Fixing Discussions

Oct 8, 2008 at 4:32 PM

Related to [workitem:11797].

This forum is filled with off-topic messages. It makes useful discussion impossible. It should be fixed.

The warning at the top clearly does not work. Fact of life: people can't see things that are right in front of them.

I propose that project coordinators be given the ability to delete discussions, with the participants automatically being sent notifications that include the reason for deletion. There should also be someone assigned to keeping this discussion section tidy. Then the problem will be solved fairly and effectively.

Oct 16, 2008 at 3:27 PM
Wow, not a single reply.
Oct 17, 2008 at 3:07 AM
Hi DonReba,

We know about it, and our current design doesn't differentiate CodePlex discussions vs. project discussions very well. We're looking to improve this functionality in the future.

Oct 17, 2008 at 3:09 AM
Also, coordinators do have the ability to delete discussion posts :)
Oct 17, 2008 at 3:46 AM
Edited Oct 17, 2008 at 4:11 AM
You probably should not differentiate between CodePlex discussions and project dicussions in functionality. You should eat your own dogfood. :)

Deleting posts is good, but it clearly is not helping this forum.

You see, most popular forum software solves the problem of threads posted in wrong sections by allowing moderators to move threads, while leaving temporary ghost threads. This way the thread ends up in the proper section, and the participants are made aware of what happened.

The same approach would not work at CodePlex, because coordinators have no access to other projects. So, the next best thing is to delete threads that are posted in the wrong discussion forum. Sending notifications to the participants would do the job of letting them know about it.
Oct 22, 2008 at 2:20 PM

Deleting posts would be useful to CodePlex forum readers but would not be useful to the original poster.  If the original poster provides an indication as to the project to which they are referring, then their post should be moved to the appropriate forum and the link to the original post should automatically redirect subsequent requests; otherwise, I'd have to agree that inappropriate posts should just be deleted, with notification.

This does not have to be a feature of all projects' forums on CodePlex though; just CodePlex's own forum because it seems to suffer the most from misplaced posts.

Although, I still feel that deleting posts is a harsh solution.  If there was some way to make potential posters aware of where they are before they even post that would be better.  Forcing users to choose from a list of projects before posting [workitem:11797] is an alright idea, but it seems like it would be annoying for all of those OPs that aren't making a mistake.  Maybe if it was just a feature of CodePlex's own forum then that would be acceptable, yet still somewhat annoying, especially when you consider that the list of projects to choose from would be huge.

It seems to me that misplaced posts is an indication that the OP simply did not recognize their current environment, and that is an indication that they didn't even search for any related answers before posting.  Maybe CodePlex could solve both problems at once by allowing all projects' forums, including their own, to have an optional feature that forces OPs to search for discussions first before they may browse the entire list of threads and start new ones.  The CodePlex forum could then show a big warning message as the first search result to let the reader know that they're in the wrong area; something like, "Can't find an answer?  You may be in the wrong forum!  Read on...".  And below that could be a link to start a new dicsussion: "Start a new discussion about [CodePlex Information and Discussion] or [browse the list of projects] if your topic is related to a particular project on CodePlex.  Tip: Each project on CodePlex has a dedicated forum.  It is inappropriate to post questions related to particular projects in the CodePlex Information and Discussion area.  This area is for discussions about the CodePlex website itself.".

Actually, simply having a splash page to the CodePlex forum with the wording that I mentioned above might prove to be useful, without much effort :)

Oct 29, 2008 at 12:42 AM
Edited Oct 29, 2008 at 1:56 AM

Davedev, you say that deleting posts would not be useful to the original poster. The current situation, in which threads are frequently posted in the wrong forum with no chance of getting a good answer is as little value to the original poster as it gets. It is likely even worse than deletion, because the poster often does not even get pointed in the right direction. And, the main problem is, of course, that it makes real discussions difficult.

To see if moving posts can actually work I leafed through the last four pages of the forum and made a tally of the different kinds of threads. There are:

  • 18 threads related to CodePlex
  • 6 threads about identifiable hosted projects
  • 11 threads related to unidentifiable projects
  • 5 random threads that  have nothing to do with site

As you can see, good threads are in minority, and moving those few threads that can be easily traced back to their proper projects would only slightly improve the numbers.

The proposition to make users choose from a list of projects that frequently attract misplaced posts would give those projects unfair publicity. This is funny, but it would actually incite project owners to encourage their users to post in the wrong forum. And, additionally, this proposition, if implemented, would annoy those users who do post in proper forums.

Making users search for previous posts also has the weakness of punishing good users.

Oct 29, 2008 at 3:20 AM

Hi DonReba,

> deleting posts would not be useful to the original poster [snip]. To see if moving posts can actually work I leafed through the last four pages of the forum and made a tally of the different kinds of threads [snip] good threads are in minority [snip].

Deleting posts is not useful to the original poster but redirecting the posts may be useful to some.  There's no one solution that will help everyone so at least we can help those who have made an honest mistake.  I also agreed with you that ultimately, "inappropriate posts should just be deleted, with notification".  I meant "inappropriate posts" as those pertaining to "unidentifiable hosted projects".

So in your sample that would equate to:

  • 6 posters graciously redirected.
  • 16 posters notified that they must now find an appropriate forum on their own and then repost; due to their own ignorance I might add :)

> The proposition to make users choose from a list of projects that frequently attract misplaced posts would give those projects unfair publicity.  [snip]

I think my arguments against it have more merit, but at least we're in agreement that it's not the best choice.

> Making users search for previous posts also has the weakness of punishing good users.

"Good users" search before they post.

Anyway, I like the splash idea best.  It's easy to implement, it's blatantly obvious and it forces the user to acknowledge it by having to click a link before they may access the discussions area.  A cookie could be used to track access so that it's only showed once per session, to decrease the annoyance factor.

Welcome to CodePlex Information and Discussion.

I would like to:

Tip: Each project on CodePlex has a dedicated Discussions area.  It is inappropriate to post questions related to particular projects in the CodePlex Information and Discussion area.  This area is only for discussions about the CodePlex website itself.

- Dave

Oct 29, 2008 at 11:53 PM
Edited Oct 29, 2008 at 11:57 PM
This splash screen idea could work, as long as there is no direct link around it.
Nov 20, 2008 at 11:43 PM
Too bad today's release did not address this.
Nov 21, 2008 at 12:16 AM
Hi DonReba, we'll be addressing this later. We do enjoy hearing your feedback, though, so don't feel as if it's falling on deaf ears.

Nov 21, 2008 at 12:50 AM
Glad to hear it. :)
Dec 20, 2008 at 1:12 AM
Edited Dec 20, 2008 at 1:13 AM
Only five threads out of the twenty on the first two pages are actually on topic. It is getting worse.
Mar 4, 2009 at 1:08 PM
Five months later, still nothing has been done to keep the site discussion area from being full of spam. Add this to near impossibility of commenting on the CodePlex blog, and it really does seem like you do not seek feedback at all.
Mar 5, 2009 at 9:45 PM
Unfortunately we still don't have any good ideas on how to prevent off topic posts in our main CodePlex discussion forum.  We considered deleting posts, but we can't delete them from RSS or mailing lists since they immediately go out, so isn't really a meaningful solution.  What do you think of the idea of making these discussions moderated?  So that we explicitly approve any posts first to ensure they're on topic?

I'll also mention that we do absolutely seek feedback, and almost every person on the team reads every discussion post, every issue tracker entry, and every "Contact Us" e-mail.
Mar 5, 2009 at 11:11 PM

Well, The CodePlex blog is pre-moderated and as a result — barren. For instance, only one out of the four or five comments that I attempted to post there went through. I had to send an email to Saraford to get even that one message to appear. It turned out that no one was checking the comments. No one seems to have been checking them since, either. So, if this forum is made to be pre-moderated, then it will be equally empty.

Why do you think Davedev's idea to show a one-time splash page would not work?

Mar 6, 2009 at 4:13 PM
Hi DonReba,

>  It turned out that no one was checking the comments. 

The team should receive an email notification whenever a new comment is waiting for moderation on (just like what happens on my msdn blog). What I realized is that for some posts, the emails were not being sent out. Now, I have to manually check for any comments, which isn't the best way to moderate.

I like jwanagel's suggestion about moderating the CodePlex discussion forum. I'd love to hear more feedback along these lines.

Mar 9, 2009 at 12:01 AM

Pre-moderation is better suited for intentional spam, whereas most of it here comes from users who really just need to post in project-specific forums. Informing users is the goal, so I still think that Davedev's idea would be more effective.

Also, sorry if I sound too negative. I really love this site. You are doing a great job. :)

Mar 19, 2009 at 6:11 AM
Delete and notify.  The notification message could contain their original post so if the poster still wants to start a discussion on a different projects forum they can easily cut, paste and post.