Amount of forum staff

sidetone

Daemon

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I believe there needs to be a little bit more forum staff, not necessarily moderators. Moderation is fine.

Some questions go unanswered on unpopular topics, especially for new users. This has been for many years. They get a lot of responses finally after someone else responds to them. This could discourage new users, and it leaves a gap in unanswered or unresponded to queries. At times these questions are fundamental as someone wants to do a particular task. Often, they're questions or topics I'm not knowledgeable of or particularly interested in. They're important, however, they're not along with what I'm setting up or have set up.

Also, for about 5 to 8 hours in a day there's no review on the how-to section. Usually, this is from evening to around midnight during US timezones. This has been more recently. I believe this slows down participation in that section. 1 or 2 more staff, that can fill those hours, answer a few new missed questions throughout the forum, and make up for the day if the current staff is out by being there overlapping those hours. Another moderator overlapping those hours couldn't hurt.
 

mer

Aspiring Daemon

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I believe there needs to be a little bit more forum staff, not necessarily moderators. Moderation is fine.

Some questions go unanswered on unpopular topics, especially for new users. This has been for many years. They get a lot of responses finally after someone else responds to them. This could discourage new users, and it leaves a gap in unanswered or unresponded to queries. At times these questions are fundamental as someone wants to do a particular task. Often, they're questions or questions I'm not knowledgeable of or particularly interested in. They're important, however, they're not along with what I'm setting up or have set up.

Also, for about 5 to 8 hours in a day there's no review on the how-to section. Usually, this is from evening to around midnight during US timezones. This has been more recently. I believe this slows down participation in that section. 1 or 2 more staff, that can fill those hours, answer a few new missed questions, and make up for the day if the current staff is out by being there overlapping those hours. Another moderator overlapping those hours couldn't hurt.
Ahh, so you're stepping up to the plate? Thank you for doing that.

If the forums were paid gig, they'd get lots of takers.
Me, I tend to look at whats been posted recently, but I may not answer simply because I have no input. If a question/post seems like the poster has not done their research, I ignore it. Yes that is opinion.

So if a post sounds like the OP did a bunch of research instead of being lazy, they'd get more answers.
"my car won't start, why?" vs
"my car won't start, I have good fuel, good spark, the engine turns over"
 
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sidetone

sidetone

Daemon

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How can I step to the plate, if those are questions I can't answer, or aren't particularly interested in, but acknowledging they're still important? I do answer or respond to questions which I'm interested in or knowledgeable of.

Actually, questions from those who haven't done their research get more attention. Lazy questions get lots more attention than from those which have shown effort.

It's also the problem, as I have pointed out, that a lot of good questions slip through the cracks, because they're not in current. They finally get lots of responses when someone posts to them. Another part of the problem, is that most attention goes to off-topic than anywhere else.

If they need to compensate staff with something, then they need to consider it.

If any current member from the minimal staff has to take off of a week, then the other ones get strained, you'll see my point.
 

mer

Aspiring Daemon

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How can I step to the plate, if those are questions I can't answer, or aren't particularly interested in, but acknowledging they're still important? I do answer or respond to questions which I'm interested in or knowledgeable of.
Sorry, I forgot to add all the appropriate emojis.

But your answer is basically true of everyone here. Not a paid gig, developers are busy developing, so yes, things are going to fall through the cracks.

Alot of folks forget about the mailing lists. Why? Maybe because they are "instant" and "directed". But they are a vast treasure of information. Ask a question about UFS on freebsd-fs or -hackers? You may get an answer from Kirk; can't get better than that. Yes, -current takes precedence on a lot of things, simply because "that's where the developers are". In a company getting paid to do this, you would have a group of developers tasked to work on -current, a different group tasked to work on -stable or -release. FreeBSD is already limited to personnel, so hard to have a group dedicated to maintainence. I'd posit even Linux (all distros) suffer from the same thing.

I understand what you're saying, I mostly agree, but it all boils down to time and desire. I realize that is a less than satisfying answer but it's about all I can offer.
 

Trihexagonal

Son of Beastie

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Since I posted my tutorial in 2017 I've watched new usrs very closely.

I rarely ever miss a change to help someone new if I can reference my tutorial and bring a lot of frustration down on myself at times in the process.

I am known to wander out in the weeds from time to time and go off topic. But you ain't seen nothing yet. :)
 

Vull

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I answer whatever questions I feel qualified to answer, regardless of how they're asked, or who is asking. I come from a world where people paid thousands of US dollars per year, year after year, to use good multi-user multi-tasking operating systems which, as good as they were, were still not as good, nor as easy to use, as this one. I come from a time where we had to spend a lot more time and money pouring over expensive, hard-to-get paper books and manuals, to get answers that were a lot harder to get than they are now.

Sometimes I feel like many people take all this free stuff for granted, but there you go, check it out, it is in fact nevertheless granted. Given all this, I can still appreciate and understand that people feel the way they do. We want more, and that's not a bad thing. It's a good thing, it's progressive, and it's understandable. If I had money to burn I'd be happy to pay for more forum staff here, but the way things are, I'm just grateful that they do the great job they're already doing, and happy to take whatever free stuff they feel they can afford to give us. Thanks for everything.
 

astyle

Daemon

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around midnight during US timezones. This has been more recently.
This part is not making any sense... But I can kind of see the point that sometimes questions go unanswered. I do think that mer is making a good point about forums not being a 'catch-all, final authority, perfect source of information'. You do have to know where to look for information, be willing to put in the work it takes to learn how to get the information, and to know not to take the forums for granted.

From my end of things, I posted a few threads, and was amazed at how fast I got answers for some of them. But sometimes, I'd post a thread - and get nowhere, like it happened with OpenCL (not gonna link to that right now). Would have been nice, but it is what it is, I'm grateful that the forums are around, and accessible all over this planet.
 

mer

Aspiring Daemon

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Having been around the block (this one and others) more than a time or two, here's what I see. All my opinion, take it for what it cost you :)

People respond to questions based on what they know, what they've personally done or experienced, when they feel they have something to offer. That something doesn't have to be positive, sometimes an answer of "don't do that you have a 90% probability of making your system unbootable. I know because I did that and had to reinstall".
Sometimes people have run into a similar/the same issue and they simply say "I ran into that, I tried x, y,z and they did not work".
Sometimes the question is interesting enough to enough people that they do a bit of duck-duck-going and then offer an opinion. That can trigger others to do similar and offer their opinion.
Some topics trigger a lot of people; ZFS is one of mine, simply because I've used it in FreeBSD since -9 when it came it. And Michael W Lucas and Allan Jude wrote a couple of awesome books on it. PF and other packet filtering is a close second for me.

How long is too long for a new thread to not have any posts? I don't know. 24 hours? What if an interested party is on holiday and they don't see it for 2 weeks?

There are no right answers here; noone is getting paid (as far as I know) to answer or moderate this forum. People are going to add input to things that interest them.
Maybe there could be something on the forum like a link to "list of topics within the last week that have had zero responses" to make it easier for everyone else to at least find them and take a look.

The amount of effort the forum has spent responding to "SystemD" could have been better spent elsewhere :)

The above is all my personal opinion, based solely on my own experience with a lot of different things and being told I'm "almost as old as dirt".
 

eternal_noob

Aspiring Daemon

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That's an insult. I'd much rather they hang out there where work is being done.
Sorry if i insulted anyone, wasn't my intention.
But i indeed think it would help if more developers would show up and help newbies getting started with FreeBSD.
 

richardtoohey2

Aspiring Daemon

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But i indeed think it would help if more developers would show up and help newbies getting started with FreeBSD.
Wouldn't you rather they fix bugs and add hardware support and so on?

Colin Percival (and others) are doing amazing things on FreeBSD boot times (not of massive importance to me personally but nice to have) - I'd rather they do that than answer the 500th question on how to get a graphics card working on a 10 year old laptop.

It would be nice if "someone" had the time and energy to offer free help to all those who need it, but as with any volunteer effort I've observed, "someone" is hard to find!

But that is just my 2c.

EDIT: and a huge thank you to the moderators and everyone else who makes these forums available!
 
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sidetone

sidetone

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How long is too long for a new thread to not have any posts? I don't know. 24 hours? What if an interested party is on holiday and they don't see it for 2 weeks?
I'd post a thread - and get nowhere, like it happened with OpenCL
It happens, where they get slip away from being current, and forgotten about. So that when they aren't seen, they aren't responded to, what turns into 2 weeks, then a year, then practically never.
forum like a link to "list of topics within the last week that have had zero responses"
That for threads would compensate for a lot.
This part is not making any sense...
The point I was saying, that during a certain time of the day, there are no mods or others to clear posts that are posted during that time, in sections like how-to. So they show up, up to 7 hours later after they're posted.


I actually thought, that the forums exist is much better than what's anywhere else.
 

Erichans

Member

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[...] Maybe there could be something on the forum like a link to "list of topics within the last week that have had zero responses" to make it easier for everyone else to at least find them and take a look.

Looks like the menu option:
Forums --> Find threads --> Unanswered threads
 
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sidetone

sidetone

Daemon

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Looks like the menu option:
Forums --> Find threads --> Unanswered threads
Those ones get passed up, then practically become never answered. If they're not in a bar, they continue to get ignored.
 

Trihexagonal

Son of Beastie

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But i indeed think it would help if more developers would show up and help newbies getting started with FreeBSD.
That's a time-based argument.

I don't have to hold down a job or parenting to do when I get home from that job. My time is mine to spend as I see fit, or through triage of most important first, work into my schedule. Whether that be working on my site, browsing the forums or listening to music all day. Any Development done is on my site and can only be done by me.

For the most part, they undoubtedly have less free time on their hands. If they can work Development of FreeBSD apps or such into it, for free, it's better spent there than here where someone like me can answer newbie questions.
 

Argentum

Aspiring Daemon

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For the most part, they undoubtedly have less free time on their hands. If they can work Development of FreeBSD apps or such into it, for free, it's better spent there than here where someone like me can answer newbie questions.
Agree! Newbie questions are usually not that complicated that we need to bother hard core developers.
 

tux2bsd

Active Member

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I believe there needs to be a little bit more forum staff, not necessarily moderators. Moderation is fine.
"Staff member" is just a poorly chosen label in XenoForo's forum software.

"Staff member" within the confines of forums.freebsd.org is a glorified mod (and/or/maybe admin).

"Staff member" in this forum does not identify a FreeBSD Foundation staffer.

A number of months ago I had a thread about it in Feedback but it got locked because certain egos disliked the discussion.
 

SirDice

Administrator
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Administrator
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Also, for about 5 to 8 hours in a day there's no review on the how-to section. Usually, this is from evening to around midnight during US timezones. This has been more recently.
For the past 5 or so years the active moderators/admins all live in Europe. We are asleep during the time slot you mention. You only noticed this recently because you've been submitting a lot of howtos recently (thanks for those by the way!).

1 or 2 more staff, that can fill those hours, answer a few new missed questions throughout the forum, and make up for the day if the current staff is out by being there overlapping those hours. Another moderator overlapping those hours couldn't hurt.
We are aware of this. One of the reasons we didn't pick a few people we had our eye on for promotion was because they also lived in the same European timezone as the rest of us. And we really want to add someone from the Americas and/or Asian timezones to have a more evenly spread.

How can I step to the plate, if those are questions I can't answer, or aren't particularly interested in, but acknowledging they're still important? I do answer or respond to questions which I'm interested in or knowledgeable of.
I don't always know the answer either, you could help push them in the right direction. Just responding alone will make sure the thread floats back to the top, giving it more "views". Sometimes posts just get snowed under and 'disappear' to the bottom of the pile.
So if a post sounds like the OP did a bunch of research instead of being lazy, they'd get more answers.
"my car won't start, why?" vs
"my car won't start, I have good fuel, good spark, the engine turns over"
Most of my posts are asking for the right information, as that information will help others to be able to answer it. So if you see a post like that, simply ask for specific information. That'll also help "float" that thread back to the top.

I think it would help if more developers would come here rather than hiding in Bugzilla land.
The whole point of the forums is to not bother the developers with "simple" user questions. So they could focus on their development. This is a user support forum. For users, by users. If you do happen to stumble upon a bug or something really technical you should ask that question on the mailing lists. And we typically direct you to those if/when that's appropriate.
 

forquare

Well-Known Member

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Colin Percival (and others) are doing amazing things on FreeBSD boot times (not of massive importance to me personally but nice to have) - I'd rather they do that than answer the 500th question on how to get a graphics card working on a 10 year old laptop.
I broadly agree with this, but I would say that there have been many times (certainly tens of times) where customers are having an issue so customer support goes through the normal hoops of helping them check documentation, going through the customer setup etc, explaining that this is a common problem or a common class of problem. Then one day there is a dev on the call, hears about this kind of problem and sees a way to make life easier for existing and new customers. Maybe it's a documentation change, maybe it's a process change, or a change to the product.

I can't help but feel that if someone is asking the same question that has been asked 499 times before (number plucked out of the air ;)) then maybe a dev looking at that rather than <rummages around recent contentious threads> changing the functionality of motd† might be a higher priority/higher impact change for FreeBSD?

† that being said, acknowledge my post from the motd thread, can't force people to volunteer on something specific. And my experience is very much from the commercial space, not Open Source/volunteering space.
 

eternal_noob

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The whole point of the forums is to not bother the developers with "simple" user questions. So they could focus on their development.
Developers having contact with end users is not unusal in the industry.
For example here is how Shopify does it: Bridging the Gap Between Developers and End Users

I agree developers should not waste time on questions covered in the handbook, but there are questions which result in a PR anyway.

For example, my first post here was a post about crashing Xorg. Felt pretty lost because no answers and i was forced to file a PR. Where i got no answers either.
I almost wanted to ditch FreeBSD and move on to something more talkative.

I think if it would have helped if a developer posted an answer to my thread here saying that they are working on an Xorg update and that it will be released soon.
 

astyle

Daemon

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Messages: 1,066

Developers having contact with end users is not unusal in the industry.
For example here is how Shopify does it: Bridging the Gap Between Developers and End Users

I agree developers should not waste time on questions covered in the handbook, but there are questions which result in a PR anyway.

For example, my first post here was a post about crashing Xorg. Felt pretty lost because no answers and i was forced to file a PR. Where i got no answers either.
I almost wanted to ditch FreeBSD and move on to something more talkative.

I think if it would have helped if a developer posted an answer to my thread here saying that they are working on an Xorg update and that it will be released soon.
Y'know, eternal_noob, sometimes it helps to have a conversation on the forums first, and then link to it when you do a PR. Devs do need some evidence that yeah, users are having problems with this or that. However, devs are people, too, and they need some help finding information. Even in the Open Source world, there's a need to have an organized, ironed-out process to follow, because that's how quality software gets churned out. If you don't go with that flow, you won't get the results you're after.

As for Xorg - they do host public repos, have their own mailing lists, etc. They are a separate project from FreeBSD. There's nothing wrong with following a different project. FreeBSD devs mostly try to make sure that all those different project can actually work under FreeBSD. FWIW, I actually spend a lot of time on kde.org and read their dev blogs. Why? because I'm trying to get KDE to be upgradeable under FreeBSD. I got a ton of help right here on FreeBSD forums, but a lot of my info comes from kde.org. I do disagree with how FreeBSD handled some parts of KDE installation (it's all over the ports tree, in just about every category in there, which makes upgrading a nightmare), but that is not stopping me.
 
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sidetone

sidetone

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For the past 5 or so years the active moderators/admins all live in Europe. We are asleep during the time slot you mention. You only noticed this recently because you've been submitting a lot of howtos recently (thanks for those by the way!).
I noticed it around the beginning of this year, when messages were put on hold. I thought about mentioning it sooner, but I finally did.


It seems like my how-to's are taken for granted. A lot of previously existing documentation is inadequate, ambiguous, outdated, disorganized, unclear or not in one place. I'll problem solve to find out what's still relevant, to clear up information and to fill in gaps. On a few, it's reading a book or a few, plus additional online documentation, and summarizing how to do something with that information. There's also not books for everything. Writing a how-to isn't as easy as posting a lot of text or opinion off of my head. A few are FAQ's, which summarize, to help clear up what technologies are that exist on FreeBSD. FAQ's are a little easier to write, and usually take less research than How-to's. Some FAQ's take some work, because there's few sources, and they're written ambiguously, then I have to figure out the exact meaning to write about it, or write about that with the right information getting as close as possible to filling in gaps of what was left out. Writing How-to's takes a lot of doing on my computer, which this often fills in gaps of what's left out of documentation, and also puts it together better.

I'll write on printing. There's nowhere else, you're going to find all that information in one place, explaining what information is still relevant. Then, a lot more people show up on the forums setting up their printer, but few of them show appreciation.

I also notice that a lot of people give good answers that solve problems, and maybe 1/3 of the time, there's lack of appreciation for that.

We are aware of this. One of the reasons we didn't pick a few people we had our eye on for promotion was because they also lived in the same European timezone as the rest of us. And we really want to add someone from the Americas and/or Asian timezones to have a more evenly spread.
Back to the topic, having an additional side box with the last 5 to 7 unanswered threads will largely compensate for a shortage or lack of people around the world. Also, a staff group with less forum abilities.


I also think a company could sponsor staff (including their own employees) in exchange for advertising. On the other hand, some companies could be in favor of hoarding in Linuxisms, SystemD or Gnome ways to FreeBSD. Or FreeBSD Foundation reward moderators and staff on a quarterly or yearly basis.
 
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