Gentoo Archives: gentoo-project

From: "Michał Górny" <mgorny@g.o>
To: gentoo-project@l.g.o
Subject: Re: [gentoo-project] Deferred decision: Forums (specifically OTW)
Date: Wed, 12 Jun 2019 03:38:39
In Reply to: [gentoo-project] Deferred decision: Forums (specifically OTW) by Kristian Fiskerstrand
On Tue, 2019-06-04 at 15:05 +0200, Kristian Fiskerstrand wrote:
> The agenda item "Forums (specifically OTW)" was deferred to further > discussion in the mailing lists during the 2019-02-10 council meeting. > The agenda for that meeting can be found at [Agenda] and the tracking > bug is [Bug 677824]. > > This email aims to re-opens the discussion [which was started in a > previous thread] as per the council decision. > > I ask that the discussion remains civil and respectful, while also > allowing for a high bar for the actual discussion. >
I don't think OTW is a major problem. The real problem are *technical* forums, and those cause two problems. The first of them is that developers rarely hear of the problems with their packages. The second of them is that Forums tend to breed very bad 'solutions'. I don't mind providing multiple support channels as long as problems actually reach developers. However, I don't think it's news to most of the developers who don't actively participate in Forums (read: look for new threads everywhere) that some problems never leave them. During my years in Gentoo I've been pinged a few times over expansive Forum threads on problems with my packages which never made it to Bugzilla or anything else that I actually could've noticed. It all relies on courtesy of accidental developers (who are not Forum moderators, I should add). I can only imagine how many problems were never addressed properly because the maintainer never learned of them, and cheap hacks proposed on Forums were sufficient for the users. And no, I don't think that requiring every developer to directly follow all Forum feeds is a solution. A side effect of the former problem is that Forums are home to many horrible 'solutions'. Sadly, those solutions sometimes involve making things *much worse* than they were before. This is problem both for users who end up victims of having their systems broken, and developers who end up having to help fix the resulting breakage. Breakage resulting from use of dev-python/pip is the most prominent example I know of. Multiple Forum victims ended up using it to 'fix' problems. As a result, they ended up with obsolete directly installed packages overriding Gentoo packages and breaking stuff. The scale of this was so great that I had to actually patch dev-python/pip to block installing packages system-wide. Which is a technical hack to a social problem. I'm not saying Forums is the only source of the problem, people can figure out how to break systems themselves. However, Forums is frequently a source of bad information that is mistakenly trusted and is not properly verified and rejected. To summarize, I think the two major problems with the Forums are: 1) not passing information properly to package maintainers, and 2) lack of proper Q/A. If you can solve them, I don't have any problem with the Forums. -- Best regards, Michał Górny


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