I strongly support a proper FAQ/Welcome post in this forum, especially directed at new users.
New users must be guided towards starting effective threads, asking good questions.
Some points I find absolutely vital (I can’t stress that enough):
if you have an error, try to give these pieces of information:
– the complete error message (python traceback, compiler output…) or complete program output (cmake)
– minimal reproducing example (source code) including necessary data
– version numbers of programs, libraries, operating systems … if they seem to be part of the error
– what documentation you consulted (specific), what online searches you did (specific), what results you got (specific)
if you are looking for guidance
– first present the problem to be solved. pictures are better than words. use concrete examples.
– describe constraints (can you change lighting, scene setup, cameras, hardware?), degrees of freedom (how can the object vary, what will always be the same?)
– only then describe your intended approach, if you have one, and possibly compare to alternative approaches
I’m sure there are more things regulars would like newbies to know. this is just my observations from wasting time on stack overflow dealing with hit-and-run accounts that put zero effort into their questions (googling is homework).
those that need help, and care about making it easy to help them, should find a concise post they can work with outlining the basic information needs. right now, people come and say “I need help” and then you gotta ask for the same types of information every time.
I’m saying “concise” because the FAQ in the old askbot site has grown extensively. most of that looks important but it won’t get a second of attention from people unless even that is cut down. at the very least, it should be aggressively structured to be skimmed quickly, with bold headings conveying the gist, paragraphs elaborating.
how should that be modeled? pinned post somewhere? do people have to look for that or will they inevitably see it?
Definitely agree that something is required, I guess a lot of people won’t reply to new posts because they don’t have the patience to ask the standard questions you’ve mentioned above just to establish what the actual problem is. That said an FAQ nobody reads may just lead to a lot of please read the FAQ posts.
Can new posts have a fixed template like a pull request on git hub? If so can different categories have different templates? For example if we had a build issues category it could for example have
OpenCV Version or commit
Versions of all additional libraries - ffmpeg etc.
if I had a reason to put more effort into this forum (I’m just a random volunteer), I’d maybe write my own greasemonkey userscript for some “canned responses”.
turns out, discourse can have canned responses already, but it’s a plugin. I don’t know if that’s a good plugin or if there are better ones, or if that’s even something “we” want.
canned responses would certainly remove repetition, improve “the tone”, and add some structure, persistence, iterative improvement to the standard responses.
I’m a bit worried that this would be a site-wide-only set of canned responses. the plugin isn’t clear on that. I hope it’s per-user. also seems as if that’s a “paid” plugin or something, or maybe that only applies to hosted instances, not self-run instances.
maybe someone should look into some greasemonkeying instead
that (guidelines pinned somewhere that’s easy to ignore) has never worked. people don’t change. it’s a struggle against reality. we all know the monty python joke.
those with respect and attention to detail will match many of those points intuitively. those with a lack of respect or a cognitive deficit that makes them unable to see patterns will not pay attention to guidance.
the best one can aim for is a terse template text, for new threads/posts, because that stands in the way of the random person trying to dump their problem and get solutions magically.
a template is rude, “in your face”. it’s supposed to be. you don’t look for it, it finds you. like a bouncer in front of a club.
a template will fit at most half the situations. the other half consists of everything that doesn’t fit Stack Overflow or a bug tracker. users should be explicitly encouraged to ignore it, delete all that text, and write what they want to write. it’s a reminder, not a commandment from the heavens.
so… I wonder how that could be done. I don’t know if the forum software supports it. I’ve seen people start their threads with an apparent version of the github issue template, which is good, but those people went to the trouble on their own.