How to make contributing to Meta more enjoyable?

I’ve reported/confirmed three albeit minor bugs in the last three weeks - not any acknowledgement that the posts have even been read by a team member …
they’ll edit my sarcy gif fast enough though …
I was thinking about following the Discourse Support Enthusiast’s Training … set up a sandbox, tried to install locally too, asking questions, trying to be helpful … this has just sucked out all the enthusiasm I’ve got.

oprah winfrey GIF

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I’m going to slide this over into its own #site-feedback topic so we can chat about it freely without fear of going off-topic. :slightly_smiling_face: I hope you don’t mind. :crossed_fingers:

I don’t know if you’d include me as officially part of the ‘team’ yet, but I have read them. :raised_hand::slightly_smiling_face: Though I think I could do a much better job than I have been on leaving some Likes and acknowledgement to show that I have. I’m confident other team members will have read them as well, but I appreciate that without leaving a little something to say they have it can look a lot like no one is listening.

I was genuinely sad to read this. Obviously I love the Discourse Experts programme, as I think it’s one of the main reasons I managed to land this job. :slightly_smiling_face: I would definitely recommend it if it’s something you’re interested in, and I’ll happily be your onboarding buddy if you want to reach out and ask any questions. :+1: The others are very generous with their help too (luckily for me, as they know so much more than I do :slightly_smiling_face:)

I’ve just started as the new Community Moderator for Meta, so I’m really interested in how we can make it feel fun and rewarding for more people to join in and contribute (whether part of the Expert programme or not). It takes a fair bit of time and effort to help other people with their problems, reproduce bugs, etc. and I think it’s important that people feel their contributions are valued.

With that in mind, is there anything you’d like to suggest that I could do differently to make it a more enjoyable experience?

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Congratulations on joining the team.
I’m sure this was before you started.

Also thanks for your very generous offer to be my ‘onboarding buddy’.

Keep on being as friendly as you are now in seven years time … if someone takes the time to report or reproduce bugs or give any kind of feedback … as a minimum click :heart: Because …

nearly right … it does look a lot like no one is listening.

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I will certainly try to stay this friendly. :slightly_smiling_face: And I will definitely make sure I leave a least a ‘something’ to show that we are listening. From being on the other side of it, I do appreciate that spending time on contributing something only for it then to seemingly disappear into an abyss is not a great feeling. I assure you though, the team do read everything (which sounds an exaggeration, but it really isn’t).

Not a problem. I hope you’ll take me up on it. :slightly_smiling_face::+1:

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Just to make it clear, the gif edit is an automated job that downloads remote images to the local storage, so we don’t lose the image when the remote site disappears, not something a staff member does manually.

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Hi Falco,

No that isn’t what I mean and I do know that thanks.

codinghorror - 19hrs ago at the moment
edited/removed a gif from my post
Guess he doesn’t think I’m a ‘Loser’ :wink:
Absolutely done manually.
Just making that clear.

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I like Discourse very much, I’ve done three migrations, I browse meta, and have done several and successful jobs on #marketplace in the past.

Just 2 things bother me (a bit only!) when browsing and posting.

  1. Posting in #support and having no reply in days or weeks. But that’s normal, sometimes people don’t have the solution, or the time, or the will to help for free. It is a bit frustrating by nature and not specific to Discourse :sweat_smile:

  2. Suggesting stuff in #ux or #feature and having no follow-up of any kind when a topic has some traction from replies and/or likes, especially from influent members or official Discourse developers who acknowledge that these are good ideas. Then I wonder where happens to these ideas/suggestions.

    Does the dev team have some kind of work document where “interesting” ideas are wrote down/bookmarked and set aside, to be thought about more in the future? Do some of these ideas simply go in the trash bin without letting the author know? Do some of them are kept in low priority, could be very well added in the future, but we’re simply not told at this stage?

    I understand many reasons for which there wouldn’t be any follow-up on these topics, but that’s a bit frustrating nonetheless because when people post suggestions, it’s (often) because they care and think that could add value to Discourse. :slight_smile:

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If it makes you feel any better, I work for Discourse and there are tasks I’ve assigned myself that I haven’t been able to get to in a year or longer. We’ve got thousands of customers at this point, and need to prioritize their bugs/features/requests to continue operating as a business.

There are also open bug reports for Chrome and Safari that I’ve been waiting on that were first opened 10 years ago… and these are companies that are 1,000 times larger than we are. It’s kind of the nature of software development to have an eternal backlog.

Remember that Meta is free support for a product we give away for free. If something is incredibly important to you, the best way to get our attention is to be a paying customer or to submit a PR to implement it yourself (or pay a contractor to do so). Some people understandably can’t do that, and in those cases the most valuable thing to have is an abundance of patience.

More often than not we don’t know. Maybe we can get to it in a month, or maybe it’ll be a year! We plan some big priorities and smaller features/tasks get picked up when they can be. Maybe it’s something that no one else finds interesting and it fades away to history.

We do want to respond to more posts here on Meta, and as @JammyDodger mentioned that’s why we hired him as a moderator here… the first time we’ve ever had an employee dedicated to Meta specifically!

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All you’ve got to do is click :heart: just acknowledging time, effort and existance is what I am talking about.

But I really want to get dragged into this any further … I’ve has a series of negative experiences here and this seems to be adding to them.

Great team defense though.

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I’ll add that one thing that makes contributing to meta more enjoyable is giving back what we learned.

Most of us, I think, came here first with questions, suggestions… And were given help and replies. We learned about Discourse, online communities, programming…

As I often say, I’m no coding wizard at all, but over the years so many people have helped me, and in return, I try to help other people in #support to the best of my abilities. They are quite low, but sometimes, low is more than enough to help someone. :slight_smile:
Suggesting UX enhancements, new features, reporting bugs, etc… Is also a way to give back to the community what they offered to us.

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That’s exactly what i was doing … but it was one-way

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I’m not part of the Discourse team, but I do develop theme components/plugins for Discourse.

I can say that I really do appreciate bug reports and people spending the time to make them as these can be very helpful. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with other work and don’t have time to respond right away, so I usually have the habit of bookmarking the post with a reminder to look at it when I have more time.

In fact, it looks like I have one for one of your reports on my copy post component :slight_smile:

Perhaps, bookmarking with reminders could be a technique more could use?

I do need to get into the habit of :heart: the reports though. Thanks for the feedback!

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I’m pretty sure that most users don’t use all the features Discourse has to offer and that could make the experience even more enjoyable.
I’m aware of the bookmark feature (hey, I’ve done Discobot’s tutorial… :smile:), it’s amazing, but I literally never think about using it.
But I’m feeling that I’m going a bit off-topic - a bad habit, sorry…

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If I understand well @geoff777 your topic is centered around your acknowledgment/recognition from other users and/or staff? The topic was split so you may not have decided specifically what it was about.

But I think I do understand how you feel.

Because when I started working a long time ago (and for a long time) I was just a contractor for someone who managed the projects. He was almost the only one that was talking to his clients, I just wrote code following guidelines, basically.

I had feedback only when the work wasn’t as good as expected or if there were issues.
If the work was good enough and the client was satisfied, I didn’t have any feedback at all.

After a while, it made me sad not to have my good work recognized and I talked the person I worked for (that I knew very well) that I’d like a bit more consideration and have not only bad feedback, but also positive feedback if my work was done right. That would motivate me more.

He went this way for a while, but the situation ended by staying the same as before. I learned to accept that the silence - no feedback - meant my work was good.

But your issue is different here because I agree that nowadays, a single click on the like button is indeed positive feedback, an acknowledgment, a recognition, a share of belief, etc.


So, maybe the fundamental question here is: why are your posts not acknowledged as you expect them to be?

Personally, instead of discussing a personal issue, I’d be more interested in a discussion as the title says: “how to make contributing to meta more enjoyable?”, but in a general way.

And except for the little things I posted, I can’t say much more, I don’t have any real issue with meta.


I suppose that when a person makes suggestions about features and UX, they often think their ideas are at the least very convenient, and at the most super awesome. Like “how the hell did nobody think about that before?” We are biased, we all want to think we are intelligent, know better what other needs, that things we think about aren’t that difficult to implement and that everyone applauds at the end… And I’m very guilty (and aware!) of that.

At first, I enjoyed seeing a few likes and Osioke’s very positive reply here, for example. But I was disappointed by the lack of traction at the end (the topic seemed to “fade away into history”, to use your words), when I was sure my idea was top-notch and inventive in the context of a forum because I faced this image searching issue so many times in the past.
But in the real world, that doesn’t work necessarily this way. Maybe looking for specific images in a forum is too much of a niche use of the search. Maybe it’s incredibly difficult to implement. Maybe there are tons of more important things to do with Discourse. Maybe [insert dozen of reasons to lack of traction].

I also checked Discourse’s direct concurrents (Flarum, nodeBB) to see if they had a similar features (they don’t), and looked at Discoure’s repo to see how the results’ excerpts were done to try to grasp a bit how it worked (I understood almost nothing, obviously… :laughing:).

In this sense, I didn’t enjoy the lack of feedback on a contribution I thought was awesome.
But on this particular topic, that was my own personal issue, not a general issue.

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Hi Canapin,

Thanks for sharing your experiences.
The client - contractor - coder situation you describe sounds typical.
Bad person management by the contractor. Only negative feedback over a long period of time is erosive.

I don’t have a problem with any users or individuals here.
In fact the opposite there are lots of people here that I admire for their contributions.

I’m going to make sure I hit :heart: more often, not just here but across the websites I frequent.
There are some great contributions here that people spend a lot of time researching, providing links, code snippets, even posts with input fields that generate user specific code to copy. Show them some :heart: it’s deserved.

I’ve had mixed reactions from the team.
Some have been supportive.
Others that it’s industry standard to ignore … often for years … it’s free - shut up … we’re already doing our best … we have 1000’s of paying customers … and by DM … Nothing to see here … all is perfect … if you want to contribute in the future … get back in your box and play nice.

Where the ‘likes’ landed was interesting.

I think if JammyDodger had been employed a month sooner my contributions might have been acknowledged.
Probably problem solved?

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I’ve certainly got my fingers-crossed. :slightly_smiling_face::crossed_fingers:

I found the links @osioke gave us for the Support Enthusiast training quite useful to get an idea of what influences the priority list. The Rule of Three in particular crops up quite a bit when you know it exists. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I agree that the Discourse team can come across a bit team-defensive at times - and I also think that’s mostly unnecessary. But to chime in some other feedback here I actually really like that Meta is a community that’s not only run by dedicated community managers. It seems rare that you have community where almost all the people that work on stuff and decide things are actually active community members. It probably comes with the terrain that they don’t have time to respond to everything. At least me, I’m overall more happy to live with that than what I’d see as the most common alternative: community managers acknowledging your contribution and being hyper-friendly, but all they can say is that they’ve forwarded it to the responsible team.

Well, there’s probably a middle-ground and I hope the team here finds it. Maybe communicate a bit better who team members are and how they take part in the community? In the specific case of the #bug category, maybe change how the Bug-Reporter badge works? It’s probably responsible that the team is stingy with initial likes there :wink:

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I don’t contribute at all, so this topic isn’t for me I guess. But in generally, and most of users here knows all of this.

There is a strongly hierarchical community here, as it should be. A bit like in British society. Some are strongly developers, some are more end-users, but they are trying to provide a platform for discussion.

The way the two groups discuss, implement things, and understand things in general is quite different.

Nor is it easier for Meta to be a global community. I’m weird, as well as a Finn, so I don’t care about American-style icing. I’m just interested in the thing. Someone else might take the direct-writing as a bloody insult.

Then the matter itself is basically lost, and nothing moves forward. Even if both parties agree on the issue or problem.

Even a language barrier is a strong stumbling block, or at least a risk. I write strongly in Pidgin English using Finnish expressions, and I do not master the basics of prepositions. I read English fluently, though. It is easy to get misunderstood, and at the same time helping others, or participating in them at all, is behind a higher threshold. There is no solution to that, but it explains why not everyone can participate.

There is one fundamentalist problem plaguing every developer forum. Developers develop for themselves and therefore have difficulty understanding the needs, reactions and desires of the average user.

Meta is by no means the worst example, but a similar atmosphere can be seen here as well. What could be done about it then? Nothing, I think. It comes from such a different world.

Bug messages and the like must be responded to. In most cases, people react. But it must have some kind of follow-up system that tells you a little later whether a wish or error can be fixed quickly, in the near future, or whether it is unrealistic. The same is true for feature desires.

Just as people read differently, so does the writing style. Some of the Methane-related are remarkably sunny. Some are short and from time to time even dull in the opinion of Finns. But unnecessarily often I see clear passive-aggressiveness if the average user refuses to bow to the will of the developers.

But of course there is a problem with users as well. And different abilities in technical problems do not make it any easier. In addition, quite a few of the obvious requests for support are strongly faq material and it is clear that not even the basic instructions have been read.

The fact that staff are able to respond most often with help is commendable. I myself might not be as long-suffering.

But one request I have. Never say that something doesn’t happen because Discourse is free. That is not the case and it is a strongly degrading claim to the community. Without the community, you would have no platform to sell credibly to corporate customers. Those who maintain a free forum pay for use by doing ongoing testing. At the same time, some of them, who have sufficient technical skills and the necessary language skills, do a lot of the support activities that belong to the company.

On the same axis is a reminder that paying customers are served first and according to their wishes. Of course, if you want to point out a clear division between categories A and B users, that is a workable policy.

Each of us knows what the economic realities are. But it doesn’t have to be waved like a wet rag towards your face. Come up with another expression. Lack of resources, hurry, is sufficient.

Sorry, I can’t respond constructively to the title. Maybe it would help if we all even tried to understand the needs of others, find some middle ground, and reach a consensus that combines Discourse’s business, community activities, and content of Meta.

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I’m sorry to say this, but I have very strong feelings against this topic. I had been reading without any bias to maybe try making sense of what was being requested. First & foremost, anyone who is here on meta for any more than a couple of days is basically here because they love the ambience and are trying to be a part of the community around the product i.e. discourse. Meta isn’t a social network or support group to make the participation sugar coated.

There are times when I was wrong & corrected by fellow discourse users or discourse staff of my wrong assumptions or approaches. These could sometimes sound rough but I understand that everyone has their way of having a conversation and hence, people would try to make their point rather than making you feel welcomed. However, because I enjoy using discourse and want to help the discourse community in my free time, such a behavior has never deterred me from participating on meta.

The fact is that no matter how sugarcoated meta becomes, the likes and replies always work as a strong indicator of the relevance of a message. Sometimes, the OP in a support topic would totally disregard the help material provided to them and rather post their own comment (e.g. I did this and then this as mentioned above and it fixed my problem) then they mark their own comment as solution. This behavior in itself is deterring enough that someone could have mixed feelings about it, especially the one who replied to the user trying to help them. I totally understand that there could be odds where a user actually did something totally different than the suggestion to fix their issue but more often than not, they actually fix their issues by following someone else’s advice and then mark their own reply as solution, does that indicate the user is too stubborn to accept that someone else helped them?

Another issue I see is that sometimes the topics are not acknowledged for days. While this would be a big downer if the support was a paid option, discourse team is already generous enough to listen to our voices and act upon it, the support being provided on meta is absolutely free. I don’t expect my bug report or feature request to frantically blow up and establish records of number of likes and comments etc. If a request or report is genuine, it will be included when time allows for it, and we always have a choice to actually become a paying customer and get the attention of the team at an escalated pace.

All in all, I’m not resistant to any inclusive behavior but honestly, Even if every single user on meta tried to encourage new contributions, those who have to go will go and those who enjoy being here would remain. So what’s the point?

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I could have written that myself Jakke.
(except for being Dutch and not Finnish, but Dutch people are at least as direct).

And you do contribute.

My two cents on this:

Yes, sometimes the lack of feedback can be frustrating a bit. But on the other hand I have many examples where I found a bug and it was resolved and merged even before I could check if I got a like on my post.

Although a healthy community is an important condition to a good open source product, it’s not the ultimate goal: the goal is the product. And when I compare the community to any other open source product, I think it could very well be the best community out there. Most other open source products have much less lively or less coherent communities, if they have one at all.

And yes, sometimes there is something what could be called “team defense”. But is there any other open source product that hired so many people because they contributed so well to the community?

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