How to make contributing to Meta more enjoyable?

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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Or maybe there isn’t any requests, but this is actual meta-topic?

But.

Maybe the question is everyone is not agree they are listen, or acting? Or some are feeling they aren’t listening. Acting depends from various reason, and if there is given reason it is up to users if they accept it or not — but that is how people act. But there should be not so many ifs.

Absolutely free support from ”official Discourse* is not, but it is when it comes from community side — and the is its actually Discourse that get free support ;). This is part of somekind exchange economy. We can turn this upside down: participants are revealing issues totally free that Discourse can make its business.

But for me the whole question of money is really boring. But it can’t be some standard answer for everything.

I haven’t asked too many questions here. I can read documents and topics and do some googling. I don’t have too many issues with anything here. If I would have, I would disappear. But it doesn’t mean I’m totally happy with everything or keep automatically anything from team/official side — of from other users — the best possible way to act and — this is always bad — react. This is really human way, though.

As I see this topic it is more or less just request to team interact bit more with users. That means excuses that some thing or bug has recorded but burried after everything else and forgotten because of overwhelming job load is just lousy way.

Well, please continue. I don’t have anything else to say, and most of I gave is just empty meta, I know. I’ll continue find out why I can’t send tags with scandinavian alphabets from WordPress to Discourse — that is more relevant issue for me, and have been a while now :wink:

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That’s true too.

I personally don’t care likes. Those don’t play any roll to me (same with badges too). And now when we are on negative side, or I am perhaps, that is really good to remember: there is a really many bug/ux/feature-requests that has been solved unbeliviable fast. And when the results are important, that is much more important thing than amount of likes.

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Participants reveal issues because they are suffering those issues. There is no incentive except that issue getting fixed by a software change or a resolution of settings to get the behavior they expect.

Discourse makes business selling the hosted version of discourse primarily and the paying customers should be their first priority. we are self-hosting a free piece of open source software. They’re also helping us by answering our queries and I really appreciate them for that.

User to user support is a totally different ball game. I try answering queries to various support requests and try reproducing bug reports because I want those issues fixed. there is no financial or otherwise incentive for me except that the issue gets fixed and it would probably indirectly help one of my clients as well. In general, it will make the product more resilient and better in general.

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Noted. And underlined. :slightly_smiling_face: And it’s good to hear this now before I bumble into anything undesired.

These are very practical points (especially the Badge one, as I hadn’t considered that now I’ve been bumped to Team). I think I’d quite like Community Moderator for my staff title rather than Team, as I think having Team does give some of my practical advice an undeserved bit of authority. I’ll make enquiries. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I mainly agree, but I think as Discourse has grown (both in popularity and in complexity) we’re getting more people turning up wanting to learn how it all works. Ideally, I’d love to smooth out that process and make that as sugar-coated as possible can be tolerated. The sooner people feel confident doing x, y and z, the sooner they’ll feel comfortable sharing that knowledge and passing it on to the next new person (and so on).

My contributions probably aren’t as altruistic as they appear, as I learn by doing and repeating. So answering questions about admin settings, non-www SSL, upgrade snags, etc, etc helps me absorb the knowledge on a much deeper level than just reading a guide. And Discourse is so versatile and reconfigurable that mirroring different people’s different set-ups allows me to see an entirely new way of using it that I may not have considered before.

So, for me at least, the free support element is mutually beneficial. They hopefully get a solution, and I will hopefully have learnt something new. Win-win. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Acknowledgement

This question exists in every community. When you abstract the question, it also applies to the social interactions of life in general. Whether you like it or not, the post probably wasn’t valuable enough one way or another to the reader – especially when compared to the other things they are currently dealing with.

Can I make my Topic more valuable to the people I want to read it?

  • Could I remove some fluff?
  • Would an image help?
  • Is it even beneficial for them to deal with this, or is it going to take a lot of resources which they could have better spent elsewhere?

Meta in General

Agreed – in fact this whole post is good :point_up:

Understanding the user

One thing to consider, is that the Discourse team are also users.

Resources

The team had about 25 people when I looked in June. It’s now 64. That says two things:

  1. They have plenty of work to do
  2. They have plenty of work to do

They already had thousands of customers at a size of 25. Speaking from experience, they give really really good support to those paying customers. Especially compared to other companies, and especially when you consider the price. Over the last year I’ve had nothing but exemplary levels of support and interaction from the team. @rishabh in particular has been extremely patient with us.

Priority of Bugs

Paying customers find bugs too: if a bug is breaking something essential for a customer, it gets prioritsed. This happens in our business too – the biggest customer gets priority, because without them we can’t afford the things we need to satisfy the smaller customers. Further, the type of bug plays a massive role:

Example

Avatar has border on Published pages
What happens if this isn’t fixed? There is a blue line around an avatar on a page where the avatar isn’t even that important.

Permissions backdoor regarding flagged topics and title changes
What happens if this isn’t fixed? A bad actor can immediately re-publish content which was deemed confidential/inappropriate. What happens if that happens? Well, a paying customer now has a confidentially breach.


Contributing is about giving

Anything on meta is free. Everything on meta is free. All of the support, all the contributions, all the community. My enjoyment is from using Discourse and learning. I give back by contributing to the community as best I can.

Every contribution is already pre-rewarded with free and unlimited use of cutting edge software.

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That’s a given. The community support system has this as it’s biggest advantage. Best example would be people making comments on various issues & feature requests on GitHub. Sometimes, a feature exists and we simply don’t know about it because it isn’t used widely enough (or just not advertised enough) and some times, bugs are actually features or safeguards. We all get to learn something new each & every day and that’s the best kind of incentive to have. That’s why this topic doesn’t make much sense to me. This is a community and it should go by the community spirit.

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I wonder if it’s coincidence or just bad luck as of late but I had similar concerns. I found one bug, that is sure to affect everyone’s SEO rank- no one seems to care…

Edit Now I feel horrible… looks like this might be getting fixed afterall :smirk:

And yet there is topic and discussion of that.

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I absolutely agree with that. :+1: I think what I was hoping from this topic was for myself and the rest of the community to respond to someone who was finding it frustrating rather than rewarding, to have a check if anyone else felt the same, and to see if there was anything we could do differently to help smooth that out. I’m not looking to make any Big Changes. :slightly_smiling_face: Just maybe better promote the positive experiences of meta that have made contributing here so much fun for me.

I’ve personally found the replies so far really useful. They’ve firmed up a lot of assumptions I’d made from my own time chipping in here and there, but also made me think about a few of them differently too. I hope other people reading through it find it useful too (and maybe even encourage more contributions :slightly_smiling_face::crossed_fingers:).

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