that its not a “newbie help” category, its more of a “newbie” feel free to vampire staff category.


(ginger man) #5

@sam I am just curious…If there is a category where everyone can create/reply/see topics like meta.discourse.org, how do you control them from posting irrelevant stuff ?


(Sam Saffron) #6

Not following your question.

You are suggesting a topic where newbies can create and mods triage and reply. A sort of public to a degree private message. I can see it useful in some cases, but do not think it is a great way of handling newbie issues as it loads up moderators with work.


(Mittineague) #7

Not a drawback as far as I’m concerned. If I see SPAM - it’s gone. Asking for private help - sorry, start a Topic, Something related to the forum that they’re too shy to voice openly - help them

That indeed could be a messy thing to code

Moderators can always Invite other Mods, Admins don’t need an Invite

??? sorry, I don’t know what you mean by that

Anyway, what you are describing is having a category acting as a PM
And I don’t know, but it seems getting it to be visible to only the OP and Mods would likewise be messy to code.

We have opted for a more explicit “you can reply to this Welcome PM” for the time being and put the concern on the back burner.


(Tarak'ha) #8

I agree with what is said above why the proposed system by @gingerman isn’t viable. But I don’t poo-poo their time to think about it and actually write it out. Thank you for doing that, it’s appreciated.

Isn’t there a proposed feature coming up that allows anon posting? That takes care of the “I don’t want others to know it’s me asking the question”.

EDIT: I realize my second question and initial idea was related to what @gingerman was proposing. At this point, I throw up my hands at this in a frustrating mien and go do something else not related to this quandary.


(cpradio) #9

Except, this, automatically permits TL 1-4 too. It is a >= when it comes to TL’s, if I recall correctly.

This also has a bad assumption. You are assuming those who are having troubles using Discourse, are capable of using Discourse enough to get help.


(ginger man) #10

Thanks to @Mittineague @cpradio @purldator for providing your views.

I believe every community will have 2 kinds of new users.

1st category of new users - have no clue about the basic features like posting. Let’s assume someone born in 1950s who are new to internet. You can help them with emails and first time PMs.

2nd category of new users - knew how to use basic features but still have questions if certain topics are relevant in some places and they are basically shy to participate until they are confident. These are the people who feel confident after conversing with someone. They want to avoid the embarrasment of being wrong among others. Let’s assume students, people new to a place.

All my ideas may not help the category 1 but it will surely help category 2.

I have been testing with a public category called “help” in my community. Still I get questions in email about many things before they post. FAQ and banner messages cannot solve everything. I understand this may not be scalable but the alternative is losing the audience.

Thanks @sam @codinghorror for the replies as well. As I explained, as a community manager I think from retaining and growing my audience whatever it takes…in an ideal world everything should be scalable but in reality we may have to take alternate routes.


(cpradio) #11

I believe there to be more than that :wink:

Our issues are different too, which means our solutions wouldn’t (necessarily) be the same.

I honestly believe because your category 2 users want a private conversation, the Help category is likely still public. Primarily because Create only set to TL 0 doesn’t limit it to TL 0. Would more advanced security settings permit these users to use a category for their assistance? Maybe. But I don’t see it happening simply because they’d need to be reassured that the category is “private”, no one but staff/whomever can see their questions (that’s a lot of teaching that has to happen that is explicitly assumed with Private Messages).

I’m curious to hear how things continue to progress with your experiment. My guess is you’ll always continue to get emails, what would be really interesting is if the number of emails start to become less and less over time.